Design & Decor Blog

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!

makeover monday: diary of a new home

A few months ago, my boyfriend Mick and I purchased our first house, just outside of Toronto. So, with the dawn of a new blog, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my decorating ups and downs (hopefully less of the latter). We’re a household of three: Mick, the football/golf/hockey obsessed handyman who can be found tinkering in the garage or grilling a rack of ribs on the BBQ; Wendel, the adorable beagle puppy who pays rent in kisses and cuteness; and myself, Lauren, who spends days dreaming up ways to create my dream home (and also wishing Mick wasn’t so against white furniture).

house exterior 460x443 makeover monday: diary of a new home

House exterior when it was almost at the end of construction phase

house kitchen before 460x336 makeover monday: diary of a new home

Poppin' champagne in the new kitchen, sans fridge

This being our first house, we’re definitely on a budget, so I’m really excited to take on DIY projects, whether it’s wallpapering the foyer or painting an old piece of furniture to bring it back to life.

Every Monday I’ll be doing a feature on my decorating process, so I hope you’ll follow along as we turn this cookie-cutter house into the home we’ve always wanted.


my condo: the after pictures

Drum roll, please! So many of you have followed along with me and my tales of renovating and redecorating my condo. It was such a fun process, admittedly with a few hiccups along the way (aren’t there always?). But after enduring the stress of having my home turned completely on its head, everything has been righted and I’m so thrilled with the results – I can’t wait to show you and hear what you guys think!

OK – a quick refresher. I worked with designer Lisa Canning to transform my home from a cosy but outdated space into one that is bright, fresh and modern. Now my home feels like a truer reflection of me and my tastes and when I look at the before pictures, I can’t quite remember it looking that way. The transformation has been dramatic.

Here’s a quick reminder of what my space looked like before:
condo before my condo: the after pictures
OK, maybe not so stylish but it was cosy and homey.

Here is the sketch that the talented Lisa presented me with as a representation of her vision for my space. We made joint decisions along the way that strayed a little bit from her original sketch but overall, her sketch was a great starting point, helping us to both envision where we were headed.
condo sketch my condo: the after pictures
I instantly loved Lisa’s vision. It felt like just the kind of change I was seeking. Although I admit, the white couch and chair freaked me out a bit. Living comfortably in my home is really important to me. I didn’t want to live with furniture that I would be terrified of getting dirty.

Well – why delay any longer? Here, finally, are the ‘after’ shots of my new space!
condo after1 my condo: the after pictures
I’m so thrilled with the change! Everything is so bright and airy compared to before. The couch and glass-top tables are from West Elm. As you can see, Lisa and I agreed to go with charcoal furniture as opposed to the white we’d contemplated in the beginning. I’m very happy we opted for grey – much more livable! But the surrounding white palette (like the white shag rugs from Home Depot and bookcases-cum-side tables from Walmart) add the light, bright effect we were going for.

condo after2 my condo: the after pictures
Ooooooh, the new floors! Wow! It was time to ditch the laminate and go for the real thing. I opted for a bamboo flooring from Tarkett, called Solid Onyx. Installed by the folks at End of the Roll in Milton, the floors are, without a doubt, the biggest part of this overall transformation. I love the contrast of the near-black floors with the white walls (we used ‘Satin’ paint from the Style at Home paint collection from Home Hardware.) One of the elements I was most excited about was replacing the horrible venetian blinds that were on my windows with beautiful, luxurious drapery. These silk panels from InVu Drapery are incredibly decadent and add instant glam to the space. They’re full blackout drapes, which means that when needed, they block light out completely. A new flatscreen TV and media stand (from the George collection at Walmart) definitely help to update my space and I love the art on the walls – all from my own personal photograph collection!

becky artwork my condo: the after pictures

I absolutely adore this custom piece of artwork, done by Becky Simpson of RLS Studios. Using one of my photographs (a favourite from a trip to Bora Bora), she turned it into an original piece of artwork. We hung it over the TV and I often find myself staring at it rather than the show I’m watching!

condo after3 my condo: the after pictures
Lisa and I found some great items in unexpected places, like this writing desk from The Shopping Channel. Instead of putting a dining table in this area, we opted to turn it into a home office-like space – a much more practical use of the space for my needs. A Philippe Starck-inspired ghost chair adds another touch of glam.

condo after4 my condo: the after pictures
The mirrors above the sofa (part of the Debbie Travis collection from Canadian Tire) are the perfect alternative to art. They make the room look larger and look fantastic against the wallpaper. And speaking of wallpaper … I adore this pattern (Lumimarja) from the Marimekko collection at New Wall. We repeated the wallpaper in the foyer and it really adds interest and character to the space. We updated the light fixtures – the one above the desk features crystal pendants and is from The Shopping Channel, while the white glass fixture in the kitchen is also part of the Debbie Travis collection from Canadian Tire. Another spectacular part of this transformation: Painting the kitchen cabinets. They were a honey coloured wood that definitely didn’t go with the new look. Tim from Beresford Inc. spray painted them and we updated the hardware. The result? It’s like a brand new kitchen for a fraction of the cost!

