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Friday, March 20

Paring Back For Spring

The new spring cleaning? Living with less.

Not sure where to start with your spring cleaning? How about paring back, simplifying and decluttering? Start with one room at a time so it's not too overwhelming. Here are some tips for making your rooms a little less cosy and a little more airy.

1. Pare back furniture. Take a look at your big pieces of furniture and reduce where possible. Only keep your essential pieces and consider selling or storing things you may not use like small end tables, poufs and ottomans (the small pieces we introduce for a layered, cosy look in the winter months). There should be breathing space around the pieces that you do keep. Clear as much clutter off of the floor as possible (stacks of boxes, books, toys, etc.).

2. Reduce clutter. Next, clean up your surfaces. Can you reduce the decorative items on your coffee and side tables? Can you move some of the small appliances on your kitchen counters into cabinets or a pantry? Can you store things on your bathroom counter in cabinets underneath instead? Try to edit the items in plain sight to just those that need to be out. The key to keeping this functional is to store the items very close and easily accessible to where they're used most often. If you have to fumble around in a cabinet because it's too full, you'll be less likely to put it away. While you're on a roll, maybe purge your cabinets of things you don't use. Be honest with yourself about how often you use something. If it's not often, perhaps you can go without and give it to someone who will actually use it.

3. Look up. Lastly, have a look at your vertical spaces like walls and bookshelves. Is your home (or one room) painted multiple colours? Sticking to a monochromatic colour scheme can bring a sense of calm and minimalism to a space. Do you have a busy gallery wall? Consider paring it back a bit. Or swap the smaller pieces for a few larger ones, so that there are fewer pieces but the gallery still fills the same amount of space. Go through what's on your bookshelves; keep what you actually use as is, and corral smaller bits into large display boxes.

In the end, a minimal look can have varying degrees, and you have to choose what's right for your taste and lifestyle. But starting out with these tips can jump start your spring cleaning. Happy organizing!

Find more inspiration in our photo gallery of Jennifer Post's Minimalist Spaces.


Carl Lapointe


André Rider


Bed, Riva 1920; bed linens, Frette; side table, branch, MA Mobilier Actuel.


House & Home September 2014 issue

Friday, March 13

Shopping For A Sofa

Tips for buying a timeless piece.

Need a new sofa? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when shopping for this investment piece:

1. Measure your space. Where is the sofa going? Will you want to fit end tables as well? You want to find out how much room your new sofa can take up. If you have an existing sofa that you're replacing, why are you replacing it? Do you want something smaller, larger, or the same size? Resist the urge to buy a sofa on a whim without measuring it first — unless you're sure you can return it. We come across many too-large sofas that were the result of a size misjudgment, and it can throw a room's whole look off.

2. Know your delivery route. This step is often forgotten and can cause problems come delivery time. Imagine your future sofa is being delivered: which route will it take from the delivery truck to its spot in your home? Are there any tight corners to go around, stairs to climb, or narrow doorways to squeeze through? Sofas are large pieces of furniture, and you should be aware of any narrow spaces it will have to travel through to end up where you want it. Know the particulars of these possible trouble spaces and have measurements on hand, that way you can consult with your sales person on appropriate sofa sizes or styles. (You may need removable legs or a lower seat back.)

3. Finally, go shopping! Keep your focus on the style and dimensions of the sofa rather than the colour or fabric. Most often, you will have a choice of fabrics. Sit in everything, even if the style doesn't appeal to you — you may learn something that you do or don't like (firmness, arm height, back height, seat depth). Any knowledge you gain regarding your personal comfort, likes and dislikes will help you be a more informed shopper and narrow down the choices. Bring along other members of the household that will be sitting on the sofa too. Your body dimensions are likely different, so you'll find different sofa proportions more or less comfortable — the trick is to find a happy medium. Lay down, cross your legs, sling a leg over the arm! If you find something that's comfortable to sit in and meets your other requirements (style, size, price), don't forget to test it like you would use it at home. Sitting straight up is a perfect first test, but if that isn't the way you always sit or lay, make sure to test out your favourite relaxing, movie watching, laptop using positions.

See our photo gallery of Budget-Friendly Sofas for more tips.


Sarah Hartill


Michael Graydon


Sofa, G. Romano; sofa and throw pillow fabrics, Robert Allen; pillow sewing, Tonic Living; armchairs, LH Imports; stool, floor lamp, Hollace Cluny; bench, Elte; shutters, Canada Custom Shutters.


House & Home February 2014 issue

Friday, March 6

Turning A Closet Into A Work Space

Tips for converting an awkward niche or closet.

