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Are you guilty of drooling over the exquisite scarves and tableware in the windows at Hermès but balking at the price tag? Drop by the heritage brand's Festival Des Métiers exhibit, on now until Sunday at the Design Exchange, and you'll see why their goods fetch a hefty price.

The traveling exhibit features intimate demonstrations by Hermès craftspeople —  flown in from the company's French workshops for the occasion — of their painstakingly intricate design process. From their origin as master harness and saddle makers in 1837 Paris, to their present-day cult status among the fashion set, it's amazing to see these iconic designs by the legacy brand come to life before your eyes. Here are a few things that held me captive at the press preview this week — giddy up!

All Hermès porcelain tableware is handpainted using a multi-step system, starting with a paper sketch. Every different colour added is cured at a different temperature, making each piece a very arduous process!

One of their trademark silk scarves is a 3 month-long, 500 hour process involving up to 46 separate silk screening films. 300 cocoons of silk go into each scarf — wow.


Buttery leather Birkin goodness. I was tempted to make a run for it with one of these babies.

The saddlemaker, where it all began.

Festival Des Métiers runs from Oct 2-6 at The Design Exchange. Drop by this weekend to learn more Hermès secrets of your own.

Photo credits:
1-7. Chloe Berge
Top photo. Hermès


Chloe Berge

Famed Italian architect, designer and artist Paola Navone teamed up with Crate & Barrel to launch a collaboration line last week. Known for her colourful, globally-inspired aesthetic, Navone brings a playful elegance to everyday living. The collection is the first of three that the design duo plans to roll out over the next year, and includes tableware, lighting, textiles and furniture.

If a European getaway isn't in the cards this year, take solace in this dreamy, seaside-hued palette. Bold shapes are swathed in Mediterranean colours that evoke white, sun-drenched buildings above blue Aegean waters.

The pieces in the Como collection are modern and fun, with an artisanal quality that makes each piece feel unique.

Milky glassware has a handmade feel.

White and aqua tableware inspired by Mallorca has a fresh, beachy vibe.

This limited edition teak and tile top table lends a graphic element to a room. Woven white ceramic bowls are a softer, organic contrast.

Cafe-style chairs in synthetic rattan and a digitized houndstooth pattern make a fashion-forward statement.

The Paola Navone for Crate & Barrel collection is available in stores and online now.

Photo credits:
1-6. Chloe Berge


Chloe Berge

Ever wondered how a narrow townhouse becomes a stunning eight-page feature in House & Home magazine?

Join Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Dimma and VP Communications Mark Challen at the IDSwest stage on Saturday, September 21 at 4 p.m., where they'll take you behind the scenes of Canada's magazine of home and style.

From big international photo shoots to intricate prop styling, there's an incredible amount of work that goes into Canada's top design magazine and website. Suzanne and Mark will talk about what makes a home truly memorable, and will share their styling secrets and favourite go-to pieces. Plus, they'll tell you how to submit photos of your own home to the H&H team for editorial consideration.

I recently sat down with Mark and asked him three questions to get a sneak peek into some of the highlights from his upcoming presentation with Suzanne.

EMILY:You've spoken at IDSwest with Suzanne before. Why did you choose to give a talk about what it's like behind-the-scenes at H&H this year?

MARK: This is Suzanne's third year at IDSwest and it'll be my fourth. We love Vancouver! When we spoke at the show in past years, we found that there were always so many enthusiastic designers and homeowners who approached us afterwards, asking us how to get their homes published in House & Home. So this year, instead of giving a talk about decorating or trends or design lessons, we thought it'd be fun for people to hear about how Suzanne and her team of editors go about in selecting homes for the magazine, and what kinds of things they specifically look for.

Click here to see Suzanne and Mark's favourite finds from IDSwest last year.

EMILY: Sounds like valuable info! Can you give me a hint of what the H&H editors look for when browsing through piles of photo submissions?

