Many people like the charm and character of older homes, but often they can be daunted by the amount of restoration they require, as well as the costs associated with maintaining them. Many of my clients at Philip Mitchell Design request "A New Old Home." Essentially a house that feels and looks authentic in style, design and finishing, but that functions more efficiently than a historic property, with minimal or no upkeep.
The suggestions below definitely conjure historical charm and character, whether you are restoring, renovating, building an addition, or constructing a new home from scratch.
1. Paint Colours
Using historic paint colours for both interiors and exteriors provides that depth and softness often associated with period buildings.
2. Plumbing Fixtures
By adding original or reproduction vintage style faucets, pedestals, tubs and water closets, you can recreate that classic heritage feeling from a bygone era.
3. Windows And Doors
Selecting a specific window and door style based on appropriate historical style, size, mullion profile and glass can add that character often found in older homes.
Installing historically accurate reproduction or antique handles, knobs and latches in timeless finishes like natural un-lacquered brass, bronze and iron, can provide instant age to a project.
5. Roofing Materials
Choosing a composite cedar roofing product or standing metal seam roof (rendered in steel, aluminum or copper) can add that bit of history to a newly constructed home, while virtually remaining maintenance free for years.
6. Architectural Salvage
Introducing a unique salvaged architectural element, such as a vintage cabinet or an antique mantelpiece from a historic building, add character into a new space, and is eco friendly at the same time.
Introducing a number of different types and sources (wall sconces, surface mount fixtures, pendants and picture lights) of antique-look lighting fixtures can add a charming ambiance to new space.
Browse a gallery of Philip's designs.
1. Benjamin Moore
2. Spaces Design
5. Tim McGhie, via House & Home
6. Angus McRitchie, via House & Home
8. PMD Design Inspirations
9. James Dixon Architect PC
10. House & Home October 2010 issue
11. Steven Grambel, via House & Home
12. House & Home July 2010 issue.
Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen and Style Me Pretty has been named one of Toronto Life’s top 6 most inspiring home decor bloggers. She's always full of good ideas, and has an eye for gorgeous images so we couldn't wait to ask her tips for ushering in the new season with style.
After the dreadfully long winter we all experienced over the last few months, I'm beyond thrilled that Mother Nature has finally started to co-operate! Though every change of season tends to ignite that desire for a fresh start, this seems to ring particularly true when it comes to spring. And as the temperature increases, so too does my need to transform my home to prepare for the warm months ahead. Here are my personal favourite tips and tricks that truly help bring spring home:
Spending a few dollars a week on fresh flowers (fresh tulips, a handful of gorgeous magnolia branches or a potted orchid) is incredibly effective. After a long, grey winter, it truly helps infuse a sense of life into your every day.
Deck Your Door
A little paint goes a long way! Greet your guests with a freshly painted, vibrant front door. Think poppy red, a bright shade of coral or a more subdued teal. Bonus: it increases curb appeal and is a welcome sight when you return home each evening.
Infuse New Scents
When it comes to your home, you need to consider all five senses. All too often the sense of smell falls by the wayside, but I stand by the fact that it's one of the most important! Save the masculine, woodsy scents for the cosy wintry months. Instead, consider lightly scented candles or incense like vanilla fig, Meyer lemon or cucumber.
Whether it's in the form of a new toss cushion, switching out some artwork (there are so many wonderful, inexpensive prints online) or a new coffee table book... Introducing a new hue into your decor regimen is a wonderful way to make a space feel fresh and new on a dime.
Think About Texture & Introduce Natural Materials
Tuck away those heavy fabrics for the cooler months ahead. We're talking heavy wool curtains, velvet toss cushions and that furry throw you love. Instead, introduce natural materials: cotton, linen and the like for a light, bright feel. Bonus: your winter decor will feel brand new when you bring it out again months down the line.
Put Up A Bird Feeder
We can't forget about our fellow feathered friends! Invite them to stay a while by hanging a simple bird feeder on your balcony or in your yard. Instant spring, I swear!
Start an Indoor Herb Garden
Not only does it smell amazing, much like the addition of fresh flowers, it instills a sense of life into your home. Bonus: it's crazy satisfying to be able to whip up a meal with the help of some of your home grown friends.
Dress Your Bed
Flannel bed sheets be gone! Switching them out for a cotton set may be a no-brainer, but it's something I look forward to all year. In addition, opting for a light quilt in lieu of your feathered duvet is intrinsically satisfying.
