"Welcome to the Drake Devonshire. Would you like to try one of our signature cocktails?" If first impressions can be trusted, I was going to like the Drake Devonshire. A lot.
A bright yellow door on the far side of a cobblestone courtyard offers a sunny welcome to visitors who've made the two-plus hour drive to Prince Edward County from Toronto or further. Inside, opposing adjectives like "quaint" and "cool" compete for your affection. Part of the hotel occupies a renovated 19th century iron foundry, onto which ERA Architects added new light-filled spaces. To blend them together, Toronto designer John Tong of +tongtong layered the interiors with quirky vintage finds and colourful modern accents. The effect is like being at a family cottage that the grandkids have updated for a new generation while preserving nostalgic elements of the past.
The staffer greeting me with the tray of cocktails isn't a permanent perk for arriving guests. I'm there for a media preview, which aims to give me the experience of a weekend stay in a few short hours. So while I don't get to sip a cappuccino on the large back deck while watching the morning mist lift off Lake Ontario, I do get a personal tour of the hotel with owner Jeff Stober, John Tong and Mia Nielsen, who curated all of the artwork.
I discover Jeff is an antiques junkie. He gets excited all over again recounting the story of how he snagged the vintage secretary desk that now functions as a hostess stand. It turns out he's a regular at the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts and has a fine-tuned system for buying, storing and shipping found treasures. I secretly start plotting how I can tag along on his next trip, so I can discover all of his tips and tricks.
We wander into the newly built A-frame pavilion, which is hosting a raw bar piled high with fresh seafood prepared by Chef Matt DeMille, who graced the kitchens at Toronto's Canoe, Parts & Labour and Enoteca Sociale, to name a few, before moving to the country. Later, in the lake-view dining room, he'll treat us to a multi-course dinner that I happily finish every last bite of, despite having said "yes!" to the countless snacks offered throughout the afternoon.
Jeff notes that he loves the pavilion's A-frame structure — "It looks like it has been here forever," — but I've only got eyes for the custom mural by Brooklyn-based Faile, which covers one wall and looks like a collage of street art, album covers and wallpaper scraps. Mia has placed art to surprise and charm guests: New York artist Kirsten Hassenfeld's sculpture made of vintage paper is hung so it can be enjoyed from two different perspectives (looking up at it from the main floor and looking directly into it from the stairwell to the second floor), fragments of poetry by Canadian Al Purdy are written directly on walls, and vintage paintings updated with cheeky details by Toronto collective Team Macho hang in nearly every room. It's soon clear to me that Mia has the coolest job in the world.
John has a pretty good gig, too. He was part of the team that designed the original Drake Hotel in downtown Toronto, so he knew exactly how to tweak its DNA for the country. Graphic patterned floor tiles anchor the main floor common areas. In the guest rooms, Jeff's vintage furniture is paired with custom platform beds sporting beadboard headboards, colour-blocked walls and bold area rugs. These are spaces you can comfortably inhabit whether you're dressed for the beach or dinner — and here, one outfit will probably do for both.
Before I have to head home to the city, we gather around the beach-side fire pit and watch the sun go down. A guy playing guitar on the deck accompanies the fire's familiar crackle and pop, and I find myself dreamily planning my return.
This is the view from The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica that I woke to on Day 1 of Blog Tour California (aka #BlogTourCali on social media). Recently I was lucky enough to join a group of designers and design bloggers on the inspiration-packed trip organized by Modenus, a web hub that connects designers and suppliers. The sight of palm trees, mountains and the Pacific was a suitable visual kickstart to five days of great food, wine, stunning scenery and tons of design news.
Here’s the whole group at our first stop, a scrumptious lunch at the Miele showroom in Beverley Hills.
The dishes prepared in Miele’s high tech Combination Steam-Convection Ovens were as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. Steam cooking is fast, allowing foods to retain their colour and nutrients.
Next it was off to the West Edge Design Fair, held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Without a doubt Tracey Hiner’s Black Crow Studios booth was an eye-popping highlight. These wallflowers sure are anything but shrinking violets!
