The kitchen in this year's Princess Margaret Showhome boasts a spectacular jet-black china cabinet. Originally an AV unit, this piece of furniture was a generous donation from the French cabinetmakers, Grange. I remember this unit being delivered before the kitchen floor was even installed, and it was a showstopper. Even though the original cabinet's two-tone finish offered a lovely French country look, the H&H design team chose to give it a mini-makeover so it would complement the showhome's modern, high-contrast kitchen. Here's the unit before it made its way to the showhome:
And here it is, sitting in the kitchen, post-makeover:
The transformation went beyond a simple paint job: notice the new recessed lights along the top, the addition and removal of shelves to maximize display and a pair of custom-fit sliding doors at the very bottom. What a difference!
The design team filled the cabinet with bright white dishes, which truly shine against the ebony finish. A few accents of rustic wood, burlap and sisal are a nice nod to the cabinet's original warm wood finish and add to the showhome's modern farmhouse style.
Drop by the Princess Margaret Showhome this fall to see this grandiose cabinet, as well as the rest of the home. We still have two free House & Home Style Saturday events lined up!
When we spotted the lush holiday arrangements in "Winter White," a feature on Bryn Currie's home in the November 2012 issue of H&H, we thought we'd ask floral designer Gisele Sterling for some tips on how use natural elements for holiday decorating at any budget.
Sterling has been working with florals for 28 years, and while her job often brings her to grand homes and event spaces, she insists that everyone can make their homes beautiful with a little creative reuse of things around around the house, plus inexpensive greenery and branches you find in your own backyard or that of a friendly neighbour.
Take this orchid, for instance. While the orchid itself may be a bit of a splurge item, here Sterling propped it up with a repurposed grapewood branch — painted white — inside a pot she already had at home. What makes this arrangement special, though, is its wee sweater. Sterling recycled an old sweater by cutting off a sleeve and slipping it over the pot. This personal touch makes it winter-appropriate, and an adorable hostess gift as well.
Speaking of found objects, in this photo Sterling has juxtaposed flowering dogwood branches with contemporary vases. "If you don't have white vases, you can paint three vases with compatible shapes," suggests Sterling. Any kind of branches will do and be right on trend with the natural, organic feel that's popular in floral design these days, she says. To embellish the branches just a little, Sterling wired in clusters of miniature pine cones using silver spool wire.
Here you can appreciate the simple organic beauty of the cones closer up.
Another big trend in floral design right now is the terrarium, says Sterling, which is perfect for those of us without particularly green thumbs. "A terrarium keeps more moisture inside and needs very little watering and less care. It's clean because it's self-contained. And it’s not going to drop leaves everywhere."
To start, choose an interesting shaped glass vessel with an opening large enough through which to work. Select materials of varying heights for maximum impact. (Watch a video on creating a terrarium window display.)
Here's a peek inside the terrarium Sterling made to share with H&H readers. The live plant materials include miniature lime-coloured cypress trees, club moss and miniature phalaenopsis orchids. White-painted grapewood branches, sheet moss, pine cones and miniature pine cones — some with a dusting of canned snow spray — provide additional decorative detail.
Outside, Sterling has provided a great example of a winter-appropriate arrangement that isn't overtly Christmas-y. Here she's made great use of grapewood branches again, brush painting them with white latex paint for a more natural look than she would have been able to achieve by spray-painting. She's wired large white-washed sugar cones to the base of the arrangement. The tall concrete and resin composite container is one-third filled with sand for stability.
At the front door, Sterling has set the tone for her natural, mostly white interior arrangements with this gorgeous snowberry wreath. Starting with an oasis wreath base, she covered the surface with fresh moss using pieces of wire bent like hair pins. Using wooden picks, she secured the fresh snowberry around the wreath, then wired in clusters of miniature pine cones to complete the look. Sterling warns that the snowberries won't stand up to a hard frost, so consider making it just ahead of your dinner party or afternoon eggnog soirée. To help the snowberries last, spray the oasis intermittently to soak the foam, she says. Or for a look that will last the season, pick up faux berries.
