On the weekend my husband, Kevin, got this new item in at Vintage Fine Objects, his antiques shop in Toronto. It's an old workbench with a painted base.
I read the blog post about it on his site while we road-tripped out of the city and we started imagining a million different ways to reinvent it.
Repurposing an old workbench as a kitchen island is a classic trick. It adds soul and history and is so much more interesting than a big block of cabinetry in the centre of the room. This stunning example is pure French farmhouse dreaminess.
Closer to home, this is Toronto designer and retailer Viki Mansell's farmhouse kitchen. This is one of my top five favourite House & Home kitchens of all time. The play between the aged workbench island and the modernist pendants and stools is inspired. That workbench has so much character. And those budding magnolia branches are quite spectacular too!
What a great idea for a sink console. Not sure if this one was originally a workbench or just a rustic table. But you could totally get this look with a workbench. This is the home of Aussie decorator and blogger Anna Spiro, which ran in the May 2010 issue of House & Home. Amazing what a coat of white paint will do!
My favourite idea for the piece at Vintage Fine Objects is to style it as a bar at a cottage. This workbench bar at Thom Filicia's former Copake Lake House in New York State provides great inspiration. That is one party-ready bar!
See more Tables As Kitchen Islands in our photo gallery.
1. Vintage Fine Objects
2. From Maisons Cote Ouest via Aesthetically Thinking, photography by Patrice Gavand
3. House & Home December 2006 issue, photography by Mark Olson
4. House & Home May 2010 issue, photography by Simon Kenny
5. Thom Filicia, photography by Jonny Valiant
I've been dreaming about tubs lately. I've never lived in a home with a bathroom large enough to have a freestanding tub and walk-in shower. But I firmly believe in the notion of collecting ideas for the time when I might live in such a place. Always good to be prepared, I say.
I Instagrammed this copper beauty last January — a showpiece of the Ikea bathroom installation at the Interior Design Show in Toronto. No, you can't buy this at Ikea, but the clever team there was showing how you can save a bundle by designing a bathroom with Ikea cabinetry and fittings, then splurge on a stunner like this. It was a very brave marketing move that helps spark the imagination. Job well done, Ikea. And just last week I spotted this tub again at Addison's, a vintage plumbing emporium, presided over by soft-spoken Scot and utter font of plumbing knowledge, Jim Addison, and his adorable St. Bernard, Morag. Such a beaut (the tub and Morag)!
On the weekend I found this handsome set-up on Bathsofdistinction.com, a goldmine of tubs on the web. This design combines the best features of a big open shower and a deep tub all in one spot. The key here is that all water splash and overflow find their way into an in-floor drain. No shower curtain assaults. It's history-meets-modern-wet-room. Love it.
Here are some other dreamy tubs spotted on the site:
This one has a bit of an ocean liner vibe, but I think it's definitely more Billy Zane than Leo. I'm okay with that. The brass rivets make it.
Copper is coming on strong in kitchens and bathrooms. This is an interesting design, since it succeeds in looking vintage and contemporary at the same time.
One thing I'll always love about a clawfoot tub is that it offers an opportunity to up the decorating ante in a way other tubs don't. This one delivers a pop of Sherwin-Williams Oceanside Blue (SW-6496). So perfect for a waterside home.
Permit me to digress from the topic of bathtubs for a moment to share this — holy amazing! I would love to do a setup like this for the outdoor shower I'm planning for my cottage. Only three more sleeps until I'm headed there for the first visit of the season. Can't wait.
See our Spa-Like Bathrooms gallery for more freestanding tubs.
1. Margot Austin
2-6. Baths of Distinction
I'm hiding a dirty little secret behind this door below. This is the kitchen of my country house in Tweed, Ontario. The door leads from the kitchen to the mudroom, or at least what used to be the mudroom. It used to be an ugly room, with teal-painted plywood shelving and a rotting floor covered with indoor/outdoor carpet. Now it's gutted and ready for a new life.
But the project has been stalled for 2 years (!) due to reasons too numerous to even begin to explain. But I just got word from our contractor that as soon as he wraps work on Sarah Richardson's latest TV series (it's a small world), he will be ready to get to work at our place.
Of course having this long to plan the design means I've changed my mind a million times about specific finishes. But one thing is for sure — I'd like the mudroom to be harmonious with my kitchen, shown above. This shot is taken from the mudroom, you can see the door open on the left.
All along the process, reclaimed brick has been the floor of my dreams for this space. But I am tiring of the over-herringbonization of the world so would probably opt for a simple offset installation. That said, I am beginning to warm to the idea of a floor of rough reclaimed wood planks either left raw or with a coat of paint. A good hard-wearing entry carpet should be enough to protect it from the mud and snow that gets tracked in the back door. I'm pretty sure the final decision will come down to our budget.
The space is 12' by 12' and needs to be kitted out with several different storage options. Along the north wall I'd like to have very simple open shelving like this. I might put the ugly stuff like garden supplies and sports equipment in baskets.
Or I might sew up some simple curtains to conceal the shelf contents like this. I'd love to find an old reclaimed sink for this space, too. I'm keeping my eyes peeled. And keeping my eye on the budget to determine if plumbing is doable.
