Design & Decor Blog

stoneware measuring cups

Fab find
Austin’s Flora Measuring cups, $28 for set; Anthropologie.
fabfind measuring cups stoneware measuring cups

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cottage hostess gift

Looking for a creative hostess gift this summer?

Untitled 8 cottage hostess gift

colourful striped hammock

Fab find
Multi-stripe hammock in a bag, $26.95 (on sale); Crate and Barrel.
fabfind hammock colourful striped hammock

Is there anything more relaxing than laying out on a hammock on a sunny, summer day? Take a nap or just enjoy the fresh air in this colourful, multi-stripe hammock wherever you go! This comfy fab find comes with a handy drawstring bag so you can simply unpack and unwind all summer. Just make sure you have somewhere to hang the reinforced steel hooks from and you’re good to go!

Do you like hammocks?

a new backsplash makes a world of difference

If you’ve been following along with the tales of my renovations, you know that I’ve been tackling my one-bedroom condo one room at a time. After completing my bathroom renovation, I think it was just a matter of time before my eyes wandered on over to the kitchen. Though I’d recently made some changes in the kitchen, it wasn’t perfect and that backsplash still caused me anxiety. Let me walk you through it:

OK, this is what the backsplash looked like when I first moved into my condo eight years ago:
backsplash before2 a new backsplash makes a world of difference The lobster, the tomato … is that beer in a Champagne flute? I just couldn’t handle it but you know how it goes … you get settled into your home and before you know it, eight years have passed and you’re still rooming with a lobster.

Once I’d renovated the bathroom and updated my living room, it was really time to do something about the backsplash. Because funds were limited, my amazing and talented designer Lisa Canning encouraged me to paint the existing backsplash. It was a quick and easy job and really did make a difference; at least I wouldn’t have to look at those lobsters any more. Problem: I took a shortcut (never a good idea!) and painted around my existing stove. I know, I know – I should have moved it but it was too heavy for me so I did the best job I could. But when I got around to replacing my appliances, the new stove was lower than the old, thus exposing the shortcut.

backsplash during a new backsplash makes a world of difference So I suppose it was inevitable that I’d have to rip the whole thing out and start from scratch, which I finally got around to a few weeks ago! And, as many of you probably know, once you start one job, it tends to snowball. My contractor convinced me to replace the countertop at the same time. “Once you put the backsplash in, you can’t replace the countertop without damaging the tiles,” he said. Before I knew it, the countertop was off and out and the real fun was about to begin!

Off I went to Home Depot to choose my backsplash tile. The choice was a no-brainer. I LOVED this tile and knew it would look great with my white cabinets:

backsplash tile a new backsplash makes a world of difference This Marble Mosaic tile (Home Depot, $19.99/sheet) is beautiful and looks wonderful contrasted against the dark countertop I selected. The Home Depot sales associate was so helpful, not only helping me to choose my tile, but making sure I knew exactly what kind of mortar and grout I’d need, and pointing out which sealant should be used following installation. He gave me step-by-step instructions, which I listened to carefully, then imparted to my contractor.

backsplash after a new backsplash makes a world of difference Finally! My kitchen looks polished and complete – no lobsters and no amateur paint job peeking out from behind the stove. After all these years, it still takes me by surprise when I walk into the kitchen and see it looking so … finished. There’s nothing more to be done in there now and it feels (and looks!) great. It was really worth the wait.

What around-the-house task do you keep putting off?

cottage country tips

cottage2 cottage country tips
We live for the summer at Andrew Richard Designs and couldn’t be more excited that it’s finally time to head up North. Whether you’re lounging lakeside in Ontario or Quebec, alongside the Rockies in BC, or seaside out east, these cottage furnishing tips will set you up for a summer of relaxation and ease.

1 Shade products
Shade is essential on the dock to provide some relief from the hot summer sun. Shade producing products near the water always need substantial support to ensure they don’t fly away in a strong gust of wind! When choosing shade products for the dock, make sure that they are adequately supported to avoid flight issues; an umbrella base of 150 pounds or more is recommended.

