Design & Decor Blog

royal wedding countdown: big ben clock

Countdown to the Royal Wedding — 2 days left!
royrl wedding big ben royal wedding countdown: big ben clock
Big Ben wall clock, $80;

It seems like everyone has that one strip of wall that they don’t know how to decorate. For me, it’s a long but thin dividing wall acting as a separator between my living room and kitchen. I totally love this Big Ben clock from Umbra — it’s the perfect piece to jazz up that pesky wall space.

Stay tuned for TV Guide’s Royal Wedding Special Issue, edited by Style at Home’s Erin McLaughlin — available May 9th!

prepping a house for sale and finding the perfect neutral paint

My mom is in the process of selling her house and as we prepare to put it on the market, we got some valuable advice from our real estate agent, Linda Turner with Royal LePage Meadowtowne Realty.

While the house is in great shape, the one thing Linda emphasized was the need for us to remove all the artwork on the walls; my mom’s an art-lover and there are paintings everywhere. But Linda encouraged us to remove the art, not only to depersonalize the space but to cover up all those holes on the wall. This meant we had to paint the entire main level of the house. Big job but we got it done!

“A fresh coat of paint goes a long way as an inexpensive facelift, wowing buyers immediately upon entering your home,” says Linda. “Keep tones neutral as this will give your rooms a spacious feel. Having said that, if one large principle room has a vivid colour on a feature wall and is accented with bright white trims (including crown moulding, upgraded baseboards and possibly French doors), this could prove to be a fabulous, eye-catching focal point of your main floor.”

It is also a good idea to depersonalize your home of family photos and to keep artwork to a minimum, she says. “This is particularly important on staircase walls. You want prospective buyers to concentrate on and remember all the fine details of your home. Selecting just one or two paintings that truly complement a room’s decor will also enhance the spaciousness of the room,” says Linda.

So – we set to the task of removing the artwork on the walls, filling the holes, sanding and repainting. Our search for the perfect neutral led us to find Sico’s Icing Sugar (6092-11) and we couldn’t be happier with the results. I love the colour; it’s a warm and delicious white. I’ve made a mental note of the name and definitely plan to use it again, likely to repaint my mom’s new home when she finds it.

dining room before prepping a house for sale and finding the perfect neutral paint Prepping the dining room: We removed all the artwork, filled the holes left behind and painted over the existing taupe paint.

dining room after prepping a house for sale and finding the perfect neutral paint The final result: Fresh and clean, Sico’s Icing Sugar (6092-11) was a lovely choice!

It was a lot of work but Linda was right. All the rooms on the main level of the house now look fresher, cleaner and larger. We’re ready to put the house on the market and welcome prospective buyers.

Have you ever staged your home for sale? Got any tips to share?

my apartment makeover, part 1

I’m thrilled to introduce myself on the blog as part of my first official duties as a new design editor for Style at Home! My first chance to work with the magazine came long before this new job — way back in mid-winter, Erin McLaughlin and Margot Austin decided my rental apartment was worthy of a feature in the mag.

On shoot day, the hallway outside my tiny place was lined with photographer Stacey Brandford’s equipment overflow and buckets of magnificent spring blooms that Margot brought. Thus began a whirlwind day of propping, tweaking, lighting and um… eating. Between the fluffy meringues and macarons that Margot brought for the dining room shot and the greasy fish and chips I picked up for lunch, we were fighting our food comas by the afternoon.

Take a look at what the place looked like before my fiancé David and I moved in (it definitely wasn’t fit for photography) and what it looks like now. The landlord was kind enough to let me spec materials and finishes before updating the unit.

waks dining room before my apartment makeover, part 1

The wooden floor in the dining area was damaged yellow parquet and the exposed terrazzo windowsills and cracked walls made the space feel more institutional than homey. And need I even mention the wicker basket pendant shade?

waks dining room after my apartment makeover, part 1

Fresh coats of Benjamin Moore Cloud White paint, a polished dark stain on the floor and my mix of high and low furniture and accessories helped to brighten up the space.

waks kitchen before my apartment makeover, part 1

The original kitchen cabinetry was barely managing to stay hinged, and the ceramic blue knobs and peeling grey vinyl tile on the floor were less than appealing.

waks kitchen after my apartment makeover, part 1

The black-and-white retro feel of the kitchen works its way from the checkerboard floor tiles up to the white cabinetry and black laminate countertop, where it explodes in a frenzy of fun bowls, canisters and more.

waks bathroom before my apartment makeover, part 1

I don’t need to write much about the 'before' shot of the bathroom as it speaks for itself...eek!

Waks bathroom after my apartment makeover, part 1

A bold, striped shower curtain, subway tiled walls and a Greek key medicine cabinet that I painted are great examples of creating impact with a black-and-white colour scheme.

toronto shopping: chair table lamp

I popped over to Chair Table Lamp here in Toronto a few weeks ago (the store owned by Kevin, husband of Style at Home senior design editor Margot Austin), and as someone who has the Royal Wedding fever, a few fab royal-related items grabbed my eye.

097 toronto shopping: chair table lamp

This mirror just screams regal to me. LOVE.

3 toronto shopping: chair table lamp

French Empire Chair with a gorgeous Crown pillow

2 toronto shopping: chair table lamp

A crown, perfect for styling a bookshelf or table.

1 toronto shopping: chair table lamp

Isn’t that an awesome Union Jack doormat? And it’s only $25. (See Kevin’s post on the mat)

The store is filled floor to ceiling with awesome items that make it a decorator’s dream destination. I just happened to fall in love with all things royal while there!

