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Childhood is finite. And despite our best intentions, and the urgings of our favourite parenting gurus, most of us can't help but let our kids get caught up in the hustle and bustle that is 21st-century life. I can't offer a fix for busy lives (I can barely keep mine on the rails most days!), but I've got a great idea for adding a bit of fun to your kids' rooms. It's something you can do this very weekend — and the kids can help!

Together, you can craft a quick and easy bunting or garland to make his or her room just a splash more festive and colourful for spring. It's surprisingly simple to achieve good-looking results, no matter how basic your paper-crafting or sewing skills are.

Let's start with the easiest project first. Print this free "I Love You" download designed by Two Brunettes and found on the Ruffled blog (they provide a full alphabet, so you could do your child's name instead), snip out the flags, glue them onto a length of string and hang. Done! Feeling craftier? Read on...

At our house, rainbows and polka-dots always mean good things. Put the two together, and they're going to spell f-u-n! Craft your own with paper from stationery or art-supply stores, or order these online from Hip Hooray party suppliers.

This joyous washi-tape garland reminds me of confetti: it's lightweight, vibrant and intense. It'd be a great rainy-day or car-trip activity. Simply sandwich a long piece of twine between strips of washi tape, fold the tape together and clip the ends into reverse points. (Used blunt-ended children's craft scissors, if you're working on it in the car.)  

Here's a washi-tape garland in action in a sweet party image created by Estonian designer Marlen Kärema.

This garland of simple paper circles created by Sydney, Australia, blogger Nicola Brooke is even faster to make than glued paper ones. Cut dozens of same-sized circles from coloured paper — let the decor in your child's room dictate the palette — then stitch them together quickly with a sewing machine.

A few years ago at Christmastime, Tessa, her friend Claire and I felt pretty clever when we crafted paper-circle garlands like these from leftover giftwrap and red-toned Christmas flyers. We still use them every year on the tree! I also love these — made with clippings from vintage atlases by Jellybean Studio and available on Etsy.

A cloth bunting like this is going to be my next DIY project — it's just so doable. I've made plenty of glued-together paper garlands and buntings, but I haven't stitched one yet — in fabric or paper. I have a boxful of pretty fabric scraps from old projects; I'll just snip out elongated triangles with pinking shears and sew them onto a length of jute twine. It'd also make a great baby gift or shower decoration. (P.S. The pictured baby, six-day-old Elizabeth, and setting could not be any cuter!)

Colourful pennants look especially bold against chalkboard-painted walls.

With its dainty flags and slightly wider band, this bunting — in a vintage-inspired shared girls' room in London, England — looks more twee, but equally fun!

A clean-lined, neutral-toned wool version is a subdued alternative for a boy's room.

A simple white bunting turns this sweet outdoor playhouse into a beacon for adventure for the three young children of Michael and Jane Frosh at their home outside Sydney, Australia.

When I was in Australia a few years ago, garlands of felted-wool balls were everywhere, and I feel in love. I should have picked one up, but never got around to it. Since then, I've been thinking of learning to felt myself, but haven't had the opportunity. This one created by Rochester, N.Y., jeweller Jenna Thompson is used as a Christmas decoration, but with its rainbow colours and simple construction, it's just as fitting for a kid's bedroom or playroom. She has directions on her blog and also recommends these from Purl Soho.

Until I learn to felt, I'll make do with one of these: jewel-toned pompoms threaded onto string. I'll get my girls to help...

Photo sources:
1. Two Brunettes "I Love You" Download, from Ruffled Blog
2. Dottie ecoGarland from Hip Hooray
3. Parcelpost Wordpress
4. Tõnis Kärema, Remodelista
5. Concrete and Honey blog
6. Jellybean Studio, Etsy
7. Meg Duerksen
8. La Factoría Plástica
9. The Boo and the Boy
10. Vintage Junky
11. Sharyn Cairns, from Homelife
12. Small Bird Blog
13. Captain and the Gypsy Kid

Author: 

Katie Hayden

With spring just around the corner (or maybe a few blocks away) we can't help dreaming about being outside surrounded by lush greenery. We asked an H&H favourite, designer Brian Gluckstein, to guest blog this week and show us some inspirational outdoor spaces. Not surprisingly, the results are as sophisticated and worldly as Brian's designs. Come stroll with Brian as he points out his favourite features.

"A narrow garden with a striking folly, this reflecting pool gives depth to the garden and creates a magical reflection."

"Make a lap pool luxurious by anchoring the pool house and the main house with a shallow garden."

