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I've always loved the look of painted floors. You can hide a lot of "bad" with a good paint job! If your floors are tired looking, or you don't like the colour of the wood, or you simply want to add some interest to them, then this is a relatively affordable option. Adding pattern to your floors with paint takes this idea up a notch. I'm not talking scrolly, stenciled looking patterns on your floor, though. I think graphic, geometric-inspired patterns make this look feel current, and give it a more youthful, modern appeal. The paint colours you choose obviously decide whether the look will be subtle or loud. That's what's so fun — you can customize every detail. These examples below show how painted floors can really add character and personality to a room.

A simple wide stripe is sophisticated but not stuffy.

This time the floor has been given a honeycomb pattern. The light grey on white washed wood softens the look.

No need for a rug in this entryway! And you're guaranteed to smile every time you walk in the door.

I think maybe this blog should be about honeycomb-patterned painted floors! Clearly that's what I'm drawn to. Here's another project by Sara Story. This picture has been seen so many times I know. The floors definitely contribute to making it feel so special.

This time black on white makes the honeycomb pattern bold and dramatic. Great for a dining room!

This would be fun in a kids' playroom. Actually, painted in the right colours, it would also be a fun pattern to paint onto your dining room floor – with your table centered in the middle.

Photo credits:
1-2. Nate Berkus
3. Sarah Story Design
4. Sarah Story Design
5. Grant K. Gibson Interior Design
6. MD Floors


Sally Armstrong

I've just returned from my favourite place — on earth, I think — the coast of Maine. We do a family trip down there every summer, to a beach not far from Kennebunkport. For me, the soft, white sandy beach, the seagrass, the dunes, the sound of the surf and the unmistakable salty smell of the ocean in the air is hard to beat. I have only missed one year since I was 4 years old. Having been going down to the same place for so long, I have built up a list of favorite things to do when we're there (the list seems to be growing every year). I thought I'd share some of these things — in case you ever find yourself in the area.

Favourite ocean-side hotel to grab a lobster roll (or a cocktail) is The Tides Beach Club, located on a 2½ mile stretch of beach called Goose Rocks Beach.

The view from the porch.

My favourite store in Kennebunkport is Daytrip Society. There you'll find an incredibly well curated group of products for the home (as well as some clothing and jewelry) including items made locally like the Sea Bag recycled sail bags and beautiful throws from Swans Island Blankets. I always leave the store with some neat finds.

My favourite place to buy fresh seafood to cook up for dinner is the Langsford Road Lobster and Fish House, in Cape Porpoise. They buy right from the lobster men off their own wharf, it's as fresh as you get!

My top place to watch the lobster boats come in is from the pier in Cape Porpoise. Heads up, the smell can be a little overwhelming at first! But it's one of the prettiest harbours around, with a view to Goat Islands' lighthouse as well.

My family's favorite ice-cream stop is Goose Rocks Beach Dairy.

I've definitely packed on a few pounds thanks to the amazing ice cream (and generous portions) at Goose Rocks Dairy. Fifty flavours — all hard to choose from — Like Peppermint Patty, Cherry Moose Tracks, and my personal fave, Coffee Oreo.

My favourite day-trip — which we haven't done now in a few years — is taking a ferry out from Boothbay Harbor to visit Monhegan Island. Monhegan thrives as a working lobstering community but it is also an artists' colony. It's a fun walk around the island (pack a picnic lunch, peruse the galleries and take in the stunning scenery).

Monhegan Island on a foggy day is just as beautiful.


My favourite place to go outlet shopping is in Freeport, Maine. It's worth the trip just to go to the famous L.L.Bean — you can never have enough of their canvas totes. Mine all come in very useful for lugging props around to shoots!

Photo credits:
1. Tides Beach Club
2, 5. Sally Armstrong
3. Day Trip Society
4. Amused cynic blog
6. Action shot blog
7. Trip Advisor
8. Island in Monhegan
9. Monterey Bay

10. Explore Maine Today
11. Etsy


Sally Armstrong

The weather seems to be what everyone is talking about these days. When the temperature soars, there's nothing better than sitting outside under the protection of a balcony ceiling or patio canopy. I think outdoor rooms are such a treat, although they certainly don't have to be over-the-top. We recently installed a simple black awning over our outdoor dining area and love the instant privacy/cocoon feeling it adds when extended.

Here are some inspiring covered outdoor "rooms" — relaxed, comfortable and so inviting. I'd love to kick back and relax in any of these spaces!

Last but not least, the ultimate seat in the shade, this one from the Dedon Island Resort in the Philippines. Luxury!

For more inspiration, browse our photo gallery of Outdoor Rooms.

Photo credits:
2. Lonny
3., photography by Melanie Acevedo
4. Anne Hepfer Designs
5. Domino magazine via Decor8 blog, photography by Deborah Jaffe
6. Lonny
7. Lonny, photography by Paul Barbera


Sally Armstrong

Finally, the weather has warmed up enough to consider eating outdoors again. If you're in the market for a new set of dining furniture, here are a few options that I think would do the job nicely. Enjoy your alfresco dining in style!

The Dexter Dining Collection from West Elm has an expandable dining table, seating up to six when expanded. The driftwood finish has a nice, weathered look to it and the curved-back chairs have a modern elegance to them. There is also a lovely bench available in this collection, if you want to break up all the chairs.

