Small space: Moody masculine apartment
To look at Andrew Campbell's super spiffy apartment in Toronto's Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood, you'd never know it was once the scene of some serious sofa drama. In fact, there was a collective cheer when the seven-and-a-half-foot-long custom Thayer Coggin couch finally took up residence in the 600-square-foot space after it was discovered it wouldn't squeeze into the elevator.
Small space floor plan
"The delivery guys were kind enough to carry it up 12 floors," says Andrew, a design consultant with Bentley Flanders, a contemporary-classic fine-home shop on King Street East's furniture row. Still, he admits, the fiasco cost him a bottle of Grey Goose and Veuve Clicquot on top of the moving fee. The moral of the story: Go on and buy that broad-hipped piece for your snug space.
Contrary to what people think, dark hues work beautifully in tight quarters. "I love a feature wall that commands attention, and adds depth and warmth to a space," explains homeowner Andrew Campbell. "I have always been a huge fan of grey and navy with hits of red. Also, artwork tends to pop against a dark colour palette."
Dark-hued living room
A far cry from the nondescript builder-white box it once was, the apartment that Andrew has rented for the past nine years with his partner, Roger Fish, and a Labrador retriever named Rex, has a laid-back, masculine style - or, as Andrew describes it, "a New York loft vibe." Enveloped in a deep colour combo of jewel-toned blue, grey and brown with sultry siren red as an electrifying accent, the small abode is immediately inviting.
Coffee table books
Graphic artwork, a stack of great coffee table books and luxe materials, such as cowhide, leather and glass, provide head-turning moments here. Including the Jeff Koons-inspired balloon dog.
Mixed-grey dining area
It's impossible not to stare at the blown glass Dale Chihuly-inspired light fixture suspended above the dining table, for example. "I love giving guests focal points," says Andrew. "But I'm also committed to comfort, which is why the cushy sofa had to be in the picture."
Man's best friend
Andrew shares a sweet moment with his dog, Rex. " It's Rex's place - we just crash here," says Andrew with a laugh.
DIY project: Stylish storage cabinet
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.
Help keep your home clutter-free with these stylish organizing tools.
If clutter is closing in on you and you can’t seem to climb out from underneath it, the organizing mantra, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ can help. It underscores the notion that every single thing in your home should have a place where it belongs. If it doesn’t have a home, then find one or consider whether you need the item at all. These 8 organizing tools will help you to keep everything in its rightful place.
A catchall is perfect for keeping items that easily go astray all in one place. Perfect for the front hallway to keep coins and keys corralled or use it on your nightstand to keep jewelry and other accessories in one spot where you can easily find them in the morning. Made from luxurious French calfskin leather, this piece is as practical as it is pretty. Medium Leather Catchall, Gigi New York, $98.
If your home seems to have an infinite number of cords and cables and chargers lying around, try to eliminate the chaos with tools that’ll streamline things. This charging dock, for instance, hides unsightly wires for at least two devices and allows you to charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch in one place, using a charging station that is neat, organized and design-friendly. Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone, Belkin, $129.99.
A house only has so much storage space so sometimes, you have to create more using creative ideas. This woodblock wall shelf is beautifully handcrafted from carved wood and has three sliding drawers and two hooks for hanging coats, umbrellas or other things that need somewhere to go. This piece is as much an organizing tool as it is a decorative piece of wall art. Painted Woodblock Wall Shelf, Urban Outfitters, $49.
Need to eliminate all the ‘stuff’ in your home? Find multifunctional pieces that serve more than one purpose. This ottoman, for instance, can serve as an extra seat for a guest, a side table and a footstool and also provides storage space for things like blankets, throw cushions, magazines and anything else you need to store somewhere. Burlap Seat Storage Ottoman, Ballard Designs, $279.
Bye-bye junk drawers, hello organized haven! For less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee, you can create order out of disorder in any drawer in your home. Whether it’s the junk drawer in the kitchen, the sock drawer in your bedroom or the toiletry drawer in the bathroom, these drawer dividers will make it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for. HÖFTA drawer dividers, IKEA, $3.99/3-pack.
We don’t mean to overstate things but: A label maker will change your life. Fine. We said it. You’ll never not know where things are once everything is neatly organized and labelled. This next-gen label maker will create professional looking labels for files, storage bins, clothing and pretty much anything else that easily gets lost in the shuffle. But, it’s easy to get carried away so if you start labelling the kids, you know it’s time to put the label maker down and step away. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Epson Labelworks Lw-300 Label Printer, Amazon, $38.75.
Admittedly, they had us at the name ‘cord taco’. But beyond that, these little leather organizing tools are just adorable and practical. Keep rogue cords around the house like charger cables, USB cords and earphones neat and tidy with these leather holders that shut with a metal snap. Cord Tacos, This is Ground, $29.
In the kitchen, craft room, garage or front hallway, this customizable metal pegboard will help you to keep odds and ends visible and easily accessible. We love that it comes in a variety of fun colours and includes six hooks so that you can design the board to best suit your needs. Metal Pegboard Organizer, Einadesign on Etsy, $59.