"When installing pools, I don't like a lot of stone around the pool. I love the idea the pool as a water feature with grass right to the coping. This is the same way I've done my own pool."

"I like this multi-level garden that creates elegant, sculptural forms out of planting."

"Magical. That's all I have to say."

"I love how the walkout from the basement is open here. Having a garden on the basement level and then stepping up to the main garden brings the light and the garden to the lower level."

"Aged terracotta pots and variegated green planting add a classical note to this rear focal wall."

See Brian's gallery of inspiring interiors.

Photo sources:
1. via Riding The Buses blog
2. via Mark D. Sikes blog, Houses Of Veranda, architecture by McAlpine Tankersley
3. via What Is James Wearing blog from Forever Green, design by Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design, photo by Michael Stavaridis
4. via How To Spend It blog, design by del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
5. via French Villas by Luxury Retreats
6. del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
7. Villa Saladino via Mark D. Sikes blog, design by John Saladino

Author: 

Brian Gluckstein

I got a start on spring cleaning and de-cluttering over the weekend and it feels so great! I’m starting to love my place again now that every corner isn’t full of dust bunnies and the resulting clutter that accumulates from two busy lives.

In the living room (above), I re-arranged the mantel display, removed several accessories from the bookshelves, and culled about a dozen dated hardcovers from our collection. We sold the pair of chairs in this photo. I miss their pretty colour, but I am enjoying the more open feel that resulted when we replaced them with a single chair moved up from the basement family room. One thing I’ve always loved about my living room is the abundant natural light. ‘Tis the season when we can all use as much light in our lives as possible, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my six secrets to creating a light, bright, airy interior.

1. White paint. To quote the great decorator Elsie de Wolfe, one cannot go wrong with “plenty of optimism and white paint.” My entire main floor is painted Benjamin Moore’s classic Cloud White (CC-40), but I’ve lately even been thinking it could use an update with even whiter Oxford White (CC-30). Designer Lynn Morgan’s living room (above) and all the spaces shown here are also swathed in white paint. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Lynn has soaring 12-foot ceilings and windows almost as tall! Other go-to whites are: All White (2005) by Farrow & Ball, Snowfall (SR29) by Para Paints and Popped Corn (W-B-200) by Behr.

2. Add a mirror. A mirror placed on a wall adjacent to a window amplifies the natural light and reflects it into the room. Hang a mirror between windows to create the illusion of another window.

3. Dress windows minimally. My favourite options are shutters that cover only the bottom half of a window; a wall of white linen sheers; a roman blind that draws all the way open; white linen café curtains; or sometimes even no covering at all! Don’t forget: clean your windows!

4. Keep the floor quiet. Persian carpets and bold patterned flat-weaves may be all the rage these days, but they’re definitely busy and usually bossy — not what you want for a serene, lightened-up interior. Instead opt for no-pattern barefoot-friendly natural fibres like jute, seagrass, hemp or cotton. Or, better yet, embrace bare floors, if even just for the warmer months.

5. Choose a low-contrast palette. Try a modern take on quiet pastels; add a touch of pale sky blue to a neutral room; introduce fresh spring green or embrace blond wood or white-painted furniture to keep a sense of overall colour harmony. Use pattern in measured doses.

6. Bring nature home. Get your hands on a copy of Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo and heed the advice of its title. If you need convincing check out this photo from the book above! Treat yourself and your rooms to something with magnificent blooms or leaves or both. Hint: if you have to spend more than five minutes arranging flowers you are doing it wrong. Keep it simple.

For more seasonal inspiration, see Margot's DIY spring flower ideas.

Photo sources:
1. Virginia Macdonald, September 2012 House & Home
2. Photograph by Christopher Baker via House Beautiful. Room design by Lynn Morgan
3. Philip House, NYC. Room design by Victoria Hagan
5. Max Kim-Bee from Veranda April 2011. Design by Frank Babb Randolph via Splendid Sass blog
6. Muuto via Nalles House blog
7. Ngoc Minh Ngo

Author: 

Margot Austin

Known for his high-contrast interiors, Quebec designer Jean Stéphane Beauchamp regularly brings back inspiration — and treasures for his clients — from regular jaunts to Paris. It's not only one of his favourite destinations, the City of Lights is home to a number of splendid antique masterpieces. In France, treasures from each period stretching back to antiquity are especially well preserved. We asked Jean Stéphane to share some of his fave Parisian hangouts.