The folks behind the web site Design Milk pulled together a stunning booth comprised of artisanal goods by makers based along the West Coast, dubbed SuperPAC (Pac for Pacific). There was so much goodness in this booth it could be its own blog post, and in fact it is. Check out the Design Milk post for more info and links.
Here’s a closer look as the luscious fibre creations of Tanya Anguiniga on the back wall of the SuperPAC booth. Definitely not your Momma’s macramé!
West Edge wasn’t my first glimpse of American Standard’s latest brand extension called DXV, but it solidified this sweetie as my favourite in the line. I like the historical design references of the Landfair faucet and it comes in the most stunning platinum nickel finish. I’ll choose a shiny nickel over a warm metal every time.
Here’s a lesson in simple but effective booth design. Doris Leslie Blau. Wow.
A glamorous modern chandelier, the Helios by Zia Priven. Lovely people, beautiful designs.
Love the mix of materials and texture in the Burlap collection from Sun Valley Bronze.
And finally, why not a $70,000 glass pool table? The folks at Calma e Gesso once again prove that the Italians know luxury.
I have so much more to share about Blog Tour California. Hope you’ll come back for the next installment.
1, 3-6, 8-12. Photo by Margot Austin
2, 7. Photo by Chasen West
Holiday party season is nearly here! I love to entertain, but I'm hardly a hostess extraordinaire. (Sending an understanding guest to the corner store to haul back a bag of ice because you forgot to refill the trays is deeply uncool.) So when celebrated New York designer Bunny Williams — by all accounts an entertaining whiz — launched a collection of party essentials for Ballard Designs, I asked her how she makes it look so easy and what she's working on next.
Kimberley Brown: What's the key to hosting a successful party?
Bunny Williams: I always try to plan for everything ahead of time so that I am able to enjoy the party along with my guests.
KB: What's your favourite way to entertain?
BW: I love to have a seated dinner, but serve the food on a long buffet so that guests can feel free to help themselves. We'll use a large dinner plate and offer our guests three or four choices of dishes. Then the table is cleared and a dessert is served on small plates. Afterwards, we'll move to the living room for coffee and tea.
KB: Your new collection for Ballard Designs includes dishes, linens and holiday decorations. What ties them all together?
BW: I always say, the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to entertain. This collection comprises all you need to ready your home for guests, from tabletop items and cachepots for flowers, to a wonderfully smelling scented candle and beautiful bone or rattan holders for guest towels.
KB: Any plans to add to the collection in the future?
BW: We are already hard at work on the next collection which will debut in Spring/Summer 2015 and will include outdoor entertaining and tabletop items along with wall decor.
Pick up our December 2014 issue for more on Bunny's new line.
During Toronto International Film Festival season, the infectious buzz around the city could turn even the most modest moviegoer into a celeb-crazed fan. Our team at House & Home caught the TIFF bug early when we began designing the 2014 Red Carpet Suite this summer.
Situated in Roy Thomson Hall, this cocktail lounge is a place for VIP ticket holders and their guests to mingle before the gala screenings, and offers a front-row glimpse at celebrities as they walk the Red Carpet.
Lounges, particularly during TIFF, often bring glamour to mind. In lieu of traditional glamour, we chose a look that depicts the relaxed refinement look we’ve recently admired in our favourite homes and restaurants. Still polished and sophisticated, this “new glamour” is about rich textures like velvets and leather, a saturated colour palette, and strong silhouettes.
This living space by Boston-based designer Frank Roop was our inspiration for the suite. As is his signature, Roop masterfully created a space that is at once colourful and spontaneous, while still elegant and intimate. The success of this look is achieved in the mix, and we frequently referred to Roop’s design over the course of our planning.
By installing khaki-coloured tone-on-tone carpet tiles by Kraus, we easily mimicked the subtle texture Roop had achieved with parchment-coloured wallpaper.
Rather than overwhelming the suite with colour, we accented opposite ends of the room with deep colours – Galapagos Turquoise (2057-20) and Lichen Green (2150-20), both by Benjamin Moore. These bold tones instantly livened the room and made it more intimate.
