Design & Decor Blog

the new kobo touch + you could win one!

kobo touch the new kobo touch + you could win one!
If you haven’t made the switch to an e-reader, I urge you to consider it. A book fiend myself, I’ve always treasured my novels and have always surrounded myself with bookcases overflowing with favourite reads and reads yet to come. But when I was introduced to Kobo, things started to change. It was love at first sight and I haven’t looked back. It happened quickly and unexpectedly. I hadn’t planned to end my love affair with actual books – and of course – there are classics and favourites that will always fill my bookcases. But I’m so in love that I’ve had the following exchange with my boyfriend. More than once.

him: If you had to choose between me and your Kobo, what would you choose?
{long pause}
him: {long, awkward silence}

The Kobo has revolutionalized reading for me and the new Kobo Touch (, $139) has taken things one step further. Here’s what I love best:

- The infrared touch screen makes using this device so simple to use. It’s intuitive and with just the tap of a finger, you can flip the pages, enlarge the font and zoom in on PDF files.

- It’s smaller, more compact than previous incarnations of the Kobo. The paperback size makes it easily portable. Throw it in your purse and you’ll always have something to read when you’re left waiting at the dentist.

- Kobo uses E-Ink technology to simulate the printed word on a page. It’s easy to read and because the screen isn’t backlit, it doesn’t feel like you’re reading on a computer or other handheld device. The glare-free screen is easy on the eyes and feels like a real book.

- The Kobo Touch holds up to 1,000 books! Not enough? Add a memory card and it can hold up to 32,000 books. So when you finish one book, you don’t need to wait til you get to the bookstore to pick up a new one. You’ll always have a full library right at your fingertips.

I love the feeling of Kobo’s signature quilted back and it’s got WiFi capability too, which means you can order books on the go. I’ve been reading more books more quickly ever since I converted to Kobo. And as a frequent traveler, it’s ideal. No more lugging heavy books around with me. It’s super light and I always have options, depending on what I feel like reading.

must-have accessories
The new Kobo Touch comes in white, black, silver and lilac and there are an array of accessories. Here are my faves:

kobo accessories the new kobo touch + you could win one!
1 The Verso Clip Light (, $16.99) is perfect when you’re reading in the dark at night. Just clip it onto the top of your Kobo and you needn’t turn your sidetable lamp on. The flexible neck means you can adjust the light as needed to brighten your pages.

2 The Book Style Cover (, $29.95) will not only protect your Kobo Touch but gives it that ‘real book’ feeling that book lovers will appreciate. Elastic bands on the inside will hold your Kobo securely in place and there are also inside pockets. Available in purple, black, navy and natural.

3 Don’t have the Kobo Touch? There are new accessories available for the WiFi Kobo and I love that you can now get the Book Style Cover (, $29.95) for this version. The older Kobo is slightly larger than the new Kobo Touch so be sure to get the right size cover. How fun is the pink?

Want to win one? {Of course you do!} We’ve got four to give away. Enter here. Good luck!

textured porcelain bowls

Fab find
Naturalist bowls, $8 each; West Elm.
fabfind naturalist bowls textured porcelain bowls
From West Elm’s “Modernist” collection, these bowls comes in four different patterns. Using a special printing technique, they are beautifully made with branch, leaf and floral prints. The exterior of the bowls are also textured to mimic tree bark, making these colourful pieces look and feel organic. They look absolutely gorgeous on a tabletop or used for display.
Do you like the natural look of these bowls?

my apartment makeover, part 2

I’ve received such lovely feedback from the before and after photos of my apartment, so I’m happy to share some before and after photos of my furniture makeovers too!

I decorated my apartment while working at a high end design firm, which was great because I had access to trade-only resources that offered up beautiful custom furniture and fabric for clients – but it was also hard because I grew accustomed to working with a certain level of quality that wasn’t exactly in the budget for a young couple starting out in their first place. Thanks to the wonderful world of vintage and consignment shopping, however, I was able to source affordable raw material that I then transformed into my own custom pieces for a high end look at a more realistic price point.

tuxedo chair before my apartment makeover, part 2

I jumped on a craigslist ad that a couple leaving the country posted in effort to sell off their furniture, which gained me a clean-lined vintage chair for less than $25!

jessica tuxedo chair after my apartment makeover, part 2

Inspired by a crisp and classic YSL tuxedo jacket, I had the talented team at Cooper Bros. spray the dated wood frame high gloss black and convert the loose back cushions into a tight back. Contrast welting and button tufting in sumptuous black velvet made the ivory vinyl fabric pop (I chose the vinyl for durability and its fabric-like appearance so I could commit to white without worrying)

console before my apartment makeover, part 2

One accent piece I sourced on craigslist received a DIY treatment inspired by Hickory Chair’s Stephanie vanity

console after my apartment makeover, part 2

After arranging to pick up the console in a parking lot at Yorkdale Mall for $130, I sanded the existing antiqued cream finish down and painted it out in glossy black using a roller to achieve a smooth finish. I used metallic gold paint for the detailing and love how it creates the illusion of ormolu.

