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Decorating Finds

Although the temperatures don't feel spring-like in Ontario yet, it is indeed spring out there and now is the perfect time to be thinking about how you will be decorating your outdoor spaces.

The Home Depot invited us editors to their spring preview recently, and they had a lot of fun new products to show off.

One of their tips is to decorate your outdoor space like you would your indoor space. Their coordinating colours, patterns and materials make this easy.

This lounge set has a metal base for outdoor longevity. The red cushions coordinate with the red-and-white outdoor rug, and the throw cushions add a stylish hit. The coffee table has sections that lift up for easy nibbling if you're entertaining.

This second lounge set — the Hampton Bay 3 piece set — is made from a neutral weave and the coffee table is made from recycled plastic. Combine different outdoor pieces like they did here so your patio doesn't look too matchy-matchy.

For condo dwellers with small balconies, these bistro sets are perfect. This 3-piece set comes in six different colours and would be a fun addition to any outdoor space.

Lastly, don't forget about your spring and summer flowers. The Home Depot has tons of fresh offerings to add some colour to your balcony or backyard.

Browse our Outdoor Rooms photo gallery for more inspiration.

Photo credits:
1-3. Holly Meighen


Holly Meighen

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.

Photo credits:
1-6, 9-11. Margot Austin
7-8. Jamie Beckwith
12. Matt Duckor via Bon Appetit


Margot Austin

It's no secret that flooring can make or break the design of a room. Even if you've settled on hardwood flooring, the options are endless — from the type of wood to the finish, texture and pattern.

Preverco makes the process easy by staying at the forefront of the latest trends and technology. They're firm believers that flooring sets the tone for a room and acts as a major focal point of its design that will last for decades — so it's worth investing in quality. With a range of innovative Canadian-made products, they offer something to suit every style. (This blog is sponsored by Preverco.) Take a look at a few of our top picks from the company:

A uniform grain and medium brown shade make the Hard Maple Bora Wave a timeless choice that complements any decor.

Lighter, grey-white wood like the White Oak Stockholm is fresh and on-trend. Its cathedral pattern of growth rings makes it a favourite among architects and designers.

Red Oak Brushed Kilimanjaro creates a rich, inviting interior. Known for its hardness and shock resistance, it wears well and makes a great option for family homes.

Classic meets contemporary with Natural Walnut, which has a fine, straight grain.

Brown-grey tones and a unique wave effect make the Yellow Birch Maldives Wave a striking choice.

With so many unique styles to choose from, you can't go wrong. Which is your favourite?

To view Preverco's full range of flooring, visit or call 1-877-667-2725.

Photo credits:
1-5. Preverco


Chloe Berge

If House & Home has anything to say about it, 2013 is all about bathroom decorating. It's now at the top of designers' lists — you may have noticed our love of statement tubs in recent issues.

For the past 30 years, PierDeco Design has been at the forefront of bathroom trends, creating state-of-the-art bathroom furniture. Modern materials and sleek designs make them tastemakers in the industry. (This blog post is sponsored by PierDeco Design.) Here are a few of our favourite new products from the company: 

Acclaimed Italian industrial designer Antonio Bullo created the Day Evo Bathtub. Available in teak or cedar wood, the tub's clean, modern lines exemplify a sophisticated, Scandinavian style. The Yell Okoumè Shower Column complements the tub's minimalist look.

The multilayer wood Next Step Evo Bathtub takes the Day Evo's sharp lines and softens them, creating a warm, inviting silhouette. The wall-mounted Shift Hub offers an unobtrusive, architectural alternative to the standard sink.

Indulge in a spa-like experience at home with a sleek stainless steel shower column that features adjustable rainfall, flexible jet showerhead and a square brush handheld shower. Did we mention the AquaMassage Shower Column has a thermostatic temperature control valve? Finding the perfect temperature just got easier.

Create a dramatic moment with the Red Cube Vanity. A matching statement tub pops against a fresh grey and white room. Opt for the PD-890-S AquaMassage Shower Column to give a room a high-tech feel. The thermostatic waterfall shower column is illuminated by relaxing chromotherapy LED lights.

It's time to up the ante on bathroom design and we've definitely found some new inspiration for our next bathroom makeover. If you're about to take on a bathroom reno and want more information, have a look at PierDeco Design's full range of products at or call 1-855-417-3740.

