I didn't dye any Easter eggs this weekend, but I've certainly been celebrating with various shades of candy. So in the spirit of the holiday, here's a townhouse on New York's Upper East Side decorated with egg-worthy pastels like lilac, teal and cotton-candy pink.
The home dates from 1860 and was briefly converted to a blacksmith shop at the turn of the 20th century. In the 1970s, it was chopped up into a four-unit apartment building before being restored to its original six-storey, single-family-housing self (supposedly by shoe magnate Steve Madden).
There are plenty of charming details left in the Italianate manse, like the fireplace, wood floors and large front windows. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of staircases left over from the building's days as an apartment house, making the layout something of a maze.
The floor plan calls this the dining room, but it seems like any meals would have to be limited to the banquette lest they be interrupted by traffic from the stairway. Fortunately, according to the plans, there are two dining rooms and two kitchens, back-to-back, on this floor.
The principal bedroom is actually on the garden level and opens to a good-sized backyard. It could be re-worked into a living space, of course, but you'd also have to figure out how to re-configure the walk-in closets, dressing room and ensuite bathroom.
This is Manhattan, so don't expect any fancy amenities — or more outdoor space — for your $9 million. If you're dying to add your own media room, yoga studio or home office, you can always transform the basement or six bedrooms, or knock out a few of the 11 baths and half-baths for some extra square-footage.
What do you think? Would the pretty paint job convince you to take on a warren fit for the Easter bunny?
See more pastel rooms in our Colourful Spring Rooms photo gallery.
1-5. Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Wednesday morning began with a press breakfast of mini pancakes and strawberry kale smoothies at Toronto's One of a Kind Show, which runs until March 31st at the Direct Energy Centre.
More than 450 Canadian artisans are represented at the show, many of them exhibiting for the first time. Also debuting is a new curated Etsy section, where sellers from the popular online marketplace are showcasing their designs in person.
While the spring edition is smaller than the holiday event, there are plenty of gorgeous designs to be found. Alongside established favourites like Bookhou, Porcelaines Bousquet, Jenna Rose and Tissage Magely Weaving, a few emerging designers caught my eye. Here are my top picks:
In case you haven't noticed, wood charcuterie and cutting boards are the latest way to add I-cook-and-I'm-cool style to your kitchen. Just prop a few up on your counters and you've got the look. Swaine St. Woodworking from Halifax also offers products to keep your boards looking good. I liked the rounded bottles and labels. Plus, everything looks better with a sprig of rosemary.
Yusuke Akai makes pretty pastel vases and cake stands that are perfect for Easter, but I was more excited about her oven-safe ceramic cookware that looks like cast iron. These would make the trip from oven to table with aplomb.
It's impossible to walk by Edith Bourgault's booth without stopping to look. Her blue and white ceramics — so classic and summery — look extra enticing in the all-black space. If you have a cottage or just want the look of one, this should be your first stop at the show.
This Montreal studio describes itself as a "slow design" laboratory, making items by hand from local and reclaimed wood and other materials. Its bag of little wood houses offers a domestic alternative to Muji's popular mini wood cityscapes. Green thumbs will also like their apple box-style colour-blocked planters.
5. Nick Chase
I saved the best for last. The glass leaf vases by Nick Chase strike just the right balance between modern and organic, and have a distinctly Canadian feel. They're priced from $200 to $1,000 and would make a perfect gift for any occasion: wedding, housewarming, cottage host thank-you. Nick also makes glass terrariums, which are landscaped by a friend of his in Toronto. I'll take one of each, please!
Browse my picks from last year's spring show.
1-11. Kimberley Brown
I haven't met a child who isn't enchanted by a fort. Not the military stronghold type, but the ones built with sofa cushions and blankets. Certainly, they're inspired by the challenge of constructing something so big themselves. But there must also be some connection to having a "room" of one's own — a pleasing universal idea. And perhaps there's also a link to living like the characters do in their storybooks and fairy tales.
One of my all-time favourite magazine tearsheets is a Carolina Herrera ad picturing two youngsters ensconced in haphazardly assembled but thoroughly delightful contraptions built of silk scarves, clothes pegs and rope.
For parents not keen on having rooms ripped apart on a daily basis, there are plenty of options on the market for providing kids with instant architecture.