MARK: Obviously they're not looking for sterile homes with no signs of life! Suzanne and I always talk about the idea of "personality decorating," and we agree that the best homes have to be real reflections of their owners. Sometimes, the quirkier the better! I know that Suzanne loves it when she finds a home that has a really strong point of view.

A colourful doorway painted golden yellow is filled with personality. See the whole home in the October 2013 issue of House & Home.

EMILY: At IDSwest, will you talk about how finished or complete a home has to be in order for the editors to consider it for publication in H&H?

MARK: Absolutely! Wouldn't it be wonderful if Suzanne and her team didn't have to do any extra propping before a photo shoot? Usually, of course, this isn't the case. People who come to hear our talk at IDSwest will get a better understanding of how much extra decorating or styling our editors do to get a home ready for its close up. It's a fascinating process, really — a total collaboration between the homeowner or the designer, and our amazing design editors. We've got some fun split-screen images that we'll show, featuring a room before our H&H editors propped it for the magazine, and after.

This camera-ready Toronto home of Philip Mitchell (featured in the August 2009 issue of House & Home) was styled to perfection by the designer himself.

EMILY: Aside from your "Behind-The-Scenes With H&H" discussion at IDSwest, will you be talking about any general design tips or advice?

MARK: Definitely! Even though our readers and fans of H&H seem to know their design basics these days thanks to their insatiable appetite for design, Suzanne always has great new advice to give. She sees so many homes over the course of a year — she's got lots of cool things to share with the crowd at IDSwest since we were last there! I don't want to give too much more away, but I can tell you that Suzanne is going to be giving a quick lesson on how to achieve great flow in a home. Flow represents a successful marriage of smart spatial planning with thoughtful materials. But you'll have to come to our talk at IDSwest to hear more!

The indoor/outdoor flow is a marvel in the stunning basement of H&H editor Sally Armstrong. See the whole makeover in the September 2013 issue of House & Home.

Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen's presentation, "Behind the Scenes with House & Home" is at IDSwest on Saturday, September 21 at 4 p.m.

For show times and tickets, please visit

This year Brian Gluckstein and his team, with architect Michael Pettes and builder PCM Construction Inc., took on the design of the 2013 Princess Margaret Showhome. We couldn't wait to see what the Gluckstein crew had come up with: we knew the combination of great design for a great cause just had to be in the November issue of House & Home.

Brian Gluckstein is a master of classic interiors, and his attention to detail and finishing were evident even before the furniture was installed. Here is a little sneak preview of a few of the rooms (not quite done), and corners of the home that we just did not have room to show in the magazine. Be sure to read Brian's interview in the November issue; he shared many great design tips with our senior features editor Kimberly Brown. Here are some snaps I took to whet your appetite.

Here is the foyer where we grabbed a portrait shot of Brian. Yes, the walls are indeed stone and not just wallpaper (the plastic is still on the painting's frame.)

One of my favourite rooms in the house is the kitchen. I love the classic millwork and finishes. A glass window in the floor looks into the basement wine cellar, which lets natural light filter down — a clever idea for basements.

This is the great room off the kitchen. When I first scouted this space, the bones were pretty much obscured by boxes, but you can see Brian's telltale use of symmetry in the bookshelves.

Here's another example of Brian's use of symmetrical elements in the study, notice how the scale of the window matches the door to frame the fireplace.

Here is a shot of the un-faced drawers before installation in the principal bathroom's marble vanity.

Everything is ready now, so are you ready to move in? Make sure to pick up your copy of the November issue of House & Home (on newsstands early October) to see how we shot this showhome for the magazine. And don't forget to buy a ticket!

Photo credits:
1-10. Morgan Michener


Morgan Michener

For years I've been receiving the Zara Home newsletters from the UK, and have been hoping the international retailer would someday bring it's effortlessly-chic European housewares to Canada — and it finally has.

