Don't let the dark depths or the sloped ceiling heights stop you from turning this precious square footage into your dream space.
Basements and attics are precious square footage that can be transformed into whatever your heart desires. Don't let the dark depths or the sloped ceiling heights stop you from designing your next family room, home office or guest room!
Photography by Ashley Capp
1 Problem: I want to finish the basement, but don’t want the rustic lounge room treatment that most basements have.
You can make your basement area just as grand as your high-style spaces above ground, high ceilings or not. Hang oversized artwork, arrange sleek modern furniture and light it up with ornate fixtures.
Photography by Ashley Capp
2 Problem: I have small windows in the basement and have no idea how to cover them.
You can still make a lounge in the basement appear spacious despite low ceilings and grade level windows. Hang full-length drapes to make it appear as though there’s a large bay window hidden behind.
Photography by Virginia Macdonald
3 Problem: There’s no natural light in our basement and it just feels dark and dull.
The quickest and easiest fix for a dark basement is a fresh coat of paint. Whilst walls painted in a pale grey will lighten the space, a ceiling brushed in a fresh coat of vibrant coral will give it that extra boost.
Photography by Stacey Brandford
4 Problem: Our basement has 70s paneling – yuck!
Natural-hued wood paneling can look pretty dated, especially in a basement. If stripping it off is too big of a project, simply paint it white or a pale grey for that bright beach house look.
Photography by Janis Nicolay
5 Problem: Our furniture in the basement lounge creates an awkward corner.
When dealing with an awkward corner, draw the eyes away from it by reflecting the rest of the room. Place a floor mirror on an angle in the corner so it mirrors the space around it rather than draw attention to itself.
Photography by Magdalena Bjornsdotter
6 Problem: The space under our stairs isn’t being put to use.
The empty space under your basement stairs is a hidden gem rather than an awkward nook. Use this space for seasonal storage (like Christmas decorations) or convert into a wine closet. You can also use it as a functional space, creating a cool hangout for the kids or building a laptop station.
Photography by Kim Christie
7 Problem: We have a finished basement, but it’s too cold down there to enjoy in the winter.
Because they’re underground, basements have the tendency to feel chillier than the rest of your home. Turn your basement into a cozy hideaway by installing an electrical fireplace and laying down plush rugs underfoot.
Photography by Mark Burstyn
8 Problem: My basement ceilings are too low to have fun with lighting.
Not true! You can still introduce unique light fixtures in your basement even if you don’t have those grand 9-foot ceilings. Put up vintage wall sconces, and if you do want pendant lighting, hang in low traffic areas like corners or above the coffee table.
Photography by Robin Stubbert
9 Problem: Our bedroom is in the attic and gets incredibly hot in the summer, even with the air conditioning.
With the summer sun beating down on the roof all day and air conditioning working overtime to reach the top level of the house, the attic can get pretty toasty. Keep the door to the attic closed during the day to trap the cool air in and install a ceiling fan overhead to move the air around at night.
Photography by Barry Calhoun
10 Problem: We have a finished attic but the sloped ceilings make it difficult to use it for anything.
An attic is the perfect space to build a quiet getaway for the end of a long workday or a lazy Sunday. Cover the space with floor poufs and create a family movie room by projecting films onto the sloped ceilings. Or, if you’re a yogi, transform the room into a home studio for stretching and meditation.
Style at Home
This bread is sweet enough that you know you’re having a pastry but not so sweet that you can’t eat an entire loaf without noticing. This would be soooo good in the Monte Cristo. It would take that salty sweet sandwich to the next level and it makes an amazing French toast. You can also fold toasted sliced almonds in with the blueberries.
One of my happiest moments while writing this book, was taking this bread out of the oven on a Sunday afternoon and sitting around our dining room table with a few friends ripping it apart while it was piping hot. Everyone enjoyed it so much that by the time I thought of getting a knife it was all gone—and that is, hands down, the best way to serve it. Don’t slice it, just drop it in the middle of your table and have people rip it apart right from the oven. That’s love.
Ingredients for brioche
Directions for brioche
1 Place the fresh blueberries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery.
2 Slightly warm the milk and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 2½ tbsp of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.
3 Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for 6 minutes. Pause every minute to push the dough back down into the bowl and off the hook until it pulls off the sides and looks like a strong bread dough.
4 Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of 2 minutes. After 1 minute, pause to scrape down the bowl and hook. When the butter begins to blend in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter and bring the dough back together, 5 to 6 minutes longer.
5 Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16-by-10-in/40-by-25-cm rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with a short side nearest you; distribute the blueberries and 2 tbsp of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log.
6 Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
1 Grease a 9-by-5-in/23-by-12-cm loaf pan. Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12-by-6-in/30.5-by-15-cm rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time.
2 Place into the greased loaf pan, loosely wrap in plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size, about 3 hours.
3 As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure the egg doesn’t pool around the edges. Liberally sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. Then transfer to a cooling rack.
Ingredients for egg wash
Directions for egg wash
Combine the egg yolks, heavy cream, and salt and whisk until homogeneous. Refrigerate until needed. This keeps, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.
Makes 1 loaf.
Conquer that closet clutter once and for all.
Keep your bedroom closet organized and on track with these 6 helpful tips.
From reach-ins to walk-ins, almost every bedroom comes equipped with a closet. While no two are alike, keeping them in order is a hurdle for many. Wendy Hollick, professional organizer and owner of Neat Spaces, shares her tips for conquering your closet disaster through minimizing clutter and maximizing your space's potential. With solutions that save time and money and are stylish, here's how to get things back in order so you can keep track of what you own.
