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Inspiration Board

For those of you thinking this post is about decorated coffee tables layered with lush blooms and worldly objets d'art, I'm sorry I've deceived you. This one is for those who have busy homes with children and pets, and who wouldn't dream of a perfect coffee table display like this:

I'm sure you've had those moments when company is coming over and you need a quick mini-makeover. Here are a few tricks to pull off a clean look that requires little fuss. Now, dust off those Cheetos crumbs, hide those unsightly remotes and try one of these easy looks:

If you're receiving guests, chances are you'll be serving beverages. Pull out your finest tea set or pitcher and throw it all on your coffee table. If you have a serving tray, even better. If not, just arrange some snacks and napkins on a large, pretty plate and call it a day.

No drinks? No problem! Take a potted plant from another room and place it on your coffee table. A bowl of fruit always works, too. Stick to one kind — something that looks fresh like mandarins or green apples. No bruised bananas, please.

A fresh and colourful bouquet is always nice, but if time is limited, grab your strongest shears and head outdoors. Whether the trees have leaves or not, branches add a nice touch of nature. Pine branches look great, too.

If you have a game of chess worthy of display, then go for it! It'll add a handsome element to the room.

Try creating your own pretty objects by displaying a small collection in a bowl. Pebbles, game pieces, pine cones, buttons, whole walnuts — anything goes!

What are your some of your quick and easy styling tricks?

Photo credits:
1. Windsor Smith Lifestyle Architect
2. West Elm
3. Atlanta Homes, photography by Emily Followill, design by Alison Womack Jowers

4. Ryan Korban
5. Southern Living, photography by Roger Davis
6. Clockwise from top left: Design*Sponge, photography by Anna H. Blessing, Me & Alice blog, The Lettered Cottage blog, hand-felted pebbles, Etsy


Reiko Caron

If nothing else, graffiti is contentious. On one hand, spray can-wielding geniuses like Roadsworth and Bansky have elevated the form from petty vandalism to wit-filled art. On the other hand, no matter how gracefully applied, some people will always find the swoops, drips and splotches of brightly coloured paint overly gritty, or worse, completely offensive (particularly if the spraying was done illegally). Living in Toronto, I’ve seen the back and forth of the pro and con camps blow up over the past year as mayor Rob Ford has attempted to rid the city of graffiti, an act which has been met with both applause and derision (not to mention, ironically, a raft of new graffiti, much of which mocks the mayor).

Personally, I think graffiti has its place, especially when it’s clever and provocative (and done with the consent of the building owner). But I would have never thought of appropriating graffiti for interior design and decorating until I watched the online TV segment featuring the latest home revamp by Building Bryks Danielle Nicholas and Greg Bryk. The room that caught my eye was young Billy’s room. When I was growing up, I would have loved a room with such bold, graphic art on the wall (or, more truthfully, I would have loved to spray paint my own walls and not get in serious trouble for it — my mom would have strangled me). Below is a look at that room, plus some other furniture and decor I like that has been inspired by graffiti.  

Graffiti adds a refreshing, punk-y exuberance to Billy’s room in our February 2012 issue.

Spanish ceramics company Lladró is renowned for its soft and sweet figurines, so I was surprised (in a good way) to see their latest ornaments — sinister kids in graffiti-covered clothing, designed by guest artist Jaime Hayon.

Urbankind's humourous, Warhol-esque Imbue bedroom side tables are a subtler take on the graffiti trend.

The ultra-contemporary, very sparse patio of Metaform's new Luxembourg City space is given a lift with this graffiti-inspired mural by Sumo.

French artist Tilt's recent installation at a hotel room in Marseille's Au Vieux Panier hotel (appropriately called Panic Room) is clearly extreme and meant to shock. But it begs the question, what’s more interesting, the pristine white half, or the colourful, crazy graffiti half?

Photo credits:
1. House & Home February 2012 issue, photography by Ashley Tonner
2. Lladró
3. Urbankind
4. Metaform
5. Tilt, photo by BigAddict


Matthew Hague

It could be the spring-like weather this past weekend that got me thinking about florals, in particular vintage flower paintings. Whatever got me going, I spent the better part of this Sunday past trolling a couple of country flea markets looking for them. Often vintage flower paintings are not technically good, in particular the oil paintings, and therefore cheap on the pocketbook. But when displayed either in combination with other florals (think real flowers) or when displayed en masse, they are surprisingly effective. The overall look becomes less about the kitschy technique of the artist and more about the colour and vibrancy of the subject matter. What a treat for the eyes after months of grey days.

If you like this look, check out online vintage shops like those on Etsy — it's a quick way to get a grouping of paintings. I like Thimble 'N Thread.