During my sourcing trips around the city, I looked for furnishings that were low in height, substantial and impeccably tailored.
The Profile Sofa by Roche Bobois is upholstered in rich blue velvet, perfectly complementing the Galapagos Turquoise wall. The scale and craftsmanship of this sofa made it the ideal statement for our centre wall.
The large walls were calling for a gallery arrangement, and movie posters were an obvious choice. We chose vintage posters with strong graphics, and framed them in a variety of ways. It took several sketches to properly arrange the wall and decide how each piece would be framed.
This painterly geometric artwork, called Equation in Blue from Shelter Furniture, anchored the gallery wall.
The Gubi Adnet Mirror from Hollace Cluny is incredibly luxurious with its tan leather strap.
During my visit to the festival this week, it was exciting to see the suite in full-swing — candles burning (flameless, of course), cocktail in hand, anticipating who might walk the Red Carpet next. A night at the movies is still as glamorous as always, just a little more hip this time.
Love the look of relaxed refinement? Watch our Look of the Year video to see how Joel Bray and Stacey Smithers designed a space that brings this concept to life.
Red Carpet Suite Source Guide:
Blue velvet sofa and cream lounge chairs, Roche Bobois
Taupe upholstered sofa, chests and bookshelves, Decorium
Ceramic cocktail tables, Avenue Road
Marble cocktail table, grey lounge chair, velvet stools and blue art, Shelter Furniture
Walnut floor lamp and leather mirror, Hollace Cluny
Citrine high-back chair and mod beige armchairs, Pavilion Modern
Lightbox side tables, Style Garage
Table lamps, Absolutely Inc.
Frames and hurricane vases, Ikea
Custom picture framing, DeSerres
Throw pillows, Tonic Living
Trees, Sheridan Nurseries
Wall colours: Grant Beige (HC-83), Galapagos Turquoise (2057-20), Lichen Green (2150-20), Benjamin Moore
The presenting sponsor of the 2014 TIFF Red Carpet Suite is Quintessentially Lifestyle
House & Home magazine designed this year's TIFF Red Carpet Suite, and it's simply stunning!
Want to see inside? Check out these photos:
Located inside Roy Thomson Hall, the lounge provides a space for festival sponsors and their special guests to retreat before gala screenings.
Update: Read H&H designer Jenna Cadieux's blog post to find out how she pulled the room together.
The presenting sponsor of the Toronto International Film Festival Red Carpet Suite is Quintessentially Lifestyle.
A roster of celebrities, from homegrown hockey greats and authors to Hollywood sirens, have donated ties and scarves to help Homes First's second annual fundraiser, Tie One On. Hosted by the CBC's Mary Wiens on May 7, 2014, the auction raises funds to help house 5,000 homeless people living on Toronto streets.
We know a home is a reflection of personal style, but we thought we'd play a little guessing game to see if you can match the scarf to the stars (and if you really like it, you might want to buy a $50 ticket and make a bid). Scroll down to see the answers at the bottom.
1) No surprise that the Canadian maple leaf is front and centre on this team captain's neckwear. She represented Canada at two Olympic games, and brought home the gold both times.
2) The statuesque blonde who owns this scarf isn't just a pretty face, she won an Oscar for a gripping real life portrayal, and steps into comedic roles just as easily on Arrested Development.
3) The tie pretty much gives away which sport the owner is passionate about, but we love how he rose to the occasion in the "series of the century."
4) This classic, conservative print belongs to a high-powered Ontario politician, but it should probably be red to toe the party line.
5) This appropriately low-key tie neckwear is from a guy who is all about putting the focus on his guests, and making them open up on his nightly Canadian talk show.
6) We love the polished style of this busy actress and producer, who is launching a new lifestyle brand in the footsteps of fellow blonde Gwyneth Paltrow. And who knew she could sing?
7) A tie that's quirky and fun: we wouldn't expect anything less from a master storyteller who delivers the latest dispatches from the Vinyl Café.
