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Bring the outdoors in all summer long! Phantom Screens offers custom-made retractable screens for your windows, doors and large openings so you can keep bugs out of your home while letting fresh air in. Discover smart ways to bring indoor-outdoor style to your living room, kitchen and more in this blog post sponsored by Phantom Screens.

Here's a great example of how you can screen in a porch or patio to easily extend your home's living space. The large motorized screens are custom-built for your home so you can get an exact fit. The screens have sun and wind sensors, too, so you can program them to lower or retract when needed. You don't need to worry about installation either — Phantom Screens offers installation across North America. These screens get as large as 25' wide and 16' tall.

The screens are also ideal for single, sliding or French doors connected to your backyard, deck, patio or balcony. There are three mesh options available for the screens that each offer varying degrees of insect and UV protection, and light, temperature and privacy control. If you're worried about fading furniture, rugs or art, you can choose the solar mesh, which reduces heat and glare by up to 75%, or the privacy mesh, which blocks up to 90% of UV rays.

On French doors the screens are mounted on each side of the door frame and are pulled to the centre of the opening when needed, keeping bugs out, and retract out of site when needed – a great solution as the usual static screens don't work with double French doors. Because all Phantom Screens products are custom-made, unusual door sizes or openings won't be a problem either.

These retractable screens also fit a variety of windows, from casement and awning to sliding and tilt-and-turn.

The screens are ideal for kitchen windows as they help to let cooking smells out and cooler air in. With a range of mesh colour options you can find the perfect one to suit your interior and exterior, and if you prefer a wood grain finish on the screen frames, you can choose from 15 options including light pine, dark acacia and dark walnut.

Visit today to see more inspiring photos and to find a location near you.

Have a deck in need of a makeover or hoping to create the perfect outdoor living room? Check out this collection of PVC decking from AZEK. The new Vintage Collection features three shades that give the look of stained wood — without the need to apply stain. Each board has a slightly different colour variation, which also helps to give it that natural look. The three colours were chosen based on the latest trends in hardscaping. (This blog post is sponsored by Azek.)

Here’s Dark Hickory – a deep, rich gray with lighter streaks.

Here’s Cypress, which has a light reddish hue.

And here’s Mahogany. This mid-brown finish has hits of red and dark streaking.

Like other Azek collections, the Vintage line is super-durable and stain- and scratch-resistant. (Meaning patio furniture, pets and BBQ spills won’t leave behind marks!) To learn more about Azek deck materials and to see more photos, visit

“Does it spark joy?” — This is what Japanese cleaning professional Marie Kondo says you have to ask yourself about everything you own. Everything. Right down to your socks. And if the answer is “yes,” you keep it. (Answer “no” and out-the-door it goes.) Forget room-by-room decluttering methods or asking yourself “Have I used this item in a year?” Kondo’s method to home organization first seems a little unusual, but dive deep into her cleaning handbook The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and you’ll realize this simple rule can truly help pare back your belongings. (This blog post is sponsored by Just Junk.)

Why should you discard objects in your home? In Kondo’s experience, she finds we surround ourselves with lots of things that go unused or don’t suit the life we actually live. We’re stuck with gifts we don’t want, more clothes than we remember we own and kitchen utensils we never use. Paring back means an organized home, and in Kondo’s experience, affects your life as a whole, too. Plus, it's perfect for small spaces and those who love the minimalist look.

So, how do you start? Here are some of Kondo’s top tips:

  1. Start immediately — there’s no need to wait for a new month, year or season.
  2. Before thinking about how to organize everything you own, focus on discarding.
  3. Commit to a tidying marathon. Instead of discarding a little bit every day, turn it into a special event. (Yes, if you’re busy you can try her method to tidying on weekends only.)
  4. Discard items one category at a time in this order: clothes, books and papers, miscellaneous items and then sentimental items.
  5. Don’t store your stuff at your parents’ home (or anywhere else), and don’t force your discarded items onto friends and family.