1 Create zones
The first step is to figure out what's going to live in your closet. "You look at your inventory and design around your needs," says Wendy. "Do you have many things that are long-hanging like dresses? How do you hang your pants? Do you share your closet with somebody?" By evaluating how you will use this space, you can create areas to figure out what type of storage you need ... from shoe racks to drawers.
"Purge, baby, purge," says Wendy. If you haven't used something in the past two years and it has no intrinsic value, get rid of it or donate it to charity. As a professional organizer, Wendy has seen dozens of closets over the years and believes over-consumption is to blame. "Eighty per cent of what we keep, we never use," she says. "And we wear 20% of what we own only 80% of the time and the rest just hangs there."
3 Use every inch of space
No square inch should go unnoticed. Many closets are designed poorly and often times the top and bottom spaces aren't used properly or at all. As a rule of thumb, most used items should be stored in plain sight, less-used below and rarely-used up high. To maximize your closet's potential, "you need to look for durability and flexibility," says Wendy. "Look for something that when you install it, can work with you and change with the trends." She suggests using products with epoxy-coated metal rather than plastic-coated metal because of its strength and durability. Wendy also suggests using floor space and high shelves for storing seasonal items and shoes because they can be stacked in clear plastic boxes free of dust and you can still see what's inside.
4 Take advantage of doors
"In a perfect world, all closets would be built with a pocket door," says Wendy. Unfortunately, getting one requires tearing out a wall and that's not always permissible. But this doesn't mean you can't put your swing door to good use without having it eat up your closet's floor space. By using a hanging organizer, you can turn your door into storage for shoes, belts, ties and other accessories.
5 Add a double or pull down rod
Adding another rod to your closet isn't as difficult as it sounds. There are hanging rods that you can put over existing rails for a quick addition to your hanging space. You can even take the alternate, though more expensive route, and use your high ceilings to install a pull down rod.
Either way, with an additional rod, you can organize your clothing into sections. Lower rods for hanging pants and higher-up rods for longer items like dresses and coats. Don't forget to coordinate your hangers and use the proper ones for a uniform, polished look.
"Velvet hangers are great to keep your clothes from slipping, wood hangers are durable but can take up space, while plastic takes up less space and is less finicky than velvet," says Wendy.
"When you look at something that gives you that editorial look, you are more likely to respect it," says Wendy. Treat your closet like a small room, taking into consideration lighting and wall colour. Recessed lighting doesn't obstruct your view and it disguises perfectly in a small space. Light paint colours like white, soft greys and beiges are sleek and reflect light. By adding a mirror to your closet, its reflection will automatically make the room appear larger.
To determine volume and prevent clutter build up, Wendy shares her trick for tracking overflow so you know what to get rid of next season: "Go into your closet and rearrange your hangers so the hook is facing you. When you wear something and put it back, the hook should face inwards. Over time you can actually see what you wear and what you don't from what's left facing outwards."
Tour this Vancouver home's modern eclectic look.
This Vancouver home's modern eclectic look is a testament to the power of a sister act.
Now that the dust has settled on their massive whole-house renovation, homeowners Anna Wright and Alistair Sale – both busy professionals and parents of Lewis, 10, Freddie, 8, and George, 6 – each have their favourite features of the new interior. For Alistair, the cook of the family, the open kitchen is the (long-awaited) best part. Anna is most excited about the master ensuite bathroom she doesn’t have to share with the kids. And for the boys, it’s their bigger playroom in the finished basement.
The Vancouver family lived in the 3,700-square-foot 1920s home for five years before embarking on the huge overhaul. “I’m so glad we lived in the house for a while first and figured out what we wanted,” says Anna. “If we’d done the renovation right away, we would have done things very differently, and those decisions probably wouldn’t work for us now.”
The crisp white brick fireplace surround, built-ins and original wood panelling set off the dark grey on the upper walls of the den. Leaded glass cabinetry doors are another original feature. The antique chandelier was picked up at a London flea market.
A contemporary pale orange sofa pops against the white panelling and dark grey walls. The Mid-Century Modern desk was a lucky find at an antiques store a few years back, as was the Tolix chair.
Going vintage is often a more economical decorating idea than buying brand new, says Sophie.
The birdcage pendant light adds another unexpected dose of colour and whimsy.
In the dining area, an antique zinc-topped table from a French flea market pairs well with mismatched colourful Eames dining chairs. “We thought the different hues of the dining chairs would be quirky and fun,” says homeowner Anna Wright.
The designer pendant light was a pricey find from London, England.
Expanding the existing skylight and adding more windows above the sink brought loads of natural light into the white painted kitchen. Homeowner Alistair Sale greatly appreciates the bigger sink, but extra kitchen counter space, double wall ovens and a gas cooktop were at the top of his must-have list.
French doors lead out to a newly enlarged wraparound deck off the open kitchen/dining area, making the backyard much more accessible. The kitchen peninsula is perfect for casual breakfasts and homework time.
The zinc top on the antique dining table can take plenty of wear and tear from everyday family meals; the stark white modern dishware strikes a pleasing contrast against the patinated surface.
A desk area in the kitchen serves as the family workspace and offers plenty of storage space for the kids’ paperwork and school supplies. Inspirational photos and small pieces of art bring personality to the nook.
The new master ensuite bathroom is Anna’s retreat from hectic work and family life.
The matching gold mirrors in the master ensuite are a glitzy big-box score.
Grey and white cement floor tiles provide ornate pattern in the otherwise serene white room.
The bathroom floor tiles themselves weren't very expensive, but shipping the from California was.