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Gentle reader, if you are anything like me, the hustle and bustle of the holidays leave you spent. I have been over-stimulated for months — too much food, too much drink, too many do-dads all around the house, just too much of everything. January has become one of my three "clean up my life" times of year. Second to April's spring cleaning but somehow a little more involved than September's back-to-school organizing (let's admit, that is just a hold-over from school days so that the older I get, the less important it seems), January is my new get-it-done month. What needs to get done is for me to create a calm and serene surrounding in which I can relax and undo my Christmas season damage.

My first step typically involves finding some inspiration — something I can leave on my computer desktop, print off, or tape to my corkboard, as a way to keep me inspired and on track. Below are this year's offerings:

Notice how each relies on a limited colour palette, a few well-placed objects and one or two pieces hanging on the wall. They are the antithesis of holiday houses, and a welcome breather for me. Enjoy.

For more ideas for de-cluttering, browse our Home Organization Tricks photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-2. La Maison d'Anna G blog, photography by Marcus Lewett
3. Japanese Trash blog
4. The Style Files blog, photography by Bo Bedre


Meg Crossley

The film My Week with Marilyn opens in just a couple of days, and being a combination fan for old Hollywood scandals and Michelle Williams anything, I have been trolling websites looking for comparison photos — does Michelle Williams really nail the look? I relied on my favourite Cecil Beaton photo of Marilyn to start the comparison. I think the vulnerability is definitely captured in both the real and faux Marilyn photos.

And with my experiment comes a renewed interested in black and white fashion photography, especially from the 1950s and '60s. Did you know The New Yorker magazine sells black and white photography? I went searching for Cecil Beaton prints and found lots of stuff I could hang, on both the Condé Nast Store site and Take a look at what I found:

And imagine them filling one wall, as in this dining room by designer Christine Ralphs. The repetition of black and white and subject matter makes this a really strong art wall.

For more on creating a gallery wall, read Gwen McAuley's blog post.

Photo credits:
1a. We Heart Vintage blog
1b., courtesy of The Weinstein Company
2a. Photo by Cecil Beaton, Condé Nast Store
2b. Photo by John French,
3. Photo by Leombruno-Bodi, Condé Nast Store
4a. Photo by Jacques Boucher, Condé Nast Store
4b. Photo by Georges Dambier,
5. House & Home February 2005 issue, photography by James Tse 


Meg Crossley

What I like best about front halls in fall is that somehow we just give in to all the boots, bags, hats and scarves. An area we may have kept pristine in the summer — because too much stuff somehow felt stuffier — now feels more fall-like, warmer and cosier when filled with all the gak we wear for fall walks and raking leaves. That is why two of my favourite fall foyers are packed with stuff.

Here, I love how the boots and shoes live two rows deep, but are still neatly tucked under the long console table. It's this combination of messy and neat that somehow makes this front hall work.

And in this one, I love how the row of hats is hung (probably) the length of the hall and high above some pieces of art but below others. This makes the mess of hats feel like a piece of art in itself.

Just some ideas to keep in mind as your hallway fills up this fall — relax and enjoy that hot (no, let's say warm) mess.

For more inspiration, see our Editors' Favourite Entryways.

Photo credits:
1. Villa Anna blog, photography by Caroline Arber
2. Delights by Design blog, photography by François Halard


Meg Crossley

Trend: Skulls

October 11, 2011

I bought my first skull laces for a pair of brown converse sneakers a good decade ago. I was too old to try that look then, and even more so now. So be it, I still happily sported those laces for years. But skulls in design are bigger than ever right now. I recently bought an Alexander McQueen skull scarf. (Okay, so I was putting in time in an airport and soothed myself with a purchase at Harrod's airport store — I wish the purchase had a more glamorous pedigree). But despite the venue for my skulls purchase, I feel completely on-trend as they are spotted everywhere this fall (and this isn't just about Halloween, although that helps).

I first spotted skulls on the runway, as part of the autumn/winter line by designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac.

Soon after, the skull motif was showing up on house goods, including a decanter by Two's Company. Soon after, I happened upon skull dinner plates found on a fun Etsy store called foldedpigs. The shop owner specializes in repurposing restaurant ware with decorative decals, and of course the skull seems to be one of her favourite details to add.

More skull searching and I discovered a blog called Find, Make, Do with great handmade skull decorations like these wire skulls.