When discarding clothes, Kondo says it's not as easy as flipping through items hanging in your closet and choosing what to lose. Take all clothes — from your front hall closet to your bedroom — and dump it into one spot. Then hold each item and ask the question, "Does it spark joy?" to determine whether you keep the item. When it comes to storing clothes, Kondo says you can fold most clothes so each item can be seen upright in a drawer (instead of in a pile). For clothes that have to be hung, hang items from longest to shortest, darkest to lightest, left to right. 

For books, Kondo says to store them upright instead of in piles (sorry, I still love to style shelves!), keep them all in the same part of your home, and not to feel bad about letting go of unread books. Just be thankful for its purpose in your life and move on.

In the kitchen, the same rules apply whether you're tackling dishes, your pantry or items in your fridge. Want open shelves in the kitchen but worried about storage? Maybe you'll be able to get the look with the KonMari Method!

Think you’re finished discarding? Kondo says you’ll know when you’ve hit the point where you can discard no more. The result of this kind of home detox: Countless bags and boxes of items — from old dishes to dated technology to way-too-many free t-shirts — that need to be recyled, donated or thrown out. Professional junk removal companies like JUSTJUNK® can help you out. Just Junk’s team will come to your home and take away all your clutter, and recycle, donate and dispose everything from appliances to furniture. You simply pay based on how much you want to get rid of. Visit today to see how they can help you get a clean, organized home. Just Junk serves cities across Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta.  

Have you tried the #KonMari Method? Will you? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Photo credits:
1. Penguin Random House
2. House & Home March 2015 issue, photographer Janis Nicolay
3. House & Home March 2010 issue, photographer Donna Griffith
4. House & Home April 2012 issue, photographer Donna Griffith
5. House & Home June 2008 issue, photographer Andrew Grinton
6. House & Home September 2013 issue, photographer Virginia Macdonald


Seema Persaud

Have a backyard in need of a makeover? We've got Before & After photos from Techo-Bloc to inspire your next patio design!

Techo-Bloc offers stones for everything from patios and driveaways to outdoor walls and the exterior of your home. Love the outdoor kitchen trend we featured in our May 2015 issue? Techo-Bloc also has outdoor pizza ovens, firepits and a grilling/barbecue island. (This blog post is sponsored by Techo-Bloc.)


In its previous state, this yard wasn’t very useful for the homeowners. The young couple wanted a bold, original space that would allow them to host large family gatherings, but would also be comfortable for a smaller group of friends. Do you #SeeThePotential?


The spacious backyard now functions as an incredible extension to their home!


1. Create Zones

By dividing the backyard into sections, they were able to create a clearly defined outdoor living room, dining room and lounge. When large groups visit, they can wander freely through the whole space, and smaller groups can stay in one area. The sunk-in design makes the firepit area feel cosy.

2. Choose Great Materials

Key to this look: The smart stone choices. Travertina slabs were used for the main pathways. The matte ivory-coloured limestone features subtle markings atop which add texture and character. To make the look less formal, they spaced out smaller slabs and filled the gaps with rocks.

Low walls — which double as benches — in the Manchester stone contrast with the lighter stone floors. In this sunk-in lounge and dining area, they went with complementary Blu polished slabs in Chestnut Brown and a band of the smaller Antika stone in Chocolate Brown to highlight the firepit. Speaking of firepits...

3. Consider An Outdoor Firepit

Stay warm by the fire on cooler nights — outdoors! The family chose a gas-burning Valencia firepit and surrounded it by Techo-Bloc stone benches. Here at H&H we've seen the firepit trend grow and featured it in our upcoming June issue.

See more inspiring photos and get ideas on ways to improve your backyard, front yard, driveway and more on, or call 1 877-832-4625 to find a retailer or Techo-Pro installer in your area.

Concept, GreenArt Landscape Design. Installation, Lakeridge Contracting.


Seema Persaud

Lately, whenever I find myself swooning over a room, it turns out to be the gorgeous work of a single firm, Commune Design. Based out of L.A., it was founded in 2004 by four designers — Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pamela Shamshiri and Ramin Shamshiri — and has been responsible for millions of Pins since thanks to its imagining of spaces for Ace Hotel Downtown L.A. and Palm Springs, Heath Ceramics showrooms, Opening Ceremony's boutique in Tokyo and the Irene Neuwirth boutique in L.A. The list goes on and includes residential clients that are just as eclectic.

