Real estate: Move or improve?
Is it time to move or simply improve your home? Consider these factors before packing up those boxes.
A condo design featuring traditional details and sculptural furnishings
When Kim Calabrigo moved from a large family home to a condo, she quickly learned that bigger isn't always better.
A peaceful sanctuary in the heart of a downtown core: That doesn’t sound like too tall an order, does it? That’s what Kim Calabrigo sought when she sold her traditional Craftsman-style home in suburbia and moved to a condo in metropolitan Vancouver. Bringing no furniture with her, she was truly starting anew.
Kim’s first-ever solo home purchase offered her the opportunity to decorate exactly as she pleased. “I wanted a tone-on-tone look, mixing classic and modern elements with an edge,” she says.
Coming from a big traditional 4,200-square-foot home and moving to a smaller builder-basic 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom condo, Kim found space planning challenging. She wanted to maintain the most floor space possible while maximizing seating so she could entertain friends and family as easily as she used to.
Homeowner Kim Calabrigo's decorating wish list included sculptural furnishings, soft pink accents and traditional details.
To maximize seating in her new condo, Kim had a nine-foot-long sofa designed to run the length of the living room wall.
Opting to put a chaise against the living room's floor-to-ceiling windows keeps sightlines open and offers Kim a comfy place to take in the picturesque view with her morning cup of tea.
Though the space is open, the dining area is easily delineated by its standard banquette and oversized pendant light featuring white and peach beads and a rope-wrapped frame. "At night, the diamond motif casts beautiful shadows on the walls and ceiling," says Kim.
"I've embraced the less-is-more aesthetic and added interest by mixing old and new, shiny and matte, smooth and textured, organic and clean lined," says Kim. "I don't depend on bold colours and patterns."
Femininity reigns in the master bedroom, from the tall tufted headboard and layered wrinkled linens to the mirrored nightstands and petite vase of flouncy pink peonies. Massive windows mean that Kim can watch the sun set from the comfort of bed. Does it get any better than that?
In the master bedroom's built-in office nook, sparkly silver wallpaper subtly offsets the layers of cream, white and gold on the shelves. The palette is echoed in the frameless print of an 18th-century Venetian palazzo ballroom, resulting in a vignette that's the perfect mix of new world and old.
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.
Use gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic.
Nothing tastes like Christmas more than a batch of your best cookies! Gift them, eat them or leave some for Santa, we've got enough recipes to treat everyone this holiday.
Is it just us or does the scent of cookies baking in the oven smell even better during the holiday season? Whether you're whipping up your best batch for a cookie exchange party or for gifts, we've rounded up our favourite recipes to ensure everyone can enjoy a sweet treat this Christmas!
Get in the festive spirit with one of our favourite gingerbread cookie recipes! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
We think it’s about time the classic gingerbread man (and lady!) got a whole new wardrobe. Click here for seven super-sweet outfits made from bulk-food store candy that look almost too good to eat.
For years you’ve been overlooked and underestimated, relegated to the realm of basic, boring baked goods. We’re here to change all that, with a sophisticated makeover courtesy of a layer of fondant and a simple monogram. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Using just three household ingredients you can whip up a batch of traditional Scottish shortbread cookies for the holiday season. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These adorable gingerbread guys are great for a cookie exchange or kid-friendly holiday party. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Nothing reminds us of England more than a hot cup of steeped tea on a blustery winters day. Except, perhaps, if that cuppa is enjoyed with a melt-in-your-mouth cookie delicately laced with the distinctive bergamot orange flavour of Earl Grey. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Recipe developer and food stylist Tanya Eng uses gingerbread cookies to put a holiday spin on a summer classic. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
French desserts are synonymous with elegance: And, although they won't be prepared in a Parisian patisserie, these mini madeleines are no exception. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
This 21st-century twist on a classic afternoon tea treat incorporates a quality sea salt into the caramel, a flavour combination much loved by chocolate makers the world over. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Embrace the flavours of the autumn season with molasses, ginger and cinnamon cookies. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
A light, buttery cookie with the perfect touch of raspberry preserve. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Try this decadent twist on traditional shortbread for an incredibly sweet treat. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
Prepare to be bathed in the sweet comfort of vanilla-chocolate overload that goes beyond the basics of cookie making. Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These crisps are cinnamon graham crackers all grown up, great for snacking or dunking! Click here to get this cookie recipe.
These wondrously crispy and chewy cookies are not only beautiful, but they pack a powerful chocolate punch, as well. Get the cookie recipe here.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without frosted cookies. Ornaments of all shapes are especially fun to make, either as edible treats for the tree or simply for the cookie plate. Click here to get the recipe.
What if you asked your brain what would happen if you had the foresight to roll a butter-taste-based batter around in a cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking? Click here for the recipe.
You'll love these tasty gingersnap cookies, perfect for dipping into a tall glass of milk! Click here for the recipe.
Enjoy these decadent chocolate cookies with a chocolate gnache filling. Click here for the recipe.
Originally a spicy chocolate Mexican cookie, this recipe has been changed to have a more contemporary flair with the addition of sea salt. Click here for the recipe.