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A basket makes the perfect vessel for a potted tree in this kitchen.
Trends come and go, but these four stylish accent pieces are here to stay.
This tropical beauty is coveted for its wide, glossy leaves and towering height. If you can’t find the real thing (or discover it’s too fussy), try a good-quality imitation. Artifical Fejka tree, IKEA, $15.
Towering above the mantel, this tree in a burlap “bucket” is a fresh, organic counterpoint to a contemporary hand-painted wall mural.
A basket makes the perfect vessel for a potted tree in the California-modern kitchen of Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg.
In a handsome den, a fig adds a sculptural note to an empty corner.
Whimsical and eye-catching, the juju hat, a type of African headdress, has become a contemporary decorating staple. The piece’s round bull’s eye shape makes it a natural focal point over fireplaces, beds and sofas. Plus, it injects a note of softness to hard-edged modern rooms. Feather headdress in White 30", Snob, $500.
A canary yellow headdress is a can’t-be-missed feature in an otherwise neutral dining room.
When matched with the beautiful bedding, this hot pink juju hat offers a decorative one-two punch of boldness.
White feathers keep the mood calm in a home office nook, adding texture without the distraction of colour.
Soft underfoot and graphic in impact, Berber-style rugs can be made from nylon, synthetic fibres or wool. But it’s the natural creamy tone and black zigzag or diamond design that really set these rugs apart, making them a perfect fit for spaces both contemporary and traditional. Wool Souk rug 8" x 10", West Elm, $1,139.
Preppy splashes of green and pink liven up the neutral rug in this youthful living room.
A feminine bedroom gets graphic impact from the black lines of the rug and the Hollywood Regency-style ribbon trim on the valance.
Distinctly Italian in flavour, this living room vignette shines with just three colours: cream, black and honey brown.
The versatile Moroccan-style leather pouffe – a more sophisticated version of the beanbag chair – comes in almost any colour imaginable, with metallic versions on offer as well. Pouffes can present as playful or polished – it’s all about the context. For a dash of global flair, this piece can’t be beat. Moroccan leather pouffe in Pink, The Cross Decor & Design, $395.
A white pouffe with reverse stitching goes upscale as a spot to put on shoes or makeup in this dreamy dressing room.
In this stylish nursery, a pink pouffe provides a chic footrest for a nursing mother.
There’s no need to worry about little ones running into sharp edges – pouffes are super soft and toddler-safe.
Follow these tips for hosting the perfect outdoor party.
Consider this your go-to source for hosting warm-weather soirees with ease and flair.
It’s summer, and you want to be outside, hanging around with friends, eating garden-fresh fare and sipping refreshing drinks. Let our guide be your go-to for hosting warm-weather get-togethers with simplicity and style.
1 Ambient lighting: To keep the party going beyond sunset, simply hang strings of lights along the fence and among tree branches. Make sure to also include lights above your entertaining zones (lounging and eating areas, for example) to create an intimate atmosphere. We recommend café-style string lights with elegant rounded bulbs that give off a warm glow and lend a casual bistro vibe. As for running cords throughout the yard, be strategic: Choose strands that can plug into one another so only one extension cord is needed; don’t run the cord across high-traffic areas (tuck it along the fence line instead); and select a cord that coordinates with your surroundings (white to match your trim, for example).
Task lighting: Illuminate sitting and dining areas with pillar candles set in glass lanterns. In spots where more light is required (such as the drinks station or buffet table), include a grouping of three or more lanterns. Keep mosquitoes at bay by using citronella candles in lounging zones (but never place scented candles on the dinner table). Be sure to light up stairways and footpaths for safe movement throughout the backyard.
GlucksteinHome Edison Bulb string lights, 11', Hudson's Bay, $30.
Metalic Dipped string lights, 9', Pottery Barn, $79 US.
Canvas Montmarte string lights, 34', Canadian Tire, $90.
Clear cafe string lights, 10', The Home Depot, $20.
2 Drinks station: A general rule of thumb when serving drinks: Unless you’re a pro mixologist, keep cocktails simple. Always have chilled beer and wine at the ready and master one or two refreshing mixed bevvies that are easy to put together.
Bar cart must haves:
1 Outdoor-safe glasses: Choose shatterproof ones for barefoot-friendly entertaining
2 Spirits and garden-fresh garnishes: Bring out everything you need to make your signature cocktails.
3 Ice bucket: Keep chilled wine and beer close at hand.
Marilla goblet in Blush, Anthropologie, $6 US.
