You never know where your next great idea might come from. That's why I always have my phone charged and ready to capture a moment of inspiration. When I travel, my design spidey senses are on even higher alert. Here are a few of the details that got me snapping pictures and thinking during my recent visit to Los Angeles and San Francisco with the #BlogTourCali group. (Read more about my trip in my previous blog post.)
I spotted this circular colour study painting by Don Suggs at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica. I found it utterly mesmerizing. I'm interested in how masters of a particular craft can take something simple and make it sensational. This seems simple — circles painted in many different colours — and yet it has so much energy and movement. And the colour combination is very unusual. It inspires me to try something new — an art technique, a colour combo, something!
L.A. furniture retailer Graye had a minimalist booth at the West Edge Design Fair. But this prop vignette begged me to snap a pic. I love the mix of materials, shapes and patina. A display like this is a great idea for an off-duty dining table or a centre hall table. Time to pull some old things out of the china cabinet and experiment. My favourite takeaway is the idea of placing an object on a stack of books to give it more presence — classic styling trick.
After L.A. the BlogTour group hit the road up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. The views are breathtaking. The ocean gets me every time. Awe in the true sense of the word. And how about those colours?
Have you ever tried the Sherwin-Williams online colour tool called Let's Chip It? It's so much fun. Go to letschipit.com, upload a photo, and you get a palette of five Sherwin-Williams colours pulled from your photo.
Click the Edit Photos button on the bottom right and five more colours pop up for you to play with. You can drag and drop the chips back and forth to customize a palette that matches your photo. It's a no-fail way to devise a decorating palette because nature always gets colour right.
And speaking of great colours, I snapped this shot of tomatoes at the green market where we stopped for lunch in Monterey. Like I said, nature gets colour right.
We hit up a few design shops in San Francisco. I spied this credenza at the extraordinary Thos. Moser showroom. The furniture is all beautifully handmade. This little idea for cabinet pulls caught my attention. You can barely see these leather pulls when the drawers are closed. They are just deep enough for your fingers to grasp. And when you open the drawer you get a little treat — three perfect brass screws hold the pull into a carefully chiselled space so that the pull is flush with the top of the drawer. I'd love to try to replicate this concept on a furniture makeover project.
The Serena & Lily design shop is just a few doors down Sacramento Street. I loved the store's super simple take on plantings out front — grass en masse. The mane-like texture is a fun alternative to the more expected choices of boxwood or other evergreen. The grasses sway in the wind beautifully and have a beachy vibe. Nice.
I took off on my own for a bit one afternoon to ogle the pretty houses. It's one of my favourite things to do when I travel — wander a neighbourhood to check out the architecture and paint colours and gardens. Many of San Francisco's Victorians are tarted up in several paint colours to highlight the intricate trims and adornments. I liked this place for its refusal to follow suit. What a beauty.
These homeowners also opted for a one-colour scheme, but with a very different effect. Walking by the house was such a strange experience for me. I've had it on my Pinterest board on Exterior Style for months. I knew it was in San Fran but I had no idea what street it was on and I certainly wasn't even looking for it. I was walking and I just looked up and there it was! Amazing coincidence. Love the black.
1-10. Margot Austin
If there’s one thing you’ll notice about the homes we feature in House & Home, everything has its place. From what’s on the table to what’s on the nightstand, everything stands out because it has the space to do so.
Even when they’re not “minimalist,” our featured homeowners let their furniture and accessories shine by avoiding clutter. So here are a few places you can pare back in your home this fall. (This blog post is brought to you by Just Junk.)
1. The Never-Used Gadget, The Multiple Mugs
The drawer with several melon-ballers. The cupboard of ‘I Love NY’ coffee mugs. As hard as it may seem, getting rid of these kitchen squatters helps in two ways. It not only saves space in your drawers and cupboards, it opens up the possibility of displaying the things you DO use with open shelving.
2. Keep, Donate, Dispose
It’s hard to do, but get two huge bags and step in front of your bedroom closet. It’s time to get rid of clothes. Basic rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn it in a year, it’s got to go. One of the bags is for donating, so anything in good condition can be given away. The other bag is for disposal, i.e. for that ripped shirt too far beyond repair.
3. Old Linens, Older Makeup
That red towel that’s starting to fade into a light pink? Time to throw it out. Old, fraying and even unused bathroom towels take up a lot of space. And while you’re in that closet, remember that makeup has an expiry, too. It’s better to get rid of that lipstick you ‘borrowed’ from a friend years ago, rather than give it back.