These two paintings from Thimble 'N Thread would add just the right amount of colour to a room.

For more floral patterns on the cheap, check out our photo gallery of 10 Floral Accessories Under $50.

Photo credits:
1. Hemingway & Hepburn blog
2. Decor8 blog
3. The Life of Riley blog
4. Still Life Oil Painting from Thimble 'N Thread, Etsy
5. Still Life Oil Painting from Thimble 'N Thread, Etsy


Meg Crossley

I'm very excited about H&H's latest special issue, Best Decorating, which will be on newsstands only starting March 26th!

My colleague Meg Crossley and I co-edited this latest mag over the past several months and we can't wait to finally see it in print. We hope you enjoy it, too, and consider it a keeper issue. It's packed with inspirational images and decorating how-to tips from fellow editors and experts, and it's brimming with product and paint suggestions. (Keep your eyes open for this cover shot, a gorgeous story styled by Joel Bray and shot by Angus Fergusson!)

Working on the issue, we gathered story ideas and inspiration from favourite design websites, books, blogs and magazines — even our own H&H. It was a trip down memory lane pouring over the back issues of H&H, and I had to chuckle every time I saw my living room mantle at home pop up in a magazine spread. It can be slim pickins' for story locations and every editor has, at some point, ponied up his or her house as a spot to set up a photo shoot. For some reason, my living room has had its fair share of coverage. It's small, but has good light and good bones, decent trim work and a timeless mantle (surrounding a fireplace that doesn't work!). There isn't a lot of furniture or clutter in the room (save a sentimental piano I really need to relocate), so that might be one reason the room is often used for shoots. Plus, it's your basic white shell from top to bottom and makes for a clean canvas for editors' creativity.

I've rounded up many incarnations of my mantle. Loyal readers will probably recognize it from over the years. Even our photo editor Leslie Williams knows it well — she's been blurring out the cracks and chips on it for years!

This shot appeared in our July 2006 issue, styled by Stacey Smithers and photographed by Nina Teixeira. Pottery in shades of blue and a faux coral vignette add a summery feel to the room.

This shot from our September 2007 issue was styled by Morgan Michener and photographed by Mark Burstyn. The cubby bookcase was highlighted as an unexpected place to store fireside wood.

This is from our June 2008 issue, also styled by Stacey Smithers and photographed by Donna Griffith. Log wood storage again! This time in the hearth of my sadly non-functional fireplace.

Here it is again in our August 2009 issue, styled by Sarah Hartill and Michael Penney, photographed by Stacey Brandford. The now ubiquitous fallen antlers find a home in the hearth in our Art of Display story.

Here's my living room transformed into a dining room for our December 2009 issue by stylist Sasha Seymour, photographed by Angus Fergusson. The mod artwork conceals the original built-in mirror and totally changes the vibe.

For more mantel styling tips, see our Fireplaces & Mantel Displays photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home Best Decorating special issue
2. House & Home July 2006 issue, photography by Nina Teixeira
3. House & Home September 2007 issue, photography by Mark Burstyn
4. House & Home June 2008 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
5. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
6. House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson


Hilary Smyth

Getting married is something most girls dream about for their entire lives. They imagine the dress, decor, who their maid/matron of honour will be, and most important, who will be waiting for them at the end of the aisle.

My special day came last fall, just before I started here at House & Home, and I wanted to share a few photos of the absolutely gorgeous decorating by my wonderful mother-in-law Kelly Meighen and wedding planner Laurie Goldhar.

We chose Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works for our reception. Check out what the magical evening looked like.

The flowers were simple and beautiful.

The glow shining above from the rustic wood chandeliers combined with the candle light glistening from the tables. The dining space was filled with a soft, warm light. (Lynda Reeves chose similar chandeliers for the 2008 Princess Margaret Hospital showhome.)

They filled the tables down the centre of the room with the most delicious looking cheeses, fruits and desserts.

My side of the wedding party wore pink — they looked absolutely beautiful! And the pink added a contemporary spin to the harvest-like theme.

All in all, Kelly and Laurie did a fabulous job pulling the rustic theme together. I hope you've enjoyed a peek inside my big day.

For more wedding inspiration, see this Summer Weddings blog post.

