Take a tour of this dramatic and modern family home.
Mix neutral colours, sleek silhouettes and edgy glamour for a knockout home.
Sarah Blakely has never been one to commit to colour, even when it comes to her clothes. Interested in fashion long before she became interested in interior design and home decor, Sarah notes that her house, which she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two small boys, Knox, 3, and Romeo, 2, is an accurate representation of what she likes to wear.
When the couple purchased this 3,700-square-foot Ottawa home preconstruction three years ago, the builder allowed Sarah and Matt significant input. For them, that included moving walls, designing the kitchen, choosing finishes like the red oak flooring and, of course, painting everything warm white.
The space now showcases an eclectic mix of old and new. Vintage furnishings feature unique silhouettes, modern sculptural and metallic light fixtures add interest, and graphic artwork reflects Sarah’s love of fashion. And, far from monochromatic, the cream, white and black palette is high contrast and dynamic.
All this results in a home that’s fresh and young and at once pared back and richly layered.
High-contrast family room
The high-contrast black, white and cream palette is both dramatic and practical in the family room, where a black-painted wall camouflages the TV.
With their unique curvaceous lines, the vintage Giancarlo Piretti sidechairs are statement-making pieces. So is the Prada art print, which depicts a roadside sign pointing the way to a fake Prada store (actually an art installation) in Marfa, Texas.
In vogue living room
Sarah likes clean, airy spaces for their calming vibe but isn't afraid to throw in hits of drama and glamour.
Draped on the chaise longue a faux fur throw lends interest, while the toss cushions and striped rug offer texture and pattern.
"I have a couple of faux fur throws around the house," says Sarah. "I love the added texture. In a neutral space, it provides a little something for the eye."
A verdigris-finished bust of Zeus adds hits of colour.
Warm neutral space
A framed Hermès scarf, a vibrant green fiddle-leaf fig tree and verdigris-finished bust of Zeus add hits of colour in the black and cream living room. A wall of sheer drapery, also used throughout the house for continuity, lends softness to the space.
Black, white and cream palette
The high-contrast black, white and cream palette is both dramatic and practical in the family room, where a black painted wall camouflages the TV. "Obviously a TV hanging on the wall isn't always the nicest look, but at least here you don't see it as much," explains Sarah.
Dramatic home office
The rich black walls offer a moody, masculine look and also camouflage the dark cabinetry. While the moulding gives the office added character, intriguing elements like the vintage Karl Springer-like waterfall desk and the geometric pendant light create a dramatic setting.
Modern kitchen design
The couple designed the kitchen, which features sleek flat-panelled cherry cabinetry stained a slate colour and white quartz countertops. The gold-coloured pendant lights complement the metallic elements used in the rest of the house, creating visual flow.
The kitchen’s eat-in area features a classic Saarinen Tulip dining table and Mid-Century Modern-style chairs. A glass-topped console with a high-gloss Y-shaped base serves as a spot for display.
A large wooden dining table and a set of vintage chairs -- which Sarah found on Kijiji for $200 and had reupholstered -- define the dining area. Sarah made the floating sideboard out of high-gloss IKEA cabinets and a painted-wood top.
Take your bathroom from drab to fab with these easy decorating ideas!
Bathroom and kitchen renovations are known to give homeowners the biggest returns on their investment when they sell. But whether you’re doing a big renovation or just looking for ways to update your current bathroom and whether you intend to sell or not, these ideas for beautifying your bathroom will pay big returns in your overall satisfaction with your home. And you don’t have to have a $50,000 budget to do it. These affordable upgrades will add some serious style to your home without breaking the bank!
Renewal Divinity Small Mirror
What a difference something as simple as a mirror can make. The right one can transform the look of your bathroom and give it an updated, more stylish feel in an instant. The frame is made from hammered aluminum combined with beveled glass and can be hung vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference and the shape of the space you’re working in. Renewal Divinity Small Mirror, Wayfair, $380.46.
Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture
When renovating, it’s important to consider your lighting options for the type of space you have. So before you head to the lighting store, figure out whether it’d be best to go with flush mount, track lighting or sconces. No matter what you choose, illuminate your bathroom with a stunning light fixture that ties your bathroom’s whole look together and adds an appealing amount of sparkle and shine! Boasting a shiny chrome finish and a laser-cut inspired design on the lamp shade, this flush mounted lighting fixture will bring effortless elegance to your bathroom and is a simple way to take the look of the entire space from drab to fab! Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture, Multi Luminaire, $349.
Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper
If you’ve always loved the look of wallpaper but have shied away from using it in the bathroom, it’s time to reconsider. Wallpaper has come a long way and today, there are lots of options on the market, many of which are suitable for moisture-rich environments. This gorgeous wallpaper has a mosaic pattern that mimics the look of tile and has a washable finish for easy clean-up. Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper, Graham & Brown, $50/roll.
Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile
Flip through the pages of your favourite design magazine and you’re sure to see plenty of bathrooms boasting this contrasting basket weave tile to dramatic effect. Get the look for yourself with these tiles – but may we suggest opting for the white and cobalt colour combo as a subtle alternative to black and white? The rich cobalt will add a decidedly chic and unexpected look to your bathroom. Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile, Home Depot, $7.98 each.
