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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

Years ago while I was working as a cub student reporter in Northern Ontario, my husband and I took a trip to Hancock Shaker village in Massachusetts. It inspired him to make several Shaker pieces of furniture (including the drawers behind me in my photo). We haven't gone back but I still am impressed by their progressive and practical approach to design (a round barn = pure genius).

Shakers sought perfection in everything that they made with their hands, no matter how humble. They invented hundreds of labour-saving devices, from the clothespin to the circular saw. They shared these innovations without patents, and didn't profit when the men who borrowed those designs became very wealthy.

Shakers (coined for their movements during religious fervor) fled to the New World in 1774 to escape persecution and attracted at least 20,000 converts in 20 settlements in the U.S. over the next century. Strict believers in celibacy, Shakers acquired members through the conversion and adoption of orphans. They were educators too: parents who couldn't afford to send children to school would leave them with a Shaker sect, returning years later to pick up them up. Once a child reached 21, they could remain Shakers, but typically only one in four adults did. As of 2010, there were three surviving members left in Maine.

This staircase in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky is meticulously constructed, yet simple. Ann Lee, a leading Shaker figure known as Mother, emphasized that assets should be functional and modest; grandiose objects made the heart fall prey to pride, vanity and lust. But they weren't cowed by progress: the New Hampshire Shakers owned one of the first cars in the state and had electricity while the state capital building was still burning gas.

Whether it was a broom, basket or bed, the Shakers made all their own furniture and furnishings. Their simple ladder-back chairs relied on lightweight woods like pine, so furniture could be easily picked up and moved around. Often a peg rail was hung at shoulder level for clothes and chairs (upside down, so any crumbs would fall), making sweeping easier. Ann Lee said: "good spirits will not live where there is dirt."

Any architect will tell you how difficult it is to build a round structure: but the real genius lies in the efficiency of the round barn at Hancock village, built in 1826. The four-ring structure inside spawned copycats across the Midwest for its "machine-like" efficiency.

The innermost ring was used for ventilation to keep the hay, stored in the second ring, from spontaneously combusting since the previous barn burnt to the ground. Ox wagons could enter, unload the hay and then exit the barn without ever having to back up. The third ring was where the Shakers would walk to distribute the hay and pick up milking buckets for the cows, standing in the fourth ring.

Shaker men and women lived separately — notice the two doors above, in some buildings there were also separate staircases — but were considered equal. Shakers pioneered the sale of seeds in paper packets: men would grow the crops and the women picked, sorted and packaged them, demonstrating the partnership between the genders.

The Shakers' forward-thinking beliefs in equality pre-date the emancipation of the slaves by 75 years and the vote for women by 150 years. Their numbers may have dwindled but their impact lives on: several Modernist furniture makers, including icons like craftsman George Nakashima and Danish designer Hans Wegner, were inspired by Shaker style.

See more timeless styles in our Iconic Furniture photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Dan & Sherree & Patrick blog
2. Retired Pal blog
3. Remodelista blog
4. The Spark Pool blog
5. Twin Travel Concepts
6. Slow Love Life blog
7. Pictures From Me blog
8. Eco Stylista blog


Wendy Jacob

Gallery walls can be tricky, especially when displaying art of varying sizes. Hanging multiple frames can be an art in itself (or a real pain, in most cases), so I was thrilled to stumble upon this room designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber, showcasing a stunning gallery wall that could not be easier to execute.

This solution is perfect for anyone who doesn't want to fuss over the layout: use the same frame, same mat, and stack all the artwork close together, avoiding any spacing between frames. It's a no-fail coordinated look with high-impact. I love it!

Photo credit:
Architectural Digest, photography by William Waldron


Reiko Caron

Infinity, zero- or negative-edge pools create a trompe l'oeil effect where water spills endlessly into the horizon. The overflow actually runs into a hidden trough where it's recycled back, but the effect is mesmerizing, and particularly spectacular when the pool is positioned in front of a large body of water. It can also look like you are about to swim into the trees, mountains or even the Singapore skyline. In some cases it feels freaky, but who is up for some fantasy? (Full disclosure: this isn't a particularly deep post, but if you're having a stressful day, it's just the thing to let your mind drift.)

