Industrial-style rental loft in Montreal's Quartier International
This gorgeous rental flat serves as the perfect backdrop for an online art gallery owner’s expansive collection of work.
Between the bedroom and bathroom sits a chic home office area. The industrial look of the vintage chair and Eames desk is softened with a beautiful piece of underwater photographic art and an antique Chapman ram’s horn lamp.
Though tenant Alessandra works as an art dealer, she was enchanted by the gallery wall already installed in the living area by the flat’s owners, Nathalie Bouchard and Annie Horth. “Annie works as an artistic director and fashion stylist, and some of these photos are her collaborations,” says Alessandra. “I love the editorial feel of them.”
Alessandra leaned two dramatic works of art by photographer (and floral designer) Ashley Woodson Bailey on either side of the TV in the living area to create a pleasing sense of balance.
Instead of loading up on small decor throughout the home, Alessandra chooses to use a few select bright accessories along with artwork to pull the display together.
Alessandra often uses the dining table as a workspace; she finds it inspiring to look through the windows across the room at historic Montreal. The custom doors are an architectural highlight.
“This is definitely not a cookie-cutter rental kitchen,” says Alessandra of the modern bistro-style space, which is open to the rest of the loft.
Renters are often hesitant to hang artwork because it puts too many holes in the walls, but this wasn’t a problem for Alessandra, who prefers to lean her pieces to create a more relaxed vibe.
In the bedroom area, a floor-to-ceiling black velvet curtain acts as both a backdrop and space divider.
A windowsill affords an opportunity for art: Alessandra chose this work by Spanish photographer Rebeca Cygnus because she loves its moody blue-black palette.
A vintage wall-mounted unit provides much-needed storage in the front hall. Alessandra uses the lower surface for display purposes.
Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall.
These faux marble options are just as elegant as the real deal.
Few materials strike a chord with us in the same way that marble does. The sought-after stone, with its subtle sheen and veined markings, is quick to catch the eye and lends a luxe look to a space without being over the top. The downside, of course, is its price point. Here are 5 marble-like options that will achieve the same sophisticated, formal look for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a faux marble tile that can handle heavy foot traffic? Consider peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. In addition to their resilient nature, the tiles can be installed over most existing flooring. In other words, they make for a perfect weekend DIY project that won’t end in defeat. TrafficMaster Premium Vinyl Tile in Carrara Marble, Home Depot, starting at $0.89/sq. ft.
If you love the marbled look, you’ll want to customize all of your furniture with this stylish contact paper. The affordable material has a peel-away backing that can stick to almost any surface, from the top of a coffee table to the inside of kitchen drawers. Keep in mind that the paper doesn’t react well to water, so avoid using it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall, $59.99 per roll.
Elevate your living space with ceramic wall tiles that mimic the look of marble like this elegant option from Ciot. Though similar in appearance, ceramic is far more delicate than marble and is therefore more susceptible to chips and cracks. The solution: Be strategic with placement, avoiding high-traffic areas in favour of bathroom walls or backsplashes. Marvel Wall Tile in Calacatta Extra, Ciot, see store for pricing.
Porcelain is another classic material that boasts marble's polished aesthetic without the hefty price tag. The tile is more resilient than ceramic, which makes it perfect for flooring as well as bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Let's just say marble-inspired porcelain has the ability to make any space sparkle. Glazed Porcelain Tiles in White, Olympia Tile + Stone, see store for pricing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Laminam, allow us to be the first to introduce you. The innovative material is touted as being the world’s first porcelain tile that's offered in 3 metre by 1 metre panels and is thinner than standard porcelain tiling. This means that in addition to covering existing walls and floors, Laminam can take on an array of delicate surfaces (think fireplace surrounds, kitchen countertops and outdoor areas). I Naturali Laminam in Bianco Statuario, Stone Tile, see store for pricing.
Many people believe it’s harder to sell your home in winter than summer. But there are a number of real advantages to selling during the cooler months, says Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto.
For one thing, removed from the sometimes frenzied action of the spring market, sellers can take a little more time to consider offers, and with fewer homes on the market, there’s less competition. And don’t worry, says Kathy: the things that lead people to make new home purchases -- a new job, a growing family, up- or downsizing -- happen all year round, and there are still plenty of buyers out there. In fact, winter is a great time for playing up your home’s cosy, family-friendly charm.
Start with the exterior
As with any time of year, make sure that the house looks well maintained and cared for, with eavestroughs clean and minor repairs taken care of. While you can’t paint in winter, washing paintwork and siding with warm soapy water on a mild day can make a big difference. Make sure the windows are freshly washed as well; winter light has a way of highlighting grime.
