After a long winter, I'm getting ready to trade in my warm layers and dark colours in my wardrobe and my home for all things light and airy. I’m saying so long to heavy fabrics like velvet and wool, and hello to lightweight materials and plenty of sunshine — and I’m starting with my windows.
Changing up your window coverings is an easy way to give your home a sense of airiness.
While we're seeing a lot of naked windows lately, they might not be ideal for people requiring privacy. Many homeowners and condo-dwellers (like me) are looking for other options.
Shade Works is a Canadian online retailer specializing in custom-made, functional and stylish window coverings at every price point. (This blog post is sponsored by Shade Works.)
Shade Works' line of window dressings focuses on versatility and streamlined style, and features a variety of smart upgrades, such as cordless options and automation.
Choose A Style
The company’s most popular design is its line of sheer shades — perfect for summertime, as they offer plenty of privacy without sacrificing natural light or a view of the outdoors.
These lightweight blinds (such as the Sheer Horizontal Shades, picture above) come in different sizes and fabrics to help bring a more sophisticated look to your room.
The line of Sheer Elegance Shades uses overlapping fabric bands to filter the amount of light coming in and add style to a room.
Choose black for a more dramatic look.
Panel Track Shades are a great option for large windows or patio doors. For spaces that get a lot of midday sunlight, opt for a Solar Screen Fabric (shown above), as they filter out harmful UV rays, eliminate annoying glare, and help keep your home cool. Select your own “Openness Factor” to determine the percentage of light coming through the shade. All Panel Track Shade fabric options are also available in Roller and Roman Shades, which makes it easy to match with other window dressings throughout the home.
When it comes to smaller windows in the kitchen or bathroom, keep things simple with a basic wood blind. They're easy to clean and won't collect mildew in a damp environment. For a less expensive version with the same look, try Faux-Wood Horizontals. Choose from several shades of white for a fresh and timeless look.
When measuring the width and height of your window, measure in three spots (top, middle and bottom for vertical and left, centre and right for horizontal) and record the narrowest measurement.
The way you measure will depend on what kind of mount you've selected for your shades (inside mount or outside), and whether you've chosen a horizontal or vertical blind. Also, keep in mind that the headrail and valance will be slightly wider than your blinds, so account for some additional space.
For detailed measurement instructions, click here.
Don't trust your measuring skills? Shade Works can send someone to your home to take the measurements for you. See their website for more information.
In the April 2014 issue of House & Home, we show the Vancouver home of actress Kristin Lehman that she shares with her husband, filmmaker Adam Reid and their son. I met Kristin 10 years ago, before she was married. She was living in L.A. at the time but frequently came home to Toronto and needed a place to crash. In 2004, she asked me to help with decorating the small pied-à-terre she'd recently purchased. It was in the Massey building on King Steet that had been converted into condos by Cecconi Simone.
I was super excited because I had been a huge fan of Felicity and The L Word — both TV shows that Kristin had starred in. Since then she had taken on a more headlining role in the hit series The Killing, and currently plays detective Angie Flynn in the ABC series Motive.
As you can see from this before shot, Kristin's space was a lower level unit and it was a blank slate. But it was blessed with large windows and gorgeous exposed stone foundation walls, which provided loads of character.
Since it was a studio apartment, the main living area had to act as both the living room and the bedroom. The UpCountry roll arm sofa is one of the best looking sleeper sofas I've seen. The mirrored table was as light as a feather so she could easily get it out of the way to make room for the pull out bed. Back then gold chandeliers were all the rage and I liked the yin and yang feel this one, from Sam the Chandelier Man, offered. I designed the striped low slipper chair based on a vintage chair design. It has no arms so it's perfect for a small space. I later entered a copy in an auction for the fundraiser Fashion Cares (they called it Fashion Chairs!), where it sold super fast for a great bid.
We included this table and chair set up on the other side of the living room to round out the sitting area and also act as a dining area. The high leg chairs and small bistro table covered off both needs and that chartreuse upholstery did wonders to brighten things up. Believe it or not the turquoise lamp was found in a neighbour's trash! It was the perfect finishing touch.
This was my favourite view in the space. We found the vintage modern credenza at Queen West Antiques and it gave all the feminine colours and more decorative accents a nice foil. I love that the apartment came with that high ledge on the long wall. It was perfect for displaying Kristin's art collection. I found the gold 'O' at Absolutely and loved how it added a splash of sparkle against the brick and stone. The tiny table at the end was perfect when Kristin needed an extra cocktail table or place to store her pretty coverlets.
