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This year we are really seeing the demise of boring drywall in favour of walls clad with textures to offer more visual interest. Here are some standout examples that have caught my eye.

I love the look of painted brick, whether it's the real thing or a veneer (seen above). You get a clean look and the texture of brick, it's such a fresh combo.

For traditionalists, the decorative detail of raised paneling always lends distinction and a historic elegance (the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball French Gray).

These supersized logs are the origin of the species when it comes to textured walls. This isn't a typical, old-fashioned cabin in the woods, it's modern and masculine with a weighty quality.

I am a big fan of Brussels' design firm Vlassak Verhulst. They are known for using vertical paneling in their interiors, it's such a crisp counterpoint to the rough-hewn beams in this kitchen.

In this dining room, the paneling runs horizontally to subtly expand this feel of this space. There's almost a zen quality to this room; the black is an unexpected change from typical Scandi white and makes the space feel cosier.

This is one of my favourite kitchens of all time. Creating a feature wall like this in patterned tile is an affordable way to create real design impact, and of course it's super practical in a kitchen.

A mod power room's undulating wall tiles create a mind-boggling effect in a small space; the walls almost feel alive.


Ok I probably would have never have thought of this, but you have to admit New Wall's Velcro wallpaper is arresting. The ghostly lamb face image certainly kicks homespun plaid up a notch. In a kid's room, it turns a wall into a piece of art (and can support items affixed with Velcro tape weighing up to 10 lbs., so the wall becomes a playful rotating gallery of stuffed animals and other toys). In addition to looking and feeling like flocked wallpaper, it's a great illustration of how fashion technology is being applied to home decor.

This wood wall by Area Designs goes a step further than surface cladding and is both geometric and organic at the same time. Sculptural and completely stunning, this wall feels special. How could you resist touching these blocks?

Photo credits:
1. House & Home, September 2012, Angus Fergusson.

2. Farrow & Ball.
3. Maison & Demeure, Dec/Jan 2012/13, Jean Longpré.
4. Vlassak Verhulst.
5. House & Home, January 2013.
6. House & Home, February 2012, Michael Graydon.
7. Ceramic Design Studios.
8. New Wall.
9. Area Designs.


Suzanne Dimma

I recently headed out to Vancouver to attend IDSwest 2013, and shoot Kristin Lehman's home (she's the star of CTV's Motive, watch for it in our April 2014 issue). I saw some great examples of design inspiration while I visited some favourite shopping destinations with Nancy Riesco (she designed Kristin's apartment), and discovered new restos.

Firepits have become a real trend, and there were two at IDSwest that captured that cosy, communal campfire vibe — indoors!

The Monogram Dinner by Design at IDSwest featured some gorgeous tablescapes by West Coast designers (look for Kelly Deck's entry in my January editor's letter). This table by Sophie Burke looks pulled from a fairy tale and has a rustic Scandinavian look that's both modern and whimsical.

Robert Blaney Design gave a more raw, masculine rustic take on the forest theme with chunky tree trunk chargers and stump stools, but is also romantic.

Provide was a phenomenal source for propping, we pulled plenty of items from their well-edited shelves.

I so wanted this painting of Vancouver seen from Bowen Sound by David Burns, but at over $6,300, it's a misty fantasy, for now....

Of course I had to visit The Cross, a staple in the pages of H&H. I love this oversized white leather pouf.

Which designer Nancy Riesco of Riesco & Lapres Interior Design couldn't resist posing on! We had so much fun hitting the shops together. 

Here is another Vancouver shopping must-see, Örling & Wu. It's pretty and colourful, and just made me feel happy.

I adore Heather's Ross's store, which recently moved to a new location near South Granville and The Armoury. She has a great eye for finds, and I am really keen on her vintage West German and Blue Mountain pottery in watery shades (I ended buying the brown and blue vase on the second shelf).

Heather has a way of merchandising that makes me want to buy everything in sight.

Just look at this vignette of a geode, linen and rustic twine.

I had a memorable meal in the new Homer St. Café and Bar. Patterned floors are a huge trend and they really played it up, the space is stunning.