I don't think Ikea's Äpplarö table and Högsten chairs are new this season, but I like how they've suggested these together as a set. I often prefer a "non-set" for dining furniture. I like mixing up the materials and styles — and it's especially fun to shake things up a bit in the backyard. The chairs are made from hand-woven plastic, which will withstand the elements. This "set" definitely has a nice, casual vibe to it.

Crate & Barrel's Darwin dining chair and bench are the perfect light pieces to balance their dark Montague dining table. Again, I like the mix here. The honey-toned teak chairs/bench (which, left untreated, will weather to a lovely silver grey) with white resin wicker pair nicely with the slated, aluminum table. It's always fun to bring in a bench, too — great for kids, and keeps things casual.

Hauser's Coastal dining table (shown here in the driftwood finish) is a modern version (actually made out of metal) of a picnic table. The trestle base is a classic design. It pairs nicely with Hauser's woven rattan Coastal dining chairs.

This Design Within Reach collection is a personal fave. I have the perforated metal Tolix Marais counter stools in my house and I love them. Mix and match with some Tolix Marais A chairs. The plum stools and gunmetal grey would add a nice contrast to a white dining table. I love the Tolix Marais four-seater dining table. I would have considered it for my own outdoor dining area had it been a bit bigger. Having said that, there's nothing stopping you from lining up two of these tables end-to-end.

See more stylish outdoor furniture.

Photo credits:
1. Dexter Outdoor Expandable Dining Collection, West Elm
2. Äpplarö table and Högsten chairs, Ikea
3a. Darwin Dining Chair & Bench, Crate & Barrel
3b. Montague Dining Table, Crate & Barrel
4a. Coastal Dining Side Chair, Hauser
4b. Coastal Dining Table, Hauser
5a. Tolix Marais Stool 18, Design Within Reach
5b. Tolix Marais A Chairs, Design Within Reach
5c. Tolix Marais Four-Seater Dining Table, Design Within Reach


Sally Armstrong

Outdoor furniture options seem to keep getting better and better. Here are some new lounge pieces that have caught my eye, as well as some older favourites.

The Jardine double lounger from West Elm is made of tropical wood, is weather-resistant and has a great shape. It's the perfect place to stretch out with a drink and a magazine. Given there's enough space for two people, I suppose you could share it with a friend, too.

Fermob's Ultra-Sofa. This is a bit of a statement piece for sure — you'd have to be pretty confident about splurging on it! But I really love it. A few people could sit on it or you could lie down and lounge (they call it a sofa but I think it's equal parts chaise lounge!). The weather-proof fabric is wrapped around a thick foam lining, so it would be super comfy.

Restoration Hardware's Ibiza chaise is a modern take on the beanbag, and it looks so inviting! There are some great colours and fabrics (linen, twill, canvas) that you can choose from. I would own this in a heartbeat, I just wish it was in my price range!

Gloster's Solana lounger is another classic — albeit a more contemporary one. The teak frame will weather nicely over time and turn a lovely grey.

I could imagine a few of Hauser's Southampton chaise lounges lined up alongside a pool. And this all-weather wicker design will never go out of style.

I couldn't resist including this chaise lounge. Sika Design's Josephine outdoor rattan sunbed (available through Fresh Home & Garden) is so unique looking — it reminds me of those lovely Parisian café chairs. It's almost a shame to put a cushion on it, but I think you'd probably want to from a comfort standpoint.

For more great finds, see our Gardening & Outdoor Living section.

Photo credits:
1. Jardine Double Lounger, West Elm
2. Ultra-Sofa, Fermob
3. Ibiza Chaise, Restoration Hardware
4. Solana Lounger, Gloster
5. Southampton Chaise Lounge, Hauser
6. Josephine Outdoor Rattan Sunbed, Sika Design


Sally Armstrong

The short, grey days of winter seem to be catching up with me since I feel like I'm attracted to anything with colour right now. I can't get enough of crisp, fresh, happy accents that are easy to bring into the home. These are a few of my picks:

I love the mix of red and pink (a personal fave) and the Moroccan style of this West Elm rug.

The painterly effect of this new tea towel from Crate & Barrel is lovely. I'm a sucker for tea towels — I think they're one of the most affordable ways to bring colour and pattern into your kitchen. My fellow design editors have been known to frame their favourite tea towels, too — an inexpensive trick when you're trying to fill a blank wall.

This sweet felt garland from DwellStudio could be draped over a mirror, around a window frame, over the back of your headboard — anywhere really.

At $50, this Ikea coffee table is pretty affordable for a family room or basement. It's such a happy colour! Keep books, mags, puzzles and colouring supplies for kids stored on the shelf underneath. The castors and metal finish keep it casual.

Crate & Barrel's colourful take on the classic Thonet bentwood chair would be a cheery addition to a dining room or casual eating area. The apple green lacquer finish hits just the right note, and the acidity in the colour modernizes the design.

See our Colourful Contemporary Living Rooms photo gallery for more cheery inspiration.

Photo credits:
1. Nomad Printed Cotton Dhurrie, West Elm
2. Watercolour Chevron Dishtowel, Crate & Barrel
3. Felt Garland, DwellStudio
4. Ikea PS 2012 Coffee Table, Ikea
5. Vienna Apple Side Chair, Crate & Barrel


Sally Armstrong

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