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A few weeks ago, my coworker Reiko Caron posted a blog debating whether or not wall decals are in or out. I quickly exclaimed, "In!" — but that's only because I have a massive one in my living room and I love it.

Here's my living room. I have 14 foot ceilings and lots of blank white space, so instead of going with the classic gallery wall to add some visual interest, I decided to switch things up a bit. I had originally seen this decal in a house we had featured in our May 2010 issue. I loved how graphic it was and how it made such a statement. So, when the time came for my bi-monthly blog post, I thought I'd fire back a "Yes, decals can work!" post. I bought this power pole wall sticker over a year ago through Modern Karibou. A few months later when the issue hit newsstands, I looked at the shot (below) and it confirmed that wall decals can be a great decor choice.

What's the lesson in all of this? When it comes to decor, stick to what you like (pun intended) and what makes you happy — it doesn't matter if it's in or out. You're the one living with it anyhow!

For more decals, see Morgan Michener's picks.

Photo credits:
1. Kathryn Bala
2. House & Home May 2010 issue, photography by Rob Fiocca 

While reading my daily rounds of decor blogs, I saw a small project that I wanted to share because it successfully addresses the ever-present dilemma of how to do some serious decorating while keeping serious budgets in mind. I think this mini makeover is the perfect example of pleasing your champagne tastes on a beer budget.

Bryn Alexandra is a Charlotte, North Carolina based interior decorator and in her latest project, she tackled her own powder room. With a budget of $1,000, she transformed this space and even came in under budget. I like how she splurged on some items, like the grasscloth wallpaper (and the labour to put it up!), but kept her numbers down with affordable hardware and accessories from a big box store.

Here's the before shot and a progress shot. I don't know which is worse, the wallpaper border or the brass toilet paper holder. Yikes. I actually don't mind the faucet though! I believe I even put a polished brass faucet in the most recent Kitchens & Baths special issue that hit newsstands a few weeks ago.

This is such a great after shot. All for a grand total of $897.50! Keep in mind that Bryn lives in the U.S., so she used a few suppliers that we don't have access to up here in the Great White North, but I'm sure we could find similar deals here. Bryn broke down the costs, but for specifics, be sure to check out her blog post:

Mirror - $209.50
Grasscloth wallpaper - $230
Labour to hang grasscloth - $220
Light fixture - $99
Faucet - $70
Glass knobs - $25
Toilet handle - $17
Towel ring - $13
Toilet paper holder - $14
Art - free

Sometimes it's the smallest details that can have the biggest impact on spaces. The best part is that it's all completely affordable and easily doable! It takes minutes to switch out knobs or hang some art. Takes cues from projects like these when it comes to sprucing up your own spaces on the cheap. Although it was a big overhaul here, pay attention to the small touches and you'll be surprisingly pleased with the results.

So now you don't really have an excuse to keep putting off that powder room makeover of yours that everyone means to do but never really gets around to. Right?


For more bathroom design ideas, see our small bathrooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-4. Bryn Alexandra Interiors

Remember that blog post I did a few months ago about the overdone leopard look? Well, lately I’ve been seeing another wave of the leopard print trend again, but this time of the snow leopard variety and I’ll admit, I’m really liking it.

The original fabric is called Les Touches and was manufactured by Brunschwig & Fils, a massive fabric house that was bought by another fabric giant, Kravet. It was introduced to the decorating world in 1965 and has kept a strong presence ever since.

As much as I’ve got decor on the brain, every time I see this fabric I have flashbacks from my childhood and the countless times I watched Disney's 101 Dalmatians (on VHS, of course). Remember having to wait and rewind videos? But I digress — back to decorating.

In the past, some designers have taken it a bit too far, like the fashion designer Geoffrey Beene. Back in 1988, he covered an entire room in this pattern. Luckily, things have changed since the ’80s…

The ever-so-stylish Tommy Smythe used this fabric on two wing chairs in his apartment that we featured back in our December 2009 issue. You can check out more of his bachelor pads, past and present, here.