jessica bench before my apartment makeover, part 2

Another vintage find, a bench that I inherited from my grandparents, was the perfect place to use a favourite fabric that I only needed a yard and a half of to update and could afford to spend on.

bench after my apartment makeover, part 2

I wanted a modern graphic to contrast with the traditional cabriole legs, so I turned to the Missoni-esque flamestitch pattern“Flair” from Kelly Wearstler`s fabric collection for Lee Joffa.

jessica setee before my apartment makeover, part 2

One of the biggest investments in the apartment is my prized setee and it is a solid example of putting money into something special that you know you will have for years to come. I drove to Oakville with my mother in her truck to pick up the $100 antique I found on Craigslist. I had Cooper Bros. open it up to see exactly how much TLC the piece required. I knew the whole process would set me back far more than the initial cost,  but because I picked it up from the previous owner directly and worked with trusted trades, I still only forked over less than half of what I would ever pay in a brick and mortar store for the finished product.

after setee my apartment makeover, part 2

The setee’s curvy lines provided a perfect foil to carry off the black and white striped treatment I had been longing to use, and after months of searching I finally found a fabric at Primavera that had the colouration, saturation and graphic impact I was looking for.  Having Cooper Bros reinforce and gild the frame in a warm golden tone befitting a Parisian antique, making a new down-filled seat cushion and topping it off with blush round tufted velvet cushions made the craigslist find a picture perfect piece that I will have forever!

The moral of the story is, all you need is imagination to realize a piece’s full potential! With either the skills for a DIY makeover (or contacts of trades with the skills), you can rescue someone else`s forgotten furniture and turn it into an individual masterpiece!

how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city

I always love to see what my clients are up to with their outdoor spaces. I get such a rush out of seeing the final product, and checking out the finished space after the client has added all of their own personal touches. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to do just that! One of my clients who I’ve worked with over the past four years came in to our showroom to show me what he’s done with the space and it’s outstanding.

Though this is a larger scale terrace in the downtown core, he has managed to make it feel warm and cosy. A place where you can get away from it all and also be right in the thick of it at the same time! I loved the pictures that he brought to show me and wanted to share some of them with you to illustrate why I think he did such a great job in such a simple way …

outdoor1 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
1 Mixing colour, texture and pattern in the fabrics helps to create warmth and interest in the space. With so many amazing fabric options that are outdoor-friendly, you can really have fun with all sorts of fabric designs and colours. Also, taking the decor a little less seriously outside and doing something fun is always nice for a more casual outdoor space.

outdoor2 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
2 Bring the space to life with planters filled with live plants and flowers. I find that this also brings warmth and atmosphere to a large terrace space.

3 I love a series of small tables rather than one large table. It’s great for entertaining as it creates the feeling of multiple areas in the same space.

outdoor3 how to: create a personalized oasis in the middle of the city
4 Shade products like the unique ones pictured here help to create privacy, shade and contain the space a bit to really make it feel like a retreat.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when creating a warm and cosy outdoor urban oasis for your terrace!

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.

dining room chair construction

Over on our home blog we’ve been doing a dining room makeover for a few months. When we moved into the house, my parents gifted us with their old dining room table and chairs, and although I loved the table, I felt that the matching chairs (seen in this post) made the room too heavy.

I felt that the best way to bring this old table to life, was to invest in some new chairs. Our new chairs are via Silva, a Canadian furniture company that is the go-to spot for people like Sarah Richardson. They were kind enough to photograph the process of one of my chairs being made …

038 dining room chair construction

Here is a fun shot of the process of my Mia Chairs being made. The nail head detail has yet to be added, which I will reveal when we get our chairs next week. I’m loving the fact that we’re reusing an old table that has a lot of history for our family, but I’m bringing it into 2011 by just switching out the chairs.

Ps., How awesome is it that the chairs are made right here in Canada by an amazing, family run company.

Lindsay Stephenson is one of our guest bloggers, 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.

unique vases

The other day I came across a box of discarded tarnished silverware in front of a neighbour’s house. I couldn’t resist picking out three little pieces to bring home to try and bring back to life.

sah unique vases

The bucket was my favourite item - I love finding little pieces like this that will work as a vase. I think it adds much interest to an arrangement.

sah unique vases

I cut some peonies from my garden and delivered it to my Mom. :) The dark spots on the bucket are still showing, even after a lot of elbow grease but I think they add beautiful patina to my free, cardboard box find. Just always keep your eyes open for fun things like this, that will work as vases throughout your house. xo Lindsay

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.

dressing up tech treasures with GelaSkins

GelaSkins03 dressing up tech treasures with GelaSkins

This may up my lame factor, but I have a confession to make…I always seem to be the last of my friends to buy the latest and the greatest gadgetry. In fact, when I finally make a purchase, there’s usually a new latest and greatest on the market (but hey, at least that means I get the item on sale, right?!). Still with me? Hmmm…probably not, but in my defence I do drool over the newest tech goodies just as much as the next gal…it’s just that my eyes don’t match my wallet. Thus, I get left behind - spitting dust, if you know what I mean!

