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Get ready for it: Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen are set to bring their design savvy to the West Coast for House & Home's third year at IDSwest. The 8th annual residential design show runs next weekend from September 27th to 30th and hosts the crème de la crème of the national and international interior design scene — all under one haute roof. The event has garnered a reputation for showcasing the best new contemporary and cutting edge trends, ideas and products, and this year will be no exception. (This blog post is sponsored by IDSwest.)

Join designers and exhibitors on opening night for an evening of music, entertainment, fashion and — of course — design. After you make your way through the Tips & Trends entrance presented by General Paint — you'll want to stop and take a closer look at its six unique spaces! — head over to the Bocci Bar by Inform for a cocktail and contemplate its scene-stealing installation. Designed by Omer Arbel, creative director of the innovative Vancouver design firm Bocci, the installation features the all-new 28.d desk lamps, seen above.

Check out GE Café Trade Day on Friday the 28th and hear from industry insiders, like architect Michael Green, who will share their newest, most-exciting projects. Get a taste of la dolcé vita from Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni as he divulges the inspiration and approach behind his on-site installation and chats about his design process. Impressed by Lissoni's lounge designed for IDS12 (seen above), Lynda Reeves dissected its secrets in her April 2012 column.

On Saturday the 29th, Suzanne and Mark take to the stage for what's sure to be the highlight of the weekend — at least we like to think so! Listen in on their interior design secrets as they share some of their favourite personality-filled homes from the pages of H&H, and take a peek inside their own homes. Check out Mark's bistro kitchen reno and Suzanne's lovely bathroom refresh — they've got some great ideas to help you find your inner decorator. 

Last but not least, don't miss the always-entertaining HGTV star, Tommy Smythe, on Saturday and Sunday. He'll be offering stylish solutions for small spaces.

Other can't-miss show highlights include the One of a Kind District (for all you Etsy addicts), Studio North, which features edgy designs from young, up-and-coming talent, and the What's Your Design Dilemma? space where you can chat one-on-one with a designer about all your interior design quandaries.

Whatever your style or budget, you'll find countless exhibitors and designers to suit your taste at IDSwest's most inspirational year yet. As if that wasn't enough incentive, drop our name for $2 off tickets. Simply visit and enter the promotional code, HouseandHome.

Photo credits:
1. Bocci
2. House & Home April 2012 issue, photography by Jason Stickley

3. Suzanne Dimma portrait by Jason Hudson and Mark Challen portrait by Arash Moallemi
4. House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon


Chloe Berge

On September 6th, House & Home hosted an event at the 2012 Princess Margaret Showhome, inviting local design bloggers and members of the design community for an exclusive sneak peek of this year's Oakville, Ont., home.

The backyard was packed and ready for entertaining with live music, food and drinks.

H&H's Mark Challen gave welcoming remarks in the showhome's stunning backyard. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

To start things off, guests put their business cards in a jar and we drew for a TV donated by LG Canada (Thanks, LG!). There's Maia Roffey, who worked on this year's showhome design team, drawing the winner of the giveaway, and Margot Austin watching over. Who won, you ask?

Aleksandra Oleksak a.k.a. Realty Queen TO! She got to take home a 47" 3-D Smart TV from LG Canada with six pairs of 3-D glasses. Can we come visit you, Aleksandra? So jealous.

The event was a great opportunity for us to meet local bloggers. Here's Sundeep Sandhu of Designwali and Sharalee Mushore of Escapade — both have special projects coming up on soon! Can't wait to share them.

Vanessa Francis of Decor Happy, Tim Lam of Design Maze, his friend Michelle, and decorator Christine Da Costa also came out — all so friendly.

Donna Ragona of Ideas to Inspire and Wendy Hicken of Desire to Decorate were also in attendance. How does Wendy feel about the home? "Offering plenty of swoon worthy elements, this house brings together the best of rustic / modern / sleek / industrial decor and does it in a way that feels comfortable," she writes in her blog.

And here's Terri Emo and Maham Malik of Baroque Inc. (Have you noticed how well-dressed everyone was? Stunning!)

Also in the backyard enjoying a glass of sparkling wine, Daintry Popp and Regina Sturrock of Regina Sturrock Design.

Let's not forget the talented members of our showhome design team — project manager Antonio Bellusci and designers Maia Roffey and Jenna Cadieux.

It was lovely chatting with Emily-Jane Hayes of Not A House, But A Home, and her guest Gary Tsim, discussing the various elements of the home.

Inside the kitchen, I caught up with Pamela Graham of Cherish Toronto and Lisa Mackay of Wicked & Weird. (Lisa wrote quite an entertaining post on the home, too.)

Just outside the living room, I met with Jessica Kelly of Jessica Kelly Design, Jennifer Flores of Rambling Renovators and Meg Cassidy of Milk and Cotton. Loving the vibrant colour choices, ladies.

