Each week on the Surreal Estate blog, I write about some of the world's most lavish properties — mansions and estates that cost tens of millions of dollars, and belong to Hollywood celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow or socialites like Rachel Mellon. So it was refreshing to stumble upon (via a friend's tweet) this teensy, utterly modest — but still beautifully decorated — Victorian cottage the other day. It's not that much bigger than a garden shed — 9 by 14 feet — yet looks like it would still be a great retreat. And given that it only cost $3,000 to renovate and furnish, it gives me hope that one day I will be able to afford a cottage, too!
The house — an old hunting cabin — is in New York's picturesque Catskills area.
Okay, so the space is too small for a kitchen or bathroom, and isn't winterized — minor issues! All the amenities are in a neighbouring trailer, which functions as the owner's main home, making this more of an occasional refuge or escape.
There is something really sweet and innocent about this place. It seems like the perfect setting to enjoy tea and scones. According to the New York Times, which originally published the cottage a couple of years ago, many of the decor elements came from garage sales and flea markets. Thrifty and gorgeous!
Get more small space inspiration in House & Home's September 2012 issue.
I've been searching for some wedding decor inspiration and I have to say, there's a lot out there. It's a bit overwhelming trying to decide what you like and what you will actually use, but most importantly, will it all work together!?
After searching endless wedding blogs, photography and event planning sites, it became pretty clear the direction I was going: rustic ranch with a touch of vintage. I love barn board, burlap, ivory lace, mason jars, soft creams and whites. Hammered metals, bronze vases, white lights, candles, more white lights and more candles!
Here are some of my favourite inspiration photos:
I love the high ceilings and romantic lighting!
Mix and match chairs and an old barn really set the tone for a rustic wedding.
Huge barn doors!
The drapery at the wedding is beautiful, and it might be hard to see, but they've combined round and rectangle tables, which I like.
This barn is in Cambridge, Ontario!
Wow, this space takes my breath away. Only I would swap in burlap tablecloths with lace runners.
These branches and hanging lights go great together.
I love the way the light shines through this barn.
What are your thoughts on decorating for a wedding? Feel free to post your ideas below!
For more wedding ideas, see this simple DIY mercury glass vase project.
2. Vista Ranch Wedding, Benfield Photography
3. Janelle Stephanie
4. The Becker
5. Weddings in a Barn blog
6. Love & Laughter & Happily Ever After blog
7. Ruffled blog
8. Ruffled blog
I may have an obsession with panel moulding. For me, a room isn't complete without trim. When painted the same colour as the walls, it adds subtle detail that blends beautifully with contemporary furnishings. I'd love to try the look in my own home, adding this traditional architectural detail to a new home. Here are a few rooms that master this look:
Multiple thicknesses of trim were used here to great effect. Stylist Sarah Ellison perfected this room for Real Living Australia.
Joel Bray added architectural interest to his builder-basic condo with panel moulding, crown moulding and panelled doors.
This room from the book Farrow & Ball Living with Colour combines a number of trim styles for a cosy and historical look.
For more panel moulding inspiration, see these rooms with painted trim.
In other H&H blog news: Lynda Reeves is working on her next blog post about the latest in Parisian design. It will be up on the site soon. Stay tuned!
1. Real Living Australia, photography by Chris Warnes, via Flickr
2. House & Home February 2012 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson
3. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Ted Yarwood
4. Farrow & Ball Living with Colour, photography by Jan Baldwin, via Katy Elliot
I pulled into the driveway of my parents' recently purchased Thornhill century home and imagined how Anne Shirley felt as she walked up the path to Green Gables.
Gables... they sound lovely, don't they? Let me tell you something about gables: they don't accommodate large furniture. Many homeowners view slanted ceilings as a nuisance rather than an invitation to be creative. But I really see the potential!
My current bedroom holds some pretty exquisite pieces that I acquired with a massive space three years ago. I guess an awkwardly shaped dollhouse had no place amidst plans for the future back then.
Here is the bedroom I get to work with in the new house:
I've decided to take this interesting new layout as a decorating challenge. Thankfully only the bedrooms are slanted. Here are some plans I'm keen on:
I like the idea of a settee under the slope. The bed I swapped with my sister is still too high to fit underneath.
Arranging the bed on an angle is a quirky alternative.
If my headboard weren't so high, I'd prefer it tucked away.
This wall of frames complements the slant perfectly.
Hopefully, along with the settee, my desk can grab a spot under the slope, too.
