Get a luxe look in under $100 with these beautiful decor accessories.Looking for big impact on a small budget? We challenge some of Canada’s designers to share how they achieve a modern luxe look for less than $100.
“Splurge on a marble tile backsplash – a small area like this can come in for less than $100 if you do the labour yourself.” - Nam Dang-Mitchell, Nam Dang-Mitchell Design.
“Sheathe an obtrusive bulkhead in reclaimed barnboard to add character and interest. The wood we used here was actually found in an abandoned barn in the country.” - Nam Dang-Mitchell, Nam Dang-Mitchell Design.
“Make a sculptural centrepiece inspired by real cherry blossom branches. Strip the bark from an interestingly shaped branch and remove the buds from a silk flower or two. Glue the buds onto the branch in an organic pattern for an effect that will last for seasons.” - Ryan Martin & Amy Kent, Croma Design.
“A chic way to save money while searching for your dream dining room light fixture is to install an ultra-affordable three-foot-wide Chinese paper lantern. The white globe looks fantastic, plus it glows softly when lit to create a wonderful atmosphere for dining.” - Colleen McGill, McGill Design Group.
“Make a bland room bold by painting stripes on the walls: vertical for low ceilings, horizontal for high.” - Scott Yetman, Scott Yetman Design.
“Luxe up a room by upgrading your toss cushion inserts from fibre to decadent down. IKEA ones are cheap – they’re the best-kept secret!” - David Overholt, David Overholt Interior Design, 416-944-0358.
“When I travel, I love to buy vintage prints and fabrics. Framing the prints in inexpensive frames and creating a collage of photos is a great way to make a big impact. I also love to stretch the fabrics on frames made for canvases as they are works of art in their own right.” - Alykhan Velji, Alykhan Velji designs.
“If the word stencilling conjures images of bad 1980s sponge designs, prepare to be amazed. Royal Design Studio has amazing Moroccan and Indian-style stencils you can use on furniture, stair risers, floors and walls for an ornate, impactful look.” - Samantha Sacks, Sam Sacks Design.
“Why not test out your creative skills and try your hand at some abstract expressionist painting? Grab a canvas and some acrylic paints in your chosen colour scheme and, who knows, you could be the next Jackson Pollock!” - Jessica Kelly, Jessica Kelly Design.
“A ceiling medallion adds instant architectural appeal, formality and elegance to a space. These ones were less than $75 each!” - Trevor Ciona & Curtis Elmy, Atmosphere Interior Design.
“Make personalized art with your own Hipstamatic or Instagram snapshots – the apps have beautiful filters, and smartphones take good-quality photos. Choose an inexpensive frame and splurge on the mat for a high-end professional effect.” - Samantha Sacks, Sam Sacks Design.
"Give an instant lift to your kitchen cabinetry with new hardware. Restoration Hardware’s Duluth pulls in polished nickel make a striking style statement.” - Colleen McGill, McGill Design Group.
6 tips for avoiding renovation mistakes
Having experienced many renos, Scott McGillivray has seen a lot of mistakes made. Some are big, some are small, but they all have one thing in common: They don’t need to happen. Scott shares his list of the top home renovation mistakes and easy ways to avoid them.
1 Poor preparation
A proper renovation takes preparation – lots of it. A detailed plan will help keep you on budget and on time. Set out a very specific agreement with your contractor before the work begins and get everything in writing. You should be able to see on paper how your renovation is going to play out before it even begins.
2 Buying before planning
I can’t stress this enough: Don’t buy materials or appliances until your renovation is planned out and all measurements have been taken. Online sales can be tempting, but that great deal on a 24-inch dishwasher isn’t going to save you any money if you only have room for an 18-inch model.
3 Ignoring issues
When you tear down walls or rip up floors, there’s a good chance you’re going to find something you weren’t expecting, especially in an older home. Electrical and plumbing issues need to be dealt with before you close the walls back up. It might be an unexpected renovation cost up front, but it will save you tons of money in the long run.
4 Cutting corners
Don’t do it. Much like ignoring issues, cutting corners on materials or finishes is only going to cause you problems in the future. It’s always better to go the extra mile and do it right the first time than have to go back and redo everything. Hire competent people to do the job, buy quality materials and take the time to complete all the necessary steps.
5 Unlicensed trades
There are projects that any reliable contractor can take on; then there are specialized projects that require a licensed professional to complete. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, asbestos removal and anything to do with gas or the structure of your home should always be completed by a licensed professional in that specific trade.
6 Too much DIY
I love ambitious homeowners who want to take part in their home renovations, but there comes a time when it’s best to hand the reins over to the professionals. Projects like cabinetry installation, complicated tile work and carpentry are beyond the scope of most homeowners and can reduce the value of your home if done incorrectly. My advice? Involve yourself in the demo – it’s the most fun part, anyway!