We put up wood slat Hunter Douglas blinds with fabric tape to add warmth and also provide privacy and light control. I'm not really a fan of the plastic toggles that are standard on blind cords and Kristin came up with the brilliant idea of swapping them out with these gorgeous turquoise beads.
The kitchen was long and narrow but had nice looking cabinets and simple white appliances.
We simply painted the cabinet frames for a bit of contrast and included lots of colourful accessories on the open shelves. Kristin already had that gorgeous painting: its muddy tones paired perfectly with the stone wall so that the blue centre stood out beautifully. We painted the adjacent kitchen half wall in Mouse's Back by Farrow & Ball to tie in with the stone, but left the vertical parts white for contrast.
The bathroom was compact and contemporary. Like the kitchen, it had a strong design as a starting point including a floating Corian sink.
We simply added a few extra shelves for storage and went to town on the accessories. We also added a seamless medicine cabinet on the wall above the towel bar (not shown) to help out with some extra storage. While working on this project, Kristin and I became fast friends and after she sold this place, we went on to tackle the house that she moved into with Adam as well. Be sure to check out Kristin and Adam's website, This Fair Land — a moving peek into the lives of artful Canadians.
Read about Suzanne's trip to B.C. in this blog post.
The flood last summer knocked out our power for four days but we were lucky; while some friends were knee-deep in brackish water, we had minimal leakage in our basement. Until the latest round of thawing snow did us in. It was obvious our basement carpet couldn't survive another soaking, so my husband tore it up only to reveal this:
Horrified? So were we.
The only thing more disturbing than the satanic red-and-black linoleum tile is the possibility that the builder thought it was a great idea to install the same tile in a number of houses in our post-war neighbourhood (our neighbour has it in his bathroom).
With the carpet gone it was time to take a good look at the honey-brown pine wainscotting, trim and mantel that I felt zero love for.
Inspired by a new gallery of our design editors' own basement renos, I gathered the meaningful finds that I wanted to keep in the basement as a source for the palette. These included my grandmother's skating trophy.
A vintage photo of my hometown.
And a chair I found in an antique mall while visiting a friend in Ohio. (She's a frequent visitor to the Maumee Antique Mall, a great source of quilts and vintage fabrics.)
The elements seemed to have a bit of Belgian farmhouse aesthetic so I looked for a greyed, weathered (water-resistant!) barn-style vinyl plank floor and a greige to paint out the wainscotting and trim.
After lots of close calls that were too green or cold, I found the perfect warm putty from Benjamin Moore: Edgecomb Grey.
This colour works with the tones in the stone fireplace, and has a hit of black for the right amount of gravitas.
Belgian farmhouses typically have lots of linen, but I wanted something a less dour than a tone-on-tone solid. I had this pastoral linen print made into pinch-pleat, lined drapes by Tonic Living (the price was really good, they turned the sewing around quickly and the drapes were well made).
The terracotta tiles on the hearth didn't work with the colour scheme, or the custom-made English firescreen that served as a headboard for several years.
But these 18" x 18" grey marble slabs for the hearth from Lowe's are appropriately rustic, and wallet-friendly.
For a bit of colour and graphic impact, this rug from HomeSense fit the bill for under $150.
We hope to get this room whipped into shape fairly quickly so stay tuned for the final reveal of what I call our budget Belgian basement blitz.
See budget basement decorating tips in this gallery.
Before the household purges that inevitably come with spring cleaning, I'm going to daydream a little bit. If someone were to ask me for a list of 10 things I'd like for my kids' rooms — if money, time and space were no object, as well as their own predilections for all things pink, frothy and Disney- or Barbie-sanctioned — here's what I'd tell them!
1. Magical beds
I've always been enchanted by the heavily canopied beds I've spied when visiting historic castles across the pond or catching the latest well-decorated period film. While some richly tapestried number pulled straight from a chambre at Versailles would look over-the-top in one of my girls' rooms, these two beds put a fanciful, cosy spin on their more staid ancestors. Why not ... you're only young one, after all!
2. Vintagey industrial sign lighting
Old-school, signage-style lighting is at the opposite end of the spectrum, and it's a sure-fire way to introduce a gritty contrast to the frills and floral hues my girls are partial to. I love crisp, graphic shapes like arrows and stars.
3. A closet play nook
We actually have a double-depth closet in Tessa's room, that could also be opened up to the side of my closet, that I have dreams of turning into a secret fort/passageway.
4. A colourful designer carpet
Christian Lacroix's Abstract Malachite Opalin rug for Designers Guild, is playful enough for a kid's room, and has high-fashion cachet to boot. And Madeline Weinrib's colourful carpets have set the standard for cheery graphic pattern underfoot; I love how the brown balances the pink in this one.
