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Inspiration Board

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:


Photo credits:
1-9. Toast


Kai Ethier


Sunday morning brunch was the best part of my week growing up. Despite an enormous pink marble kitchen table, this scrumptious tradition of buttery pancakes, fresh cut fruit, Nutella and coffee was always served in the "special room" also known as the dining room — brunch was a special time in our home.

I have a great big list of what the perfect kitchen should include and at the very top of it sits a breakfast nook — a wood burning oven and a brass faucet follow close behind. The highlight of a breakfast nook, or kitchen nook, is its clever use of space. An upholstered banquette running the length of a bay window seats two or three (or more if you can afford the space) and surrounding chairs can be placed and removed when needed. A diner-style niche of two banquettes is an even more efficient way of saving space but I'm partial to a mix and match of plush seating. A delicious spread, fresh flowers and lots of sunshine complete the look. Here are a few spaces where I'd be happy as pie sipping on a café au lait:

A cosy corner in my kitchen will have me wishing for Sunday all week long.

See a spacious breakfast nook in chef Rodney Bowers' restaurant-style kitchen on H&H Online TV.

Photo credits:
1. Andrea Hebard Interior Design Blog
2. The Building Construction
3. Maison & Demeure December 2009 issue, photography by André Rider
4. StyleBeat blog
5. Country Living, photography by Victoria Pearson, via The Inspired Room blog
6. Lonny March/April 2012 issue, design by Tobi Tobin, photography by Patrick Cline, via Coco + Kelley blog
7. House & Home September 2011 issue, design by Sarah Callanan, photography by Virginia Macdonald
8. Better Homes & Gardens
9. Houzz, design by Virginia Kitchens, photography by Greg Hadley


Floriana Paonessa

I have no plans for a dramatic kitchen makeover, but House & Home's March 2013 issue makes me wish I did. Considering how much time I spend in there, it certainly deserves some attention. Here are a few kitchen photos sitting in my "One Day" inspiration folder. Perhaps it's finally time to do something with them.

Over at Sköna Hem, I came across this small kitchen with the cutest little gas stove. Can a range be cute? Yes, I think so. This small space appliance comes from Ilve, an Italian company. The dramatic veins of the Carrera marble provide quite the backdrop for hanging pots and utensils. I prefer to keep my countertops and backsplash bare, but I do like how the metal rods are mounted directly on the marble.

This kitchen could easily read as stuffy and formal, but the mix of new and old styles and bold colour accents keep the look current. The on-trend encaustic tiles don't hurt, either. The worn teal Tolix Marais A chairs create the perfect café-at-home vibe.

Here's another contemporary kitchen that inspires me. I love the use of wall-mounted swing-arm lamps in the kitchen, but do wish these were placed lower on the wall or had art hung beneath. Affordable white subway tile with easy-to-maintain dark grout covers the wall. And, something we continue to see: Dark lower cabinets paired with light uppers. Swoon.

Dreaming of my "One Day" kitchen…

Find more inspiration in our Bistro & Restaurant-Style Kitchens photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1, 2. Sköna Hem, photography by Martin Löf
3. Kvanum


Seema Persaud

It's getting warmer, right?

Who am I kidding, even the underwear model on the Calvin Klein billboard outside my office window looks like she's shivering. Let's pretend that the buds are thinking about opening and that spring is just around the corner.

Hit up a florist's shop for a few sculptural sprigs. I planted a dwarf cherry tree and quince in our backyard expressly so I could use the branches to make this type of casual arrangement, but I worry the effect of willful and impetuous pruning results in wonky trees. (I will hack away at the loathed forsythia bush that conceals the gas line at the corner of our house, that thing is on steroids.)

Take a page from Mother Nature: green makes everything look fresh and lively. Inject a bold verdant emerald (Pantone's 2013 colour of the year) to shake up the status quo.

Butterflies are free... and way too smart to be flapping their wings up here at this time of year. But that doesn't mean you can't bring them inside.

Lift those rugs and bare your floors...

...if not your legs.

The inspiration you need for a thorough spring-cleaning. This space is primed and ready for summer days.

Or start small and get a jump on things with an indoor herb garden.

Before you know it, everything will be green again...

For more inspiration, browse our Colourful Spring Rooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Jacky Hobbs Creative Freelance
2. Design Hunter blog
3. California Home + Design
4. House Popularity
5. Design Seeds blog
6. Indecora blog
7. The Room Blue blog
8. Put it in a Jar blog
9. Love Monkey Bear blog


Wendy Jacob

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.

Photo credits:
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


Floriana Paonessa

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.

Photo credits:
1. Le Confetty blog
2. Agneta Livijn
3. Chic Cam blog
4. Peppermint Bliss blog
5. Ciao Newport Beach blog
6. Graphics Fairy blog
7. Paper blog


Wendy Jacob

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.

Photo credits:
1-4. You magazine March 2012 issue, styling by Laura Fulmine, photography by David Cleveland


Seema Persaud

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!

Photo credits:
1. Celebrations at Home
2. Camille Styles
3. 100 Layer Cake
4. Studio DIY
5-6. Camille Styles
7. Celebrations
8. Celebrations at Home
9. Twig & Thistle


Chloe Berge

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 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!

Photo credits:
1. Tissot Classic Dream Jungfraubahn, via Times Circle
2. Cartier Tank
3. J.J. Sedelmaier for
4. Meisterstück 149, Montblanc
5. Aluminum Round Fountain Pen, Muji
6. Lodge Cast Iron 10" Skillet, Crate & Barrel


Margot Austin

"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:

I've saved Farrow & Ball's Tallow (#203) and Pitch Black (#256) to my kitchen inspiration board about 13 times.

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.

Photo credits:
1. Tallow (#203), Farrow & Ball
2. Kalahari Vignettes Wallpaper, Anthropologie
3. House & Home October 2004 issue, photography by Michael Graydon, via
4. Camille Styles
6. Better Homes & Gardens


Floriana Paonessa

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