Finally, the weather has warmed up enough to consider eating outdoors again. If you're in the market for a new set of dining furniture, here are a few options that I think would do the job nicely. Enjoy your alfresco dining in style!
The Dexter Dining Collection from West Elm has an expandable dining table, seating up to six when expanded. The driftwood finish has a nice, weathered look to it and the curved-back chairs have a modern elegance to them. There is also a lovely bench available in this collection, if you want to break up all the chairs.
I don't think Ikea's Äpplarö table and Högsten chairs are new this season, but I like how they've suggested these together as a set. I often prefer a "non-set" for dining furniture. I like mixing up the materials and styles — and it's especially fun to shake things up a bit in the backyard. The chairs are made from hand-woven plastic, which will withstand the elements. This "set" definitely has a nice, casual vibe to it.
Crate & Barrel's Darwin dining chair and bench are the perfect light pieces to balance their dark Montague dining table. Again, I like the mix here. The honey-toned teak chairs/bench (which, left untreated, will weather to a lovely silver grey) with white resin wicker pair nicely with the slated, aluminum table. It's always fun to bring in a bench, too — great for kids, and keeps things casual.
Hauser's Coastal dining table (shown here in the driftwood finish) is a modern version (actually made out of metal) of a picnic table. The trestle base is a classic design. It pairs nicely with Hauser's woven rattan Coastal dining chairs.
This Design Within Reach collection is a personal fave. I have the perforated metal Tolix Marais counter stools in my house and I love them. Mix and match with some Tolix Marais A chairs. The plum stools and gunmetal grey would add a nice contrast to a white dining table. I love the Tolix Marais four-seater dining table. I would have considered it for my own outdoor dining area had it been a bit bigger. Having said that, there's nothing stopping you from lining up two of these tables end-to-end.
See more stylish outdoor furniture.
1. Dexter Outdoor Expandable Dining Collection, West Elm
2. Äpplarö table and Högsten chairs, Ikea
3a. Darwin Dining Chair & Bench, Crate & Barrel
3b. Montague Dining Table, Crate & Barrel
4a. Coastal Dining Side Chair, Hauser
4b. Coastal Dining Table, Hauser
5a. Tolix Marais Stool 18, Design Within Reach
5b. Tolix Marais A Chairs, Design Within Reach
5c. Tolix Marais Four-Seater Dining Table, Design Within Reach
The Aberfoyle antique market recently opened their gates for another delightful season of haggling. With 20 acres of booths and outdoor exhibitor space, the market is a gold mine for devoted collectors.
My countdown to the market's opening weekend begins shortly after Christmas — I'm not kidding. So when my future sister-in-law, Nadia, suggested her and I make a day of it a few Sundays ago, I was more than happy to oblige. We knew that leaving the boys with their trucks and power washers would give us hours of rummage time.
To those who do not share my enthusiasm for the hoary and musty, this may talk you into the idea of adding some aged charm to your decor. To those like me who gush over chipped teacups and rickety chairs, check out the amazing stuff I came across.
If you're looking to add some quirkiness to your kitchen, you're bound to find something on the heaped tables. I find the best stuff hidden in boxes, so be sure to dig around.
The booths can be overwhelming and it's easy to miss a lot. I keep reminding myself to look up!
The selection of china is endless.
I had to tear myself away from this vintage brass fire extinguisher. At $89 it would have exceeded the budget I had allotted myself for the day — maybe I'll find it there again next time.
Windows are easy to come by at antique markets, but a knockout like this is definitely a great find — I'm surprised it was still available.
Another reason to look up; the lighting is a never-ending array of crystal, brass wrought iron and porcelain.
This solid wood bench was only $80; an incredible deal for a piece that will last a lifetime. If only I had the space.
I had big dreams for this tub. A glossy coat of expensive paint and some refurbished hardware would have kept this $200 find way under the cost of a brand new one. Another piece I'll have to forgo for now.
If you're looking for great storage ideas, check out the vintage boxes on the lawn.
I love the look of a historic vignette.
I'm happy to say I went home with two sweet pieces of history. This aged industrial stool ...
... and a stunning vintage engagement ring from Cynthia Findlay my (now fiancé) Pablo surprised me with — just another magical moment in the world of antiquing!
1-14. Floriana Paonessa
When it comes to designing a room with contemporary furnishings, it can be difficult to strike a balance between achieving clean lines and creating a space that is still warm and inviting.
But modern designs don't have to sacrifice comfort; Mobilia has found a sweet spot between streamlined simplicity and the comforts of home with its European-inspired furniture and home accessories. (This blog post is sponsored by Mobilia.) The Canadian company's luxury collections are influenced by the latest trends from around the globe and are built to last with quality materials. Each piece offers a great way to amp up style in your living room, dining room or bedroom, whether you have an urban space, dream of a European lifestyle or love a more playful look. Plus, choose from all kinds of room accessories — from bedside stands and wall art to table ornaments and area rugs — and warm up any room with Mobilia's line of handmade gold leaf accessories.
The Albia collection is constructed with handpicked walnut veneer, and customers can customize the colour and finish. The tables and dressers feature painted glass tops, giving each classic wooden piece just the right modern touch. The best part? The entire Albia collection is made in Canada.
This line of living room furniture from Mobilia’s “Gen Y” collection is called “marshmallow” for a reason — its feather-filled seat and back are so comfortable, you’ll want to sink right in. The modular design makes it easy to create your own configuration, depending on the size of your living room.
Inspired by New York City living, this Times Square dining collection offers several options to customize each piece, from the wood and metal of the table and chairs right down to the leather or fabric of the seat coverings.
This Whistler line will make you feel like you’re living in a modern ski chalet. The sectional is made with premium leather and its seats and backs are filled with feathers. (Don’t like leather? There are several fabric options to choose from, too.)
