I’m an avid animal lover and I can’t imagine living in my home without my beautiful cats (from left to right) Z, Tomba, Acorn and Po. Here are all of them checking out the new yard after having just moved into our current home. With four cats (believe it or not, I once had five + a Westie!), I’ve had to deal with every kind of mess, furniture damage and pet issue you can imagine. Here are some of my tried and true tricks for designing a home to work for you and your pets.
If you are set to renovate, work your pet’s storage and behavioural needs into the design for a seamless look. If you have the space, consider a dedicated dog-washing station by the back door, like the one in this year’s Princess Margaret Welcome Home Sweepstakes showhome. Or design a dedicated pet room like the one featured in our October 2010 issue (above). Either will make it far easier when you bring your pooch home from the park with dirty feet.
My signature design move for clients with cats is this litter box cubby configured into built-ins by a front or back door (I did the same in my own place). The cats love to use them and it’s a great way to keep an unsightly litter box out of sight. And if they track any litter from their paws, at least it’s by the door. Keep in mind you should always have one litter box more than the number of cats you have to keep everyone happy.
I don’t believe in de-clawing cats — ever. Instead, I’ve become a pro at trimming my cats’ claws and I am careful in my fabric and carpet choices. I usually skip silks and velvets and stick to cottons and wools. Carpet-wise, natural fibres like seagrass and sisal actually stand up really well to cat claws. The chunkier the seagrass, the less noticeable your cat’s handiwork will be. I have the diamond-patterned seagrass shown in this room, from The Red Carpet & Rug Co., and it was well worth the investment because it’s so durable. Plus, natural wool carpets are especially easy to clean. Be sure to have your carpets fibre protected — it makes such a difference when it comes to cleaning them.
I loved this idea of working a dedicated spot for your dog or cat into the bottom portion of a window seat design to sidestep any messy pet beds eating up valuable floor space. This photo is from the book Animal House Style (2001 Bulfinch Press) by Julie Szabo. It’s full of great tips and inspiring photography of pets at home.
Of course you can’t build in everything (especially where space is an issue), so your pet’s loose accessories have to work with the look of your home. I loved this DIY cat scratching post that is basically a flat painted block with a coir-wrapped pole mounted vertically in the centre (I actually made one myself a few years ago and all of my cats loved it). It has a clean, modern look — so much better than the store-bought carpet-wrapped versions.
Normally I wouldn’t suggest going out and spending a ton of money on pet-specific products, because they far prefer sleeping on your stuff anyway, but if you’re in the market for a dog bed, I love this cool acrylic one. And I feel the same about this raised pedestal cat bed, which feels like a sculpture. Place an Ikea Rens Sheepskin in it and you will have one happy cat. And it might keep them from sleeping in the salad bowl or bathroom sink.
Another must-have with pets is slipcovers. I have them fibre-protected or Scotchgarded as well. The beauty of slipcovers is that you can throw them into the washing machine in a flash for any doggy or kitty accidents.
My cats love to perch up high and look out over the action. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep Po off my island.
If you have a kitchen like this one by Steven Gambrel with tons of gorgeous marble, bear in mind that perching cats also have a habit of throwing up now and again, so treat your counters with a triple seal to protect them from acid damage. You can get it from any stone supplier.
Hanging art low over food dishes is a cute way to bring your furry roommates into your decor.
I share my love of design and animals with Martha Stewart. She even put her pet chow on the back cover of her current issue! I recently visited her offices in New York (right) to meet her and see her new kitchen line carried at The Home Depot (they are beautiful by the way!).
While I was there, this lovely poodle hopped into a dog bed next to a laundry room set-up, and I thought what a great idea it would be to work a dog station into your laundry room or kitchen. And FYI, I swear by these glass jars for storing pet food — so much better looking than leaving it in the bag.
You want to do things that are fun for your pets but also work with your house (by the way, they also love radiant heat flooring!). And really, your pets want to cuddle up next to you more than anything. This is me with my cat Diego on the bed in my old house ...
... and my cat Cali on the daybed in the same house. These photos were taken years ago and both of them have since passed away.
Nothing makes me happier than finding Po lounging on my best Hermes blanket or Z tucked into the sheets enjoying them as much as I do. If you feel the same way, you will also love this Japanese website, or Desire to Inpsire's weekly Monday post on pets. I'll finish off with one of their adorable photos ...
For more stylish pet beds, check out editor Catherine MacIntosh’s blog post.
1. Suzanne Dimma
2. House & Home October 2010 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
3. House & Home Condos, Lofts & Apartments 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
4. House & Home April 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
5a. Julie Szabo’s Animal House Style (2001 Bulfinch Press)
5b. From High Fashion Home blog, as seen in Julie Szabo’s Animal House Style (2001 Bulfinch Press)
6-8. All from Julie Szabo’s Animal House Style (2001 Bulfinch Press)
9. Suzanne Dimma
10. S.R. Gambrel
11. House & Home June 2007 issue, photography by Joanne Tsakos
12a. Cover of Martha Stewart Living, photography by Leslie Williams
12b-13. Suzanne Dimma
14. Per Kristiansen
15-17. Suzanne Dimma
18. Desire to Inspire
To train for this weekend’s Walk To End Women’s Cancers, I ditched the car and my bike and walked to work as much as possible. What I found most interesting about it was how different the same streets and sidewalks can be when you can take the time to notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. I started taking a camera with me to capture some of these moments that were truly inspiring, which got me thinking about inspiration boards. It seems there is always a new way to use technology for filing and organizing, but there is something about the old-fashioned, tactile method of tacking images and mementos on a board that makes it like an ever-changing work of personal art.