2 Sunroom set-up
Treat the Muskoka room like an outdoor space. Most of these screened-in porches are not heated and are exposed to extremely cold winters and constant sun rays in the summer. Using outdoor-friendly pieces and fabrics in this space is highly recommended to maximize the longevity of your furnishings. Outdoor furnishings can better take the harsh changes in weather and constant variations in sunlight, with minimal deterioration and fading.

cottage3 cottage country tips
3 Comfortable furnishings
Cottage country is a place to unwind and relax with family and friends. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors with more room to spread out. It’s nice to have large communal outdoor pieces where family and friends can relax together while enjoying a summer day or night. Outdoor beds, double chaises and large sectionals can really add a great place to socialize outdoors on the deck or dock. Mixing in some natural wood or teak furnishings and accessories will adapt your outdoor entertaining space to the natural environment at the cottage.

Enjoy your time lakeside this summer! Put your legs up and enjoy the sunshine.

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.

behind the scenes: august high+low

As a long time reader of STYLE AT HOME prior to joining the editorial team, I always wondered how on earth high+low was pulled off.  How could the spaces look so similar at such different price points?

Well my dears, after watching senior design editor Margot Austin in action I can tell you it is no easy feat! You have to have the eyes of a hawk, the memory of an elephant and the endurance of a racehorse.

Animal allusions aside, you truly do require a mental catalogue of the retail design market indexed in your head and the energy and passion to hunt down matches, organize them all into a single studio space, and then whip up two nearly identical interiors.

Phew- even writing that has me exhausted…

high low 2 behind the scenes: august high+low

As a high+low rookie, I was keen to observe how a cozy nook was created out of a blank canvas of studio space. Photographer extraordinaire Nina Teixeira was a superstar, helping put up wallpaper, creating a window where there wasn’t one, and unpacking and unwrapping boxes and bags of furniture and accessories like it was no one’s business! (And that’s on top of her amazing photography skills of course!)

Starting by laying down floating flooring, we layered the big furniture elements with accessories and human touches, such as a glass of sparkling rose, to make the space come alive and feel like a real interior.

Of course there were bumps in the road, like when we realized the wrong colour rug had been delivered for our “high” and in our excitement of the proper white one arriving, put it down in the incorrect “low” setting we were shooting first– oops!

high low 3 behind the scenes: august high+low

Another memorable moment was taking a 15-minute breather to catch the final minutes of Oprah’s last show while commenting on how her coral ombre L’Wren Scott ensemble totally complemented our set. O, you are always right on trend!

All of the insanity that goes into creating high+low is worth its weight in gold though, because it shows that you can mix and match items at different price points and choose to invest in some pieces, and save on others – but still have a fabulous home!

I also love how the feature explains reasons for the price disparity, for example, for this High/Low we explain that the white chest we used in our “high” is finished by hand in a high gloss enamel, which requires hours of work to achieve, as opposed to the “low” which is simply a matte finish.

It’s not just about the different numbers, it’s about “the why” too- knowledge is power!

colourful outdoor cushions

Fab find
Bhotah outdoor pillows, $24.53 each; Pottery Barn.
fabfind outdoor pillows colourful outdoor cushions
Nothing looks more inviting and energetic in the summer than a brightly decorated outdoor space. Inspired by Indian mehndi prints, these outdoor cushions are the perfect way to bring bold colours and patterns to your decor. But don’t forget – many outdoor accessories are also perfect for indoor use so double up on the savings by finding decor items you can use inside, too. And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on style! The Bhotah pillows come in four gorgeous colours, in two pretty prints, that’ll make any space comfortable and chic.

prairie farmhouse, part 1

After months of a packed schedule, overload of work and endless hours at my laptop blogging, designing and tweeting, I was beginning to get a little bug-eyed and blue. I love city life, but sometimes the go-go-go of it all gets to be too much. The Remedy? A delightful, albeit speedy, trip to my hometown – a small farming community in southern Manitoba. I had no real “plans” for my visit, other than to escape all the demands and pressures of the city. My vacay went exactly as, well, “planned”. I soaked up some rays, snagged a sweet deal at the local thrift shop, spent time with family and swung by my friend’s farm.

