Sometimes when decorating a room you need something more than just paint to update the walls. Patterned wallpaper adds interest to any space, but isn't the only solution for wall decor. Grasscloth wallpaper, made of woven grasses and reeds backed with paper, offers the perfect middle-ground between paint and patterned wallpaper. It brings colour, warmth and texture to a space without requiring you to commit to a wallpaper pattern.
WallsRepublic.com, an online store that serves customers in Canada and the U.S., features numerous grasscloth wall coverings that you can apply yourself. (This blog post is brought to you by Walls Republic.)
You might be more familiar with grasscloth wallpaper in neutral colours like the three above. Walls Republic's grasscloth wallpapers are made from natural, sustainable materials. Raw Charcoal Grass Cloth R 2016, Duo Sisal Coffee Grass Cloth R 1994, Duo Sisal Amber Grass Cloth R 1971.
My personal favourites include blue- and green-coloured grasscloth papers. To get the look of grasscloth wallpaper without committing to it from floor-to-ceiling, apply it only above a chair rail and paint below. Sisal Lavender Grass Cloth R 1993, Sisal Blue Grass Cloth R 1991, Sisal Baby Blue Grass Cloth R 2005, Sisal Army Green Grass Cloth R 1964.
You can also line the back of bookshelves with grasscloth wallpaper to give it a new, custom look and make your books and decorations stand out. Warm, bright tones like these yellows, oranges and yellow-greens are also available, and depending on the paper you choose, showcase more or less of the natural woven look. Rush Regular Orange Grass Cloth R 2001, Reed Yellow Grass Cloth R 1973, Sisal Tangelo Grass Cloth R 1975, Rush Grass Green Grass Cloth R 2003.
Check out wallsrepublic.com today to see the numerous grasscloth wallpaper choices available and other wall coverings. Walls Republic offers free samples and $10 shipping for all orders in Canada and the U.S.
It’s a well-worn cliché that a fresh coat of paint can work wonders for a space. After our first site visit to the townhome featured in our September 2014 issue, it was clear that paint would be the first step in this dramatic makeover.
To keep the painters on time and budget, I chose to paint the walls, ceilings and trim in the same creamy white — Behr Swiss Coffee. This instantly lightened the interior and gave us a blank slate to work with.
Since the home was void of architectural interest, I selectively used black paint to create the missing drama. We painted the front door, stair railing and interior doors in Behr Beluga (one of my favourite shades of black for its plum undertones). Adding black was a great way to modernize the entry while staying true to the age and style of the home.
The key to using black paint is to thoughtfully select what you’d like to highlight. The foyer, for example, was too small for a hall table, so the black doors and railing add interest and contrast while keeping it open. Similarly, the bathroom was too small to add an interesting piece of furniture, like a stool or runner, so I painted the window trim in the same Beluga black, which framed the window and made it feel larger.
Throughout the home, I used a variety of drapery tricks to give the look of full, custom draperies without the made-to-order price tag.
The living room window was already outfitted with classic white shutters, so non-functioning panels were the perfect solution (they cannot be closed for privacy).
This beautiful cotton print from Tonic Living is graphic and bold.
Lining the drapes with cotton and interlining gives them the fullness of a functioning drape.
Mia’s bedroom window was completely bare, so we needed a solution that offered privacy and softness.
Using the same concept from the living room, we lined an inexpensive cotton print to create non-functioning drapery panels.
We then made the window look larger by hanging the drapery rod as close to the ceiling as possible, allowing the rod to run the length of the wall. For privacy, the perfect solution was Lowes’ white faux wood blinds, which are cut to size in store.
The family room features a window and patio door, and I wanted to create the illusion of one continuous window.
West Elm’s stocked drapery panels were the perfect shade of ivory with our Swiss Coffee wall colour, and a steal at only $89 per panel. I try to avoid extending drapery rods, as they often look cheap and flimsy. For a small upgrade, we ordered custom hardware that fills the wall and feels much more substantial.
Mia was interested in updating her small main bath, but it wasn’t until our site visit that I realized how tired and dated this room really was. With only a month until move-in, we transformed this bathroom using a few budget-friendly tricks:
Note what needs to go: Virtually every fixture in this bathroom made the list, but the existing layout worked. By keeping all of the fixtures exactly where they were, we saved thousands of dollars.
Choose the best fixtures you can afford: The bathroom’s small size meant that there was little space for extras, like a decorative stool or shelf. So the vanity, toilet and faucets all needed to offer great quality and function, as well as style. We chose pieces from the DXV Collection by American Standard — the designs are classic and timeless, making them a worthy investment. Toilet shopping has never felt so glamorous!
