Design & Decor Blog

the perfect pitcher

Fab find
Glass Solano pitcher, $24 US; Pottery Barn.
fabfind pitcher the perfect pitcher
It’s time, my friends. The days are officially here where you can toss the throw blanket and slippers and, instead, take comfort in an ice cold bevvy in the backyard. The sun, thermostat, and my thirst is screaming to whip up some liquid refreshments to beat the heat! I love the Solano pitcher for its sleek, elegant shape, which can hold 1.3 quarts – great for some summertime entertaining. It also comes equipped with a glass wand, for those who prefer their cocktails stirred, not shaken.
What are your favourite summer drinks?

how to perk up your space with pattern

Pattern, pattern everywhere! From dainty to graphic to global, patterns are popping up in all the right places. Style at Home’s June issue is filled with pages of colourful, pattern-packed interiors. If your home is drowning in a sea of solid beige, the thought of both colour and pattern might be just too much. Never fear…West Elm has got you covered with these lovely neutrals.

West Elm Rajasthan Stripe Printed Dhurrie how to perk up your space with pattern Why not roll out an area rug in a tone-on-tone pattern?! You’ll get wow factor with this global inspired pattern without the worry of committing to colour.   Rajasthan-Stripe Printed Dhurrie, in Slate, 80% wool / 20% cotton, 5′ x 8′ - West Elm, $199.00 (other sizes available).

West Elm Stripe Duvet Cover and Shams how to perk up your space with pattern

If nautical is more your thing, stripes are just the right touch for your home. I love the soft, yet striking appeal of these grey and white striped linens.   Stripe Duvet Cover and Shams, in White and Feather Grey, 100% cotton, Full / Queen Size – West Elm, $69.00 (other sizes available).

West Elm Hand Blocked Multi Pillow Cover1 how to perk up your space with pattern

Too many textiles got your head spinning? Want an eclectic mix, but not sure how to create it? Just toss a couple of these hand-blocked cushions on your sofa and you’ll have a patchwork of pattern without the headache.   Hand-Blocked Multi Pillow Cover,  in Stone White / Iron, 100% Raw Silk, 20″ Sq. – West Elm, $39.00.


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

ready to start a bathroom renovation

The long weekend is coming to a close but there are no fireworks for me. Instead, I’m home preparing for a bathroom renovation that’s scheduled to begin in the morning!

Needless to say, I’m tres excited to get this ball rolling. My bathroom, as you’ll see from the photos below, could use some work. I live in a condo building that was constructed in 1988. All the fixtures are original and I suppose when you take that into account, they’ve weathered the past 23 years pretty well. But now everything, from the vanity and the tub to the flooring and mirrored wall needs to go! It’s time for a fresh, new, modern look and it wasn’t hard to find everything I was looking for at Home Depot. I just needed one afternoon of one-stop shopping and now I can’t wait to get started! I’m going to share the whole process with you and I’d love your feedback along the way.

OK – here are the photos of my bathroom. Be nice!

bathroom reno1 ready to start a bathroom renovation
The shower. I can’t WAIT to get rid of that grey tub.

bathroom reno2 ready to start a bathroom renovation
And I can’t wait to get rid of the matching grey sink and toilet. Ugh.

bathroom reno3 ready to start a bathroom renovation
When I moved in, the bathroom was covered in a pink, white and purple floral wallpaper. Not so much. After painstakingly removing the paper, I opted for a charcoal grey paint. This time ’round, I’m ready to lighten things up. I haven’t decided on my colour yet. The new fixtures will be black and white. Suggestions for the paint colour?

bathroom reno4 ready to start a bathroom renovation
Coming soon: Polished marble.

Stay tuned – the fun begins tomorrow!

the essential earth tones

Our designer secrets special issue is out on stands now and I love all the tips inside from some of our fave design experts. I always get stuck trying to choose the perfect paint {hey, some shades just look too darned alike}, so I really enjoyed the paint section of the issue with designers sharing their fave shades. Here are the earth tones that are making the experts swoon.

earth tones the essential earth tones
1 Split Pea 16-28, Pratt & Lambert

“I use this yellowy green in bathrooms and bedrooms to create a serene ambience.” -Michelle Mawby, Lucid Interior Design

2 Floating Islands P5127-34, Para Paints

“”think Florida home circa 1990 meets Mies van der Rohe. This ‘blush’ adds a light, soft hue to any space and looks amazing when paired with charcoal, cream, navy or white.” -Angela Robinson, AR Design