I took a trip to Yorkdale Mall this week to take a peek at the new store. Situated right accross from its fashion counterpart, the Zara Home boutique was packed floor-to-ceiling with home and lifestyle accessories. The highlight for me was definitely the large selection of bedding and linens. Like a decorator's candy store, there were many different styles of cutlery, dinnerware, bathroom accessories, rugs, side tables, candlesticks, you name it. Their kids section was lovely too — sweet but not too sweet. Here are a few pics in case you haven't had time to check it out yourself:

For those of you who can't access a Zara Home retail store, check out their website to fulfill all your shopping needs (they now ship to Canada!).

Photo credits:
1. Zara Home
2-5. Reiko Caron


Reiko Caron

In the August 2013 issue of House & Home, we get to know style icon India Hicks a little bit better. Here are some outtakes from my interview with India, who proves to be frank, funny, as well as fabulous, from the tips of her turquoise-painted toenails to her highlights.

With the kind of impressive pedigree that descends from Queen Victoria no less, not to mention serving as Princess Diana’s bridesmaid, she’s a definite blue blood. But India’s heritage includes her father, the iconic British designer David Hicks. She left the pink sands of her Harbour Island, Bahamas home, which she shares with her brood of five children and partner David Flint Wood, for a Toronto appearance on HSN, to launch her new collection of bedding and accessories. Not surprisingly, the lion’s share of the collection sold out in one day, proving it’s pretty hard to resist the pull of India’s idyllic interpretation of tropical style.

Wendy Jacob: What do you like best about the new line of bedding?

India Hicks: “The price! Can you argue with a $130 quilt and two shams? No. What is so extraordinary about a platform with HSN is that you can achieve remarkable prices with very high quality because they reach 100 million homes. If I was trying to do this endeavour from my own website, or shop on the island, the price would be huge.”

WJ: What’s your inspiration for the line?

IH: “When someone says ‘OK bring your life into bedding,’ it’s terribly intimidating. I can’t design thinking ‘will the lady in Dallas like it?’ I just design something I like and hope the lady in Dallas likes it. I am so blessed to live where nature is magnified. We don’t have seasons in the Bahamas but interestingly I see the beach change significantly throughout the year. I joke that everything I do is completely fake: I either steal from my father, or from Mother Nature!”

WJ: What’s your favourite room, either in your home or anywhere in the world?

IH: “My own bedroom of course, just because it’s a relief coming home and sleeping in own your bed when you travel as much as I do. It gives me a sense of place, order, family, and more importantly, it’s where my daughter (that’s Domino, pictured above) climbs in and the Dachshund lies, even though the dog’s not supposed to.”

WJ: What’s on your bedside table?

IH: “Hand therapy from Crabtree & Evelyn, and my current read, Daughter of Empire (2012 Weidenfeld & Nicolson), my mother’s memoir. They are trying to persuade her to come to New York for a book launch but she categorically refuses, because she says she won’t be able to get her hair done properly.”

WJ: Did you learn anything new about her in the book?

IH: “Yes, lots. It was very revealing about a generation that kept their emotions in check, there were some extraordinary parts. For instance my grandmother leaves my mother with a nanny in Budapest during one of the many wars and loses the address of the hotel where they were staying, and she didn’t come back for six months. I say ‘our generation would need therapy’ and she looked at me and said ‘you are so over emotional.’ She just thinks ‘get on with it.’”

WJ: You have a jewelry line, run your boutique, The Sugar Mill in Harbour Island, have a home fragrance and body care line for Crabtree & Evelyn, and now this new launch: you don’t have much downtime but when you do, what do you love to do?

IH: “I love to write, I am a frustrated, rather bad, writer. Someone posted a complaint on my blog: your spelling and grammar are terrible. Of course they are, but at least you know it’s me. And I love Pinterest! It does bring the world to life when I am on a rock in the middle of nowhere, with no access to magazines or culture or the buzz of a city.”

WJ: How has beach style changed for you over the years?