Photo credits:
1-6. Photography by Bruce Zinger


Holly Meighen

It's no secret I've been known to frequent antique markets and flea markets whenever the opportunity arises. There are a few items I keep my eyes open for — tartan blankets, silhouettes and ironstone pitchers are all among them. Not surprisingly, I also have a weakness for magazines. Sometimes I pick up a back issue of a current magazine for a dollar or two. But occasionally I come upon true vintage gems like these:

These issues of Canadian Homes and Gardens date from the early '50s. They are so much fun to pore over to see how much some things have changed and how little others have. The cover of the one at the bottom of this photo is so amusing. There's dad, who we learn inside is Mr. Joseph Fleming, cleaning his guns in the living room, which is noted as the "Showplace of the house, transformed into a blending of Northern ruggedness and contemporary comfort." In some of my issues, the copy editor was Canadian journalism legend Robert Fulford. The women's editor was Zena Cherry, The Globe and Mail's former gossip columnist. On the masthead there's also a person with the title Child Training Consultant!

This issue is from 1951, but I think this room looks very now with its grey walls, Eames-style molded plywood coffee table and shag area rug. And the woman on the sofa looks like she was styled by Brad Goreski for Kate Spade New York 2012. (Never mind that the guy is smoking a pipe — yikes!)

The ads are a hoot! Love this one for The Decorator Refrigerator. It came with instructions on how to coordinate the appliance with your drapes using just 1-3/4 yards of fabric. Love it. It reminded me of a shot from the late Domino mag from a couple of years back of Nick Olsen with the fridge he transformed using a Paule Marrot tulip print wallpaper called Guermantes from Brunschwig & Fils.

Amazingly, so many of the stories are the kinds we would do today in the pages of House & Home. It seems clever storage solutions, small space tips, DIY ideas that save you money and this story called Where to Put Your TV Set are what we call "evergreen" editorial — in other words, always relevant. Others stories, like a DIY I spotted on how to insulate your pipes using asbestos cement you mix yourself, make you shudder in disbelief.

One issue included this bound-in sample of metallic geometric wallpaper by Sunworthy (left). Cole & Son's recent Sienna Tile (right) bears an uncanny resemblance.

One issue featured a contest where homemakers could write in their idea for a new gadget that would help them around the house. Mrs. Blenkhorn of Athol, Nova Scotia wished for some kind of machine that would automatically mix her bread dough.

Imagine how delighted Mrs. Blenkhorn would have been to receive a KitchenAid stand mixer or even a Cuisinart bread maker like these! We've come a long way Mrs. B.

Makes you wonder which new designs we have today will still look pleasing and even cutting-edge in 60 years.

If you haven't had enough mid-century inspiration, check out Morgan Michener's blog post.

Photo credits:
1, 2a, 3a, 4, 5a, 6. Margot Austin
2b. Kate Spade
3b. Domino November 2006 issue, photography by Paul Costello, from Apartment Therapy
5b. Cole & Son
7a. KitchenAid mixer, Bed, Bath & Beyond
7b. Cuisinart Bread Maker, Bed, Bath & Beyond


Margot Austin

Last week was New York City’s turn to influence fall’s fashion trends, and this week style hounds have turned their eyes to London. Or more specifically, to Kate Bosworth, who caused a stir when she showed up at the highly anticipated Burberry Prorsum show (along with celebs like Mario Testino and musician wearing an owl-embroidered grey jumper, which she paired with a black velvet belt and a taupe pencil skirt. While a few commentators were less than impressed with the quirky, casual ensemble, the Superman Returns star matched the models on the runway, many of whom were decked out in similar owl-emblazoned looks.

Personally, I like Kate and Burberry’s whimsical, animal-inspired outfits. They got me thinking of the myriad ways that fauna has influenced interior designers over the last couple of years with playful, cute and sometimes edgy pieces. Here’s a look at some of my favourites:

Fortunately, owl-influenced decor has moved well beyond '70s-style macramé wall hangings (yikes), like this adorable printed crib skirt from DwellStudio.

Snakeskin has been huge lately. While I like some of the decor this inspired, I’m too conservative to have, say, a full-on snakeskin bathtub. I do, however, love this understated, snake-printed robin’s egg blue wallpaper from Anthropologie (which also has swallows, rabbits and butterflies).

Foxes have a playful, clever charm — even when used as a doormat, like this one from West Elm.

These vintage zebra print chairs in fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg's Manhattan penthouse are interesting because of the tufts of mane running down their backs.

Kim Seybert's crocodile-inspired barware is subtle but still edgy, with its rough, bold texture.

I love horses (by far my favourite animal), but I wouldn’t necessarily want an equestrian-themed living room. These pared-down Dala ornaments from Mjölk are a good way to get a horsey hit without being over the top.

For more animal inspiration, see Meg Crossley's blog post on leopard print.

