The go-to paint colours designers' swear by
Find your perfect paint colour thanks to the expert advice of your favourite designers.
When you flip through the pages of your favourite design magazine or scroll through endless photos of gorgeous homes on Pinterest, chances are you’ll find yourself wondering about the paint colours on the walls. Finding the perfect shade of paint can be hard. There are so many colours to choose from so how do you distinguish a great grey from a dull one? How do you determine which shade of white will make your home look uber-chic and which will look like primer? The answer? Ask the experts! Designers know their way around a paint deck so we checked in with six of them, who each provided us with their top three go-to paint colours. Find out which shades are their favourites and where they use them.
I have been working closely with Cloverdale Paints and have three go-to off-whites that I LOVE. OW159 “Dream Nights” is a soft off white, that is the perfect neutral. It’s light enough to brighten a room, but has enough pigment to also provide depth.
CA187 “Silver” is cooler, with subdued blue tones. It’s clean, crisp, and a deep enough colour to contrast with white baseboards or crown moulding. Love it!
8436 “White Delight” is perfect for creating a warm tone on tone white space, a look that I love. Similar to my other two favourites, White Delight offers contrast, which is key to creating visual interest in all spaces.
For people who love dramatic colours (like me!), I recommend Krimson Lake by CIL. It's a deep, moody marine blue that I love to use in a flat paint finish.
My go-to white is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore (see on the ceiling). It's a crisp, clean white – not too much yellow – and I love it for trim and walls.
The colour I specify most during my one-hour interior design consultations is Zeppelin by CIL. It's a warm grey-beige and a reliable neutral. It's a perfect colour when one wants to stay neutral and works in modern or traditional aesthetics alike.
This has been a go-to colour for us for years. It's the perfect warm, yet bright white for any and all rooms in the house including trims and cabinetry. Often, when we use Simply White, it's on the walls, trims and ceiling to create a clean and modern backdrop.
This off-white/pale gray changes beautifully in the light and is often one we use in bedrooms for a soft glow. It has a creamy undertone however does not feel traditional. This is one of my all-time favourites.
Revere Pewter is a classic grey that pairs perfectly with white trims, providing definition and character in a space. It is excellent for living and dining rooms and can steer more towards a traditional feel.
This colour is our top go-to colour at TFI! It is an extremely versatile colour. Silver Satin is a light grey that almost reads white and works in virtually any space. This colour adds a certain freshness to walls without being too white or too grey. Whether it is used on the walls or for cabinetry, we just can’t enough of this subtle yet beautiful colour!
We love this colour as it works well when pulling together taupes and greys. It reads neutral and allows for a lot of flexibility with the rest of the colours in any room. In this kitchen, the colour sets the tone for the room allowing the cabinetry and furniture to stand out. Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood is a classic colour that never goes out of style.
We love Benjamin Moore’s Oxygen when we want to add some colour to our walls. It is a great powder blue which has a certain softness to it. In this girl’s room, we wanted to create a space that was playful and fun but not overwhelmingly girly. Painting the walls with this subdued blue as opposed to a light pink was the perfect way to achieve the type of look we wanted.
This off-white has a drop of cream, making it the perfect, versatile backdrop for any colour scheme or decorating style for those who like to change things up.
I love white rooms but I also like a vibrant pop of color. This cheerful blue brightens up grey days and complements the elaborate mix of patterns and the bold colours I injected into this living room.
Bedrooms are mainly for the evenings so it makes sense to use a darker hue that is soothing and calm. This warm taupe grey is an exact colour match to the grasscloth wallpaper I installed on the main wall, creating a seamless transition from wallpaper to paint. I also selected a high gloss finish so the paint also echoes the shimmers from the wallpaper.
This is a warm off-white that isn’t too creamy. Soft and sophisticated, it’s calming and has a depth that makes it suited for bedrooms and cozy spaces. It looks great with dark wood tones and bronze or black metals.
This grey-green is cool and modern and works beautifully in bedrooms or bathrooms where you’re craving a hint of subtle colour. It can make whatever it’s paired with feel updated and fresh. I especially love it in rooms that get cool northern light; it reads almost like a mint but without the iciness.
This is my go-to grey. Many greys can veer too brown or too blue but this one doesn’t have any strong undertones. It’s a livable colour that would be equally at home in a living room or bedroom. I love it paired with warm neutrals, creams and natural wood tones to create a tone-on-tone palette.
Colourful table setting.
Opposites attract in these casual table settings. In fact, we’ve done them on budgets satisfying both large and small appetites. Can you tell the difference?