What's Sterling's biggest pet peeve about some of the arrangements she sees on doorsteps each holiday season?
"If there's anything that bothers me it's people who put too many things in a planter — birch, greens, cones, shiny apples. Keep your theme pure; if you're going Canadiana, go Canadiana, if you're going to go glitzy, go glitzy. Crossing them over, you lose the impact."
Find hundreds more decorating and entertaining ideas in our Christmas & Holiday Guide.
1-7. Gisele Sterling
I've had a few emails and tweets asking how I created the four-poster bed design in my Toronto home, which was featured in the September issue of House & Home and on H&H Online TV. I thought it might be helpful if I posted the instructions and tips here.
I took my inspiration for this project from one of my favourite style setters — event planner, designer and shop owner Antony Todd. His New York apartment (above right) ran in the February 2005 issue of Elle Decor, and I still love it from top to bottom (except I'm not a fan of Buddha as an accessory, but I digress). The bed is just lovely and when I saw it I thought — I could totally do that. No matter that I didn't have his soaring ceilings. When we moved into our little bungalow and I was confronted with a bland white box of a bedroom, I knew the moment had come for my faux four-poster. I studied his bed and did endless Google image searches for similar beds. I found all of the drapery hardware I needed for the project at The Home Depot, all made by Levolor.
Here's what I used:
- 3 telescoping curtain rods that were each 5/8" in diameter (there's no need for finials for this project so if they come with the rods, they can be set aside for another use)
- 7 ceiling-mount brackets
- 2 right-angle rod joint pieces (These are used when hanging rods for bay and box windows. They come in different styles but basically allow you to join two rods to create a 90 degree corner.)
- Clip rings (I can't remember how many I used, but they come in packages and I used at least a couple of packages. Choose rings that are just a touch larger in diameter than your rod for a neat and tailored look.)
To install the faux canopy, I measured the bed (I have a queen size) and then I marked the ceiling with a pencil on the inside edge of where I wanted the corner brackets to be. I placed the brackets a couple of inches outside the mattress measurements. This breathing room allows the fabric to hang straight to the floor, free of the duvet and other bedding, which may extend past the edge of the mattress. I used plastic plugs and the screws that came with the brackets to install them. If you plan to use heavy fabric drapes, you may want to add more brackets and stronger plugs or toggle bolts to secure the brackets to the ceiling. I used one bracket at each corner, one at the centre of each long side and one at the centre above the foot of the bed.
Once the brackets are installed, that's kind of it for the heavy labour. The rest is just dressing. Place the rods into the brackets and extend them, evenly distributing the clip rings onto the rods as you go. Use the corner brackets to join the rods above each corner of the foot of the bed.
I used the Aina linen curtain panels from Ikea as my bed hangings. I didn't even bother hemming them because I love how they puddle on the floor. In the cooler weather I layer on velvet ready-made drapery panels, adding them around the outside and clipping them with the linen ones so that the linen ones act like a lining for the velvet ones. It creates a wonderful cocooning effect that's very cosy. On bitterly cold nights I even draw the curtains closed.
I recently decided to reconfigure my bed a bit as well. I got rid of the box spring and bedskirt and opted for the lower, lighter and airier combination of slats, frame and headboard. Mine are all in natural jute with nailhead trim from West Elm. Check out the segment Lynda Reeves recently did for a more in-depth explanation of this new look for beds. It's definitely a departure from the sky high ones of recent years. To bump up the comfort factor of my new low bed, I added an incredibly luxurious featherbed from Au Lit Fine Linens. It covers the surface of the mattress just under the fitted sheet and is like sleeping on a cloud.
Find more easy DIY projects in our DIY Ideas blog section.
Looking to stay on-trend, but don't want to spend a small fortune? Here's an easy and affordable DIY project from Lark & Linen to keep you in the now. Put two of these bedside tables in your bedroom for a hit of texture on the cheap.
This nightstand is made from wine crates from a local liquor store. Whether you pick them up at the back or place a large order, they come cheap. I suggest glueing the crates together with wood glue to add stability.
Check out the full instructions on Lark & Linen.
Lark & Linen
For more easy DIY projects, see our DIY & Home Improvement section.
It's high season for yard sales! So there are tons of fun DIY projects out there from found objects (read: cheap!). Check out this set of benches that blogger Fiona Richards of Cafe Cartolina picked up:
The owner was charging $5 for them, but Fiona actually loaded them up for free.
She pressure-washed them down, let dry, and placed side-by-side as a warm and rustic coffee table.
If you're sure you want to leave them as a coffee table (and not repurpose them as benches one day), glue them together with some wood furniture glue. A light sanding will add a worn look to wood that isn't rustic enough to begin with.
For more photos of the project, see Fiona's blog post.
See our DIY section for more easy projects!
1-3. Fiona Richards, Cafe Cartolina
Have I mentioned how much I love the Chez Larsson blog? Well, I do. DIY-er Benita posts easy-to-follow projects from her 1954 Stockholm rowhouse — covering everything from gardening, painting and sewing. Here's a fun trellis project to add some greenery to a front or backyard fence. You could even try it on a condo balcony. If you have some time this weekend, head outside with some hooks!
Pick up some galvanized metal wire and eye bolts at your local hardware store, and attach a series of vertical wire lines along planks of a fence.
When planted at the base of the fence (either in the ground of a yard or a planter pot on a balcony), climbing plants like clematis will begin to grow upwards and reach over to adjacent wires. What a great way to add some interest to a ho-hum fence! For full instructions, see the Chez Larsson post.
For more easy DIY projects, see our DIY & Home Improvement section.
1-2. Chez Larsson
Over the last few weekends, my in-laws and I have been working on a sign for our new cottage in Harrington, Quebec. We're calling it "Casa Di Tota," which means "home of Di Tota's" in Italian, which they are. We did quite a bit a research into having the sign custom-built, but came to the conclusion that a homemade sign would have the right personal touch. The sign will be a gift for my (soon to be) father-in-law to mark his birthday and retirement. As the cottage's framing and insulation came to a wrap this past long weekend, we were excited to take a break to reveal of our homemade sign and indulge in some much-needed celebration.
If you're interested in making your own sign, read all about our process below.
Here's what we used to make the sign:
Materials and Tools
- Three red cedar 2" x 4"
- Exterior wood glue
- Wood paint
- Paint brushes
- Safety glasses
- Measuring tape and pencil
- Circular saw
Once we finalized our size, shape and design, it was time to get to work. Safety glasses on!
Step 1: Cut the wood
We cut three 2" x 4"s in half to give us an overall size of 24" x 48", allowing for extra space for our final size and shape.
Step 2: Glue the wood together
We placed each piece of wood side-by-side, and made sure the grain on each piece was alternated from the next — grain up, grain down, grain up, grain down. This will prevent the sign from warping over time. After the pieces were glued together (keeping them as level as possible), we used tension clamps to hold the boards tight and left the sign to dry overnight. The next morning we gave the board a nice sanding to smooth out the surface.
Step 3: The design
My fiancé's brother is a graphic designer. He took the design we drafted on paper and made a proper stencil by printing it out on tiled paper. We taped the stencil together, cut out our design and traced it on the board. This was much easier then trying to sketch it out!
Step 4: More cutting
Clamping the board down to the workbench, we cut out the sign using a jigsaw. You can see the cut lines we made here in this photo.
Step 5: Sanding
We sanded down the oval edge to make it nice and smooth. We wanted to keep a squared corner so we made sure the keep the sander as level as possible while sanding around the edge of the sign.
Step 6: Router time
Safety glasses back on! After getting a feel for the tool using a tester piece, we began carving out the letters. We picked a router bit that was the right width for our text, selected an appropriate depth and started carving. We changed the bit to a larger one to carve our little landscape, and decided not to carve the leaves since the smallest bit we had would make them look more like blobs.
Step 7: Dremel the edges
The text style we wanted required squared edges rather than round, so we used the dremel tool to square them off. This took some serious time and a steady hand. The speed of the tool also made it very easy to slip, leaving unsightly marks across the board. We gave the sign a quick sand to remove any frayed edged the tools left behind.
Step 8: Start painting
Once we were pleased with our carving it was time to start painting. We used regular wood paint from a craft store and a small, flat-edge paintbrush. Starting on the bottom of the carvings we then worked the paint carefully up the side edges. We added some contrast to the leaves with two tones of green, and decided to leave the border unpainted for a subtle detail.
Step 9: Finishing coat
For the last and final step we applied a fast-drying polyurethane coat to seal and protect the sign. We started with the outer edge, then filled in the tree and land. We worked our way out with thin layers, being careful not to create any bubbles. After the first coat dried, about 5 hours, we gave the surface a light sanding and applied another thin coat. The next morning we did the same to the back.
I'm so pleased with all the hard work we all put into making this. I only hope it will last as long as the cottage!
Visit our DIY & Home Improvement guide for more fun cottage projects.
After browsing the blogosphere for fun DIY ideas to pass on, I came across these three blog posts worth sharing. This weekend, spend an hour or two crafting something personal for pops — he'll appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of something homemade.
1. Vintage Thread Card
Fiona Richards of Cafe Cartolina posted this blog about vintage thread cards last summer, but I think there's something masculine about them (a tightly-woven suit?) that would make them perfect for Father's Day. Search antique markets and vintage shops this weekend if you're not a sewer. (Browse a photo gallery of Cafe Cartolina's inspiration.)
2. Eye Chart Art
This unique art idea from Hodge:Podge By Markova Design would look great hung in an office or bathroom. All you need is a canvas, paint, an eye chart printout from the Internet and a courier font. Easy!
3. Ikea Lack Table Makeover
Refreshed Designs posted this idea to spruce up a basic Ikea Lack table with a painted top and wallpapered legs. The concept is so simple, but you can see it really elevates the look! Dad would love the modern look of this wood grain contact paper from the dollar store. (See what we did to a basic Ikea table on Online TV.)
Happy Father's Day!
This Sunday, June 17th is Father's Day, and if you're still stumped on a unique gift idea, look no further. This project I came across on Remodelista is so simple, you'll still have time to plan a barbecue lunch! (Originally posted on Norwegian blog Brigg.)
You've surely come across some captain's mirrors, and this is a version of those nautical-inspired mirrors we love so much. A clock is even more practical, and would be the perfect accessory in a kitchen, home office or cottage. Plus, I think the leather belts make it masculine and sophisticated enough for dad.
If you already have two old leather belts you can use, this project will only cost you $25! First, pick up a black Bondis wall clock from your local Ikea. Next, use two worn belts to create a suspension ring with suitable length. Glue the belts to the clock, let dry, and hang!
The concept is so simple, but the look is so effective! And dad will appreciate something handmade and practical.
For more project details, see the Remodelista post.
One of my earliest memories is long summer days helping my neighbour with her annual garage sale. At the end of the day I received a few dollars and would lug home all that the wages bought me. I recall being baffled at the five-cent coaster and $2 vintage suitcase, wondering how she could just give away this great stuff.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself wondering the same thing as I loaded a turn-of-the-century nursing rocking chair into my boyfriend's Jeep. I still can't figure out why anyone would get rid of this gem for a mere $30?!
I have since embarked on the journey of reupholstering...
Here is the chair as I purchased it.
You can see that the frame is in dire need of a facelift, and as for the cushion, let's just say not even my cats have claimed it as a perch.
I've been pondering the idea of sanding down the wood and replacing the walnut finish with a coat of creamy paint. I'm thinking periwinkle or deep coral for the seat.
Here are some images I've collected as inspiration:
Before altering this vintage piece I am determined to brush up on the rules of restoring and preserving an antique. I intend to give it new life without sacrificing its character.
I think the final product will look gorgeous under the sloped ceilings of the century house my parents recently purchased. What a great home for it!
Check back soon to see if the piece was botched or restored...
For more great upholstery inspiration, read this blog post on Reupholstering Antique Chairs.