I love pink. Red is charming but there's something enchanting about the colour pink that grabs my attention. And the combination of both always signals romance. Valentine's Day is my excuse to introduce these hues into my decor without offending those not so keen.
Whether it's a romantic dinner for two, a girls' night in, or a room full of eager children ready to swap their candy grams, a pretty table setting is a fun way celebrate with those we love. Aside from classics like red roses and heart balloons, the possibilities of creating a unique tabletop vignette are endless. Here are some gorgeous tablescapes that caught my eye.
My favourite meal is brunch and this fresh setting would start the day of love off on the right foot. I see my crêpes with Nutella and raspberries mingling well amid this beautiful layout of white with a touch of pink.
Gold and pink with hints of navy is a striking combination for a fun night in with the girls.
If you reject cliché colour combos for V-Day, this delicate, nature-inspired table of white birds and hearts is a perfect way to stir up romance without going overboard. (Visit Decor8 for these DIY projects.)
For the little people in your life, dress up a play area with hearts and cupcakes.
A personal touch goes a long way when planning dinner for two. I'm not big on Scrabble but that centerpiece is adorable.
Include some mercury glass vases for a touch of fancy.
Double dating on V-Day is totally acceptable. Keep the ambiance casually romantic with playful garlands and tons of bright flowers.
Check out our Valentine's Day Gift Guide for some last-minute ideas for your sweetie.
1. Dreamy Whites blog
2. Christina Marie Interiors blog
3. Decor8 blog
4. Valentine's Day Table Runner, Pottery Barn Kids
5. Stylizimo blog, photography by Nina Holst
6. Design Darling blog, photography by Carla Ten Eyck
7. Martha Stewart Weddings via MarthaStewart.com
Sugary pastels hit the sweet spot, whether you need a quick pick-me-up or a little design inspiration. Consider this a guilt-free snack.
A turquoise-tipped china saucer looks as delectable as spun sugar.
Wake up your cupboards with stacks of candy-striped ceramics.
Vintage-style bottles are the perfect shade of beach-glass green.
Or really commit to a minty fresh look in the kitchen.
Robin's egg blue on the front door says hello, softly.
Which reminds me, this egg print is from The Graphics Fairy, a good source of images for crafty types who want to make labels or invites.
Why hasn't anyone cottoned on to making macaron-print wallpaper? It would counteract any mid-afternoon slump.
For more soft hues, read Seema Persaud's blog post on Decorating With Pretty Pastels.
At one point I loved jewel tones, then I considered the all-white look for my home, but now I've fallen for oh-so-sweet pastels. (Yes, I'm a little indecisive when it comes to decorating.) With early spring fashions already in stores, it's hard to resist the minty blues, soft pinks and pale lilacs.
Here's the photo that started it all for me. Stylist Laura Fulmine used Hans Wegner's classic CH24 Wishbone chairs but, for a change, combined Easter-egg hues. Hits of black from the door stopper, bowl and light fixtures prevent the room from feeling too delicate. I especially love the silhouette of Naomi Paul's Glück crocheted pendants.
Would you consider painting trim butter yellow? Not sure I have the guts, but it looks so fresh against the light grey walls in this bedroom.
How about painting a radiator strawberry ice-cream pink? If the rest of your home has a laid-back feel, why not?! More of a neon fan? Check out this shocking cerise-coloured radiator.
To keep the look sophisticated, pair the soft colours with geometric prints, lots of white and sculptural furnishings.
Find more inspiring spaces in our gallery of Soft & Feminine Rooms.
We're in the thick of awards season right now: the absolute best time for star-gazing, smutty red carpet commentary and themed cocktail parties. If the Golden Globes seem long gone, tune in to the Grammys this Sunday, February 10th and the Oscars on February 24th. I've always wanted to throw a Grammy or Oscar party, and if I did, I'd be looking at a few photos like these for inspiration:
Glamorous, black-tie affairs translate well into black, white and gold party decor. The tasseled metallic garland is a fun touch, and what can I say, I'm someone who appreciates colour-coordinated food.
I love the idea of a "dress your drinks" station with polka dot straws and gold pom-pom swizzle sticks. Little touches like that make a party feel festive.
A pink, silver and gold theme would be perfect for a girls night in.
No Oscar night party would be complete without ballots to fill out while everyone is watching the red carpet. Go for a fun DIY version.
Everyone's party favourite: cupcakes. Give them a glam but understated twist with gold liners and sprinkles.
Popcorn is a must for an entertainment-themed party. A large bowl on the coffee table makes for easy access, but I also like the idea of using old-fashioned cartons and serving them alongside classic movie theatre candy like Milk Duds.
How cute are these black bow tie placecard holders? Use the names of Oscar nominees in lieu of wine charms on mini bottles of bubbly .