1 Polished stainless steel Teagan flatware with mirror finish, Crate and Barrel, $35 per 5-piece set. 2 Sophie Conran for Portmeirion ceramic white dinner plates, William Ashley China, $15 each. 3 GlucksteinHome The Penthouse bone china Architectural salad plates, Hudson’s Bay, $30 per set of 4. 4 Glass Cheval goblets in Aqua, CB2, $6 each. 5 Powder-coated stainless steel Matte Black flatware, CB2, $27 per 3-piece set. 6 Hand-painted stoneware Sissinghurst Castle salad plates, Anthropologie, $14 US each. 7 Linen Classic napkins (customized with fabric marker) in Ivory, Indigo, $20 per set of 4. 8 Engraved glass Leaves goblets, Zara Home, $10 each.
1 Christofle silver-plated Malmaison flatware, William Ashley China, $597 per 5-piece set. 2 Lenox bone china Tin Can Alley Four dinner plates dinner plates, William Ashley China, $24 each. 3 Villeroy & Boch La Classica bone china Contura salad plates, William Ashley China, $31 each. 4 William Yeoward handmade glass Fanny goblets in Green, Ribbehege & Azevedo, $95 each. 5 PVD-coated stainless steel Jett flatware, Crate and Barrel, $90 per 5-piece set. 6 Juliska stoneware Field of Flowers salad plates, William Ashley China, $116 per set of 4. 7 Linen Suits napkins, Crate and Barrel, $50 per set of 4. 8 Glass Vintage Etched goblets, Williams-Sonoma, $17 each.
Flora and fauna are the subjects of this curated selection, but a few modern geometrics make them pop. 1 Hand-painted stoneware Sissinghurst Castle salad plate, Anthropologie, $14 US. 2 Herend Queen Victoria porcelain bread plate, William Ashley China, $122. 3 Versace for Rosenthal porcelain Le Grand Divertissement bread plate, William Ashley China, $92. 4 Nature Table stoneware Praying Mantis dessert plate, Anthropologie, $18 US. 5 porcelain Belay salad plate in Black & White, CB2, $7. 6 Nature Table stoneware Ladybug dessert plate, Anthropologie, $18 US. 7 Maxwell & Williams William Kilburn bone china Ocean Fantasy salad plate, Hudson’s Bay, $13. 8 Vera Wang for Wedgwood bone china Radiante salad plate, William Ashley China, $34. 9 Hermes porcelain Mosaique au 24 bread plate in Platinum, William Ashley China, $125.
Table settings dictate mood. Here, some minor adjustments lend our casual high and low arrangements some formality. Formal Complemented by architectural motifs, this monochromatic setting takes guests from bread and butter through dessert, while also offering a glass for every drink. Raynaud porcelain Horizon charger in Green & Lime, William Ashley China, $155. Lenox bone china Tin Can Alley Four dinner plate, William Ashley China, $24. Villeroy & Boch La Classica bone china Contura salad plate, William Ashley China, $31. Bread plate, William Ashley China, $24 Vintage crystal glassware, Jacaranda Tree (416-482-6599), $20 each. Bone china teacup & saucer, Jacaranda Tree, $30. Sterling silver butter knife, Jacaranda Tree, $50. Silver-plated teaspoon (on saucer), Jacaranda Tree, $8. William Yeoward silver-plated Anglesey flatware, Ribbehege & Azevedo, $550 per 5-piece set.
This otherwise structured arrangement gets a dose of informality from colourful florals – both real and illustrated – and zingy yellow accents. Raynaud porcelain Horizon charger in Green & Lime, William Ashley China, $155. Sophie Conran for Portmeirion ceramic White dinner plate, William Ashley China, $15. Juliska stoneware Field of Flowers salad plate, William Ashley China, $116 per set of 4 William Yeoward handmade glass Fanny goblet in Green, Ribbehege & Azevedo, $95. Vintage crystal wineglass, Jacaranda Tree (416-482-6599), $20. Bone china teacup & saucer, Jacaranda Tree, $30. Silicone-coated porcelain Lizzy teapot, CB2, $16, Polished stainless steel Teagan flatware with mirror finish, Crate and Barrel, $35 per 5-piece set. Pehr Designs printed cotton blend Poka napkin in Yellow, Hudson’s Bay, $15.