Look for ceramic tile: Despite this bathroom’s small square footage, I avoided costly marble and stone mosaics and opted for ceramic. We saved hundreds by using a spiral black and white mosaic on the floor, and classic white subway tile inside the shower.
Here's a full breakdown of our makeover purchases:
Sofa, $720, HomeSense; Sweep armchair, 2 at $779 each, West Elm; Souk wool rug, $899, West Elm; Vittsjo bookshelp, $50 each, Ikea; Origami coffee table, $479, West Elm; side table $130, HomeSense; rattan stool, $145, Bacon Basketware; brass sconces, $495, Black Rooster Décor; console table, $995, RH Restoration Hardware; drapery fabric, 9 yards at $14.95 each, Tonic Living; sewing and installation, $1,030; toss pillows, $917, ELTE, West Elm and Indigo; accessories, $725, ELTE, HomeSense and Indigo; throw, $49.50, Indigo.
Table, $1,469, BLVD Interiors; throw pillows, 4 at $45 each, Indigo; pendant, $249, CB2; floor lamp, $599, Mobilia; bar cart, $249.99, HomeSense; tray, $245, ELTE; dining chairs, $680, Frontier Sales; chair fabric, 5.5 yards at $22.95, Tonic Living; chair, painting and reupholstery, $943.
Stools, 3 at $99 each, RH Restoration Hardware; pendant light, $119, West Elm; accessories, $80, HomeSense.
Sectional, $1,710, Crate and Barrel; sheepskin, $39.99, Ikea; Parsons Square coffee table, $699, Crate and Barrel; Morgan Black sconce, 2 at $199 each, Crate and Barrel; bookshelf, $299, HomeSense; area rug, $189, Ikea; side table, $59.99, HomeSense; fram, $149.99, Pottery Barn; drapery panels, 4 at $69 each, West Elm; drapery hardware and installation, $340; Andanza green allpaper, 2 rolls at $125 each, Hygge & West; pillows, $270, Pehr and HomeSense; rattan lounge chair, $299, Bacon Basketware; tree, $149, Valleyview Gardens; plant basket, $40, HomeSense; wallpaper installation, $160; accessories, $460, HomeSense.
Headboard, $350, HomeSense; bedside lamps, 2 at $129.99 each, HomeSense; Leksvik desk, $149, Ikea; pillow, $58, Crate and Barrel; side table, $416, RH Restoration Hardware; retro chair, $289, Bacon Basketware; rug, $315, eCarpet Gallery; drapery fabric, 10 yards at $23.95, Tonic Living; sewing and installation, $920; wallpaper, 7 double rolls at $160 each, Walls Republic; wallpaper installation, $600; throw, $255, ELTE; custom-cut white blinds, $110, Lowes.
Rug, $189, eCarpet Gallery; You Make It Chandelier, $145 US, lindseyadelman.com; closet system, $900, Ikea; bench, $99.99, Target; mirror, $70, Ikea; drapery panels, 2 at $63.20 each, West Elm; drapery hardware, $39.97, Home Depot; closet installation and electrical services, $450.
Bed, $549, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Vintage Locker desk, $699, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Vintage Schoolhouse desk chair, $199, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Academy Task table lamp, $129, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; bedding, $858, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Reef Jute Rug, $500, West Elm; custom posters framed, $800, Art.com and Pottery Barn Kids, Custom Framing by Deserres; drapery panels, $39.99, Ikea; drapery hardware, $99, West Elm.
Princeton Bathtub, $641, DXV American Standard; Wyatt Pedestal Lavatory, $495, DXV American Standard; Percy Widespread Faucet, $655, DXV American Standard; Wyatt Toilet, $910, DXV American Standard; Percy Multifunction Showerhead, $255, DXV American Standard; Percy Pressure Balance Tub and Shower Trim, $282, DXV American Standard; Percy Wall Tub Spout, $185, DXV American Standard;roller blind, $17, Home Depot; ceramic floor tile, $200, The Tile Shoppe; shower curtain, $49, West Elm; accessories, $170, Ginger’s; mirror, $59.99, Ikea; toilet paper holder, $14.99, Ikea; light, $218, Home Depot; labour and electrical, $3,150.
Dresser, $395, Vintage Fine Objects; vintage chair, $550, Tonic Living; artwork, $230, HomeSense; Ranarp floor lamp, $50, Ikea; table lamp, $60, HomeSense; bedding, $260, HomeSense; mirror, $279, Crate and Barrel; area rug, $189, Ikea; sheepskin, $39.99, Ikea; custom pillows, $583, Tonic Living; accessories, $50, Target.