3 Never Land P5026-85, Para Paints

“I’ve always had a weakness for jewel tones! I recommend painting this green on walls in a semi-gloss finish to create drama, elegance and sophistication, then accenting the colour with accessories in burnt orange, electric blue, eggplant, black or white.” -Angela Robinson

4 Granny Smith SD008, Style at Home Collection, Beauti-Tone Paint

“When used to create a feature wall, this shade provides a gorgeous pop of colour that doesn’t overpower a room. It’s a huge trend right now to use a chartreuse or citron.” -Jessica Kelly, Jessica Kelly Design

5 Folly Green 76, Farrow & Ball
“This green, one of my most asked-about colours, looks great on library walls broken up with lots of bookshelves and neutral elements.” -Stacey-Litwin-Davies, Litwin-Davies Design

6 Willow CC-542, Benjamin Moore

“This rich wall colour adds dimension to any room. I’ve used it on the walls in a panelled library, a dramatic dining room and a tiny jewel-box powder room. I love pairing it with brilliant colours like indigo blue or saturated colour.” -Samantha Farjo, Farjo Design

7 Rockies Brown 2107-30, Benjamin Moore

“This colour, best in a pearl finish, pairs well with one of favourite David Hicks wallpapers called The Vase, which was actually inspired by his famous Coca-Cola-coloured walls.” -Timothy Mather, TM Design

8 Kendall Charcoal HC-166, Benjamin Moore

“We’ve used this warm grey to make a bold statement and give rooms weight and depth. Whether it’s used on a piece of furniture, built-ins, interior doors, or to accent a handrail, that bit of darkness creates a layered effect.” -Cindy Bleeks, Feasby & Bleeks Design

9 Black Blue 95, Farrow & Ball

“This paint colour, which has a hint of blue, looks great on exterior doors.” -Cindy Bleeks

diy floral arrangements

Two years ago, my husband and I had a wonderfully small and intimate wedding in the backyard of my parent’s house. Due to the fact that the day we chose was the busiest wedding date of the year, and that we planned the whole thing in only a few months, there were no florists available. My mum, who has always had a keen design eye and a crafty nature, decided she could take on the task herself. She went to her favourite florist, Sweet Violets, ordered all the flowers and asked a few questions. From there she got to work, designing and executing all of the floral arrangements for the big day.

I asked her to disclose her method for anyone who might be interested in creating their own floral arrangements – whatever the occasion!

For the small arrangements that would be used at the dinner, she cut out a circle of sheer, green organza and pulled it around a small glass vase, using a piece of cream-coloured organza ribbon around the neck to secure it. She trimmed ten ‘super green roses’ and arranged them in the vase tightly, like a bouquet:

dinnerfloral diy floral arrangements

For the larger arrangements used in the ceremony, she ordered green spider mums, green al chamilla, white dahlia, white hydrangea, decorative cabbages and a collection of filler greens. She took 1 ft tall vases and made a grid on the opening using floral tape. First, she filled the grid with the greens, packing them tightly. She arranged the large hydrangea and cabbage and then filled in the rest of the vase using the spider mums, freesia, dahlia and al chamilla:

ceremonyfloral2 diy floral arrangements

ceremonyfloral diy floral arrangements

entry diy floral arrangements

ceremony diy floral arrangements

What do you guys think? Anyone have any great tips for creating your own floral arrangements?

how to paint wall stripes

There’s really not a whole lot that I don’t love about our June 2011 issue. It’s so bright and fresh and filled with amazing decorating ideas. And that cover? Oy. Our design editors amaze me on a daily basis.

dressing room how to paint wall stripes

One interior I particularly fell in love with was the high/low feature of the dressing room. I mean, what woman wouldn’t love to come home after a long day and get changed while surrounded by a sea of Tiffany blue? The stripes are what really stand out in the room, and you can get the look with paint instead of buying pricey wallpaper. Contributing design editor Christine Hanlon gives her top 6 tips for painting perfect wall stripes.

paint stripes how to paint wall stripes

1 Pick your colours. Aim for high contrast hues, advises Christine.

2 Use high quality painter’s tape. It will ensure less bleeding and smudges as well as avoid bubbles.

3 Paint the full wall in the lighter of your chosen colours.

4 Measure the width of your entire wall and divide into equal parts to determine the width of your darker-coloured stripes.

