This Sunday, May 8th marks Mother’s Day in North America. While I don’t feel it’s necessary to spend money to show the mother figures in your life how much you appreciate and care for them, a well-thought-out gift is always a nice way to say thank you for all that they've done.
If you’d like to give a little something for your mom to enjoy, take a look at store-bought and DIY gift ideas below. Remember, it’s likely too late to order something online and have it come in time for Sunday, so it’s best to hit the stores instead.
This papier-mâché bowl is from Wola Nani, an NGO that helps women in South Africa who are living with HIV/AIDS to earn an income. The various bowls are made of recycled paper, too. Talk about a feel-good gift. $40, HomeSense.
Is mom a tea lover? This charming line would be great for afternoon teas and brunches. Amélie Set of 6 Dessert Plates, $25; Set of 6 Tea Cups and Saucers, $35; Teapot, $30; Cream and Sugar, $25, Chapters and Indigo Books + Music.
These monogrammed mugs feature cute, colourful patterns and a unique shape. The letters look like they were drawn on with a blue Sharpie (in a good way). If you have another mug you'd prefer to give, you can recreate this look with a steady hand. Using a porcelain felt-tip pen or marker from a craft store like DeSerres or Michaels, draw your mom's initials on a printed or plain mug. For a truly personal touch you can write a message and include images, too. Homegrown Monogram Mug, $8, Anthropologie.
Perfect for those with a green thumb, this floral gardening tool set makes standard forest green sets look so boring. $17 for all three, HomeSense.
The message on this watering can is oh-so-true. It’s so exciting to plant bulbs in the fall and anxiously wait for them to pop up in the spring. Pair with a planter and seeds for a complete package. Thoughtful Gardener Watering Can, $28, Chapters and Indigo Books + Music.
Scented body creams and sprays are always useful and popular. These gift sets come in bright, fun watering cans for smaller plants. Sweet Pea Over-the-top Watering Can, $75; Forever Sunshine Watering Can Gift Set, $35, Bath & Body Works.
For those mothers who have a bit of difficulty keeping flowers alive, the sweet smell of geraniums can still be enjoyed with diffusers or candles. Paddywax Geranium fragrance diffuser, $30; candle in tin, $13, Chapters and Indigo Books + Music. Also available in jasmine and peony.
Have a mother who lives far away? Package stationery with postage stamps and a pen in hopes of receiving treasured letters later on. I’m always a big fan of Cavallini & Co.’s papers, too. Fringe Studio Yours Truly Stationery Box, $25, Chapters and Indigo Books + Music.
And how's this for an unusual gift — a hammock. If your mom has sturdy trees in her backyard or structural elements that she can hang a hammock from, it would make a great option. Better yet, if the weather’s nice this weekend, hang it up for her when she’s not around for a pleasant surprise. It will be a relaxing place for her to spend lazy Sunday afternoons this summer. Vibrant Afternoon Hammock, $98, Anthropologie.
If you prefer to make your own gifts, try gifting terrariums, plants or flowers in vintage cans, or your own handmade art. Simple things like cooking a delicious meal, giving your mom a call or visit, and taking her out for the day, can be lots of fun and don’t cost much, either. And if she's a design and decorating fan, a print or digital subscription to House & Home magazine will provide a year's worth of inspiration. Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!
I just finished working on a kids' room photo shoot for our June 2011 issue. I have to say, it's a tough go finding age-appropriate furniture and accessories for the preteen/teen age group. You want to incorporate all the lovely classics, but really, do you want to pay for them? And the vintage nod is a good fit, but there is a fine line between a few key pieces and making your kid's room feel like a tag sale.
Well, the good news is that Pottery Barn Teen now ships to Canada — yay! I recently attended a press event and saw first-hand a lot of the products, and they're great. Quite a few pieces could even cross over into basics for the home — desk lamps, for example. As yet, there will not be a stand-alone shop in Canada, but just about all products are available online, and Pottery Barn has been very careful to ensure shipping is reasonable.
