Black and white contrast create a classy and cosmopolitan look
Fresh, modern and fun, a revamped heritage home is the perfect place for one Montreal family.
Like the rest of the living room, the fireplace is striking in its lack of embellishment. “I wanted the whole space to be sleek,” says designer Sylvie Masse.
Sleek and modern as it may look, the kitchen is hard-working. Ample surface space makes prepping and cooking a cinch, and corralling clutter is easy thanks to the extra storage from the overhead and under-counter cabinetry. A TV integrated into the glass backsplash offers entertainment for cooks or those eating at the island. Visual interest is added through simple details like the pottery that appears to float on the ethereal glass shelving in front of the window in lieu of a blind.
A catch-all for cookbooks and culinary miscellany, the built-in oak unit along the kitchen’s back wall offers lots of extra storage and adds warm texture to the otherwise stark and minimalistic room.
High contrast black and white looks classy and cosmopolitan in the living room. Sylvie eschewed drapery for a barely-there roller shade to let the industrial-style window shine.
“With its bold black runner, the original white-painted staircase looks very old New York City,” says Sylvie.
Modern classics reign in the master bedroom, from the Eames rocker to the plush low-profile bed frame.
The clean-lined everything-in-its-place aesthetic took careful planning. By setting the wardrobe system within the wall and adding a lacquered MDF strip along the bottom, the contractor made the individual units appear built-in for a more refined look.
DIY project: Stylish storage cabinet
10 Easter tabletop ideas
Setting the table for a special occasion starts with a beautiful tablecloth. This one is an investment, but the pastel edging is subtle enough for it to be trotted out through spring and into summer. In a cotton-linen blend, it will wash well and can become a table linen you can have for decades, so long as you commit to cleaning stains immediately. Easter Jacquard tablecloth, Williams-Sonoma, from $235.
Not everything has to be petal pink and baby blue to evoke springtime. An Easter table can be set with darker, matte shades for even more intensity and depth. Creams, whites, blues and lavenders are a sophisticated twist on the light shades we associate with this season. Whimsical, seasonal items like egg cup holders and bowls featuring bunnies can be contrasted with seductively matte dishware. Bunny bowls, egg cup holder, Indigo, from $6.
You need not be too matchy-matchy when it comes to pastels on the table. If the thought of six pink tumblers sounds way too twee for your liking, mix them up with a variety of lightened up hues for a less formal vibe. Hobstar glassware add a vintage, sparkling touch to an Easter table, but can also be pressed into use any time of the year. Decorated Hobstar glassware, West Elm, $25 per set of 4.
Why not do something over-the-top and daring with you Easter decor? If you’re in the Let’s Have Some Real Easter Fun camp, go for a graphic print plate with a bunny motif, like this glazed stoneware one. You can mix and match the colours, or pick one shade like blue and pair it with cloth napkins of the same hue for a gorgeous statement tabletop. Graphic Bunny Plate, Pottery Barn, $34 per set of 4.
So DIY Easter eggs are not your thing. The dipping, the dyeing, the drying is too much bother. That’s fine, especially since you can still steal the look with these super-pretty gold-painted egg candles in pastel shades. Arrange them artfully in a ceramic egg holder, or even save the bottom half of a cardboard egg carton for a look that will mix textures and weight. Handmade Easter Candle Egg, Etsy, $7 each.
Plain white dinnerware is a forever classic, but injecting pastel printed dishware can take a table setting to luscious and elegant heights. If you adore punchy prints, Anthropologie specializes in them, be it shower curtains, bedding or tableware. This table setting is predominantly pink, but still feels grown-up and neutral enough to bring out any time of the year. Cliveden dinnerware, Anthropologie, from $18 USD.
Easter brunch is an entrenched tradition for many families. If you serve up soft-boiled eggs, it’s the time to get cute, so set a table with adorable glass rabbit egg cups like these ones. Glass dinnerware can easily be mixed in with porcelain and stoneware so long as you keep the colours to a minimum, like at this pretty three-colour table setting. Phoebe Egg Cup, Crate and Barrel, $5.
If you’ve got kids at home, they’ll love decorating for Easter with paper goods like garlands, bunting and loot baskets. If you’re crafty, you can find lots of DIY ideas via Pinterest or Google, but if you just want to shop for these items, we get it. We found this inspiring kids’ Easter table at Land of Nod. Bunny paper cups, Easter-themed napkins and pastel tartan paper boxes are just a few of the items that contribute to a sunny, fun table setting for a kids’ party. Meri Meri Easter Party decorations, Land of Nod, from $5 USD.
Instead of bunnies and pastels, scrap tradition and do something modern. Use black dinnerware or accessories as a counterpoint to pastels for a look that’s edgy and unexpected. The key is to keep everything else sleek and crisp as well, even if you’re mixing textures. The interplay of gray, marble veining, black, green and a touch of pink can make for a stunning table setting, especially as seen here, contrasted with sharp geometric shapes. Belay dinnerware, CB2, from $7.
We’re not for a second going to suggest you have to purchase painted Mason jars. After all, it’s a craft you can easily tackle this with some time and some paint.. However, we’re certainly not going to judge if you want to buy them already painted in custom Easter shades. An Etsy artisan called KAStylesMasonJars will custom-paint them in the colours of your choosing. Pastel Mason Jars, Etsy, $48 per set of 4.
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.