Blending pretty and practical style
Vancouver designer Chrissy Cottrell shares her tips to creating a home that's both fabulous and functional.
Follow designer Chrissy Cottrell's 10 tips to creating a home that appeals to both genders.
A whimsical print by Paule Marrot adds a pretty touch to the dining room and balances out the handsome dark accents. “My husband, Corey, and I wanted to honour both the masculine and feminine in our home,” says homeowner and designer Chrissy Cottrell of Chrissy & Co. Design Savvy.
Minimalist furnishings ensure this small dining area doesn’t feel cramped. A sleek oval Saarinen-style dining table, paired with iconic Eames chairs, seats six without taking up too much visual space. Stemware and bottles stay neatly tucked away in the narrow built-in bar but can be put on display when the couple entertains.
The built-in stainless steel peninsula gives guests a great view of what’s cooking in the galley kitchen. Tucked into the cabinetry, the dishwasher drawer – perfect for a household of two – can handle a lot of dishes while taking up minimal space.
The cognac stain of the vintage-look schoolhouse stools contrasts with the contemporary kitchen’s stainless steel peninsula. The stools also complement the warm-toned hardwood floors and rich colours found in the artwork (a wall-mounted glass platter), pulling the whole space together.
The regal bust adds sophistication on the living room window ledge. “There’s so much natural light by the window, and it’s always changing, so I keep it simple with pieces that won’t detract from the view,” says Chrissy. “It’s more about the silhouette and texture.”
A living room corner gets the full decorative treament with a mix of pieces that have a Neo-Victorian vibe. The art wall – a standout feature – includes a vintage mirror, golden buffalo head and playful painted portrait of the couple’s toy poodle, Buttons.
The white Italian leather sofa provides negative space underneath the artwork, allowing it to shine. The large-scale piece by David Burdeny makes the narrow living room seem bigger than it actually is. “I really love art that pulls you into it,” says Chrissy. “It’s like a window into another room.”
When it comes to artwork and interesting accessories, people often neglect the bathroom, says Chrissy, who hung some of her favourite pieces on the charcoal wall. “Let’s face it: you spend several minutes in there, so it’s nice to have something interesting to look at.”
Upholstered in grey linen with brushed-brass nailhead trim, the tufted headboard takes centre stage in the otherwise sedate master bedroom. A sleek black and gold pendant light adds drama and helps draw the eye upward.
The master bedroom gallery wall showcases the couple’s history, with sentimental pieces that reflect their time and travels together. “I’m a big believer in buying what you love and then making it work,” says Chrissy, who splurged on custom framing in a mix of complementary shades and sizes.
9 ways to revamp your bathroom without undergoing a large-scale renovation.
According to designer Robin Siegerman, principal of Sieguzi Kitchen & Home Inc. and author of Renovation Bootcamp: Kitchens, bathroom renovations can be surprisingly expensive for the (generally) smaller size of the room, because so much of the expense is hidden in the walls, such as electrical and plumbing. But if your bathroom is in relatively good shape but uninspired from a design standpoint – often the case with condo units, for example – there’s much you can do to give it a spiffier look, with little or no professional help. Here are a few tips.
Replacing an ugly bathroom faucet with a pretty one has become a relatively simple do-it-yourself task, with many faucets now sold in kits that include all the fittings and complete instructions. Make sure you have the right type for the number of hole openings in the sink.
There are companies that will come in and reface your countertop with a ¼-inch veneer of granite, for the look of solid granite at a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, you can have a boring or worn laminate counter refaced with new laminate—there are ones on the market now that closely mimic stone, wood or other natural finishes, or go for something more fanciful if you like.
Replace a boring plate-glass mirror with a framed version you can hang like art. Scoop up an ornate frame at an antique store (or pick out a nice one at a framer’s) and have the framer make it into a mirror for you. Attractive framed mirrors in every style from Victorian to modern can also be found at thrift stores, antique markets and home stores.
If your bathtub or shower is tiled inside the enclosure but stops at the edge, and you can find matching tile, have it extended (or do it yourself, with new ceramic tile mounting kits available at box stores) the rest of the way around the bathroom to the 48” mark, like wainscoting. The advantage to doing this is more than aesthetic; it makes your bathroom much easier to clean, since you can wash the walls at the same time you do the floors.
Many bathrooms are cursed with a single light fixture directly above the mirror, which creates unflattering shadows. If you don’t want to have side sconces wired in, look for a fixture with two lights side by side, which will at least direct the light a little more to either side of your face.
If your bathroom floor is ugly, cover it with a small pure-wool area rug. Unlike synthetics, wool is moisture and mildew resistant, resists dirt (and can be cleaned relatively easily), and if you choose an Oriental or Persian style, adds a touch of class. If it gets very wet, hang it up to dry.
It’s amazing what a beautiful bathroom wall colour will do to add interest to the plainest room, and a small room takes only a day or so to paint. Be careful choosing colour, though: some blues and greens can be cold and unkind to skin tones, while too bright a colour may be overwhelming in a small room like a bath. At the very worst, if you choose a colour and don’t like the effect, it’s easy to paint over again.
Making your own shower curtain is an easy job, even if you’re not a sewer. Measure the shower opening and purchase a few yards of beautiful fabric from a fabric outlet store. Finish the edges with iron-on hemming tape and sew curtain rings along the top. Buy a plastic curtain liner from a bath shop, and hang.
Think scale with bath accessories, but don’t think you have to display only small things. One beautiful vase or piece of artwork (a sealed print is best if your bath gets very steamy) can have fabulous impact in a small space.
Expert fall home organizing tips
Professional organizer Estelle Gee gives her best home organizing tips for fall.
Blending style with practicality, Estelle Gee, director of Orderly Lives, has made a career out of helping others get organized. Here she shares some of her best home organizing tips and tricks to help you get your house ready for fall.
Simple home organizing solutions
Back-to-school home organizing
If you have children, then fall is extra busy -- not only do you have to get yourself organized and your home prepared for the oncoming cold, but you also have to get ready for back-to-school. Here are Estelle Gee's best home organizing tips to help get you and your family ready for school.
Outdoor fall home organizing ideas
With the lazy days of summer coming to a close, it's time to concentrate on organizing the outdoor living space and exterior of your home. Get your house winter ready before the cold rolls in with these simple outdoor organizing ideas.
Fall home organizing accessories
A few of Estelle Gee's favourite home organizing accessories:
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.