If you've seen our May 2013 issue, you probably swooned at designer Colette van den Thillart's Barbados hideaway. Van den Thillart admits she's cherry-picked some of the elements to reflect the seminal style of one of the island's most influential residents, British set designer Oliver Messel.
Messel's charmed life started in London, but he ended up in Barbados, spending the last 12 years of his life there while bringing a refined elegance to tropical living that's still the gold standard. He transformed a former storage building at Leamington Pavilion with baroque touches such as louvered doors and balustrades, arched windows and a loggia.
Affluent and well connected (Messel was the uncle of Tony Armstrong-Jones, the former husband of Princess Margaret) with a gift for gab, Messel started as a portrait painter for the social set. He moved easily into London theatre, designing sets and costumes for superstar productions of the day, and then Hollywood films such as Suddenly Last Summer and Gigi. Messel first visited Barbados with friends in 1959. Overworked and suffering from arthritis, he was reinvigorated by the tropical sun.
Messel had no architectural training, but he borrowed tricks from set design to create perspective, evident in this London production of Sleeping Beauty, and transplanted them to his new projects in the Caribbean.
His redesign of Cockade House in Barbados, a former sugar plantation, made it one of the prettiest houses on the island. Messel transformed it with slender Greek columns, flattened arches and fanciful fanlights.
The Cockade House terrace features lavish use of "Messel Green," his trademark shade, along with lattice trelliswork, two of his most lasting legacies.
He even draped the stars in green, designing this dress for Elizabeth Taylor.
Fustic House was his favourite property in Barbados. Made of local coral stone, he accented the façade of the Messel wing with trademark louvered shutters to let the breeze flow, and Bajan parapets (small hoods over the windows) to block the sun. The cement floors were scored to look like tiles.
Messel green softens the transition from the interior to the lush palms surrounding the east terrace, and curtains buffer the elements.
His interiors incorporated white-on-white schemes with splashes of bright colour and elaborate plaster mouldings. He had a quirky habit: Messel was short so many of the light switches were placed close to the ground.
The first home Messel bought on the island was Maddox House, a rundown property on the St. James coast. He redesigned it to suit life in the Caribbean with balconies, loggias and terraces looking out to the sea.
Maddox House was such a hit, it sparked a booming new career as jet-set residents clamored for the Messel touch for their own vacation properties. He was tapped by Lord Glenconner to design 30 houses on his private island, Mustique, from 1960 onwards, including the winter escape of Princess Margaret, Les Jolies Eaux (the pool cabana is pictured above). But Barbados remained Messel's first island love and his home until he died there in 1978 at age 74.
For more, read all about Margot Austin's trip to Barbados.
1, 4, 10. Antique French Living blog
2. A Certain Cinema blog
3. Royal Opera House
5. Charles Edwards Lighting blog
6. Social Bliss blog
7, 9. How To Spend It blog
8. Fustic House
11. Les Jolies Eaux home, 10K Vacation Rentals
I love the look of big things in small spaces. While browsing for my own rooms, I find I'm drawn to giant pendant lights, oversized baskets, looming wardrobes and colossal paintings — the items that pop without overcrowding, instantly winning your attention. The relentless concern is how to keep the room from looking too small with these big items. I say it's an easy fix — add another huge object and make it a mirror.
A king-size mirror propped against a wall will reflect light and double the visual size of your room — the result is really lovely.
Check out some examples of oversized mirrors below.
This elegant Palladian mirror from Restoration Hardware is pretty high up on my "maybe one day" wish list.
How have you used mirrors in your cramped spaces? Comment below!
Learn how to make your own oversized mirror in this DIY video.
1. The Decorating Files, design by Jennifer Ferreira, photography by Angus Fergusson
2. The Kitchn
3. Interiors Magazine June/July 2012, photography by Matthew Millman
4. The Right At Home Designs
5. Heart Handmade blog
6. Palladian Mirrors, Restoration Hardware
I must admit, I'm guilty of pinning dreams on Pinterest: pins that are so glorious and eye-catching you can't resist adding them to your "Inspiration" or "Must Buy" boards, when really, you'll never own any of those things in a million years. Let me quickly share a few with you:
Ah, the ever-dreamy lofty glass house! Last I checked, I live in Canada, it's snowing in April, and hydro still isn't free. Maybe I'll just buy a cloche and let my cactus live out my glass house fantasies.
I just had to pin this (most likely expensive) freestanding, round statement tub that won't fit most normal-sized bathrooms. All that's missing is a Persian rug at the foot of the tub.
