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Our latest Kitchens & Baths special issue is now on newsstands and I'm pleased to give you a little more behind-the-scenes info about one of our feature bathroom stories, "Split Personality" (page 110).

The bathroom was designed by Vanessa Francis, whom you may know from her popular blog Decor Happy. Seeing photos of her clients' bathroom sparked a story idea, and when I contacted Vanessa to pitch the concept, I was so pleased when she agreed. We wanted to tell two stories about this bathroom:

1. The inside scoop on Vanessa's design choices.

2. How H&H design editor Joel Bray, could give this space two very different looks with just accessories and clever styling.

For every great after there is usually a scary before. I give you exhibit A. This is what Vanessa had to start with — awful tiles, plastic shower shelving and that random wall cabinet stuck in the middle in that reddish wood tone. Also, notice the towel bar under the window on the right. Take note: we at House & Home are seeing a shift away from towel bars to hooks, which are so much more practical for households lacking habitual towel-folders (which is to say, most households).

Here are some pretty close-up shots of Vanessa's choices. Everything here is so timeless it could just as easily be a design for a 1920s hotel. I have a particular crush on that faucet.

Here's where the clients definitely got their money's worth in hiring a pro like Vanessa. She custom designed this vanity and it's a genius execution. Here's the thing: bathrooms (and kitchens) are a game of fractions of an inch. In the race for storage space, making every eighth of an inch work hard is key. Sometimes standard sized vanities don't let you realize a room's full potential. That's when a custom piece is worth every penny. Notice how Vanessa opted for drawers and open storage rather than cavernous cupboards with doors. This gives the cabinet a sense of lightness that helps the narrow room feel less crowded. Also, drawers and baskets that you can pull out mean the contents are much easier to access and keep organized.

Here's how Vanessa styled the space. We love her mix of neutrals and texture. Pick up a Kitchens & Baths issue to see how Joel took inspiration from her work and then kicked it up a notch with even more layers. Compare this look to the ones in the issue to see which you like best. It might be time to set a deadline for an accessories makeover of your bathroom.

See more Bathroom Makeovers in our photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home
2. Margot Austin
3-6. Decor Happy blog


Margot Austin

Our August 2013 issue features an interview with the set designer Beth Kushnick of the hit drama, The Good Wife. Not only do great sets bring a character to life, they can spark envy. It started us thinking about all the memorable sets (and shows) we would have loved to make a cameo in. Here is a roundup of some H&H editor faves.

Spotted: a Missoni-covered Eames lounger! How decadent. Perfect for the home office of the Upper East Siders that populate Gossip Girl. The show may have ended but snippets of the posh life lingers in the gold-infused sets that made up the Van der Woodsen Manhattan home.

The consummate Cali kitchen is a theatre for major drama for the Walker family following the death of their father on Brothers and Sisters. Set designer Bryan Venegas says, “The house is a beautiful Spanish home in Pasadena so I wanted to sell the fact that the Walkers were financially well off without making them stuffy or material. I also made sure the house had a sense of history and functionality. Nora (played by Sally Field) is very organized, obsessive, and a mother so I made sure her surroundings told her story.”

Here is the dreamy backyard shot of the Walker’s family home dressed for a dinner party.

What girl wouldn’t love to wake up with a walk through Carrie Bradshaw’s closet on Sex and the City? Not too shabby for a freelance writer living in the Big Apple.

There are many, many things to love about Mad Men, especially how the time capsule sets capture the rapidly shifting design ethos of the '60s. Despite the appropriately space-age feel, the marble-topped Saarinen Tulip table and Nesso table lamp from Artemide in the office of glib ad exec Roger Sterling wouldn’t look out of place today. Except for the full-to-capacity ashtray.

Let's venture back to the '80s to Family Ties and a kitchen that sparked a lot of nostalgia for H&H staffers. The Keaton family (Michael J. Fox and Brian Bonsall played sons Alex and Andy) kitchen kicked off a desire for Wolf stoves (seen top right corner), which were just beginning to gain popularity. Executive producer Gary David Goldberg, who was very specific about the set’s decor, had a Wolf range in his L.A. home. Unlike most shabby sitcom sets that centred on a threadbare sofa, the Keaton’s fictional Ohio home was an upscale Victoriana throwback with a camelback sofa, velvet armchairs and Persian rugs.