IH: “I have lived here for 17 years, and your outlook changes. At first it was all puka shells, cut-off shorts and cowboy hats, then caftans and gypsy bangles. Now I don’t have time for any of that stuff, just a stripy tee and flip-flops. If the kids are on holiday and I am taking the day to be with them, then I will put on a lovely bikini, but I can’t be fiddling around with gold bangles anymore when I am driving them on the boat, or chasing the dogs who have escaped! My whole life is about no ironing. I have turned into that person.”

WJ: What’s next for you?

IH: “It’s like you give birth to a baby and someone comes to the hospital and says ‘when are you having another?’ We launch a whole new HSN collection in September 2013.”

Photo credits:
1, 2, 4, 8. HSN
3. Lonny
5. Wendy Jacob
6. Daughter of Empire (2012 Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Pamela Hicks
7. Cultivate blog, photography by Tom Munro
9. India Hicks blog


Wendy Jacob

This past March, I was lucky enough to visit the Ikea headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden to get a sneak peek at the new Stockholm collection. In fact, I even had a chance to sit down with the lead designer Ola Wihlborg and chat about the collection (check out the September 2013 issue of H&H for all the details).

I love this new round nightstand.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you — that's velvet. Green velvet. Delightful! $1,099.

These nesting coffee tables have a gorgeous walnut finish. $299.

This cheerful flatweave rug would add a fun pop of colour to a dining room, living room or bedroom. $199 for 5-1/2' x 8'.

And my favourite of all the new pieces, this classic dining chair, also available in green. $149.

For more inspiration from Ikea, view our 2011 Ikea Kitchen Makeover and 2012 Ikea Kitchen Makeover videos.

Photo credits:
1-6. Stacey Smithers


Stacey Smithers

Vancouver tech company HootSuite has a new nest. The social media management firm unveiled their fun, conceptual Mount Pleasant headquarters this past April and it's quickly joining the ranks of other state-of-the-art offices that are changing the way we do 9-5.

The 33,000-square foot space provides multiple communal workspaces for more than 300 employees, plus a yoga room, nap room and beer and wine on tap — not to mention a cool West Coast aesthetic. CEO Ryan Holmes worked with SSDG Interiors to create a Canadian, cabin-in-the-woods look. This idea translated into organic elements like log cabin walls, tree stump stools and even tent meeting rooms.

Let's take a peek inside!

Graphic murals are found throughout the entire space, like this West Coast-style piece at the front entrance. Tree stump side tables and log walls set the tone for the rest of the office.

Communal workstations make up the perimeter of the open-concept space, which was inspired by the open, exposed elements found in industrial spaces. "The space is designed to inspire spontaneous exchange and to truly support varied forms of collaboration," says SSDG interior designer Stephanie Gust. It's also dog-friendly, naturally.

Log-cabin style walls frame a cluster of meeting rooms found in the centre of the office.

Each meeting room has an original mural by a Hootsuite staffer, lending a gallery-like feel.

One side of a large, multipurpose room features small meeting tables and a tiered wood stage with a pull-down projector for lunch-and-learns and events. "Whether work is done in the middle of a corridor, on the floor of a stage, or on the edge of someone's desk, HootSuite's process becomes transparent and celebrated throughout their office. I think that's the best part of the project," says Gust.

Opposite the stage is the main kitchen and lunch area. Yes, this is where employees can pour themselves a pint after a hard day's work. Metal pendant lights, sleek cabinetry and picnic-style tables echo the industrial-meets-rustic look of the rest of the office.

A coffee bar and lounge lends itself to downtime. Tents act as meeting rooms, giving a bit of privacy but still keeping with the open feel of the space (there's only one private office with an actual door).

Long day? Take a siesta in the nap room. Camp-style cots, string lights and a painted sunset façade provide an escape for employees.

How could you not feel inspired in a space like this? My prediction is that more offices will begin to see the importance of an open, interactive workspace that spurs creativity. Interior design affects us on a mental, emotional level, at work and in the home — something HootSuite seems to understand well.