At the end of the night, we got one more photo with Aleksandra, the lucky TV winner, and Renee Elliot of Re: Creative.

Also at the event, bloggers Jennifer, Meg, Jessica, Sundeep and Sharalee shared their favourite parts of the home with The Help Conquer Cancer Blog, who put together this video.

Thanks to everyone who came out and for spreading the word about the home. Also, a special thanks to Joe Fresh for providing us with goodies for our gift bags!

Did anyone else notice how perfect this home is for entertaining? It could be yours: Order your tickets for the Princess Margaret Welcome Home Sweepstakes before they sell out. (Last year they sold out early!) Get your tickets before midnight, October 4th, and you could win a trip around the world or take home over $31,000 in cash. Find out more at

Photo credits:
Seema Persaud


Seema Persaud

I was delighted to open the mailbox yesterday and discover my pre-ordered copy of Gretchen Rubin's highly anticipated new book Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life (2012 Doubleday Canada).

As many of you know, Rubin is the author of the blockbuster bestseller The Happiness Project (2010 Harper Collins).

That book chronicles Rubin's immersive, one-year experiment in enhancing her happiness. In Happier at Home, she sums up the reasoning for her original project:

"Although I possess all of the elements of a happy life, too often I took my circumstances for granted and allowed myself to become overly vexed by petty annoyances or fleeting worries. I'd wanted to appreciate my life more, and to live up to it better."

Rubin made a year's worth of monthly resolutions and then embarked earnestly on an insightful effort to test all manner of theory and habit to see what did or didn't amount to increased happiness for her. An engaging writing style and endearing honesty about her own gold-star seeking qualities (not that I can relate, or anything!) made it a great read for me and — evidently — countless others.

Here's a picture of my well-worn copy:

Between getting my kids tucked into bed last night and giving into my own slumber, I managed to read the first few chapters of Happier at Home.

In the introduction, Rubin explains her goals for the book:

"For this project, I would build on what I'd learned. I foresaw an ambitious scheme covering all the elements that mattered for home, such as relationships, possessions, time, body, neighbourhood. And I'd definitely replace our dud toaster."

Instead of starting in January as she did for The Happiness Project, this time Rubin would start in September, "the season of the Mother Olympics; with all the health forms, supply lists, and emergency contact sheets, I could barely keep track of everything I had to buy, fill out, or turn in."

I'm sure many of us can relate to the feeling that everything has gotten out of hand when permission slips and receipts start to build up on the kitchen counter, or when a library book goes AWOL.

What I find refreshing about this book so far is that it doesn't place the attainment of some signature style as the ultimate outcome.

While it took Rubin a while to distance herself from the idea that her choice of throw pillow spoke volumes about her character, she was eventually able to focus her attention elsewhere:

"Finally, I'd realized that our apartment didn't have to reveal any deep truths. I expressed myself in other ways; it was enough that my apartment was a pleasant, comfortable place to live (and had miles of bookshelves)."

The message I'm taking away already is that it isn't about having a perfectly decluttered house that's camera- and company-ready. Instead, it's about the inner experience of living well in our own spaces with objects of meaning and, ideally, people we love. But it's also about a (healthy) sense of control, says Rubin:

"A sense of personal control is a very important element to happiness; for instance, it's a much better predictor of happiness than income. At home, my sense of control over my stuff played a huge role in my happiness, as did a feeling of control over my time."

Could I be more patient if I didn't have to push aside those forms from the daycare before I can chop vegetables, for example? I think so. We'll see what I learn in the coming days and weeks as I read Happier at Home and attempt to test some of the principles in my own everyday life. I'll be sure to let you know.

P.S. Gretchen Rubin also notes that the same principle of control applies to people's workspaces. A University of Exeter study showed that people who have control over their workspace design are happier at work, more motivated, healthier and up to 32 per cent more productive. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on how House & Home staffers decorate their office spaces!

Photo credits:
Brandie Weikle


Brandie Weikle

Today I headed out to the latest Princess Margaret Showhome in Oakville with a number of my House & Home colleagues for the opening and media preview.

The large marble island in the kitchen played host to a number of dishes throughout the event — with room to spare!

Here, Maia Roffey, who worked with Lynda Reeves on this year's home, shows off the AGA range and the Hansgrohe pot filler above it to guests.

Ample counter space provided space for an orderly beverage centre.

CTV interviewed Paul Alofs, president and CEO of The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, and later in the day, Alofs explained more about ticket proceeds for the Welcome Home Sweepstakes. Funds go towards helping The Princess Margaret hospital develop and deliver personalized cancer medicine. Learn more about this great cause.

Lynda also spoke about this year's home, thanking the many sponsors (108 people and companies donated items for the home!) and offering insight into the process.

