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Right now, I'm thinking pink. Maybe it's because spring is in the air and it feels fresh and lively after the crazy winter weather. I'm noticing shades of pink in nature, taking inspiration from food and loving it in small hits as an accent colour for summer decorating (goodbye blue and white, hello pink).

In actress Lea Michele's home, the hits of pink feel feminine yet modern. Graphic pink and black cushions pop on a white slipcovered sofa, and nothing beats pink peonies or hydrangeas.

I love everything John Robshaw, but I'm particularly fond of these pink and white block prints from his fabric collection. So fun for drapes, cushions or table linens.

Pink and blue works for me but the shades need to be deep enough. Baby pastels are passé.

Nature's pinks are the best, and fruit tree blossoms like cherry and crab apple trees are so inspiring.

I love the dark pink colour of this mousse paired with the black of the berries — pink and black is a great colour combo. Think dark pink walls with a glossy black door.

See our Decorating With Pink photo gallery for more inspiration.

Photo credits:
1-2. Domaine Home, photography by Justin Coit
3a. Shali Lotus linen, John Robshaw
3b. Gent's Stripe Lotus linen, John Robshaw
4. Linen Biarritz Pillow Cover, Flemish Linen
5. Latin Excursions, courtesy of Zapa Nature Photography
6. Bayaderka blog


Hilary Smyth

Like every other editor in our office, I'm feeling the love for oriental carpets. You've probably noticed them popping up in our photo shoots and stories over the last several issues. Who can resist the soft colours and ornamental pattern of a Turkish or Persian rug — even better when they're slightly faded and threadbare!

I've just purchased my first vintage rug, from the amazing Ecarpet Gallery in Montreal and I'm thrilled. The rug was brought in by Stacey Smithers for an amazing upcoming June story she produced. Luckily I sit next to her and get to see all the good stuff coming through!

I love the way designers are layering these carpets over sisal or using more than one in the same space, and I especially like that we're seeing them in unexpected rooms like the bathroom or kitchen.

My dilemma: where to put mine? (Please forgive these poorly lit last minute pictures I took at 7 a.m.).

I've recently updated my front hall with fresh paint, a new stair runner, a black banister and a teal blue door.

Art, lighting and finishing touches are still to come. Is this the spot to lay the lovely rug down? It has big impact the minute you walk through the door, feels cushy underfoot, and works well with the sisal runner. It feels special and decorative.

Or, does it belong in the kitchen? As you can see, it perfectly fits the void in my kitchen. I love the way it brings colour and cosiness to a utilitarian space. It's nice when working at the stove or sink to have something soft underfoot. But what happens when tomato sauce or red wine spills on it? Does it matter? The rug is already worn and loved!

Weigh in if you want. Maybe the answer is to buy two!

Photo credits:
1-5. Hilary Smyth


Hilary Smyth

Owled Out

December 3, 2012

Am I the only person who is owled out? This season, the motif of the moment appears to be owls. In the past week alone, I've received a slew of press releases featuring owl this and owl that. Every website I browse also has some sort of owl ornament, accessory, ceramic piece or textile inspired by that cute nocturnal creature.

I wonder who decided the owl should be the "it" motif of 2012? What will we do in two years time with all the owl objets we've acquired? Will we still want to arrange our flowers in owl vases, drink our coffee from owl mugs or cosy up against owl cushions?

Portlandia's Put A Bird On It spoof illustrates my point quite effectively.

Don't get me wrong — as an editor of all things decor and design, I love the notion of bringing nature into the home and taking inspiration for our interiors from the great outdoors. But sometimes, a theme or motif just gets too darn gimmicky. At this point, I don't give a hoot about the owl.

With that said, there are some very compelling owls on the market right now, and I've rounded up a few of my faves below:

Glazed Tawny Owl from Anthropologie.

Nature Nursery Owl from Anthropologie.

Caviar Owl from Anthropologie.

Owl Pillow Cover from West Elm.

Owl Dessert Plates from West Elm.

Owl print from Natural Curiosities.

What do you think of the owl motif? Comment below! Any guesses as to the next big trend for 2013?

Photo credits:
1. Glazed Tawny Owl, Anthropologie
2. Nature Nursery Owl, Anthropologie
3. Caviar Owl, Anthropologie
4. Owl Pillow Cover, West Elm
5. Owl Dessert Plates, West Elm
6. Banzanini Owl Studies 1, Natural Curiosities


Hilary Smyth

One of my favourite things to do in France is hit the Sunday morning antiques fair, or brocantes as they call them. It involves a pleasant country drive to the neighbouring village or town and a lot of restraint to not buy up everything that catches my eye! That said, in recent years I've become more selective and less impulsive with my shopping.

This summer on a family trip to France, I found myself at an amazing market in Bazas. Table after table filled the town square, where a beautiful cathedral towered in the background.

I kept my purchases to a minimum, which somehow makes them more special. Find of the day: 10 pastis glasses for 4 euros (that's approximately $5 Canadian). I love their small size, heavy base and the fact that they're not all the same. I don't drink pastis, but I do love celebratory bubbles and these make great flutes!