Photo credits:
1-8. Ema Peter Photography; design by SSDG Interiors Inc., Kenna Manley BADID RID, Registered Interior Designer and Stephanie Gust BADID LEED AP, Interior Designer


Chloe Berge

Jillian Harris may have made a name for herself on ABC's The Bachelorette, but in the last few years she's had a lot more going on than dating drama. After stints on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Canada's Handyman Challenge, the designer from Peace River, Alberta, is now the host of Love It or List It Vancouver and runs her own eponymous design firm.

Her fun, eclectic style, which she describes as "traditional feminine with a vintage flare," and down-to-earth persona make her the kind of girl you can imagine becoming instant friends with — yes, I will openly admit to my girl crush on Jillian. At ease in stilettos or with a hammer in hand, her accessibility has made her a homegrown favourite.

From left to right: Charlie Ford Vintage co-owners Alyssa Dennis, Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer.

I caught up with the multitasking design maven over the phone while she was en route to Kelowna, B.C. where she is currently building a home, to talk about her new project Charlie Ford Vintage. Harris collaborated with her cousin, Tori Wesszer, and friend, Alyssa Dennis, to create Charlie Ford, a retail website specializing in vintage home decor.

The dynamic threesome have worked with vendors across North America on a carefully curated collection of antiques that takes the hard work out of antiquing. As a huge vintage lover, I couldn't wait to ask her a few questions about the shop:

CB: Where did the idea for Charlie Ford Vintage come from?

JH: Tori, Alyssa and I have been shopping vintage since we were 10 years old. There's so many great vintage finds out there and there's not possibly enough room in our homes to buy it all! I wanted to share the things that I was finding. So we found a way to curate our best vintage finds from all of our favourite stores. Tori and I always wanted to go into business together, but with the e-commerce world ever-growing and really making a huge change in how people shop, we felt that a storefront was doing the community an injustice. I have so many readers and I want all those readers to benefit from this idea not just the readers in one community.

CB: How did you come up with the name?

JH: Tori had just given birth to her son, Charlie Ford. It's just such a classic, timeless name and we kept coming back to it. We figured it's a really great little legacy for him!

CB: Who do you envision as the Charlie Ford Customer?

JH: Anybody who is struggling to find that perfect piece for their space to give it that final touch, that wow factor. I think it will be a great resource for designers, too, who don't have time to drive out to Princeton, B.C. and rummage through all the rubble to find something perfect for their client. Also, people who want to be eco-friendly. A lot of the time we don't realize how eco-friendly buying vintage is. You're saving the resources and the energy it takes to make a new piece.

CB: How does your curation process work?

JH: For me, it's a feeling. It's walking by something... those pieces that jump out at you. All three of us are different. Tori loves to find things that are very gently used and very dainty — almost Parisian. I like things that are decrepit and falling apart. I love it when things are hanging on to their last thread. Alyssa is very traditional. She loves beautiful blown glass, china and silverware. With the three of us we have a really eclectic mix. We want there to be a piece for everybody.

CB: What kind of items will we be able to shop for?

JH: Lighting, rugs, furniture, decor, jewelry, accessories. Anything from chandeliers to side tables, old clocks, chalkboards, mirrors, definitely a lot of amazing art. We have some really incredible, affordable art. Some is one-of-a-kind, some are prints, but all of it is really fun and very unique.

CB: Where did your love of vintage come from?

JH: My mom used to own an antiques store and her and Tori's mom, who are sisters, have always been so passionate about it. I remember being a little girl and going to auctions. I remember road tripping and going to abandoned houses in the prairies and finding old mason jars and rolling pins. For me, it was being in those old empty houses and smelling that smell of mustiness. I looked at those pieces and I felt like it would be so awful to let those pieces go. You think of all the different stories that could be told if those pieces could talk and that's when I get really emotional about antiques. They're conversation pieces and they're so unique. I love the idea of history and of stories.

CB: What kind of quality does vintage give to a home?