GlucksteinHome Tritan martini glass, Hudson's Bay, $5.
Stemless wineglass, Crate and Barrel, $6.
Hobnail wineglass, West Elm, $9.
Chenco Edge cocktail glass, Wayfair.ca, $44 per set of 4.
3 Party prep: If it can be done ahead of time, do it. Do you have enough plates and cutlery? Bags of ice? Do you need to dig out a few platters from the backs of your cupboards? Have you calculated how many drinks you’ll need? Here’s some handy party math: assume each guest will have at least one drink per hour (10 guests over two hours equals 20 drinks); there are approximately five glasses of wine per bottle; a 750 ml bottle of liquor contains enough for 24 mixed drinks.
4 Bottle service: Eliminate the flow of guests moving in and out of the house by keeping refreshments near the action. With two sturdy galvanized iron tubs, this stand keeps alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks separate and allows partygoers to help themselves (so the host can sit back and enjoy the festivities). Double beverage tub with stand, Pottery Barn, $159 US.
5 Lawn games: So adult guests can kick back with a mojito, have some distractions for the little ones: plenty of lawn games (and ice pops, of course).
Must-try summer lawn games:
1 Badminton Set, Crate and Barrel, $200.
2 Bocce Set, Lee Valley, $159
3 Wooden 6-player croquet set, Lee Valley, $239.
4 Sterling Games Lawn Bowling Set, Wayfair.ca, $49.
5 Sunnylife Play on Ping Pong Set with portable net in Pineapple, Indigo, $52.
6 Yard dice, Snake Eyes Yard Games, $50 US per set of 6.
Photography: Tracey Ayton
With a plan in hand and some professional guidance, these homeowners take the reins of the modern design of their spacious new home.
Wing Lau and Kevin Teo bought their first Vancouver condo because of its easy access to work and the downtown amenities – charming restaurants, chic boutiques, art galleries and more. The problem? The one-bedroom-plus-den was a tight fit for the young couple and their two dogs. “We were barely ever home because it was so cramped,” remembers Wing. Add the fact that they were recently married and planning to expand the family, and 600-square-feet wasn’t going to cut it. For these IT professionals, though, a house wasn’t the answer. “That’s too much maintenance,” says Wing.
The solution was moving to a larger condo – a new build with panoramic views and breathing room thanks to a second bedroom and bathroom, as well as a den. Being a blank slate, however, it lacked character. “We found someone to inject some flair into the place,” says Wing, referring to designer Jamie Deck of Shift Interiors.
After researching Jamie’s work online, Wing realized the company was a great fit – and not just because she liked her style. Wing is hands-on when it comes to her home. A decor enthusiast and avid DIYer, she needed a design partner, not a leader, and Jamie’s firm allows homeowners to buy blocks of time to customize the level of service, from light guidance to full execution. So Wing requested Jamie’s advice on layouts and furniture selection, and then chose her favourites. She did much of the shopping and implementation herself.
Central to the 24th-floor condo are the living-dining area’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which showcase mountain views. They’re what sold the couple on the home and naturally became a central focus for the open-concept main living area. The room’s muted colour scheme provides the perfect frame for the vista – and also reflects Wing’s personal palette. “I only ever wear black, white or grey,” she says. “So it was an easy choice.”
With its seamless modern scheme, the kitchen was another selling point for Wing and Kevin, and required no design updates. “We got lucky that this kitchen already had a look we both love,” says Wing. The cabinet fronts and island base boast a unique striated grain in warm grey and cool taupe that lends the space artistic interest and texture all on its own – no extra design flourishes required.
Though Wing had originally wanted a concrete-look accent wall in the dining area, they were concerned it would compete with the kitchen. So they settled on a dining room gallery wall – which Kevin took total ownership of – and created the feature wall in the master bedroom instead. Complementing the concrete-look surface, a custom fabric-covered headboard that stretches the entire length of one wall visually widens the space and offers a structured, unfussy vibe.
In their new space, the couple feels proud and happy. There's something gratifying about executing a flawless design as an amateur, even when it's with significant help from a professional. Though the idea of a forever home isn't something they can commit to right now, this will be their domain for at least five years. "Until we outgrow it," says Wing, "or my design bug bites again." Maybe next time she'll brave it on her own.
Homeowners Wing Lau and Kevin Teo didn’t need designer Jamie Deck’s help in designing their gallery wall. Wing has been pinning favourite pieces for years and opted for a combination of personal photos and low-cost prints. Kevin was in charge of installation. “We had painters’ tape all over the floor and outlining the gallery wall to make sure the configuration was right,” says Wing of organizing the graphic black and white pieces in the dining room.