Photo credits:
1-4. PierDeco Design


Chloe Berge

I blame Dorothy for my inordinate love of shoes. What five-year-old girl wouldn't be mesmerized by sparkly red slippers that have the power to transport you to another time and place? (I still think certain pairs of heels can do that.) I loved The Wizard of Oz as a child, and not just for Dorothy's ruby red slippers — I adored the whole magical world.

I can't wait to see the newest cinematic adaption, Oz: The Great and Powerful — I'll also see anything with James Franco in it, but I digress. I held out this past weekend to avoid opening weekend pandemonium but I'm hoping to catch it this week.

In celebration of the film, HSN has released a limited edition collection of whimsical home accessories inspired by the movie. These fun, colourful accents capture the film's spirit of adventure and fantasy.

An homage to Oz's epic journey, these throw pillows are decorated with emblems of travel like maps, birds and hot air balloons. A sprinkle of sequins adds a bit of sparkle. Use them in a children's bedroom or on a neutral sofa.

Regal birds like peacocks seem like they would be right at home in Oz. Hang these framed prints in a library or home office.

Opt for a rug reminiscent of a dusk sky or decorated with exotic peacock feathers to infuse your home with the mystical atmosphere of Oz.

Photo credits:
1-5. HSN


Chloe Berge

As you may know by now, emerald green is the Pantone colour of the year for 2013. Here are a few emerald green accent pieces to add to your home as the spring collections start hitting the store floors:

A rug is an easy piece to introduce. I love this Climbing Leopard rug designed by Diane Von Furstenberg. It would be a great way to create a new focal point in one of your spaces.

If you like the colour of the DVF rug but you're not really into cats, the Key Shadow rug by Suzanne Sharp packs a graphic punch.

For a smaller dose of emerald in your home, these Key Emerald cushions from Avenue Road make the perfect accent.

Finally, emerald green can be perfect on a side table. Try this lamp from Arteriors.

Photo credits:
1-2. The Rug Company
3. Avenue Road
4. Arteriors


Holly Meighen

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.

Photo credits:
1. Cybèle Young
2. Janet Kimber
3-4. Ian Mackay
5-6. Lulu Ladrón de Guevara


Kimberley Brown

If you read my last blog post, you'll know I went to the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory a little while back. Here's peek at my other favourite exhibitor at the show, Liz O'Brien.

Liz O'Brien's booth stood out as a beacon of creamy dreamy modernism in a room full of the serious brown furniture we associate with antiques shows. Yes, modernism at an antiques show — let your brain mull that over for a minute while I take you on a tour.

The booth included a delicious mix of very special things — lighting, tables, seating and accessories in brass, bronze, silk, steel and glass. Most were from the '50s to the '70s. Liz O'Brien is a bit of a superstar in the world of modern decorative arts and can be credited with educating designers about the work of people like William Haines and Karl Springer (long before those names started commanding wild prices on 1stdibs). We had a lovely chat, but entre nous, I got a little case of the shys when we spoke. I may or may not have been just a little starstruck, allegedly.

Liz O'Brien wrote the book on Samuel Marx (2012 Pointed Leaf Press), an American architect and designer whose name is not widely known but whose influence is widely felt in the design world.

This magnificent cabinet, seen at the back of O'Brien's booth above, is by Samuel Marx. It's wrapped in parchment with a silver-leafed back, glass shelves and very pretty hardware. It looks like it was designed today, but it wasn't.

I've had this photo from O'Brien's website in my favourites folder for ages. It's all Liz O'Brien all the time, and that lovely Lucite-legged table front and centre is a Samuel Marx piece.

But back to the show. These lamps caught my eye immediately. The details: "Pair of lamps with crystal ovoid base with brass details and brass dome shade. Gabriella Crespi, Italian. C. 1965." So sexy, don't you think?

Also on my favourites list was this amazing item. As it turns out, this is also by Gabriella Crespi and from the '60s. It's real coral mounted on a brass plinth with a frosted glass base that is actually lit — so it's not just an objet — it's a lamp.

Oh, and looky here, what do you spot on the table beside O'Brien in this portrait that ran in Architectural Digest? Quite fantastic.

This pair of Edward Wormley chairs circa 1955 had me conjuring a lounge scene involving a gin and tonic, a Pucci shift dress and a soundtrack of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

This bench looks 100% today but is in fact a John Dickinson piece from 1968. If you look very closely you will see the yummy texture play between the raw silk upholstered frame and the suede cushion. Incredible.

