Can you tell which is the high and which is the low?
Can you tell which is the high and which is the low?
We designed a casual-chic dining area on two different budgets. Can you tell the rooms apart?
We designed a casual-chic dining room on budgets befitting a diner and a five-star restaurant. Can you tell the difference?
1 Canvas brushed brass 5-light Harlowe chandelier, Canadian Tire, $220.
2 Round mirror with gold-painted metal frame, HomeSense, $70.
3 Antique painted pine Windsor-style dining chair, Elle & Eve, $125.
4 Square lacquered plastic tray in Aqua, Bouclair, $20.
5 Vintage hickory dresser with cultured marble top, Carrocel, $2,195.
6 Polyamide Docksta dining table with painted fibreboard top, 41", IKEA, $269.
7 Lacquered rubberwood Lyla dining chair in Black, EQ3, $249.
8 Seagrass and polyester Sinnerlig rug with jute edging, 7' x 10', IKEA, $89.
9 Lacquered stained beech Norraryd dining chair, IKEA, $99.
10 Blown glass Monroe vases in White, Pottery Barn, $70 US ($40 US extra large, and $30 US medium).
1 Brass 6-light geometric frame chandelier with tapered arms, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $2,670.
2 Round mirror with picture-style polished stainless steel frame in Gold, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $1,650.
3 Black-painted pine and ash Windsor-style dining chair, Sharon O'Dowd, $545.
4 Square painted pine Zuma tray in Aqua Sky, Crate and Barrel, $47.
5 Antique walnut dresser with Carrara marble top, Carrocel, $4,500.
6 Round powder-coated aluminum Beauty dining table with marble top 48", Casalife, $2,198.
7 Oil-finished white oak Edwin dining chair in Black, Coolican & Company, $845.
8 Hand-woven jute Popcorn rug in Natural, 6' x 9', Pier 1 Imports, $260.
9 Stained beech Ironica dining chair in Black, Ton, $167.
10 Milk glass vases, Peaks & Rafters, $75 (large) and $50 (medium)
BOTH HIGH & LOW: Behr Marquee Quiet on the Set MQ3-04 wall paint, and Gulf Waters MQ4-52 accent wall & door paint, The Home Depot; Black bentwood dining chair, Design Within Reach; Plates (on dresser), Speck and Stone.
Our High and Low room sets have a uniform yet collected feel thanks to the mismatched monochromatic dining chairs. The true hero, however, is the table, a timeless Saarinen-inspired piece in unassuming white, which makes it easy to play with the seating combinations to create your preferred aesthetic. For instance, using a single style of chair in contrasting hues imparts a playful vibe, repeating one shape in one colour results in a formal look and picking diverse silhouettes in varied finishes lends an eclectic feel. The possibilities are endless!
Playful: Era armed bentwood beech in White, Red and Turquoise, Design Within Reach, $363 each.
Formal: Black-painted pine and ash Windsor-style, Sharon O’Dowd, $545 each.
Looking to beef up your dining room’s storage capacity? Forgo the typical hutch or sideboard and opt for a show-stopping antique dresser. Built in the louis XVI style, our high option, made of solid walnut, features a marble top and brass hardware. more than just a looker, the practical piece boasts deep wide drawers ideal for storing everything from platters and flatware to placemats and napkins.
Even the most casual dining space can use a little bit of sparkle, and our high and low brass-finished chandeliers deliver just that. Their linear silhouettes are quite popular, so the look is easy to achieve on any budget.
1 Brass 6-light geometric frame with tapered arms, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $2,670.
2 Kichler brass 8-light Erzo in Natural Brass, Wayfair.ca, $1,008.
3 Robert Abbey steel 8-light Delany in Antique Brass Finish, Universal Lamp, $965.
4 Canvas brushed brass 5-light Harlowe, Canadian Tire, $220.
For a graphic element, we colour-blocked the door by painting its trim and the wall directly above it teal, but just about any blue will suit this laid-back neutral space – so go ahead and experiment!
1 Bluenose P2116-03, Para Paints.
2 Baffin Island Grey 6161-52, Sico Paint.
3 Olympic Paints Crescendo D54-3, Lowe's.
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.
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?Credits: Michael Nangreaves; produced by Stacy Begg & Morgan Lindsay
We designed a country-chic living room console and styled it to match on budgets behooving both a cart horse and a thoroughbred. Can you tell the difference?
1 A-Street Prints Reclaimed White Washed Boards wallpaper in Cream, Brewster Home Fashions, $320 ($160 per double roll).
2 What Lies Ahead print on standard paper with White Premium Wood frame, 44" x 44", Minted, $468 US.
3 Acrylic and metal Column table lamp with cotton shade in Polished Nickel, West Elm, $239.
4 Hans Wegner oil-finished oak and hand-woven paper cord Wishbone side chair, Design Within Reach, $1,315.
6 Jute, leather and cotton Shiva rug, 5' x 8', Urban Barn, $249.
7 Trees in the Morning 2 artwork by Masood Omer (22" x 28"), Art Interiors, $700.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $1,200 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
10 Antique ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
1 Whitewood eastern white pine click floor boards (10' x 6" x 1") The Home Depot, $174 ($10.20 Per board)
2 Framed horse print (40" x 40"), HomeSense, $299.
3 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia table lamp with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
4 Beech and paper cord Denmark side chair in Beige, Structube, $239.
6 Hand-loomed hemp and suede Overbrook rug in Natural (5' x 8'), EQ3, $150.
7 Kingston 14 artwork by Ian Varney (16" x 20"), Canvas Gallery, $550.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $595 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $65.
10 Vintage ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $15.
Got an über-practical yet plain-Jane storage unit? Dress it up with a custom skirt. The stylish traditional element will add formal flair to the room while concealing the unit’s contents (we’ve stocked ours with liquors and glassware to create an ersatz bar, but you can stash just about anything in yours). A glass top will finish the look and protect the fabric. In addition to a centre pleated slit, the High console skirt features an elegant pleat at either corner for a fun decorative touch.
With sophisticated transparent bases and chic cream-toned fabric shades, these classic cylindrical table lamps will suit any room. All that’s left to match is your budget.
1 Aerin crystal Lineham with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Cocoon Furnishings, $1,088.
2 Glass and aluminum French Column with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Restoration Hardware, $375 US.
3 L2 Lighting glass and chrome-plated steel Chloe with linen shade, Lowe's, $245.
4 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
Blue and white ginger jars have held their position among decor royalty for centuries – impressive, considering their blue-collar roots. So named for their function of housing ginger and other spices in ancient China, the vessels have transcended utilitarianism and – more often than not – get to, well, sit there and look pretty. We love the casual look created by mixing the jars with an array of matching two-tone chinoiserie ceramics, such as an antique lidded jar, a vintage bowl and more recently produced plates and teacups (these are by time-honoured manufacturer Royal Copenhagen).
Get ready to be floored: While our High tongue-and-groove wall treatment is fully faux (we bet the wood panel-look wallpaper had you fooled), the Low wall is clad in white-painted floorboards. Both options are simple DIYs that bear the country-chic aesthetic of shiplap panelling. Floorboards are easy to install on a wall, as long as you know how to handle a hand drill and have some help balancing on a ladder.
Not every piece that suits our High or Low room sets makes the cut. This month, stylists Morgan Lindsay and Stacy Begg came across this sleek hurricane candle sconce just a little too late. “The product’s brass finish would have glammed up the rustic, time-worn look a bit,” says Morgan.
Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.