I think I overpaid for this picture frame, though I did knock 2 euros off the price. I like the "easel" style of it — the tarnished brass ball feet and a simple piece of thick bevelled glass. Someone needs to revive this design and start selling them here.

And for me, this Agatha ring — only 2 euros! Looking at the Agatha website (the line isn't sold in stores here), I think the original price could have been around 100 to 150 euros. Every purchase can't be for the home!

For more antiquing tips, watch Michael Penney's video, read about Morgan Michener's Toronto hunt, or Kathryn Bala's trip to West Virginia.

Photo credits:
1-4. Hilary Smyth


Hilary Smyth

I just returned from (what is happily becoming) our annual summer holiday in France, and I'm desperately trying to hold onto that relaxed feeling. I brought back some French walnut oil, good sea salt and a few treasures from one of the local brocantes (antique market) but of course it's impossible to recreate the experience of life in the French countryside — no matter how hard I try.

So that you know what I'm talking about, here's a taste of "la vie en France" and photos of our rental home in the southwestern part of the country. The owner has carefully renovated a centuries old farmhouse and barn, and rents it out when not living there in the summer. We find that renting a home is the best bet going — easy with kids, cost effective when shared with friends and just all around more relaxing than hotels.

Our must-haves include a decent kitchen and pool — and a tree-lined drive leading up to the house doesn't hurt either.

My own artsy shot of the gorgeous wrought iron gate that greeted us.

Our first view of the house.

There were various terraces and patios to take in the views from.

This was our view from the back of the house looking onto farmers' fields and a beautiful old church down the road. We were surrounded by orchards, sunflowers, lavender and rosemary bushes.

Inside, we kept cool thanks to thick stone walls, smooth concrete floors and shuttered windows. All of these brought a moody but tranquil quality to the interior. The rustic style of furnishings — heavy wooden tables, tall armoires and oversized pewter candelabras — fit in perfectly with the style of house. Even the leather club chairs and sofa worked well — large, comfy and lets face it, best for wet swimsuits. Sparse furnishings and no clutter makes a holiday rental super simple.

By days end, it became cooler outside. Here's a sunset and a view of the plum tree orchard.

Overall, it was such a gorgeous home to escape to. Stay tuned for my next blog posts about the trip! For more information on the house and surrounding area go to

See our French Inspired Interiors for more inspiration.

Photo credits:
1-9. Hilary Smyth


Hilary Smyth

I'm very excited about H&H's latest special issue, Best Decorating, which will be on newsstands only starting March 26th!

My colleague Meg Crossley and I co-edited this latest mag over the past several months and we can't wait to finally see it in print. We hope you enjoy it, too, and consider it a keeper issue. It's packed with inspirational images and decorating how-to tips from fellow editors and experts, and it's brimming with product and paint suggestions. (Keep your eyes open for this cover shot, a gorgeous story styled by Joel Bray and shot by Angus Fergusson!)

Working on the issue, we gathered story ideas and inspiration from favourite design websites, books, blogs and magazines — even our own H&H. It was a trip down memory lane pouring over the back issues of H&H, and I had to chuckle every time I saw my living room mantle at home pop up in a magazine spread. It can be slim pickins' for story locations and every editor has, at some point, ponied up his or her house as a spot to set up a photo shoot. For some reason, my living room has had its fair share of coverage. It's small, but has good light and good bones, decent trim work and a timeless mantle (surrounding a fireplace that doesn't work!). There isn't a lot of furniture or clutter in the room (save a sentimental piano I really need to relocate), so that might be one reason the room is often used for shoots. Plus, it's your basic white shell from top to bottom and makes for a clean canvas for editors' creativity.

I've rounded up many incarnations of my mantle. Loyal readers will probably recognize it from over the years. Even our photo editor Leslie Williams knows it well — she's been blurring out the cracks and chips on it for years!

This shot appeared in our July 2006 issue, styled by Stacey Smithers and photographed by Nina Teixeira. Pottery in shades of blue and a faux coral vignette add a summery feel to the room.

This shot from our September 2007 issue was styled by Morgan Michener and photographed by Mark Burstyn. The cubby bookcase was highlighted as an unexpected place to store fireside wood.

This is from our June 2008 issue, also styled by Stacey Smithers and photographed by Donna Griffith. Log wood storage again! This time in the hearth of my sadly non-functional fireplace.

Here it is again in our August 2009 issue, styled by Sarah Hartill and Michael Penney, photographed by Stacey Brandford. The now ubiquitous fallen antlers find a home in the hearth in our Art of Display story.

Here's my living room transformed into a dining room for our December 2009 issue by stylist Sasha Seymour, photographed by Angus Fergusson. The mod artwork conceals the original built-in mirror and totally changes the vibe.

For more mantel styling tips, see our Fireplaces & Mantel Displays photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home Best Decorating special issue
2. House & Home July 2006 issue, photography by Nina Teixeira
3. House & Home September 2007 issue, photography by Mark Burstyn
4. House & Home June 2008 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
5. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
6. House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson


Hilary Smyth

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