How to create an haute Hallows Eve
Less is more when setting a frightilicious scene for guests. Just pick a theme (here, it’s ravens) and avoid the usual (namely orange!). Chartreuse velvet fabric inspired the colour palette, while the outdoors was tied in with decorative elements like ornamental grasses and black feathers.
Don’t hesitate to embellish the place settings – it’s Halloween, after all – but just stick with the colour palette and keep it simple. Here, a ribbon of textured black raffia makes an effortless napkin ring.
Silver accents provide just the right amount of glam. The chargers, which are used with the dinner plates, double as trays to hold the jars of candy.
Create a beautiful dried seasonal arrangement that you can use anywhere. A wooden bowl and trug hold a selection of gourds, moss balls and dried white button mums. Vintage leather-bound books set atop a black cobweb (which pops against a mauve swath of fabric) promise to hold a magic spell or two within!
Cupcakes (dark chocolate, of course) are iced in a witchy green and topped with towering purple candles.
Real gourds (artificial will work too) coated with black paint pop against the chartreuse tablecloth. Spanish moss (available at craft stores) scattered about is a refreshing organic touch compared to the season’s traditional hay.
Commercial Halloween decorations are more stylish when used sparingly. A skeleton makes an upscale spooky impression against a natural raffia wreath. A few simple flourishes – black and amethyst ribbons, and ravens – offer guests a hint of what they’ll experience.
Make your own favours – homemade is always original! In a nod to the fall season, we filled fibre pots with mini pine cones, but you could use something more festive like black jelly beans. Insert an enchanting black feather and hold it upright with a clothespin painted green.
A Halloween spread is not complete without a candy buffet. A collection of grown-up candy in shades from the colour palette is displayed in clear Mason jars: black licorice and jelly beans, purple lollipops, and green chocolate mint balls, which mimic eyeballs.
Quartier Petit Champlain
Here's why you should put on your parka and visit Old Quebec this winter.
Style at Home managing editor Catherine Therrien braves the cold to get a taste of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in its element during the annual winter carnival.
To fully experience Quebec City’s rich history, you must stay at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac – even if only for one night. Located in the heart of Old Quebec atop Cape Diamond, the 123-year-old castle-like hotel exudes charm and character in every possible way. When you check in, take a few minutes to admire the stunningly designed lobby, with its ice blue coffered ceiling, numerous vintage chandeliers, intricate woodwork and brass detailing.
Once you’ve unpacked and geared up for the cold weather, head to the north end of the boardwalk just outside the hotel to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River. Then take the Breakneck (Casse-Cou) Stairs or hop on the funicular to descend to the Quartier Petit Champlain in the lower town (Basse-Ville).
The pedestrian-only cobblestone main street is jam-packed with souvenir shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques – Amimoc sells the most beautiful handmade moccasins – and quaint restaurants. Stop for lunch at Le Lapin Saute, a delightful little eatery with a creative menu. Step out of your comfort zone and try their rabbit lasagna. Head to La Fudgerie to top off your meal. The boutique has 80 flavours of fudge, such as creme brulee and salted caramel, making it a challenge to pick just one. Don’t miss a cool trompe l’oeil mural during your stroll through the area.
If you happen to be in town between January 29 and February 14, enjoy a host of activities at the Quebec Winter Carnival, from snow tubing to night parades. Spend the afternoon at the Plains of Abraham taking in marvellous works of art made from giant blocks of snow for the International Snow Sculpture Competition – a carnival classic. While exploring, look for the sugar shack and indulge in maple taffy on a stick. Return to the hotel for a relaxing night in. Treat yourself to room service and dine at your own private table in the comfort of a plush robe and slippers.
Start your day by devouring perhaps the biggest crepe you’ve ever seen at Casse-Crepe Breton. It offers both savoury and sweet options – I opted for the strawberries with chocolate drizzle.
Walk off your breakfast with a jaunt to Quebec-based fashion retailer Simons. Check out the home collection on the mezzanine level for well-priced stylish wares.