We’re working on a video so you can get an even closer look at the transformation. I’ll let you know when it’s ready! But in the meantime – what do you think of my makeover? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

‘After’ photographs by Tanja Tiziana of Double Crossed Photography.

commonwealth cushions

It seems that every time I visit Etsy, I search the site for hours and before I know it, it’s 3pm on a Sunday and I’m still in my pj’s. Today I stumbled upon these fabulous cushion covers from Etsy seller HelkatDesign. I love the rugged embroidery and muted prints on burlap — perfect for a cottage or as a funky touch to a sofa in the TV room. There are tons of designs to choose from but the three below are my fave.

cushion canada 460x296 commonwealth cushions

Stitched Canadian flag 16"x24" cushion cover, $54 US

cushion unionjack 425x460 commonwealth cushions

Handprinted Union Jack 20"x20" cushion cover, $54 US

cushion thistle 460x366 commonwealth cushions

Handprinted Union Jack with thistle overlay 17"x13" cushion, $44 US

Don’t you love?


haute decor: pierre frey

Last night assistant editor Amanda Etty and I were treated to a presentation in the history of textiles – some of the finest in the world – by Patrick Frey, chairman of luxury design house Pierre Frey.

Pierre Frey boussac colection 2010 Mareva drapes1 306x460 haute decor: pierre frey

Visiting from Paris, Patrick brought with him beautiful fabrics (I’m talking the luxe of the luxe of-the-luxe), a fascinating knowledge (Marie Antoinette loved wildlife and strands of pearls in her fabrics) and undeniable French charm (I once read that if Patrick is ever away from his wife for more than two days, he sends her flowers).

Pierre Frey Collection 2010 6 306x460 haute decor: pierre frey

He brought textiles – originals! (and replicas) – that once hung in Versailles, were owned by Marie Antoinette, or now hang in the home of Givenchy. He showed us original Toile and Chinoiserie fabrics; funky prints by fashion designer JC de Castelbeck and a statement print by philosopher and peace activists, Marek and Carla Halter. And he brought along his New York-based son Pierre, named of course, after his grandfather and company namesake.

Famille haute decor: pierre frey

Quintessentially French, eclectic, and high quality, Pierre Frey the company (family-owned for 75 years!) boasts four haute brands (Pierre Frey, Braquenie, Fadini Borghi and Boussac) over 30,000 archives (dating back to the 15th century!) and a catalogue of over 7,500 gorgeous fabrics with interesting and playful prints.

CoussinetrayureArolla 308x460 haute decor: pierre frey

Needless to say, je suis enchantée.

For more on Patrick Frey, pick up December’s issue of Style at Home

cosy throws from dwell studio

As I sit here on my sofa, wallowing in self-pity from having a cold, I’m craving a warm throw to snuggle with (my beagle puppy Wendel just doesn’t cut it sometimes). I saw these baby alpaca throws from Dwell Studio and have fallen head-over-heels. Totally luxurious, these throws have a fabulous graphic print that would look great draped over the back of the sofa (when it’s not draped over myself, of course). I guess the only question is: which colour to choose?

dwell studio throws 460x223 cosy throws from dwell studio
Cubist throw in Peacock, Camel and Charcoal, $190 US each, Dwell Studio.


andrew richard designs does tiff

When it comes to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), I don’t give a hoot about the celebs. For me, It’s all about the glam and sparkle of the spaces that are transformed for parties. This past Monday, I was lucky enough to shadow Andrew Bockner of Andrew Richard Designs as he set up a three-floor space for E1’s industry party for TIFF at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The building itself is simply stunning — a glass-walled addition has been built onto the original structure to create a fabulous open space that combines the old with the new, indoors and outdoors.

ard tiff 1 460x222 andrew richard designs does tiff
If you haven’t heard of Andrew Richard Designs, here’s the lowdown — Andrew Bockner and his brother Richard started the company as a way to make stylish and functional outdoor furniture accessible to everyone. Although their client list includes large name hotels around the world (Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, The Palazzo in Las Vegas, and Four Seasons Resorts to name a few), the designing duo also have ready-made pieces available for any customer to buy from their 12,000 sq.ft. store in Toronto. While the brothers have made their name in the furniture industry, they’ve ventured into designing event spaces as well, and Andrew spilled that they are planning to expand that division in 2011.