Anyways, such is the case with my cellphone. While all of my friends have been happily glued to their smartphones (for several years), I’m still lugging around the standard mobile. I’ve got my eye on the new iPhone4 in white (doesn’t everybody?!); and, someday I WILL cave. Just not yet!

So here was my dilemma: I wanted to glam up my ol’ phone without putting a giant gouge in my wallet.

Enter GelaSkins. Made of laminated vinyl with a 3M adhesive backing, these “skins” are an easy and inexpensive way to dress up and protect all of your fav tech treasures (cellphones, laptops, tablets, e-readers, etc.)! Choose designs from their artists’ gallery or design your own. The “skins” go on in minutes and come off residue-free. The best part is that these beauties are made right in Toronto!

I’ve been obsessing over all things chevron and chose to design my own pattern in a lovely palette of grey-blue and creamy white (shown below). I’m gushing over the result and feel much better about my lil’ ol’ phone. What do you think? What prized tech goody would you cover with a GelaSkin? Leave a comment and let us know!

Gelaskin01 dressing up tech treasures with GelaSkins
Gelaskin02 dressing up tech treasures with GelaSkins

GelaSkins Inc., 201-2738 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON  M6P 1Y3, Canada,

Cheers, amy*

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

embroidered floral tea towels

Fab find
Embroidered floral tea towels, $9.99 each; Homesense.
fabfind tea towel embroidered floral tea towels
‘Tis the season for florals! Gardens are blooming, floral prints are the fashion and fresh flowers around the house never hurt. But what about your decor? If you don’t want to wallpaper your home in roses you can add some seasonal touches with a few simple accessories. And they’re much easier to switch out than wallpaper. These floral tea towels are a fabulous way to get your home into the summer spirit! They’re brightly coloured with beautiful embroidery – the perfect way to perk up your kitchen.
Do you have floral decor in your home?

 embroidered floral tea towels

decorating with inexpensive accessories

The paint is barely dry from my bathroom renovation and my eyes have already started to wander to every other room in my home. What else can I make over?

A renovation is a pricey undertaking so now I’m looking for inexpensive ideas – updates that require no more work than ripping the price tag off! My latest finds have added both colour and function to my place. Here’s what I’ve found:

winners cushions decorating with inexpensive accessories During a lunchtime stroll through Winners yesterday, I stumbled upon a pair of cushions that were just screaming my name. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Helen who spotted them!) At just $39.99 for two, they’re the perfect addition to my monochromatic living room. I’ve been looking for an inexpensive way to add some colour … et voila! What was even more fortuitous is that they are a perfect match for …

martha stewart baskets homedepot decorating with inexpensive accessories … these fabric drawers from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot ($6.99 each). The storage bench (Home Depot, $69.99) provides a handy spot in my foyer for me to drop my purse and the drawers are a catch-all for all manner of things. Right now, scarves, hats and gloves have been tucked away til next winter.

bathroom renovation: it’s all in the details

It took just two weeks to transform my bathroom from a tired old space into one that’s fresh, clean and so much more modern. Not bad, eh? While most people will tell you that a renovation of any kind can be an enormous headache, complete with missed deadlines and unforeseen problems, mine, I’m lucky to say, moved along smoothly and quickly. The installation team from Home Depot was amazing and the quality of their work is visible even to the most untrained eye. I’m so thrilled with the results and am excited to start using my new bathroom. Here are some more photos:

bathroom renovation marble ledge bathroom renovation: its all in the details If you’ve been following along with my story of this bathroom renovation, then you know that the marble for the shower ledge was the only real hold-up I encountered. But once the custom cut marble arrived and was installed, it was the perfect finishing touch. We installed the ledge because the standard size of new tubs is shorter than my original tub. But it’s a nice feature and provides storage for accessories, shampoo bottles, etc. The 3-inch by 6-inch subway tile from Home Depot is one of the most inexpensive tile options you can find and I love the clean, modern look.

bathroom renovation accessories bathroom renovation: its all in the details These apothecary accessories (stoneware with silver-plated trim) from Canadian Tire are the perfect match for my bathroom. At $12.99 apiece, they’re also the perfect price!

bathroom renovation mirror bathroom renovation: its all in the details Accessories like this mirror (HomeSense, $23) and painting (Home Outfitters, $39.99 were inexpensive finds. I opted for a glass vessel sink from Home Depot ($69). The paint colour (Elusive Blue, Olympic Paints) adds a soft, restful and feminine touch to the space.

bathroom renovation shower curtain bathroom renovation: its all in the details I chose a simple white shower curtain with grosgrain ribbon detailing from the Gluckstein Home collection (Home Outfitters, $39.99) and the small medicine cabinet (Home Depot, $89) provides hidden and much-needed storage in my small bathroom.

bathroom renovation shower ring bathroom renovation: its all in the details Instead of boring old shower curtain rings, I chose brushed stainless steel rings (Home Outfitters, $22.99) that look like oversized buttons. It’s a small detail that adds some visual interest to the shower curtain. I also opted for a curved shower curtain rod that makes my tub feel three times larger than it is. It’s nice not to have my shower curtain pawing at me when I’m taking a shower and I highly recommend trying one in your bathroom!

Click here to check out the before pictures. What do you think of the transformation?

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