Design & Decor Blog

tea light lantern

Fab find
Tea light lantern, $4.99 each; ikea.ca.
fabfind rotera lantern tea light lantern
I live for those late summer days, taking advantage of the beautiful weather until the sun goes down. For those long days spent outside until the fresh night air hits, add some mood lighting with these tea light lanterns. You can put them along your deck, around your garden or hang them from a tree. The soft glow of the tea light candles will add a relaxing ambiance while you sit back and enjoy a peaceful night outside.

bedroom makeover: the paint has dried (and I love it!)

Yesterday I had my bedroom painted and I was a little nervous about the colour – it was looking really white, when what I had chosen was a pale grey. But once all the coats were finished and it dried, it looked amazing! The colour, Pegasus (D30-1, Olympic Paints), is soft and refreshing and such a nice change from the dark colour I had before. I was also impressed with Olympic’s Colours of Inspiration line, which I used in my bathroom as well. The colour selection is lovely. I had a hard time making my choice out of the 1,200 colours in the palette but I’m thrilled with the final results. Even better, the paint is zero VOC and very low odour. I couldn’t smell the paint at all, which was fantastic. If you’re considering painting a room, you should check out these colours. Here’s how my paint job turned out:

paint after3 bedroom makeover: the paint has dried (and I love it!) Pegasus from Olympic Paints is a soft, feminine grey and the perfect colour to lighten and brighten my bedroom.

More photos to come as I decide on new accessories!

bedroom makeover: the paint

Here we go again! Renovating and redecorating – it’s a slippery slope! Having just finished my bathroom renovation, I can’t help but continue to look around and see what else needs updating. First, I shopped around for inexpensive accessories to add some colour to my living room and foyer. Now I’ve turned my focus now to my bedroom. (And I will be updating the backsplash in my kitchen but one thing at a time!)

The bedroom is being painted as I write this and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it turns out as lovely as I’m hoping. I selected a light, dove grey paint from Olympic (Pegasus, D30-1). Right now, it’s looking really white – I’m nervous that it won’t look like the warm grey I was planning on. But I’m trying to breathe. It needs multiple coats to cover the mid-tone brown that’s on the walls and it needs to dry. I’ll keep you posted but here’s how things are looking … and welcome to a candid look at my bedroom, messy bed and all:

paint before bedroom makeover: the paint I loved this brown paint when I chose it years ago – it made the room feel really cosy. But now it’s time to lighten up and turn my bedroom into a space that’s more cohesive with the rest of my place. Whites and greys dominate now – so stay tuned to see the changes I decide to make in here.

paint after1 bedroom makeover: the paint OK, I know it’s only one coat of paint but it’s looking really white. I hope it dries to look like the lovely grey I chose!

6 things to avoid when renting an apartment

Do you rent? It’s been 8 years and I’ve had 12 apartments. Apparently that’s not enough because here I go again!

300px East 57th St Apartments 6 things to avoid when renting an apartment

Image via Wikipedia

Apartment renting
I’m still a renter. Don’t worry, I’m okay with it. I’ve had enough experience by now to know exactly what to look for. How to budget. What necessities I can’t live without. Which neighbourhoods I like. I’m a confident gal now.

The list
What’s become even more important is what I don’t want. Here’s my top 6 list of things to avoid when apartment hunting.

1 Carpet
It just loves holding onto dust, hair and dead skin. Not to mention sucking up stains.  Save yourself from the allergies or asthma and just avoid it. Some landlords will even remove it if you ask nicely. Or they will eventually. If you don’t rent it, that is.

2 Tiny ovens
As a renter, I’m not looking to invest in the latest appliances, so the ones in the apartment need to be up-to-date. Older apartments still have those ancient, half-sized ovens. Can’t fit a cookie sheet? Can’t rent it.

3 Single sinks
Ok, this isn’t an automatic deal breaker, but size does matter. I like to cook. This requires lots of pots, pans, dishes, and utensils. If it isn’t a double sink, it needs to be big.

4 Water damage
Sounds obvious, but the nightmares of ceilings falling and walls crumbling are real. So very real. Don’t let renovations and paint fool you.

5 Outlets
I embrace the age of technology. And you can’t be tech chic when the batteries are dead. Make sure you have enough outlets and that they’re in spots you can reach them once the room is arranged. Power cords running along floorboards is so not chic.

6 Middle of nowhere
I was raised in a city with public transportation. Convenient? Yes. Reliable? Not so much. I know how easy a delayed commute can ruin the start or end of my day, so I make it easy by being on a good, direct transit line. Not to mention nearby amenities. If I can’t walk to a grocery store or bank I’m probably not in the right spot.

Do you rent or own your home?

 6 things to avoid when renting an apartment

the new kobo touch + you could win one!

kobo touch the new kobo touch + you could win one!
If you haven’t made the switch to an e-reader, I urge you to consider it. A book fiend myself, I’ve always treasured my novels and have always surrounded myself with bookcases overflowing with favourite reads and reads yet to come. But when I was introduced to Kobo, things started to change. It was love at first sight and I haven’t looked back. It happened quickly and unexpectedly. I hadn’t planned to end my love affair with actual books – and of course – there are classics and favourites that will always fill my bookcases. But I’m so in love that I’ve had the following exchange with my boyfriend. More than once.

him: If you had to choose between me and your Kobo, what would you choose?
me:
{long pause}
him: {long, awkward silence}

The Kobo has revolutionalized reading for me and the new Kobo Touch (indigo.ca, $139) has taken things one step further. Here’s what I love best:

- The infrared touch screen makes using this device so simple to use. It’s intuitive and with just the tap of a finger, you can flip the pages, enlarge the font and zoom in on PDF files.

- It’s smaller, more compact than previous incarnations of the Kobo. The paperback size makes it easily portable. Throw it in your purse and you’ll always have something to read when you’re left waiting at the dentist.

- Kobo uses E-Ink technology to simulate the printed word on a page. It’s easy to read and because the screen isn’t backlit, it doesn’t feel like you’re reading on a computer or other handheld device. The glare-free screen is easy on the eyes and feels like a real book.

- The Kobo Touch holds up to 1,000 books! Not enough? Add a memory card and it can hold up to 32,000 books. So when you finish one book, you don’t need to wait til you get to the bookstore to pick up a new one. You’ll always have a full library right at your fingertips.

I love the feeling of Kobo’s signature quilted back and it’s got WiFi capability too, which means you can order books on the go. I’ve been reading more books more quickly ever since I converted to Kobo. And as a frequent traveler, it’s ideal. No more lugging heavy books around with me. It’s super light and I always have options, depending on what I feel like reading.

must-have accessories
The new Kobo Touch comes in white, black, silver and lilac and there are an array of accessories. Here are my faves:

kobo accessories the new kobo touch + you could win one!
1 The Verso Clip Light (indigo.ca, $16.99) is perfect when you’re reading in the dark at night. Just clip it onto the top of your Kobo and you needn’t turn your sidetable lamp on. The flexible neck means you can adjust the light as needed to brighten your pages.

2 The Book Style Cover (indigo.ca, $29.95) will not only protect your Kobo Touch but gives it that ‘real book’ feeling that book lovers will appreciate. Elastic bands on the inside will hold your Kobo securely in place and there are also inside pockets. Available in purple, black, navy and natural.

3 Don’t have the Kobo Touch? There are new accessories available for the WiFi Kobo and I love that you can now get the Book Style Cover (indigo.ca, $29.95) for this version. The older Kobo is slightly larger than the new Kobo Touch so be sure to get the right size cover. How fun is the pink?

Want to win one? {Of course you do!} We’ve got four to give away. Enter here. Good luck!

textured porcelain bowls

Fab find
Naturalist bowls, $8 each; West Elm.
fabfind naturalist bowls textured porcelain bowls
From West Elm’s “Modernist” collection, these bowls comes in four different patterns. Using a special printing technique, they are beautifully made with branch, leaf and floral prints. The exterior of the bowls are also textured to mimic tree bark, making these colourful pieces look and feel organic. They look absolutely gorgeous on a tabletop or used for display.
Do you like the natural look of these bowls?

my apartment makeover, part 2

I’ve received such lovely feedback from the before and after photos of my apartment, so I’m happy to share some before and after photos of my furniture makeovers too!

I decorated my apartment while working at a high end design firm, which was great because I had access to trade-only resources that offered up beautiful custom furniture and fabric for clients – but it was also hard because I grew accustomed to working with a certain level of quality that wasn’t exactly in the budget for a young couple starting out in their first place. Thanks to the wonderful world of vintage and consignment shopping, however, I was able to source affordable raw material that I then transformed into my own custom pieces for a high end look at a more realistic price point.

tuxedo chair before my apartment makeover, part 2

I jumped on a craigslist ad that a couple leaving the country posted in effort to sell off their furniture, which gained me a clean-lined vintage chair for less than $25!

jessica tuxedo chair after my apartment makeover, part 2

Inspired by a crisp and classic YSL tuxedo jacket, I had the talented team at Cooper Bros. spray the dated wood frame high gloss black and convert the loose back cushions into a tight back. Contrast welting and button tufting in sumptuous black velvet made the ivory vinyl fabric pop (I chose the vinyl for durability and its fabric-like appearance so I could commit to white without worrying)

console before my apartment makeover, part 2

One accent piece I sourced on craigslist received a DIY treatment inspired by Hickory Chair’s Stephanie vanity

console after my apartment makeover, part 2

After arranging to pick up the console in a parking lot at Yorkdale Mall for $130, I sanded the existing antiqued cream finish down and painted it out in glossy black using a roller to achieve a smooth finish. I used metallic gold paint for the detailing and love how it creates the illusion of ormolu.

jessica bench before my apartment makeover, part 2

Another vintage find, a bench that I inherited from my grandparents, was the perfect place to use a favourite fabric that I only needed a yard and a half of to update and could afford to spend on.

bench after my apartment makeover, part 2

I wanted a modern graphic to contrast with the traditional cabriole legs, so I turned to the Missoni-esque flamestitch pattern“Flair” from Kelly Wearstler`s fabric collection for Lee Joffa.

jessica setee before my apartment makeover, part 2

One of the biggest investments in the apartment is my prized setee and it is a solid example of putting money into something special that you know you will have for years to come. I drove to Oakville with my mother in her truck to pick up the $100 antique I found on Craigslist. I had Cooper Bros. open it up to see exactly how much TLC the piece required. I knew the whole process would set me back far more than the initial cost,  but because I picked it up from the previous owner directly and worked with trusted trades, I still only forked over less than half of what I would ever pay in a brick and mortar store for the finished product.

after setee my apartment makeover, part 2

The setee’s curvy lines provided a perfect foil to carry off the black and white striped treatment I had been longing to use, and after months of searching I finally found a fabric at Primavera that had the colouration, saturation and graphic impact I was looking for.  Having Cooper Bros reinforce and gild the frame in a warm golden tone befitting a Parisian antique, making a new down-filled seat cushion and topping it off with blush round tufted velvet cushions made the craigslist find a picture perfect piece that I will have forever!

The moral of the story is, all you need is imagination to realize a piece’s full potential! With either the skills for a DIY makeover (or contacts of trades with the skills), you can rescue someone else`s forgotten furniture and turn it into an individual masterpiece!

how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city

I always love to see what my clients are up to with their outdoor spaces. I get such a rush out of seeing the final product, and checking out the finished space after the client has added all of their own personal touches. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to do just that! One of my clients who I’ve worked with over the past four years came in to our showroom to show me what he’s done with the space and it’s outstanding.

Though this is a larger scale terrace in the downtown core, he has managed to make it feel warm and cosy. A place where you can get away from it all and also be right in the thick of it at the same time! I loved the pictures that he brought to show me and wanted to share some of them with you to illustrate why I think he did such a great job in such a simple way …

outdoor1 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
1 Mixing colour, texture and pattern in the fabrics helps to create warmth and interest in the space. With so many amazing fabric options that are outdoor-friendly, you can really have fun with all sorts of fabric designs and colours. Also, taking the decor a little less seriously outside and doing something fun is always nice for a more casual outdoor space.

outdoor2 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
2 Bring the space to life with planters filled with live plants and flowers. I find that this also brings warmth and atmosphere to a large terrace space.

3 I love a series of small tables rather than one large table. It’s great for entertaining as it creates the feeling of multiple areas in the same space.

outdoor3 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
4 Shade products like the unique ones pictured here help to create privacy, shade and contain the space a bit to really make it feel like a retreat.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when creating a warm and cosy outdoor urban oasis for your terrace!

Designer and entertaining expert Andrew Bockner is the owner of Andrew Richard Designs, a Canadian luxury furniture brand celebrated for its materials and designs. Andrew Bockner creates custom, unique experiences to enhance both the space and lifestyle of his customers.

dining room chair construction

Over on our home blog we’ve been doing a dining room makeover for a few months. When we moved into the house, my parents gifted us with their old dining room table and chairs, and although I loved the table, I felt that the matching chairs (seen in this post) made the room too heavy.

I felt that the best way to bring this old table to life, was to invest in some new chairs. Our new chairs are via Silva, a Canadian furniture company that is the go-to spot for people like Sarah Richardson. They were kind enough to photograph the process of one of my chairs being made …

038 dining room chair construction

Here is a fun shot of the process of my Mia Chairs being made. The nail head detail has yet to be added, which I will reveal when we get our chairs next week. I’m loving the fact that we’re reusing an old table that has a lot of history for our family, but I’m bringing it into 2011 by just switching out the chairs.

Ps., How awesome is it that the chairs are made right here in Canada by an amazing, family run company.

Lindsay Stephenson is one of our guest bloggers, who has her eye on all things fabulous in Toronto. When not scouting out the coolest stores and the fabbest finds in the city, Lindsay runs a graphic design business (Penny People Designs) and blogs about her life and home decorating projects on Aubrey & Lindsay’s Little House Blog.

unique vases

The other day I came across a box of discarded tarnished silverware in front of a neighbour’s house. I couldn’t resist picking out three little pieces to bring home to try and bring back to life.

sah unique vases

The bucket was my favourite item - I love finding little pieces like this that will work as a vase. I think it adds much interest to an arrangement.

sah unique vases

I cut some peonies from my garden and delivered it to my Mom. :) The dark spots on the bucket are still showing, even after a lot of elbow grease but I think they add beautiful patina to my free, cardboard box find. Just always keep your eyes open for fun things like this, that will work as vases throughout your house. xo Lindsay

Lindsay Stephenson is our guest blogger who has her eye on all things fabulous in Toronto. When not scouting out the coolest stores and the fabbest finds in the city, Lindsay runs a graphic design business (Penny People Designs) and blogs about her life and home decorating projects on Aubrey & Lindsay’s Little House Blog.

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