Feb 2, 2010
Valentine's Day e-cards
Valentine's Day e-cards
Valentine's Day e-cards
Hellen Buttigieg, the maven of organization, shares some simple tips for organizing your world in a flash.
Hellen Buttigieg knows a few things about getting organized - and staying organized. As a certified professional organizer, life coach and TV host, she helps people clear the clutter in their homes, minds and lives. Her successful TV show, Neat, ran on HGTV for three seasons and is still showing on Global.
Her company, We Organize U, is a full-service organizing haven. She and her staff of organizing experts help people sort through the clutter to find the gems. Just as people are different, so are their organizing styles, so she and her staff dream up solutions based on the individual needs of their clients.
According to Hellen, there are so many reasons why you should organize your life, home or business. One reason to get organized is to reduce stress. One sobering statistic on her company's website, weorganizeu.com, is that a disorganized, stressed out person spends about 10 to 20 percent of the day looking for misplaced items. When you think about how busy our lives are, that number represents a huge chunk of leisure time.
Below she shares some simple tips to help you get organized in five minutes or fewer so you can start enjoying your life. Her book, Organizing Outside the Box, offers more tips and tricks to get organized and be happy.
Photography by Robin Stubbert
Around the house
1 Make the bed, fluff the pillows and duvet.
2 Pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry hamper.
3 Put clean laundry away.
4 Take excess shoes out of the hallway closet or front hall and place them in the bedroom closets. Each family member should only keep one or two pairs of shoes (depending on space) by the door or hallway closet.
5 Go through your sock drawer and give up any socks without partners. If you haven't worn panty hose since 2008, it's time to toss those, too!
6 Gather up all your accessories (belts, hats, scarves) and let go of the ones you no longer like or use.
7 Gather all the wire hangers in your closet and put them in your car. Next time you go to the dry cleaners, you can take them in for recycling.
8 Before starting something new, spend five minutes putting away anything that's left out from the last project you worked on. This is a technique that teachers use to keep the kindergarten classroom tidy and it works equally well at home.
Photography by Stacey Brandford
9 Transfer all the photos from your camera onto your computer before your card fills up.
10 Scan the emails in your junk folder (to make sure nothing important ended up there) and then delete them.
11 Delete all the old voicemail messages from your home phone and cell phone.
Photography by Donna Griffith
12 Toss out any spoiled food from the refrigerator.
13 Toss out any stale food from the pantry.
14 Clear out one ‘junk drawer'. Toss anything you don't need or recognize. Divide the drawer by using old cheque book boxes or small plastic containers to keep similar items together.
15 Clean out your wallet/purse. Toss gum wrappers, scraps of paper and old tissues; file receipts and business cards.
16 Go through your cosmetics and toiletries and toss any items you no longer use or are past their expiration date (usually 6 months to a year).
17 Sort through 3 to 5 file folders and shred what you don't need. Keep a coloured folder upright in your filing cabinet to mark where you leave off.
18 Go through your collection of coupons and toss the expired ones. Put the others in your purse or the glove compartment of your car and use them next time you go shopping.
19 Put all the newspapers and mail flyers in the recycling bin.
20 Make a list of all important documents and contact information and remember to tell someone where it is, in case of emergency.
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.
Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall.
These faux marble options are just as elegant as the real deal.
Few materials strike a chord with us in the same way that marble does. The sought-after stone, with its subtle sheen and veined markings, is quick to catch the eye and lends a luxe look to a space without being over the top. The downside, of course, is its price point. Here are 5 marble-like options that will achieve the same sophisticated, formal look for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a faux marble tile that can handle heavy foot traffic? Consider peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. In addition to their resilient nature, the tiles can be installed over most existing flooring. In other words, they make for a perfect weekend DIY project that won’t end in defeat. TrafficMaster Premium Vinyl Tile in Carrara Marble, Home Depot, starting at $0.89/sq. ft.
If you love the marbled look, you’ll want to customize all of your furniture with this stylish contact paper. The affordable material has a peel-away backing that can stick to almost any surface, from the top of a coffee table to the inside of kitchen drawers. Keep in mind that the paper doesn’t react well to water, so avoid using it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall, $59.99 per roll.
Elevate your living space with ceramic wall tiles that mimic the look of marble like this elegant option from Ciot. Though similar in appearance, ceramic is far more delicate than marble and is therefore more susceptible to chips and cracks. The solution: Be strategic with placement, avoiding high-traffic areas in favour of bathroom walls or backsplashes. Marvel Wall Tile in Calacatta Extra, Ciot, see store for pricing.
Porcelain is another classic material that boasts marble's polished aesthetic without the hefty price tag. The tile is more resilient than ceramic, which makes it perfect for flooring as well as bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Let's just say marble-inspired porcelain has the ability to make any space sparkle. Glazed Porcelain Tiles in White, Olympia Tile + Stone, see store for pricing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Laminam, allow us to be the first to introduce you. The innovative material is touted as being the world’s first porcelain tile that's offered in 3 metre by 1 metre panels and is thinner than standard porcelain tiling. This means that in addition to covering existing walls and floors, Laminam can take on an array of delicate surfaces (think fireplace surrounds, kitchen countertops and outdoor areas). I Naturali Laminam in Bianco Statuario, Stone Tile, see store for pricing.
This bathroom perfectly blends contemporary styling with timeless appeal.
This bathroom perfectly blends contemporary styling with timeless appeal.
A modern teak vanity and head-to-toe tiles helps give this family bathroom its clean and contemporary feel.
Bright and spacious were Erin and Bill Klein’s most important requirements for the overhaul of their family bathroom, part of a whole-house renovation led by Yannick Laurin of La Shed Architecture. The tiny windowless space on the second floor of their early-1900s Montreal duplex was enlarged to accommodate a bathtub, vanity and walk-in shower, which boasts a back wall topped with glass to let light flow in. Yannick delivered a look that blends contemporary styling and timeless appeal, a perfect complement to the rest of the house.
The homeowners instantly fell in love with this mid-Century modern teak sideboard and wanted to use it for their bathroom. So architect Yannick Laurin transformed it into a vanity by adding a Corian sink. “To avoid detracting from the basin’s clean lines, we opted for a sleek wall-mounted faucet,” says Yannick. The furniture piece adds warmth to the entirely tiled space, while the custom five-door mirrored medicine cabinet visually expands the room and provides plenty of storage.
The shower area was built without a partition to increase the feeling of openness.
The dark bathroom was transformed into a light-filled space by inserting glass into the top two feet of the nine-foot-high shower wall, which is shared with the bright family room. the tiled floor extends into the walk-in shower for a seamless look, and the metal shelf provides handy shower storage.
The square wall tiles that surround the bathroom exude a retro vibe, an aesthetic these homeowners love.
The simple four-inch-square white porcelain wall tiles – arranged in an offset brick pattern and grouted with grey – contrast beautifully with the small-scale black floor tiles, creating a sleek backdrop for the room’s showpiece: the timeless vanity. Under-floor heating, an unseen yet much-appreciated feature, keeps things cozy any time of the year.