When it comes down to it, small details and simple touches are key. It's amazing how these simple changes can make your entire home feel brand new without having to spend a ton.
1. Potted Orchid, Lark & Linen
2. Charleston Front Door, Elisa Brickler for Hearth Magazine
3. Tulips, Bess Friday (photography) and Caitlin Flemming (design)
4. Living room photographed by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine, via Style Me Pretty Living
5. Prue Roscoe photographed room, Design Sponge
6. Herb Garden photography by Ruth Eileen, via SMP Living
Every home needs a space dedicated to unwinding. No TV or computer screens, no work — just a simple retreat for relaxing.
Whether they’re indoors or out, my favourite serene spaces incorporate lots of natural elements — think neutral colours, textured accents and plenty of sunlight.
Air Wick is embracing all things natural with their line of scented oil, including the new Lavender and Chamomile scent. Known individually for their relaxing properties, these scents combine for an easy way to bring serenity to an indoor space such as a bedroom, bathroom or living room. (This blog is sponsored by Air Wick.) Using natural essential oils, these scented oil plug-ins fill the room with a gentle, relaxing scent to help you unwind.
Here are a few of my favourite natural spaces dedicated to all things calm and cool:
The white-washed walls of this beach-inspired bedroom create a serene envelope for natural, textured accents to take centre stage. A neutral colour palette of white and straw keeps everything restful and gives the feel of a tranquil getaway.
This little desk is nestled between built-in cabinets and has natural sunlight flooding in — perfect for reading, writing or simply contemplating the day. Natural, bare floors and strong, open sightlines enhance this tranquil space.
In the spring and summer months, carry your decorating outside with these easy ideas. A small backyard at home or the cottage can be easily transformed into a vacation-like spot with a few simple ideas. A white tarpaulin is hung to create a cabana-like sitting area with an assortment of rattan furniture, Moroccan-inspired lanterns and a salvaged-wood coffee table. The best part? Everything is set on humble pea gravel, making this a simple and affordable getaway to create.
If you’ve got the budget to hire a landscape architect, a well-designed backyard oasis can help make the most of an afternoon in the shade. All-weather wicker, neutral cushions with a pop of green combine to create this calming backyard getaway.
No matter how busy you are, be sure to take some time to yourself to relax in your own nature-inspired getaway. Learn more about Air Wick on their website, and click here to try it for free. Plus, enter our Spring Entertaining Contest for a chance to win $500 plus a basket of Air Wick products!
Photo sources:1. House & Home July 2007 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford 2. House & Home October 2010 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald 3. House & Home June 2010 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson 4. Maison et Demeure October 2010 issue, photography by Jean Longpré 5. Air Wick
Although it doesn't quite feel like spring outside, it's never too early to start lightening up our homes for the warmer months. It's this time of year that I often pare back on all the wooly throws, and switch out an area rug or two for a summer-appropriate sisal.
I also like to change up my bedding for spring. Heavy duvet covers, blankets, and extra accent pillows just seem in the way on humid summer night, so getting back to simple essentials is a must. Here are a few great spring and summer bedding items that I have my eye on.
I love the vintage look of this duvet cover through Jayson Home. It has enough pattern to add interest, but it's subtle enough to be layered with other colours and textures. This duvet cover would look great folded back at the bottom of a bed.
I love the rich navy blue colour and the subtle stitch detail of Serena & Lily's matelassé coverlet. It would look amazing covering the majority of the bed.
Linen shams and sheets are summer essentials. Their lightweight feel and causal rumpled look pairs well with the laissez-faire attitude of summer bed making.
There's something about an artisanal block print that just screams summer to me, and this Kabora pillow by John Robshaw is pretty much perfect. Navy and orange are a hot and very summer-appropriate colour combo, add a hit to update your neutral linens.
Get more inspiration in this gallery of summer decorating tips.
It's on. The hunt for the perfect coffee table for our new condominium has commenced. I'm also searching for one for a friend, and just yesterday I had two conversations about coffee tables with H&H colleagues who are also in the market. What is it with coffee tables? There are so many available, and yet when you search for one you can never seem to find exactly the right one. I'm happy to report that this time I'm finding lots to love. In case you are hunting for one too, here are my current faves.