Chair Table Lamp
1156 Yonge Street, 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

easter brunch at the ritz-carlton, toronto

Typically, Easter is a big family affair at home – a home cooked meal around our large dining room table. But this year, we decided to try something different. This year, we opted to go out for Easter brunch.

But where to go? The city is filled with options, of course. There’s no shortage of restaurants in Toronto. But we wanted to try something new and someplace that would feel special for Easter. Good thing the Ritz-Carlton just opened downtown!

I never think about hotel restaurants when looking for a dining option but what a great idea. The newly opened Ritz-Carlton Toronto has two restaurants and a bar: Toca by Tom Brodi (where we had brunch), Toca Bar and Deq, an outdoor patio perfect for summer evenings.

The restaurant is stylish and intimate. There’s a modern rustic feeling – the wide-planked unfinished wood floors and glazed brick walls lend a welcoming feel to the space. The extensive wine cellar is in full view behind glass doors adjacent to a large private dining area. But the best part?

ritz carlton cheese easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto The glass-enclosed cheese cave is truly one of a kind. Here, a selection of cheeses are given time and privacy to age to perfection. At any given time, three cheeses that are ready to be devoured are selected and served to diners. The cheese cave is home to about $250,000 worth of cheese. There’s currently a block in there worth about $10,000!

The brunch menu was select but the options were wonderful. Here’s a sampling of what you missed:

ritz carlton cocktails easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto Brunch starts with a virgin Caesar shooter followed by two Bellinis in your choice of flavours: Peach, raspberry, mango or lychee.

ritz carlton frenchtoast2 easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto No surprise here: I opted for the French toast. It’s served with a fruit compote on the side and maple syrup. It’s got a cream cheese filling inside – an unexpected but yummy surprise!

ritz carlton oatmeal pancakes2 easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto My sister opted for the oatmeal pancake with rhubarb and vanilla.

ritz carlton eggs benny easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto My mom and brother-in-law sampled the signature item: Eggs Benny on Brioche. They’re served eight different ways so there are options for everyone.

ritz carlton avocado frites easter brunch at the ritz carlton, toronto Every order comes with a side of fries, greens or poutine. We had to try the avocado frites. Breaded, then fried, they were delish!

Brunch Therapy at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, $49 per person; view full menu here. For more information, visit or call (416) 585-2500.

berry blossom tea set

Fab find
Berry blossom tea set, $18; DavidsTea.
fabfind teaset berry blossom tea set
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I have my mom on my mind. She is a sweet, simple, well-poised woman who always has a tea on-the-boil. In honour of her, and all mothers alike, I think this tea set from DavidsTea is a perfect gift (and fantastic fab find) for the occasion. Made of porcelain, the teapot comes with an inner mesh strainer and a perfect-pour spout that won’t drip tea all over the table as you pour. It also comes complete with four teacups and saucers, accented with berry blossoms, making tea time simple and elegant – just like mom.

How are you planning on spending your Mother’s Day?

royal wedding countdown: jonathan adler candleholder

Countdown to the Royal Wedding — 4 days left!
royal wedding candlesticks royal wedding countdown: jonathan adler candleholder
Jonathan Adler King of Hearts candleholder/bud vase, $42 US,

Love, love, love this dual purpose candleholder from Jonathan Adler (it can act as a bud vase, too). Standing about 8″ high, the candleholder is made in Peru from brown stoneware, which you can see peeking through the white glaze. Plus, you can take your pick from the king on one side, or the queen on the back. So original, but would you expect anything less from Mr. Adler?

Stay tuned for TV Guide’s Royal Wedding Special Issue, edited by Style at Home’s Erin McLaughlin — available May 9th!

royal wedding countdown: processional map

Countdown to the Royal Wedding — 5 days left!

royal wedding map royal wedding countdown: processional map
Royal Wedding processional map, $65 US (pre-order); HouseThatLarsBuilt on

I saw this sweet Royal Wedding processional map over on Sarah Gunn’s Wall Candy blog and thought it was an adorable collector’s item for the Royal Wedding. The route shows the ride that Wills and Kate will take from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. It’s actually a giclee and letterpressed print — you can see more of the detail at the seller’s Etsy store.
Where would you hang this?

Stay tuned for TV Guide’s Royal Wedding Special Issue, edited by Style at Home’s Erin McLaughlin — available May 9th!

royal wedding countdown: collector’s plate

Countdown to the Royal Wedding — 7 days left!
royal wedding plate royal wedding countdown: collectors plate

‘It Should Have Been Me’ bone china plate, $32;

Okay, so we all love Kate and she’s completely fabulous, but don’t we all secretly wish it had been us? This sassy, bone china plate from KK Outlet stands out amidst all of the other celebratory items that commemorate the Royal Wedding — it’s nice to have something with a little bite.

Stay tuned for TV Guide‘s Royal Wedding Special Issue, edited by Style at Home‘s Erin McLaughlin — available May 9th!

eco easter eggs

It’s time to get your Easter egg-dying skills on and these products below are perfect to assist in your dying process! I love the eco-egg kit, which allows you to create beautiful colors using non-toxic dye made from plants, fruit and vegetable extracts. How cool is that?! The adorable ceramic egg crate is a great way to show off your perfectly dyed Easter eggs. When Easter is over, you can reuse the crate to hold fresh eggs in the fridge! All of the items can be purchased at West Elm.

EcoEggs eco easter eggs

Eco-Eggs, West Elm, $8.00.

EggCart eco easter eggs

Ceramic Egg Crate, West Elm, $12.00.

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