How happy was I, then, when a lush photography book all about Commune (2014 Abrams Books) showed up on my desk last October. Every project I've ever drooled over had been pulled together and organized, with extra photos and commentary from the designers adding the proverbial cherry on top.

Of course, the book itself deserves pride of place on your coffee table. Housed in a graphic black and white box, it slides out like a gift you have the fun of unwrapping again and again.

Now that spring is finally warming up, I find myself turning to Commune's cool California vibe more than ever. Here are a few photos of their work to inspire your own summer style. Bring on the sun!

Photo credits:
1-8. From Commune: Designed In California (2014 Abrams Books)
2-3, 8. Photography by François Halard
4-5. Photography by Amy Neunsinger
6. Photography by Mariko Reed
7. Photography by Spencer Lowell


Kimberley Brown

Just in time for Spring, Hudson's Bay has released a Home Look Book featuring 56 pages of the latest finds for your home. Inside you'll find inspiring room shots, along with furniture, accessories, tabletop items, small appliances, bed and bath, lighting and more. (This blog post is brought to you by Hudson's Bay.)

Here's the bright, super-fun cover. So much eye-candy inside, too! (Click here to flip through the book online.) To celebrate the launch, Hudson's Bay is giving away one $3,500 design consultation with Brian Gluckstein. Enter for your chance to win here.

One of the key pictures you'll be seeing this Spring: The Room of the Season. Want to steal the look? Watch this video with Arren Williams, Creative Director of Home at Hudson's Bay, and learn more about the room.

As part of the launch, H&H editors Margot Austin, Sarah Hartill, Joel Bray and Meg Crossley have each selected their top 5 picks at Hudson's Bay Home this season. My personal pick: the charming Kate Spade Charlotte Street canisters and pitchers. It's blue-and-white dishes done in a fun, fresh way. In addition to seeing the editors' top finds online, Toronto fans will also be able to check them out next week in-store! See below for details.

Lynda Reeves and the H&H design editors, designer Brian Gluckstein and Arren Williams invite you to Celebrate Spring! Come out to the Queen St. flagship on Thursday, March 12, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. You'll have the chance to win prizes, see design demos and explore the new sixth floor. Click here to invite your friends on Facebook.

We look forward to seeing you there! Be sure to flip through the Spring Home Book, browse our editors' picks and Pin your favourite finds.

Photo credits:
Hudson's Bay


Seema Persaud

The Bloomsbury group was an informal group of intellectuals, writers and artists that lived and worked in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood of London around 1910. The group had a number "members" but the most famous perhaps is the writer Virginia Woolf.

Over the past 105 years, the Bloomsbury group and their work have inspired film, fashion, literature and decor. Charleston House, the Sussex home of painters Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister) and Duncan Grant is now a museum open to the public. It's often used as a location for photo shoots and film.

I've personally been very inspired by this country house. So I was happy to use my own Toronto home as the backdrop for a Bloomsbury story that my colleague Stacey Smithers and I produced for the March 2015 issue. (You can also watch an Online TV tour of my Bloomsbury-inspired home.)

Here are three tips for bringing a bit of Bloomsbury style to your own home:

1. Be creative with paint. The most striking thing about Charleston House is perhaps the paintings, and I'm not talking about the art framed and hung throughout the house. While those are certainly present, it's the murals on the walls, the painted furniture and various painted objects that stand out to me.

To achieve a similar feel, I suggest picking up a paintbrush and some paint. Now, Kai, you say, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were talented artists. What if I lack any artistic ability? I say, who cares? It doesn't matter. I can barely make a recognizable stick man. And while I happen to be married to a very talented painter, I have a hard enough time pinning him down to help with small jobs like changing light bulbs, never mind painting me a mural. Being creative does not require a skilled hand, thankfully.

To give my narrow stairway some interest, I painted brushstrokes of Farrow & Ball colours from sample pots and then wrote the names of the paint colour beside each with a Sharpie. Farrow & Ball seemed like an obvious choice for this particular story since it's a historical paint company (and actually one of the sponsors of Charleston House). And they have a curated selection of incredible paint colours with some terrific names: Arsenic, Elephant's Breath, and my son's favourite, Babouche, to name a few.