1. Florence Knoll Coffee Table
First up is this classic from 1961, designed by Florence Knoll (shown here and also in the room above). This embodies my idea of great design – it's just enough and not too much. The real McCoy comes in many different sizes and with options for glass, marble, wood or granite top. The base is satin chrome. It starts at about $1,000, which to me seems a fair price for design genius. That said, there are interpretations of this at many different price points. I'm thinking up a custom version with an antiqued brass base and a top in a marble with warm veining like Calacatta. Starting at $1,000, Florence Knoll.
This lovely thing has some obvious mid-century leanings and is of a genre I call the surfboard coffee table, for obvious reasons. I visited this recently in store and really fell for the beautifully grained shesham wood top. And it may be hard to tell from this photo, but the base is actually antiqued brass. Quite fantastic. I love an oval for the ease of traffic flow around it. $899, Crate & Barrel.
3. Burnt Brass
And speaking of brass, this monolith has a touch more glint than the base of the Bel-Air but still has a wonderful aged look. This table is so sexy — I think you need a DVF wrap dress or a Halston dress and strappy sandals to go with. $1,622, Black Rooster Décor.
4. Faux Shagreen Waterfall
This piece calls to mind the designs of the great Jean-Michel Frank, who is known for simple table shapes wrapped in luxurious materials like goatskin, parchment and shagreen. This version features faux shagreen mixed with honey oak trim. To be honest, I'm not nuts about the honey oak, but I wouldn't hesitate for a second to tape off the shagreen parts and cover the oak with a high gloss paint in a colour to match the shagreen or even gold or silver leaf. Boom! $965, Black Rooster Décor.
I'm a big fan of this table. I think it's perfectly excellent and simple and super affordable just the way it is. However, if you are so inclined, it is also the perfect blank canvas for your creative energies. Just Google "Ikea Lack coffee table hack" and you'll find links to a million methods of reinvention. On my to do list is to cover one in faux shagreen wallpaper. From $25, Ikea.
When faced with my latest makeover — a small condo bedroom — I knew I needed to design a feature wall with lots of interest, but that wouldn't be too busy visually. Here's a before shot of bedroom:
I'd found my inspiration on Pinterest: a gritty but subtle ombré effect that could be recreated with paint.
Paint was going to play a major part in this transformation, so I had to pick the perfect colours. I picked three consecutive shades of blue from the Beauti-Tone deck: Ocean Crest (C9-7-0502-0) as the base colour, and Water Droplet (C9-7-0503-0) and Indian Tears (C9-7-0504-0) to layer over top. I chose a matte finish to mimic the look seen in the inspiration image.
The first step in this transformation was to get rid of the dark beige walls. A fresh coat of primer and the room was brighter already!
I then applied two coats of the palest blue all over the room. I used the same colour for the trim, but used Beauti-Tone's Door & Trim paint instead.
On a side note, have you noticed that I used painter's tape along a popcorn ceiling? Frog Tape actually worked along the uneven surface! I was quite happy about that.
The prep work before starting the effect was crucial: I sealed the baseboards with painter's tape and placed a thick drop sheet on the floor because I knew it was going to get messy.
To create the paint effect, I used a masonry brush (for its width and natural bristles). I mixed the medium blue paint (Water Droplet) with equal parts water which gave me a runny, watercolour-type consistency.
I applied it in an upwards motion until it gradually faded.
Once dry, I used the same technique with the darkest blue (Indian Tears), and kept my brushstrokes to the lower half of the wall, letting the medium blue peek through the top.
I was quite pleased with the final look. I could definitely see the brushstrokes and variations in colour, but it wasn't too flashy or distracting for a bedroom.
Creating a feature wall with paint was an easy way to add a bit of personality to an otherwise basic room!
We are nearing the finish of our Belgian-Inspired Budget Basement but have encountered this thorny issue. Which colour should I paint our maple bookcases?
I have wallpapered the back in an ocelot print to disguise the tired Masonite, but the wood doesn't suit the new grey palette or the wallpaper. Which shade do you think works best?
I painted a sample board and propped it up near the fireplace, which was one of the starting points for the palette. That's Mole's Breath on the left, and Dove Tale on right, both by the venerable Farrow & Ball.
If you had to choose, would it be the darker and more dramatic shade shown on top or the lighter one which changes considerably depending on the light.
Let me know because I can't wait to show you the results!
