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I've been noticing a softer decorating palette for the holidays: candy-cane hues of red, white and bright green are taking a back seat to pinks, orange, forest, mint and gold. Delicious! Stationery company Rifle Paper Co. nails the mix in their holiday card collection. Here are my two favourite takes. Hopefully they inspire you!


Pale pink takes the spotlight, dressed up with ribbons of gold and sage with coral accents.

I'd love to see this pretty combination on a tall statement tree.


Minty blue and greens ground sugary pops of pink, and persimmon orange.

A house strung with evergreen garlands and lush wreaths would look great updated in these colours. Happy holidays everyone!

Photo credits:
1, 3. Kimberley Brown
2, 4. Justine Wong


Kimberley Brown

Recently I've been seeing a lot of street style photos like this pop up on blogs and Pinterest. They got me thinking. I have a sweater like that, I must dig it out.

And here it is. My mother knit my Aran sweater more than 20 years ago. It's now back in regular wardrobe rotation. This sweater is a testament to superiority of natural materials (pure wool) and handmade construction. Aran knits take their name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The natural wicking, insulating qualities and water-repellency of the wool made these sweaters ideal protection for those spending their days fishing the fierce North Atlantic. The combinations of stitch patterns used were indicators of clan and livelihood. For example, moss stitch depicts the seaweed that was used to fertilize the fields; cable stitch represents fisherman's ropes. In fact, the distinctive patterns were often used to identify the bodies of fishermen whose bodies washed up on the shore following an accident at sea. Ah, bless the Irish and their grim tales! I'm pleased to report my sweater conjures much happier thoughts.

My newly rediscovered love of chunky, creamy cable knits has me wishing I could drape myself in them 24/7. Luckily, the trend has migrated over to home, so I have the option of doing just that.

I trace the rise of this trend to Christien Meindertsma. The Dutch-born artist's 2005 Flocks series and other knit creations are a whimsical overscale take on needle traditions and a commentary on sustainability. Hers is not your grandma's knitting basket!

This piece by Meindertsma is actually a rug knit from the wool of 18 merino sheep! I could never imagine walking on such a pretty thing. I'd use it as a wall-hanging like this. You can actually buy this through Thomas Eyck for about $10,600.

The good news is you can buy into this trend at a much more affordable price with a few great accessories like this pillow (Indigo, $40) or charming pendant light (Land of Nod, $50US).

If you are nimble with the needles there are many great online sources for knitting patterns. My favourite is this one for a Christmas stocking. If you are more of a buy it than make it type, this throw from Rockett St. George is the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea and a good book.

My love of Aran knits, however, is not boundless, and doesn't extend to slipcovered chairs and sweatered trophy heads!

Browse a gallery of more cosy winter-inspired winter decorating ideas.

Photo credits:
1. Irina Lakicevic via A Portable Package blog
2. Margot Austin
3. Le Souk via The Style Files
4. via Les Carnets du Design
5. VT Wonen Inspiration House lifestyle fair via The Style Files
6. Indigo
7. Land of Nod
8. Simplicity
9. Rockett St. George
10. Biscuit Scout via Etsy
11. Rachel Deny via Afflante


Margot Austin

Let's get it straight from the start: even though this week's home has sweet cottage style, it's not really a cottage — unless a six-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot, price-on-request mansion is your idea of one. That said, it is an adorable getaway on St. Lucia, and well worth a look if you need a Monday escape.

The house's huge scale is pretty well disguised from this angle by greenery, and a blue and pink pastel paint job and gingerbread details lends it a grown-up dollhouse look.

On the other side, though, an infinity pool looks across the bay and out to the Caribbean Sea, and the stairs at right lead to beach access and a dock. According to the listing, the property is near the town of Gros Islet, at the island's northwestern tip, but the map puts it further down the west coast, near the city of Castries.

After a dip in the pool or the surf, rinse off in the outdoor shower and sit down to a meal in the open-air dining room. White louvers and cutouts conceal both a canvas that can be rolled down as a sun screen and a hurricane shutter system for windier weather.

I'm not sure if this is the 30' x 30' entertaining space the listing mentions, but interior designer Lane Pettigrew certainly filled the room with enough crisp white upholstery, dark wood floors, and curving palm branches for an authentic colonial look. If you don't have time to grab a book and put your feet up on that plush armchair, there's a separate home office.

What I love about this kitchen is that even though the bright light and palm fronds give it a tropical vibe, the design elements — pale stone countertops, white millwork, a fun, drippy chandelier and snappy black and white tile — would look fresh in any locale. A carved bracket under the shelves is quaint detail.

What do you think? Are you inspired by this Caribbean idyll?

For more real estate eye candy from St. Lucia, check out a previous post on the island's Belmont House.

Photo credits:
1–5. Savills


Kristen Koch

For 16 years, the H&H Trends Breakfast has forecasted the looks and products we will be coveting for our homes. 

This year, the event was held on December 4 at Toronto's Arcadian Court in the Hudson's Bay store in Toronto.

The annual breakfast represents not only an opportunity to thank the advertisers who support our publications (including Maison & Demeure, our Quebec edition), but offers a chance to talk about the way we live, and use our homes.