4. It’s An Office, Not A Repository
Even the most obscure appliance has an online manual, so there’s no need to keep a physical one. Also, as impeccable as your university notes are, they’re just taking up space! Think about it like your clothes: If you haven’t read a piece of paper in more than a year, you can probably get rid of it. Also, recycle those old cameras and obsolete chargers. You’ll find a cleaner office is a more efficient one.
Finally, the rooms that hear “I’ll just put this here for now” the most are the garage and the shed. From broken lawnmowers to bent screwdrivers, these spaces beg for a good cleanup. You’ll not only realize what tools actually work (to fix up other parts of your home), you’ll see creative new uses for the space, beyond the storage of old boxes.
When decluttering, professional junk removal companies like JUSTJUNK® can help you out. Just Junk’s team will come to your home and take away all your clutter, and recycle, donate and dispose everything from appliances to furniture. You simply pay based on how much you want to get rid of. Visit justjunk.com today to see how they can help you get a clean, organized home. Just Junk serves cities across Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta.
1. House & Home March 2013, photography by Donna Griffith
2. House & Home February 2014, photography by Michael Graydon
3. House & Home June 2012 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
4. House & Home Makeovers 2013, photography by Donna Griffith
5. House & Home July 2012 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
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.
Many people like the charm and character of older homes, but often they can be daunted by the amount of restoration they require, as well as the costs associated with maintaining them. Many of my clients at Philip Mitchell Design request "A New Old Home." Essentially a house that feels and looks authentic in style, design and finishing, but that functions more efficiently than a historic property, with minimal or no upkeep.
The suggestions below definitely conjure historical charm and character, whether you are restoring, renovating, building an addition, or constructing a new home from scratch.
1. Paint Colours
Using historic paint colours for both interiors and exteriors provides that depth and softness often associated with period buildings.
2. Plumbing Fixtures
By adding original or reproduction vintage style faucets, pedestals, tubs and water closets, you can recreate that classic heritage feeling from a bygone era.
3. Windows And Doors
Selecting a specific window and door style based on appropriate historical style, size, mullion profile and glass can add that character often found in older homes.
Installing historically accurate reproduction or antique handles, knobs and latches in timeless finishes like natural un-lacquered brass, bronze and iron, can provide instant age to a project.
5. Roofing Materials
Choosing a composite cedar roofing product or standing metal seam roof (rendered in steel, aluminum or copper) can add that bit of history to a newly constructed home, while virtually remaining maintenance free for years.
6. Architectural Salvage
Introducing a unique salvaged architectural element, such as a vintage cabinet or an antique mantelpiece from a historic building, add character into a new space, and is eco friendly at the same time.
Introducing a number of different types and sources (wall sconces, surface mount fixtures, pendants and picture lights) of antique-look lighting fixtures can add a charming ambiance to new space.
Browse a gallery of Philip's designs.
1. Benjamin Moore
2. Spaces Design
5. Tim McGhie, via House & Home
6. Angus McRitchie, via House & Home
8. PMD Design Inspirations
9. James Dixon Architect PC
10. House & Home October 2010 issue
11. Steven Grambel, via House & Home
12. House & Home July 2010 issue.
Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen and Style Me Pretty has been named one of Toronto Life’s top 6 most inspiring home decor bloggers. She's always full of good ideas, and has an eye for gorgeous images so we couldn't wait to ask her tips for ushering in the new season with style.
After the dreadfully long winter we all experienced over the last few months, I'm beyond thrilled that Mother Nature has finally started to co-operate! Though every change of season tends to ignite that desire for a fresh start, this seems to ring particularly true when it comes to spring. And as the temperature increases, so too does my need to transform my home to prepare for the warm months ahead. Here are my personal favourite tips and tricks that truly help bring spring home:
Spending a few dollars a week on fresh flowers (fresh tulips, a handful of gorgeous magnolia branches or a potted orchid) is incredibly effective. After a long, grey winter, it truly helps infuse a sense of life into your every day.
Deck Your Door
A little paint goes a long way! Greet your guests with a freshly painted, vibrant front door. Think poppy red, a bright shade of coral or a more subdued teal. Bonus: it increases curb appeal and is a welcome sight when you return home each evening.