To make space, I've bid adieu to a fabulous antique record player, which will find itself reunited with our living room furniture. (My first ever hunt for antiques was through my parents house and he was my very favourite find.)
It will be replaced with this beauty, which will house my shoes (another parent snag). When adapting to a smaller space, I've learned that storage planning is essential.
For more ceiling solutions, see Seema Persaud's blog post on painted ceilings.
Since it's the weekend, let's take a moment to browse some cottages. Did you know that House & Home has a superb Pinterest account where we pin all sorts of inspiration? Particularly inspiring today is our Cottages board. On it, you'll find a mix of different styles, from sleek contemporary weekend homes to more traditional cabins. Here are my favourites from four very different categories:
Nautical-themed decor is always a popular choice for cottages, and a palette of red and blue really pops against white beadboard walls. Add stripes and rope accents, and you're ready to set sail.
This modern escape features floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize views of the lake and sky. Simple, low furnishings keep the focus on the views. You would almost feel like you're on a boat while lounging on this sofa.
Cottages shouldn't take themselves too seriously, and this colourful rug (something your grandmother likely has next to her bed) adds just the right amount of casual cosiness. Pale blue backsplash tiles in a diamond pattern and an apron sink add to the country charm of this cottage kitchen.
This Georgian Bay cottage looks like it could be in the Norwegian countryside. The homeowners, who also own Toronto's Mjölk, combined vintage finds from their travels, raw wood furniture and mid-century modern pieces with crisp white walls for an effortlessly casual look. Take a video tour of this cottage here.
So which style do you prefer for cottages? Comment below! And follow our Pinterest page for even more decorating ideas.
1. House & Home July 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
2. House & Home July 2011 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
3. House & Home August 2011 issue, photography by Jean Longpré
4. House & Home June 2011 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
This time of year I try to be outside as much as I can. I'm not one for cold weather, so the moment summer hits, I get excited to take in all the hot days.
My husband and I really enjoy dining outdoors during the summer, so I thought I would round up my favourite inspiration shots of alfresco settings. Enjoy!
For more enviable outdoor spaces, browse our gallery of Inspiring Restaurant Patios.
It's the debate in kitchens today — light versus dark cabinetry. I'm in the stages of designing our new kitchen. Right now we have dark wood shaker panelled cabinets. I definitely want a change but I'm struggling between white or dark grey (even black) cabinetry for the new kitchen. As you can imagine, the inspiration binder is exploding, but it's crunch time and I really need to make a decision. I would love to hear your feedback! Comment below!
Here are some kitchens I love with light cabinetry:
And equally gorgeous kitchens with dark cabinetry:
Which do you prefer?
See our Kitchen Design & Decorating Guide for more reno inspiration.
1. House & Home October 2009 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
2. House & Home September 2011 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
3. House & Home October 2010, photography by Michael Graydon
4. House & Home February 2012, photography by Michael Graydon
5. Sköna Hem magazine via Solid Frog blog, photography by Daniela Witte
6. Plain English
I love cities. I'm an urbanista through and through. But mostly, I love New York. And lately, enviable patios and balconies in the big city have been filling the blogosphere. True, New York City is crowded and outdoor real estate is rare, but wouldn't it be nice to live in the heart of it all with yards and views like these? Some lucky homeowners get to escape the concrete jungle for a slice of the outdoors. Here are some of my favourites from Manhattan and Brooklyn:
There's a bit more space to breathe in Brooklyn, and this Brooklyn Heights home boasts a backyard for entertaining and a deck off the principal bedroom for soaking up some rays. Luxurious!
The backyard of this Greek Revival townhouse in New York City has more square footage than most backyards I've seen in Toronto! A level for dining and a level for lounging — nice. Similar to this backyard we featured on Online TV.
Artist Elliott Puckette has a lush Brooklyn backyard that hardly seems like it's in the city. I love the casual wicker awning and overgrown shrubs.
What better way to take in an urban view than on some comfortable Panton chairs? This New York City patio has tall plantings for privacy from the neighbours and lower shrubs to keep street views open.
Pots of fountain grass and August lilies balance the industrial elements in this outdoor space. Actress Jennifer Aniston bought this Greenwich Village apartment from Sally Hershberger back in 2011. Views fit for a celebrity!
Views of the Hudson River? Yes please! This townhouse on Manhattan's west side has the perfect patio for sunsets.