Which modern look is your favourite?
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
The more I speak to retailers and consumers about patio furniture and what they're looking for, the more this theme of indoor-outdoor decorating pops up. It seems that everyone wants to decorate their outdoor spaces with an "indoor" feel.
Depending how much space you have (sprawling home versus urban condo), many people will rely on their outdoor space as an extra room for the warm months ahead. This could be one of the reasons we're paying more attention to outdoor decorating.
This Roxö table from Ikea provides seating for up to four people, and is small enough for a condo balcony. Pair it with a few of the bright orange or turquoise Roxö stools for a pop of colour. You can even stack them under the table to save space when you're not using them.
For a lounge-worthy chair, check out these new Brommö chairs, a cool $60 each.
If you have the luxury of space, set aside a place for a dining area with comfortable chairs. In the summer months, it can double as a second dinning room. Andrew Richard Designs has several outdoor options with an indoor feel. These Producer chairs are made from teak and stainless steel and fold away easily come winter. Plus, they're comfortable enough to use as casual seating.
West Elm has come out with a very attractive outdoor collection called Jardine. One of my favourite pieces is the daybed. I love the light wood with the crisp white cushions. This daybed would be a great jumping off point for any outdoor space.
Don't forget about storage! This trunk has plenty of room for throw cushions and outdoor serveware, and can double as a coffee table or bench.
Last but not least, consider an overhead cover-up if you don't already have shelter off your balcony or house. The Home Depot has a wonderful selection of umbrellas and pergolas. Suzanne Dimma showed this one at a recent appearance on Steven and Chris.
See more outdoor spaces with indoor elements in our photo gallery.
1. Roxö table, Ikea
2. Roxö stools, Ikea
3. Brommö chairs, Ikea
4. Producer chairs, Andrew Richard Designs
5. Jardine daybed, West Elm
6. Jardine trunk bench, West Elm
7. Hampton Bay 9-1/2' pergola, The Home Depot
You may remember Vancouver company Gallant & Jones was featured in the July 2010 issue of House & Home (Style Files, p. 30). Their beautiful handcrafted chairs are still available, as are their stools, trays, totes, blankets and... tents! Yes, tents! Now carrying a quirky line of tents from FieldCandy, Gallant & Jones' outdoor products are sure to put a smile on your face.
Outfit your deck with something other than moulded plastic chairs. Gallant & Jones' folding deck chair frames are crafted using North American white oak and covered with the prettiest assortment of fabrics.
The FieldCandy tents are too much fun! There are six trompe-l'oeil options to choose from. I can't describe how happy that watermelon tent makes me, even though I have no interest in camping!
Gallant & Jones also has a beautiful blog. Check it out for more inspiration.
When I think gardening, I think smelly fertilizer, digging through worms and a streak of dirt running the length of one's forehead. You've got it, I am no gardener.
This idea will of course have to change once I have a flower patch of my own, hopefully sooner rather than later. So I've been making a list of fun planting things to make the experience less traumatic.
Leave it to Anthropologie to have a pretty wheelbarrow. Sticking my hands in the mud would be no chore at all with this little cart.
Textured planters in earthy tones are a must — West Elm has a colourful selection.
Some more good-looking motivation to pick up a spade. This one is from Indigo.
Garden markers are becoming quite popular in the garden industry, I hear. Gone are the days when people rummaged through their plot to find a tomato. These nifty ones, from Williams-Sonoma, made of steel and chalkboard paint are bound to survive the elements.
Plastic bucket, please make way for this stunning floral watering can from Anthropologie.
To start small, I've decided to unearth the green thumb I know I must have somewhere and plot an indoor herb garden. Check back soon to see how I made out.
See our Gardening & Outdoor Living section for more ideas.
1. Sawati Wheelbarrow, Anthropologie
2. Patterned Pots, West Elm
3. Floral Trowel with Wood Handle, Indigo
4. Galvanized Steel Garden Marker, Williams-Sonoma
5. Climbing Roses Watering Can, Anthropologie
The weather is finally starting to warm up and I'm starting to think about the flowers for my condo balcony.
Every year I clean up my traditional urn planters — similar to these from The Home Depot — and place one on either side of the balcony door. I usually choose petunias for each planter — they're easy to care for and when cared for well, blossom into plush multiples. The combination of purple and white petunias in the same urn is my favourite combination.
In addition to the urns, I plant rosemary, basil, tiny tomatoes, and my all-time favourite, hen and chicken plants.
A lot of condo buildings don't allow window boxes, but I'm lucky enough to live in a building that allows them. I love this traditional touch in an urban space.
What are you planting this spring?
See our Gardening & Outdoor Living section for more ideas.
Sometimes you need a little levity in the world of design. Let's explore some innovative domestic solutions for your canine BFF.
South Korean designer Seungji Mun's line of animal-friendly furniture lets you work your terrier into the decor.
Owners can interact with their pets through the opening under the armrest without relinquishing prime sofa space, or encouraging the dog to jump up on the furniture.
Dog crates are drab downers, but these versions come in different finishes and woods to match not only your palette...
... but your pooch.
The scaffolding structure of this Tokyo project by Sou Fujimoto Architects also serves as inspiration for a doghouse.
Which doubles as storage. This design was Sou Fujimoto's entry in the Architecture for Dogs exhibition. Free blueprints for the resulting works by architects from around the globe are available to download from the website.
Another entry from Architecture for Dogs, this modern riff on Snoopy's house from Dutch architects MVRDV is meant for real-life beagles. This playful design rocks gently as the dog enters and exits so it acts as both shelter and an interactive toy.
More of a "dog object" than home, Haruka Misawa's conceptual paper cone suspended from the ceiling is designed for only the coolest of canines.
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.