This one's been repinned quite a few times. I'm fairly certain there aren't many people spending weeks moving their furniture, laying out drop-sheets, meticulously applying masking tape and covering their 14-foot ceilings and walls with two very daring colours that they'll grow sick of within months. But I had to pin it. I love it. And I can guarantee you I will never attempt it.
I couldn't finish this blog post without mentioning the Serge Mouille lamps. I've pinned every one of them, again and again. I know these fixtures might not be completely out of reach for some people, but for me, it goes like this: an original Serge Mouille or a first-class trip to Bora Bora? And that is why this is another Pinterest dream.
Now I understand that inspiration boards are meant to be just that: a place to gather ideas and jostle your creativity. I'm definitely not done pinning dreams and hope that you keep pinning "big" too.
For the old fashioned type of inspiration board, see Wendy Jacob's blog post about H&H editors' offices.
Dorothy Draper's name might not be bandied around as much as it used to be when she reigned as an ultimate tastemaker. But her bold, modern Baroque influence is still felt today, just look at interiors by an up-and-coming young buck like Miles Redd, or her abiding affection for emerald green, Pantone's pick for the colour of 2013.
From the roaring '20s to the swinging '60s, Draper was the uncontested doyenne of interior design. The first professional interior designer, her firm still operates in New York. She paved the way for modern media mavens by penning a decor column in Good Housekeeping and a book, Decorating is Fun! (1939 Pointed Leaf Press), collaborated with fabric firm Schumacher & Co. on a tropical print called "Braziliance" and designed a pink polka dot truck for Packard.
Draper hailed from a privileged background and grew up in tony Tuxedo Park, New York. Her star rose just as Americans were shaking off their dowdy Edwardian colour schemes. She was famous for creating fantastical commercial spaces (she looked down her nose at interior design for private homes). Clients who had the nerve to question her decisions were rebuffed by "Perhaps you don't really want us to do this job?" She said, "I don't believe there is any rule in the game that can't be broken." In a word, she was fearless.
Clashing colours, big floral prints, and black and white floors were Draper's trademark. To her design was entertainment — a themed experience that encompassed architecture, furnishings, matchbooks and staff uniforms. She didn't care if a room was historically accurate and encouraged clients to "jumble periods cheerfully," even advising them to dye antique Persian rugs.
Draper's design of California's Arrowhead Springs Hotel was so detailed it included pink-and-white wrapping for the bathroom soap and the black-and-red swizzle sticks in the bar.
According to Carlton Varney, author of The Draper Touch (1988 Simon & Schuster) and president of Draper & Co. in New York, her favourite combos were aubergine and pink with chartreuse and turquoise, or dull white and shiny black. Her signature cabbage rose chintz was often paired with bold stripes and she loved elaborate plaster mouldings and ornate mirror frames.
The Victorian Writing Room (above) in the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia was once considered the most photographed room in the U.S. Designer Thom Filicia says Draper took classical elements and injected them with an incredible amount of fantasy: "She exaggerated it and made it feel new and clean." But not everyone was a fan. Draper's outrageous eye prompted architect Frank Lloyd Wright to call her an 'inferior desecrator.' Do you think Dorothy had the magic touch?
Office decor can be bland, but that's not the case at House & Home. These design editors know a thing or two about styling a sweet vignette, so take a page from their inspirational ideas for your own workspace.
In design editor Joel Bray's office, a kilt pin from his mother's school uniform and a weather-beaten vintage map of his hometown are reminders of his roots.
Senior design editor Margot Austin is full of good ideas, from these floating picture shelves that let her change up personal displays, to the edited collection of all-white desk accessories (when was the last time you saw a white hole punch?), and matching mid-century Thonet leather chair.
Task lighting tends to be tech-y and cold. Assistant design editor Holly Meighen uses a mellow brass lamp she found in her basement to give her desk personality. The antique look injects an elegant quality while the scent from a dish of dried lavender subtly energizes.
Assistant design editor Kai Ethier found this inexpensive boho-style shelf in a flower shop. The pretty sage-green piece maxes out a corner and the curved shelves are a softer alternative to standard shelving units.
A glitzy matchbox from Mexico in a chic Lucite-lid box on a mirrored tray is a whimsical focal point for art director Jason Kang when layouts are piled on his desk.
I've propped a chunk of quartz on my own desk because crystals are supposed to stimulate mental acuity. Hey, it can't hurt.