Try serving red and white candy, like Twizzlers — my fave! — in an old-fashioned tray.
The mood should suit the event, and awards season parties shouldn't be taken too seriously. Be creative and quirky — may the best hostess win!
Recently I was listening to the CBC Radio program Spark. Do you know it? I'm a big fan. The show is about technology and how it influences our everyday lives. Spark touches on matters of design often, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. The episode "Spark 204: Timekeeping, Testbeds, Speed", which you can stream or download from the CBC website, included a discussion about the obsolescence of the wristwatch now that almost everyone is carrying a cell phone with a time display. Do you still wear a watch? I do and can't imagine abandoning it anytime soon. I got to thinking about the watch and about other greats of analogue design.
This is the Tissot watch I wear everyday. It fits my stringent watch criteria: 1. Must have all 12 numbers. 2. Roman numerals preferred. 3. Must be by a manufacturer that specializes in timekeeping. I don't do licensed fashion watches. 4. No bling and as few bells and whistles as possible. I love my Tissot and it only leaves my wrist while I shower or swim.
This is the watch I covet — a Cartier Tank. The Tank watch was introduced in 1917 and its rectangular face shape, which was innovative at the time, was inspired by the WWI era Renault Tank. Its sleek geometric lines and machine-age modernity make it an icon of Art Deco design. I think these are the epitome of chic and so have famous wearers such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Yves Saint Laurent and Michelle Obama. There are many versions of the Tank now. I'd take any one, but hold the diamonds please.
But let's get back to phones for a second. How about this gem? I actually own one of these vintage phones reconditioned to work with today's phone jacks — but I haven't had a land line in over 6 years. It's the 1938 Bell System/Western Electric 302 design by Henry Dreyfuss. To my eye it's the best-looking phone ever designed — better than anything by Samsung or Blackberry or Apple (gasp, yes, I really think that). Of course, it's just a phone, not a high-functioning computer you put in your pocket, so these comparisons are a little apples and oranges.
I've also just recently returned to writing with a fountain pen. In that category, no writing instrument can match the elegance of the Montblanc Meisterstück 149. This handsome devil was launched in 1924. The top one here is the classic in black resin with gold-plated rings and nib. The bottom one is a modern interpretation in white lacquer with platinum accents and a rhodium-plated 18K gold nib. It's a thing of beauty with a four-digit price tag.
For now I will content myself with this aluminum fountain pen from Muji that I picked up last week when I was in New York for the much more affordable sum of $15.50. Very analogue, very Mujified (an adjective I use to describe items imbued with the simple elegance associated with the Japanese brand).
The cast iron skillet is holding its own much better than most analogue design greats. Ask any chef his or her favourite tools and one of these will surely make the top five list. (They certainly please our food editor Eric Vellend.) Every kitchen should have one. If you need further convincing, check out this great blog post at Macheesmo.com called Ten Reasons for Cast Iron.
Do you still wear a wristwatch? Do you cook with a cast iron pan? What other greats of analogue design do you use? Comment below!
1. Tissot Classic Dream Jungfraubahn, via Times Circle
2. Cartier Tank
3. J.J. Sedelmaier for Imprint.printmag.com
4. Meisterstück 149, Montblanc
5. Aluminum Round Fountain Pen, Muji
6. Lodge Cast Iron 10" Skillet, Crate & Barrel
"Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony." — Coco Chanel
Fashionistas across the globe live and breathe black and white. Although annual trends emerge without fail, these oh-so-chic shades reign.
There is something theatrical about a room decorated in a high contrast palette — like a strand of pearls against a little black dress. Whether you've opted for creamy Chantilly lace walls and dark wood baseboards or a fun splash of black and white marble flooring, it's all very Tim Burton — and I'm hooked.
Find the latest additions to my inspiration board below:
Shopping for wallpaper can be stressful, especially if you shy away from pattern. But this sweet print from Anthropologie is safe for a small space and would add plenty of black and white contrast.
HGTV star Thomas Smythe's old kitchen is perfect. We actually featured it back in October 2004. I love how the upper cabinets are light and the lowers are dark. A table made from salvaged wood softens the look, giving it a really cosy feel.
I love walking into a home and being startled — in a good way. Black and white throughout amps up the wow factor in this fashionable pad.
Subtle black accents add drama in a sitting room with crisp white sofas.
This stunning bathroom with black and white mosaic tiles reminds me of the bathroom my sister and I shared growing up. The contrast between the dark beadboard and clawfoot tub is perfect against the buttery walls.
Check out Seema Persaud's roundup of black and white spaces.
