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I have no plans for a dramatic kitchen makeover, but House & Home's March 2013 issue makes me wish I did. Considering how much time I spend in there, it certainly deserves some attention. Here are a few kitchen photos sitting in my "One Day" inspiration folder. Perhaps it's finally time to do something with them.

Over at Sköna Hem, I came across this small kitchen with the cutest little gas stove. Can a range be cute? Yes, I think so. This small space appliance comes from Ilve, an Italian company. The dramatic veins of the Carrera marble provide quite the backdrop for hanging pots and utensils. I prefer to keep my countertops and backsplash bare, but I do like how the metal rods are mounted directly on the marble.

This kitchen could easily read as stuffy and formal, but the mix of new and old styles and bold colour accents keep the look current. The on-trend encaustic tiles don't hurt, either. The worn teal Tolix Marais A chairs create the perfect café-at-home vibe.

Here's another contemporary kitchen that inspires me. I love the use of wall-mounted swing-arm lamps in the kitchen, but do wish these were placed lower on the wall or had art hung beneath. Affordable white subway tile with easy-to-maintain dark grout covers the wall. And, something we continue to see: Dark lower cabinets paired with light uppers. Swoon.

Dreaming of my "One Day" kitchen…

Find more inspiration in our Bistro & Restaurant-Style Kitchens photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1, 2. Sköna Hem, photography by Martin Löf
3. Kvanum

Author: 

Seema Persaud

At one point I loved jewel tones, then I considered the all-white look for my home, but now I've fallen for oh-so-sweet pastels. (Yes, I'm a little indecisive when it comes to decorating.) With early spring fashions already in stores, it's hard to resist the minty blues, soft pinks and pale lilacs.

Here's the photo that started it all for me. Stylist Laura Fulmine used Hans Wegner's classic CH24 Wishbone chairs but, for a change, combined Easter-egg hues. Hits of black from the door stopper, bowl and light fixtures prevent the room from feeling too delicate. I especially love the silhouette of Naomi Paul's Glück crocheted pendants.

Would you consider painting trim butter yellow? Not sure I have the guts, but it looks so fresh against the light grey walls in this bedroom.

How about painting a radiator strawberry ice-cream pink? If the rest of your home has a laid-back feel, why not?! More of a neon fan? Check out this shocking cerise-coloured radiator.

To keep the look sophisticated, pair the soft colours with geometric prints, lots of white and sculptural furnishings.

Find more inspiring spaces in our gallery of Soft & Feminine Rooms.

Photo credits:
1-4. You magazine March 2012 issue, styling by Laura Fulmine, photography by David Cleveland

Author: 

Seema Persaud

This past Wednesday, House & Home held its 15th annual Trends Breakfast for companies and advertisers in the industry.

More than 300 people came out to Toronto's Arcadian Court to hear about design, decorating, food and lifestyle trends for 2013.

H&H style expert Reiko Caron arranged pretty amaryllis centerpieces with pine cones filling each vase. Each table also had a box labelled with one of the four 2013 design looks picked by H&H editors.

Fabric swatches, paint colours, product photos and a room shot filled each box to suit the trend labelled on the outside. My table received "Quiet Luxury" and those around me had to describe the imaginary person who would suit this refined look — is he or she a fashionista? A hoarder? A traveller? The table with the best description won prizes, too.

After, Lynda Reeves described where trends come from, Suzanne Dimma gave the low-down on H&H's top trend looks of 2013, Eric Vellend revealed 10 food trends, and Mark Challen (above) and Online TV director Sheri Graham-Delegran shared awe-inspiring numbers about our dedicated readers and viewers (you!).

A special thanks to the numerous advertisers that provided products for prizes and gift bags. Also, attendees, don't forget to read the tag on your PC Black Label olive oil (the breakfast favours) to find out how you can win a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Want to know what's ahead for 2013 in the world of design, decorating and food? Watch this Online TV segment to see the four style looks, read tweets from the event, and pick up H&H's January 2013 issue to see all the latest must-have paint colours, lighting, furniture, fabric, food and more. Find it on newsstands starting December 10th in Eastern Canada, December 17th in Western, and December 25th in the U.S.

Photo credits:
1, 2, 4, 5. Brian Morton
3. Seema Persaud

Author: 

Seema Persaud

The results are in! After polling our readers online about top holiday decorating dilemmas, we can now share the votes. Much like the designers and homeowners who commented on these questions in our November 2012 issue, the numbers are close.

1. CHRISTMAS TREE: Real or faux?

57% prefer a real tree. Nothing beats the smell of natural pine.

2. ON TOP: Angel or star?

The results were especially close for this one, with 53% voting in favour of a star tree topper, and 47% would rather top their tree with an angel.

3. ORNAMENTS: Homemade or chic?

Personally I love the look of homemade ornaments, but 62% of readers polled opt for chic ones.

4. OUTDOOR LIGHTS: White or coloured?

When it comes to lighting up your home's exterior, 60% of readers favour white lights over rainbow strands.

5. DOOR WREATH: Ornaments and sparkle, or natural boughs?

Here's where we saw a clear winner — 71% of readers would pick natural boughs over wreaths with ornaments and sparkle.