Here is a shot of their yummy ginger cookies served with a melted chocolate dipping sauce. Simple but so delicious.

As a pescatarian, I am always excited to find a vegetarian restaurant with a great look: Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant in Vancouver has a really pretty, pared-back design.

I loved how they mounted a wall of garden utensils to look like art, it's fitting for a restaurant that's all about garden-fresh fare.

Find out 10 more things Suzanne loves in this blog post.

Photo credits:
1-11. Suzanne Dimma
12. Arriz Hassam
13-15. Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant


Suzanne Dimma

We gave a sneak peek of Tiffany's glittering new Art Nouveau store on Bloor Street in Toronto in our November 2013 issue, but I was lucky enough to attend the opening on September 18.

The new design made me feel like I had just walked into a jewelry box. Just inside the front doors is a stunning installation hanging from the ceiling that resembles floating leaves by Japanese artist Nami Sawada.

Here I am wearing a favourite Tiffany necklace with fine jewelry sales manager Liz St. Louis (left photo), and Chrissie Rejman, supervising producer of CityLine.

This model is adorned with some gorgeous rocks, but I was equally impressed by the stair runner — the Art Nouveau-style magnolia motif runs throughout the store, and obviously extends to the food presentation. A tray of white macarons are almost too pretty to eat.

It's hard not to be impressed by the double-height foyer's 25-foot ceilings and carved stone walls. The metal balustrade resembles wheatsheaves, another recurring Tiffany motif, symbolizing golden fields and the harvest.

A striking hand-forged chandelier by New York-based artist Michelle Oka Doner dominates the salon, which is enveloped by powder-blue lacquer walls.

It's no surprise that Tiffany blue plays a starring role in this private area used for selecting wedding rings. Fully-leafed glass panels by John Opella act as a backdrop for the consultation desk. 


And of course, I love what comes inside a blue Tiffany box, too. Some of my favourite designs include my Elsa Peretti Sevillana ring in sterling silver. I am obsessed with the graphic look of circles.

See? Obsessed. Ditto for the Elsa Peretti Padova teaspoon.

I was given Breakfast at Tiffany's sunglasses as a gift and think they are so glamorous, you feel like Audrey wearing them.

Here's another classic: the Elsa Peretti Bone cuff is one of my go-to pieces of jewelry.

The contrast of the silver bean with the rustic leather on this Peretti Bean keychain is so chic.

And the Thumbprint bowl by Peretti is just as sculptural as her jewellery.

Here's stack of Tiffany invites I keep as beautifully designed mementos.

Photo credits:
1-3, 6, 13. Suzanne Dimma
4, 5, 7, 8, 10-12. Tiffany's
9. Oliver Goldsmith


Suzanne Dimma

The best day of our basement renovation was when Ikea delivered all of the components for the built-ins and the kitchen. It all fit in the newly opened up front room so the installation team could work in the other half of the space comfortably. You've got to love the flat pack!

They were meticulous about making sure everything was perfectly aligned, and in a house that's over 150 years old, this can be tough.

We opted for wood cabinet interiors. I like seeing a wood finish when you open a cupboard door, it just feels more polished.

The outside of the cabinets is a white painted finish. We designed the upper cabinets to tuck in neatly under the newly moved heating vents and included a surrounding fridge that sits just a bit proud from the cabinets — a simple detail that added a custom feel to the kitchen. It's actually great to have a second kitchen downstairs for caterers when we host parties and for storing extra bottles of wine.

Here Ikea's Staron counter is being installed. Amazingly, they brought most of the counters — which were each about 12 feet long — down in single pieces and they went in perfectly! In fact, I had no idea that they had been there that morning — that is how quietly they went in and out.

There were a few seams to blend but they were so meticulous that you can't see a single line.

We tried out a few faucets before committing to the Hovskär by Ikea. The black finish is sharp and modern, and ties in with the other black accents that will be included in the decor.

Here are the work stations with the Staron counters and custom powder-coated metal legs just after they were installed. They effectively hide the basement foundation walls out of sight.

Check out the finished basement in H&H's December 2013 issue, plus an Online TV tour in November.