Corinne Cécilia: Where do you like to stay?
Jean Stéphane Beauchamp: I prefer to rent an apartment in the 3rd arondissement on the Right Bank in Paris. From there I can go anywhere by foot or on the subway, and I can get my own breakfast.

CC: It must be hard to choose in this city, but what are some of your favourite restaurants?
JSB:
It depends on the budget. When splurging, I like to dine at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon; otherwise, it's Des gars dans la cuisine in the 3rd arondissement, the Train Bleu (shown below) at Gare de Lyon train station because it's gorgeous, and I like breakfast at Bon Marché.

CC: What are your favourite museums?
JSB:
The Carnavalet Museum, Rodin Museum and Orsay Museum (shown below).

CC: Where is the best spot for a drink?
JSB: On the patio of Centre Pompidou (photos below), or have a tea on the terrace of Galeries Lafayette: the view is exceptional.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
JSB: On the Left Bank, at the Galeries Lafayette Maison (the wine library is shown below), and the whole 3rd arondissement. Les mille feuilles, Blanc d'Ivoire, and Entrée des fournisseurs, for fabrics and ribbons. And no trip to Paris is complete without a pilgrimage to Deyrolle on Rue du Bac.

Hungry for more historical design? Pick up a copy of Mario Praz's gorgeous book, An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1-2. Atout France/Style City
3. Atout France/Catherine Bibollet
4
. Atout France/Fabian Charaffi

5. Atout France/Benoit Roland
6. Atout France/Cédric Helsly
7. An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau, (2008 Thames & Hudson)

Author: 

Corinne Cécilia

I'm writing to you from the Hudson Valley in New York State, where I spend as many weekends as I can in an early Dutch stone house built in 1750 that I love. This is the place to write, and cook, do DIY projects and just chill...

This weekend my to-do list included learning to bake the amazing sourdough country bread that I tasted last month at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. I am right in the middle of making the "sponge" or culture. Next blog I will share my results and the recipe that I'm using. I'll also include the recipe for homemade flatbread or naan that is so easy you'll make it often.

But for now I want to share four favourite places to eat and shop in the town of Rhinebeck, New York. Every weekend I spend here, my first stop in Rhinebeck is to eat at Market St. I love their kale salad and in fact H&H got the recipe from their chef and published it in our February 2014 issue. It's amazing. I make it every few days and everyone I serve it to asks for the recipe.

Market St.'s Kale Salad With Pecorino, Currants & Pine Nuts

Ingredients: 

1 bunch Lacinato kale (about 14 oz)
2 oz aged Tuscan Pecorino, shaved (or more!)
3 tbsp mild extra-virgin olive oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1⁄3 cup pine nuts
1⁄4 cup dried currants, raisins or dried cherries

Instructions: 

Step 1: Wash and spin-dry kale. Remove and discard ribs. Roll each leaf and chiffonade as thinly as possible. Place in a large mixing bowl with half of the cheese. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Toss and let stand for a few minutes.
Step 3: Add the remaining cheese, pinenuts and currents and toss.

My second stop is Hammertown Home. They do a good job of bringing in lines of furniture and bedding and accessories that are easy to mix and have a laid-back, classic charm.

This trip I saw a few new things that caught my eye.

Blue and white accent dishes were stacked high.

I spotted this leather-framed mirror and skinny steel bookcase (I measured them and went home to confirm the fit). I ended up buying both. They worked perfectly!

I loved this kit of slate placecards with chalk and dowels. The price was great at under $30.00 so I bought it.

I also bought these bottlestoppers with decorative wood finials — perfect for olive oils.

My third stop was Blue Cashew Kitchen Pharmacy, a cooking store that always has the latest cookbooks and a great selection of linens, cookware and tableware.

They carry a line of beautiful handmade candles from Ester & Erik that are displayed in the metal racks they are made in. When you buy them, the wicks are clipped to release the candles. Very cool!

The best thing is the personal service you will enjoy from the owners that includes sharing their own favourite recipes from their website. I've made the seafood paella, it's superb!

Last stop this trip was Paper Trail, the card and gift shop with wonderful accessories including coverlets from John Robshaw, scarves and candles in the newest colours, decorative throw pillows, loads of stationary and clever gifty things.

That's all for this trip. Keep the Hudson Valley in mind the next time you're planning a weekend getaway!

Photo sources:
All photos (except 2): Lynda Reeves
2. Keith Ferris

Author: 

Lynda Reeves

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.

Take Measurements

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.

To learn more about Shade Works and their products, visit their website, call toll-free (1-888-870-2130), or email them at help@shadeworks.ca

Photo credits:
1-5. Shadeworks

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