1. Tallow (#203), Farrow & Ball
2. Kalahari Vignettes Wallpaper, Anthropologie
3. House & Home October 2004 issue, photography by Michael Graydon, via TheLennoxx.com
4. Camille Styles
6. Better Homes & Gardens
As the Interior Design Show came to a close on Sunday, Karim Rashid's quote, on the purpose of design, stuck with me: "Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially and emotionally." A well-designed space has the power to shift our mood and transform our experiences.
Hotels and retailers have been cashing in on this for decades with slick concept spaces, but what about the common spaces we visit everyday? More designers are focusing on elevating the mundane activities of daily life by creating innovative spaces in unlikely places.
If only all bakeries and metro stations were this much fun:
Princi Bakery, Milan, Italy.
To me this space evokes a cross between Ancient Egyptian and Mayan architecture. I love the use of rough, natural materials and the monochromatic palette. Claudio Silvestrin Architects used sand coloured porphyry stone — smooth slabs on the floor and rough, textured slabs for the wall — to match the colour of the bread flour the bakery uses. A waterfall and seven recessed candles soften the monumental wall. Ceiling spotlights illuminate only the bread and a wall of clear glass is all that separates the customers from the bakers.
Mistral Wine & Champagne Bar, São Paulo, Brazil.
I'd be tempted to take my time picking out a bottle of red if the local beer and wine store looked anything like this. I love the use of wood and mirrors on the walls, and the bright backlighting. Architect Arthur Casas designed the bottle display system to show each bottle label-up, eliminating the need to handle the bottles. This long selection hall leads to a bar area for tasting and learning about different varieties.
Audi City, London, U.K.
Shopping for an Audi would be exciting enough in itself for me, but doing it in this new digital car showroom would make it extra special. Audi City has taken the more traditional car sales environment and transformed it into an imaginative, high-tech experience. All models are available in digital form on expansive wall screens, ready to be customized by shoppers through tabletop touch screens.
Toledo Metro Station, Naples, Italy.
The latest in the Metronapoli Art Station project — past designers include Anish Kapoor, Karim Rashid and Sol LeWitt — was undertaken by Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. I feel like ascending those escalators would be like barreling headlong through an undiscovered planetary system à la Star Trek or Contact — it's probably not quite that exciting, but the mosaic walls would still make the morning commute more interesting.
Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany.
I haven't made it to Germany yet, but when I do this will definitely be on my must-see list. The five-storey open chamber is fit for a modern art museum — and qualifies as a work of art in itself. The all-white space features no direct lighting, allowing the books and visitors to bring the space to life.
Have you visited any extraordinary public spaces lately that have stopped you in your tracks? Comment below!
It's time to take pink out of the nursery. Don't fret: there are easy rules to follow to avoid the frilly, overly-feminine look. First and foremost, forget Pepto-Bismol and embrace these warm pink hues that don't scream Disney princess.
If you're a pink virgin, start small with blush-hued drapes. The crinkled nature of those pictured above offer a more casual aesthetic (read: not prom-like).
If you're ready to throw some pink paint onto your walls, try colour-blocking with a muted shade. I suggest a pink that almost reads as beige or grey — that way it will feel more like a neutral.
You're ready to commit to a pink upholstered piece? Hats off to you! Keep it from looking too sweet by pairing it with not-so-feminine decor elements, such as the raw wood-plank wall and linen pillows pictured in this modern Scandinavian beach house.
This gem is Bodie & Fou co-founder Karine Kong's home in London. Her daughter Mila picked the colour after judging their home's interior as being "too white". I dream of a house where the front door could be painted cotton-candy pink! You really can't go wrong with such a neutral façade. Beautiful.
For more inspiration, check out our Decorating With Pink photo gallery.
Kids aren't the only ones who go through awkward stages, their rooms do, too. A nautical scheme that was perfect for a boy at 10 can seem babyish to a teen, and piles of dirty hoodies do not a decor scheme make. These teenage boys' rooms capture a playful use of bold colour and convey evolving personal interests, without being too grown up.
Hits of orange, a dramatic accent wall and barnboard warm up this Ottawa attic bedroom.
Vintage lockers provide indestructible storage for teens, and add a nice patina.
Sculptural wall art makes a big, gutsy statement, and who wouldn't appreciate the subversive humour of the license plate in the shark's jaws?
This Scandinavian boy's room is punched up by an industrial pendant and fierce bedding.
Athletic memorabilia can make a bedroom look like a sports bar, but this graphic ticket-stub wall treatment is a simple way to convey passion for the (obviously memorable) game.
For all the stuff that boys love to just drop on the ground, a multitude of hooks on an easy installation decal encourages neatness, and geographic knowledge of the West Indies.
Read more on Furniture & Accessories For Teens.
As you can see from these before photos, the open-concept dining/living room was in need of some cosmetic changes. The walls were a too-bright green, the bulkhead a too-dark brown, and the dated sofas were too large for the narrow space at the front of the house. We wanted to create flow from the far back (kitchen) to the very front (living room) through common colours and patterns. We didn't move any walls or rip anything out, but last summer and fall, we went about making small changes like paint and furniture to refresh the space we use most often.