Or views of Central Park? I can't decide. But all these spaces make New York seem even more beautiful. A girl can dream.
For more patio ideas, browse our Perfect Patios gallery.
1. Photography by Peter Aaron
2. Architectural Digest, photography by Michael Moran
3. In The Studio blog
4. Cococozy blog
5. Elle Decor, photography by William Waldron
6. Architectural Digest, photography by Phillip H. Ennis
7. Architectural Digest, photography by Joshua McHugh
Ever since Kate and William said "I do" last spring, the world has been a little in love with all things British. And with the Queen's Jubilee just wrapped up and the summer Olympics in London only a few weeks away, all eyes are once again on the U.K.
In honour of its country's moment in the spotlight, U.K. paint company Farrow & Ball asked designers from around the globe to create British decorating schemes using its velvety paints and wallpapers. You can debate how British or un-British the results are, but it's hard to argue against the inspiring combinations created. A room layered in Wedgwood blues? Yes please.
"In the north of Scotland, we are redecorating a grand 18th century castle. We have just picked a palette of colours for the drawing room... The walls will be Green Blue, the frieze a mix of Porphyry Pink and Menagerie; joinery in Slipper Satin and Shaded White; the ceiling James White. This range of colours is soft and restful, yet has enough depth and colour to warm the cold clear northern light." — Ben Pentreath, architectural designer, U.K
(I couldn't help but notice how this palette so perfectly mimics the tones in the photo of Kate Middleton, above. A room as pretty as the princess!)
"This scheme would work really well in an office as the Babouche would provide some energy and the black would bring in a more professional tone. I'd love to see this scheme in a boy's room or an industrial kitchen too." — Holly Becker, blogger, Decor8blog.com, Germany
"These nuances of blue combined with white remind me of the famous bicoloured ceramics from Josiah Wedgwood of the 18th century. These dishes ennoble each table in the same way that a soft paint makes a dining room much more beautiful." — Gerd Sommerlade, stylist and designer, Germany
"Polka Square wallpaper seems to take the light in, to envelope it gently, like the soft surface of the first snowfall. Charlotte's Locks can be applied to the inside of a cabinet, so it blushes when it's opened. Down Pipe creates a nice contrast on the outside of a house and works exceedingly well in combination with bricks and garden greenery." — Scholten & Baijings, design duo, Holland
"To create a British colour scheme, I would channel more David Hicks than Nancy Lancaster, although her yellow influence cannot be overlooked. I would cover the walls in a sunny yellow strié paper such as The Dragged Papers (DR1246) and paint the ceilings in Citron with trim in a crisp colour such as Pointing. For the furniture, curtains and rug, I would choose all snappy black and white — sharp and graphic — Hicks-esque patterns and solids to balance the strong yellow. One could not help but be happy in this room." — John Lyle, designer, U.S.
Browse the other British colour schemes.
For more British style, see our gallery of NH Design Interiors.
When I walked into Marie Antoinette's personal Versailles mansion three summers ago, I was stunned by the pink marble, pink drapes, pink china — pink everywhere.
She really had it all figured out when she cherry-picked her signature colour. Just check out her shoes! If you've never been to France, you may not realize how much Parisians love their colourful macarons. World-renowned patisserie Ladurée, on fashionable Champs-Élysées, is full of pastel sweets.
Whether they're here to stay or a seasonal fad, pinks, yellows, blues and greens in the softest of tones are now coming into our homes as they did decades ago.
Once referred to as a thing of the '50s, soft shades have made a comeback. From mint jeans to sweet pink frying pans, this is by far the most colourful summer I can recall.
Pastels in all colours have become a crucial part of my summer. Here's how I've fit them in:
I chose this fresh Benjamin Moore paint swatch for my bathroom (left). And here's the material (right) I just picked out for an antique rocking chair I'm restoring.
At my sister's graduation party last weekend, I incorporated as much pastel as possible to go with the season. The s'more station was such a hit. I found the pink pewter pots and loaf pans at HomeSense for $8 for four!
See our Soft & Feminine Rooms for more pretty pastels.
2a. Vintage Susie
2b. The Marvan Diaries
3a. Miss Retro's Blog
3b. Crush Crazy Cute Down
4a. Delightful Dozen
4b. KitchenAid Mixers, Good Food Festival
5. York Vision
6a. Cruise 2012/2013, Chanel
6b. Spring/Summer 2012, Versace
7a. Benjamin Moore's Jack Frost (729)
7b-8. Floriana Paonessa