Design & Decor Blog

deciding on artwork

Most of the hard work is done on my condo and now my wonderful designer Lisa and I are moving on to the fun stuff – accessorizing and taking care of the details. I’ve definitely stretched myself beyond my budget and Lisa keeps admonishing me, reminding me that it’s better to spend my money on items I really love and that will service me best, rather than cheaping out. {Sigh.} I know she’s right.

When it comes to artwork, I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to hang on the walls. I don’t like hanging art for the sake of hanging art. I feel that the things you choose to hang on your walls should mean something – art to me is more than a form of decorating; I feel it speaks to who you are.

So with this in mind, Lisa and I decided to create an art display featuring some of my favourite photographs taken on my travels around the world. We headed over to Walmart to find frames … budget-friendly frames; yay!

lisa walmart deciding on artworkHere’s Lisa in Walmart, contemplating ways to arrange the frames!

frames deciding on artworkWe took the frames home and continued to play with the configuration. We haven’t hung them yet and are still deciding on which photos to use.

This is yet another element of my new space that I can’t wait to see completed. Inexpensive frames and personal photographs make this an easy but beautiful way to adorn my walls with artwork that is meaningful to me.

painting the backsplash

It’s amazing how things snowball when you start a renovation. What began as a small and manageable project quickly became an undertaking that was going to cost a lot more time and money than I’d budgeted for. But not everything has to dig a too-deep hole into the ol’ pocket. Not if you’re willing to try something new and put a little elbow grease into it.

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to replace my backsplash. (The current one is just plain white, but there are six tiles that have this strange vignette of lobsters, potatoes and a glass of wine. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.) So, these six tiles have irked me to no end and finally, as we embarked on this condo makeover, it was time to kiss those lousy lobsters goodbye.

I was thrilled at the idea of putting up new tiles (I love the look of 1-inch by 1-inch glass tiles), but as my expenses continued to inflate beyond the limits of my budget, my designer Lisa suggested I paint the tiles. Paint them? To say I was skeptical is to put it mildly. But eventually, Lisa’s can-do, no-problem, just-do-it attitude rubbed off on me. She picked up the primer and the paint I’d need and I set about the task (OK, I was still a little skeptical … )

I scrubbed the tiles well to remove any film, dirt, grease and grime. Then I sanded them lightly, followed by a coat of primer. Today, I began painting them.

Take a look at this in-progress shot below. It’s not looking too bad – here’s hoping it looks fantastic by the time I’m done! So instead of spending about $600 on tiles, we’ve updated the backsplash for about $30 (the cost of the materials) and a little bit of work.

painting the backsplash painting the backsplash

shopping for drapery at invu

When designer Lisa Canning and I first embarked on this project to give my condo a makeover, one of the first questions she asked me was: What’s the one thing you absolutely want changed in your space?

My response: I’d love beautiful drapery.

My condo came outfitted with those standard, horrible fabric venetian blinds and in the years I’ve lived there, I haven’t gotten around to replacing them. I’ve spent many an evening redecorating in my mind, replacing those eyesores with luxurious silk curtains. Alas, I never did get around to it.

Until today. Choosing stunning, ready-made silk panels from InVu Drapery Co, Lisa has completely transformed my space. The change is unbelievable. My living room has been given an instantly glamorous, decidedly grown-up feeling and the drapery adds such a sense of style, drama and really – a sense of completion. It really pulled all the other elements in the room together.

We’re not completed yet, but we will be soon and I can’t wait to show you all the ‘after’ photos. I’m not going to reveal which drapes we went with just yet, but in the meantime, check out these photos:

invu2 shopping for drapery at invuInside the InVu store (Mississauga location), I felt my heartbeat quicken. The selection of fabric is extensive and customers are surrounded by aisles and aisles of options! It’s hard not to touch each and every luxurious fabric as you stroll through the store.

invu1 shopping for drapery at invuThe packaging does count. Each drapery panel came beautifully packaged in a stylish box like this one. This kind of packaging makes you feel good about what you’ve invested in – and if you’re like me, you’re going to want to keep the boxes to store something, anything in. They’re just that lovely.