Lastly, I stumbled upon what I can only describe as an art blog, called Skull-A-Day, where blogger Noah Scalin fashions a skull a day out of anything and everything. That was five years ago, and it's still up and running. There's a skull-a-day book, a skull appreciation day and invitations to submit for artists also interested in skulls. Above is one of Noah's original lace skulls. Kind of beautiful.

Alas, I am not going to make a skull (as I have neither the time nor talent) when I can easily buy a scarf covered with them.

For more Halloween inspiration, see our Halloween Decorating photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Jean Charles de Castelbajac Fall 2011 RTW,, photography by Yannis Vlamos of
2a. Two's Company decanter,
2b. Etsy
3a, 3b. Find, Make, Do
4. Skull-A-Day
5. Ivory Heraldry Skull Silk Scarf, Alexander McQueen

You know how a few disparate things catch your eye at once, and then you think, hmmm, this might be a thing. Well, that happened to me just last week. While trolling fashion sites for upcoming Trendwatch topics, I came across the line Blugirl. Their fall offerings just felt so familiar, there was something about it. After that, I saw a barley twist table on and found myself coveting it. Finally, I remembered a recent almost-purchase at a junk shop — a specific old movie poster — and the light went on. Yes, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969).

I read the book just last year (by Muriel Spark, published in 1961), and loved the film since I was a girl. Of course I had to re-watch it. I don't think it gets better than Maggie Smith as Jean.

And funnily enough, the look of it seems so on-trend. The movie is set in 1930s Edinburgh, and the look is a blend of schoolhouse industrial and Scottish Arts and Crafts. Imagine Head Mistress Miss Mackay in her comfortable office chair while Jean is seated in something that forces her into an even straighter posture, during one of their many quarrels.

Or, the barley twist legs on the tables in the teachers' lounge. Even the schoolhouse lights have a little more detail, thanks to the Arts and Crafts movement.

Add to it that this is September, time for back to school, and this Brodie thing just seems meant to be. We all need to add a little Jean Brodie into our lives, while we are still in our prime. And if light fixtures aren't on your shopping list right now, at least rent the movie.

Photo credits:
1a. Blugirl, New York Magazine
3. Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie, The Guardian
4a. Elkin Chair, 1911 Collection, Hickory Chair
4b. Surry Arm Chair, 1911 Collection, Hickory Chair
6a. Allen 3.25, Schoolhouse Electric
6b. Northwestern 6, Schoolhouse Electric

Inspiring is definitely a word to describe my High Point, North Carolina trip. (If you missed my first blog about the furniture market, click here.) If anyone is a fan of the television show Million Dollar Decorators, and saw the episode where Mary McDonald travels to High Point with Nathan Turner to support him in his furniture launch and do the show, you would think High Point is mostly greasy diner breakfasts at places like Waffle House.

Now comrade Cameron MacNeil and I did some serious diner eating, as evidenced by my pic above. Yum. The difference between Cameron and I and those Million Dollar Decorators is that we actually like waffles, but we were also excited and surprised by much of what we saw.

One of the biggest surprises for me was the number of showrooms set up in old industrial buildings. Cisco Brothers (above) scored one of the best buildings in town, and it was the perfect backdrop to their eco lines of furniture. Spacious, gorgeous light coming in, rustic old wood — nothing was wanting in this space. And it afforded them the opportunity to do some really interesting things with their merchandising. This is definitely a way to get retailers and designers excited about a line.

I personally love this display with the settee made of mixed fabric remnants, the gorgeous chandelier, and the wall papered in old newspaper advertisements. Now this is something any one of us could do in a spare room or reading room.

Halo scored the old town fire hall for their showroom. Again, it had great natural light and plenty of wall space for display ideas. I loved the way they showed their collection of wicker baskets and could imagine this same trick employed in a country house or summer home for storage — what a charming idea!

Mr. Brown didn't get an old building, but they did a fantastic job of making their booths look like they were in interesting spaces. A great takeaway idea for me was a bookcase papered in modern silhouette wallpaper and filled with old books, boxes and shoe forms. Funnily enough, all three are things I collect but I haven't put them together as well as this. Something for me to do on an upcoming weekend, after the requisite diner breakfast, of course.

For more styling tricks, watch Cameron and Joel Bray's TV segment.

Photo credits:
1-5. Meg Crossley

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