In decor, as in love, objects that have little in common often work best together. If you’re not brave enough to mix two totally different place settings like we’ve done, how about just the napkins? Pair simple solids with bold patterns or playful hues with classic black and white. FROM LEFT Pehr Designs printed cotton blend Poka in Yellow, Hudson’s Bay, $15. Printed cotton, HomeSense, $10 per set of 4. Linen Suits, Crate and Barrel, $50 per set of 4. Linen Classic in Ivory, Indigo, $20 per set of 4. Stonewashed linen in Cream, Williams-Sonoma, $50 per set of 4. Linen Uno in Chartreuse, CB2, $8. Printed cotton Poppies Floral, Indigo, $28 per set of 4.
Turn your book collection into decorative eye candy while staying organized with these stylish bookcases and shelves.
As hard as we try to keep them organized, books can often get unwieldy. Piles pop up atop coffee tables, stacked haphazardly next to beds and left errantly here and there. Not only that, it can be tough to keep them contained in way that doesn’t detract from a room’s overall look and feel, especially since storage solutions can sometimes err on the side of utilitarian.
The key is to find a way to blend style and function when it comes to keeping things tidy. Breathe new life into your book collection with our picks for 10 bookcases and shelving solutions that flawlessly combine function and style.
Add a rustic element to a home office or family room with a bookcase inspired by a vintage carpenter’s bench. Crafted out of pine with hardware finished in antique bronze, this bookcase is neutral enough to be incorporated into most decor schemes, but still makes a stylish statement. Hendrix Bookcase, Pottery Barn, $899.
Customize your shelving based on space and how much storage you need with a clever stacked shelving system. Clip together units of various sizes in a configuration that works for your space to create a unique look in any room. Choose from white, dark grey, light grey and dark ash. Muuto Stacked Shelf System, The Modern Shop, pieces starting at $179.
The contrasting white frame and walnut shelving make this piece a particularly eye-catching way to display your favourite books. Choose from either white and walnut or black and white. Coppar 71" Bookcase by Hokku Designs, All Modern, $224.99.
Show off books of all shapes and sizes with ease on the open shelves of this ladder bookcase. The vertical dividers provide an opportunity to create a unique display that can easily also incorporate plants, frames and knickknacks. Ladder Bookshelf, West Elm, $399.
If you’re looking for a splurge-worthy bookcase that will make a stylish and elegant statement, look no further than this beautiful Jonathan Adler étagère made of Lucite and polished brass. This bookcase would instantly elevate any entryway or family room, no matter what it displayed! Jacques Lucite & Brass Etagere, Horchow, $2,699.
Brighten up your workspace or den with the help of a lacquered, high-gloss bookcase with open shelving. The modern yet minimalist design can suit nearly any space. Plus, combining more than one can create a stylish and sleek room divider. 3.14 white bookcase, CB2, $594.
Eschew conventional shelves in favour of a quirky zig zag design. We love the idea of using this bookcase to display a combination of paperbacks, hardcovers, photos and other decorative items that will really warm up a room. Donnia Open Zig Zag 70.75" Bookcase, All Modern, $270.
Sometimes the simplest pieces can create the most interesting design elements and this industrial-inspired rolling bookshelf does just that. It can easily be moved should you feel the need to change things up and the combination of steel and oak makes for a versatile piece perfect for displaying tomes of all sizes. Design Workshop Rolling Carts, West Elm, $1,900 - $2,980.
Create a display that suits your space with stylish wall hung shelving inspired by industrial crates. These can be configured in multiple ways making it easy to personalize the way you show off your books. The four-way keyhole hanger enables each shelf to be hung in any orientation you’re partial to. Bias Wall Hung Shelving Set of 4 by Hem, The Modern Shop, $463.
Perfect for a child’s bedroom or anywhere you want to add a playful piece of furniture, this whimsical bookshelf offers a truly unique way to display books. We’re partial to the black and white, but if you want a pop of bold colour choose from lime green, red or orange. Bolla 8 by David Winston, YLiving, $1,814.
Image by: CB2
Hosting a tea party is one of the most elegant entertaining ventures that you can undertake, and one of the simplest. You don’t need to keep entrees hot or even concern yourself too much over the food-and-serving logistics that typically go into a dinner or lunch party. What you do need for a perfect tea party, however, are great friends, a few pretty decorating touches, brewed tea and tasty finger foods. Fancy tablecloths, porcelain teacups and saucers, and even a proper matching tea service are wonderful extras, but strictly speaking, they are not essential (nor are the strict and stiff rules that have governed formal tea parties traditionally). Here are some of the basics to ensure your tea party is fun, easy and gorgeous.
If your tea party is part of a baby shower or bridal shower, then paper invites are still a must. However if your tea party consists of a few close friends, give them a call, an email, even a text will do. Be sure to remind them a few days in advance of the event as well.
