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Lucky me. Along with my colleague Cameron MacNeil, I was sent to High Point, North Carolina for one of their semi-annual furniture market shows. I guess you could call it a pilgrimage of sorts, if you are into furniture. And if you are into blossoming dogwood branches, the spring show (which we attended) was also a bit of a pilgrimage. The fall show is scheduled for October 22-27. Yes, I drove Cameron crazy, for many reasons, but mostly by pointing out all the big dogwood trees, which are a local wonder. I think he was a convert by the end of the trip.

But other highlights from the show were many. I thought I would just share a couple here.

Favourite item: José Thenée sketches.

BoBo Intriguing Objects was a standout for both Cameron and I, with its showroom filled with mostly vintage and some repros. But one line in particular stood out to me. Somehow Bobo had acquired a collection of original ironwork renderings by José Thenée (perhaps his whole collection?), a world-renowned ironworker from Argentina. He was arguably the best of the blacksmiths in the 1920s and much of his work is seen throughout Buenos Aires. And if his sketches are any indicator, I can see why his work is so important. The showroom was filled with them, obviously for wholesale. And I have since seen them in a few advertisements for Atlanta and other U.S.-based retailers. These are definitely something I wish I could have bought.

Favourite display idea: Old rope.

Many of the showrooms do a great job of merchandising so that you feel like you're in a well-displayed retail space instead of (well, technically) a wholesaler at an industry event. Many of us love nautical in the spring and summer, when we're thinking of cottages and cottage decorating. Above is just one of many ideas on how to get a nautical vibe with minimal effort. A lovely pewter charger filled with old rope (probably new rope to be exact, that has been painted or stained) is the perfect hit of Shipping News style. It's also a great way to create a non-floral centerpiece. I think I would just beef it up with some pewter or wooden candlesticks with drippy candles. Loose and casual — this was one great idea.

Favourite new take on a tried-and-true look: Vintage sport added to industrial.

I'm a fan of the industrial look, and have been worried that it is on its way out these last couple of years. We've seen it in too many places, sometimes not well done. But a company called Halo masterfully mixed industrial with Brit sport to give it legs for longer. This was a great way to add some colour and some cheek to the industrial look. It's very masculine, but I love old trophies and rugby balls. It was a terrific merge of two strong looks.

Plus, Halo gave the best party of the show. To celebrate their British bent, they hosted a Clockwork Orange party (arguably one of Stanley Kubrick's best movies and a personal favourite of mine). The champagne was flowing, all the waiters were dressed like Droogs (punks) from the movie, and the film was running upstairs on a wall in the old firehouse they were using as their showroom. Now that was a highlight.

See part two of my favourite finds from High Point.

Photo credits:
1-5. Meg Crossley

Decorating a large expanse of wall can be tricky. There are tried and true options such as a gilded mirror, a gallery wall of framed photos, a large screen, and so on. But if you're tired of these, why not consider a collection of ceramics on your wall? Something like this:

Here, we've got a whole bunch of blue and white ceramics — plates, decorative tiles, saucers, and even architectural tiles meant for the floor or a fireplace surround. There are chinoiserie, Moroccan and even Delft motifs here, but they are held together by the common blue and white theme. Also, they're placed in this symmetrical graphic pattern and this, too, holds the many designs together. I like the idea of painting the wall itself blue to pick up on the ceramics and make the grouping hang together as one cohesive look. It's totally unique and unexpected and really makes a statement above this fireplace, don't you think?

You can get a similar look with a bunch of decorative plates of various sizes like this collection from John Derian.

How gorgeous is this one?! If John Derian's shop in New York is too far to travel — I'd be in this group, by the way — you can hunt high and low at thrift shops, antique stores and flea markets to create your own blue and white ceramic collection to hang on your wall. Just get ready for the ooohs and ahhhs!

See some of my finds here, and how I've arranged them in my dining room.

Photo credits:
1. Marthastewart.com
2. Faience Wall Hanging, John Derian
3. Faience Star Center, John Derian

When Jennifer Reid and husband Chad Kulchyski won W Network's 2010 Expert Search competition, they had no idea what they were in for. Well, they knew the prize included a development deal with W Network for a new show, but they didn't realize how fast things would progress from there. Their new show, called Making House, premiered in June, chronicling the renovating adventures of the design-savvy couple (Jennifer is an interior decorator with Barlow Reid Design and Chad is a contractor).

Undertaking a huge reno and a 600-square-foot addition is pretty stressful, so imagine throwing four kids in there, plus a camera crew following the couple's every measurement, glitch, mistake, trip to The Home Depot along the way!

In the middle of it all, a team from House & Home made it out to their midtown Toronto home to photograph the space for our Makeovers special issue, on stands today, August 15th. Amidst filming, unpacking, and posing for portraits, Jennifer Reid found time to chat with me about the renovation, her family's new space, the H&H photo shoot, and what she learned from it all.

GM: What were your expectations before the photo shoot?

JR: I just wanted to make sure everything was perfect. You never know what people are going to think when they actually see the finished space. It was pretty nerve-racking, but I tried to not have any expectations at all.

GM: How did you prepare the house for the photo shoot?

JR: I just tried to make it more welcoming. I tidied the foyer, added plenty of fresh flowers, things like that.

GM: What did you want to come through in the photos and the magazine story?

JR: I really wanted readers to see that it's a family-friendly space where kids feel comfortable, but also a fun, modern space.