For more, see Suzanne Dimma's favourite inspiration boards.
1-11. Wendy Jacob
Last October, my girlfriends and I stayed at a gorgeous bed & breakfast here in Toronto the night before my wedding. I booked it online without knowing much about it, other than its proximity to Allan Gardens for pre-wedding photos and a short walking distance to our wedding venue, The St. Lawrence Market.
Well, we rolled into the Banting House Inn and we were pleasantly surprised. For such reasonable prices, it was absolutely stunning. I couldn't resist snapping some photos of the perfectly appointed rooms before we headed off to the wedding. (Yes, I was even in my wedding dress at this point.) Owners Scott and Greg clearly have a knack for mixing styles, and injected a bit of industrial edge into each corner of this old Victorian home. They prove that even old homes with traditional bones can be decorated with both vintage and modern finds. Get inspired by their effortless style.
This connecting room is to the right of the entryway. I love how the black-painted walls make the original woodwork pop.
And here is the formal living room with crisp white walls and sky-blue ceiling. Nice touch! The dramatic tufted sofa balances the softness of the ceiling.
They even had stacks of design books and iPads for guests to borrow.
The ceilings in here were probably 10 feet, and this gorgeous mirror stands about 8 feet tall. It was a great photo op with me putting my lipstick on.
There was a mix of furniture in this room that just seemed to work. A Navajo-style armchair, a mid-century modern black chair, an ornate white bench and an industrial bookshelf made from raw wood and metal. Instead of over-thinking furniture styles, just invest in pieces you love. The owners probably collected these items over the years, and then worked them into this formal room with confidence.
I've always loved these brushed metal stools with adjustable height. They topped one with a lamp for use as a side table.
A vintage shelf is a perfect spot to display collections of vintage items, like these old cigarette tins.
And here is the dining room with rustic wood table and chairs. They paired the old wood chairs with two modern moulded plastic chairs to balance out all the wood. And how about that chandelier!?
And so we met at Allan Gardens park for our photos, which was right down the street.
And here we are inside Allan Gardens.
I'd like to thank Scott for being so gracious with us — a know bridal parties can be loud and giggly. But our stay really made the night before the wedding stress-free.
I blame Arren Williams. While working on our special Makeovers issue, which hits newsstands in Canada on March 25th and in the U.S. on April 3rd, I was very inspired by the before and after transformation of his downtown Toronto house, which is featured in the issue. Thanks to Arren, I've become preoccupied with the idea of painting the red brick of our Toronto bungalow. GASP! (I know, many people recoil in horror at the idea of painted brick). But I'm gathering evidence and inspiration and who knows, maybe by the time the weather warms up I'll be ready to do it.
Here's a sneak peek at Arren's transformation. Pick up the Makeovers issue to get all the details on how he achieved this cool modern look.
My house doesn't look anything like Arren's but it's very similar to this one. I drive by this place often so one day I pulled over and snapped a picture through my car window to add to my inspiration file. I think this is the shade of grey I'll go for — just a bit lighter than Arren's. By the way, both Arren and the homeowners above own cars in coordinating charcoal grey metallic. It's a detail that makes a difference in Toronto, since in both cases the car is parked directly in front of the house on a parking pad. Love it! Mr. A and I have a white car and a black one respectively. I think both will work with my new scheme.
I see this house almost every day when I walk the dog. It's siding and not brick and the pale grey isn't quite what I want, but I still think it's totally adorable. It's very California beach bungalow by way of Scarborough, Ontario (it's just minutes from Lake Ontario).
I found this one after doing some Pinterest searching. My roof is also brown, so I was glad to see this example of how the brown roof works with the grey house. Roof colour must always be taken into account when choosing exterior paint colours. Black roofs are best because they go with everything. So if you are replacing your roof, keep that in mind.
I know what you're thinking. Not many of these are actually painted brick. But here's one I snapped in Greensboro, N.C., when I was in town for the High Point Furniture Market a couple of years ago. This home was surrounded by grand stone or red brick Georgians. I like the how the homeowners spiffed this one up to fit in without overdoing it.
Most of the houses above have contrasting trim, but I think I'd like to go with the same grey on the brick and all the trim. I think it will make the house look a bit larger and more modern. This pretty house in the coastal town of Ludington, Michigan has just the look I'm going for.
Now, the next question is, if I paint the house grey, what colour should I paint the front door? I'm thinking green, but which green?
See our Front Yards With Curb Appeal for more exterior inspiration.