5. Unique wooden beds
I'm partial to everything from the most ornate antique to something that looks like it's slapped together from old shipping crates. We've actually got an old four-poster bed made by my husband's great-grandfather, but we haven't yet come up with a suitable mattress for the custom-sized piece. Someday....
6. Curio shelves
I haven't gotten a read on Zoë yet, but Tessa takes after me in her quest to collect. Her dresser and desk are already covered with favourite knickknacks, and I really should figure out a better place for her to display her snowglobes, figurines, music boxes, etc.
7. A fun sculptural lamp
My girls already have a ceramic owl lamp, but these cartoon-like critters feel even more fun and quirky.
8. Eames Hang-It-All
It's a classic and it's rainbow-coloured! And I can justify the purchase as "an organization tool."
9. Whimsical bedding
The hippie in me still loves Indian-style patterned bedding, and luckily, companies like John Robshaw and Rikshaw Design produce brightly coloured versions of the sweet designs I've been coveting for years.
10. Old metal lockers
Like reclaimed industrial-style lighting, school lockers bring edginess to a room, and they're also great for forcing organization and injecting storage where closets are tiny or nonexistent (as in Zoë's room).
Browse this gallery of nursery decorating ideas for more inspiration.
1. Paper Blog, Sparkles and Crumbs
2. XO-In My Room, RH Baby & Child
3. Dos Family
4. Designers Guild, Madeline Weinrib
5. Light Locations, Period Living
6. Apartment Therapy, VT Wonen
7. The Modern Shop, Ten June
8. Things to Love, Welke.nl
9. John Robshaw, Rikshaw Design
10. House to Home, Making Nice in the Midwest
I attended a lovely luncheon some weeks ago with the people from Benjamin Moore. The occasion was the unveiling of the company's top colours for 2014. Well, it may be that the pale aqua Breath of Fresh Air is their colour of the year, but the one that won my heart is Fruit Shake, seen in the image above. There are no two ways about it. That is pink. It's not blush or buff, it's real deal pink; and I like it. This is new for me. Well, newish.
I first started thinking about pink a few years ago, right around the same time that UK architect, shopkeeper and blogger Ben Pentreath painted his former London flat in Farrow & Ball Pink Ground. How fantastic. There is so much going on in this space, and yet the wall colour, while seeming neutral, is definitely an active ingredient in the whole.
This living room by Stephen Sills shows another great way to use pink — linen slipcovers. The room looks relaxed, cottagey and welcoming — but not a bit precious.
Another of my favourites used pink for this wonderful bedroom. Peter Dunham, the ex-pat Brit in LA did this room for the House of Windsor Veranda show house in 2011. It has so much I love: a poster bed, all the various textiles and, yes, those pink walls. I think I'd wake up feeling beautiful if I lived in this room. Interestingly, the lady of this house is now Gwenyth Paltrow, who purchased the home once its life as a showhome was complete. No idea if the show house goods were part of the sale but who knows, maybe she's waking up feeling beautiful here.
Conversely, I also like the idea of using pink in a very understated room. In this case the colour makes the space. I have my husband on board with the decision to paint the guest room in our Tweed, Ont. house pink. It's not unlike this room — I'd like to do seagrass wall-to-wall carpet like this as well. We have mahogany antiques in the space, which I think will look great with the pink. I'll tone it all down with lots of white and natural linen textiles.
I could definitely love winter more if this sort of vista was part of my daily comings and goings. Alas, not so. This apparently is Warsaw, Poland. What a scene. I love the play between the falling snow, the curlicues of the lanterns and that magnificent rose-coloured building.
Since an overseas excursion isn't in the cards, I'd be happy to settle for this pair of Ray Ban specs, available through J.Crew. With these and some vitamin D I'd surely be in the pink!
Find more ways to decorate with pink inspiration in this gallery.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I wanted to compile a list of the things (some decor related, some not!) that make me happiest.
I am a water person and am happiest when I am near water and able to swim — whether it's in a pool or a natural body of water. If you haven't seen Kelly Klein's book, Pools, pick it up for some of the most inspiring pools in the world. This winter I was lucky enough to stay in the house with this San Miguel de Allende pool in Mexico, shot by Bruce Weber in 1990.
My family and I did some travelling in Europe two springs ago and we had the good luck to find two unbelievable waterside cafes. The first was perched high on a cliff in Dubrovnik and the other beachside in Taromina, Sicily. My sister, Arriz and I watched the waves for hours over lunch (and several glasses of wine!) from both spots.
To me, a home is not a home without some animal life. If a home can't take the wear and tear from paws and fur than it's probably a bit too perfect.
