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We all have guilty pleasures here at the office. One of the gals absolutely loves real fur, while another gets girly over feathers. I secretly love leopard print (often printed on cowhide, brushed cotton or velvet). As with all our guilty pleasures, the reason we feel embarrassed by them is because so many people do them badly. How not to wear leopard print: Google Edith Prickley for a reminder.

Of course leopard print comes around every ten years or so and sticks for about three. We are on the tail end of its run now but I am happy to know that it will still be here for fall 2011, if runway shows are any indicator.

The key to leopard print is moderation, whether in fashion or home. And moderation doesn't always mean small scale. In fashion, it can be one fabulous coat or a small handbag. In homes, it can mean one big sofa, or a small cushion or throw. I think designer Charles Spada hit the right now in design with his French Chateau sofa. The leopard print is a showstopper, but there is only one thing in leopard. And so many other lovely and subtle things to balance the bold print.

Of course I would love to have this Yves Saint Laurent handbag from 2008 (left), but since it's sold out, and far out of my price range, I opted for a cute vintage one (right) on Etsy instead. And sorry for you others out there who secretly love leopard print, this bag is marked sold.

For more animal inspiration, see Kathryn Bala's blog post on spots.

Photo credits:
1. Thegloss.com, photography by Stan Wayman
2. Blugirl Fall/Winter 2011
3. Boxwood Terrace blog
4a. YSL Majorelle Leopard-Print Bag, Neiman Marcus
4b. Etsy

For years now I've been wailing and complaining that no affordable retailers have been offering sensibly priced 'global' decorating staples. You know, those block print cushions, suzanis and ikats we all love? The ones that can cost an arm and a leg?

Well, West Elm must have heard my griping because this season they've got a ton of global decorating items to choose from. Even just one will liven up your space with earthy, saturated pattern and style.

Here are my faves:

The new Tribal Jute Rug feels like it was just carried back from some far-off land and has a pleasing mix of warm colours and classic black. The jute material keeps it organic and textural.

West Elm always has great, large-scale baskets including the Ikat woven collection with black and white stripes. Perfect for firewood or laundry.

The Kantha quilted throw collection has tons of amazing colour and texture and would wake up a basic sofa instantly!

The hand-blocked Jaipur collection of bedding comes in this tomato-red colour or a soft grey. It's priced really really well for such beautiful handmade work.

The Organic Carved Circles Duvet Cover in this luscious mustard colour can feel both global and modern at the same time. I love it paired with these taupey walls and traditional details.

The Kantha collection of hand-quilted cushions are made from repurposed saris. How lovely are these?! Each one has a unique history and will add a soulful layer in your home.

Actually, West Elm has lots of block printed cushion covers in many shades. There's everything from blue to green and yellow to neutral! Take your pick and save tons of cash!

These Hammam Soap Dishes would add Turkish bath style to any boring bathroom for only $6!!!

And the Bubbles Ceramic Stool would make a perfect perch in the bathroom or a side table in a living room. Organic and exotic, this stool is right on trend and so affordable.

The Naturalist bowl collection is great for setting the table or even better for a vignette on a coffee or side table. Viewing these gorgeous global patterns from above shows off their best side.

Or for a cleaner, easier to swallow hit of the global trend, these Modernist bowls and mugs will add some cheery colour to your kitchen.

Thank goodness we can all get in on the lush global look without breaking the bank at the boutique — or travel agency!

To see global style at its best, tour through designer Karen Cole's home.

Photo credits:
1-11. West Elm

I really have been trying to curb my addiction to "project" furniture (since my basement is full of half-finished projects), but when I saw this dresser standing stoically on the curb in the street this past spring, I knew I had to pull the car over. The casters, the curves, the escutcheons — I mean, come on! But as you can tell, said dresser has been living a hard life outside for some time — the wood on the top is split in half, and one of the casters on the bottom is duct taped on. But I feel determined to clean this high boy up!

After some serious wire brushing and sanding — goodness do I see 4 or 5 layers of peeling paint?! — I plan to paint this fellow (inside and out). Now, the only question is, do I paint it a lovely grey with black matte hardware or do I go black with antiqued brass?

Let me know what you think!

Combo #1:

Farrow & Ball's Plummett (272) and some oil-rubbed bronze hardware, like these lovely pulls from Lee Valley Tools?

Combo #2:

Farrow & Ball's Pitch Black (256) with some wonderful brass-plate hardware, like these classic pulls, also from Lee Valley Tools?

