This month I'm on the hunt for great outdoor pots. Walking by the Club Monaco store on Bloor Street in Toronto, I was inspired by the huge assortment of pots they had assembled all planted with green and white, exactly as I hope to do in the country.
All the pots were some shade of grey or black with a few terracotta ones tucked into the mix. So now I'm on the hunt for great pots. After years of trying to lug heavy stone pots even just a few feet I've given up on anything that I can't easily move — at least when they're empty.
The new man-made faux stone pots are great looking, real terracotta is always a classic choice, and real or faux zinc and tin are a good addition to the mix.
I checked out these pots carefully. The jet black pots are painted terracotta. It was a reminder that I have a collection of painted pots in my courtyard that are in need of help. They suffered over the winter, plus it's time to add some new, freshly painted ones before I plant them with herbs.
The trick to painting your terracotta pots in matte black is to seal them first with a silicon sealer so the moisture doesn't cause the paint to peel. Then finish by painting them with enamel paint.
Here are a few pot options with a similar look.
1) The lightweight galvanized Ikea Husön planter, (13" h. x 15", $25), won’t rust.
2) The Home Depot’s classic New England terracotta pot, (20" h. x 20" w., $50), can be left au naturel to develop a patina over time, or painted matte black.
3) The environmentally friendly Kobo planter by Hauser, (22" h. x 19.5" d., $98), won’t fade.
4)The square Harmony planter (24" h.) in black resin from Canadian Tire is a bargain at $30.
Here is Renée Mitchell of Reneevations who started assembling the pots — a mix of vintage and new — in our country home in the Hudson Valley. It's a beginning!
Over Easter at our country place we tried out the new Crate & Barrel Pronto pizza oven. It's amazing! It works off a propane tank, and it heats up quickly to over 800°F!
It comes with its own pizza stone, all you need to buy is a wooden pizza paddle, corn meal, and the ingredients to make your own dough and toppings.
You'll find the recipe for GREAT pizza dough here on our website. You'll see it calls for 00 flour. I've had quite a few people ask where to buy it and what it looks like.
Here are three brands carried by Fiesta Farms in Toronto: Caputo, Riscossa and Molisana. Look for them wherever Italian imported foods are sold. It really makes all the difference — you can produce thin, crispy, pizza if you use this flour.
New Les Indiennes Outlet
Now for a really great new shopping source!! The first and only Les Indiennes outlet store has opened in Hudson, New York. It's amazing: it's big and full of their best selling linens, fabrics and accessories. You'll recognize many classic patterns. The prices are so good, you'll be thrilled. Worth the visit!!
Browse a gallery of more pots, urns, boxes and planters for spring here.
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.
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
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!
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!
All photos (except 2): Lynda Reeves
2. Keith Ferris
This past weekend, I visited Canada’s annual Interior Design Show 2014 in Toronto and photographed my favourite things. Here are some of the best things I saw.
Decorative tile is a big category this year, since pattern underfoot and on the walls is a huge design trend. Mettro Source has some great ones. Their Arabesque porcelain series in the classic Moorish shape was very cool, and comes in white, pale grey, grey or black.
This concrete tile from Creekside Tile Company Ltd. caught my eye for its earthy palette and rustic patterns. The dyed concrete tiles can be used indoors or out, and each tile is hand-pressed, creating a relaxed, imperfect look that I love.
The watery, iridescent tones of these glass tiles by Edgewater Studio are so fresh. This Vancouver-based company has a made-to-order program, so you can choose the pattern, material and colour that’s perfect for your project.
Quebec-based Jardin de Ville, which has stores in Toronto and Quebec, featured beautiful tablescapes and outdoor appliances in their booth.
This griddle takes its name from the Spanish word plancha, meaning iron or grill. The cast-iron surface sits atop two gas burners and uses minimal oil to cook everything from fish to eggs, and won’t create any smoke. Condo owners can look forward to an electric balcony-friendly version available at Jardin de Ville this summer.
I loved the combination of the black cast-aluminum table and teak chairs (that spring when you sit!).