8) This blue scarab print scarf must have made the fiery locks of its former owner really pop. It was donated by one of Hollywood's most famous redheads, a multiple-award winning actress who always stuns on the red carpet (and on film, especially when dressed by Tom Ford)
9) This tie is a pretty safe sartorial choice for a Canadian high flyer who spends time orbiting the earth, occasionally while strumming a guitar.
This past weekend, I visited Canada’s annual Interior Design Show 2014 in Toronto and photographed my favourite things. Here are some of the best things I saw.
Decorative tile is a big category this year, since pattern underfoot and on the walls is a huge design trend. Mettro Source has some great ones. Their Arabesque porcelain series in the classic Moorish shape was very cool, and comes in white, pale grey, grey or black.
This concrete tile from Creekside Tile Company Ltd. caught my eye for its earthy palette and rustic patterns. The dyed concrete tiles can be used indoors or out, and each tile is hand-pressed, creating a relaxed, imperfect look that I love.
The watery, iridescent tones of these glass tiles by Edgewater Studio are so fresh. This Vancouver-based company has a made-to-order program, so you can choose the pattern, material and colour that’s perfect for your project.
Quebec-based Jardin de Ville, which has stores in Toronto and Quebec, featured beautiful tablescapes and outdoor appliances in their booth.
This griddle takes its name from the Spanish word plancha, meaning iron or grill. The cast-iron surface sits atop two gas burners and uses minimal oil to cook everything from fish to eggs, and won’t create any smoke. Condo owners can look forward to an electric balcony-friendly version available at Jardin de Ville this summer.
I loved the combination of the black cast-aluminum table and teak chairs (that spring when you sit!).
This sleek outdoor shower from Jardin de Ville is a Swedish design and hooks up easily to a hose.
Bigfoot Door showed off their amazing high-performance doors and windows, but what caught my eye was the black iron log rack mounted on the wall. Wonder where that came from? Such a simple design.
W Studio recently launched Picture-Perfect Carpets, an exciting program that can turn a high-resolution image into a custom area rug. Imagine the possibilities!
Over at Studio North, Canadian furniture designer Laura Langford showed her Lounge Chair No.137 (Burnt) in dark chocolate leather with a charred ash frame. Pretty gorgeous!
These unique bedside tables by Drake Wood Design are handcrafted using maple, walnut and cedar of Lebanon, and finished with a limestone handle. They would be beautiful in a cottage or country home.
I loved the simple form of Jonathan Sabine’s ash shelf. Jonathan was inspired to create this piece after noticing scaffolding in an old Japanese film. I’m continually drawn to Japanese minimalism for pieces in my own home.
After this inspiring roundup, I look forward to seeing what IDS15 has to bring.
1-2. Jenna Cadieux
3., 5., 7. Margot Austin
4., 8-13. Lynda Reeves
6. Lauren Petroff
The weather outside was bone chilling but the party was in full swing last night at the 2014 Interior Design Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on January 23.
The "See the Light" trends space showcased four interiors, including one by designer Shirley Meisels of MHouse Inc., which was presented by Suite 22 Interiors. Meisels put together a trend room for Italian brand Kartell, featuring this closet stocked with fabulous vintage wear (and her own collection of purses). Notice how the light is built into the closet's rod, how cool is that?
“It’s all about glamour,” says Shirley of her trend room. “I love mixing, making a room feel cosy and modern. Eclecticism is a big trend for 2014, mixing metals and vintage and modern looks. The Kartell lights are plastic so I explored the idea of something upscale, using plastic in an unexpected way. People tend to set them in more of a casual space, in this room it feels sophisticated.” Watch this video and see how Shirley put her philosophy into practice when decorating an Edwardian home.
At Korhani Home, models were dressed in carpet fabrics to show off the fashion forward appeal of the brand’s patterns and colours for 2014.
Inside the interactive showcase, models of a very different kind were dressed in Korhani samples in settings from the Mad Hatter's tea party to the court of Versailles.
Jason Cass of Farrow & Ball posed with Bertie Blue (who has his own #bertieblue hashtag, natch), a skeleton painted in F&B's St. Giles Blue. The theme of the exhibit was science lab, and Bertie lends a touch of Biology 101 authenticity.