For a spectacular winter scene, take a 20-minute drive east to picturesque Montmorency Falls Park. The 83-metre-high waterfall can be viewed from ground level, a cable car or the suspension bridge. The main attraction, though, is the famous sugarloaf (pain de sucre), a massive loaf-shaped ice cone that forms near the base of the falls.
Head back to town and have a bite to eat at Aux Anciens Canadiens – a tourist favourite for old-fashioned Quebec specialties. The tourtiere and maple syrup pie are must-haves. Then enjoy a few hours of outdoor ice skating (skates are available for rent) at Place d’Youville, a historic square. Finish off the evening at Fairmont’s 1608 bar and savour the best local cheeses and wines from around the world.
Stay warm and toasty while exploring this historic city in the Great White North. Cold weather coat - Shelburne parka in Red, Canada Goose, $775. Haute hat - Word Logo Pom-pom toque in True Black, Gap, $30. Stylish carryall - Saxby messenger bag in Marone, Brave Leather, $335. Cozy socks - Womens Pop Cabin socks in Lodge Red, Roots, $19 per pack of 2. Comfy skates - Cameo by Jackson CS112 Fleece figure skates, Canadian Tire, $70. Hand warmers - HBC Shearling mittens in Camel, Hudson’s Bay, $120.
This Toronto dwelling, with its book-laden walls and cozy corners, is a reader's dream.
Easygoing, trusting and super stylish: These homeowners were downright dream clients for designer Robyn Rider, whom they hired to revamp their newly purchased three-bedroom dwelling in downtown Toronto. The protege of the designer who’d transformed their previous house, Robyn was the prime candidate to deliver an updated look to these downsizing lawyers’ home.
“They have great taste and great pieces to work with,” says Robyn – plus, lots of books. Though the homeowners significantly reduced their large book collection, the remaining titles were more than substantial, including legal references, favourite reads, hardcover sets and prized heirlooms. It’s only fitting, then, that the only directive Robyn was given was to accommodate this veritable library, which ended up dictating much of the main floor’s design.
Robyn added floor-to-ceiling bookcases throughout the entire main level to achieve the perfect marriage of library and living space. This is especially evident in the dining room, which she designed as a place to not only eat meals and host dinner parties but also to lounge by the fire with a good book. To that effect, a cozy armchair by the fireplace is accompanied by a reading lamp and footstool, and the banquette at the round urn-based dining table is extra-deep and extra-comfy. “I wanted to create an intimate area that could accommodate guests, but where the homeowners wouldn’t feel ridiculous when it’s just the two of them,” says Robyn.
While the central kitchen marks a bit of a departure from the scholarly look, it still feels like a seamless part of the open-concept living area. “I used cabinets featuring the same profile and colour as the millwork in the adjacent dining and living rooms,” says Robyn. Integrated and panelled appliances as well as cabinetry with footed toe kicks lend the space a furnished feel, while oversized lantern-style pendant lights above the island are the kind you might find over a formal dining table, further blending the lines between the cooking zone and the rest of the home.
After all, the kitchen leads right into the living room, which returns to books. “I didn’t even try to organize or colour code them,” says Robyn of her approach to keeping the look cohesive. “It would have felt too contrived.” (Plus, the husband is pretty particular about organizing things by subject.) So, to temper the mismatched assortment, Robyn created a serene envelope of white millwork and cream walls, which she used throughout the main level. “We could afford to be quieter with the paint palette considering the books and the bold textiles,” she explains, noting examples like the traditional multi-hued heirloom needlepoint rug and contemporary zigzag-patterned armchairs. “The homeowners definitely didn’t need to be convinced to use colour,” says Robyn. “It actually took some convincing to leave the walls neutral!”
Once Robyn finessed the final details of the newly designed house, the homeowners unpacked and arranged their last tomes onto the shelves, ready to begin their new chapter.
French doors – which lead to a backyard oasis that borders a ravine – let a tremendous amount of light into the living room of this Toronto house designed by Robyn Rider. Because of the kitchen’s proximity to this space, it was decorated with statement pieces, such as oversized lantern-style pendant lights, to unify the areas.