Well looky here, it’s Alex P. Keaton’s sitcom girlfriend, (aka Courtney Cox), all grown up and the star of Cougar Town. After her character Jules remodels her bathroom, it’s so beautiful she refuses to leave it until her friends stage an intervention and carry her out.

So what tops your list of memorable sets?

Photo credits:
1., photography by Jonny Valiant
2-4, 7. Hooked on Houses blog
5. House Beautiful, photography by Michael Yarish/AMC
6. Architectural Digest, photography by Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photobank


Wendy Jacob

In the August 2013 issue of House & Home, we get to know style icon India Hicks a little bit better. Here are some outtakes from my interview with India, who proves to be frank, funny, as well as fabulous, from the tips of her turquoise-painted toenails to her highlights.

With the kind of impressive pedigree that descends from Queen Victoria no less, not to mention serving as Princess Diana’s bridesmaid, she’s a definite blue blood. But India’s heritage includes her father, the iconic British designer David Hicks. She left the pink sands of her Harbour Island, Bahamas home, which she shares with her brood of five children and partner David Flint Wood, for a Toronto appearance on HSN, to launch her new collection of bedding and accessories. Not surprisingly, the lion’s share of the collection sold out in one day, proving it’s pretty hard to resist the pull of India’s idyllic interpretation of tropical style.

Wendy Jacob: What do you like best about the new line of bedding?

India Hicks: “The price! Can you argue with a $130 quilt and two shams? No. What is so extraordinary about a platform with HSN is that you can achieve remarkable prices with very high quality because they reach 100 million homes. If I was trying to do this endeavour from my own website, or shop on the island, the price would be huge.”

WJ: What’s your inspiration for the line?

IH: “When someone says ‘OK bring your life into bedding,’ it’s terribly intimidating. I can’t design thinking ‘will the lady in Dallas like it?’ I just design something I like and hope the lady in Dallas likes it. I am so blessed to live where nature is magnified. We don’t have seasons in the Bahamas but interestingly I see the beach change significantly throughout the year. I joke that everything I do is completely fake: I either steal from my father, or from Mother Nature!”

WJ: What’s your favourite room, either in your home or anywhere in the world?

IH: “My own bedroom of course, just because it’s a relief coming home and sleeping in own your bed when you travel as much as I do. It gives me a sense of place, order, family, and more importantly, it’s where my daughter (that’s Domino, pictured above) climbs in and the Dachshund lies, even though the dog’s not supposed to.”

WJ: What’s on your bedside table?

IH: “Hand therapy from Crabtree & Evelyn, and my current read, Daughter of Empire (2012 Weidenfeld & Nicolson), my mother’s memoir. They are trying to persuade her to come to New York for a book launch but she categorically refuses, because she says she won’t be able to get her hair done properly.”

WJ: Did you learn anything new about her in the book?

IH: “Yes, lots. It was very revealing about a generation that kept their emotions in check, there were some extraordinary parts. For instance my grandmother leaves my mother with a nanny in Budapest during one of the many wars and loses the address of the hotel where they were staying, and she didn’t come back for six months. I say ‘our generation would need therapy’ and she looked at me and said ‘you are so over emotional.’ She just thinks ‘get on with it.’”

WJ: You have a jewelry line, run your boutique, The Sugar Mill in Harbour Island, have a home fragrance and body care line for Crabtree & Evelyn, and now this new launch: you don’t have much downtime but when you do, what do you love to do?

IH: “I love to write, I am a frustrated, rather bad, writer. Someone posted a complaint on my blog: your spelling and grammar are terrible. Of course they are, but at least you know it’s me. And I love Pinterest! It does bring the world to life when I am on a rock in the middle of nowhere, with no access to magazines or culture or the buzz of a city.”

WJ: How has beach style changed for you over the years?

IH: “I have lived here for 17 years, and your outlook changes. At first it was all puka shells, cut-off shorts and cowboy hats, then caftans and gypsy bangles. Now I don’t have time for any of that stuff, just a stripy tee and flip-flops. If the kids are on holiday and I am taking the day to be with them, then I will put on a lovely bikini, but I can’t be fiddling around with gold bangles anymore when I am driving them on the boat, or chasing the dogs who have escaped! My whole life is about no ironing. I have turned into that person.”

WJ: What’s next for you?

IH: “It’s like you give birth to a baby and someone comes to the hospital and says ‘when are you having another?’ We launch a whole new HSN collection in September 2013.”

