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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
1. DESIGN & DECORATING with LYNDA REEVES
Saturday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
2. MODERN FARMHOUSE STYLE with SUZANNE DIMMA
Saturday, September 22, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
3. NEW COLOUR COMBINATIONS with MARK CHALLEN
Saturday, October 20, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
4. OUR DREAM KITCHEN with LYNDA REEVES
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.
LR Design Studio
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.
1-7. 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!
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.
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.
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.
Last night I attended the inaugural JLT DelecTable Designs fundraising event, put on by the Junior League of Toronto, and it was buzzing with designers and industry guests eager to contribute to a great cause. Well-known designers like Julia West, Harvey Wise, Lisa Worth, Dee Dee Taylor Hannah and Anita Wiklem mingled with guests, media and Junior League members, and shared their displays of upcoming tabletop trends for 2012. Here are some of my snapshots from the party last night:
Julia West Home has a gorgeous outdoor set-up with plenty of texture, pattern and pops of pink.
Also at the Julie West Home table, this dark grey chair cover that would look equally chic indoors.
Lisa Worth of Worth Interior Design has a rustic, casual theme going on. I love the metal chandelier.
Dee Dee Taylor Hannah is featuring a more formal display with a patterned tablecloth, polished silverware and layered plates with intricate prints.
Nathalie Gluckstein layered a marble table with textured chargers, Asian-inspired cutlery and fun lime-and-aqua napkins. The combination of styles would be a perfect conversation starter at a dinner party.
This minimalist table setting by Tara Fingold strikes just the right balance of colour and texture. Hammered metal dishware is also everywhere this year.
This blue and white scene by Jacaranda Tree & Co. really caught my eye. The raw wood table, fish-printed plates, chevron-patterned napkins and oversized mason jars combine beautifully. The salad bowl made of sticks is perfect for outdoor entertaining this summer.
Samantha Baillie has a cosy outdoor tablescape with woven straw chargers and accents of green and wood.
And finally, Rafters of Muskoka has set up a nautical-themed dinner party complete with striped awning, navy placemats and striped seat cushions. I could sit here until well after sunset!
For three days this weekend (starting today!), the public can visit JLT DelecTable Designs to see how these talented interior designers, stylists and boutiques redefine table decor with their high-style dining vignettes. Designers from previous showhouses — see our photos and videos of the 2009 house here — along with some new up-and-coming designers will be putting their tablescapes on display. Tickets are only $20, and you can draw inspiration from over 25 unique dining installations, browse fabulous interior design boutiques onsite, and enjoy talks where top Canadian designers will share tips and discuss industry trends.
JLT DelecTable Designs takes place at Heritage Court, Direct Energy Centre today from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $20 per person, and proceeds will benefit women's involvement in communities across the GTA.
The Junior League of Toronto is a women's charitable and educational organization dedicated to building better communities in the Greater Toronto Area. They've contributed millions of volunteer hours and more than $4 million to support over 400 community programs and projects. They strive to develop women's potential and nurture effective leadership and action of trained volunteers. The Junior League of Toronto is one of 293 Junior Leagues in Canada, England, Mexico, and the United States, representing more than 170,000 women.
The annual Green Living Show is coming up this weekend, April 13th-15th, held at Toronto's Direct Energy Centre. The show is open from 10-9pm Friday, 10-9pm Saturday and 10-6pm Sunday. Tickets are $15 per adult, but if you bring electronic waste (including old cell phones, modems, laptops and printers — find a list here), admission to the show is free! If you're in the area, make a trip down to the show to browse what's new in eco-conscious products, demonstrations and initiatives. Here are a few products from the show to get you excited about being green:
Freedom Clothing Collective, a non-profit cooperative supporting local Toronto artists, is selling these clocks, makeup bags and adorable tea towels made from repurposed materials.
This is so more than a placemat — it has little compartments to store your cutlery, then folds and ties for easy storage. Wouldn't kids have fun with these? Plus, it's soft enough to use as a napkin, too. Life Without Plastic makes them in Canada from Mahatma Gandhi-championed khadi (an organic cotton from India).
These colourful pillows from Montreal company Mayukori are stuffed with buckwheat seeds — neither synthetic nor animal-based (feathers). After shelling the buckwheat seeds, they recycle the protective hulls and use them to stuff the pillows. With a 10-year lifespan, the filling is a compostable and easily renewable product. Plus, the buckwheat hulls come from an organic farm in Quebec. And in these cheerful colourways, they would make a cute baby shower gift. (They were developed by a mom for her two young girls.)
This chartreuse shower curtain, also by Life Without Plastic, is made from naturally mold-resistant hemp. Plus, because hemp is one of the strongest natural fibres, you can machine wash the curtain and hang to dry — no plastic liner needed!
So do your part and pick up some of these affordable green products at the show this weekend. Even better, take transit or carpool down to the Direct Energy Centre!
For more eco ideas, see our Green Design photo gallery.
Courtesy of Green Living Show