Over at Andrew Richard Designs, this model is immune to the -18 temperatures outside and reminds us that better weather lies ahead.
Andrew Bockner (shown at left with brother Richard) pointed out that the marine-grade leather sofa shown behind them will make a big splash in 2014. “The quick-dry foam lets you leave it out all the time because it releases water, and the leather is really durable, it's treated with a new process from Japan.”
And we bumped into H&H senior design editor Margot Austin with designer Grace Castaneda (you can catch a glimpse of Grace's work in this sleek lounge-inspired living room or her own country home on H&H TV online). They both had some fun turning this poster into a living tableau.
Don't miss House & Home Sunday on January 26 as Lynda Reeves and Kelvin Browne of the Gardiner Museum take the H&H stage at noon to discuss how to give well-loved furniture and traditional elements fresh energy. At 1:30 Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen debate the balance between design and decorating, and at 3 p.m. Mark quizzes designer Sarah Richardson on the best way to create beautiful and happy rooms (for a preview, Sarah talks about IDS here).
1-3., 5-6., 8. Wendy Jacob
4. Korhani Home
7. Michelle Gelman
The 2014 Interior Design Show is fast approaching. This year features over 300 exhibits showcasing innovative designs and concepts from established designers and emerging names, all under one roof at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, from January 23 to 26. Get your tickets here!
Join H&H on Sunday, January 26 as we take to the main stage for decorating talks. See H&H's Lynda Reeves in conversation with Kelvin Browne of the Gardiner Museum at noon, followed by H&H's Mark Challen with Suzanne Dimma at 1:30 p.m. and special guest and design expert Sarah Richardson at 3 p.m. (Get more information about H&H's Sunday Speakers Series here.)
I asked some of our design editors which exhibits they’re most excited to check out at the show this year. Here’s what they said:
Meg Crossley, H&H Senior Editor: designboom mart & Studio North
I am most excited for the designboom mart, a design bazaar featuring unique items for sale by interesting artisans and shop owners. Last year it was fantastic. It showed a real mixed bag of things: linens, pottery, books, jewelry and more. (I am wearing the ring I bought last year and have had so many compliments!)
It added a great sense of fun to the show because you could leave with something in a bag beyond brochures. A word of advice: it got busy very quickly, so it’s a smart idea to get there early.
Second for me is Studio North. In particular, I love the chairs in Studio North. I think this could be the place we see the next big statement chair.
I always love this exhibit because I think you really see things either totally on-trend or before the trend happens, because you aren't seeing things realized for mass market. Instead, you’re looking at one prototype, one single piece. It always hits home to me that these individuals are creating, which feels closer to true design.
There is an excitement to seeing the prototypes or smaller batch pieces and knowing this could end up in large scale production, or I could be seeing some of these pieces in houses in the future.
Morgan Michener, H&H Senior Style Editor: designboom mart
I'm getting excited to walk the aisles and reconnect with designers and see new products and innovations. Last year designboom mart had so many great, affordable products for purchase — it was a fun destination to hit before leaving the show.
Sarah Hartill, H&H Style Editor: Solo Home
The idea of jetting off on the weekends to an energy-efficient bunkie really interests me. I'm drawn to the design of Joel Loblaw’s work. I'm particularly interested in seeing the end result, considering the collaboration with Style Garage’s aesthetic.
Lauren Petroff, H&H Assistant Design Editor: Studio North
This year, I'm really looking forward to exploring Studio North. It's great to see what aesthetic themes emerge from the collection as a whole, and I'm excited to see up-and-coming Canadian and international design talent.
American fashion designer Tory Burch brings her preppy-meets-boho aesthetic to her first home decor collection this month. Inspired by her own home and homespun family heirlooms, the accessories range from classic to quirky.
I'm swooning over this graphic black and white box. Wouldn't it look great on a coffee table?
Needlepoint pillows are designed after cushions Tory's parents, both needlepointers, made for each other when she was young. This little guy is calling my name!
The Margaux pillows have a wonderfully retro look.
A graphic throw is the perfect cosy accessory this season.
1-5. Tory Burch