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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!

Photo sources:
1., 3.-11. Reiko Caron
2. Pinterest
12. Jason Stickley


Reiko Caron

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!

Photo sources:
Wendy Jacob


Wendy Jacob

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.

What I really loved was the birch mural adorning the green walls. Cole & Son's famous Woods wallpaper, paired with a papier mâché deer sculpture or impala bust, conveys a (more humane) lodge vibe.

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.

Photo Sources:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. The Grand Budapest HotelFox Searchlight Pictures
3. Bantam Armchair in Leather, DWR; Blue Block Rug, CB2
4. The Grand Budapest HotelFox Searchlight Pictures;19th C. French Empire Crystal Chandelier, Restoration Hardware
5. The Grand Budapest HotelFox Searchlight Pictures
6. Rectory Red (217), Farrow & Ball

7. The Grand Budapest HotelFox Searchlight Pictures
8. Papier Mâché Animal Sculptures, West Elm; Woods Wallpaper, Cole & Son
9. The Grand Budapest HotelFox Searchlight Pictures
10. Cosette Bed, Antropologie; Macausland Throws, Drake General Store; Millenium Stripe Throw, The Hudson's Bay Company


Emma Tarswell

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.

Photo sources:
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


Brian Gluckstein

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.

Photo sources:
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


Margot Austin

After a long winter, I'm getting ready to trade in my warm layers and dark colours in my wardrobe and my home for all things light and airy. I’m saying so long to heavy fabrics like velvet and wool, and hello to lightweight materials and plenty of sunshine — and I’m starting with my windows.

Changing up your window coverings is an easy way to give your home a sense of airiness.

While we're seeing a lot of naked windows lately, they might not be ideal for people requiring privacy. Many homeowners and condo-dwellers (like me) are looking for other options.

Shade Works is a Canadian online retailer specializing in custom-made, functional and stylish window coverings at every price point. (This blog post is sponsored by Shade Works.)

Shade Works' line of window dressings focuses on versatility and streamlined style, and features a variety of smart upgrades, such as cordless options and automation.

Choose A Style

The company’s most popular design is its line of sheer shades — perfect for summertime, as they offer plenty of privacy without sacrificing natural light or a view of the outdoors.

These lightweight blinds (such as the Sheer Horizontal Shades, picture above) come in different sizes and fabrics to help bring a more sophisticated look to your room.

The line of Sheer Elegance Shades uses overlapping fabric bands to filter the amount of light coming in and add style to a room.

Choose black for a more dramatic look.

Panel Track Shades are a great option for large windows or patio doors. For spaces that get a lot of midday sunlight, opt for a Solar Screen Fabric (shown above), as they filter out harmful UV rays, eliminate annoying glare, and help keep your home cool. Select your own “Openness Factor” to determine the percentage of light coming through the shade. All Panel Track Shade fabric options are also available in Roller and Roman Shades, which makes it easy to match with other window dressings throughout the home.   

When it comes to smaller windows in the kitchen or bathroom, keep things simple with a basic wood blind. They're easy to clean and won't collect mildew in a damp environment. For a less expensive version with the same look, try Faux-Wood Horizontals. Choose from several shades of white for a fresh and timeless look.

Take Measurements

When measuring the width and height of your window, measure in three spots (top, middle and bottom for vertical and left, centre and right for horizontal) and record the narrowest measurement.

The way you measure will depend on what kind of mount you've selected for your shades (inside mount or outside), and whether you've chosen a horizontal or vertical blind. Also, keep in mind that the headrail and valance will be slightly wider than your blinds, so account for some additional space.

For detailed measurement instructions, click here.

Don't trust your measuring skills? Shade Works can send someone to your home to take the measurements for you. See their website for more information.

To learn more about Shade Works and their products, visit their website, call toll-free (1-888-870-2130), or email them at

Photo credits:
1-5. Shadeworks

I attended a lovely luncheon some weeks ago with the people from Benjamin Moore. The occasion was the unveiling of the company's top colours for 2014. Well, it may be that the pale aqua Breath of Fresh Air is their colour of the year, but the one that won my heart is Fruit Shake, seen in the image above. There are no two ways about it. That is pink. It's not blush or buff, it's real deal pink; and I like it. This is new for me. Well, newish.

I first started thinking about pink a few years ago, right around the same time that UK architect, shopkeeper and blogger Ben Pentreath painted his former London flat in Farrow & Ball Pink Ground. How fantastic. There is so much going on in this space, and yet the wall colour, while seeming neutral, is definitely an active ingredient in the whole.

