A few years ago, a good friend of mine who's a real estate agent told me that if she saw one more tasteful grey living room, she was going to throw a can of hot pink paint at it. Thankfully, it didn't come to that. Not long after, the current trend for colour and pattern brought a welcome relief from the blah of all that beige, greige and grey.
I still cheer the era of wild florals, bold graphic prints and brave colours — alone or mixed, if you dare. But lately I find I'm also drawn to a simpler setting, although one that still takes some guts. More specifically, I can't get enough of vertical black and white stripes.
Their mod mood and stark palette offer a welcome relief from the richly layered boho look adopted by global nomads and armchair travellers alike (it's a virtual world after all). And the stripes slip seamlessly into every style of home, just as easily as they moved from Marc Jacob's runway (above) — always an arbiter of trends to come — to rooms.
Whether you take an all-or-nothing approach or introduce the look in small but mighty doses, its effect is the same: fashion forward without trying too hard — a cardinal sin of great style.
I'm thinking of introducing the look in my bathroom, which already has black and white tiles. Where would you adopt the trend in your home?
See our gallery of black rooms for more ideas.
I've always liked the idea of an indoor hammock. When a boy I went to university with hung one in his room, I immediately developed a crush on him. This was a guy worth hanging out with, I thought. Why should the pleasure of gently rocking back and forth in one, a foot dangling over the edge, be limited to the summer months? Especially in Canada, where summer seems so short?
Recently, an email popped up in my inbox promoting a new indoor hanging kit from Eagles Nest Outfitters that lets you suspend a hammock from an interior wall or post. Apparently, I'm not alone in dreaming of year-round hang time. The kit uses steel anchor bolt hangers, lag screws and nylon cords, and installation requires only a little handyman know-how with a drill and wrench. Best of all, it supports up to 400 lb., so two people can safely crawl into the hammock together... say, you and that guy you have a crush on.
For more outdoor tricks used indoors, browse our photo gallery of Indoor-Outdoor Spaces.
Wednesday morning began with a press breakfast of mini pancakes and strawberry kale smoothies at Toronto's One of a Kind Show, which runs until March 31st at the Direct Energy Centre.
More than 450 Canadian artisans are represented at the show, many of them exhibiting for the first time. Also debuting is a new curated Etsy section, where sellers from the popular online marketplace are showcasing their designs in person.
While the spring edition is smaller than the holiday event, there are plenty of gorgeous designs to be found. Alongside established favourites like Bookhou, Porcelaines Bousquet, Jenna Rose and Tissage Magely Weaving, a few emerging designers caught my eye. Here are my top picks:
In case you haven't noticed, wood charcuterie and cutting boards are the latest way to add I-cook-and-I'm-cool style to your kitchen. Just prop a few up on your counters and you've got the look. Swaine St. Woodworking from Halifax also offers products to keep your boards looking good. I liked the rounded bottles and labels. Plus, everything looks better with a sprig of rosemary.
Yusuke Akai makes pretty pastel vases and cake stands that are perfect for Easter, but I was more excited about her oven-safe ceramic cookware that looks like cast iron. These would make the trip from oven to table with aplomb.
It's impossible to walk by Edith Bourgault's booth without stopping to look. Her blue and white ceramics — so classic and summery — look extra enticing in the all-black space. If you have a cottage or just want the look of one, this should be your first stop at the show.
This Montreal studio describes itself as a "slow design" laboratory, making items by hand from local and reclaimed wood and other materials. Its bag of little wood houses offers a domestic alternative to Muji's popular mini wood cityscapes. Green thumbs will also like their apple box-style colour-blocked planters.
5. Nick Chase
I saved the best for last. The glass leaf vases by Nick Chase strike just the right balance between modern and organic, and have a distinctly Canadian feel. They're priced from $200 to $1,000 and would make a perfect gift for any occasion: wedding, housewarming, cottage host thank-you. Nick also makes glass terrariums, which are landscaped by a friend of his in Toronto. I'll take one of each, please!
Browse my picks from last year's spring show.
1-11. Kimberley Brown
One of the first things I saved up for when I moved into my own place was a piece of Canadian art. I had admired Cybèle Young's framed miniature sculptures at a gallery in Calgary, but they were well beyond my budget, so I was delighted when I found an affordable print by her at Toronto's Open Studio.
Runaway, by Cybèle Young.
All these years later, I still love everything about it, from the cheeky name — it's called "Runaway" — to the mysterious backstory it implies and its soft palette. I remember painting a blue square on my wall just to showcase it. (You can follow Young on Tumblr and Twitter.)
I'm still on the lookout for great art, so a couple of weekends ago, when The Artist Project was held in Toronto, I set aside a Sunday afternoon to stroll the aisles with Sarah Keenlyside, my good friend and unofficial art consultant. Over the years, Sarah has introduced me to artists like Jose Parla and United Visual Artists, and she helped produce Douglas Coupland's installation The Museum of the Rapture for Nuit Blanche in 2012. (Check out the installation here.)