JH: It's all emotional. As a designer, I believe that the design of your home should be 85% emotional. I love it when I can create a space where someone will walk into a room and hold their heart and say, "Oh my gosh, that is so me, how did you know?" With Charlie Ford, I think you'll cruise the site and your heart will start to pitter patter and you will think to yourself: I love this cookie jar; look at this vase; that's the most beautiful broach!" Buying vintage is just a bit more personal. People love getting something old that's coveted and curated.

CB: Do you mix old and new a lot when working with clients?

JH: Absolutely. On the second season of Love it or List It, airing this fall, I'm so excited about the spaces. We have an incredible design team and I wanted to teach them how important it is to bring some of the past into a new space. I think people will see that the spaces are new and fresh but they look like they've got a heart beat. Adding some old vintage pieces and making it look like it has had a life can do wonders for a new space.

CB: Do you have a favourite vintage piece?

JH: I have lots! My new favourite is a piece I picked up in Maui. I have a little condo there. I went to an antique store in Paia and there was an old glass buoy and it was still covered with the rope, which is hard to find. It was so big and so beautiful. I put it on a table underneath a framed piece of coral, styled it with some old nautical books and I've created the most incredible vignette. That's my favourite piece because it's very interesting, very beautiful, but it tells a story of my trip to Hawaii. For me, it's a reminder of a happy time in my life.

CB: We recently published our first Advice Issue. What is your best piece of design or decorating advice you could share with our readers?

JH: The funniest is the one I reiterate all the time that ties into my past as a Bachelorette, it's kind of a joke but it speaks the truth: A great piece of furniture, accessory or even a paint colour is just like going out and searching for the perfect guy. You might think it's perfect and you might love it until you get it home and after a few days you realize it's not perfect, but you can just return it for something new! People over-think their space and they stress out about it. You have to give things a shot and be drawn to what speaks to your heart. At the end of the day, when it comes to design we're not saving lives, we're being artists. Just go for it, and if it's not right it can always be changed!

Charlie Ford Vintage launches today. Happy virtual antiquing!

Photo credits:
1-2. Karolina Turek
3-4. Charlie Ford Vintage


Chloe Berge


Karolina Turek

I often wonder if designers have "Aha!" moments. Do they know when they create something special? Does time stand still while an ethereal beam of light shines down upon them? I like to think so, but perhaps a piece of art's originality is only apparent when sanctioned by critics and public acclaim.

Either way, I know for certain that as a design lover, I have moments when an object takes my breath away — be it a piece of furniture, a painting or a dress.

I still haven't made it to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York (think IDS on steroids) but I feel like it would be full of ingenuity. If I had been there this past May, these five exhibitors would have stopped me in my tracks.

This sculptural Parabola Chair — yes, chair — looks more artwork than furniture, but its real beauty lies in its functionality. Designer Carlo Aiello managed to create a seat, armrests and chair back without them resembling anything in our design repertoire. Its soft, parabolic curves form a comfy nest.

I love the bubble chandelier by Jean and Oliver Pelle of Brooklyn-based design firm Pelle. The airy clusters of glass spheres really capture the delicate, ephemeral quality of bubbles about to burst. Their Dorit Candleholders are also worth a mention. Made from imperfect, knotted wood and finished with metallic paint, they look like rough, colourful geodes.

This biologically-inspired table is a custom piece by Nervous System made with their radiolaria app. The app allows customers to play God (or designer) and create furniture, jewelry and housewares using an interactive screen that mimics genetic biology. Watch the video here.

StudioKCA's bronze Firefly chandelier is like something out of a dream. The multitude of tiny lights and fluttering shadows mimics the movement of fireflies against a dark landscape.

The Hialeah Table by Iacoli & McAllister is less conceptual than the above designs but I had to include it for the simple fact that I really wish I could take it home. It has that rare quality of being timeless yet new and I love its mix of materials — sigh.

What have you come across lately that's made you take a second look?

Photo credits:
1-2. ICFF
3-4. Pelle
6. Faktura
7. StudioKCA
8. Iacoli & McAllister


Chloe Berge

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