Here are our progress photos. It's been quite a journey!
From the kitchen looking towards the front of the house:
First came the white paint. We went with Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (OC-130) — just like the kitchen walls and cupboards — for fresh yet warm walls that would let the wallpaper and gallery wall stand out.
We traded the sparkly orbit chandelier for this silver antiqued metal drum pendant from Restoration Hardware. I love the contrast between the soft trees on the wallpaper and the industrial feel of the pendant. It's quite large for the space, but since it's all one room, I wanted something that would command attention.
And I should mention that we didn't toss anything — we sold everything from the chandelier, artwork, TV and sofas on Craigslist and Kijiji. Economical!
Like the inspiration shot in my previous post, I love the look of mix-and-match coloured moulded plastic chairs, so we ordered four from Ottawa's The Modern Shop in shades of blues and greens. Along with the wallpaper, they add some colour to the mostly grey and white space. One day, we would like to replace the dining table with a longer, more rustic version, at which point we can add more chairs.
Instead of replacing this '90s-like metal-shaded table lamp with a pricey new one, I replaced the shade with a creamy linen one from HomeSense. I really like the geometric base of the lamp, so I didn't want to toss it. I did the same with a matching floor lamp in the living room, and they look like new!
We wallpapered this recess and the one in the living area in Cole & Son's Woods wallpaper in lilac (69/12151), available through Kravet. We were going to go with a plain grey and white version of this pattern, but I'm glad we opted for some colour. The two wallpapered walls really add warmth to the main floor. And having the same pattern on a dining room wall and living room wall creates cohesion between the two connected areas.
On the opposite wall are the staircases — left goes down to the front door, right goes down to the grade-level laundry room and office, and you can also see the staircase to the second floor. Beige, beige, beige.
I was inspired by the photo wall in former H&H-er Emily Walker's home. We wanted to create a casual arrangement of black and white photos like hers on our boring entryway wall — it's a great spot to pause and take them in!
I brought a memory stick of digital photos of all our loved ones to Staples and they printed them on good-quality paper for me. I cut them out, then used one stainless steel thumbtack to pin each photo directly into the drywall. There will be lots of little holes, but drywall filler will easily cover them up if we move one day. Everyone who visits lingers here on their way in and out to pour over the memories — they love finding themselves in the collage! And we can easily add to it over time, too.
I created this gallery wall of my own Leslieville photography for my husband as a Christmas gift a couple of years back, but it was a little sparse and we wanted to add a few more to fill it out.
Did you know you can browse your city's archives for old photos that were taken in your neighbourhood? The City of Toronto Archives has an extensive database full of old transit photos, construction photos, demolitions and new buildings going up. You just type in the street names in your area and you'll find lots of fascinating snapshots. You can save small JPGs for free, or you can order larger JPGs for printing purposes. We ordered five new photos of the Leslieville area to fill out our gallery wall. Some of them are even the same photos I happened to take of the area, so we paired them side-by-side on the wall to show the old and new. Some of them date back to the 1920s! Our gallery wall is finally complete.
You can see that the TV and sofa were cramped into a narrow space. We want to replace the bulky TV with a wall-mounted one on a pivot bracket one day, but in the meantime, we're enjoying the quiet of not having a TV on the main floor. Is that crazy?
The TV will eventually go on the wallpapered wall to the right.
It took us longer than expected to find the perfect sectional. It was tricky to find the right dimensions, since the speaker needed to stay to the left and the sofa needed to fill the corner properly. Several sectionals we loved didn't come far enough along this half-wall, so they would seem a bit lost in the space. Many sectionals also have a chaise instead of a full back, but we really wanted to maximize seating for guests with two proper backs.
But we found it! We could keep the speaker where it was, and it was just long enough to cover an unsightly outlet to the right. We came across this beauty in Stacaro on King Street East — made by Montreal-based Lucyau — and it definitely checked off all our must-haves. Called the Cloud, no chaise meant it could accommodate lots of lounging guests. The down-filled cushions are clean-lined and contemporary in shape, and we love the two long seat cushions and barely-there legs.
I found the down throw pillows at HomeSense for a song, and their linen-like covers (removable!) are the same texture as the sofa's upholstery. The braided twine piping adds a raw contrast to the soft fabrics, too.
We kept the same curtain rod and Umbra drapes to save money.
The white walls really do make the space seem larger. Eventually, we want to replace the carpet on the stairs and paint the spindles white, but alas, that will have to wait. Charlie the cat seems pleased with the makeover, especially because of all the grey.
What do you think? I would love to read all your feedback. Comment below!