Tend to foliage
Make sure that shrubs and tree-branches bent down with snow don’t obstruct walkways or entrances; brush the snow off or prune if necessary. (It won’t hurt them.) Ensure that the walkway is shovelled and ice-free before every showing; not only is this a courtesy and crucial to making the home look well maintained, but if a visitor slips and is hurt, you could be liable for damages.
Adorn the entryway
A wreath on the front door, Christmas lights and a garland hung on the doorframe or front porch present a welcoming entry. Plant urns with festive greenery, the fuller the better: along with cedar or pine boughs, tuck in sprigs of holy, dried berries, magnolia leaves, corkscrew hazel or red osier branches, with silver ball ornaments and perhaps gold wire ribbon woven through the arrangement.
Make a good first impression
Once a prospective buyer comes inside, remember that you may have only 10 to 15 minutes to make a lasting impression. (A small but crucial point for unoccupied homes: make sure the heat is turned on several hours before the showing. All the window-dressing and staging in the world won’t entice buyers to linger inside a home that’s freezing.)
Romance visitors’ sense of smell by lighting fragrant candles or placing bowls of potpourri in main rooms. A time-honoured but still effective trick, especially on a cold winter’s day, is to have a pot of cider simmering on the stove, or cookies or fresh bread baking.
Protect the floors
To protect your floors, put down rubber mats by the door for snowy boots; buy a few pairs of comfy one-size-fits-all slippers from a department or discount store for visitors to wear while they view your home.
Light a fire
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, light a fire and let it glow during the showing. Put big, colourful poinsettias in each main room, including the kitchen; consider more modest winter flower arrangements or amaryllis blooms in other rooms, such as the bath and master bedroom. Decorate banisters and mantels with pine garlands (natural ones impart a delicious, nostalgic fragrance); a decorated and lit Christmas tree or menorah enhances an image of home and family.
After the holidays, seasonal decorations can be taken down, but urn arrangements and even the front door wreath can stay up for the rest of the winter, if it isn’t too Christmasy in design. Make sure you continue to maintain walkways clear of ice and snow, and think warm thoughts!
10 things that are making your home ugly and how to fix them
We've gathered 10 great tips to elevate your space from dowdy to dreamy.
When it comes to our personal appearance, we usually know what’s making us – we won’t say ugly – a little less confident than usual, and we know the fix. A ragged nail means it’s time to dig out the file and clippers. Chipped polish means it’s time to freshen up that manicure. Unruly hair calls for a visit to the hairstylist or barbershop. And so it goes.
But in our homes we can sometimes forget the little things that make a big, stylish impression. Ironically, it’s quite often small, changeable things that can make a big impact and elevate a room from dowdy to dreamy.
We’ve seen dated (and we mean seriously dated) apartment rentals go glam with the addition of the right paint, sofa and accessories. We’ve seen boring boxy bedrooms come to life with a beautiful DIY headboard and fresh new bedding. We’ve seen entrances go from messy to marvellous. It can be done, but you’ve got to be ruthless in tackling the ugly with elbow grease and a little ingenuity to make way for fresh, clean style.
Shoes all over the floor, torn-open mail (utility bills, of course) strewn about, keys and random bits and bobs like lost buttons, and empty gadget boxes on your entryway console are just plain ugly. The fix: The entryway is supposed to be a welcome and tidy place, which is good news. All you really need to do above all else is tidy things up, which doesn’t take that long. It also doesn’t cost anything to neatly line up shoes, recycle boxes and envelopes, and give a console and entryway a dusting. A clean entryway with everything in its place is a must.
Chances are your bedroom walls are in pretty good nick, they are typically low-traffic areas and the paint can stay impeccable for years. But in the living room and dining room and particularly the kitchen, that is not usually the case. If you think walls with dirty streaks or scratches from chairs don’t look that bad, think again. They’re really taking your home’s looks down a notch. Walls also include light switch covers, and nothing is uglier than visible dirt around them. The fix: For a little bit of dirt or grime or even oil, sometimes a good cleaning is all that’s needed. Many paints can stand up to being washed with cleaners, but you can check with a paint store or you can spot test before you try cleaning it up. If the dirt, marks and gouges are everywhere, there’s no getting around it, it’s time for a paint job. Fresh paint makes a vintage-inspired home look fresh and new.