Visit for more information.

back-to-school month: ikea desks

blog desks back to school month: ikea desks
Clockwise from top left
1) Brada laptop desk, $20
2) Alve secretary in white, $249
3) Vika Amon in birch, $59
4) Besta Burs in high gloss grey, $299

simply stunning tabletop ideas

Guest post by Cindy Johnson
Visit: Platinum Events Group

Luxury wedding stylist Cindy Johnson of Toronto-based Platinum Events Group knows a thing or two about throwing a great party — she regularly plans lavish weddings, both near and afar, plus some of the city`s biggest charity galas. Whether you`re planning a wedding, anniversary party or simply a dinner party for friends, Cindy shares these tips for making sure your tabletop has some pop.

urban parisian simply stunning tabletop ideasUrban Parisian
This look lends itself well to weddings and events of every kind. Trees are ultra versatile and instantly transform your tabletop by adding texture and scale. Achieve this urban Parisian look by hanging tea lights, blooms and softening the branches with feathers. Rouche satin chair covers and scripted stationery add the final element of “ooh-la-la”.  Photo credit: JW Photography

simply exotic simply stunning tabletop ideasSimply exotic
Beautiful blooms submerged in transparent vessels will magnify the size, contrast and colour. But not all flowers will be up to the task. Choose exotic flowers like protea which tend to be heartier. To complete the table, choose linens in a more neutral colour and add plenty of white candlelight to help further emphasize the centrepiece. To create additional drama, add a single bloom on each place setting, but ensure you use exotic flowers such as orchids, to match the centrepiece.

regal affair simply stunning tabletop ideasRegal affair
Nothing says tradition like roses and lots of them. This look is ideal for a wedding, anniversary party or major milestone celebration. Tightly bunched flower clusters are best accompanied by gold candelabras, chiavari chairs, beautiful crystal stemware, gold framed place cards and charger plates. Consider having the menu custom cut to fit in the centre of the charger. You don`t necessarily need to have all of these elements, but when it comes to pulling off this traditional look, the design is in the details. Photo credit: 5ive15ifteen Photo Co.

mini takeaways simply stunning tabletop ideasMini takeaways
If you`re striving for simplicity, consider multiple mini takeaways which will ensure your guests leave with a special thank you. Ideal for a garden party or a luncheon, these earthy table toppers are eco-friendly and can be consumed or planted post-event. Purchase potted herbs or wheatgrass from your local greenhouse or landscaper and dress up the containers with spray paint, patterned ribbon or even a glass pedestal to add extra height. Photo credit: JW Photography

romantic drama simply stunning tabletop ideasRomantic drama
To achieve this angelic, soft look which is ideal for romantic occasions like weddings and anniversaries, use more flowers and less filler. Ask your florist for open roses, hydrangea and peonies and cluster the centrepieces using odd denominations. Create a uniformed but lush look by clustering small, medium and large centrepieces. Couple with long lasting, eight-hour votive candles instead of tea lights. Add extra drama with pin lighting for tables and up-lighting for backdrops.   Photo credit: Andrew Adams Photography

asian inspired simply stunning tabletop ideasAsian inspired
This creation is simple and contemporary and is an ideal tabletop when food is the main focus and you are serving multiple courses. Leis of orchids and specialty stemware create a clean sophistication. Use fishing wire to string orchids or other flowers but be sure to pick blooms that can survive not being in water for several hours. Napkins in a modern jewel or dark tone keep the design fashionable and keep the focus on the food and florals. Photo credit: JW Photography

destination fresh simply stunning tabletop ideasDestination fresh
When considering your tabletop, remember the locale and the time of year. For example, warm climates call for flowers that can withstand the heat. Orchids, hibiscus, anthurium, wild ginger and others are ideal for humid conditions. Cotton or Frette linens keep the look fresh and breezy. If the space is already warm, keep candles low, few and long lasting so they don`t add heat to the room. Photo credit: Mikael Lamber

fabulous kitchens + your chance to win great kitchen stuff from fruits & passion

cucina1 fabulous kitchens + your chance to win great kitchen stuff from fruits & passion
I`ve been so caught up in my condo renovation/redecorating project with designer Lisa Canning that I haven`t had a chance to think about much else. But today I`m taking a break from it and writing about something else.

The September issue of Style at Home is our Kitchen issue and if you haven`t had a chance to check it out yet, you should definitely pick up a copy (or subscribe online!) As usual, it`s jam-packed with fantastic ideas for making your kitchen look its absolute best and work better, harder, smarter than ever.

Check out these fab kitchen articles for inspiration:

Kitchen interior: The new traditional
This classic kitchen proves that ‘traditional’ doesn’t have to mean old-fashioned.