Have a look below. I'm ordering a beanbag for my 10 year old this week.
Hi-Light Task Lamp, on sale for $86-$99.
Applause Light Box, $49.
Charcoal Washed Twill Beanbag, $75-$236.
Ruffle Rings Drape, $74-$111.
Locker Bins, on sale for $29-$94.
1-5. Pottery Barn Teen
When Sara and I began dreaming about how to decorate our house, we tried really hard to focus on timeless style and avoid anything too cutting-edge or trendy. After all, we wanted to create a family-friendly home with furniture, fabrics and objects layered upon each other, telling the story of who we are. Dark moody walls and reclaimed industrial metal pieces may be en vogue today, but we wanted to stick to the classics, and for that, we looked to a few tried-and-true sources.
One inspiration for me has always been Aerin Lauder's East Hampton house. It's been featured time and again in House & Garden, Elle Decor and Vogue Living. When I first saw it, I fell in love with its timeless appeal — that preppy, north eastern, colour-loving thing that just gets me every time. We thought if we applied some of this history-laden style to our little place, it would feel dressed up, yet casual at the same time.
Here's a peek at Aerin Lauder's home:
Ideas I was taking from this East Hampton dream house? Lots of blue and white porcelain, seagrass and sisal to keep things casual, soft colour on the walls, traditional furniture mixed with global prints, brass hardware in the kitchen, wallpaper in a bedroom or two, and a casual airiness on top of all of that old-school formality. And I really think we achieved the look we wanted. Check out my house in the June 2011 issue, on stands May 9th.
Every April, the mother of all design events takes place in Milan under the banner of Salone Internazionale del Mobile (or as insiders call it, Saloni). Imagine the Milan fashion shows, except stick-thin models are replaced by ultra-slim LED lights, ready-to-wear by flat-packed and pre-assembled. This year, the event celebrated its 50th anniversary and the stats tally in at 2,500 exhibitors spread out over 20,000 square meters. Just imagine how many homes you could fill with all that fabulous stuff!
For magazine editors, it's a time when our inboxes fill up with fresh discoveries and new inspirations a zillion times a day. Sifting through it all can begin to feel like a chore, but the thrill lies in uncovering gems like these new works from U.K. designer Benjamin Hubert. The name of his new chair, Maritime, got my attention first. (Although our world — especially the design world — is increasingly driven by images, words still wield some power.) It immediately conjured salty ocean breezes and a certain ruggedness that will always be cool. And the chair is all kinds of cool.
Inspired by traditional wooden shipbuilding techniques, its outer shell leaves the supports visible and looks a lot like the interior of my grandfather's antique cedar canoe. (Though the chair is made of laminate ash.) For those who enjoy peeking inside the creative process, his working sketches are charming, too.
Benjamin also debuted the Paddle lamp for Fabbian, an oak and cast aluminum LED task light that follows a similar theme. Lean and oh-so-lovely, it's the first light to edge out the Jielde task lights in vibrant colours, which have long topped my home office wish list.
Inspired by the 360 degree movement of a paddle, the light has multiple axis of movement, making it functional for all sorts of working environments. Plus, more fascinating sketches.
These thin-walled cast concrete pendant lights aren't new, but they're also by Benjamin and I couldn't resist showing them. Drool, drool.
This guy clearly knows his way around a socket: The Roofer lights, above, also launched in Milan for Fabbian. I love the current trend towards mass customization and these are a shining example.
Inspired by roof tiles from Marrakesh, they can be customized by the customer on wire frames in a variety of shapes and using tiles in a range of colours.
You'll have excuse me now, my inbox is chiming for attention.
For Suzanne Dimma's picks from last year's Saloni, see her Milan Furniture Fair blog post.
1-7. Benjamin Hubert
While reading my daily rounds of decor blogs, I saw a small project that I wanted to share because it successfully addresses the ever-present dilemma of how to do some serious decorating while keeping serious budgets in mind. I think this mini makeover is the perfect example of pleasing your champagne tastes on a beer budget.
