Image by: Williams-Sonoma
Getting a homemade dinner on the table on a busy weeknight is easier said than done—but these seven tools and gadgets will help make prepping, cooking and cleaning up a breeze.
From time-saving electronic tools to simple products that cut down on messes, these must-have kitchen items will ensure your weeknight cooking sessions are as stress-free as possible.
Being organized and prepping your ingredients before you start cooking is half the battle. Start by having a variety of small bowls on-hand so you can easily chop and measure what you need for any recipe. This set of four microwave and dishwasher-safe bowls will help you do just that.
Mini latte bowls, Anthropologie, US$12.
Compact and easy to use, an immersion blender makes a myriad of kitchen tasks speedy. From puréeing soups and sauces to making homemade dressing and smoothies, you’ll use this hand blender on a regular basis.
Kitchen Aid Ice Blue 2-Speed Hand Blender, Crate & Barrel, $83, on sale for $55
Small tools can sometimes have a big impact, and this one sure fits the bill. A spoon rest will allow you to minimize mess while you’re cooking by giving you an easy (and pretty!) spot to place a saucy spoon in between stirs.
Gisela Spoon Rest, Anthropologie, US$12
Place silicone liners on your baking sheet in place of parchment paper. Its non-stick surface gives baked treats the perfect texture, without having to wrestle with cutting parchment paper to size. These made-in-France mats are easy to clean and roll up for fast storage.
Silpat Silicone Cookie Sheet Liners, Williams-Sonoma, $32–39
This pretty print makes a useful addition to any kitchen space. It will give you all the kitchen conversions you need at a glance so you don’t have to find all your answers via Google.
Kitchen Conversion Chart, WeJustLikePrints via Etsy $10
One of the handiest tools in the kitchen, this rasp will allow you to finely grate garlic, spices, chocolate and citrus zest in a matter of seconds.
Microplane Rasp Grater, Williams-Sonoma, $22
A cookie scoop simplifies baking by ensuring that all of your cookies, muffins and cupcakes are evenly portioned out, every time! Available in two different sizes, it helps make homemade treats that much more bakery-worthy.
OXO Cookie Scoops, Williams-Sonoma, $19–20
A well-made bed is key to a beautiful bedroom
We've put together 4 stylish ways to make the perfect bed.
While making the bed may not seem like a glamorous task, it is the key to having a glamorous room for your or your guests to sleep in.
We've designed 1 bed 4 different ways. Which is your style?
Diamond-quilted Sham + Polka-dot Pillowcase + Soft-hued Lumbar Cushions See our feminine bedroom decor.
Diamond-quilted Sham + Cabana-striped Pillowcase + Solid Toss Cushion Check out a masculine bedroom design.
Gathered Euro Sham + Alphabet-print Pillowcase + Polka-dot Pillowcase Look at other playful bedroom designs.
Floral Toss Cushion + Woven-edged Lumbar Cushion + Polka-dot Pillowcase + Striped Lumbar Cushion If you like the traditional look try this classic bedroom decor.
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.
Industrial loft design with luxe details and an edgy appeal
Brimming with luxurious materials and industrial swagger, an edgy-meets-elegant makeover sees the union of two lofts.
In sitcoms, there’s always the jokester perpetually getting locked out of his apartment in the hallway wearing socks – or worse, far less. In real life, however, hallway humour is not so funny. Take this husband and wife who had to go out to the corridor every time they needed something from next door. They own (and inhabit) adjacent lofts in Toronto’s historic Merchandise Building. Commensurate with early 20th-century Chicago-style architecture, the building has hefty bones, high ceilings and factory windows – enthralling features that meant moving elsewhere to gain more space was out of the question. “Besides, the idea was always to merge the two units,” says the husband, joking, “but in the meantime, we had the best guest suite in the city.”
After owning the lofts for three years, the professional pair, who has a four-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, finally decided to fuse the 1,763- and 1,372-square-foot spaces. To bring the project from concept to fruition, they collaborated with Croma Design’s savvy Ryan Martin and Amy Kent. Building restrictions only allowed for a small opening between the suites, which was achieved by removing the kitchen and a small laundry closet from one unit, as well as reconfiguring the master bedroom. But it worked out perfectly. “It resulted in two separate zones: one for the family to relax in, the other for entertaining,” explains Amy. Toys are relegated to the family room in one unit, while in the other, the slick living room with its stand-out hot-rolled-steel fireplace is enjoyed when the adults are entertaining.
In the living room of this Toronto loft designed by Ryan Martin and Amy Kent of Croma Design, a standout fireplace surround made from 12 feet of hot-rolled steel creates architectural drama. Modern furnishings, hits of brass and pared-back artwork establish a look that’s at once livable and luxurious.
The dining room’s existing bar niche was updated with a Caesarstone-topped cabinet and upper shelves. An artistic take on utilitarian fluorescents over the dining table, the light fixture offers striking sculptural presence – but no harshness. “It uses LED bulbs, so it emits a warm glow,” says Amy.
The loft’s decor is all about sharp contrast and cohesion, exemplified in the long steel shelves that echo the steel-based dining table, as well as the doors of the nine-foot-long sideboard, which are the same as the ones used for the kitchen cabinetry.
The living room’s custom bookcases were so tall the contractor had to build them off-site and stack them here in components – but the extra effort was worth it. They’re a huge improvement from the cluttered stand-alones that once lived in the loft.
The weight of the kitchen’s darkness is balanced by the light and airy envelope around it, from the white surrounding walls and ceiling to the glass pendant lights. The island is equipped with open shelves to store cookbooks, which offer a hint of colour.
“We chose Caesarstone countertops because they’re durable and easy to maintain, which is great for this family, who is constantly trying out new recipes from their many cookbooks,” says Amy.