You've probably seen the inside of architect John Lautner's homes, but you may not have realized it.
That's because this famous mid-century American architect's stunning space-age homes (including the Elrod House, pictured above) serve perfectly as movie sets: they're dramatic, make a huge visual impact and frankly, they don't look like anything else on earth. For the lucky few, like publisher Benedikt Taschen, they continue to be fantasies for the people lucky enough to live in them.
Trained by Frank Lloyd Wright and with a career spanning over 50 years, Lautner established his practice in Los Angeles. His style is often categorized as "organic modernism" and feels warmer than designs by contemporaries Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler. Lautner houses are beautiful for their looks alone, but it's fun to discover which movies were filmed there.
The Elrod House in Palm Springs housed villainous gymnasts, Bambi and Thumper, in Diamonds are Forever. Watch them battle against Sean Connery in all their tumbling glory in this montage.
Every detail of Tom Ford's stylish movie debut, A Single Man, was gorgeously rendered, including Colin Firth's abode, the Schaffer house in Verdugo Hills, California. Unbelievably, this house stood idle on the market for four years until it was sold for $1.3 million in December 2012.
Lautner grew up in Michigan and missed being surrounded by nature while living in L.A. ("I mean, when I first drove down Santa Monica Boulevard, it was so ugly I was physically sick for the first year I was here," he said) and was always trying to reestablish the connection, which he did with the Sheats-Goldstein House, built between 1961-63 near Beverly Hills. The house appeared in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and The Big Lebowski. The wedge window makes this photogenic beauty a sought-after location for fashion shoots, too.
Pool windows allowed the original owner, artist Helen Sheats, to watch her five children as she worked in her studio below the pool.
Lautner's Silvertop, in L.A.'s trendy Silver Lake area, stepped in as the home of protagonist Andrew McCarthy in the '80s flick, Less Than Zero. The 7,500-square-foot house was one of Lautner's favourites and was designed to follow the contour of the hilltop, so that the original owner could have a view from the ocean to the hills.
The rainbow-shaped Garcia House, built in 1962 above Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills, was famously pulled down off its stilts into the canyon in Lethal Weapon II.
The octagonal Chemosphere, now owned by Benedikt Taschen of Taschen books, was dubbed "the most modern home built in the world," by Encyclopedia Britannica. Built in 1960, this spacey flying saucer hovers over what was considered an unbuildable site and is reached by funicular. It appeared in Brian De Palma's Body Double, served as the lair of pornographer Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski, and was even parodied as hack actor Troy McClure's home in The Simpsons.
See more mid-century architecture with a video tour of this Montreal loft.
1. The New York Times, photography by Joshua White/Hammer Museum
2. Los Angeles Conservancy
3. Eclectitude blog
4. Creative Republic blog
5. Living With Style blog
6. Watershapes blog
7. Los Angeles Modern Architecture
8. Los Angeles Times Magazine, photography by François Dischinger
9. Trackfindings blog
Well, it comes as no surprise how “done” I am with winter. I know I live in Canada, but we have been spoiled the last few years with our gentle winters. For March break we usually jet off to Florida for some fun in the sun, but this year we decided to stay put. In three weeks we are moving back into our house after a five month reno!
As I dream about summer days, I have resorted to adding pics to my Pinterest account to remind me of the days to come. One of the boards is for our backyard. There are a few over-the-top ideas to consider, but some easy and affordable ones too:
A built-in slide! We actually have a slight hill in our yard, where this would be perfect. Add a little water and you have a instant water slide!
My boys would love this skate ramp in the backyard. I love how they've painted it to look like a pool.
If you don't have enough room for a pool, here’s a great idea to consider. Obviously, it's a huge job to undertake but how fun. I can see the adults enjoying this as much as the kiddies.
Love the concrete bench with the pink and grey throw cushions. It's easygoing and a great seating area for a large party.
These outdoor lights have been on my shopping list for years. No, they are not Christmas lights — they're way more charming and have a beautiful glow.
Can we talk about how much I love Toast for a minute? Not the warmed up bread (though I love that, too.) No, I'm talking about the UK-based clothing and housewares company.
With every new season, I often think about how feasible it might be to move to England just so I would be able to purchase everything in their collection. Seriously, I want it all.
Part of the appeal is the company's incredible catalogues. They're shot in gorgeous locations and styled to perfection (beautiful yet simple, much like their products). But don't take my word for it. Have a look at some of my favourites from the latest in women's and home: