Design & Decor Blog

thanksgiving with williams-sonoma: part 2 of 3

Last week, I posted some great tips from the experts at Williams-Sonoma on how to cook the perfect holiday turkey. In part two of three, I’ll be sharing a few of the secrets I learned about making side dishes, like mashed potatoes and stuffing.

ws plates1 thanksgiving with williams sonoma: part 2 of 3
Tips for preparing stuffing:

  • For bread, Williams-Sonoma has great seasoned focaccia stuffing from La Brea Bakery (better than regular ol’ bagged bread).
  • Technique class guide, Christopher, shares that using leeks is a great alternative to onions for stuffing.
  • Turkey must get to 165 °, but the stuffing has to be cooked at 180°. If you do stuff the turkey, try lining the turkey cavity with cheesecloth, then stuff, so you don’t run into any hygiene issues.

ws potatoes1 thanksgiving with williams sonoma: part 2 of 3

Tips for preparing mashed potatoes:

  • In the photo above, technique class guide, Jackie, demonstrates the easiest way to make mashed potatoes — use the All-Clad multipot with mesh insert. You just boil the potatoes, then remove the insert and dump out the water from the pot when the potatoes are cooked. This is genius for those of us (ahem, me) who struggle with attempting to dump water out of a heavy pot while trying to keep the potatoes inside.
  • To keep mashed potatoes warm while the rest of your food is cooking, put them in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  • If making mashed potatoes the day before, only use half the amount of milk or butter when mashing. Heat them up the next day before your meal, adding the other half of butter.

Check in tomorrow to see Christopher and Jackie’s tips for making yummy Thanksgiving desserts.



‘o’ chair at invu drapery co

o chair o chair at invu drapery co
We’re heading into the long Thanksgiving weekend, which means that many people have entertaining on the brain. (Not me – I’m crashing my sister’s in-laws’ turkey dinner this year, so I’m looking forward to being entertained!) But if you’re hosting a holiday ‘do, there are so many details to think about. Food and drinks of course, but what about seating? Are you sure you have enough? As you prepare to throw open the doors of your home for guests this weekend (and during the upcoming holiday season), be sure you have enough seats for everyone. I’ve just discovered these gorgeous chairs from InVu Drapery Co (they offer so much more than just drapery!) and I love them for their wonderful design – they’re the perfect marriage of form and function. Called the ‘O’ chair, they’re available in three colours; Cocoa, Bronze and Fog. Add a few to your dining table to accommodate extra guests or use them in the living room as everyone gathers ’round to toast the holidays. Pretty and practical, they’ll be perfect year-round but now’s the time to get yourself ready for the holiday season. Chairs $199 each, for more information.

condo makeover: watch the video!

condo makeover details condo makeover: watch the video! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the makeover on my condo is complete! Now that I’ve really had a chance to live in my new space, designed by Lisa Canning, I can say that I absolutely love all the new elements. I’m particularly fond of the details – like the chandelier from The Shopping Channel and the luxurious drapery from InVu Drapery. Candles and cushions are pretty accents and the result is a beautiful space that’s just perfect for me. NOW: Watch the video and see how the whole transformation came together from start to finish. I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

makeover monday: kitchen lighting

Well, today is clearly all about Martha. Earlier, Margot wrote about her experience hobnobbing with the doyenne of decorating herself, and now I’m posting about installing the new light fixture in our kitchen, which is part of the Martha Stewart Living collection at The Home Depot. We put in the lovely piece below (only $129!) yesterday and I instantly fell in love. However, there are a few things you need to know before I continue:

1 We used this to replace the horrible fishbowl lights that builders insist on installing.

2 This is a fixture meant for kitchen islands.

3 We were not installing this above an island.

4 When originally installed, it was about 6’4″ from the floor. My other half, Mick, is 6’2″.

5 When I fall in love with something, I refuse to give up on it (much to Mick’s chagrin).
17105.13965 4 11 makeover monday: kitchen lighting

Upon seeing that it clearly hung too low (and was non-adjustable), Mick shrugged and suggested we get something else. But I was a woman in love with a light fixture found at an incredible price, and there’s just no arguing with that. So, Mick tinkered around with it, and somehow (his handiness is beyond me), he managed to adjust the non-adjustable.

lighting kitchen mick makeover monday: kitchen lighting

Below, you’ll see the customized fixture and a lack of the horrid fishbowl light (our walls and ceiling are actually white, by the way — ignore the funky shadows). I love the way that even a simple change like a light fixture can begin to transform the room. We also got a chandelier from The Home Depot (you’ll be amazed at the fab decor finds you can pick up there!), which will be hanging over our soon-to-be dining table from West Elm.

lighting kitchen makeover monday: kitchen lighting

What do you think?



thanksgiving with williams-sonoma: part 1 of 3

When it comes to delicious food ideas and fabulous cooking products, no one does it better than Williams-Sonoma. In fact, whenever I go into their store on Bloor St. and I’m overcome with the smell of goodies baking and the sound of Michael Buble spilling out of the speakers, I seriously contemplate moving in.

This past Monday, I attended one of their weekly technique classes that are held for free in the store kitchen. I will be assisting in the creation of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner (sorry Mum, the turkey’s all you!), so I thought, what the heck, I’ll take a class on how to perfect a classic Thanksgiving feast.

ws christopher jackie thanksgiving with williams sonoma: part 1 of 3
The class was lead by two Williams-Sonoma associates, Christopher and Jackie, who were absolutely wonderful and had a ton of great tips. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll be posting all the secrets that I learned at the technique class, plus sharing some pictures of the yummy food that was whipped up (did I mention I got to eat it? Well, I did. Actually, I devoured it.).

Part 1: The Turkey (gobble, gobble)

ws tyingturkey thanksgiving with williams sonoma: part 1 of 3
Isn’t she a beaut? Part 1 of my Thanksgiving feature is all about the ol’ bird — the holiday just wouldn’t be the same without it. To be honest, I thought preparing a turkey consisted of simply defrosting it, sticking it in a pan with some water, and letting it cook all day until everyone was salivating. Boy, was I wrong.

Christopher and Jackie had been cooking that bad boy throughout the day and were more than happy to share their secrets on how to get it juicy and full of flavour. Here are their tips on how to prepare the perfect turkey:

  • Plan ahead! Decide on what kind of turkey you’ll be purchasing (frozen or fresh, kosher or Butterball, etc.) and plan for how long it will take to prepare it (i.e. frozen turkey’s usually take 3 days to defrost in the fridge)
  • Brine the turkey. A lot of people skip this step, but it’s necessary if you want to make sure the breast meat is juicy and not dried out. Williams-Sonoma carries a lovely Apple and Spices Turkey Brine that the pair used on this one.
  • Truss the bird well. Trussing is the process of tying the bird’s legs down in order to help with the browning process {see image above}. By tying the wings down and legs together, it ensures an even cook. Check out the Williams-Sonoma trussing video for a step-by-step.
  • Cover the turkey. For the first 3/4 of the bird’s cook time, cover with tin foil. Or, if you prefer the bird to be more brown, cover with cheesecloth instead and spread some butter over top.

ws carvingturkey thanksgiving with williams sonoma: part 1 of 3

  • Take precaution when carving. Let the turkey sit for a little bit before carving so that the flavourful juices can settle in the meat. Also, use a cutting board with pyramids when carving, as it will grip the bird when the juices are running out.
  • Don’t overcook it. If your bird is done before the rest of your meal is prepared, wait until the oven gets down to 200 degrees — at this temperature, you can put the turkey back in to warm, without having it cook any further.

You see? There’s so much more to it than just shoving the bird in the oven and having a glass (or two!) of wine while waiting for it to cook. Check in on Tuesday for tips on making yummy side dishes!



mydrap reusable cotton napkins

Okay, okay, so you might be thinking, “Duh, Lauren — all cotton napkins are reusable.” Well, they may well be, but how many of them can be bought in a roll of 25?

napkins box mydrap reusable cotton napkins
That’s right — MyDrap is a brand that creates cotton table fabrics that come in a roll and can be torn off whenever you need one. Made from 100% cotton, they can be washed {the texture actually improves over time} or disposed of, as they are fully recyclable and biodegradable.

napkins tear mydrap reusable cotton napkins
I was completely shocked when I found these because they are pure genius! They feel great and are much better than paper napkins {wasteful much?}, plus they have the look of a hemstitch around the edges, similar to linen. You can choose from large, regular or cocktail sized napkins in a variety of colours, plus you can pick up a roll of table runners or placemats. This is the perfect option when you’re throwing a party and don’t want to break out your fine linens.

napkins folded mydrap reusable cotton napkins
Large dinner napkins, $35 US per roll of 12
Regular napkins, $29 US per roll of 50
Cocktail napkins, $29 US per roll of 25
Placemats, $39 US per roll of 12
Table runner, $35 US per roll of 4

To order, visit



makeover monday: kitchen inspiration board

We’ve been in the house for about three and a half months now, but haven’t done too much except paint a room or two. Well, things are about to change up in here.

Mick and I (read: just me) have been on the search for backsplashes, light fixtures and dining furniture for our kitchen. While we’re still on the lookout for a great dining table, I think we’ve found the rest of the goodies for our kitchen. Below are two pictures of the kitchen as it sits today. From the builder, we upgraded the cabinets and opted for a granite countertop. We also spent a lot of upgrade money on the slate floors — we chose upgrades that would be most difficult for us to install ourselves later.

DSC02965 makeover monday: kitchen inspiration board DSC02966 makeover monday: kitchen inspiration board
I used The Decorator’s Journal ($30) to gather all of my inspirations, product picks and room measurements. This journal is simply fab for anyone doing room makeovers on their home. You can organize per room, drawing floorplans and documenting all the measurements you need to know while shopping. Each room page includes a plastic sleeve so you can store loose paint chips, fabric samples, etc. I loved having this with me when I was out and about scouring for products for the kitchen.
DSC03613 makeover monday: kitchen inspiration board
Here is a collection of the items we found for our kitchen. I’m so happy with how it all comes together as a palette of grey, black and white, but with some pops of yellow — this palette is so me. Mick’s favourite colours are blue and orange — blue for the Cowboys and Maple Leafs, and orange for the Texas Longhorns. So, we’ll leave his colour choices out of this.

The best part? It’s all totally affordable. The curtain rod, black rug, marble backsplash and light fixtures are all from The Home Depot (love it), and the large mirror is from IKEA. The chairs are $100 each from West Elm, and the vintage spoons photo and silhouette plate are finds from Etsy. As for the KitchenAid mixer? That’s on my Christmas wishlist (wink,wink, nudge, nudge).

DSC03619 makeover monday: kitchen inspiration board

I’d love to hear what you guys think! Love or hate?


cosy european-style apartment in brooklyn

As I sit here and plan for my November trip to New York (hello, shopping on Black Friday!), I look outside my house and see the leaves changing colours and feel a cool breeze coming through the windows. I’m a fall fanatic — I despise summer and its unbearable heat, and I love when fall comes around and I can be cosy under a blanket with a cup of tea.
I recently saw this amazing apartment in Brooklyn on photographer Jamie Beck’s beautiful site, From Me to You, and I think it may be the most ideal place to spend the autumn and winter months. I can’t believe this space is in New York City — its rustic charm and cosiness ooze European style. Which leads me to question — do you think the homeowner would be cool with me crashing there on my upcoming trip? Only thing is, I don’t think I could bring myself to leave.

brooklyn apartment sitting area cosy european style apartment in brooklyn

brooklyn apartment bookshelf cosy european style apartment in brooklyn

brooklyn apartment bust cosy european style apartment in brooklyn

brooklyn apartment bedroom cosy european style apartment in brooklyn

brooklyn apartment roses cosy european style apartment in brooklyn

Check out From Me to You for more pics of this dreamy space.



20 questions with kimberley seldon

At, you’ll find lots of advice from your favourite designers, who offer up tips and tricks to help you make your own home look like it’s jumped straight out of the pages of a magazine. We love the designers we work with and always want to know more, more, more! So I decided to check in with Kimberley Seldon, Style at Home’s Contributing Decorating Editor, to get a more personal glimpse into her sense of style. (Check out more designer profiles here.)

kimberley seldon 20 questions with kimberley seldon
1 If you could shadow any designer for a day, who would it be?
I’d shadow myself…but I could never keep up.

2 Where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
Travel is the ultimate source of inspiration. Obscure inspiration comes during dental surgery.

3 Favourite restaurant?
Giorgio’s in Santa Monica. Boulevard Cafe in Toronto.

4 What’s your favourite room to decorate?
Living rooms are the most interesting because they ask so much of a designer.

5 What’s your current paint colour obsession?
Benjamin Moore – In the Midnight Hour.

6 If one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
Feeling Good by Nina Simone.

7 What’s the one store you could spend hours browsing?

Dragonette in LA.

8 London, Paris or New York?

9 If money were no object, what one thing would you buy?
Madame X by John Singer Sargeant.

10) What do you consider to be the most iconic design piece of the past century?
Eiffel Tower – though I’m fudging the dates a bit.

11 Favourite movie?
Cinema Paradiso and Moonstruck; please don’t make me choose.

12 What’s your favourite movie interior?
The sets in Down with Love were so spectacular I still have no idea what the movie was about.

13 What do you think is the easiest way to update a room?
Starting from scratch is much easier than updating.

14 Best coffee table book?
LA Modern by Tim Street Porter.

15 What’s your fave way to spend a lazy Sunday?

16 Do you like to be the entertainer or be entertained?

I’m bi.

17 What do you think is the best renovation you can do to your home?

Add built-ins and eliminate clutter.

18 What is your fave space that you’ve designed?

I recently finished a condo in LA that is to die for. (At least I think so.)

19 What’s the biggest design faux pas?
Playing it too safe.

20 Marilyn, Audrey or Jackie?

win one of two copies of mini shopaholic!

shopaholic 305x460 win one of two copies of mini shopaholic!
I’ve been patiently awaiting the release of Mini Shopaholic (Random House, 2010, $28.95) and today’s the day! I’ve been following Becky Bloomwood’s outrageous antics from the very beginning and I’m a loyal fan. I’ll be honest – I usually find modern chick lit disappointing, unoriginal and predictable. But Sophie Kinsella has really won me over and novel after novel continues to entertain. Her humour is clever and I fell in love with her bumbling heroine in an instant. Well, Becky’s back – this time with a little one in tow and I can’t wait to read the hijinx-heavy hilarity that is bound to ensue.

I’ve felt like a bit of a shopaholic myself as I’ve worked on my condo makeover. If you’re a fan of Becky Bloomwood too, just leave a comment below telling me about the most outrageous purchase you’ve ever made (or contemplated!) for your home, and you’ll automatically be entered for your chance to win one of two copies.

Contest closes October 18, 2010 at 12pm EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any Transcontinental Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside.

Good luck!

Update: Congratulations to our winners Jennifer and Susan. And thanks to everyone for entering!

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