Photo credits:
1, 2, 4, 8. HSN
3. Lonny
5. Wendy Jacob
6. Daughter of Empire (2012 Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Pamela Hicks
7. Cultivate blog, photography by Tom Munro
9. India Hicks blog


Wendy Jacob

My love for DIY goes way back to my days as an eight year old, sitting for hours at a rescued kitchen table in our creepy basement, singing along to the Backstreet Boys and making piles of junk from more piles of junk. My mother believed in using one's imagination and wasn't the type to stock our playroom with all Michaels had to offer — maybe because we didn't have a playroom — and that was just fine by me. I was happy as pie rummaging through old boxes, scouting the backyard for interesting pieces of nature and tearing up our outgrown dresses — anything that could keep me at that craft table longer.

Naturally, now that crafting has become part of my grown-up world, I have my heart set on a well-stocked, well-organized craft room. I'm keeping a few things in mind as the next few months of house hunting unfold.

Here are a few layouts I'm pinning as inspiration:

Here are some tips for creating your own well-organized craft room:

If space permits, set up a table in the centre of your craft room so that you have access to all sides. This makes it easy to work around your project.

This birch kitchen table from Ikea would be perfect, but lacks extra storage space. Easy fix — line the bottom with baskets or totes.

These galvanized shelves, also from Ikea, are affordable and durable — perfect if you're working with messy goods.

Floor-to-ceiling cubbies are great for storing supplies we don't use as often.

Use cabinets for a tidier look.

Add a vintage touch with salvaged storage found at your local thrift shop. There really is an endless supply out there just waiting to be put back to good use.

You'll want to keep pretty packaging materials away from paint, glue and glitter, so if you can afford the space, opt for an independent gift wrapping station.

Small pails are great for various loose bits.

Pegboards are also a fantastic way to display your supplies. If you're like me, you'll want to keep your craft room looking pretty, so feel free to coat your pegboard in a favourite hue.

What's your craft room essential? Comment below!

For some great projects to try in your new craft room, check out our DIY & Home Improvement Guide.

Photo credits:
1. Rejuvenation
2. Lasoffittadiswamy blog
3. Being Brook blog
4. Björkudden table, Ikea
5. Hyllis shelving unit, Ikea
6. Lolly Jane blog
7. Better Homes & Gardens
8. Songbird blog
9. Pottery Barn Inside & Out blog
11. Beneath My Heart blog


Floriana Paonessa

With so many small condos out there, it may time to rethink how we use furniture. If you're living in one of these tiny condos or apartments, don't run out and buy everything "condo-sized" before you've taken a good look at all your existing pieces and tapped into the right side of your brain. Here's a terrific example I found, where two rather large bedside tables were placed side-by-side, creating a full-length sideboard.

Your condo's bedroom may not accommodate all your furniture, but your hallway or living room probably will!

If you're loving the look of this room, you should take a better look at this Milan apartment. It's spectacular.

Photo credit:
Yellow Trace blog, design by Dimore Studio, photography by Emanuele Zamponi, Davide Lovatti and Beppe Brancato


Reiko Caron

My partner Andrew and I were lucky enough to spend another sun-filled holiday at our favourite place on earth — a charming little cottage on Stoney Lake, Ontario.

If the day comes when we're able to have a cottage of our own, I don't think I could live without separate sleeping cabins. With the hustle and bustle of summer entertaining, many cottage guest books fill up fast, and providing these guests with a space to call their own for the weekend makes all the difference.

Most bunkies are just large enough to fit a bed, and hopefully offer a bit of storage space for luggage and a surface to leave out sunscreen and after-bite lotion. Some don't even have hydro but I'd recommend it if possible because a ceiling fan always helps on warm summer nights.

"Our" bunkie at the Stoney Lake cottage we rent is just about perfect in my eyes. With windows on all four sides (including the screen door), the space is full of natural light. The walls and ceiling are made of whitewashed pine, and the floor is painted out in a warm white — it doesn't get much more cottagey than that! A painted floor can easily be freshened up every year if it's a small space like this, or let scuffs add a rustic feel to a cottage or bunkie.

At the end of the bed there's a simple wicker chair and a set of hooks for hanging beach towels. Skip large closets for whimsical hooks like these.

Another cottage staple is the simple white matelassé coverlet. Pair one with creamy yellow sheets for a warm touch. There's nothing fussy about this bed, and that's the way a cottage bedroom should be!

Now some might think that sleeping in a small cabin away from the main house is far from desirable, but I can honestly say the sounds of nature and the cool cross breezes made for a better night's sleep than I've had in any luxury hotel!