Photo credits:
1-9. Arriz Hassam


Suzanne Dimma

And so our basement renovation moves along! (If you missed my previous posts, click here.)

After the drywall went up, it was finally bright and fresh, but a bit on the dull side. Although after all that construction mess, I was happy to see the space this clean.

This is what I call the "sauna" phase, when our 4"-wide panelling from Brenlo went up on most of the walls. This is pre-paint, and it felt like a true '70s basement for a moment. Even unpainted, you can see how much character the panelling added.

Going down the back stairs felt like you were entering a sauna, or a Calvin Klein ad from the early '90s.

This is the other staircase at the front of the house that leads to the laundry room. We're packing this space with oodles of Ikea storage for all of our fabric, tile, wood and paint samples. Plus a few laundry supplies.

And here is our new compact but functional laundry area across from the stairs. The stackable Whirlpool machines are brilliant, and I have to say that I prefer moving clothes in and out of the stackables — way less bending involved. I feel like I've stepped into the future with how well they operate, too. (That's our kitchen sink in the box on the left, ready for the next phase of renos in the upstairs kitchen.)

Another exciting day was when the first two boards of Moncer white oak flooring went down. It was wood overload down there for a moment! But I knew the walls were going to be painted out soon. This flooring is such amazing quality to have in basement and will add so much warmth and richness to the space.

At the back door, we recreated the herringbone pattern that was used in a guest bathroom from the Princess Margaret Hospital lottery showhome last year. We used all of the leftover black slate from our cottage shower, which I was thrilled about as I really hate having unused materials after a project. We heated the floors with Nuheat under-floor heating (you can see the coils by the door in this photo). It will come in handy for keeping the floor dry and warm in the winter. I love this hit of pattern right when you walk in.

And here is the bathroom almost finished! The back-mount Duravit sink sits on top of a floating white oak vanity that matches our Moncer flooring perfectly. And the Bestlite sconce that used to be in our bedroom feels right at home here.

And here are the walls with the first coat of Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (CC-40) paint on the panelling — so much brighter! The entire space will be Cloud White (always my go-to white paint). And it's the perfect choice for brightening up a basement.

Check in Friday, July 5th for the photos of the new basement kitchen!

Photo credits:
Arriz Hassam & Suzanne Dimma


Suzanne Dimma

For those of you who read my blog post way back when about my pending basement reno, you already saw the befores of the former one-bedroom apartment that used to occupy the lower level of our Toronto home. We've decided to turn it into a functional office space instead.

Here's a quick recap of what it used to look like with its crammed corner kitchen, builder-basic bathroom, dark bedroom with rickety shelves and tired wall-to-wall carpet, tiny living room with too many drywalled vents that lowered the ceiling height, a dreary laundry room and the dated entryway.

The demolition process is always a stressful mess, but it's also liberating. There was dust everywhere and it crept up through the floorboards to the rest of our house. But it was exciting to see the whole space transform as the walls came down. We opened up the old kitchen and living area to reveal how big the main room would be (once the furnace was relocated).

I loved how open the area looked when the bathroom walls were out.

We had to break up all of the old 2" white ceramic tile, and here you can see the framing for the new shower.

Garbage bag after garbage bag was filled with the torn-up carpet and old linoleum tile underneath it.

We stored all of our basement stuff under one of the staircases with a bit of plastic on top. Needless to say, it got super dusty too and there were a few times when I needed to dig through the plastic to find something.

Here are the ceiling vents with the drywall removed, right before we shifted them over to the new furnace room. You can see how much headroom they took up right down the middle of the hall.

This was probably the messiest day — when the ceiling was taken down.

Here you can actually see the furnace in its new home next to the hot water tank by the front staircase — so much more efficient to keep all of the hard-working parts together.

The cats were totally confused when we ripped out the closet at the back staircase to open up the basement to the first floor and reveal the stairs hidden underneath.

The laundry room was even off limits so I had to take our laundry to my parent's place for a while.

Stay tuned June 21st for photos of the drywall progress and July 5th for the kitchen installation.

Photo credits:
1-9. Arriz Hassam
10-11. Suzanne Dimma


Suzanne Dimma

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