Wes Anderson tends to divide people; you either love his films or you hate them. I fall in the love camp, primarily because of his meticulous set detail. If you want to step into that world, I gathered some products inspired by his latest release, The Grand Budapest Hotel. As usual, I was blown away by the world created by Anderson and his Oscar-nominated art director, Adam Stockhausen.
Stockhausen has said that he and Anderson looked to archival photochroms (colourized black-and-white photographs) from Eastern European hotels and buildings to get this colour-scheme. (If you're looking to add a touch of Anderson aesthetic to your home but aren't prepared to go all out, this type of photograph can be found at almost any antique or vintage store that sells ephemera. I picked up some vintage photochrom postcards of Versailles from a Toronto shop a few summers ago).
"The construction of the sets and the design of the sets, even if it's on location — this is all carefully planned," Anderson told NPR. There's always a very specific colour palette in Anderson films; The Darjeeling Limited had light blue, red, teal, orange and golden yellow; whereas Rushmore featured dark greens, burnt orange, beige and royal blue. The Grand Budapest Hotel follows this with olive green, baby blue, Cartier red, carnation pink, pale yellow and dark purple.
The hotel's dining room features a huge mural of mountains and rolling hills that has all of these tints. Murals are very on trend and can be found at a variety of price points. If you have a blockbuster budget, try de Gournay for gorgeous prints that harken back to Regency England. The above image, from Surface View and sourced from the British National Gallery, is a great inbetween example. Surface View allows for a bit of customization: you can search their catalogue and isolate parts of an image that you want for your walls. Anthropologie also sells murals but at a much lower cost (a bit better for a renter, like me).
Moving between three eras but primarily set in two, the 1960s and the 1930s, Anderson used an abandoned German department store from the 1910s as the hotel's interior. The '60s saw more of the olive from the palette, and the yellow was used in marbled walls and the shade of wood used in the era's popular paneling.
The Art Nouveau (Jugendstil in Germany) styling of the department store was given a more brutalist look that would have been found throughout Eastern Europe in the Post-War period. If you're drawn to the mid-century style furniture, try a DWR chair in a bold shade or a colour-blocked rug.
The hotel's heyday in the '30s begins with various vignettes that show off the interior and exterior based on the colours in the old photochroms. The lobby's high ceilings, intricate stairs and large chandeliers (Restoration Hardware has one that could be pulled right out of pre-war Europe) are set off by the pale yellow and carnation pink; giving the room the luxe feel typical of grand hotels of that era.
The Cartier-red used for the elevator's lacquered walls and the concierge desk convey complete opulence.
Stockhausen said that it took nine coats of the vermillion to get the look in each space, but painting out some shelving, or even a door with Farrow & Ball's Rectory Red would add a shot of Anderson's bold vision into your space.
Scenes set away from the hotel take place in a variety of locales, including the estate owned by Tilda Swinton's character. The mansion is dressed a bit like a hunting lodge: lots of wood, leather and animal heads.
Although more subdued and simple than the hotel and Swindon's estate, main character Agatha's (Saoirse Ronan) bedroom is curtained off with the same yellows and pinks found in the '30s hotel lobby, and her bedspread pairs the olive and yellow shades of the '60s lobby.
I particularly like the rustic barnboard flooring and wrought iron bed frame. I've had my eye on Anthropologie's Cosette Bed, which has a similar whimsical sensibility as Agatha's, and pulls in the Art Nouveau look of the hotel's lobby and entrance. Throw an HBC Millenium Stripe blanket or a Macausland throw on top and you've got a similar vibe.
The movie sets' extensive detail and saturated colour palette may be more fantastical than real, but sometimes it's nice to step into a highly-stylized space (and maybe borrow a few ideas for the real world).
See our photo gallery for more inspirational movie sets.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
3. Bantam Armchair in Leather, DWR; Blue Block Rug, CB2
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures;19th C. French Empire Crystal Chandelier, Restoration Hardware
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
6. Rectory Red (217), Farrow & Ball
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
8. Papier Mâché Animal Sculptures, West Elm; Woods Wallpaper, Cole & Son
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
10. Cosette Bed, Antropologie; Macausland Throws, Drake General Store; Millenium Stripe Throw, The Hudson's Bay Company
With spring just around the corner (or maybe a few blocks away) we can't help dreaming about being outside surrounded by lush greenery. We asked an H&H favourite, designer Brian Gluckstein, to guest blog this week and show us some inspirational outdoor spaces. Not surprisingly, the results are as sophisticated and worldly as Brian's designs. Come stroll with Brian as he points out his favourite features.