This sleek outdoor shower from Jardin de Ville is a Swedish design and hooks up easily to a hose.
Bigfoot Door showed off their amazing high-performance doors and windows, but what caught my eye was the black iron log rack mounted on the wall. Wonder where that came from? Such a simple design.
W Studio recently launched Picture-Perfect Carpets, an exciting program that can turn a high-resolution image into a custom area rug. Imagine the possibilities!
Over at Studio North, Canadian furniture designer Laura Langford showed her Lounge Chair No.137 (Burnt) in dark chocolate leather with a charred ash frame. Pretty gorgeous!
These unique bedside tables by Drake Wood Design are handcrafted using maple, walnut and cedar of Lebanon, and finished with a limestone handle. They would be beautiful in a cottage or country home.
I loved the simple form of Jonathan Sabine’s ash shelf. Jonathan was inspired to create this piece after noticing scaffolding in an old Japanese film. I’m continually drawn to Japanese minimalism for pieces in my own home.
After this inspiring roundup, I look forward to seeing what IDS15 has to bring.
1-2. Jenna Cadieux
3., 5., 7. Margot Austin
4., 8-13. Lynda Reeves
6. Lauren Petroff
I've had some form of a kitchen work table in every kitchen I've had, and I've had a lot of kitchens!
Even the tiniest kitchen had a small square counter-height unit with a butcherblock top and a shelf below. My favourite reason for having a kitchen work table is so I can use the lower shelf to hold baskets of produce — like onions, garlic, potatoes — anything that doesn't require refrigeration. Then on the counter surface, I can have a basket of fruit, a cutting board and a loaf of bread propped like a stylist would.
I like the lightness of a table as opposed to the weight of a solid island. One great tip is to look for an antique pine harvest table with pencil drawers to hold flatware or napkins. Many of these tables also have a lower shelf.
If you want a new piece, check out my View column in the October 2013 issue of House & Home Magazine. You can also watch a video in our October tablet edition of H&H on your iPad or Android tablet where I show you the gorgeous islands in the Bulthaup showroom and talk about ideal dimensions.
Here are 10 more great work tables we found at retail or available online:
I remember that we were about to build a custom table using reclaimed wood when we found this one, and it was perfect. I love the lower shelf. It comes in two sizes, and the reclaimed pine timbers are beautiful.
Salvaged Wood Kitchen Island, Large (pictured). 96"L x 40"W x 36"H. $2495. Small, 48"L x 30"W x 36"H; 66"L x 35"W x 36"H. $1695 - $1995. At Restoration Hardware.
2. With the same feeling, but finer and with drawers is the Antique Italian Bakers' Work Table or Island from Old Plank Road.
This is outrageous in price at $10,980 U.S., but it's inspirational. The antique Italian industrial steel frame is a wonderful colour and this table includes two drawers and a nice wide lower shelf.
Antique Italian Bakers' Work Table or Island. 48"L x 30"W x 36"H; 66"L x 35"W x 36"H. $10,980. At Old Plank Road.
3. Also from Old Plank Road is the custom-made Steel and Bronze Table with Oak Top. If you thought the last table was expensive, this one is $17,500, but again, it's great inspiration and it's a great size. This is table height, not counter height, and would look great in the same room as the last work table.
Steel and Bronze Table with Oak Top. 156"L x 42"W x 30"H. $17,500. At Old Plank Road.
4. Back to reality — this one is called the Newland Kitchen Island with Wood Top from Hickory Chair. It feels like a Stickley design: handsome with four drawers and a lower shelf.
Newland Kitchen Island with Wood Top. 64.5"L x 33"W x 36"H. $4860. At Cocoon and Elizabeth Interiors.
5. From Williams-Sonoma comes this really practical work island. It's called the Bastille Kitchen Island and it includes a removable birch butcherblock tray with handles, perfect as a cheese tray, a black granite inlay tray, two drawers, a towel bar, storage for 12 bottles of wine and a neat closed cabinet with an inner shelf for things like glasses, or cans of mix, or an ice bucket. It's also on casters. This would be a great unit for entertaining.