I'd also like to relocate some serving pieces from the kitchen to this room, specifically my collection of ironstone platters. I'm no carpenter, but I think I can manage making a plate rack like this one (at Tricia Foley's Long Island, N.Y. house) myself to add a note of pretty to the space.
For the counter I will either use Ikea's Numerär oak counters and stain them super dark or just plain lumber topped with zinc. Which do you like better?
The walls and ceiling will all be V-joint pine from Chisholm's, a local lumber supplier that has been in business since 1857 (warms my heart). I used the same product on the kitchen ceiling, so continuing it in the mudroom makes sense. On the walls I'll have it installed horizontally.
The V-joint panelling in the kitchen is painted with Farrow & Ball's Pointing (2003) (top). I'll probably do the same in the mudroom, though I am also thinking of using Down Pipe (26) (middle) or Calke Green (34) in some way to add a little indoor-outdoor grittiness.
Could this be the room where I finally get to use Colefax & Fowler's Bowood fabric? Perhaps for a roman blind, or the curtains in front of the shelves? We'll see. For more design ideas, follow my Mudroom Ideas board on Pinterest.
1. Margot Austin
2. Donna Griffith via Margotaustin.ca
3. The Girl is Craftee blog
4. Chalon UK
5. Light Locations via Remodelista
6. Tricia Foley via One Kings Lane
7. Stillwater Story
8. Fabulous Home blog
9. Donna Griffith via Margotaustin.ca
10-12. Farrow & Ball
13. Lara Robby/Studio D via House Beautiful
As a fabric hound, I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favourite. It seems every visit to the fabric showrooms kindles a new textile flame. But the top contenders remain Colefax & Fowler's Bowood, any given tartan or ticking stripe and this one below, Fig Leaf by Peter Dunham.
You may recognize Dunham from his cameo appearances on the TV show Million Dollar Decorators. Kathryn Ireland, Mary McDonald, Nathan Turner and Dunham are all running around in the same L.A. design circles. He's an ex-pat Brit and the proprietor of Hollywood at Home, in addition to being the principal of his own interior design business.
I'm a big fan of his aesthetic and in particular his hand-printed textiles, which include lots of paisley and leafy motifs. But Fig Leaf is by far my favourite of his collection.
Here it is in a bathroom Dunham designed for a showhouse. I assume the wallcovering is the fabric with a paper backing, since I'm not aware of this print available as wallpaper. I covet the matching robe!
This is a corner of Dunham's own home. His Fig Leaf fabric on a wicker chair is a match made in heaven. The mix of colours and textiles and artwork make this room look so relaxed and inviting, don't you think?
This living room appeared in House Beautiful a while back. It's been pinned to my office inspiration board for months, and during that time about three other H&H staffers have nabbed it to make photocopies for their own boards. I've never taken the plunge and done drapes in a print before — neutral linen is more my style, but this room makes a very good case for the power of a great print that makes a room. The other aspect I like in this room is the rush matting on the floor. It's so English but next to impossible to find in Canada — so frustrating!
San Francisco designer Caitlin Moran added a few splashes of Fig Leaf — the Roman blind and pendant shade — to enliven this kitchen banquette. I've always said that green is the very best kitchen accent colour because it echoes the colours of fresh produce.
This corner has so much to love. It's probably the dreamiest window seat I have ever seen. It's another design showhouse project, this one by Virginia designer Lauren Liess. You'll spy a few pillows done up in Fig Leaf mixed in with several textiles from Lauren's own line, Pure Style Home, which is also full of paisley block prints to swoon over.
This is my all-time favourite Fig Leaf room. This one is an East Hampton interior by Tom Scheerer. The print really makes a statement here alongside pure white and natural textures — there's that rush matting again! And if you are a Tom Scheerer fan, get your credit card ready to pre-order, he has a book coming out in September, Tom Scheerer Decorates (2013 Vendome Press).
And finally here's how I worked a little Fig Leaf into my own home — a single 24" pillow in my dressing room, as seen on Online TV and in the September 2012 issue of House & Home. I love how it mixes with the awning stripe pillow I sewed up from an Ikea fabric. A perfect high-low mix! And here's one last Fig Leaf tidbit — the print is inspired by a curtains and a sofa fabric Dunham saw in Salvador Dalì's house!
Find Fig Leaf in Canada at Y&Co showrooms. Or go straight to Etsy to order some accent cushions. This one above is from Spark Modern and might just be all you need to perk up your living room for spring.
See more floral finds in our photo gallery.
1-3. Peter Dunham
4. House Beautiful, photography by Victoria Pearson
5. Moj Moly Azyl blog, photography by Laure Joliet
6. Pure Style Home blog, design by Lauren Liess, photography by Helen Norman
7. Tom Scheerer, photography by Simon Upton
8. House & Home September 2012 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
9. Spark Modern shop, Etsy
I recently had the chance to hop down to New York City for a biz/pleasure trip. Here are some highlights.