Prices may vary.
A gin and tonic is a very personal drink. There is no "best" recipe or "perfect G&T." I like a one-to-two ratio of gin to tonic, but others will find that too potent. I also prefer a G&T with lime, but in the U.K. they often use lemon. I’ve broken it down into its two basic components and given a couple of recipes to get you started. But if you enjoy this libation as much as I do, I would encourage you to delve deep into the subject and create a gin and tonic that makes you go "Hmmm."
Compared to the great wall of vodka, the gin shelf at most liquor stores is anemic. That’s slowly changing as an increasing number of premium bottlesmuscle in on the classic bar brands.
Gin is essentially vodka (i.e. a neutral spirit) flavoured with an array of botanicals, the defining one being juniper berries. There are no good or bad gins; only ones you like. My go-to brand is Hendrick's, a Scottish gin distinguished by an infusion of Bulgarian roses and cucumber. It's higher in alcohol than the average gin, so I use a little more tonic to compensate. I'm also a big fan of Bombay Sapphire: its juniper is front and centre, and there is a complimentary note of liquorice. Finally, Dillon's, a new micro-distillery in Niagara, Ontario, makes a unique gin that's unfiltered, floral and complex.
Most gin and tonics in this country are made with either Canada Dry or Schweppes, a pair of tonic stalwarts available at grocery and corner stores from coast to coast. If you want to up your G&T game, there are two lesser-known brands worth seeking out. The first is Fentimans, a century-old British soft drink maker, whose tonic comes in an old-timey, brown bottle straight out of a Victorian apothecary. It's on the sweet side with a floral, citrusy flavour profile that it gets from lemongrass and lime leaf. It's delicious on its own, and goes extremely well with Dillon's gin. Also from the U.K., Fever Tree has become my house tonic. It's smooth, balanced and herbaceous with a lovely liquorice kick, complimenting both Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's. Fentimans and Fever Tree are expensive, but, in my opinion, worth it.
Eric's Gin & Tonic Recipe
2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
4 oz. Fever Tree tonic water, chilled
1 lime wedge
Step 1: Chill a 10-oz. Collins glass.
Step 2: Fill glass with ice. Pour in gin. Top with tonic water. Give drink a light stir. Garnish with lime wedge. Serves 1.
Hendrick's & Tonic Recipe
2 oz. Hendrick’s gin
6 oz. tonic water, chilled
3 thin slices cucumber
Step 1: Chill a 12-oz. highball glass.
Step 2: Fill glass with ice. Pour in gin. Top with tonic water. Give drink a light stir. Garnish with cucumber. Serves 1.
Get more drink recipes.
Travelling for business and pleasure is a great source of inspiration for designer Richard Ouellette and architect Maxime Vandal, of the Montreal-based firm Les Ensembliers. (Tour their stunning country home in Quebec's Eastern Townships.) The creative pair’s frequent trips to the United States add a certain American chic to their look.
While interior decorating in the USA was shaped by European influences — with steady waves of immigrants bringing old world decorative traditions along ever since the early 1600s — contemporary designers have been increasingly under the influence of globalization and American pop culture, a reflection of a forward-looking nation driven by the dream of a better life.
In a way, this evolution meets with the work of Les Ensembliers, known for their modern interpretation of traditional styles. Richard and Maxime often visit the Big Apple, where they acquire some of the ideas and unique finds that you may have seen in our pages.
We asked Maxime and Richard to share their favourite hangouts in the city that never sleeps.
CC: Where do you normally stay?
Richard Ouellette & Maxime Vandal: At the Surrey, because of its great location at the heart of the Upper East Side, where most of the city’s design stores and showrooms are located, not to mention its proximity to all the best museums.
CC: Where do you like to dine?
RO & MV: We have breakfast at the Whitney Museum of American Art to enjoy its relaxed atmosphere and modern space. We have lunch at Balthazar, for their oysters and the vibrant bistro vibe. For dinner, we like the Caravaggio restaurant, just steps away from the Surrey hotel. We then take our evening walk, like residents of the Upper East Side do, daydreaming about the townhouse we could buy and renovate.
CC: Where do you go for drinks?
RO & MV: We don’t go out that much at night…. Our days can be quite long, and dinners stretch out.
CC: Where do you like to shop?
RO & MV: With its 18 floors of showrooms, the Decoration & Design Building is the spot to start the day. We then cross the street over to Holly Hunt and John Rosselli Antiques. Treillage is a must-see place along the way.