Gleaming Brass Bath Collection
Upping the style quotient in your bathroom doesn’t get any easier than this! Swap out your existing vanity vessels for these truly chic options. The full set includes a soap dispenser, tumbler and tray, all in a beautiful brass finish. Gleaming Brass Bath Collection, Anthropologie, $22-$36.
Dot Medallion Shower Curtain
Looking for a quick and easy bathroom update that won’t break the bank? How about a new shower curtain? This 100% cotton curtain is made in India and features a modern medallion motif in a soothing colour palette of watercolour inspired shades of blue and grey. With this one simple addition to your bathroom, you’ll add an air of tranquility that will turn your bathroom into the oasis you always dreamed of. Dot Medallion Shower Curtain, West Elm, $29.99.
How to really keep your dish sponges clean
Sanitation tips on how you can keep your dirty dish sponges clean.
E. coli, salmonella – nasty things can lurk in a kitchen sponge. Our resourceful research editor, Mary Levitski, shows you how to keep it germ-free.
How to keep dish sponges germ-free
Step 1: Forever moist and full of dark nooks and crannies, a kitchen sponge is ideal breeding ground for all kinds of harmful bacteria. Sterilize it on a regular basis, preferably daily. The best method is soaking it for a few minutes in a mixture of two teaspoons chlorine bleach and one cup water. But if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly approach, you can also place the sponge in a pot of boiling water for five minutes and hang it to dry.
Step 2: To deter germs from thriving in your sponge, keep it as dry as possible. Always rinse and wring it well before depositing it in a designated spot that has good drainage. If possible, the spot should also be in direct sunlight, which will significantly speed up drying time.
Step 3: Replace the sponge about once a month. If your sponge has a foul odour even after you sanitize it, toss it out immediately.
Give your sponge a home that’s beautiful and practical. The Meridian from Umbra ($5, umbra.com) attaches to the wall of your sink with a suction cup. The fun plastic lattice pattern and ventilated bottom keep air circulation at a maximum, encouraging fast drying.
To keep bacteria in check, consider replacing your dish sponge with an alternative.
Made of peach pits or corn cobs, these stringy scrubs are so good at resisting microbes that you can use them sans soap! Goodbye Detergent! The Original Spaghetti SCRUBS, $10 US per pack of 2 each, vat19.com.
The recycled plastic bristles dry quickly when this brush is propped up or hung by its bamboo handle. Be Good Dish Brush, $8, williams-sonoma.com.
A washable microfibre dishcloth is a great substitute for a sponge. No matter how grimy it gets, just toss it in the washing machine to disinfect. We love this one’s scrub pad for lifting stuck-on foods. MÜ Kitchen Dishcloth in Red Poppy, $7, bedbathandbeyond.ca.
TIP: To minimize cross-contamination, designate a sponge for each surface: one each for dishes, countertops and floors.
Tour this Vancouver home's modern eclectic look.
This Vancouver home's modern eclectic look is a testament to the power of a sister act.
Now that the dust has settled on their massive whole-house renovation, homeowners Anna Wright and Alistair Sale – both busy professionals and parents of Lewis, 10, Freddie, 8, and George, 6 – each have their favourite features of the new interior. For Alistair, the cook of the family, the open kitchen is the (long-awaited) best part. Anna is most excited about the master ensuite bathroom she doesn’t have to share with the kids. And for the boys, it’s their bigger playroom in the finished basement.
The Vancouver family lived in the 3,700-square-foot 1920s home for five years before embarking on the huge overhaul. “I’m so glad we lived in the house for a while first and figured out what we wanted,” says Anna. “If we’d done the renovation right away, we would have done things very differently, and those decisions probably wouldn’t work for us now.”
The crisp white brick fireplace surround, built-ins and original wood panelling set off the dark grey on the upper walls of the den. Leaded glass cabinetry doors are another original feature. The antique chandelier was picked up at a London flea market.
A contemporary pale orange sofa pops against the white panelling and dark grey walls. The Mid-Century Modern desk was a lucky find at an antiques store a few years back, as was the Tolix chair.
Going vintage is often a more economical decorating idea than buying brand new, says Sophie.
The birdcage pendant light adds another unexpected dose of colour and whimsy.
In the dining area, an antique zinc-topped table from a French flea market pairs well with mismatched colourful Eames dining chairs. “We thought the different hues of the dining chairs would be quirky and fun,” says homeowner Anna Wright.
The designer pendant light was a pricey find from London, England.
Expanding the existing skylight and adding more windows above the sink brought loads of natural light into the white painted kitchen. Homeowner Alistair Sale greatly appreciates the bigger sink, but extra kitchen counter space, double wall ovens and a gas cooktop were at the top of his must-have list.
French doors lead out to a newly enlarged wraparound deck off the open kitchen/dining area, making the backyard much more accessible. The kitchen peninsula is perfect for casual breakfasts and homework time.
The zinc top on the antique dining table can take plenty of wear and tear from everyday family meals; the stark white modern dishware strikes a pleasing contrast against the patinated surface.
A desk area in the kitchen serves as the family workspace and offers plenty of storage space for the kids’ paperwork and school supplies. Inspirational photos and small pieces of art bring personality to the nook.
The new master ensuite bathroom is Anna’s retreat from hectic work and family life.
The matching gold mirrors in the master ensuite are a glitzy big-box score.
Grey and white cement floor tiles provide ornate pattern in the otherwise serene white room.
The bathroom floor tiles themselves weren't very expensive, but shipping the from California was.