Take a tour of this chic condo space.
Furniture and textile designer Lori Harrison is a neat freak living and working in a small space. Here’s how she keeps her home looking stylish.
Textile and furniture designer Lori Harrison is inspired by imperfection – she once recreated the peeling plaster of a building’s facade she saw in Venice, California, on a toss cushion to glamorous effect. But when it comes to her home, Lori is committed to creating the picture of perfection.
From the harmonious earthy palette that looks sharp against the white walls to the bespoke accessories, every inch of the 900-square-foot, one-bedroom condo she shares with her husband, Michael Clark, is mellow, meaningful and cohesive – key in an open-concept space.
When the couple bought the place last year, in an intimate, three-storey Art Deco building in an upscale midtown Toronto neighbourhood, they loved the layout of the petite but already renovated apartment. So they used sparsely placed and low-slung furniture – some of it designed by Lori herself – and clean contemporary lines to make the small space feel large and evoke a cultured air.
The woodsy details and large fiddle-leaf fig tree give the living room of this Toronto home a comfy California feel. Mismatched side tables look relaxed and artsy – the one on the left is Lori’s design.
No backsplash? No problem. “I kind of like that there isn’t one, because it looks more contemporary,” says Lori of the gorgeously restrained kitchen, with its space-saving built-in walnut dining table that offers extra counter space when needed.
Sticking to simple decor, Lori uses minimalist aesthetic in the kitchen and throughout the home.
The streamlined bank of cabinetry – deep and wide for optimum storage space – with barely visible hardware is framed by a sleek Corian countertop and doesn’t read too kitcheny in the open-concept room.
Lori’s artistic temperament is evident in her casually chic home office. “The white bust is actually my neck – I made it for a university project – and the bare-chested illustration I did in high school,” says the talented artist.
“I wanted to colour coordinate the books in the office, but my husband [Michael Clark] wouldn’t let me,” says Lori. The wire chair is paired with one of her prototype toss cushions.
The couple’s tastes – he’s into traditional, she likes contemporary – are established in the hallway vignette, with a handsome cabinet Michael bought in Cambodia topped with modern artwork.
With soothing fall colours, luxe linens and Lori’s own artwork, the bedroom boasts a relaxed, pared-back vibe.
Homeowner Lori Harrison of Lori Harrison Designs is content in her live/work abode. It’s perfect for creating her artwork, textiles and furniture, which are available online and in shops across North America.
Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.
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."
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.