This living room by Stephen Sills shows another great way to use pink — linen slipcovers. The room looks relaxed, cottagey and welcoming — but not a bit precious.

Another of my favourites used pink for this wonderful bedroom. Peter Dunham, the ex-pat Brit in LA did this room for the House of Windsor Veranda show house in 2011. It has so much I love: a poster bed, all the various textiles and, yes, those pink walls. I think I'd wake up feeling beautiful if I lived in this room. Interestingly, the lady of this house is now Gwenyth Paltrow, who purchased the home once its life as a showhome was complete. No idea if the show house goods were part of the sale but who knows, maybe she's waking up feeling beautiful here.

Conversely, I also like the idea of using pink in a very understated room. In this case the colour makes the space. I have my husband on board with the decision to paint the guest room in our Tweed, Ont. house pink. It's not unlike this room — I'd like to do seagrass wall-to-wall carpet like this as well. We have mahogany antiques in the space, which I think will look great with the pink. I'll tone it all down with lots of white and natural linen textiles.

I could definitely love winter more if this sort of vista was part of my daily comings and goings. Alas, not so. This apparently is Warsaw, Poland. What a scene. I love the play between the falling snow, the curlicues of the lanterns and that magnificent rose-coloured building.

Since an overseas excursion isn't in the cards, I'd be happy to settle for this pair of Ray Ban specs, available through J.Crew. With these and some vitamin D I'd surely be in the pink!

Find more ways to decorate with pink inspiration in this gallery.

Photo sources:
1. Benjamin Moore
2. Ben Pentreath
3. Stephen Sills Associates
4. Max Kim-Bee via Veranda
5. Light Locations
6. Get on the Carousel
7. J.Crew

House & Home took over the stage at the Interior Design Show in Toronto on Sunday, January 26 with a panel of style experts that included Lynda Reeves, Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Richardson. To kick off the day, Lynda Reeves and Kelvin Browne, the executive director and CEO of the Gardiner Museum, discussed how to keep trad pieces looking fresh. To illustrate the point, Lynda displayed images from three of Kelvin's homes (shown below) that have been featured in the magazine, from a quaint country stone cottage, to a soaring modern structure that Kelvin designed, to a downsized city apartment. Lynda highlighted the furnishings and accessories that Kelvin used in different homes, then Kelvin shared his top 10 tips on freshening traditional style and finding pieces that will stay with you for decades.

1) Love the stuff you own. Kelvin's first tip was to make sure that you never buy for a "look" as it will never work. Instead, shop for things that you are actually drawn to and excited about.

2) Buy old things. "Some reproductions can cost more than the real thing," Kelvin says, suggesting antique stores, auctions and estate sales as great sources for antique bargains. "Older items will also have a great patina to add personality that you can't get with a brand new item, and antiques are particularly affordable now."

3) Never buy fancy. "Basically, you'll look desperate and no one will be comfortable if you try to decorate to impress."

4) Orderly is good but you should feel as though you can put your feet up. Comfort is key, you want to be able to use your whole house.

5) Personality isn't clutter. "A small number of meaningful items scattered throughout a home is fine, and should be done to create a sense of self in a home."

6) Don't pay for a patterned sofa. Kelvin explained that couches are a big budget item and should be kept neutral to last with changing styles and tastes. Because of their size, Kelvin likens a sofa to a "beached whale" that gobbles up space, and is too big of investment for a pattern you might tire of (on a side note, a well constructed sofa can easily last 20 years, so be prepared to switch up the upholstery to get the most mileage out of it).

7) Furniture doesn't need to be big to be comfortable. Small condos need small furniture. "Mid-century furniture tends to be more compact."

8) A theme pulls everything together. Everyone is mixing periods but editing is required to create a cohesive look.

9) Not everything is a bargain. "Sometimes you need to invest to get something that looks great and will last."

10) Leave time for evolution. "Never furnish a place immediately, see how the pieces you already have work in a new space, and then move things around."

From these tips, Lynda and Kelvin agreed that it is important that a home reflects you. Books, travel souvenirs, art, and family heirlooms all show your personality and should be on view rather than hidden away. Kelvin's final word: "Never be a stranger in your own home."

