Image: Donna Griffith / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
A black and white palette, square-tiled backsplash, shaker-style cabinetry and iconic furnishings blend perfectly in this modern and traditional space.
Armed with a wishlist a mile long, Toronto homeowners Meghan Mann and Mike Shannon took the renovation plunge last year. With the help of designers Vanessa Kwan and Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate, they transformed their dysfunctional, dowdy kitchen into a stylish dream and fit everything they wanted into its compact 198-square-foot space. The open-concept design now features a work station, an eat-in nook and a peninsula that overlooks the dining area. Its classic-chic look with a contemporary edge not only complements the young couple’s style but also suits the 1910 house’s traditional architecture and its up-and-coming west Toronto neighbourhood’s trendy vibe.
Opening up the 11-by-18-foot kitchen to the rest of the main floor and replacing the back wall with a glass-panelled door and sidelights were the first steps in creating a more airy and light-filled space. The kitchen has a timeless aesthetic, with Shaker-style cabinetry, classic architectural details and a neutral palette, while a few of-the-moment touches, such as the brass hardware and pendant lights, keep it hip. “It’s a brick house with traditional details like beams and mouldings at the front, and we wanted to carry that essence into the kitchen,” says designer Vanessa Kwan.
A banquette serves as part of the casual eat-in area for the couple and their children, Sadie, 6, and Spencer, 2. It features storage in the form of legal-sized filing cabinets, with flush brass pulls that don’t get in the way of dangling feet. Finding a table that fit the space proved challenging, so homeowner Mike Shannon built the base himself and had a piece of glass cut for the top. The Eames chairs are a classic pick, and the chandelier provides sparkle and blends in with all the brass.
The kitchen was designed with family-friendly functionality top of mind: The white quartzite countertops are aesthetically similar to marble but are more durable and require less maintenance; the six-inch-square ceramic tiled backsplash, with its grey grout, is easy to keep clean; and the cork floors are great for kids because they’re soft underfoot and don’t scratch easily. For homeowner Meghan Mann, who works in software sales from home, the desk area (with a lower counter and two pencil drawers) was a must.
The black faucets and window frame above the sink create contrast yet establish continuity with the black-painted door at the back of the room. The dark elements, offering the kitchen a slightly industrial edge, are also a nod to the neighbourhood’s commercial architecture. “The area has a lot of old factory buildings, some converted into lofts or artists’ spaces,” says Meghan. “And they have those steel windows, so we wanted to echo that look in the kitchen.”
Curvy iconic shapes and trendy accents make this kitchen down-right covetable.
Round wood and marble serving board, Indigo, $38.
Michael Thonet beech era stool in Black, Design Within Reach, $365.
Cotton Soiree toss cushion in Natural with feather-down insert, CB2, $63.
Jason Wu for brizo mixed metal solna faucet in Matte Black, Masco Canada, $611.
Brass and glass Luna pendant light with shade in Clear, 12", Schoolhouse Electric, $269 US.
Cowhide Koldby rug in Brown, IKEA, $299.
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Conquer that closet clutter once and for all.
Keep your bedroom closet organized and on track with these 6 helpful tips.
From reach-ins to walk-ins, almost every bedroom comes equipped with a closet. While no two are alike, keeping them in order is a hurdle for many. Wendy Hollick, professional organizer and owner of Neat Spaces, shares her tips for conquering your closet disaster through minimizing clutter and maximizing your space's potential. With solutions that save time and money and are stylish, here's how to get things back in order so you can keep track of what you own.
1 Create zones
The first step is to figure out what's going to live in your closet. "You look at your inventory and design around your needs," says Wendy. "Do you have many things that are long-hanging like dresses? How do you hang your pants? Do you share your closet with somebody?" By evaluating how you will use this space, you can create areas to figure out what type of storage you need ... from shoe racks to drawers.
"Purge, baby, purge," says Wendy. If you haven't used something in the past two years and it has no intrinsic value, get rid of it or donate it to charity. As a professional organizer, Wendy has seen dozens of closets over the years and believes over-consumption is to blame. "Eighty per cent of what we keep, we never use," she says. "And we wear 20% of what we own only 80% of the time and the rest just hangs there."
3 Use every inch of space
No square inch should go unnoticed. Many closets are designed poorly and often times the top and bottom spaces aren't used properly or at all. As a rule of thumb, most used items should be stored in plain sight, less-used below and rarely-used up high. To maximize your closet's potential, "you need to look for durability and flexibility," says Wendy. "Look for something that when you install it, can work with you and change with the trends." She suggests using products with epoxy-coated metal rather than plastic-coated metal because of its strength and durability. Wendy also suggests using floor space and high shelves for storing seasonal items and shoes because they can be stacked in clear plastic boxes free of dust and you can still see what's inside.
4 Take advantage of doors
"In a perfect world, all closets would be built with a pocket door," says Wendy. Unfortunately, getting one requires tearing out a wall and that's not always permissible. But this doesn't mean you can't put your swing door to good use without having it eat up your closet's floor space. By using a hanging organizer, you can turn your door into storage for shoes, belts, ties and other accessories.
5 Add a double or pull down rod
Adding another rod to your closet isn't as difficult as it sounds. There are hanging rods that you can put over existing rails for a quick addition to your hanging space. You can even take the alternate, though more expensive route, and use your high ceilings to install a pull down rod.
Either way, with an additional rod, you can organize your clothing into sections. Lower rods for hanging pants and higher-up rods for longer items like dresses and coats. Don't forget to coordinate your hangers and use the proper ones for a uniform, polished look.
"Velvet hangers are great to keep your clothes from slipping, wood hangers are durable but can take up space, while plastic takes up less space and is less finicky than velvet," says Wendy.
"When you look at something that gives you that editorial look, you are more likely to respect it," says Wendy. Treat your closet like a small room, taking into consideration lighting and wall colour. Recessed lighting doesn't obstruct your view and it disguises perfectly in a small space. Light paint colours like white, soft greys and beiges are sleek and reflect light. By adding a mirror to your closet, its reflection will automatically make the room appear larger.
To determine volume and prevent clutter build up, Wendy shares her trick for tracking overflow so you know what to get rid of next season: "Go into your closet and rearrange your hangers so the hook is facing you. When you wear something and put it back, the hook should face inwards. Over time you can actually see what you wear and what you don't from what's left facing outwards."
Refresh your living quarters by incorporating 2017's hottest colours into any room in your home.
This year’s interior design trends are fun and edgy — and that includes 2017's most covetable hues. The four colours topping the charts? An enchanting purple, a lush green, a smooth caramel and a lavish navy. These fantastic four possess a cocooning quality, whether you opt to paint a whole room or accent it with a piece of furniture or an accessory. Seek decor inspiration from 2017's top colours below.
Editor's Note: A saturated purple makes a bewitching backdrop.
Image by: Benjamin Moore
Our favourite purple paints:
Shadow 2117-30, Benjamin Moore.
Starry Sky 70BB 21/147, Dulux Paints.
Premier Infinity Lilac Feather PR16T38, Canadian Tire.
Beauti-Tone You Look Mauve-lous SC169-0, Home Hardware.
Editor's Note: Call it forest or hunter, this green packs a punch.
Image by: Farrow & Ball
Editor's Note: This soothing tan is a balm for sore eyes.
Image by: Canadian Tire
Editor's Note: A perfectly inky blue is sure to bring the drama.
Image by: The Home Depot