Wing swapped the condo’s living and dining areas to create a larger and more functional living room. After all, it has to handle the couple’s two dogs and, at some point, kids. The carpet was chosen in part for its low, easy-to-clean pile (so the battle against dog hair isn’t too taxing).
For Wing, it was important to mix high and low pieces. The Parsons dining table, for example, was a total splurge. The couple saw the piece in Seattle, fell in love with it and returned to the city two months later to haul it home in the family van. It’s something Wing plans to hang on to for a long time: “My future kids will probably spill on the table,” says Wing with a laugh. “But we’re okay with that.”
Prior to purchasing any furniture, the couple brought home fabric swatches to ensure everything matched with the kitchen cabinetry. “With its interesting grain, it almost plays the role of a feature wall,” says Wing. So it dictated what she and Kevin did with the rest of the space. “We couldn’t choose anything that competed with that.”
The kitchen is the literal and figurative centre of the apartment: It overlooks the living and dining room, benefits from the stunning view out the floor-to-ceiling windows and is a place Wing and Kevin spend a lot of time, doing everything from cooking breakfast to entertaining company.
Jamie suggested multiple furniture configurations for the master bedroom, but they settled on a set-up that takes advantage of the mountain views. The space is a lesson in how to create a successful high-low mix: The head-board was custom-made by Shift Interiors, but Kevin painted the concrete-look feature wall himself. The bedding and toss cushions are big-box-store finds.
With its simple mirror, metal console and wooden stool, the entryway announces the muted palette present throughout the space. Floating circular hooks offer a functional yet chic place to hang coats.
The bathroom echoes the kitchen with the same seamless cabinetry, but the countertop adds another layer of pattern that the kitchen lacks, proving it’s easy to be more daring with design in closed-off spaces. His and hers sinks allow for stress-free mornings.
Rustic-meets-refined condo design
Blogger and decorator Tim Lam adds his signature style to this 800-square-foot condo in Waterloo, Ont.
“Never underestimate the power of paint and fabric,” says decorator Tim Lam of the caned barrel-back chairs he upgraded from garage sale finds to favourite pieces in the living room. On the flip side, the sophisticated sofa is a Sarah Richardson original found on Kijiji that needed only a quick cleaning.
Where Chris is a little bit country, Tim is all city. “Chris likes rustic simplicity, and I gravitate to more polished and refined spaces,” says Tim. And who better to steer you in the right decorative direction than the one you love?
Tim insisted that the kitchen’s brown cabinetry, brown granite countertop and blue glass backsplash, which homeowner Chris Gabriel inherited with the condo, had to go. Though upgrading the countertop, replacing the marble backsplash, updating the faucet to a showpiece and adding the slide-in range was a bit of a splurge, the couple cut costs by simply repainting the existing cabinetry and applying a DIY barnboard treatment to the peninsula’s base.
Though country charm isn’t exactly in Tim’s wheelhouse, he wanted to indulge Chris’s style throughout the space – and that’s especially visible in the dining room, which doubles as an office. “That door is hands-down my favourite piece in the room,” says Tim, who found it at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for around $100. “And I got it just like that – I didn’t have to refinish it or anything.” He did, however, tape Alanna Cavanagh’s silk-screened artwork in the window to hide the stuff inside (which includes pantry and office staples).
The sideboard in the living room offers a nod to one of Chris’s desired elements: natural wood. Above it, the gallery wall displays artwork and travel mementoes the couple has amassed over time, including a quirky cuckoo clock that references the couple’s shared affinity for birds.
The bedroom’s soothing grey, yellow and white palette allowed Tim to play with pattern, from diamonds to stripes to polka dots. Asian-inspired elements like the faux bamboo nightstands and pagoda-shaped table lamps add elegance to the geometric look.
A tiny cheater ensuite with doors leading to both the living area and the bedroom left little wall space, so Tim had the bedroom door replaced with a wall, which now accommodates artwork and a towel bar. The builder-basic vanity was cleverly customized with a brass-coated toe kick for a floating effect, while the glitzy cream and gold bird wallpaper casts a glamorous glow.
The high-gloss dark grey wall paint in the bedroom acts as a luscious counterpoint to the suble texture of the grasscloth on the feature wall behind the bed. The herringbone throw is a souvenir from Chris’s hometown in Germany.
Chris (left) is from Germany and had planned to return there, but he met and fell in love with Tim and hasn’t looked back since.