First up, a few favourites from the Architectural Digest Home & Design Show. Above are magnetic wood tiles by Moonish. Yes, they can be rearranged easily. Yes, you can install them, uninstall them and take them with you elsewhere and reinstall. No, you probably can't put them in the shower but yes, they resist mold. And yes, they are amazing.
Please meet Rachel and Nicholas of Calico Wallpaper. They make that incredible marbleized wall mural you see behind them. What can I say — two cool creatives bringing jaw-dropping beauty into the world. Bless you Rachel and Nicholas. Imagine this paper in a candlelit dining room or on your bedroom ceiling. Please, incroyable!
Fumed oak and distressed brass, both in silky smooth finishes make the Driscoll bar cart by Desiron my top furniture pick of the show. Wish I had one handy to serve my Mad Men Season 6 première cocktails.
And speaking of lookers, this is without a doubt the prettiest cooking appliance I have ever seen in my life. It is by Ilve, and is white enamel with polished brass accents. It's Italian — they know a thing or two about beauty.
Sticking to stereotypes for a moment, if the Italians were all about beauty then here are the Germans teaching us there is beauty in orderliness. A little shout out here to the folks at Miele for their top-notch refrigerator styling — a symphony of perfectly arranged greens. I'm not going to lie, there is a teensy part of me that thinks maybe I could eat this way so my fridge could look this good inside. I'm sure the appliances themselves are wonderful, too.
The La Cornue booth featured a kitchen by SieMatic, which was perfectly lovely in its own right. But then there was that tile. Yes, wooden backsplash tile. Not porcelain that looks like wood. Real wood. It's the Enigma Collection by Jamie Beckwith. And yes, you can use it as flooring, too. Mark my words, this is going to become a thing.
Here are a few other examples of this luscious product.
In one corner of the building was a showcase of several dazzling tabletop designs all done up for the DIFFA Dining by Design charity event supporting people living with AIDS. My favourite of the lot was the Architectural Digest table (surprise, surprise). Psychedelic bright poppies set against a black and white stripe tabletop. Happy and sophisticated.
After the AD Show, a jaunt across town had me face to face with what I hope will be the future of refrigeration. These fully integrated units by GE Monogram consist of components (refrigeration, freezers, beverage cooling, glass-front, panelled drawers) that can be configured to suit your needs. I've never quite understood the conspicuously-huge-fridge-as-status-symbol thing. This disappearing act design is much more my speed. So superb in both form and function.
And lastly, I was lucky enough to dine with a small group inside this cupola on the roof of the NoMad hotel! It was a treat from beginning to end thanks to gracious hosts, superb service and delectable fare. If you ever dine at the NoMad, be sure to have the butter-dipped fleur de sel radishes and the roasted chicken with fois gras, black truffle and brioche. Trust.
The radishes were truly ravishing so I popped them in the Google machine and was overjoyed to find the good people at Bon Appetit have revealed the not-so-secret recipe. You really should try them.
Read more about New York style in Sarah Hartill's blog post.
I blame Arren Williams. While working on our special Makeovers issue, which hits newsstands in Canada on March 25th and in the U.S. on April 3rd, I was very inspired by the before and after transformation of his downtown Toronto house, which is featured in the issue. Thanks to Arren, I've become preoccupied with the idea of painting the red brick of our Toronto bungalow. GASP! (I know, many people recoil in horror at the idea of painted brick). But I'm gathering evidence and inspiration and who knows, maybe by the time the weather warms up I'll be ready to do it.
Here's a sneak peek at Arren's transformation. Pick up the Makeovers issue to get all the details on how he achieved this cool modern look.
My house doesn't look anything like Arren's but it's very similar to this one. I drive by this place often so one day I pulled over and snapped a picture through my car window to add to my inspiration file. I think this is the shade of grey I'll go for — just a bit lighter than Arren's. By the way, both Arren and the homeowners above own cars in coordinating charcoal grey metallic. It's a detail that makes a difference in Toronto, since in both cases the car is parked directly in front of the house on a parking pad. Love it! Mr. A and I have a white car and a black one respectively. I think both will work with my new scheme.
I see this house almost every day when I walk the dog. It's siding and not brick and the pale grey isn't quite what I want, but I still think it's totally adorable. It's very California beach bungalow by way of Scarborough, Ontario (it's just minutes from Lake Ontario).
I found this one after doing some Pinterest searching. My roof is also brown, so I was glad to see this example of how the brown roof works with the grey house. Roof colour must always be taken into account when choosing exterior paint colours. Black roofs are best because they go with everything. So if you are replacing your roof, keep that in mind.
I know what you're thinking. Not many of these are actually painted brick. But here's one I snapped in Greensboro, N.C., when I was in town for the High Point Furniture Market a couple of years ago. This home was surrounded by grand stone or red brick Georgians. I like the how the homeowners spiffed this one up to fit in without overdoing it.
Most of the houses above have contrasting trim, but I think I'd like to go with the same grey on the brick and all the trim. I think it will make the house look a bit larger and more modern. This pretty house in the coastal town of Ludington, Michigan has just the look I'm going for.
Now, the next question is, if I paint the house grey, what colour should I paint the front door? I'm thinking green, but which green?
See our Front Yards With Curb Appeal for more exterior inspiration.