Do you have an awkward niche or tiny closet that is too small to be functional? Why not convert a kitchen nook or cramped closet into a compact work space? Closets in old homes and condos tend to be small, so we're seeing more and more homeowners dedicating a separate wall (or room) to customized closet cabinets. If this is an option in your space, consider building a whole new closet system to suit your specific needs, and instead use the existing closet as home office. This can be especially useful in a condo with a second, smaller bedroom.

You can insert a desk with the right dimensions into the closet, or you can maximize space by customizing a deep shelf or piece of wood to the width of your niche. Install it by affixing the shelf (now a desk top) with brackets to the interior walls at an appropriate desk height. Most desks are about 28-31" in height. Install narrow shelves up top to store books, baskets and supplies. Consider adding a cork board or a white board to help you stay organized.

Depending on the type of closet doors you have, you may want to remove them and keep your work space open and accessible. Sliding doors could be cumbersome if they only expose half the space at a time. Or if you have doors that aren't in the way, keep them in place so you can close up your compact office and keep it all tucked away!

Find more inspiration in our photo gallery of Double-Duty Offices.


Tracey Ayton


Chair, Restoration Hardware; desk, Canadian Heritage Timber Company; lamp by Ralph Lauren, HomeSense.


House & Home June 2013 issue

Stylist: Rick & Lorna Penner
Friday, February 27

Trading In Typical Nightstands

Tips for choosing an alternative.

Typically nightstands come in fairly standard sizes, so we often see bedrooms with too-small nightstands next to a larger bed. If you have a small nightstand with lots of empty space next to it, consider a larger piece of furniture instead of a nightstand. Keep the proportions and size of the room in mind when choosing new furniture, of course.

If you have the space to swap out your nightstand for something larger, and need to maximize storage, try a dresser. Other great options are a console table, writing desk or vanity table. The larger surface area is the perfect spot to store more books, boxes and decorative objects, plus offers the functional advantages of a writing desk or vanity. Try using a tray to corral items together.

Remember that you don't need matchy-matchy nightstands in a bedroom, and it's much more interesting if they're different sizes and have different functions — closed vs. open storage, for example.

If you only have space for one small nightstand, you can still swap it out for something more interesting: Try an ottoman with a tray on top, a stack of suitcases or books, a rustic stool or even a small chair if you don't need extra storage. If you do need storage, how about a basket under a leggy chair? The possibilities are endless! Be creative and think outside the nightstand.


Angus Fergusson


Wall colour, Pale Powder (204), Farrow & Ball; console, Ikea; rug, duvet, cover, Elte; pillows, coverlet, Lucca; headboard fabric, Designer Fabrics; table lamp, green-framed painting, Burnett; suitcases, 1212 Décor; stool, ChairTableLamp; blue box, green tray, L'Atelier; gold boxes, pink and cream stone boxes, tabletop mirror, perfume bottles, jewelry, Cynthia Findlay Antiques; wood boxes, framed clover, Angus & Company; hanging mirror, Morba.


House & Home Best Decorating 2012 special issue

Stylist: Joel Bray
Friday, February 20

Creating The Perfect Gallery Wall

Three tips for a professionally curated look.

Gallery walls are definitely a challenge, and although there are plenty of tips on how to figure out your layout, there are a few important things to consider first.

1. Choose varying sizes. A common mistake is to choose art that is too small. Take into consideration how large your wall is and be sure to scale your pieces accordingly. Too many small pieces on a large wall can look overly crowded and busy. Choose pieces that vary in size and shape to create different focal points — the larger pieces will attract the eye, while the smaller pieces will become the supporting elements. Shake up the look with something that is oddly shaped like a piece of sculpture that isn't framed.

2. Think outside the frame. If you have the opportunity to do so, try to incorporate furniture. Adding a console or credenza to the gallery wall will provide a surface for elements like sculpture or lighting that become a part of the gallery, making it more dynamic and interesting.

3. Make use of the whole wall. A gallery wall should feel loose and collected, and if your gallery is strictly concentrated at eye level or the centre of the wall, it can feel unfinished. Utilize negative space near the ceiling and floor, even though it may feel unnatural to hang art that high or low. Once you step back, the entire collection will feel more finished.

See our photo gallery of Great Gallery Walls for more tips and inspiration.


Virginia Macdonald


Black and white scribble art (two pieces), PI Fine Art; black vase, The Elegant Garage Sale; black bowl, Georg Jensen.


House & Home March 2011 issue

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