GM: What was the most stressful part of the photo shoot?

JR: I was actually worried that what I saw in the space wouldn't come through in the photos. But the final photos actually looked better than I expected — thanks to the wonders of professional lighting!

GM: What did you like most about the photo shoot?

JR: I loved showing Suzanne Dimma around the house and seeing her reactions to things she hadn't seen before, like the CaesarStone waterfall countertop, greyed red oak floors, and hand-graded backsplash — pictured above — which Suzanne featured in her June 2011 editor's letter.

GM: Filming for TV must be different than setting up for a magazine photo shoot. What have you learned along the way?

JR: I was surprised to learn the amount of time taken to set up for a photo shoot: the crew, the lighting, the accessories, the styling — it took a while!

GM: What's something you've learned from the whole reno/addition experience?

JR: No matter what your timeline is, expect it to take longer. No matter what your budget is, add 10% more for unexpected costs along the way.

GM: If you could go back and change something about the reno, what would it be?

JR: Maybe the kitchen cabinetry. I wish we had gone more modern. They're gorgeous white Shaker cabinets, but now that all the finishes are pulled together, I think an edgier choice would have worked better. The cabinets were the first thing we chose, so maybe it was too spontaneous. I would advise homeowners to set a clear vision of how they want the house to look before they begin. As they go along, they should follow those set design decisions to stay on track.

To see all the photos from the renovation, pick up our Makeovers special issue, on newsstands today. And tune in to Making House on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Photo credits:
1-2. General Purpose Pictures Inc.
3 (top), 4 (left), 5 (left). Jennifer Reid
3 (bottom), 4 (right), 5 (right), 6-7. House & Home Makeovers 2011 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson

My sister recently inherited a pair of tub chairs that have been in our family for a while, and as you can see, are calling for help.

We really like the look of this warm and inviting family room from Lonny's January/February 2011 issue. However, I have to say, finding a reasonably priced peachy-orange ikat upholstery fabric has not been as easy as I thought.

Here's another shot of the room from designer Hillary Thomas' website. I love the pairing of eggplant with peachy-orange.

Here are some fabrics we've found so far:

Robert Allen's Tioga in Paprika.

Designer Suzanne Rheinstein's Ikat de Lin in Brick.

Spoonflower's Coral Ikat.

China Seas' Bali Hai in Salmon — perhaps a bit too pinky?

Ballard Designs' Malabar in Coral. This appears to be the winner so far. At $28 a yard, the price is right.

So, which one do you like best? And does anyone else have any leads on orange, coral or peach ikat fabrics? Would love to hear!

Photo credits:
1. Stacy Begg
2. Lonny January/February 2011 issue, photography by Patrick Cline
3. Hillary Thomas
4. Tioga in Paprika, Robert Allen
5. Suzanne Rheinstein's Ikat de Lin in Brick, Lee Jofa
6. Coral Ikat, Spoonflower
7. China Seas' Bali Hai in Salmon, Quadrille
8. Malabar in Coral, Ballard Designs

A few weeks ago, my fellow H&H editors and I attended a flurry of holiday product previews — get it? Flurry! Even though I've been working here for 11 years, it still blows me away how far in advance we work. Christmas in July?!?! One of the holiday previews was held at the Burroughes Building around the corner from our offices, hosted by Rock-It Promotions. There were a handful of vendors (Drake General Store, Electrolux, Mini Mioche, PC Home & Everyday Essentials, and more) showing off their goods for the coming season. Here's a sneak peek at what the Drake General Store is bringing out this holiday season, and stay tuned for what the other vendors were showing off in my upcoming blog posts.

Here's my colleague Michael Penney checking out a beautifully illustrated calendar.

Every home should have a MacAusland blanket from P.E.I. or a cosy Pendleton blanket.

And I loved these Red Cedar incense cones — they smelled sooooo good!

For more favourite finds from the Drake General Store, check out Kimberley Brown's blog post on Canadian Style.

Photo credits:
1-3. Sarah Hartill 

Earlier this summer, my brother Omar tied the knot with the love of his life, Euriphile, in the Catskills, New York. The venue was an amazing property with open fields, a pond, waterfall and a fantastic barn for the reception, dinner and dancing. Magazine fodder for sure.

It was held at the Roxbury Barn in Roxbury, New York. It's available to rent for events, and the owners, Caspar and Roger, have poured heart and soul into the place over the years to create a truly magical spot.

For the wedding weekend, we shared a house close by with Omar, his wife, and some of her family members. I fell in love with the house and you can see why from these photos. The wrap-around porch, potted ferns and white painted clapboards and cupola contributed to the romance of the event.

I was especially inspired by the interiors and use of colour — always a tricky thing to get right! — and wondered if the owners had turned to nature for colour guidance. The various shades of green, from cool celadon on the walls to accent cushions in sage and moss green, reiterated the palette outside — the perfect complement to hot summer weather.

Palettes inspired by nature: variegated greens and whites...

Velvety grey-green...

Twisting vines in rich, dark brown...

Fallen birch bark — the colour and texture of weathered and whitewashed porch furniture.

The perfect complement to cool green? Vibrant orange. The wall colour in the grand entrance resembled the blooms of an urn planting in the garden.

Upholstery details and vintage billiard balls also added pop to the cool and serene palette.

For more fresh summer hues, see our Summer Paint Colours photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-12. Hilary Smyth

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