Bryn Alexandra is a Charlotte, North Carolina based interior decorator and in her latest project, she tackled her own powder room. With a budget of $1,000, she transformed this space and even came in under budget. I like how she splurged on some items, like the grasscloth wallpaper (and the labour to put it up!), but kept her numbers down with affordable hardware and accessories from a big box store.
Here's the before shot and a progress shot. I don't know which is worse, the wallpaper border or the brass toilet paper holder. Yikes. I actually don't mind the faucet though! I believe I even put a polished brass faucet in the most recent Kitchens & Baths special issue that hit newsstands a few weeks ago.
This is such a great after shot. All for a grand total of $897.50! Keep in mind that Bryn lives in the U.S., so she used a few suppliers that we don't have access to up here in the Great White North, but I'm sure we could find similar deals here. Bryn broke down the costs, but for specifics, be sure to check out her blog post:
Mirror - $209.50
Grasscloth wallpaper - $230
Labour to hang grasscloth - $220
Light fixture - $99
Faucet - $70
Glass knobs - $25
Toilet handle - $17
Towel ring - $13
Toilet paper holder - $14
Art - free
Sometimes it's the smallest details that can have the biggest impact on spaces. The best part is that it's all completely affordable and easily doable! It takes minutes to switch out knobs or hang some art. Takes cues from projects like these when it comes to sprucing up your own spaces on the cheap. Although it was a big overhaul here, pay attention to the small touches and you'll be surprisingly pleased with the results.
So now you don't really have an excuse to keep putting off that powder room makeover of yours that everyone means to do but never really gets around to. Right?
For more bathroom design ideas, see our small bathrooms photo gallery.
1-4. Bryn Alexandra Interiors
I've done blog posts based on books from blogs and posts based on diet books, and now as various forms of media continue to mesh and morph into one another, I'm addressing cookbooks based on recipes from magazines.
First up, from the good people at Good Housekeeping, we have Grilling (2011 Hearst Books). The magazine is known for dishing out handy everyday information to millions of Americans each month, and this grill-focused cookbook, full of 275 triple-tested recipes, is no exception. It all starts with an overview of various types of grills (be it gas or charcoal), plus tips on flavouring your fire and choosing the best tools for the job (instant read thermometers, fire starters, grilling baskets and the like). From 25 different burger recipes to a whole chapter on rubs and sauces, all of the recipes are quick and doable — and that Orange-Chipotle Salsa is calling my name. This book has the Amy Rosen stamp of approval!
Fine Cooking is a magazine I inherently trust; they've got great ideas, lots of new twists on old favourites, and while often times their recipes aren't quick and easy, the end results are always deliciously praise-worthy. Their new book, Fine Cooking In Season (2011 Taunton), is a guide to whipping up the season's best offerings at their peak. For instance, springtime means an asparagus, goat cheese and bacon tart, or sautéed fiddleheads with morels, while summer leads to grilled chicken breasts with green olive relish and late summer's bellini pops. I've never tried making sautéed stinging nettles before, but I may finally get up the nerve this spring, thanks to In Season's tasty looking nettles with shallots.
And finally, not so much a cookbook as a colourful treatise on how to grow and produce all that you can in your own backyard, Sunset magazine's The One-Block Feast (2011 Ten Speed Press) dishes out garden plans for four seasons. Plus, it offers tips on how to make your own wine (and labels), various cheeses, vinegars, how to own a dairy cow, how to dry chilies, can tomatoes, raise honeybees (and make honey), how to forage, raise chickens, and on, and on. Though our long cold winters won't let you do a bunch of the projects aimed at Sunset magazine's largely western audience, there are dozens of doable ideas and 100 great recipes (using ingredients you may have grown yourself), making for an inspiring read. In fact, I may just make some homemade ricotta and spread it over homemade buttermilk crackers topped with just-picked fava beans tonight.
See more cookbook recipes.