2. Embrace colour and pattern. You don't have to go overboard here or go too bold. Many of the paint colours at Charleston House have a dusty quality — this likely has more to do with age than anything else — but there's something in the quality of these paint colours that make Charleston House seem much more livable than, say, a bright blue and red Mexican hacienda. Pattern can be as simple as a lovely paisley throw over a plain slipcovered piece of furniture.

3. Live with the things you love. Curate and display treasured belongings. Artwork (whether it be professional or a child's finger painting), photos and keepsakes (your grandmother's clock or a memento from a special time) should be put out somewhere where they can be admired. Again, you don't have to go overboard here. Things can start looking like an episode of Hoarders. (I'll admit, I have to edit my home continually as things sometimes start to veer in this direction.)

The Bloomsbury look may not be for everyone, but it's withstood the test of time with its warm mix of classic and creative. Try it out!

Pick up our March 2015 issue for more on this style.

Photo credits:
1-7. Charleston House


Kai Ethier

At this year's Interior Design Show in Toronto, H&H designed a kitchen for the Ikea booth using the new Sektion kitchen system

Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Hartill carefully crafted a British Eclectic–style kitchen with Joel Bray, and the results are simply stunning! Here's how they described the kitchen:

"Inspired by cosy panelled libraries, we layered soulful materials and rich colours that give the kitchen a sense of history and romance — white oak herringbone floors, matte black and brass hardware, a vintage stone-top table — then added a little modern quirk with statement lighting and accessories. Lots of smart storage solutions ensure everything is always at your fingertips: set behind clear glass doors, a walk-in pantry is far from hidden, and a classic rolling ladder makes it easy to reach the ceiling-height cabinets. High-tech appliances, a TV and an iPad deliver all the speed and convenience of the multimedia world, but the overall effect is warm and eccentric in a charming British way."

Get an up-close look at the kitchen this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (booth #926).

Here are a few of your photos on Instagram: 



This two toned kitchen, wood & old world - like tile just exudes warmth... yes? So lovely! Designed by #houseandhome & #ikeacanada for #ids15

A photo posted by Interior Design Master Class (@interiordesignmasterclass) onJan 23, 2015 at 5:08am PST



Loving the feel of this pantry in the @houseandhomemag #ikeacanada #ids15 booth! The wallpaper, lighting so good...

A photo posted by Wendy Hicken (@wendyhicken) onJan 22, 2015 at 9:20pm PST


Visiting the show? Tag your H&H kitchen pics with @houseandhomemag on Instagram using #IDS15.

For more photos from IDS15, check out our Twitter and Instagram feed. Plus, see Kimberley Brown's favourite finds at the show.




Photo credits:
1-3. via @IKEACanada on Twitter

Seema Persaud

Just as this outfit made its way down the Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2015 runway, we were all in the process of transitioning into cold weather clothes and decorating ideas for Winter 2014/2015. The cycles of fashion and trends can be bewildering! But it occurred to me that buffalo check — and in particular this black-and-white version — is an all-weather favourite that can take on so many different moods. A crop top is definitely not in the cards for me, but a pencil skirt with the print on the bias and spectator loafers — that I could do!

But given current temps, I'd happily cozy up to a check-clad wing chair with a wooly throw and big mug of tea.

Then again, look how fun this mid-century style Jack Chair from Schoolhouse Electric is. I think I might like it even more than the wing chair.

If I were the kind of person who had a ski lodge in the French Alps, I'd also be the kind of person to install buffalo check carpet with emerald green velvet furniture just as designers Joseph Dirand and India Mahdavi did at L'Apogée Courchevel hotel.

On the walls? Sure, why not? It can be tricky to work with a pattern this bossy. I think it's best as either the only print in the room or paired with just one other equally gutsy pattern of similar scale. This striped chair holds it's own in this Bierly-Drake designed space.