Photo credits:
1. Dwell Studio
2. Anthropologie
3. West Elm
4. Architectural Digest
5. Kim Seybert
6. Mjölk


Matthew Hague

I always crave colour at this time of year — enough with the black and grey! My latest purchase is a pair of kelly green cords from Anthropologie — kind of a "I want spring now" moment. Two of my colleagues have also picked up similar pants. Not only am I seeing it fashion, but also for the home. Have you seen the latest issue of House Beautiful? They have dedicated their March issue to the colour green.

I Absolutely love this outfit from J.Crew — you could design a room around this outfit!

Love love love this kelly green tufted sofa. The sheep is a cheeky touch (Victoria Webster has the same one!).

Green subway tiles matched with black and white checkerboard tiles looks clean and classic.

Another room designed by Kelly Wearstler hits it home with this amazing headboard.

This Bobble water jug designed by Karim Rashid is a fun way to add colour to your kitchen. (I have one!)

For more green inspiration, see our Green Rooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. No. 2 Pencil Skirt, J.Crew
2. Rue
3. Viceroy Santa Monica, Kelly Wearstler
4. Maison Marigold blog, designed by Kelly Wearstler
5. Bobble water jug


Sarah Hartill

Right now, it's Fashion Week in New York, and some of the world's biggest designers (Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger) are showing the clothes we'll all be clamouring for next fall and winter. It's the kind of event that gets trend watchers buzzing about the next "it" items. But it's not just the Anna Wintours, Daphne Guinesses and Bill Cunninghams of this world looking to the runways for the latest styles — interior designers are also keeping tabs on the newest looks. You never know when a fabric used by Calvin Klein or a shade of green on a Kate Spade frock will inspire a gorgeous interior. I've been keeping a close, curious eye too (which is easy to do by following fashion writers on Twitter), and below are five trends that I predict we'll see in interior design:

Black leather has been all over the runways this week, like this Alexander Wang trench worn by supermodel — and Tom Brady's wife — Gisele Bündchen.

Leather or not, black has generally been pretty ubiquitous, like the above outfit from Victoria Beckham.

Deep blues and rich reds have also been front and centre, like the above styles from Jil Sander. Isn't this supposed to be the year of Tangerine Tango?

Maybe it's because of the world's love of Downton Abbey, but historical references have been popping up on the runways, including Donna Karan's 1920s gangster pieces (left) and Dickensian, neo-Victoriana flourishes from Marc Jacobs (right) — think oversized wide brim hats and shoes with giant buckles. Both designers used hats from London milliner Stephen Jones.

There have been a lot of quirky texture mash-ups, like the pairing of soft, slick and rough from Prabal Gurung (a favourite designer of Michelle Obama!).

Sharp tailoring, strong lines and bold details (like prominant zippers and big buttons) have been a focus, like the above architectural looks from Canadian Jeremy Laing or Tommy Hilfiger.

For more fashion inspiration, see our Runway to Rooms and J.Crew Looks photo galleries.

Photo credits:
1. Women's Wear Daily, photo by George Chinsee
2. Women's Wear Daily, photo by John Aquino
3. Women's Wear Daily, photo by Giovanni Giannoni
4a. Women's Wear Daily, photo by Pasha Antonov
4b. Women's Wear Daily, photo by John Aquino
5. Women's Wear Daily, photo by Giovanni Giannoni
6a. Women's Wear Daily, photo by Thomas Iannaccone
6b. Women's Wear Daily, photo by George Chinsee


Matthew Hague

There was snow on the weekend yet it's sunny today, making this Monday feel like spring. Should I be thanking global warming? Probably not. But the one positive of this odd weather is that it makes me think about spring decorating. I have already picked out my warm weather palette. And no pale blue is involved this time. In fact, I'm more into a mix of petal pink with neutrals. And trust me, I have never been a pink girl. But these inspirational shots won me over.

Spring blossoms from flowering trees will get the creative juices flowing every time.

I love the small hits of petal pink in this living room. Maybe this is how a non-girly-girl can be swung to the pink side, by keeping it subtle.

Now this is more my style, the petal pink on the wall. I'm assuming it's a combination of lighting and wall colour that gives the room that pretty sundowner glow. But the odd mix of old gritty objects and beaten up floorboards keeps this pink from being too sweet. This is the one.

So now onto my new favourite colour palette blog Design Seeds to find a fully put-together palette.

Trust me, if you love looking for paint colour inspiration, this blog will be your new guilty pleasure — guilty only by how much time you will spend searching her palettes.

How about you? Which palettes are getting you excited for spring?

For more, see our Editors' Favourite Paint Colours photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. The Paris Apartment blog
2., photography by Tria Giovan
3. 1 Kind Design blog, photography by Debi Treloar
4. Petaled tones, Design Seeds
5. Ranunculus tones, Design Seeds


Meg Crossley

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