"A narrow garden with a striking folly, this reflecting pool gives depth to the garden and creates a magical reflection."
"Make a lap pool luxurious by anchoring the pool house and the main house with a shallow garden."
"When installing pools, I don't like a lot of stone around the pool. I love the idea the pool as a water feature with grass right to the coping. This is the same way I've done my own pool."
"I like this multi-level garden that creates elegant, sculptural forms out of planting."
"Magical. That's all I have to say."
"I love how the walkout from the basement is open here. Having a garden on the basement level and then stepping up to the main garden brings the light and the garden to the lower level."
"Aged terracotta pots and variegated green planting add a classical note to this rear focal wall."
See Brian's gallery of inspiring interiors.
1. via Riding The Buses blog
2. via Mark D. Sikes blog, Houses Of Veranda, architecture by McAlpine Tankersley
3. via What Is James Wearing blog from Forever Green, design by Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design, photo by Michael Stavaridis
4. via How To Spend It blog, design by del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
5. via French Villas by Luxury Retreats
6. del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
7. Villa Saladino via Mark D. Sikes blog, design by John Saladino
I got a start on spring cleaning and de-cluttering over the weekend and it feels so great! I’m starting to love my place again now that every corner isn’t full of dust bunnies and the resulting clutter that accumulates from two busy lives.
In the living room (above), I re-arranged the mantel display, removed several accessories from the bookshelves, and culled about a dozen dated hardcovers from our collection. We sold the pair of chairs in this photo. I miss their pretty colour, but I am enjoying the more open feel that resulted when we replaced them with a single chair moved up from the basement family room. One thing I’ve always loved about my living room is the abundant natural light. ‘Tis the season when we can all use as much light in our lives as possible, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my six secrets to creating a light, bright, airy interior.
1. White paint. To quote the great decorator Elsie de Wolfe, one cannot go wrong with “plenty of optimism and white paint.” My entire main floor is painted Benjamin Moore’s classic Cloud White (CC-40), but I’ve lately even been thinking it could use an update with even whiter Oxford White (CC-30). Designer Lynn Morgan’s living room (above) and all the spaces shown here are also swathed in white paint. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lynn has soaring 12-foot ceilings and windows almost as tall! Other go-to whites are: All White (2005) by Farrow & Ball, Snowfall (SR29) by Para Paints and Popped Corn (W-B-200) by Behr.
2. Add a mirror. A mirror placed on a wall adjacent to a window amplifies the natural light and reflects it into the room. Hang a mirror between windows to create the illusion of another window.
3. Dress windows minimally. My favourite options are shutters that cover only the bottom half of a window; a wall of white linen sheers; a roman blind that draws all the way open; white linen café curtains; or sometimes even no covering at all! Don’t forget: clean your windows!
4. Keep the floor quiet. Persian carpets and bold patterned flat-weaves may be all the rage these days, but they’re definitely busy and usually bossy — not what you want for a serene, lightened-up interior. Instead opt for no-pattern barefoot-friendly natural fibres like jute, seagrass, hemp or cotton. Or, better yet, embrace bare floors, if even just for the warmer months.
5. Choose a low-contrast palette. Try a modern take on quiet pastels; add a touch of pale sky blue to a neutral room; introduce fresh spring green or embrace blond wood or white-painted furniture to keep a sense of overall colour harmony. Use pattern in measured doses.
6. Bring nature home. Get your hands on a copy of Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo and heed the advice of its title. If you need convincing check out this photo from the book above! Treat yourself and your rooms to something with magnificent blooms or leaves or both. Hint: if you have to spend more than five minutes arranging flowers you are doing it wrong. Keep it simple.
For more seasonal inspiration, see Margot's DIY spring flower ideas.
1. Virginia Macdonald, September 2012 House & Home
2. Photograph by Christopher Baker via House Beautiful. Room design by Lynn Morgan
3. Philip House, NYC. Room design by Victoria Hagan
5. Max Kim-Bee from Veranda April 2011. Design by Frank Babb Randolph via Splendid Sass blog
6. Muuto via Nalles House blog
7. Ngoc Minh Ngo