Decisions decisions...

Browse more weekend projects and how-to videos in our DIY & Home Improvement Guide.

Photo credits:
1. Stacey Smithers
2a. Plummett (272), Farrow & Ball
2b. Oil-Rubbed Bronze Suite, Lee Valley Tools
3a. Pitch Black (256), Farrow & Ball
3b. Old Brass, 01A40.01-01A40-72, Lee Valley Tools

That we H&H editors wistfully fawn over wonderful old herringbone hardwood floors isn't news, but stick with me for a second.

You know the floors I'm referring to: graphic, often oak and immediately evocative of old European estates. Take the floors in the historic Georgian home of British design icon Ilse Crawford of Studioilse, above, which was recently photographed by Magnus Marding for Vogue Living Australia. Drool, drool.

Not surprisingly, Crawford once noted in an interview that her design standby is a great floor: "It's the one thing we touch all the time, and it's not considered enough in projects. It's something you have a strong sensual contact with."

Similarly inspired, cheeky British firm Deadgood recently debuted its Parq Life collection. By taking the traditional look of herringbone flooring and pairing it with contemporary curves, the line's designer, Lee Broom, breathes new life into an age-old style. The collection includes a sideboard, lamp, coffee and side table, all finished in a satin walnut veneer with brass accents. Drool, drool.

See more photos of herringbone floors here.

Photo credits:
1. Magnus Marding
2. Parq Life collection, Deadgood

Since I'm in the middle of renovating my own kitchen, I've been looking at a lot of faucets lately. I feel like I've been obsessing actually. I know I shouldn't lose sleep over a faucet, but I do feel like they can make such a big (and beautiful) statement in the kitchen.

Some kitchen faucets that really appeal to me include the gorgeous Henry Gooseneck Two Hole Kitchen Mixer (by Waterworks). I would go for the unlacquered brass version. It will develop that timeless, old world tarnish that would be stunning in any kitchen. The gooseneck feels traditional but the single handle makes it modern. The tarnished brass would warm up a modern white kitchen (which is what I'm going for in my house). Almost sold, except for the fact that I went with a stainless steel sink. So I struggled with whether or not the sink and the faucet would fight. I think maybe... what do you think?

Here's another faucet that I think is great, Ikea's Ringskär. The price is right at $149. Another single lever faucet, this time in a glossy white finish. The lines are so simple but I think it's the glossy white that makes it look so cool. In fact, I need a faucet in my laundry room and this might be the one!

Last but not least is the kitchen faucet that I've decided to go with (I think... nothing like a little indecision). It's Kohler's Purist Deck-Mount Bridge Kitchen Faucet. I think it's a fun cross between the traditional (deck-mount style) and the modern (lever handles and the fact that the arch is more like a 90 degree angle). The polished chrome finish will work well with my sink, but this guy's also available in a matte black — how fun would that be?

For more kitchen ideas, including photos and videos, see our Kitchen Design & Decorating Guide.

Photo credits:
1. Henry Gooseneck Two Hole Kitchen Mixer, Waterworks
2. Ringskär faucet, Ikea
3. Purist Deck-Mount Bridge Kitchen Faucet, Kohler

It's record-breaking hot in Toronto as I write this post, and it's days like this I long for a pool. Of course, ideally the pool would be surrounded by a large yard, beautifully landscaped and designed perhaps by Mark Hartley? But in this heat the offerings at Canadian Tire are looking just fine.

I think it's so inspirational to see people doing creative things with items meant for another use. Case in point: stock troughs. What is a stock trough? Well, it's a galvanized steel tub made for the livestock industry to hold drinking water — and I want one. As far as I can tell, they come in round, oval and vertical trash can-type shapes. But let me just say, this option versus a plastic Dora the Explorer pool? It's a no-brainer, but remember to factor in storage.

The smaller troughs come in a 2-feet to 10-foot diameter (drainage plugs at bottom) and I've seen some clever people converting them into small shallow pools. I love it! Have a look below, and stay cool.

If a crowded beach isn't your thing...

Option A: Clean lines, durable...

Option B: Plastic, decorated with under-sea life...

Now this is clever — a tank built into a deck as a modern pool option. What a desert oasis!

For more ways to beat the heat, try one of these delish barbecue recipes from our Summer Grilling Guide.

Photo credits:
1. Massimo Vitali
2. Steel trough, Loomis Tank Centers
3. Sea Life Pool, Toys "R" Us
4. BigBang Studio

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