We have almost completed our Belgian-Inspired Budget Basement reno that followed the flood this winter. I just wanted to put up a quick post about something that's made the most dramatic change for our basement. I know painting out wood trim is a popular – and controversial – question from our readers. Lynda and Suzanne get asked about it all the time; painting wood is relatively easy but if you have regrets, stripping and refinishing is a nasty job (Suzanne weighs in on this topic in this video).
For those of you who agonize over painting, I humbly offer this evidence. The left half of the room is painted out in Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray, and the other side is the original knotty pine wainscotting I am guessing dates back to when Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears wore matching acid-wash denim.
In this case, the inexpensive pine panelling looked cheap, busy and dated. H&H design editors have always firmly fall into the camp of painting wood, unless it is special or exotic (ie. mahogany, rosewood).
As soon as we painted the trim, the wainscotting immediately looked crisper, more substantial and distinctive.
I never liked the flimsy louvered doors, but now they almost seem to disappear, and all it took was an afternoon of spray painting and a new pull from Anthropologie.
Can't wait to show you the final reveal, stay tuned!
Every home needs a space dedicated to unwinding. No TV or computer screens, no work — just a simple retreat for relaxing.
Whether they’re indoors or out, my favourite serene spaces incorporate lots of natural elements — think neutral colours, textured accents and plenty of sunlight.
Air Wick is embracing all things natural with their line of scented oil, including the new Lavender and Chamomile scent. Known individually for their relaxing properties, these scents combine for an easy way to bring serenity to an indoor space such as a bedroom, bathroom or living room. (This blog is sponsored by Air Wick.) Using natural essential oils, these scented oil plug-ins fill the room with a gentle, relaxing scent to help you unwind.
Here are a few of my favourite natural spaces dedicated to all things calm and cool:
The white-washed walls of this beach-inspired bedroom create a serene envelope for natural, textured accents to take centre stage. A neutral colour palette of white and straw keeps everything restful and gives the feel of a tranquil getaway.
This little desk is nestled between built-in cabinets and has natural sunlight flooding in — perfect for reading, writing or simply contemplating the day. Natural, bare floors and strong, open sightlines enhance this tranquil space.
In the spring and summer months, carry your decorating outside with these easy ideas. A small backyard at home or the cottage can be easily transformed into a vacation-like spot with a few simple ideas. A white tarpaulin is hung to create a cabana-like sitting area with an assortment of rattan furniture, Moroccan-inspired lanterns and a salvaged-wood coffee table. The best part? Everything is set on humble pea gravel, making this a simple and affordable getaway to create.
If you’ve got the budget to hire a landscape architect, a well-designed backyard oasis can help make the most of an afternoon in the shade. All-weather wicker, neutral cushions with a pop of green combine to create this calming backyard getaway.
No matter how busy you are, be sure to take some time to yourself to relax in your own nature-inspired getaway. Learn more about Air Wick on their website, and click here to try it for free. Plus, enter our Spring Entertaining Contest for a chance to win $500 plus a basket of Air Wick products!
Photo sources:1. House & Home July 2007 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford 2. House & Home October 2010 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald 3. House & Home June 2010 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson 4. Maison et Demeure October 2010 issue, photography by Jean Longpré 5. Air Wick
Although it doesn't quite feel like spring outside, it's never too early to start lightening up our homes for the warmer months. It's this time of year that I often pare back on all the wooly throws, and switch out an area rug or two for a summer-appropriate sisal.
I also like to change up my bedding for spring. Heavy duvet covers, blankets, and extra accent pillows just seem in the way on humid summer night, so getting back to simple essentials is a must. Here are a few great spring and summer bedding items that I have my eye on.
I love the vintage look of this duvet cover through Jayson Home. It has enough pattern to add interest, but it's subtle enough to be layered with other colours and textures. This duvet cover would look great folded back at the bottom of a bed.