A bright and welcoming sunroom is spruced up for the holidays.
With the holiday season is upon us, make the most of this month by tackling these tasks.
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year – and it only lasts a few weeks. Avoid seasonal stress by staying organized and having realistic expectations of what you can achieve. To help you make the most of the holiday season, here are 10 things to do this December.
1 Clean out the freezer
It's all too easy to let food accumulate in the freezer – and before long, not only is it too crowded to make room for more, but there are items in the back that should probably be thrown away. Set aside some time to organize your freezer – you may be amazed at what you'll find in there.
2 Make a wreath
Not only is a wreath on the front door inviting, but it really makes a house look like a home. If you've got the time, add a personal touch to your outdoor decor by making your own instead of buying one. And if you're really feeling inspired, make two and give the second to a friend as an early Christmas gift.
3 Get organized for gift wrapping
To save time during the hectic Christmas shopping season, set up a gift-wrapping station in an out-of-the-way spot in your home -- it will make it easy to wrap gifts as you buy them, and you won't be hunting around the house for the scissors, silver ribbon or gift tags. If you haven't got the space for a separate gift-wrapping table, put all your supplies in a couple of wicker baskets in the closet or under the bed for easy access.
4 Decorate the kitchen
Don't limit your holiday accents to the living room and entryway -- think about ways you can bring the spirit of the season into every room, including the kitchen. Try decorating the windowsill with candles and cedar boughs, putting a miniature Christmas tree on a shelf or draping doorways with garlands. For a finishing touch, simmer spices in water on the back of the stove to infuse your home with the comforting scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
5 Cook up some appetizers
Get ready for guests – whether expected or impromptu – by preparing a selection of appetizers ahead of time. Just pick recipes that can be made in advance and frozen, and you could have a season's worth of hors d'oeuvres ready in an afternoon.
6 Host a cookie exchange
Rather than devoting hours of free time to baking each of your favourite holiday treats, arrange an exchange with friends and family. Organize it so that each person bakes a different type of cookie, enough to share around with everyone in the group. Don't forget to make a few extras to serve while everyone's exchanging the goods!
7 Hang some mistletoe
The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is said to come from an ancient Scandinavian tradition that when enemies met in the forest under mistletoe, they were to lay down their arms and observe a truce for the following day. Continue the tradition by hanging mistletoe in your home during the holiday season – and spread peace and goodwill among your guests.
8 Donate to the food bank
During this season of feasting, remember those who are less fortunate by bringing non-perishable food items or a monetary donation to your local food bank. Consider offering your time, as well, to help sort donations or perform other necessary tasks.
9 Let in the fresh air
It may be getting chilly outside, but that's no reason to keep the windows locked tight. Shutting up the house lets indoor pollutants accumulate, especially if it's fairly new and therefore airtight. Let in the cool, crisp air of early winter by opening the windows for a few minutes daily – longer if the weather is cooperating – and enjoy the fresh scent of a well-aired home.
10 Make homemade eggnog
Eggnog is so rich and sinfully delicious, it's probably a good thing we don't drink it all year round. So don't settle for nog in a carton – it's easy to make your own, and the results are well worth the time spent.
Two closet designs: One for colour and one for black and white
Designer and blogger Erica Cook styles her IKEA storage systems to look like high-end boutiques.
As a single mother of five boys, Erica Cook, the Calgary designer and blogger behind Moth Design, craved an orderly, feminine corner of the house that was all her own. So she transformed her bedroom’s two closets, designating one for colourful items and the other for black and white pieces. “It’s all about finding beauty in the mundane,” she explains. Here’s how Erica styled her IKEA storage systems to look like high-end boutiques.
Erica’s weekend wardrobe fills up the multi-hued closet. She sacrificed shelving in the middle to display her perfume and collection of framed shopping bags that represent special or significant purchases. “They’re like postcards to me,” she says.
Long necklaces won't get tangled when stored in separate bowls.
“When you place an item on a tray or a dish, it’s like giving the piece its own little stage,” says Erica of her artful vignettes.
Bright orange boxes add pop to an eye-catching display.
“I didn’t want my belts rattling around on the back of a door, so I chose to roll them up instead,” says Erica.
The second closet, which contains formal pieces, is a true reflection of Erica’s aesthetic. “I relish the high contrast of a black and white scheme,” she says. “Nearly my whole house is black and white!” Touches of lacquer and metal play up the glam factor.
“Because acrylic is clear, it doesn’t feel like it’s taking up any space,” says Erica, who scooped up these boxes from a clothing store that was closing its doors.
Save the closed storage for essentials and put sparkle on display.
A long black porcelain tray is perfectly proportioned to hold Erica’s watches.
Erica has specific criteria for the trays and bowls she chooses: "I like vessels that are feminine but crisp and can bounce around some light."