Diminutive kid-friendly pop-up tents have been around for decades. Years ago, on the way to a week of car-camping, my husband and I picked up an Oscar-the-Grouch-patterned tent (along with a tiny collapsible chair and a wee sleeping bag) at a SuperStore in Barrie, Ontario, as a spot to set down our barely crawling baby daughter while camping. It's still the best $20 we ever spent! It comes on all our camping trips and hosts everything from teddy bear picnics to light-sabre battles, and when Tessa was a baby, I'd open it up in the living room as a fun place to play on grey days. (Fast-forward seven years, and we now have a deluxe model comprised of two play tents connected by a tunnel, and it's a hit anytime we assemble the whole shebang in our dining room, the only room large enough to host it.)
The new classic seems to be the tepee. We were lucky enough to inherit one like this from our friend Evie, who had outgrown hers. (Similar versions are available in Toronto at Advice from a Caterpillar.
Pile a tepee full of blankets, toys and pillows (these darling block-printed ones are from Rikshaw Design), and kids will happily while away the hours.
A simple A-frame tent is a similar option. This vibrantly coloured one from the Ottawa-based Teepee and Tent shop on Etsy has a lighthearted Wild West vibe.
For a sleepover or at a summer cottage, homemade tents like these will be a surefire hit — and can be used to give each child a little privacy.
On the other end of the spectrum, this luxe, fully outfitted bell tent is about as inviting and whimsical as a play spot can get.
Perhaps we'll try for a setup like one of these in our backyard when the weather finally warms up. Rope and simple dowels or bamboo garden poles aren't hard to come by, and between old bed sheets and art drop-cloths, we've got the draping covered. The more quirky or romantic, the better for engaging kids' imaginations. Over the years, I've picked up a number of bright floral sheets at thrift stores and Goodwill, and just given them a thorough wash before handing them over to the kids.
Another new take is the table tent — which in my books is a great way to repurpose little-used dining rooms. Crafty sewers can tailor-make versions to resemble a child's own home or a favourite storybook abode. Here are the DIY directions for this one — the original post is in Dutch, so you'll need to run them through Google Translate.
In my experience, though, the most beloved forts are the handcrafted variety. Children find satisfaction in building their own structures. (And who among us who's ever custom-built their own house would fault them?) My kids construct endless permutations with the mere two blankets and six throw pillows we have in our living room. Left to their own devices for as little as 10 minutes, they'll inevitably rearrange the room's two chairs and one coffee table into two forts — one for each of them — or on a good day, two to share. And anytime we host a play date, Tessa's bunk bed meets the same fate.
It's a place for them to get away — to hide out from the adults and from the more mundane parts of their existence. A room of one's own ... I guess we all need it.
See our gallery of Trendy Kids' Bedroom Ideas for more inspiration.
1. The Well Appointed House blog
2. My First Little Place blog
3. Rikshaw Design
4. Teepee and Tent Shop, Etsy.com
5. Maxabella Loves blog
6. Mommo Design
7. Jollydays Luxury Camping
8. PS by Dila blog, photography by Renee Hindman
9. Runway Hippie blog
10. 101 Woonideeën blog
If you read my previous basement blog post, you've already seen the before shots of the basement that used to be an apartment. Now we're renovating it into a proper home office. Things are already underway with gutting the space, but I thought I would show you a few of our inspiration photos for the final look.
To help get you oriented, here is the existing layout:
And here is the new layout that Arriz has been working on:
The basement has pretty decent ceiling height already, but in order to maximize head room as much as possible and to save costs involved in digging down further, we've relocated the furnace and ductwork to the outside walls. You can see how moving the furnace opens up the space. We probably saved about $30,000 in choosing not to dig down — and avoided creating a massive mess in the already landscaped backyard. My plan is to play up the low ceilings and cosiness with plenty of texture.
The thing I am most excited about is our new back entry. This is the floor plan and the elevation of that area. We've mapped out a herringbone-style slate floor, inspired by one of the bathrooms at last year's Princess Margaret Hospital showhome, using some slate that we have leftover from when we built our shower at the cottage, (Browse photos of our cottage here.)
The herringbone will resemble this photo.
I've been inspired by a super simple and clean Scandinavian-modern style for the overall look — think white oak floors, crisp white walls punctuated by black accents and modern iconic furniture. In a basement where light can be scarce, I think it's smart to go for an open, light look. I saved this inspiration photo from the book Timeless Architecture & Interiors (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing).
This is another inspiration shot I pulled — for the white built-ins and freestanding furniture paired with a bit of white oak on the shutters.
To add texture and elevate the look of the basement, we're installing vertical panelling like this on almost every wall and customizing the doors in a similar fashion for a bit of character — so much nicer than basic drywall.