And speaking of John Dickinson, thanks to Liz O'Brien I finally came face to face, or rather, face to paw with a real deal Dickinson plaster animal leg table. You've surely seen interpretations of this thing by a few modern makers, but this, my friends, is the original. The provenance of this particular table is that it comes from the collection of a photographer named Jeremiah Bragstad, who had shot Dickinson's home, a converted San Francisco firehall, for The New York Times. So cool.

Too bad I can't find that photo on the interwebs. But I did find this shot of the space, and you can spy the table right there in front of the sofa. I am immediately filled with the urge to go coat something in plaster.

Thank you Liz O'Brien!

Take a tour of this mid-century modern home for more inspiration.

Photo credits.
1-2, 6-7, 9-11. Margot Austin
4. What is James Wearing blog
5. Liz O'Brien
8. Architectural Digest, photography by Anthony Cotsifas
12. The Visual Vamp blog, photography by John Vaughan


Margot Austin

Like every other editor in our office, I'm feeling the love for oriental carpets. You've probably noticed them popping up in our photo shoots and stories over the last several issues. Who can resist the soft colours and ornamental pattern of a Turkish or Persian rug — even better when they're slightly faded and threadbare!

I've just purchased my first vintage rug, from the amazing Ecarpet Gallery in Montreal and I'm thrilled. The rug was brought in by Stacey Smithers for an amazing upcoming June story she produced. Luckily I sit next to her and get to see all the good stuff coming through!

I love the way designers are layering these carpets over sisal or using more than one in the same space, and I especially like that we're seeing them in unexpected rooms like the bathroom or kitchen.

My dilemma: where to put mine? (Please forgive these poorly lit last minute pictures I took at 7 a.m.).

I've recently updated my front hall with fresh paint, a new stair runner, a black banister and a teal blue door.

Art, lighting and finishing touches are still to come. Is this the spot to lay the lovely rug down? It has big impact the minute you walk through the door, feels cushy underfoot, and works well with the sisal runner. It feels special and decorative.

Or, does it belong in the kitchen? As you can see, it perfectly fits the void in my kitchen. I love the way it brings colour and cosiness to a utilitarian space. It's nice when working at the stove or sink to have something soft underfoot. But what happens when tomato sauce or red wine spills on it? Does it matter? The rug is already worn and loved!

Weigh in if you want. Maybe the answer is to buy two!

Photo credits:
1-5. Hilary Smyth


Hilary Smyth

I visited the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York recently and was happy to see this exhibit from Cove Landing.

Proprietor Angus Wilkie had, until recently, a stunning gallery space on Lexington Ave., where the windows surely bore my nose prints due to over-zealous window shopping during my past NYC visits. I was so pleased at the opportunity to get up close and personal with the extraordinary collection he brought to the show.

We also had time for a lovely chat, which was the icing on the cake for me. In addition to his incredible skill at curating antiques, Angus has been on the masthead at Elle Decor, written for Architectural Digest and wrote the book, literally, on Biedermeier. When the worlds of journalism, history and great design converge, my interest is piqued. Who wouldn't be pleased to meet the owner of this lovely home northeast of Manhattan?

I'm crazy for the decaying walls and exquisite furniture and accessories first spied in the April 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living. He tipped me off that his NYC penthouse is coming up in an issue of Architectural Digest soon.

But back to the antiques show. The Cove Landing booth consisted of two walls of handsome shelving and a centre arrangement of smaller scale furniture pieces. Stepping in was like entering a cabinet of curiosities.

I loved how the backs of the cabinets were lined in marbleized paper. The splatter pattern calls to mind a technique used to make early pottery, which seemed apropos. In this vignette I covet the box on the left in the middle shelf. Here's the description: "An early 19th century English brass mounted ebony and whalebone inlaid mahogany tea caddy with recessed handle and edge binding. SOLD." (But not to me.)

I also loved this shelf filled with interesting and important wood bits and bobs. Feast your eyes. Notice the stepped plinth used for display — I respect a clever styling trick.

And lastly this creepy gem — a sculpted bronze (I think) snake nestled and pinned into a marble base. It's just the thing to put on a coffee table on top of a few books, don't you think?

My other favourite exhibitor at the show was Liz O'Brien. Check back next time for a tour of some favourites from her booth.

For more vintage finds, check out this video tour of The Arthur in Toronto.

Photo credits:
1, 4-7. Margot Austin
2-3. April 2008 issue, Martha Stewart Living, photography by Douglas Friedman


Margot Austin

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