Photo credits:
1. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
2. House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
3. House & Home April 1997, Ted Yarwood
4. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
5. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
6.House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
7. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald
8. House & Home April 1997, Ted Yarwood
9. House & Home August 2006, Virginia Macdonald
10. House & Home April 2013, Virginia Macdonald

I think we can all agree that January is bananas. Everyone is doing everything with fresh resolve, from hitting the gym to fixing up our homes. The result is a sort of frantic optimism that usually simmers down to a sustainable productivity. (Or completely evaporates, but I'm still being optimistic!). Perhaps not coincidentally, the calendar is chockablock with events that aim to inspire design enthusiasts to update, upgrade and embrace change.

In Toronto, the Interior Design Show (IDS), Come Up to My Room, Capacity and Toronto Design Offsite all kick off this week. This year, IDS welcomes Moroso's Creative Director Patrizia Moroso as international guest of honour; the above sofa is by Marc Thorpe for the brand. In Paris, Maison & Objet takes place from January 24 to 28 and will reveal what's new and next from nearly 3,000 different brands. And NY Now will do the same on this side of the pond from February 1 to 6.

But don't let all of this attention on the latest and greatest obscure the biggest trend of 2014. Marketers already have a term for it: JOMO or The Joy of Missing Out. The decade came in on a wave of frantic connectivity that made us social voyeurs and left us constantly wondering, "Are we missing out?" A few years older and wiser, our collective answer is, "So what?"

Twice a month, Google is hosting silent "mindful lunches." App creators are giving us guided meditation sessions at our fingertips. And our homes are reflecting this desire to stop multitasking and live in the moment.

The trend doesn't manifest itself as a style so much as an attitude. As I hop from event to event deciding what's hot and what's not, I'll be asking myself: Is this of the moment? More than ever, the answer will have less to do with colour and finish, and everything to do with how we want to live in the here and now.

Photo credits:
1. Moroso
2. Ditte Isager, Paul Costello
3, 5. Ditte Isager
4. Amy Neunsinger, Notes on Design
5. Ditte Isager
6. Miles Redd photographed by Paul Costello, Melanie Acevedo

It's awards season and there seems to be little doubt that American Hustle will be gathering up statuettes from now until the March 2 Oscars. Opinion on the film is divided, but I enjoyed it, especially the costumes and sets. My favourite interior from the film is the Upper East Side apartment of Sydney (played by Amy Adams). I want to move in. That's the genius of great production design; it has to be appealing to our eye now yet still look right for the time of the story. Designer Judy Becker definitely pulled it off.

The set was built on a soundstage, but it looks like an apartment in any given North American metropolis. List the key pieces and you could just as easily be making up a trends list for 2014. Here are some of my favourites:

Who knew we'd ever love these old style parquet floors again, and yet we find our hearts warming to them. On the walls, grasscloth is the perfect way to lend dimension and interest to surfaces otherwise devoid of architectural character. This one is from Philip Jeffries.

The eating area and a bit of the kitchen are visible in the first and second images above. The seating includes two icons — Thonet bent-wood counter stools (check out Crate & Barrel's interpretation shown) and the Cesca S32 by Marcel Breuer.

The dining area also features the forever cool white Parsons dining table like this West Elm one, and a simple white enamel pendant. This one by Gubi is very similar.

Abstract art makes one of the few colour statements in the space. This piece from Anthropologie is in the same spirit.

The living area is all about white with pops of red.

If you painted the legs of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Martin sofa and matching club chair white, you'd have virtual clones of the pieces on set. Who knows, maybe that's what the set dressers did.

There's plenty of shiny brass on set, including this table and a matching side table. It's a 1970s interpretation of Art Deco and you can buy it on 1stdibs.

The finishing touches for the living area include an oversized version of an Anglepoise lamp similar to the London at Structube, large potted plants like this palm from Ikea, a shag rug (of course!) like this one from CB2, and a tumble of cushions in deep red boho textiles. You can find these at Ikea now, though they aren't on the website since they are all one-of-a-kind. Etsy is also a great source for this style of pillow cover.

Photo credits:
1. (set photo) via Birds of a Feather blog, (chair) Classic Design 24, (painting) Anthropologie
2. (set photo) via Thrifty Amos blog
3. (Parquet floor) no credit, (grasscloth) Philip Jeffries
4. (Thonet bent-wood counter stools) Crate & Barrel, (Cesca S32 chair) Classic Design 24
5. (table) West Elm, (pendant light) Gubi
6. (painting) Anthropologie
7. (set photo) via Birds of a Feather blog
8. (sofa) Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, (chair) Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
9. (table) 1stdibs
10. (lamp) Structube, (palm) Ikea
11.(carpet) CB2, (pillow) Etsy


Margot Austin

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