Publisher Lynda Reeves kicked the breakfast off with a compelling description of the new Super Cocooning trend. Now that homes can be equipped with every technological gadget, we're more connected than ever, but, she explains we still feel the need to congregate the old fashioned way.

She shared how she reluctantly joined a high-powered knitting circle, only to find she was thoroughly drawn in by the simple pleasure it offers. Gathering together to knit and gossip was something our mothers and grandmothers enjoyed, but they weren't surrounded by iPhones, iPads and flatscreen TVs. Even in a digital age, we still crave personal connection, and authentic, handmade goods. (FYI, knitting is a big trend among — surprise — the 25-34-year-old set. Lynda recommends newbies check out The Knit Cafe).

Then editor-in-chief Suzanne Dimma called out the big decor trends for 2014. (I'd hate to wreck the surprise, to see them all pick up the January Trends issue on Eastern newsstands Dec. 8 and in the West on Dec. 15). In it you'll find out the answers to: what's replacing the chandelier? What does this year's must-have coffee table look like? And what design trend is Suzanne most excited about? Here's a hint: it's groovy.

After the breakfast, Mark Challen announced the winner of the annual H&H Table Game. Each table was given the challenge of building their own inspiration board, complete with a fun write up.


Here's the winning entry (judged by editors Joel Bray and Stacey Smithers), which painted a vivid picture of the decor of fictitious young homeowners, Miley and Liam. Check out their furnishing choices — deemed suitable for the in-laws, and twerking.

Photo credits:
1-8. Wendy Jacob


Wendy Jacob

Since I started planning my wedding six months ago, it has been a whirlwind of DIY activity at my house — luxe velvet and pretty lace everywhere! The holiday season has forced me to put aside my planning and get my hands into some festive DIYs, which I happen to really enjoy. I like including handmade gifts whenever I can as I find a lot of people really appreciate them — I know I do.

For those who are not crafty but like the idea of handmade ornaments and gifts, Etsy has an endless supply of beautiful and unique items ready to ship. Check out a sample of what you can find:

I love how fresh and bright these rag baubles look; perfect for a beachy Christmas theme.

I am finding these felt ornaments everywhere but if you don't, Etsy has an endless supply in various colours. Fasten one to a gift box for a sweet touch.

Find unique Christmas stockings in every fabric and colour. I like the felt ones best.

Handmade Christmas linens are my favourite gift add-ons.

This fun garland is an easy alternative to intricate cut patterns, and looks great with minimal decor.

I find handmade stationery pricey so always convince myself to DIY instead. After getting carried away in the craft store, I usually come to the conclusion that I would have saved had I purchased cards like these: Etsy has a huge variety.

If you are a baker, these little tags add a nice touch to your treat giveaways.

Photo credits:
1. VelvetBean
2. Stitchcrafts
3. echoshop.
4. SimaPrints
5. CraftColorfully
6. EventPrintables


Floriana Paonessa

For some, the holiday season starts when the lilting tune of Jingle Bells rings through stores or Santa parades down their city's streets. For me, the Christmas calendar doesn't get underway until the doors open for the holiday edition of the Toronto One of a Kind Show. The show runs from November 28 to December 8th at the Direct Energy Centre and is full of fab finds. Here are some that caught my eye.

Ceramics that make you want clear your cupboards and start fresh.


Subtle details that make all the difference define the cups and containers turned out by Quebec ceramicist Marie-Claude Girard (below).

If the OOAKS was a Pixar movie, MGirard's butter dishes would be the adorable sidekicks to her gallant tea pot.

There's something very sweet and sophisticated about the collection.

Hugo Didier

I might buy a cottage on the sea just to trick it out with Montreal-based Hugo Didier's (seen below) nautical- and Canadian-themed kitchen wares.

This year's show had a strong Canadiana theme running through it, including poutine pots.

And patriotic mugs emblazoned with a map of Canada.

Atelier Make

There's a vintage feel to the scalloped plates and botanical illustrations in Atelier Make's sorbet-coloured collection.

Jaimie Robson and Maya Ersan (above), are the duo behind Montreal's Atelier Make.

In fact, I think New York's Magnolia bakery should start selling the pretty flour scoops alongside its queue-inducing cupcakes. Genius product tie-in!

Platters in sugared-almond shades are made prettier with floral textures, made by pressing fabric into porcelain.

Say "Merry" the old fashion way.

Flakes Paperie

You can't fill your mantel with e-cards. Flakes Paperie out of Cambridge, Ontario has lots of lovely screen-printed holiday cards to choose from.

Founder Ashley Coulson is adept at giving vintage-style graphics a sly, hip spin.

I especially like the ones with a home theme, natch.

But she offers a range of cards for any occasion (who wouldn't be thrilled to get this birthday card)?

Instagram isn't the only place to find great pictures.

Charlene Serdan Fine Art Photography

Breaking news: blank walls are boring.

Ontario photographer Charlene Serdan is offering her dreamy snapshots of landscapes, flowers and carnivals in prints that are pre-matted to fit a variety of standard-size frames.

For more great suggestions, stop by the House & Home booth to see style editor Stacey Smithers' favourites.

Photo credit:
1-18. Kimberley Brown


Kimberley Brown

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