Thom Filicia's American Beauty (2012 Potter Style) was a terrific source of inspiration as he works with panelling quite extensively throughout the book.
When I saw this staircase online (right), I did a double take because it's so similar in layout to our staircase from the back door landing (left). I'm hoping that ours will have a similar feel — including the custom railing.
We've ordered Moncer wide-plank flooring in white oak for the entire basement. It was a bit of a splurge but, with everything else being white, the floor had to be amazing. Plus the space will be taking some wear and tear and we wanted a top quality floor choice that could handle it.
We still want a kitchen in our basement — it's great to have additional storage space. Plus, I think it will add to the value of our house should we ever sell, since the new homeowners would have the flexibility of using the basement as a nanny's suite, a kid's play area, or turning it back into a rental unit.
We've designed the kitchen to run along one wall so it takes up very little visual space and blends neatly into the background. We're going for all-white cabinetry from Ikea. After all, we are going for a Scandi look!
I like the look of Ikea's Akurum horizontal cabinets with the matte finish Applåd doors. The narrow profile is perfect for the basement's lower ceiling and the matte finish has a sophisticated, contemporary look. We aren't installing butcherblock counters like in this photo, but I like the cabinets and seamless cooktop here. For countertops, we chose Ikea's white Staron so everything will blend together. We're also using Staron for all the long desk surfaces. It's a perfect material for a working area as the surface is super smooth and easy to clean.
Because the second phase of the reno involves turning the upstairs den into our principal bedroom, I'm planning on moving the Nelson Saucer Lamp that's there now down to the new mudroom. And I'm going to move the chandelier that's in the kitchen up to the bedroom. I'm actually doing major lamp, hardware, furniture and carpet shifts throughout the house so there isn't any waste on things I've already purchased — so much better to repurpose than discard!
These BestLite BL6 Wall Lamps are moving from our current bedroom (soon to be a walk-in closet!) down to the basement. The general idea is chrome in the basement and gold and brass upstairs.
We copied H&H art director Mandy Milks's bathroom reno with this wall-mounted sink from Duravit and Kohler faucet (but ours will be chrome). Our sink won't be floating, but this is a great trick to open up floor space in a small bathroom. (Take a video tour of Mandy's bathroom here.)
We're going to sit our sink on a floating vanity similar to these.
We're also using the black hex ceramic tile on the bathroom floor as a continuum from our upstairs hall. You may have seen this hall when we shot our house for Christmas a few years back.
In keeping with the overall look, we're going for a Scandi-modern style with our furniture choices. With so many built-ins, we'll need to work in some freestanding character pieces. But again, we are going to try to repurpose things we have. This sofa and chair from our upstairs den (this room has had a few incarnations!) will be moved down to the basement.
This is another incarnation of the same den. The vintage desk and the patterned carpet will also be repurposed in the basement.
I love the modern clock in Sally Armstrong's kitchen and have kept a wall blank to house the same one in our basement.
For the laundry area, we're upgrading to this state-of-the-art set of steam clean precision dispense front-loaders from Whirlpool. I love that they can stack, and then if we relocate or renovate again (god forbid), we have lots of flexibility with how they can be configured.
Stay tuned for my next blog about the demolition! It's hard to believe this space is going to look like the inspiration in this blog.
Don't miss Suzanne's basement before photos.
1-3. Arriz Hassam
4. Pinterest, unknown original source
5. Timeless Architecture & Interiors, Yearbook 2009 (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing)
6. Desire to Inspire, photography by Bieke Claessens
7. Pinterest, unknown original source
8. Thom Filicia's American Beauty (2012 Potter Style)
9a. Suzanne Dimma
9b. Esquisse blog
10. Remodelista, photography by Macdonald Wright Architects
11a. From Scandinavia With Love blog
11b. Akurum cabinets, Ikea
12. Nelson Saucer Lamp, Y Living
13. BestLite BL6 Wall Lamps, Nest
14. House & Home March 2013 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
15a. Metropolitan Home via Plush Palate blog
15b. Timeless Architecture & Interiors, Yearbook 2009 (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing)
16. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
17. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson
18. Houseandhome.com, photography by Michael Alberstat
19a. Charles Eames Style Chair, Chair Outlet
19b. Wegner Easy Chair, Design Within Reach
20. House & Home February 2013 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
21. Duet Steam Front Load Washer, Whirlpool
22. Suzanne Dimma
One of my oldest friends recently announced her pregnancy, and it's been a buzz of excitement between us girls ever since. Since she is the first one in our circle to have a baby, it's a pretty big deal and the following months will be a whirlwind of events before the little one arrives.