Here are a few shots of my own pet family getting cosy at home. All the cats (Z, Tomba, Acorn, Po) lined up in the window to check out the view when we first moved into our house. My cat Z loves to nap in the soft jute baskets I picked up at the White Company in the UK. Po has a thing for hanging off of the tables and is particularly fond of the teal Mexican blanket I use on the table by my back door.
Some people respond to wide-open spaces but I'm more of a cosy person. I love things that make you feel safe and protected like small spaces, canopy beds and window seats.
A fabric valance and floor to ceiling curtains can turn a basic bed into a room within a room: it makes this large bedroom, designed by Mark D. Sikes, feel more intimate and a small bedroom more architectural.
I spotted this dining nook washed in pink in a hotel in Mexico last year, what a perfect spot to have a morning coffee (keep an eye out for more on this place in an upcoming blog).
Muriel Brandolini's home has always been an inspiration. This small guest room is inviting because it's filled to the brim with colour, pattern, texture and layers and the daybed takes up most of the space. I could easily live in this room.
Just like a house without pets, a house without a fireplace doesn't work for me. I light a fire almost every single night in the wintertime. Needless to say, my fire has been going full tilt this winter.
This exotic tile motif puts all the attention on the fireplace wall. I love how the mirror is offset for a fresh spin.
This roaring fire in my own cottage isn't just the main source of heat, the flames are mesmerizing to watch.
It's far more exciting when the individual rooms in a house are approached with their own unique decorating personality. Of course you need flow, but not every room requires the exact same materials and palette.
Muriel Brandolini is a master of the mix, and her designs for this home, shown above and below, are always eclectic and expertly layered.
My personal pet peeve is when every bathroom in the house is a carbon copy of one another. In the end, when the entire house looks the same, it inevitably feels like a creative disappointment.
I love trees for privacy, softening the lines of a building and utlimately marrying it with the landscape. Well-considered foliage will also help with your heating and cooling.
Framing a view to the trees like this is always artful.
This curved stair wall also in Taromina, Sicily features built in planters for geraniums and dedicated spots for pots — so clever.
I scouted this gorgeous house designed by Nicholas Spencer Lewin in Chester, Nova Scotia last summer (keep an eye out for it in H&H soon!).
Not only was it beautiful architecturally, it was also surrounded in stunning landscaping including colourful vegetable gardens that felt simply magical.
7) Low Level Lighting
Every night I ask my hubby to turn off the overhead lighting in the house. I am far more a fan of table lamps and wall sconces for ambiance. And I can't say it enough, everyone looks better with the overhead lights on dimmers!
Here is an especially gorgeous antique wall sconce in the bedroom of stylist Sasha Seymour's chic Toronto home. The exposed cord adds to the impact.
8) Eat-in Kitchens
Who doesn't love eating in the kitchen where the food has been prepared? It's convenient, it's communal and it's comfortable.
I would far rather eat casually near the cook and watch or partake in the process than have it served formally in a dedicated dining room. It's much more fun for the cook too!
9) Secret Passages
There is something so magical about secret passages and doorways. This doorway built into a wall of panelled cupboards reminds me of a secret portal to another world, just like the one in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
In the home of architects Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan of Studio Junction the principal bedroom (and kids' jumping ground) connects to the children's bedroom through a sliding Japanese-style shoji screen. So much fun for kids.
10) Finds from Nature
Stumbling on surprise jewels in nature or urban settings always makes me smile.
Like this transparent dragon fly wing, tucked into the pine needles on the forest floor.
Or a conch shell worked into the plaster of a church wall in Mexico.
A leaf peeks through a tear in a sheet of birch bark.
And a charming homescape made of carefully placed rocks on the beach in Costa Rica seems to say "there's no place like home."
1. Pools by Kelly Klein, via Mark D. Sikes blog, photography by Bruce Weber
2-4. Suzanne Dimma
5. Room design by Mark D. Sikes, House Beautiful Dec/Jan 2011 issue
6. Suzanne Dimma
7. Design by Muriel Brandolini, House Beautiful October 1997 issue
8. Photography by Catherine Gratwicke
9. Interior design by Suzanne Dimma, architecture by Arriz & Co.; House & Home October 2011 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
10-12. Design by Muriel Brandolini; Elle Decor; photography by Eric Boman
13. Design by Anthony Todd
14-15. Suzanne Dimma, design by Nicholas Spencer Lewin Design
16. House & Home September 2011 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
17. Apartment Therapy via Emma's Design Blogg
18. No credit available
19. House & Home September 2011, photography by Michael Graydon
20-23. Suzanne Dimma