See our photo gallery of Traditional Cottages for more decorating ideas.

Photo credits:
1-4. Joel Bray


Joel Bray

Every time a fashion designer sends a model down the catwalk in a peasant blouse, safari jacket, or a man’s tuxedo, they pay homage the genius of Yves Saint Laurent. But the couturier was equally gifted in the arena of decor, nabbing some of the best talent and trends over the past 50 years and continuing to influence designers today (think dark woods, exotic global touches, '30s Art Deco). As Saint Laurent famously asserted: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

The Left Bank apartment that Saint Laurent shared with Pierre Bergé, his life-long partner, is a reflection of an incredible eye. Following YSL’s death in 2008, Bergé auctioned the collection of 700 objets and art in their Parisian apartment for an astounding $484 million. Here are some points on capturing Saint Laurent’s eclectic look (sans sarcophagus).

Cultivate your passions. Great style doesn’t just happen, it’s a layered approach to surrounding yourself with items that speak to you. In the case of Saint Laurent, his voracious collecting was a form of creative inspiration; witness the Old Master drawings, a rare Eileen Gray dragon chair (centre), surrealistic fancies and Renaissance bronzes. And be prepared to sweat the small details. A butler adjusts the curtains by interior designer Jacques Grange, who helped polish the decor as the apartment’s rooms became denser. “Jacques surpassed himself in refining the details,” Saint Laurent explained. “The stitching on the draperies, the quilting on the bedspread, are marvelous.”

Find a style mentor. Saint Laurent and Bergé cited Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, an avante–garde French aristocrat, as a major decor influence. Early pictures of her salon show a modernist box with parchment walls and straw marquetry furniture by Jean-Michel Frank. Her portrait by Balthus and paintings were hung on chains or thick knotted rope. She juxtaposed items no one thought to combine and clustered seating in comfortable groups. Saint Laurent paid close attention, placing African sculpture in the midst of European masterpieces.

Head for the woods. The walls of 55 Rue de Babylone were clad in sleek oak panelling, with brass radiators. It doesn’t matter that the heady wood tones in this den don’t match, they impart a richness that transcends trends. Other natural materials such as leather, brass and suede, conjure up the '70s heyday of YSL’s safari chic and Marrakesh-inspired collections.

Make it personal. The library is overflowing with framed photos (including Warhol portraits of Saint Laurent’s French bulldog, Moujik), notes and sketches; stacks of books and magazines; souvenirs and reminders of friends such as Rudolf Nureyev, Coco Chanel and Jean Cocteau. “Nobody can imagine my capacity for solitude,” he said. “For somebody like me, who can’t stop accumulating objects, the absence of them is an oddity.”

Cultivate fantasy. Saint Laurent had a flair for sumptuous, theatrical and extravagant spaces, even outdoors. In his Parisian parterre, a marble bust conjures a film set by Jean Cocteau. “I like my garden to be peopled with statues,” the designer has said. “I like it to be mysterious — like the garden in Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête.” The marble bird chair is by a favourite artist known for his witty surrealist animal sculptures, François-Xavier Lalanne.

Collect original art. Investment value aside (the Matisse behind YSL fetched a staggering $45 million, the highest price ever recorded at an auction for a work by this artist), art is an edifying addition to interiors. It also fulfilled YSL’s love for colour and put him in the class of his role model, Marie-Laure de Noailles, of one of the greatest art patrons in the world.

Photo credits:
1. Vanity Fair
2, 4, 5. Vanity Fair, photography by Pascal Chevallier
3. Wall Street Journal
6. Architectural Digest, photography by Pascal Hinous & Marianne Haas
7. 20 Little Cities


Wendy Jacob

When the home of J.Crew's Jenna Lyons appeared in Domino magazine, her black bathroom spawned a legion of copycats. In a space that essentially is known for making you feel squeaky clean, there's a perverse quality to coating it in black paint. Since the most inexpensive upgrade in any room is wall colour, would you take the plunge to create a chic — albeit slightly gritty — urban bathroom?

Not only did the black walls of Jenna's former Brooklyn brownstone make waves, the roughed-up oversized herringbone floor and brass fixtures are still having a ripple effect on decor.

Black walls are a striking backdrop for white fixtures, turning a pedestal sink into a sculpture. A slightly glossy paint finish makes the black feel more luxe and less goth.