This pattern might also be the best wallpaper ever if you have kids (or uneven walls); it’s guaranteed to hide all kinds of marks and fingerprints! Designer Tom Scheerer used it in this adorable powder room in an East Hampton cottage.

I’ve had this shot saved on my desktop for a few weeks now ever since I stumbled across it on a blog. This is my favourite application of this print — not too overpowering, but just enough to add that visual impact and interest to a room. It's something I would totally do in my own space.

Speaking of which, you can recreate this look yourself! Emily, from High on the Tide, took matters into her own hands and completed the most affordable DIY project to recreate this look. Check it out here. All you need is some white vinyl, a black Sharpie and some time on your hands — the perfect rainy weekend project. I recommend having 101 Dalmatians playing in the background, you know, for a little inspiration!

For more inspiration on punches of pattern and colour, see our Colour-Packed Rooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. High Street Market
2. 101 Dalmatians, Animation Archive
3. All the Best
4. House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
5. East Hampton Cottage, Tom Scheerer, photography by Simon Upton
6. Unknown source: Help! Does anyone know where this shot comes from?
7. High on the Tide

I had the chance to travel to Savannah, Georgia a few weeks back and I jumped at the opportunity. I was there last summer and fell in love, and I’ve been determined to revisit ever since. Known as the “Hostess City of the South”, this beautiful historic city makes a perfect long weekend getaway. It is one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever seen, filled with Colonial architecture and the warmest people you’ll ever meet. My mom suitably called it the “Kingston of the South”. It has the same feel as Kingston, Ontario — old world architecture and history, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, fantastic restaurants on the water, and so much charm you don’t know what to do with it all.

Savannah is home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, one of the highest ranked art colleges in the world. SCAD has played a big part in keeping this old city in fine form, putting efforts into maintaining and restoring the stunning homes, buildings and churches. The architecture of the city is mainly Colonial, but also includes elements of Federal, Georgian (naturally), and Gothic and Greek Revival-style architecture. You can spend hours aimlessly wandering the streets under the trees that beautifully drape the sidewalks with their flowing Spanish moss. I tried to capture some of the architectural beauty, but as you can see below, it’s a bit difficult to get beyond the trees. Savannah is definitely best seen and experienced on foot.

No two houses are exactly alike. Every single one has its own unique characteristics to make it stand out, but each adds some visual interest and allure to the block. I love the varying pediments above the windows, the black shutters, and the intricate ironwork on the railings and balconies.

Rumour has it that this yellow giant of a house had just been sold to Marc Jacobs. He fell in love with Savannah a few years back and even opened up a shop in the middle of the Historic District.

It’s really hard to stroll up and down these streets and refrain from pressing your face up to the windows for a peek indoors.

In between the gorgeous houses are even more spectacular gardens. I stuck my camera through an iron gate to snap this shot. Just picture yourself relaxing out here with a glass of sweet tea in the afternoon sun…

Can you say dream house? Hands down, this was my favourite house. It sits facing Forsyth Park, the “Central Park”, if you will, of Savannah. You know which park I’m talking about — the one with that iconic fountain?

Yes, that fountain. I was in Savannah in February and it was a sunny 25 degrees — this 30-acre park was filled with people lounging about, playing soccer, and walking their dogs. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, especially after hearing of the snowfall that had just hit Toronto.

Here I am with my mom and aunt (my aunt is the other blonde but we always get confused for the mother-daughter duo, sorry mom) in front of yet another dream house, the Moses Eastman House. On our first day in Savannah, we did a walking tour with the amazing Bobby Davis. If you ever visit this lovely city, I would highly recommend giving him a call. He does totally affordable (and hilarious!) private tours and you’ll learn more than any guidebook could ever teach you.