The back deck accommodated quite the crowd, and the NanaWall folding glass doors and French doors created quite the stunning transition between the indoors and out. Can you imagine entertaining here?

After seeing the showhome in person, I highly recommend those in the Greater Toronto Area visit the home at 220 Pinehurst Drive, Oakville, Ont., when it opens to the public, starting this Saturday, September 8th. Visit weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on weekends and holidays from noon to 5 p.m. We also have four free design events worth checking out, so sign-up today.

Don't forget to order your tickets for the sweepstakes. Last year they sold out early. For more photos from inside the home and Kelvin Browne's interview with Lynda, grab a copy of our October 2012 issue. Plus, tour the home in our Online TV segments.

Photo credits:
Seema Persaud


Seema Persaud

With a boutique on King East, modern furniture retailer EQ3 is not new to Toronto, but the opening of their latest store in Liberty Village was creating a lot of buzz around the office, so I went to check it out.

Right in the heart of Liberty Village, they couldn't have picked a better location for the store. The beautifully revamped warehouse space houses EQ3's small-space solutions at reasonable prices — perfect for the young, established condo-dwellers in the area. Here's a quick glimpse inside the store:

If you're a Marimekko fan, you'll want to check out their large selection of housewares and fabrics (available for upholstery purposes, too) — all very bright and cheerful.

Their sofas — with clean, contemporary profiles — are perfect for cramped condos. They're also manufactured in Canada.

Their new Basics line offers streamlined essentials at an affordable price — ideal for a first home.

And of course, my weakness: kitchen things. There's an entire wall full!

The second floor is packed with bedroom and home office solutions. And don't forget the take a look at their rug selection. I love their cosy, wooly, neutral options, but there are plenty of colourful ones, too.

You'll find EQ3's newest location at 3-51 Hanna Avenue, Toronto. Their doors officially open to the public on September 1st.

Photo credits:
Reiko Caron


Reiko Caron

The latest showhome for the Princess Margaret Hospital fall lottery opens to the public next week, and I can't wait to visit.

Several months ago, the Oakville home was being constructed by PCM. Amazing how they were able to take the home from this to…

…this! A combination of stone and board and batten siding form this dream home. Lynda Reeves collaborated with principal Ray Murakami on the architectural design. Here we can see the landscape designs by Ron Holbrook coming into fruition.

Lynda's design team worked on the interior details and decorating. Time to coordinate those paint and fabric swatches!

Finally, for the magazine photo shoot, an abundance of flowers and greenery were brought in. So pretty.

Excited to see inside the finished home? Join our editors at one of the H&H Style Saturday events. Events are free, but space is limited, so register today:

Saturday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 22, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 20, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 27, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For a chance to win this home and other amazing prizes, order your tickets for the 2012 Welcome Home Sweepstakes. Tickets are $100 each, $250 for three, or $375 for five. Get your tickets by phone (call 1-877-601-7888), online or at the home starting September 8th.

To see more of the showhome, watch our latest Online TV episode, and check out the House & Home October 2012 issue (on newsstands September 4th) for full photos and details on the home.

Photo credits:
LR Design Studio


Seema Persaud

Last week, my colleague Kimberley Brown and I took a day to visit the Toronto Gift Show at the International Centre. This is a semi-annual trade show to reveal the new and exciting products and trends for the next season.

As we toured around the show, we tested samples of Nespresso and checked out new and exciting gadgets that you may find under your Christmas tree this year (I know — already!).

Here are a few of the items that spoke to me at the show:

These gorgeous upholstered pieces are by Lady Rosedale. The Markham-based company had some really great new fabrics for pillows and slipcovers in the primary colours, as well as some beautiful linen napkins that would be perfect hostess gifts for a weekend away at a cottage, lodge or camp. They also had some Union Jack inspiration — a trend we saw in many of the stalls at the show.

Steven & Chris was our next notable stop. These two amazing men are loved by House & Home editors, and I was thrilled to see their new collection. Their booth, like many others, was set up as various vignettes. Two of my favourite areas were this first one with a hit of glamour, and this second one with a dash of tribal.

Directly connected to the Steven & Chris booth was Cobi Style. Cobi featured vibrant, inviting colours for the holiday season — definitely something for everyone.

For coffee lovers, Nespresso's newest model — released this September — is sure to be a hit come Christmas. This model is called the 'U' because both the water tank at the back and the drain portion at the front can be moved to either side of the machine and held with magnets, making the machine a U-shape. The functions on top of the machine are also very sleek. All around this machine is very compact and useful for small spaces.

This was merely a snippet of the exciting new products we spotted for next year. Keep your eye out for others in the upcoming holiday issues!