Here the trim is painted out as well so that the overall envelope isn't chopped up. You would think the coverage hides a multitude of sins, but black actually makes imperfections like rough walls more evident, adding to the industrial flavour of this space.

Black gives this bathroom a decidedly masculine look when paired with white, like a tuxedo. Penny tiles are a perfect complement to the retro vibe.

Again a classic hexagon penny tile softens the effect and adds some light, since even the wainscoting is painted black. The clawfoot tub appears to float in space, and the graphic effect is emphasized by the shower curtain. To warm up a black and white scheme, add natural materials like a handmade basket and wood stool.

See our photo gallery of Black Rooms for more inspiration.

Photo credits:
1. La La Lovely Things blog
2. Knight Moves blog
3. Lonny
4. HomesDIR
5. Decor Pad


Wendy Jacob

The weather seems to be what everyone is talking about these days. When the temperature soars, there's nothing better than sitting outside under the protection of a balcony ceiling or patio canopy. I think outdoor rooms are such a treat, although they certainly don't have to be over-the-top. We recently installed a simple black awning over our outdoor dining area and love the instant privacy/cocoon feeling it adds when extended.

Here are some inspiring covered outdoor "rooms" — relaxed, comfortable and so inviting. I'd love to kick back and relax in any of these spaces!

Last but not least, the ultimate seat in the shade, this one from the Dedon Island Resort in the Philippines. Luxury!

For more inspiration, browse our photo gallery of Outdoor Rooms.

Photo credits:
2. Lonny
3., photography by Melanie Acevedo
4. Anne Hepfer Designs
5. Domino magazine via Decor8 blog, photography by Deborah Jaffe
6. Lonny
7. Lonny, photography by Paul Barbera


Sally Armstrong

Interiors say so much about their inhabitants, but sometimes a celebrity home shows a distinct lack of personality. See if you can match these spaces to their famous owners, or scroll to the end for the answers. I'll start by lobbing a creampuff...

The Frans Hals portrait over the mantel is impressive, but it's the original Andy Warhol silkscreen and lilac bouquet that are the telltale clinchers to the identity of this owner.

Here's the home of another Old Hollywood legend but don't bother checking the towel monogram, it's not a clue. This Spanish-style house in Palm Springs was the hideaway of one its most debonair stars for over 20 years. If he happened to be shaving his dimpled chin in front of that pedestal sink, even this bathroom would have looked gorgeous.

Kitchens are the new living rooms, according to Windsor Smith, who designed this $10 million showhome in L.A. We're sure the present chatelaine of the house, a multitasking actress/cookbook author/sometime-chanteuse, would agree.

The entire fourth floor of this Greenwich Village townhouse is devoted to a spectacular bath and multiple walk-in closets. It makes sense for the owners, a New York power couple with a penchant for live theatre, and in her case, fabulous shoes.

A very young ingénue on the '80s club scene, this model-actress was a friend of Keith Haring, whose heart painting is flanked by portraits of her own pretty babies.

All this wood must make this Canuck actor feel right at home. He sold the sleek mid-century home in the Loz Feliz hills after his split with his equally gorgeous wife and has since remarried another blonde stunner.

This Santa Monica ranch is owned by another stellar couple known for being "serial renovators" who seem to tire of their homes once they have finished decorating them. Their eye for great design is netting them some big fans: Ryan Seacrest snapped up their former Hollywood digs for a reported $37 million.

The owner of this fashionable Chelsea home in London once said: "If I lived in a one-room hut, every piece of grass that made the roof would be lined up in the right way." That kind of obsessive attention to detail has made everything this consummate tastemaker touches — whether it's a dress, lipstick or movie — turn to gold.

He's the creator of some of the hottest (and envelope-pushing) shows on prime time. This Spanish colonial was previously owned by Diane Keaton, and the present owner loved the furnishings so much he offered to buy the contents as well. Keaton declined, but said he could take photographs to replicate the items he really wanted, like the inverted shades over the kitchen table.

Browse our gallery of Celebrity Homes for more A-list style.

Photo credits:
1. Liz Taylor, Architectural Digest, photography by Firooz Zahedi
2. Cary Grant, Zillow blog
3. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin,
4. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Hooked on Houses blog
5. Brooke Shields, Architectural Digest, photography by William Waldron
6. Ryan Reynolds,
7. Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Elle Decor, photography by William Abranowicz
8. Tom Ford, Hooked on Houses blog
9. Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, The Hollywood Reporter, photography by Douglas Friedman


Wendy Jacob

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