Isn’t it funny how just about anything you bake or roast smells great, from cakes to vegetables, whereas anything you fry, even if it’s as yummy as donuts, smells pretty terrible? And let’s not even get into pet odours. Unwanted smells get into your upholstery, from drapes to sofas to rugs, and the worst part is sometimes you get used to them so you can’t even detect them. Ask a family member or a very honest friend to give you his or her unvarnished opinion on what they smell at your home. The fix: If you’ve got lingering food, pet or just stale smells going on in your home, you’ve got a few fixes available. More often than not, food smells need to be rectified by investing in a good, outdoor-venting fan over the cooktop. Of course, that’s not always possible in which case you’ll have to be diligent in airing out the kitchen by opening windows after you’ve been cooking. Need a quick cover up for a cocktail party? Try a home fragrance solution.
Whether it’s souvenirs, memorabilia, or just random stuff you’ve collected over the years, your collection of objects might be too much, and it might be making your shelves, bookcases and mantel ugly. The fix: Editing is easier said than done, so try boxing up the items on your busy shelf or mantel and live with it for a week. Then decide what you truly miss and what just needs to be put in storage or given away. The living room shelf in Ann Marie Favot’s home is strikingly simple in all-white.
You know when your bathroom is dingy and needs renovating, and is just plain ugly – we don’t need to give you a blow-by-blow account here. But don’t worry, we’re also not going to tell you to renovate your bathroom. Truth is, we’ve seen bathrooms in rental apartments go from grungy to glam, all with the help of a deep clean and carefully chosen accessories. The fix: Clean, clean and clean some more. That means grout, fixtures, floors and walls. Once that’s done, really step back and assess what’s making everything dingy. If it’s a dark space, think about getting a fresh white shower curtain and towels and even a white orchid to enliven the room. Hide all unnecessary bottles and toothpaste containers and everything else while you’re at it and you’ll see how much better the space looks. Your bathroom might never be as glamazonian as this one, but you can help it along by keeping it tidy and choosing crisp white towels.
If you watch home renovation TV shows, you’ll know that outdated kitchens are always high on an owner’s must-destroy list. And yes, they can be really ugly and detract from a home. But a renovation isn’t always in the cards or budget, in which case, you’ll have to figure out how to live with cabinetry and surfaces that have seen better days. The fix: Embrace the kitchen for what it is: you’re not going to make a super-modern kitchen out of a 1960s-era setup. So if it’s vintage-y or cottage-y right now, find a way to enhance that charm. Paint ugly wood cabinetry. Make the best of an old countertop by making it sparkling clean. Add some bright and coordinated accessories, et voila. Painted cabinetry adds immense charm to a cottage kitchen.
A bedroom, especially in new-build homes, tends to be a basic, bland white box. The reasons for this are often practical – a plain box of a room will be easy to place a bed in (no weird angles) with plenty of room left over for side tables and a dresser or drawers. But yes, it can be rather blah and lackluster. The fix: If the walls are white you don’t even have to paint them, you can work with this most versatile of shades. The secret is texture. A tufted headboard, patterned bedspread and layered textiles will bring the beauty to a bedroom. Textures and layers contribute to a stylish, fresh and airy bedroom.
There is a certain aesthetic that makes bare walls the best choice, but for many other homes, it just makes it look like you’ve never really moved in. And looking like you are about to flee the premises is never an attractive quality in a home. The fix: You can’t go wrong in terms of satisfaction if you stick to displaying art and photography that means something to you. How to do it artfully is another matter. When in doubt, stick to frames of the same colour and type (the size can differ), but if you’re more adventurous (and your decor is too) create a display wall of mismatched frames. A collection of antique maps was deliberately framed and matted differently in this gallery.
Has your dining room become a catch-all for everything in your home? Gifts piled up for weeks waiting to be wrapped. Your desktop computer and work papers setting up residence. If making your home beautiful is high on your priority list, it’s time to rethink this strategy. There’s a reason you don’t see dining rooms in the pages of decor magazines all covered with half-empty shopping bags, bills, car keys and stray electronic chargers. It’s because it’s ugly. The fix: You need to make some hard decisions, but they’re not necessarily expensive or tough-to-execute ones. Firstly, you’ll want to move that desktop computer off your dining table – which might mean putting it in the kitchen or bedroom, or trading it for a laptop. Think about why junk is accumulating on your dining room table and fix the underlying causes. It’s as simple as that. A dedicated dining room table is an inviting and relaxing space.
A backyard is a place to have some fun and get comfortable, so if yours is too basic and boring, it’s doing your entire home a disservice. If you have rickety aluminum folding chairs that are always ready to snap shut while you’re sitting on them, or worse, cheap white plastic ones that are suitable for your first post-college apartment, it’s time to step up your game. The fix: Mostly any backyard, even the smallest, can accommodate a stylish pair of outdoor chairs and a stool that can take a turn as a side table. If budget is an issue, midsummer is usually a great time to sweep up steep deals on outdoor furnishings. This beautiful Toronto backyard also serves as an outdoor living room.