A kitchen boasting restaurant-design pedigree
Trendy meets traditional in this family home built from scratch.
Homeowner Tanya Krpan (pictured here) saved on accessories by loading the family room sectional with an assortment of ready-made toss cushions.
Tanya isn’t afraid to play with negative space, as seen in the home’s grand entryway. “Normally, you’d expect a mirror or big piece of art hanging above the wainscotting,” she says. Leaving the wall blank and layering small pieces on the console allows the millwork to shine.
Black casement windows and decorative accents create contrast in the neutral space. Tanya scored the vintage coffee table when her office was being redecorated.
The family room’s classic-cool mix feels right for a young family.
The kitchen, of course, is the true star of the show. Tanya’s restaurant-design pedigree shines through in the room’s floor-to-ceiling tiles, mix of open and closed storage and high-end appliances. She opted for white Shaker-style cabinetry and warmed up the space with a walnut island and brass hardware statement lighting and fixtures.
Another bistro-inspired touch was her choice of dark honed-limestone tiles for most of the main floor. “The tile grounds the space since there’s an abundance of white everywhere,” Tanya explains. “And it’s proven great for hiding dirt.”
Everything in the Krpans’ home is designed for everyday life and entertaining, from the large sectional in the family room to the round tables in the dining room and the kitchen’s eat-in area. “It’s more social to sit at a round table,” says Tanya. “You see everyone’s faces.”
Cabinets with glass doors allow Tanya to display her favourite serving pieces and special glassware. She had the back of the kitchen cabinets tiled to highlight this focal point of the kitchen.
Tanya and Jure – with their sons, Ivan, 3, and Cruz, 2 – have recently welcomed a baby girl named Belle.
The living room’s crisp white, grey and black scheme gets an energy boost from fresh greenery, pops of pink and plenty of pattern – check out the Moroccan-style rug, the ikat-print and chevron-patterned toss cushions and the graphic stool fabric.
To offset the costs of the more expensive permanent elements, Tanya was meticulous with her decorating budget. She incorporated secondhand pieces, such as the family room coffee table, and sourced inexpensive art for the living room mantel. Affordable colourful accessories add youthful edginess to the living spaces. “I love the femininity that the splashes of pink add to the living room and family room,” she says. “Plus, by the time I got to the decorating, I was living with three boys!”
In the dining room, Tanya likes the juxtaposition of the modern Sputnik-inspired chandelier with the traditional coffered ceiling. The artwork was a DIY project Tanya and Jure painted together on her 30th birthday.
Though this house has been well loved for years, there’s a sequel in the works: Tanya and Jure are in the process of building a new home. “We’ll keep some of the same elements but go a little more modern in the kitchen,” says Tanya. We’ll definitely stay tuned.
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.
How to really keep your dish sponges clean
Sanitation tips on how you can keep your dirty dish sponges clean.
E. coli, salmonella – nasty things can lurk in a kitchen sponge. Our resourceful research editor, Mary Levitski, shows you how to keep it germ-free.
How to keep dish sponges germ-free
Step 1: Forever moist and full of dark nooks and crannies, a kitchen sponge is ideal breeding ground for all kinds of harmful bacteria. Sterilize it on a regular basis, preferably daily. The best method is soaking it for a few minutes in a mixture of two teaspoons chlorine bleach and one cup water. But if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly approach, you can also place the sponge in a pot of boiling water for five minutes and hang it to dry.
Step 2: To deter germs from thriving in your sponge, keep it as dry as possible. Always rinse and wring it well before depositing it in a designated spot that has good drainage. If possible, the spot should also be in direct sunlight, which will significantly speed up drying time.
Step 3: Replace the sponge about once a month. If your sponge has a foul odour even after you sanitize it, toss it out immediately.
Give your sponge a home that’s beautiful and practical. The Meridian from Umbra ($5, umbra.com) attaches to the wall of your sink with a suction cup. The fun plastic lattice pattern and ventilated bottom keep air circulation at a maximum, encouraging fast drying.
To keep bacteria in check, consider replacing your dish sponge with an alternative.
Made of peach pits or corn cobs, these stringy scrubs are so good at resisting microbes that you can use them sans soap! Goodbye Detergent! The Original Spaghetti SCRUBS, $10 US per pack of 2 each, vat19.com.
The recycled plastic bristles dry quickly when this brush is propped up or hung by its bamboo handle. Be Good Dish Brush, $8, williams-sonoma.com.
A washable microfibre dishcloth is a great substitute for a sponge. No matter how grimy it gets, just toss it in the washing machine to disinfect. We love this one’s scrub pad for lifting stuck-on foods. MÜ Kitchen Dishcloth in Red Poppy, $7, bedbathandbeyond.ca.
TIP: To minimize cross-contamination, designate a sponge for each surface: one each for dishes, countertops and floors.
Easily update your home this fall with natural accents that create impact and add texture, without adding to the bills.
After summer ends and we all brace for the colder months, we bid farewell to the flower markets and prepare the gardens for hibernation. While we love our tulips and dahlias, there’s something undeniably beautiful in going au natural. We're talking bare bones (or bark in this case). It’s simple, readily available and affordable (possibly even free!). That’s right, decor accents can be found right outside your home! From branches to leaves to moss, there’s an abundance out there just waiting to beautify your home. Not sure how to make sticks look stylish? Not to worry, we have plenty of ways to inspire some new fall decor.
Fallen branches are your easiest bet. Gather a bundle and let them create visual interest and add texture in your space.
Is there a tree hanging precariously low or in the way? Take advantage of some tree trimming and go big with a large branch propped against a wall for some real impact.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
Bright and bold
Not into the bare branch look? Using a large branch with its leaves is not only a great statement, but can also add a luscious dose of colour – especially if the leaves have started to change into those beautiful autumnal oranges and reds.
Rustic red centrepiece
Speaking of changing leaves, a cluster of rich, red leaves makes for an instant fall centrepiece.
Credits: Janis Nicolay
Pretty in pink
With their sparse pink blooms, magnolia branches make a softer statement when effortlessly displayed in a simple white ceramic jug.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
It doesn’t get any simpler than feathery green branches in a clear glass vase to celebrate their natural beauty.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
An organic touch
These eucalyptus branches are just as simple, but have a slightly different look and feel. They still add a delightful organic touch, but with a richer, fuller display.
Credits: Janis Nicolay
Amp up your greenery by mixing assorted wildflowers with your eucalyptus for a more lush arrangement.
Credits: Stacey Brandford
Soft and simple
A simple bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace leaves adds a touch of texture and greenery.
Credits: Robin Stubbert
Low profile, high impact
If you don’t want the height of branches and leaves impeding views, but still want a burst of natural green colour in your space, a decorative bowl of moss instantly injects life into any space.