ard tiff 31 460x308 andrew richard designs does tiff

Upon meeting Andrew (shown above with colleague, Kate), I noticed he was cool as a cucumber — surprising, since all the furniture was still turned on its side and wrapped in packaging 5 hours prior to the party beginning. “I actually handle stress pretty well,” admits Andrew. “I make sure that when I’m setting up for an event, I don’t check e-mail on my phone. It’s distracting, and I like to be present and focus my attention on the project at hand.” No kidding — whether it’s a large star-studded event like this one or a residential party for 30, Andrew makes sure he has a hand in every project he puts his name on.

ard tiff 2 460x318 andrew richard designs does tiff
Let me tell you a bit about the space and how Andrew transformed it into a lounge fit for the stars. For the first level (shown above), Andrew put together a lounge area where all the guests could mingle. “My philosophy is to make pieces that are stylish and functional, not ornamental. I’ve arranged the seating here to be open and inviting, so that if you’re sitting, you’re not blocked off from guests who are standing.” The second level (shown below) is the VIP area and again, Andrew kept the space open. “I think that when you’re at a venue like this, with the floor to ceiling windows and a great view, you want to keep the inside environment airy, like the outdoors,” he says. The third floor was another lounge for all the guests, with a balcony that overlooked the second floor, giving everyone a glimpse at the celebs.

ard tiff 4 460x349 andrew richard designs does tiff
ard tiff 5 460x299 andrew richard designs does tiff
The party space turned out perfectly — simple, yet stunning. By the time I left, there were only a few things left to do — put on the tunes, flick the switches and create a mood.  “Good music and effective lighting are the essentials to any successful party. If the music is bad, you notice it, but when it’s good, it becomes part of the atmosphere and lets you enjoy all the other aspects of the party,” Andrew says. “It’s the same with lighting. I personally hate overhead lighting — it’s all about sconces and under-lighting.”

I couldn’t have said it better.


welcome to the new style at home blog!

We’ve always considered Style at Home to be like a decorating friend to our readers — approachable, fun, stylish, and full of helpful decorating and entertaining advice. This is why we’re so excited to announce the launch of our brand new Style at Home blog! Now you’ll be able to check-in daily to see what your fave editors are doing behind the scenes at photo shoots and events, and stay up-to-date on the latest design trends (plus, you can still access past posts from the individual blogs in our archives).

Let me introduce you to just a few of the editors that you’ll see blogging:

editors1 460x347 welcome to the new style at home blog!
{left to right, from top}
Margot Austin, senior design editor; Erin McLaughlin, editor-in-chief; Sara Cation, associate editor; Tamara Robbins, managing editor; Lauren McPhillips, web editor; Natalie Bahadur, senior web editor.

Thanks for stopping by — we hope you’re as excited about the new blog as we are!

-L xo

condo makeover: hanging lighting fixtures

Next step in my condo makeover: Hanging the light fixtures. I decided on two matching pendant fixtures from the Debbie Travis lighting collection from Canadian Tire. They’re beautiful white glass fixtures that can hang about 67 inches long but I had to shorten them – one is hanging in the kitchen, one in the foyer. I have to admit, we had a hard time assembling and hanging them but fortunately, my friend’s husband Richard was up to the task and did an amazing job. Here he is, hard at work!

hanging lighting condo makeover: hanging lighting fixturesThe pendant lighting fixtures were a bit tricky to hang but once they were up, they looked FANTASTIC!

You can find more information on these lighting fixtures on the Canadian Tire website. I also picked up this gorgeous fixture from The Shopping Channel to hang above my desk. You’ll have to stay tuned to see all the final photos!

my gorgeous kitchen cabinet doors

It’s hard to imagine that you can get this excited about cabinet doors but what can I say? Tim Welsby of Beresford Inc. did such an amazing job on my kitchen cabinets that I feel like I got a full-blown kitchen renovation for a fraction of the cost. Instead of replacing my cabinets, Tim came to my place and removed the doors and drawers and lacquered them white. What a transformation! He returned on Friday to reinstall all the doors. He took so much care with his work, and took the time to fiddle with each door to make sure that they were sitting just right. He even screwed on the new hardware for me. His work and attention to detail are exemplary and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. I definitely recommend this option to anyone who wants to update their kitchen but can’t afford a major reno.

tim cabinet doors my gorgeous kitchen cabinet doorsHere’s Tim reinstalling the new cabinet doors.

You’ll have to stay tuned to see the ‘after’ shots of my condo makeover!

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