Black soapstone counter- tops break up the white kitchen cabinetry that would have otherwise looked too clinical in this cozy space. Even though it’s quite high maintenance, soapstone adds warmth and lustre. “It’s an extra layer of luxury,” says Robyn.
The first space you see when you walk through the front door is the powder room. It sets the tone for the punchy greens and bold prints used throughout the rest of the house.
The library-inspired living room features clever design details, such as space-saving pull-out shelves in place of side tables. “I was channelling British townhouse style, in which everything has a purpose,” says Robyn.
Reminding Robyn (pictured right) of gardens in Provence, the table base, an oversized urn, was the jumping-off point for the dining room’s palette. “I love its intense green colour,” says the designer, “and I just went with it!” The homeowners also love the extra-deep banquette. Robyn used a bold botanical print on the Roman shades to blur the border between indoors and out, imparting a lively and verdant atmosphere.
A dining area and reading nook rolled into one, this room sees a lot of action. The bookcases, lined with selections and collections most meaningful to the homeowners, lend an old-world vibe that is punched up by the fresh armchair fabric.
A serene departure from the rest of the house, the main guest room is soft yet sophisticated. The antique settee is a family heirloom that Robyn had reupholstered with a contemporary centre stripe design. From there, Robyn layered in more powder blue and cream elements into the space but brought in dove grey to counter the femininity. “Powder blue on its own can border on prissy,” she explains.
Photography by Stacey Brandford
This master bedroom and ensuite demonstrate that neutral is anything but boring.
This master bedroom and ensuite demonstrate that neutral is anything but boring.
This master bedroom and ensuite prove a neutral scheme is anything but boring.
After purchasing a semi-detached dwelling in one of Toronto’s sought-after midtown neighbourhoods, this young couple quickly abandoned the home’s wonky layout and dated decor in order to welcome the opposite: a clean-lined, contemporary and predominately white interior. The challenge then became making the monochromatic scheme come alive. The solution? The expert touch of Croma Design’s Ryan Martin and Amy Kent. “The homeowners wanted a house that was modern but not stuffy or sterile,” says Ryan. Here, we look to the three-storey abode’s master bedroom and ensuite for decor lessons that might just have you embracing a neutral palette and kicking colour to the curb.
During the reno, designers Ryan Martin and Amy Kent opted for an expansive window with distinct black framing. “We could have done a white frame, but adding that touch of black gives life and character to the otherwise clean-looking master bedroom,” says Ryan. This design choice also draws attention to the property’s verdant back garden.
Thanks to its rich woven quality the grasscloth-clad accent wall is the understated showpiece of the room. Says Ryan: “You can see the seams where the wallpaper lines up, but that’s what shows off the material’s texture and embellishes the look.”
When it was time to decide where to splurge, the homeowners knew they couldn’t do without oil-finished oak flooring, which is carried throughout the house. The timeless grey-brown shade anchors the space and lends an additional layer of warmth.
A wall of custom built-in closets is any homeowner’s dream, but that’s not to say function should come before style. In addition to providing ample storage, these units feature subtle moulding that adds architectural presence to the bedroom. Similar built-in wardrobes also flank the hallway that leads to the ensuite.
It’s often the subtle details that make or break the look of a space. The key, explains Ryan, is to create cohesion. For this modern ensuite, the designers strategically chose metal faucets that coordinate with the other dark accents in the room – including the shower door hinges.
The stylish washstand was the starting point for the space’s contemporary scheme and helped steer the clients away from an all-white aesthetic. The washstand’s Carrara marble top has soft grey undertones, which add depth to the look,” says Ryan.
“It was important to design a nice, clean bathroom that wasn’t too stark,” says Ryan, speaking to his and Amy’s decision to include bright brass-finished elements like the sconces and mirrors. Overall, the contrasting metallic pieces add a touch of glitz. To establish an elegant-meets-edgy look, the design duo used Carrara marble throughout in various shapes, such as rectangular wall tiles and hexagonal floor tiles. “We even used a dark grout to enhance the formats of the tiles,” says Ryan.