Infuse New Scents
When it comes to your home, you need to consider all five senses. All too often the sense of smell falls by the wayside, but I stand by the fact that it's one of the most important! Save the masculine, woodsy scents for the cosy wintry months. Instead, consider lightly scented candles or incense like vanilla fig, Meyer lemon or cucumber.
Whether it's in the form of a new toss cushion, switching out some artwork (there are so many wonderful, inexpensive prints online) or a new coffee table book... Introducing a new hue into your decor regimen is a wonderful way to make a space feel fresh and new on a dime.
Think About Texture & Introduce Natural Materials
Tuck away those heavy fabrics for the cooler months ahead. We're talking heavy wool curtains, velvet toss cushions and that furry throw you love. Instead, introduce natural materials: cotton, linen and the like for a light, bright feel. Bonus: your winter decor will feel brand new when you bring it out again months down the line.
Put Up A Bird Feeder
We can't forget about our fellow feathered friends! Invite them to stay a while by hanging a simple bird feeder on your balcony or in your yard. Instant spring, I swear!
Start an Indoor Herb Garden
Not only does it smell amazing, much like the addition of fresh flowers, it instills a sense of life into your home. Bonus: it's crazy satisfying to be able to whip up a meal with the help of some of your home grown friends.
Dress Your Bed
Flannel bed sheets be gone! Switching them out for a cotton set may be a no-brainer, but it's something I look forward to all year. In addition, opting for a light quilt in lieu of your feathered duvet is intrinsically satisfying.
When it comes down to it, small details and simple touches are key. It's amazing how these simple changes can make your entire home feel brand new without having to spend a ton.
1. Potted Orchid, Lark & Linen
2. Charleston Front Door, Elisa Brickler for Hearth Magazine
3. Tulips, Bess Friday (photography) and Caitlin Flemming (design)
4. Living room photographed by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine, via Style Me Pretty Living
5. Prue Roscoe photographed room, Design Sponge
6. Herb Garden photography by Ruth Eileen, via SMP Living
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.
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.
When faced with my latest makeover — a small condo bedroom — I knew I needed to design a feature wall with lots of interest, but that wouldn't be too busy visually. Here's a before shot of bedroom:
I'd found my inspiration on Pinterest: a gritty but subtle ombré effect that could be recreated with paint.
Paint was going to play a major part in this transformation, so I had to pick the perfect colours. I picked three consecutive shades of blue from the Beauti-Tone deck: Ocean Crest (C9-7-0502-0) as the base colour, and Water Droplet (C9-7-0503-0) and Indian Tears (C9-7-0504-0) to layer over top. I chose a matte finish to mimic the look seen in the inspiration image.
The first step in this transformation was to get rid of the dark beige walls. A fresh coat of primer and the room was brighter already!
I then applied two coats of the palest blue all over the room. I used the same colour for the trim, but used Beauti-Tone's Door & Trim paint instead.
On a side note, have you noticed that I used painter's tape along a popcorn ceiling? Frog Tape actually worked along the uneven surface! I was quite happy about that.
The prep work before starting the effect was crucial: I sealed the baseboards with painter's tape and placed a thick drop sheet on the floor because I knew it was going to get messy.
To create the paint effect, I used a masonry brush (for its width and natural bristles). I mixed the medium blue paint (Water Droplet) with equal parts water which gave me a runny, watercolour-type consistency.
I applied it in an upwards motion until it gradually faded.
Once dry, I used the same technique with the darkest blue (Indian Tears), and kept my brushstrokes to the lower half of the wall, letting the medium blue peek through the top.
I was quite pleased with the final look. I could definitely see the brushstrokes and variations in colour, but it wasn't too flashy or distracting for a bedroom.
Creating a feature wall with paint was an easy way to add a bit of personality to an otherwise basic room!
We are nearing the finish of our Belgian-Inspired Budget Basement but have encountered this thorny issue. Which colour should I paint our maple bookcases?
I have wallpapered the back in an ocelot print to disguise the tired Masonite, but the wood doesn't suit the new grey palette or the wallpaper. Which shade do you think works best?
I painted a sample board and propped it up near the fireplace, which was one of the starting points for the palette. That's Mole's Breath on the left, and Dove Tale on right, both by the venerable Farrow & Ball.
If you had to choose, would it be the darker and more dramatic shade shown on top or the lighter one which changes considerably depending on the light.
Let me know because I can't wait to show you the results!