Thanks for voting, everyone! Find out what Suzanne Dimma, designer Nicola Marc and more homeowners had to say about these hot holiday topics in our November 2012 issue.

Discover more Christmas and holiday decorating ideas in our guide.

Photo credits:
1, 3. House & Home December 2011 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
2. House & Home November 2012 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson
4. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
5. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Michael Graydon

Author: 

Seema Persaud

On Thursday, event planner Colin Cowie hosted a holiday party sponsored by Proctor & Gamble at Toronto's Thompson Hotel. Cowie filled a dreamy suite with sparkle and charmed us all with his South African accent and approachable personality. Having organized events for celebrities like Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey, he brings grand style to events with every detail covered. Colin's site says, "What you smell, touch, taste, feel and hear are carefully orchestrated to create the ultimate experience for Colin's clients." And that's exactly what he did for the event. Take a look at photos from the party and try some of his ideas when entertaining for an event that appeals to your guests' senses.

Smell:

Fragrances Use unscented candles in the dining room and anywhere people are eating, and welcome guests with subtle scents in the entryway and living room.

Touch:

Fresh Flowers Poor carnations have such a bad rep, but en masse in a solid colour they look stunning. (Am I the only one who likes to touch flowers that look so soft?) Create a piece like this with dome-shaped floral foam placed atop a vase. Stick an ornament or decoration inside for a festive touch. Don't stop at the tables — consider placing fresh flowers in your Christmas tree, too, for a consistent theme.

Soft Fabrics Lush upholstery, soft pillows and throws give the ultimate cosy feel. (Hello, winter decorating 101!)

Clean Surfaces Cowie focused on using P&G brands like Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Cascade, Dawn and more for all his holiday entertaining supplies — ensuring every surface was dusted, scrubbed and wiped before guests arrived for a polished look and squeaky-clean feel. And yes, he really did display dishwashing supplies in the kitchen. Great to have it on-hand as soon as you have a full load, or tucked away nearby.

Taste:

Food Decorating for the season takes time — consider buying appetizers, baked goods and even pre-cut veggies to save time. Display snacks creatively on tiered trays and in glasses. This is a great time to use all those dishes you have locked away in your sideboard or hutch and buffet.

Drinks Have a delicious cocktail ready for guests once they're settled in to the house. For ease, stick to one signature drink and keep the recipe simple! Create a buffet table or food station equipped with plates, napkins and utensils so everyone can help themselves. Notice the lack of obstacles (like chairs) around this table — easy access and room for mingling is crucial.

Feel:

Theme Keep your holiday decor consistent from room-to-room for a seamless transition. Colin focused on golds and silvers, right on-trend with the mixed metals look. "It doesn't tell a story," says Colin of homes where decor is mismatched throughout. He kept surfaces clutter-free as he says "Great style comes from ruthless editing."

Lighting Install a dimmer switch and light candles — it's flattering and creates the perfect ambience. (Honestly — we attended this event at 1:30 p.m. but it felt like 7 p.m. thanks to perfect lighting.) Cowie filled the space with candles — votives, pillars, tapers, you name it. To customize store-bought candles, he gave glass holders a gold leaf treatment. Crafty!

Sparkle Lay mirror tiles on a tablescape and top with votives and sparkling objects like bead garlands and ornaments. You can find mirror tiles at your local hardware store. Glittery pillow covers brought out for the season added extra glam to the living room, too.

Hear:

Party Playlist Prevent holiday music fatigue and mix merry jingles between your usual tunes — create a playlist with 80% dedicated to your favourite songs and 20% to holiday hits.  (There's only so many times I can listen to anyone crooning "Santa Baby.")

Hope these entertaining tips help you at your next soirée. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Colin! Here's to happy hosting.

Photo credits:
Seema Persaud

Author: 

Seema Persaud

With the start of November comes flu season, and endless reminders to get your flu shot. Beyond the shot, there are steps you can take to ensure you and your family have a healthier home. (This blog post is sponsored by Swordfish UVC Air Treatment System.)

Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Most indoor air quality products trap pollutants, but the easy-to-install Swordfish® UV Air Purifiers kill unseen airborne viruses, bacteria, mold and dust mites. Used in hospitals, UVC technology uses ultraviolet light to clean the air your family breathes and can help prevent the spread of colds and flu.

Simply mount Swordfish Whole Home inside your duct system or above the air conditioning coil. Installation takes about 15 minutes and all required tools are included. Bonus: it’s energy efficient and chemical free.

For condo and apartment dwellers, the Swordfish Portable system is available, too. It also alleviates allergy, asthma and cold and flu symptoms.

Elsewhere in your home, consider using eco-friendly products to prevent the spread of germs. Method carries all-purpose cleaning and disinfecting wipes (great for doorknobs, keyboards and just about any hard surface), and an actibacterial kitchen cleaner spray that also works on influenza A among other germs.

Beyond keeping your counter germ-free, green products are worth considering for other cleaning tasks. Canadian-made Nature Clean products provide toxin-free solutions for everyday household tasks — from dish care, laundry and more — and are biodegradable, too.

Ready to make your home healthier? Visit swordfishuv.com for great discounts during Cold & Flu Awareness Month.

Photo credits:
1, 2. Swordfish
3, 4. Grassroots Environmental Products

Author: 

Seema Persaud

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