It's no mystery why the aptly named Eagle's Nest pool overlooking the Bay of Islands is one of the most expensive rentals in New Zealand.

The origins of the infinity pool are contested, some say the inspiration was Bali's terraced rice paddies, or Turkey's Pammukale hot spring travertine pools (pictured above), while others point to the Stag fountain, built in the 17th century in the Garden of Versailles.

No matter where they began, infinity pools translate around the world. With the Aegean in the background, Villa Drakothea on the Greek island of Mykonos blends modern aquatic technology with centuries old traditional Cycladic design.

The architectural precision and seamless blue hue makes a modern pool even more alluring.

This perimeter overflow pool in Phuket, Thailand has a 360-degree vanishing edge. When viewed from above, the pool resembles a flat surface, until it's rippled by the breeze.

Lounge chairs sit like ships on this Rangali Island pool in the Maldives.

The infinity pool of the Moshe Safdie-designed Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is set a staggering 55-storeys up for an incredible view of the city, however...

This scares me. A lot. The pool is three times the length of an Olympic pool, making it the largest outdoor pool in the world at this height.

Now this is more like it. Inevitably, when an infinity pool is positioned by the ocean I think: why not just jump in the ocean? When these pools are stuck in places far from the beach (like Tuscany), it makes them more incongruous and wonderful — a true oasis.

The perfect Rocky Mountain high.

And finally, a body of water floating above the clouds that looks like a slice of sky, from one of the birthplaces of the infinity pool, Bali.

See our Perfect Pools photo gallery for more refreshing inspiration.

Photo credits:
1. Eagle's Nest New Zealand, Elite Daily
2. Tourism on the Edge
3. Dust Jacket blog
4. Jack Anthony Pools
5, 7, 8. Bored Panda
6, 9. Twisted Sifter blog


Wendy Jacob

There's more than a touch of voyeurism involved in peeking into a celebrity's closet. But for those hardcore organizers, it's more about the systems they use, or eschew in some cases. Let's go in...

In Olivia Wilde's closet, an über-rococo glass vanity, black chandelier and flokati rug are contrasted by rustic cabin-style wood walls and industrial pipe fixtures.

Creative director of J.Crew and the high priestess of personal, livable style, Jenna Lyons can't be expected to have a run-of-the-mill closet. In her previous home, Lyons converted a bedroom in her Brooklyn townhouse into a fashion shrine, proving her ability to think outside the box.

Aerin Lauder rarely puts a foot wrong stylistically. Touches of gold, like the glam circa-1970 desk by Gabriella Crespi, are trademarks in her tastefully curated Manhattan boudoir. The silk curtains, hand-painted wallpaper and blue chandelier (a trademark Estée Lauder hue) are a persuasive case for creating lavish private spaces to recharge.

Known for her all-American looks, model Maggie Rizer adds a fresh touch with an open window (it helps to air out clothes) and a simple bouquet in her closet.

Open shoe storage and strips of hanging hats make it easy for Jessica Alba to morph into a fashion chameleon. Notice how she places the heels facing opposite directions — it takes up less space and makes them easier to identify.

Eclectic and a touch zany, the Manhattan closet of fashion designer Anna Sui is a perfect expression of her look. She's a fan of putting Polaroids on her shoeboxes to identify the contents.

Ok, let's talk accessories. When you're a fashionista like Rachel Zoe, every beyond major bauble has its place on multiple slide-out trays.

No surprise that Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon has one of the most enviable shoe closets known to man, or woman, and on those heels she's tall enough to reach the top shelf.

We couldn't forget the guys. Here is Nate Berkus' NYC closet, with grey Directoire-inspired millwork that's so handsome and functional, even he calls it "a fantasy."

See more Chic Closets & Dressing Rooms in our photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1., photography by William Waldron
2. When She Walks blog
3., photography by Anders Overgaard
4., photography by Molly DeCoudreaux
5. Design Time & Scene blog
6. Elle Decor, photography by Eric Boman
7. Bead Up blog
8. Dressed to Kill Austin blog
9. Decor Pad


Wendy Jacob

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