A cup of tea, properly made, is not a bag of tea plopped into a cup with boiling water poured over it. You have to brew it. First off, you need a warmed-up teapot. Swish a little just-boiled water around in it, discard. Add loose-leaf tea (or tea bags) according to the directions and proportions listed. Let it steep for a few minutes, then it will be ready to serve. Offer “regular” tea (orange pekoe, breakfast, black tea) but also have an herbal tea option, too. And have milk, honey, lemon slices and sugar at the ready.
The beauty of a tea party is that you don’t need anything fancy, but it is the little details that matter. Keep things easy by setting up food and tea buffet-style. Borrow a teapot if you don’t have one, find a few platters for serving if you don’t have a tiered stand; cups can be charmingly mismatched too and mugs are fine if that’s what you have. Unsightly milk cartons should not be on the table; decant into a milker or even a glass jar with a narrow mouth. You’ll need lots of teaspoons, and a small dish to hold the used ones. Paper napkins are perfectly acceptable, but we recommend you choose the cocktail size.
Tea party decorating can be as bold or demure as you like. Florals and pastels, be it tablecloths or teacups, will strike a traditional note, but there’s nothing to stop you from setting an all-white tabletop and adding in bright turquoise or hot pink accents or going dramatic with dark blues and greys. Flowers are a must, even a small posy in a low vase will make a big impact.
If you’ve ever been for an afternoon tea at a restaurant or hotel, there is almost always crustless tea sandwiches, scones and pastries. The loose idea is that the finger sandwiches take the edge off your hunger, the scones are a sort of middle course and the pastries are dessert. Sticking to this tradition will make choosing food a snap, but anything goes at a less-formal party, as long as you don’t need utensils. If you have a guest who has food restrictions, you don’t have to serve a whole separate menu for her, but it’s the height of graciousness to offer one or two things she can eat.
A guiding principle of a tea party is that the host mingles and enjoys her guests. You should not be endlessly in the kitchen, poking your head out only to bring a tray of food fresh from the oven while everyone enjoys the festivities without you. Cold and room-temperature food is essential. When offering tea sandwiches, keep in mind they dry out very quickly so they need to be covered tightly even while being made, some people drape a slightly damp clean tea towel over them. Of course, a little last-minute serving is necessary, especially for refrigerated items or if a guest asks for a cold drink. A fun and long-established tea party tradition is that you can deputize a friend to serve the tea. He or she asks how guests take their tea, and pours it out to them as requested.
Ready to host your own perfect tea party? Here are 5 pretty items guaranteed to make an impression on your guests.
While you don’t need a formal tea set, a tea party is a great excuse to enjoy some retail therapy. This tea set is a great pick for lovers of informal, quirky dinnerware and its soft white shade ensures it will mix readily with your existing white tableware. The textured surface mixed with the nautical and oceanic motifs will charm your guests. Ocean Explorer tea set, Anthropologie, $58 USD.
Elegant tea parties traditionally offer the trio of tea sandwiches, scones and pastries. That’s why three-tiered stands are indispensable for such get-togethers. A simple one can be used throughout the year for any kind of party, but also at the brunch or dinner table to save space when you’re serving food with lots of DIY garnishes, like waffles or tacos, for example. Great White Tiered stand, Pottery Barn, $68.
No one can argue with the prettiness of vintage floral teacups and saucers, which can be easily sourced everywhere from thrift shops to upscale second-hand stores. Consider however that if you’re not going to use them regularly, they’re better left to someone who will. A modern option is pairing a glass teacup or mug with a white saucer for a practical but strikingly updated (and affordable) look. Mallorca cups, Create and Barrel, from $5, saucer, $5.
Tablecloths can be a take it or leave it proposition. But a tea party almost calls out for the formality of crisp linen. White is of course a standard, but it can be a bit bright and too restaurant-like. Instead, a soft shade can add a subtle, sophisticated and almost French Country mood. Williams-Sonoma’s heirloom quality double hemstitch tablecloths come in a beautiful range of shades, including the sumptuous Mirage Gray and Purple Haze. Linen Double Hemstitch tablecloth, Williams-Sonoma, from $182.
Seeing as you don’t want to be nipping in and out of the kitchen while your tea party is in full effect, you’ll need a tray or two, especially if you’re hosting a crowd. This duo-chromatic pick also makes a perfect platter for cheese and crackers, and it’s chic enough to take pride of place displayed on a coffee table or sideboard. Black dip platter, CB2, $9.