This exciting occasion has thrown me into full-on nursery browsing, and after perusing endless photo galleries of baby coves, my favourite look is fuss-free and simple. I've compiled quite a little list of quirky baby what-nots. Check them out!
Rich leather seating is a striking alternative to pastel linens.
This wood carousel horse from Restoration Hardware is a fun (and nice looking!) addition to a nursery.
This mushroom pouf would add a pop of colour to a neutral space.
I love the woodsy animal print on this soft wool rug from DwellStudio.
Nurseries can be a little over-the-top with all the frills and bows that come with baby things. This glass pendant light would tone down the fuss.
This whimsical rabbit scene pillow is lovely on its own or as a grouping with other throw pillows.
This mobile will lull your baby to sleep as it twirls around and around. Have you ever seen anything so sweet?
This Enchanted Forest Mural from Anthropologie brings fairytales to life.
This sweet little vintage art print stole my heart. What a creative way to fill up wall space.
I'm excited to see what Dina comes up with for her baby room!
For more simple nursery's, see Katie Hayden's roundup of Undecorated Kids' Rooms.
1. Carlton Leather Recliner, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
2. Vintage Wood Carousel Horse, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
3. Mushroom Pouf, Anthropologie
4. Woodland Tumble Round Rug, DwellStudio
5. Clift Oversized Glass Pendant, Pottery Barn
6. Meadow Powder Blue Boudoir Pillow, DwellStudio
7. Bird Felt Mobile, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
8. Enchanted Forest Mural, Anthropologie
9. For My Darling Vintage Framed Little Art Print, Rosenberry Rooms
The gardens of landscape architect Mario Nievera transport us to another world in his gorgeous new coffee table book, Forever Green (2012 Pointed Leaf Press), whether they belong to a historic, lush Palm Beach estate, shingled Cape Cod beachfront cottage or windy Manhattan rooftop.
Growing up in Glencoe, Illinois, Mario rode his bike hunting for roads marked "private, residents only" so he could see the amazing properties at the end, complete with walled courtyards, rose gardens and allées of apple trees. Now he and business partner Keith Williams create those features for carriage-trade clients across the globe, including the Caribbean and Shanghai. As summer approaches, we start contemplating the promise of our own gardens, and I spoke to Mario about his luxe, orderly vision.
H&H: You were influenced by The Preppy Handbook, Love Story, Frank Lloyd Wright, Green Acres, and Sunset Boulevard. How does this all come into play when you design a garden space?
Mario Nievera: There's always some kind of romance, intrigue, fun and drama in our landscapes. In books, TV shows or movies, there's a feeling of progression and a finale. Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture was very much a part of the land. We always try to help architects ground their magnificent structures to the earth.
H&H: You and Keith Williams have collaborated on some very impressive vacation homes. What's the most common request among your high-end clientele for their gardens?
MN: "Tailored" and "balanced" are the big asks. That doesn't mean formal or uptight, it's just that many of our clients are quite cerebral, so some sort of order is really important — even if the garden is deliberately designed as a jungle.
H&H: The bulk of your work is based in Florida, but you have clients with homes in the northeast too: that's a big difference in climate, soil and plants. Which region do you prefer to landscape and why?
MN: It's a toss up! When it's snowing in the northeast, I'm very happy to be in Florida. Our goal is to create landscapes that are life-changing for our clients — we like to think we can create memories wherever they live.
H&H: What's a good rule of thumb when choosing plants for blustery northern rooftops?
MN: Pretend you're on a mountaintop: there are dry winds, lots of sun, freezing temperatures and not a lot of soil at your feet. If you find a plant that can survive those conditions, you can have it on a rooftop.
H&H: What big trends are you seeing in garden design?
MN: Planters made from a fusion of materials [the faux bois planters to the left are Mario's design]; fire pits and outdoor fireplaces; great looking outdoor kitchens and lots of bar and counter-height seating.
H&H: If you don't have a huge, lovely estate, how do you create a feeling of grandeur in a garden?
MN: Scale! A magnificent urn on a pedestal situated outside a balcony and framed by square planters with evergreen topiaries will create much needed and unexpected drama in a drab view.
H&H: What's your favourite plant?
MN: Today I'm very happy with different varieties of southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflolia). I love stewartia for its bark and summer blooms, and I'm all about Phoenix robelinis (common Pygmy date).
See more enviable outdoor spaces in our Inspiring Backyards photo gallery.