A bright kitchen reno
The relaxed appeal of being by the ocean made this country kitchen makeover a (sea) breeze.

5 beautiful white kitchens
Crisp, clean and classic — these 5 white kitchens have it all.

cucina fabulous kitchens + your chance to win great kitchen stuff from fruits & passion
This week I’m giving away two prize packs from Fruits and Passion’s Cucina collection. This eco-friendly line of products is designed with the environment in mind and will help to keep your kitchen free from toxins as you clean and wash up. Beautifully packaged, they’ll look great on display, too! Simply leave a comment below, sharing your best kitchen organizing tip and I’ll choose two responses on September 27, 2010.

The prize packs (valued at $144 each) include:

Purifying Hand Wash
Purifying Hand Wash Refill
Regenerating Hand Cream
Nourishing Hand Butter
Deodorizing Kitchen Spray
Countertop Cleaner
Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Glass Cleaner
Dish Detergent

Contest closes September 27, 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 Cheryl and Brittany. And thanks to everyone for entering!

painting the gables in my kitchen

At the risk of boring you to tears, I’m going to share the next step in my condo makeover: Painting the gables in the kitchen. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that Lisa and I decided to get my honey-coloured wooden cabinets lacquered white for a clean, bright look to better match my fabulous new Tarkett flooring. Tim Welsby from Beresford Inc. came and removed my cabinet doors and drawers in order to get the job done in his furniture restoration studio. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

But once the doors were removed, I realized that there were still portions of wood trim that would need to be painted. Tim was willing to do it (for a price!) but I decided to give it a go myself. Oh boy. Thankfully, Tim was kind enough to provide clear instructions.

He provided me with a small vial of trisodium phosphate with which to clean the wood. This cleaner quickly and easily removes any grease build-up that may be on the wood and gives the wood a much better surface for painting. Next step: Lightly sand the wood. Then prime. The primer needed to dry for about three hours so I haven’t painted yet but here’s where we’re at:

gables1 painting the gables in my kitchenBefore: This was the largest section of wood that needed to be painted.

gables2 painting the gables in my kitchenAfter: Here it is cleaned, sanded and primed. Please, please, please don’t let me mess this up!

wallpaper in progress

wallpaper in progress wallpaper in progressLisa and her amazing assistant Kristelle did a great job wallpapering the back feature wall in my condo. I love it! We chose Marimekko’s Lumimarja wallpaper from New Wall (pictured above) and I really love how it looks. Read more on Lisa’s blog!

nowhere to put the furniture

new couch nowhere to put the furniture
Can you say mayhem? The furniture delivery guys showed up ON TIME this afternoon. They gave us a window between 11am and 1pm and guess what? They showed up at noon when I was totally banking on them being late. Like significantly late. Aren’t deliveries always late? Apparently not when you want them to be. Anyhow, they showed up with my fabulous new couch, sofa and side tables from West Elm. I’m pretty excited to finally see them in my space. The flooring guys are still working away so it’s a bit tough having all the furniture in my space because now they have to work around it, especially to install the baseboards. But everyone’s working well and patiently and with the delivery of the furniture, we’re getting one step closer to putting my place back together.  Picture above: Designer Lisa Canning and her assistant Kristelle, working on the just-delivered couch amidst the dust and noise of a power saw. They’re so awesome – neither one batted an eye at the chaos.

installing marimekko wallpaper

marimekko wallpaper installing marimekko wallpaper
The flooring installers from End of the Roll just showed up at my door, ready to finish up the job. Yesterday, they installed the new floors throughout the living room and now, just the kitchen and front foyer are left. I really can’t wait to see the whole thing completed. It’s looking amazing already.

Since they’re finished in the living room, my designer Lisa Canning (check out her website at is ready to get the wallpaper up. Our design plan has evolved throughout this process and we’ve agreed that we love Marimekko’s Lumimarja wallpaper from New Wall (pictured above) for the front foyer and on the long back wall of the living room (behind the sofa). Hopefully the wallpaper can go up today – we have to work around the flooring guys! But as you can see, things are really starting to come together.

What are your thoughts on the wallpaper? I just returned home from a vacation that took me to Finland. While in Helsinki, I strolled through the must-visit, typically Finnish design stores like Marimekko and Iittala. I love the playful feeling in their designs and this Marimekko wallpaper is fresh and fun, without being too overwhelming for a small space. What do you think?

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