Bobby took us to see the location of the famous set from the 1994 classic, Forrest Gump that was shot primarily in Savannah. Just take out the bed of tulips and add a bench and that was the location of the famous bench that Tom Hanks told his tales on throughout the film.

Although I was on vacation, the H&H editor in me couldn’t resist going into a few, okay all, of the design shops. Thanks to the SCAD presence, Savannah has a thriving design culture. I figured I should share one of my favourites with you…

How adorable is the exterior of this shop, Number Four Eleven? I loved the striped awning, painted brick, and little flower boxes surrounding the faux moulded windows.

This charming shop had it all: modern yet decorative pieces, affordable colourful accessories, monograms that would make fellow editor Michael Penney weak in the knees, and a linen collection that Lynda Reeves would love. Trust me. On top of that, Claire, one of the shop owners, is one of the friendliest and obviously stylish people I met while in the south.

If you’re looking for a mini vacation, look no further than Savannah. This eclectic and historically rich town is a must-see. Did I mention that it’s also considered one of America’s most haunted cities? And I haven’t even covered the food there! After all, it is the city that Food Network’s Paula Deen calls home. Finally, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit because the beach is a mere twenty minutes away. It really doesn’t get any better than that!

For more southern-inspired style, tour an 1830s Restoration Home.

Photo credits:
Kathryn Bala

About a year ago, a little bird told the editors at House & Home that Crate & Barrel’s more modern sister store, CB2, would be opening up just around the corner from our office in Toronto. We heard it would open in March 2011. Well, look at your calendars, it’s finally March and still no opening. Still, rumour has it that it’ll be ready for customers at the beginning of the summer. While I patiently wait for the doors to open so I can actually set foot in one of my most favourite stores, here are a few items that I’ll be definitely adding (or wishing I could add!) to my basket:

This is an outdoor rug, but I’d put this guy indoors. I love the pattern and colours on this Casbah Rug, and being so durable, my little dog Stewie wouldn’t completely ruin it with his sometimes devilish behaviour!

The Archive Credenza is definitely on the wish list, and has been a personal favourite of mine for a while.

I’m a huge fan of oversized floor lamps. I like the combination of the high gloss powder-coated base paired with a fabric lampshade on the Alpha Carbon Floor Lamp. A little unexpected but totally appreciated — I would welcome this handsome lamp into my loft any day.

I’m a bit terrified of bringing colour into my space, but I think I could handle this Hatfield Grellow Rocker. This nod to the mid-century modern classic Bertoia chair is a clever combination of lines, function and colour.

Now for the (easily affordable) item that I’ll actually put into my basket and happily skip away with? I’ve blogged about this light before — the Utility Pendant Lamp. The plan is to do away with my bedside lamps and suspend two of these from my ceiling. Sounds easy enough, but the tricky part will be trying to convince my big brother to come up to Canada to do it for me…

For my colleague Gwen McAuley’s furniture picks from CB2, see her spring 2010 blog post.

Photo credits:
1. Casbah Rug, CB2
2. Archive Credenza, CB2
3. Alpha Carbon Floor Lamp, CB2

4. Hatfield Grellow Rocker, CB2
5. Utility Pendant Lamp, CB2

One of my favourite (partly Canadian!) blogs, Desire to Inspire, has a weekly feature called ‘Pets on Furniture’. Reading it every Monday is a guaranteed way to cheer me up. So, I figured, what better way to combat the February blahs than by looking at H&H’s own version of pets on furniture? I’m using my creative license and changing it to ‘Dogs on or Near Furniture’, but I’m sure it will still have the same heartwarming effect.

You are welcome.

For more furry inspiration, read Suzanna Dimma’s blog post on Living With Pets.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home January 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith

2. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
3. House & Home February 2008 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
4. House & Home June 2008 issue, photography by Andrew Grinton
5. House & Home June 2007 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
6. House & Home November 2007 issue, photography by Andrew Grinton
7. House & Home April 2010 issue, photography by Janis Nicolay

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