I love the rich navy blue colour and the subtle stitch detail of Serena & Lily's matelassé coverlet. It would look amazing covering the majority of the bed.
Linen shams and sheets are summer essentials. Their lightweight feel and causal rumpled look pairs well with the laissez-faire attitude of summer bed making.
There's something about an artisanal block print that just screams summer to me, and this Kabora pillow by John Robshaw is pretty much perfect. Navy and orange are a hot and very summer-appropriate colour combo, add a hit to update your neutral linens.
Get more inspiration in this gallery of summer decorating tips.
A roster of celebrities, from homegrown hockey greats and authors to Hollywood sirens, have donated ties and scarves to help Homes First's second annual fundraiser, Tie One On. Hosted by the CBC's Mary Wiens on May 7, 2014, the auction raises funds to help house 5,000 homeless people living on Toronto streets.
We know a home is a reflection of personal style, but we thought we'd play a little guessing game to see if you can match the scarf to the stars (and if you really like it, you might want to buy a $50 ticket and make a bid). Scroll down to see the answers at the bottom.
1) No surprise that the Canadian maple leaf is front and centre on this team captain's neckwear. She represented Canada at two Olympic games, and brought home the gold both times.
2) The statuesque blonde who owns this scarf isn't just a pretty face, she won an Oscar for a gripping real life portrayal, and steps into comedic roles just as easily on Arrested Development.
3) The tie pretty much gives away which sport the owner is passionate about, but we love how he rose to the occasion in the "series of the century."
4) This classic, conservative print belongs to a high-powered Ontario politician, but it should probably be red to toe the party line.
5) This appropriately low-key tie neckwear is from a guy who is all about putting the focus on his guests, and making them open up on his nightly Canadian talk show.
6) We love the polished style of this busy actress and producer, who is launching a new lifestyle brand in the footsteps of fellow blonde Gwyneth Paltrow. And who knew she could sing?
7) A tie that's quirky and fun: we wouldn't expect anything less from a master storyteller who delivers the latest dispatches from the Vinyl Café.
8) This blue scarab print scarf must have made the fiery locks of its former owner really pop. It was donated by one of Hollywood's most famous redheads, a multiple-award winning actress who always stuns on the red carpet (and on film, especially when dressed by Tom Ford)
9) This tie is a pretty safe sartorial choice for a Canadian high flyer who spends time orbiting the earth, occasionally while strumming a guitar.
It's on. The hunt for the perfect coffee table for our new condominium has commenced. I'm also searching for one for a friend, and just yesterday I had two conversations about coffee tables with H&H colleagues who are also in the market. What is it with coffee tables? There are so many available, and yet when you search for one you can never seem to find exactly the right one. I'm happy to report that this time I'm finding lots to love. In case you are hunting for one too, here are my current faves.
1. Florence Knoll Coffee Table
First up is this classic from 1961, designed by Florence Knoll (shown here and also in the room above). This embodies my idea of great design – it's just enough and not too much. The real McCoy comes in many different sizes and with options for glass, marble, wood or granite top. The base is satin chrome. It starts at about $1,000, which to me seems a fair price for design genius. That said, there are interpretations of this at many different price points. I'm thinking up a custom version with an antiqued brass base and a top in a marble with warm veining like Calacatta. Starting at $1,000, Florence Knoll.
This lovely thing has some obvious mid-century leanings and is of a genre I call the surfboard coffee table, for obvious reasons. I visited this recently in store and really fell for the beautifully grained shesham wood top. And it may be hard to tell from this photo, but the base is actually antiqued brass. Quite fantastic. I love an oval for the ease of traffic flow around it. $899, Crate & Barrel.
3. Burnt Brass
And speaking of brass, this monolith has a touch more glint than the base of the Bel-Air but still has a wonderful aged look. This table is so sexy — I think you need a DVF wrap dress or a Halston dress and strappy sandals to go with. $1,622, Black Rooster Décor.