5 Use a pencil to mark each stripe at the top and bottom of the wall.

6 Place the tape on the outside of your markings for each dark-coloured stripe.

Paint colours: Cabbage White 269, Arsenic 214; Farrow & Ball.
{Photography by Nina Texeira}

colourful melamine serveware

Fab find
Melamine serving dishes & tray, $2.99-$5.99 each; HomeSense.
fabfind melamine serveware colourful melamine serveware
I’m trying to be bolder with my home decor, whether it’s with paint, pattern or decor accessories. I’m always comfortable sticking to a neutral palette, but then drool over homes filled with colour and pattern. To slowly pull myself out of my comfort zone, I opt for decor accessories with fabulous colours and prints – this way I can add those little pops to my home without the anxiety of being stuck with it.
One great way to splash some colour around your home is with this vibrant melamine serveware collection. Great for indoor and outdoor entertaining, these bright dishes and trays are perfect for summer parties or just relaxing in the sun with some refreshments. At less than $6 a piece, you can be the host with the most – in savings!
How do you add colour to your home?

glass pedestal stand & dome

Fab find
Glass pedestal stand & dome, $14 each; Pottery Barn.
fabfind cakestand glass pedestal stand & dome
Whether you bake or buy your decadent desserts, they will look absolutely delicious on these classic glass pedestals. You can ‘wow’ your dinner guests with a beautiful dessert display, have friends and family over for tea with scones and sweets, or simply use the stands and dome to keep your treats fresh. At only $14 each, these stands are an easy and elegant way to make any dessert look all the more appetizing!

st pancras renaissance hotel in london

I just returned home from a trip to London, where I stayed at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. This incredible property, originally designed by English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened in 1873, adjoins the St. Pancras train station. I adore seeing hotels around the world, taking in the design and finding inspiration in the most unexpected places. This gloriously Gothic hotel did not disappoint. It has undergone a massive restoration project and finally threw open its doors for a grand opening party this past Thursday. I was lucky enough to be there to partake in the festivities. Here’s a sneak peek into the hotel. I will be writing more about the room interiors, so stay tuned! For now, take a virtual tour through the halls of this 138-year-old property

st pancras exterior st pancras renaissance hotel in london The exterior of the building is imposing and impressive. It’s no surprise that scenes from the last Harry Potter movie were filmed here. It’s deliciously Gothic.

Chambers Suites Corridor st pancras renaissance hotel in london The corridors of the hotel are stunning. Every square inch of this hotel is meticulously designed and restored to reflect the original and authentic look and feel of when the hotel first opened 138 years ago.

Grand Staircase 11 st pancras renaissance hotel in london The Grand Staircase is the real showstopper at this hotel. Snaking up, up, up from both left and right, it’s a spectacular sight to behold.

1st Floor Corridor 1 st pancras renaissance hotel in london The first-floor corridor is delightfully romantic. The handpainted murals and ceiling artwork have been carefully restored to their original splendour.

Booking Office bar restaurant 1 st pancras renaissance hotel in london The train station’s booking office has been transformed into the Booking Office Bar & Restaurant. St. Pancras trains still pull up just outside the restaurant with a muffled rumble. There’s a lingering reminiscence for the days when train travel was glamorous – and the revitalization of this hotel has brought that glamour back.

shopping at homesense

Although I’m a sucker for the little boutique shops around Toronto, HomeSense is one of my favourite destinations — it never disappoints. They’re always bringing in updated decor that is right on trend, and fit in my budget. I stopped in at my local HomeSense and snapped some shots of their current collection.

Untitled 1 shopping at homesense

Their pillow section is bursting with amazing prints. My personal favourite is the top left, the green and white peacock feather, but sadly, there was only one looking for a home (I like to buy in pairs). At $30 each for the pillows, it’s hard to not find yourself stacking them into your cart.

Untitled 111 shopping at homesense

I was also really captivated by their current mirror section. They have in a lot of rustic/old world pieces that look perfectly aged (left mirror $40, right mirror $30). Next up, I loved this side table that reminded me of a line that a higher end store carries, but this one was a fraction of the cost ($350). They also have an awesome selection of baskets in store, something I always stock up on for toy organization now that my son Oscar is collecting more and more toys.

{Photos taken from the Laird and Eglinton location in Toronto}

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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