For as long as I’ve known my friend Virginia Janzen (which is almost a couple of decades now!), I’ve been gushing over her family’s farmhouse. Both Virginia and her mom Cindy have an effortless flair about them; and, the farmhouse’s simple, yet stylish decor is evidence of this. From it’s sweet perches (read: chaise and swinging bench) and splashes of red accents to it’s eclectic vignettes and abundance of blankets and pillows, the Janzen’s home is the quintessential prairie farmhouse.

Take a look at these lovely snap shots and you’ll see what I mean!

Farmhouse01 prairie farmhouse, part 1

Farmhouse Barn prairie farmhouse, part 1

Farmhouse Chaise01 prairie farmhouse, part 1

Farmhouse Outdoor Dresser01 prairie farmhouse, part 1

Farmhouse Outdoor Dining01 prairie farmhouse, part 1

I’ll be posting photos of the farmhouse’s interior soon, so stay tuned for part 2!


Amy Walters is a Winnipeg-based design enthusiast and blogger. For more design inspiration from Amy, check out her blog aDESIGNdock.

how to: throw a themed party

theme party1 how to: throw a themed party
While I have a passion for space and furniture design, once a year in June, I get my ultimate event planning fix! This year, we decided to host a themed party called Secreto de Verano, meaning Summer Secret. Our concept was ‘A Night in Buenos Aires’, where we focused on creating a lively atmosphere that was both beautiful and romantic. We wanted to generate an experience full of rich culture for our guests by offering the best caterers, music, and entertainment.

Our wonderful caterers started up their ovens and supplied all of our guests with delicious and authentic appetizers, ranging from warm Argentinian ravioli and mango salad to nitro dulce de leche ice cream from Origin Restaurant. We also had vivacious dancers and performers from Axe Capoeira and a crowd inspiring DJ from Bellosound spinning all night.

Throwing a themed party is a fun and playful way to way to celebrate, be it with 10 friends or a thousand.  Here are some tips to help you create the perfect event, whatever size your party.

Stay focused on your goal and follow these simple steps:

1 Have inspiration
If you are hosting a themed party, keep it simple and stick to your topic. Themes do not have to be cheesy! You need to draw from exciting, genuine sources for inspiration and keep your party plans authentic.

theme party2 how to: throw a themed party
2 Offer simple menus
Make sure your food choices are concise and delicious. There is nothing worse than being overwhelmed with food at a party. Flavourful appetizers and delicious finger foods are easy to manage, make less of a mess, and are still filling.

3 Create a mood
Lighting is one of the most important parts of a party. An event should begin with brighter lighting, followed by dimming as the evening rolls on. A quick way to add extra glow in any room, day or night: tried and true candles.

4 Play a perfect playlist
It is very important to take the time to create a playlist suited to your guests and your theme. This way, you are not being constantly interrupted to change a song or switch a CD and are able to enjoy the celebrations.

5 Invite compatible guests
Extend invitations for your party to people that are like minded. Regardless of whether they are strangers or not, they will have something to talk about. Your guests should feel comfortable and be entertained by one another; this will make your party a true success!

6 Game on
Get your guests engaged with optional games or dancing.  It helps to create interaction and memories, creating an overall experience.

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.

5 reasons to get a bean bag chair

Have you ever sat in a bean bag chair and just uncomfortably sagged into the floorboards? I used to own one and it didn’t take long for the filling to deflate and become a useless lump. Clearly, the bean bag chairs of yore had an expiry date. How disappointing.

But years after I had retired my chair and given up on the concept, I receive an invite for a bean bag chair event with Beanbag Boss. They’ve brought them back and I was definitely curious.

Well, I went. I saw. They impressed.

bean bag stack2 5 reasons to get a bean bag chair

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