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.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
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.
What is thread count, really?
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.
What to look for when buying sheets
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!
What to avoid when buying sheets
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.
What do you prefer?
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.
Recipe: Chocolate pecan buttercream cake
Brown Sugar Buttercream
Directions for cake
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Butter and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans. Shake out excess flour. Line the bottom of the pans with circles of parchment paper.
3 In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined.
4 Dissolve coffee in boiling water and set aside to cool to room temperature. Add coffee to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
5 In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually mix into dry ingredients and beat just until smooth.
6 Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Directions for pecan meringue
1 Preheat oven to 225°F.
2 Trace two 8-¾-inch circles on a sheet of parchment paper, turn over, and place on a large baking sheet.
3 In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop pecans into very small pieces.
4 In a small bowl, combine chopped pecans and icing sugar. Mix with a fork to make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
5 In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start whisking egg whites on medium speed. Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until frothy. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to whisk, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gradually fold in the pecan-sugar mixture. Divide evenly between the two parchment circles, smoothing out the surface of each meringue circle.
6 Bake in centre of preheated oven until crisp and dry, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely on baking sheet.
Directions for buttercream
1 In the clean bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar and egg whites. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously until sugar is melted and egg whites are warm to the touch. Remove from heat and place bowl on mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
2 Whisk at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the butter and vanilla and continue whipping until smooth and thick. Set aside.
Directions for syrup
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Directions for decoration
1 Line the back of a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
2 Using a spatula, spread white chocolate over sheet, then pour dark chocolate overtop. Using spatula, quickly swirl the two chocolates together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Directions for assemble cake
1 Place first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush with soaking syrup. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream (about 1/3 cup). Place the first layer of meringue on buttercream. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with cake, syrup, buttercream, meringue, buttercream, ending with a cake layer.
2 Using a sharp knife, trim the meringue layers if necessary to make the cake layers even. Ice entire cake with remaining buttercream. Using your spatula, make a spiral design on the top of the cake with the buttercream.
3 To decorate, break marbled chocolate into pieces the same height as the cake. Press gently into buttercream on sides of cake. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
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