Bastille Kitchen Island. 51"L (extends to 72"L) x 27 1/2"W x 36 1/2"H. $5710. At Williams-Sonoma.
Shown with slide-out work table (23"L x 20 1/2"W x 30"H).
6. Here's another similar island from the same company with more wine storage and larger drawers but it's rather busy. We used the exact same one in a smaller square size in a client's coach house recently and it looked great. The detailing of the grey painted frame with the warm tones of the Rubberwood butcherblock top and the brass trim looks really good. Much better than I expected it to when we ordered it.
French Chef's Kitchen island with Drawers, Double. 44 1/2"L x 18 1/2"W x 36 1/2"H. $1640. Single Island, 24 1/2"L x 18 1/2"D x 36 1/2"H. $795. At Williams-Sonoma.
7. Williams-Sonoma also does a similar style but in reclaimed pine with a white marble top. The marble is great for hot pots, and if you like to make pastry, marble is the best surface for rolling out your dough. It has deep drawers and a lower shelf.
Reclaimed Pine & Marble Island, Double. 45 1/2"L x 24"W x 36"H. $1900. Single Island. 24"L x 24”W x 36" H. $1267. At Williams-Sonoma.
8. Pottery Barn offers a rustic work table, also in reclaimed pine called the Hamilton Reclaimed Wood Marble-Top Kitchen Island. I like the double shelf — perfect for storing platters — the two deep drawers with dark iron hardware, the white marble top, and the casters. Slated shelves are a nice touch.
Hamilton Reclaimed Wood Marble-Top Kitchen Island. 52"L x 30"D x 36"H. $2514. At Pottery Barn.
9. From Crate & Barrel we found the Belmont Black Kitchen Island. The colour is a nice change, the butcherblock top looks great with the black painted base and the unit has lots of closed storage and two drawers, plus two towel racks. It has a leaf that drops down, but in the photo it's shown up, so it must run the length of the unit and just folds up and locks into place so it forms an overhang for you to sit at. Clever.
Belmont Black Kitchen Island. 44.25"L x 20.5"D x 36.5"H. $660. At Crate & Barrel.
10. Finally, also from Crate & Barrel, comes this classic French patisserie table in black iron with a white marble top called the French Kitchen Island. The top is polished Carrara marble and the lightness of the base and lower shelf make it perfect for a small kitchen.
French Kitchen Island. 54.5"L x 28"D x 36.5"H. $1322. At Crate & Barrel.
Now that this is such a big trend I'm sure there will be many more versions of kitchen work tables available this coming year so keep your eyes open for new ones on the market.
If you decide to have a custom work table built, one tip is to be sure to find a place to install an electrical outlet. I often use my food processor and mixer and blender on my work table and having the plug nearby is essential. It also gives you the option of placing a small lamp on the work table which creates nice mood lighting, especially when you're entertaining.
Jennifer Zakariassen, a devout H&H reader, was catching up on her summer reading with our June 2013 issue and came across my column about bargain finds. I asked readers to share photos of great finds they've come across, and Jennifer sent me her photos of these amazing wishbone chairs by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner.
"A year and a half ago, my husband and I were on our way to my sister-in-law's house when we came across a heap of old furniture and garbage on the side of the road (we live outside of Ottawa). As we drove by, I happened to see the shape of a "Y" and immediately asked my husband to stop the car. Having read House & Home for years, I'm familiar with the ever-popular Hans Wegner wishbone chairs. I couldn't believe my eyes when I turned one over and it was stamped with a 'Made in Denmark'. There were four chairs, and only one was broken (but the piece was with the chair). The seats were a little worse for wear. My husband, the great sport that he is, loaded them in the car, cobwebs and all. I explained our good fortune as we drove off.
I really want to put them to use, so I'm looking at getting the seats and broken chair fixed. However, I have to be careful not to devalue them. I'm not even sure what they're worth, although to me they are priceless! Talk about a bargain find!"
Share your own bargain finds by commenting below!
For those not-so-lucky in bargain finds, new Hans Wegner wishbone chairs are available through Design Within Reach (starting at about $900 each).
1-2. Jennifer Zakariassen