Do you remember our Ikea kitchen winner from the October 2014 issue of House & Home? Senior design editor Sarah Hartill really knocked this design out of the park. Her pairing of the bold Verdure Zoffany wallpaper with a check roman blind is the perfect expression of the homeowners' eclectic taste. Best tip: the blind fabric is a steal at $10/meter from Ikea!

If you've got white slipcovered furniture just add a throw cushion or throw to give your space a little dose of Scandinavian country.

And one last thought: It was just a happy accident that Katie Hayden's post on decorating rooms for boys also featured a room done in black-and-white buffalo check. Like I said, versatile, right?

Photo credits:
1. Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2015 runway,
2. Maik Rositzki
3. Jack Chair, Schoolhouse Electric
4. L'Apogée Courchevel via A-Gent of Style blog
5. New England Home, photography by Michael Partenio
6. House & Home October 2014 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
7a. KariFisherDesign, Etsy
7b. Buffalo Plaid Fringed Throw, Schoolhouse Electric


Margot Austin

You never know where your next great idea might come from. That's why I always have my phone charged and ready to capture a moment of inspiration. When I travel, my design spidey senses are on even higher alert. Here are a few of the details that got me snapping pictures and thinking during my recent visit to Los Angeles and San Francisco with the #BlogTourCali group. (Read more about my trip in my previous blog post.)

I spotted this circular colour study painting by Don Suggs at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica. I found it utterly mesmerizing. I'm interested in how masters of a particular craft can take something simple and make it sensational. This seems simple — circles painted in many different colours — and yet it has so much energy and movement. And the colour combination is very unusual. It inspires me to try something new — an art technique, a colour combo, something!

L.A. furniture retailer Graye had a minimalist booth at the West Edge Design Fair. But this prop vignette begged me to snap a pic. I love the mix of materials, shapes and patina. A display like this is a great idea for an off-duty dining table or a centre hall table. Time to pull some old things out of the china cabinet and experiment. My favourite takeaway is the idea of placing an object on a stack of books to give it more presence — classic styling trick.

After L.A. the BlogTour group hit the road up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. The views are breathtaking. The ocean gets me every time. Awe in the true sense of the word. And how about those colours?

Have you ever tried the Sherwin-Williams online colour tool called Let's Chip It? It's so much fun. Go to, upload a photo, and you get a palette of five Sherwin-Williams colours pulled from your photo.

Click the Edit Photos button on the bottom right and five more colours pop up for you to play with. You can drag and drop the chips back and forth to customize a palette that matches your photo. It's a no-fail way to devise a decorating palette because nature always gets colour right.

And speaking of great colours, I snapped this shot of tomatoes at the green market where we stopped for lunch in Monterey. Like I said, nature gets colour right.

We hit up a few design shops in San Francisco. I spied this credenza at the extraordinary Thos. Moser showroom. The furniture is all beautifully handmade. This little idea for cabinet pulls caught my attention. You can barely see these leather pulls when the drawers are closed. They are just deep enough for your fingers to grasp. And when you open the drawer you get a little treat — three perfect brass screws hold the pull into a carefully chiselled space so that the pull is flush with the top of the drawer. I'd love to try to replicate this concept on a furniture makeover project.

The Serena & Lily design shop is just a few doors down Sacramento Street. I loved the store's super simple take on plantings out front — grass en masse. The mane-like texture is a fun alternative to the more expected choices of boxwood or other evergreen. The grasses sway in the wind beautifully and have a beachy vibe. Nice.

I took off on my own for a bit one afternoon to ogle the pretty houses. It's one of my favourite things to do when I travel — wander a neighbourhood to check out the architecture and paint colours and gardens. Many of San Francisco's Victorians are tarted up in several paint colours to highlight the intricate trims and adornments. I liked this place for its refusal to follow suit. What a beauty.

These homeowners also opted for a one-colour scheme, but with a very different effect. Walking by the house was such a strange experience for me. I've had it on my Pinterest board on Exterior Style for months. I knew it was in San Fran but I had no idea what street it was on and I certainly wasn't even looking for it. I was walking and I just looked up and there it was! Amazing coincidence. Love the black.

Photo credits:
1-10. Margot Austin


Margot Austin

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