For more trends, browse our Affordable 2012 Trend Finds photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-7. Holly Meighen


Holly Meighen

The classy all-white event, Le Diner en Blanc (translates to "dinner in white"), popped up at historic Fort York last night, and I was lucky enough to be part of the chic picnic. In cities around the world, on various summer days, the location of the secret dinner party is disclosed to ticket holders a mere 30 minutes before the gathering. With folding tables and chairs in hand, and dressed all in white, guests gather for a mass yet elegant affair at an outdoor locale.

Started by Parisian François Pasquier and a few friends back in 1988, Diner en Blanc now draws impressive numbers: 30,000 people requested tickets for New York City's event last year (only 1,000 tickets were sold), 11,200 attended in Paris on June 14th, and 4,200 are expected in Montreal on August 16th. Organizers sold 1,500 tickets for last night's event in Toronto. Despite the rain, diners came out for an evening of wine, cheese, bread and good company.

Guests are bussed in from areas across the city, then led to the location with their own tables and chairs in tow. (Picnic baskets are provided to ticket-holders once they arrive.)

These oversized, glowing lanterns dotted the periphery of the event for some soft lighting.

There were certainly some gorgeous centerpieces guests brought along — some fresh, some faux, but all beautiful.

I loved this jar filled with sand, peach roses and a bit of sparkle.

Soft yellow roses in mason jars were the perfect complement to all the white linens.

Ikea's Skurar plant pot fit right in with the elegant displays.

Here's a more modern table setting. Did I mention no paper plates or beer are allowed at Diner en Blanc? I like it!


I was impressed with how prepared all the diners were. Many brought white and clear umbrellas, and some even lugged their patio umbrellas from home!

We also had quite a spread in the media tent — sushi, macarons and wine, yes please! Thanks to Lulu B. Wines and Big House Wines for sponsoring.

Some pink clouds peeked out eventually! A special thanks to hosts and coordinators Robert Morassutti, Jessica Tan and Nicholas Wong, and the many volunteers who helped the event run smoothly. Despite the weather, such a lovely party it was!

For more tabletop inspiration, see our Dining Design section.

Photo credits:
Gwen McAuley


Gwen McAuley

This past weekend, design bloggers and businesses gathered at the Arcadian Loft in Toronto to mingle and share ideas at BlogPodium. Bloggers Lindsay Stephenson of Aubrey + Lindsay's Little House Blog and Jennifer Flores of Rambling Renovators worked hard to pull together an inspiring event with a great line-up of speakers. It was wonderful to meet the faces behind some of our favourite blogs.

As part of the event, a panel of blogging experts discussed their blogging business strategies. Pictured above is Cheryl Kozoriz of GlucksteinHome, Laura Muirhead, who works on social media campaigns, Lindsay, Christine Dovey of Bijou and Boheme and moderator Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault, a Benjamin Moore colour and design specialist.

Keynote speaker Nicole Balch of the popular Making it Lovely blog made her first journey across the border from Chicago to Toronto, and shared her blogging expertise with everyone. Note the pretty mason jar centerpieces in the room.

Nicole says her blog is "about living a stylish life and transforming the so-so," and she certainly covers both those areas. Nicole started her blog in January 2007 as a means of keeping her in-laws informed about her and her husband's new home upgrades, but soon her readers grew beyond family and others were equally as curious to learn about her latest projects. Pictured above, a cute vignette in her daughter Eleanor's bedroom, and a DIY terrarium project.

I especially love the results of her DIY outdoor painted rug project. (H&H has a similar stenciled flooring project, too!) She also shares incredibly practical tips on her blog, including info on how to repair torn chair upholstery and how to find a wall stud.

To see more pretty photos, projects and ideas from Nicole, visit her blog at To learn about BlogPodium, visit

Photo credits:
1, 2. Mango Studios
3, 4. Making it Lovely blog


Seema Persaud

Last week, Indigo revealed a sample of its fall 2012 products. It's hard to think about cool autumn days given that summer is just about to begin, but many of these decorating finds can work year-round, too. Aside from the stunning books and stationery (who doesn't love a fresh notebook?), here's what interested me most:

A harvest table filled with wood accents, ready for a hearty meal. Farmer's carafe with walnut ball, $33; linen napkins, set of four for $25.

The soft pretty hues of these bowls and mugs, just waiting to be filled with a cuppa hot cocoa or rich soup. Pedestal soup bowl, $12; Bergen mug, $12.

An array of vases ready for blooms. Vases, from $15; seagrass sphere, $13; woodfire-scented candle, $38.

Soft pink floral pillows — featuring chintz-like patterns and textured designs. Cabbage rose pillow, $60; vine appliqué pillow, $55.

The fresh fall products will be in Indigo stores and online in August. For now, check out our latest decorating finds.

Photo credits:
Seema Persaud


Seema Persaud

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