The Artist Project is a juried contemporary art fair and there was lots of eye candy to be found. Here are three of my favourites from the show:
Janet Kimber, photography
This diptych from Janet's Neo-Petroglyphs series was a highlight. Janet is also an H&H photographer (she shot Storewatch with me for the current April 2013 issue), so it was fun to see another side of her work. These images capture hundreds of years of graffiti found on the walls of Kumbhalgarh Fort in India. Verdict: Graphic and gritty in the best way, they'll fascinate forever.
Ian Mackay, still life paintings
Sarah and I almost whipped out our credit cards for one of Ian's quiet still life paintings. We were both drawn to his more architectural arrangements, like the ones above, but there were also eye-catching pieces that included a single flower, pine cone or clove of garlic in the mix. Verdict: Simple arrangements and beautiful colours give these traditional still lifes a cool modern feel.
Lulu Ladrón de Guevara, mylar and acrylic on wood
It's almost unfair to show Lulu's In a Quiet Light series in a blog, because many of them are not flat — they extend outwards, as if the light they depict is three-dimensional. I was drawn to the second one, above, because it reminded me of a beam of early morning light falling across the wall just so. Verdict: Ethereal, pretty and minimalist. These would be a clever addition anywhere you want the feeling of natural light.
For more, check out Wendy Jacob's blog post on Betty Ann Jordan's roundup of standout artists.
With the leggy set taking their final strides down the runway today, the last day of Fashion Week in New York, my mind is on shoes. In a match made in style heaven, textile designer Madeline Weinrib and stiletto maestro Manolo Blahnik have collaborated on a four-piece collection of pumps, sandals, flats and wedges that marries Weinrib's prints with Blahnik's sought-after silhouettes. Double swoon!
Here is Madeleine Weinrib and Manolo Blahnik with a loafer and four-inch pump in the Daphne ikat, a print developed by Weinrib in partnership with artisans in Uzbekistan.
The Collection draws on Weinrib's signature Ikat and Blockprint fabrics, which have decorated her home furnishings since she launched her first collection of rugs in 1997 for ABC Carpet & Home, the trendsetting New York design emporium founded by her grandfather, Max Weinrib.
Take it as one more sign that pattern is a must this spring and summer, and that global-inspired prints show no sign of fading from favour.
If shelling out $700 for a pair of shoes leaves you weak in the knees, consider investing in a beautiful patterned rug (the ones pictured above are both by Weinrib) or new throw pillows. Or recover a traditional chair in a trendy fabric. A small hit does the trick — much like pairing great shoes with a little black dress.
See our Runway To Rooms photo gallery for more inspiration.
1a. Madeline Weinrib
2a. Manolo Blahnik, Catwalk Queen
1b, 2b, 4. She Finds
3a. Light Pink Daphne Handwoven Ikat Pillow, Madeline Weinrib
3b. Navy Luce Handwoven Ikat Pillow, Madeline Weinrib
5a. Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine via Ohh La Lovely blog
5b. Diane Bergeron Interiors via Remodelista blog
The Toronto Interior Design Show kicks off tonight with an exciting new twist: Already a fixture at design fairs in New York, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sydney and elsewhere, the pop-up shop Designboom Mart can now add Toronto to its list of destinations.
Like a well-curated street market, Designboom is clerked by the designers themselves, so you can speak to them directly about their quirky creations, then buy from them right on the spot. More than 200 objects ranging from small furniture and lighting to accessories are for sale at prices as little as $1 and as high as $100. (The money helps fund the designers' travel costs.)
Here's a few of the designs you'll find:
1. Tea Diver tea infuser by Abel Design
The peaceful feeling of floating underwater, removed from the noise and rush of day to day life, inspired Korea-based Abel Design's deep sea diver tea infuser. Often, tea time delivers a similar feeling of calm.
2. Porcelain mortar and pestle by Designlump
The beautiful ceramic creations by Montreal designer Chifen Cheng are featured in the March 2013 issue of House & Home magazine, so consider her booth at Designboom a sneak peek. In addition to her indispensible mortal and pestle, Chifen will also be selling cups in stunning shades of grey-blue.
3. Checkmate Coat Hook by Donald Corey
Industrial designer Donald Corey challenges homeowners to look beyond typical, mass market options to find designs that tell a more personal story.
4. Daisy Garden Mat by Joe Jin
Toronto designer Joe Jin has scaled down his Daisy Garden Rug to door mat size without losing an inch of the design's whimsy. Artificial flowers snap into the grass-like base, providing a pleasing patch of green to condo dwellers and homeowners alike. (An especially welcome sight on a grey winter day.)
5. Smart Stand by Tanzency
The charm of an old fashion phone with all the perks of a modern mobile. This clever design by Korea's Sungmo Chung is Bluetooth-enabled, sized for any smartphone, and lets you use the device's other functions while talking on the phone.
For more of what to watch out for at IDS this year, stay tuned for Chloe Berge's blog post tomorrow afternoon.