4. Faux Shagreen Waterfall
This piece calls to mind the designs of the great Jean-Michel Frank, who is known for simple table shapes wrapped in luxurious materials like goatskin, parchment and shagreen. This version features faux shagreen mixed with honey oak trim. To be honest, I'm not nuts about the honey oak, but I wouldn't hesitate for a second to tape off the shagreen parts and cover the oak with a high gloss paint in a colour to match the shagreen or even gold or silver leaf. Boom! $965, Black Rooster Décor.
I'm a big fan of this table. I think it's perfectly excellent and simple and super affordable just the way it is. However, if you are so inclined, it is also the perfect blank canvas for your creative energies. Just Google "Ikea Lack coffee table hack" and you'll find links to a million methods of reinvention. On my to do list is to cover one in faux shagreen wallpaper. From $25, Ikea.
Italy has produced talented designers, artistic decor and high-quality innovations for centuries.
In this tradition of aesthetic beauty and inventiveness, Milan holds a unique position, championing decorative arts — whether applied to residential or commercial spaces and ruling as the world's design destination ever since the Salone Internationale del Mobile was launched in 1961.
Italy's style capital also inspires many a Quebec designer. Among them Igloo Design's Anna Abbruzzo and Alain Courchesne definitely exude Italian flare. Known for their affinity for Fornasetti's taste and genius, the witty duet creates fantastic interiors where different time periods, colours and motifs blend into a skillful mix of humour and cohesion.
Anna and Alain shared their favourite hangouts in Milan with us!
Corinne Cécilia: Where do you like to stay?
Anna Abbruzzo & Alain Courchesne: Usually, we enjoy staying at the Bulgari. Milan is considered a modern city and this hotel is a perfect mix of past and present. The attention paid to the details is impeccable.
CC: What's your favourite restaurant?
AA & AC: We love to have dinner at Café Trussardi. The location is ideal and the ambience is both of the moment and timeless. We truly enjoy the Baglioni hotel's opulence at night. The traditional decor is a pinnacle of elegance. A perfect spot to see characters that have both substance and incomparable style.
CC: Where do you to go out for a drink?
AA & AC: 10 Corso Como, it's the ultimate Milanese experience: a glass of Prosecco and shopping par excellence. Their Pasticceria Bastianello is our favourite cappuccino.
CC: I'm sure anyone can guess, but I'll ask anyways: where do you love to shop?
AA & AC: At the Fornasetti store, of course! We always go there when we visit Milan.
Alain also loves to visit the Piombo shop on Via Montenapoleone [Milan's trendy shopping street]: it's a definite stop for contemporary men. As for me, I love to visit the Antonio Marras store; in my opinion, it's the best kept secret of Italian fashion.
CC: Where do you like to go when you want to relax?
AA & AC: We just love to go for long walks, without a specific destination in mind. It's our thing: strolling in the city for hours, discovering things that you can only find if you get lost!
CC: Do you have a favourite hang out?
AA & AC: Si! The Nilufar Gallery: Nina Nashar and her sister Nilu have an eye for art and design like nobody else. We discovered Michael Anastassiades for the first time in that gallery. We also love the Villa Necchi Campiglio museum.
CC: Your favourite airline?
AA & AC: Lufthansa: simply wonderful!
Igloo Design's best addresses for interior design in Italy:
Corinne's reading pick: Fornasetti, Designer of Dreams, Patrick Mauriès with an Essay by Ettore Sottsass.
Read more travel blog posts here.
1. Duomo di Milano, Vito Arcomano - Fototeca ENIT
2. The Last Supper, Leonardo de Vinci, Agostini Picture Library - Fototeca ENIT
3. Café Trussardi, Courtesy of Café Trussardi
4. & 5. Corso Como, Courtesy of Corso Como
6. Fornasetti Store, Courtesy Fornasetti
7. Joseph Walsh Studio Enignum VI Canopy Bed, Nilufar
8. Villa Necchi / Campiglio, Giorgio Majno