We then stop at ABC Carpet & Home on Broadway. We finish the day in Soho, and the Green Street neighbourhood, which is full of trendy design stores. Do visit Ralph Pucci if you can (by appointment only): it is the ultimate showroom experience!
CC: Where do you go to relax?
RO & MV: Outside of the peak season, we run off to the Hamptons for a day. An hour or two by car and you’re in Southampton. We love the seaside, beautiful houses and lobster rolls. The museum dedicated to Jackson Pollock is a must-see (by appointment only). Very inspiring!
CC: What are some of your favourite places?
RO & MV: Central Park, of course – during the cherry blossoms, the last week in April! The rooftop of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea is also a fantastic spot.
CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
RO & MV: No, we prefer to get there by car. It gives us a certain freedom.
Corinne's reading pick: American Design, by Russell Flinchum. Published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Read more travel blog posts here.
1. André Rider for Maison & Demeure May 2014
2. Svein-Magne Tunli via tunliweb.no
3. Jimmie Martin
4, 5, 10 and 11. Les Ensembliers
6. Decoration and Design Building
7. Holly Hunt — HHNY Showroom
8. ABC Carpet & Home
9. Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
We feature Sarah Bancroft's cool, modernist Palm Springs house in our August 2014 issue. The B.C.-based founder of Vitamin Daily — an online lifestyle magazine — recently renovated this winter escape with her husband. Sarah reflects on how the local hotels she stayed in during the reno ended up influencing her design decisions.
We've been going to Palm Springs for 9 years — first as tourists, then as house hunters, and most recently as home renovators, all of which required hotel stays. Even now we drop by these glam spots for drinks, spa visits, or just to walk the gardens.
The Parker Hotel
The very first time we walked in we ran into Will Ferrell at the front desk and French Marie Claire shooting in the pool. These days it's Leonardo DiCaprio (who just bought a house in Palm Springs) who you'll see on the patio during Coachella. The gardens are designed by Givenchy, the spa (Palm Springs Yacht Club) is amazing and the decor is designed by Jonathan Adler. Pretty much a Palm Springs masterpiece.
Takeaway: We would have done it anyway, but we have a pétanque court at our house too.
Definitely our favourite. Small and intimate with amazing modernist architecture, it was recently purchased by Tom Ford's interior designer who is going to revert to its original name, L'Horizon. We fully approve.
Takeaway: Our home's architect, William Krisel, stays here when he attends Palm Springs Modernism Week so it makes sense we would love it too. It also convinced us to keep our vintage pool ladder, just as they had.
The owners are an entrepreneur and former Calvin Klein model who have done several hotel and home projects in Palm Springs. We clicked with both their attitude and early modernist aesthetic, and drop by their bar for a glass of Lillet when we're in town.
Takeaway: It's hard to stop at just one (home reno that is.)
We go by their restaurant Citron for a chopped salad and glass of Rosé near the end of our trip and eavesdrop on the poolside conversations.
Takeaway: We were inspired by designer Kelly Wearstler's decorative mirrors when we designed our shield-shaped bathroom ones.
The Ace Hotel and Swim Club
We've never actually stayed here (too much of a party scene for us) but we go for the steak salad (to take on the plane) and the first time we went we sat beside the late Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood. Their Monday Sissy Bingo night is a must-do Palm Springs experience: trust us.
Takeaway: Our home's army green sunshade umbrella was an extra one from the Ace's renovation.
The Movie Colony Hotel
Our very first trip to Palm Springs we stayed here (I was 5 months pregnant, so an adults-only, cheap and cheerful environment was a babymoon must).
Takeaway: This trip was when we started photographing houses we loved and fantasizing about someday owning one.
We are underway with our upstairs reno and one thing we've already finished is the small guest bathroom.
This is what it looked like a few months ago. I still love the vintage sink that I got at a yard sale over 15 years ago but it was too low and rusted, so I had to get rid of it. Plus the trad shape really didn't work with the mix I have going on in the rest of the house. I wound up giving it to a friend of mine who's in the middle of a Victorian historic restoration so it will be right at home.
The other thing I had to get rid of was the glass-block window — way too '80s for me.
But the highlight for me is the new wallpaper, Ocelot from Farrow & Ball. That and the new sash window instantly transformed the room. I framed the window in 6"-wide lengths of marble for a polished look that tied in with the floor.
Only one thing left to decide and that is whether or not to paint the tub black. I'm on the fence... what do you think?