I was recently in London visiting Colette van den Thillart, who is a principal in Nicky Haslam’s design office and one of the most stylish people I know. (Look out for her amazing house in the January 2011 issue, and be sure to watch this video tour of her cottage.) Her inspiration wall is in her office, and I love that she hung framed room renderings of Nicky’s from the 1970s on top of it. His renderings are so beautifully detailed; I just learned he was Princess Diana’s cousin!
Part of what makes Colette’s inspiration wall unique is that she has a section dedicated to silhouette cutouts of inspiring people. She includes design and life inspiration, plus things that make her smile — there are tons of shots of her kids. Check out the Queen in a McDonald’s uniform in the top left corner!
Another pretty inspiration board is Rachel Ashwell’s in her Shabby Chic store on Mercer Street in New York. She’s a pioneer of the comfortable, flea-markety design aesthetic, characterized by chipped wood furniture, drippy crystal chandeliers, simple but luxurious linens and tea-stained florals. I love the mix of written words with 3D bits and bobs — everything from dried flowers and prize ribbons to lace hankies and paint chips.
Designer Thomas O’Brien’s bulletin board in his New York apartment is anchored by a teak bookcase and makes a wonderful vignette. He has a knack for beautifully displaying his collections. I love the underlying inky blue colourway that holds it all together. The mix of loose casual pictures, valuable framed prints, a Javier Marin bronze sculpture and a Gio Ponti two-spout vase, along with other objets, makes this inspiration wall part of the decor.
Toronto stylist Sabrina Linn (her condo was featured in the August 2009 issue — see the tour here) also made her inspiration corkboard part of the decor by using it in place of a giant piece of art in her entryway. It becomes a design catch-all for all the bits you need to keep in one spot, making it a good cure for clutter, too!
Inspiration collages are also a great way to fill empty wall space, like the one featured in our October 2010 issue. It goes to show that you don’t need an actual board and pushpins — your wall and a little bit of glue goop works just as well. I love the free-form pattern here that can easily be added on to as you collect new things.
This is design editor Joel Bray’s own DIY inspiration board in his office. He built the frame and painted it grey to dress up a simple piece of corkboard. I like how he’s used grosgrain ribbon to create different sections. (Joel demonstrates how to make it in this video.)
I love the cool grey of this mood board and the mix of pendants and mementos hung from ribbons, letters and business cards, along with photos and paint chips. Continuing the display around the outside of the board adds to the effect.
I tend to use the frame of this oval mirror in my bedroom to stick pictures and mementos. It’s not really a proper inspiration board, but it’s a good example that just about anything can become a place for your keepsakes. And it adds a sense of personality and intimacy to your decor.Photo credits: 1-3. Suzanne Dimma 4. Martyn Thompson via Aero Studios, as seen in House & Garden November 2007 5. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon 6. House & Home October 2010 issue, photography by John Cullen 7. House & Home March 2010 issue, photography by Leslie Williams
8. Jeltje Fotografie, from the Style Files 9. Rob Fiocca
A kitchen is probably a home’s most important room, since we all like to hang out in them so much. Renovate your kitchen and it will completely change the way you live and increase the value of your home. The best kitchens not only work for how you like to cook but are timeless style-wise. Let's face it, a kitchen is a big investment and totally disruptive to replace. You don't want to do it more than once.
Last weekend I went up to my best friend Melanie’s cottage in Ontario’s Muskoka area. I was looking forward to swimming, canoeing, sitting on the dock — all of the things I love to do up north. Instead, I was hit with a bad flu, plus it rained most of the weekend. Fittingly, I found a huge stack of really old Martha Stewart magazines that we flipped through, possibly inspiring the theme of the weekend, since we spent most of the time indoors being domestic. This would not normally be my first choice of things to do, but we had the best time. Mellie was such a great host — entertaining me all weekend with her unstoppable energy, a plethora of indoor activities and fantastic cooking.
We found a great bread-making story in this old fall issue of Martha Stewart from 1995, which inspired these beautiful French rolls that Melanie made (above). We ate them with fresh farm butter and chicken soup, of course! She used this recipe (see below) from Breads: At the Academy (1993 Cole Group) from the California Culinary Academy.
(makes 18 rolls)
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm (105-115°F) water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5-1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Step 1: Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of the warm water in large bowl of electric mixer. Add sugar. Let stand until yeast is soft (about 5 minutes).
Step 2: Stir in remaining 1-3/4 cups water and salt. Add 4 cups of the flour. Mix to blend then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
Step 3: Gradually beat in about 1 cup more flour to make a soft dough.
Step 4: Turn dough out onto a board or pastry cloth floured with some of the remaining 1/2-1 cup flour. Knead until dough is springy and small bubbles form just under surface (10-15 minutes), adding just enough more flour to prevent dough from being sticky.
Step 5: Turn dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
Step 6: Punch dough down; knead dough lightly into a ball. Cover with inverted bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
Step 7: Divide dough into 18 equal portions. Knead and roll each into a ball, then use the palms of both hands to roll from either side to taper and elongate the ends (each roll should be about 5” long and 2” wide at centre).
Step 8: Place shaped rolls well apart on greased baking sheets. Let rise until puffy but not quite doubled (15-20 minutes).
Step 9: Preheat oven to 450°F. Using a razor blade, slash each roll down centre about 1/2” deep, almost from end to end.
Step 10: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until brown. Spray the top of the rolls with water after the first 3 minutes of baking and again after the second 3 minutes.
As well as being a chef and the owner of Season 2 Taste catering, Melanie is a master knitter in her spare time. Having just sent the October 2010 issue off to the printer, I was inspired by our Weekend Decorating story on felt — watch for it on stands September 7 — where we show a pattern for wool felt bowls that are boiled down from knitted versions. Melanie is always eager to get out the yarn and needles, so we spent an afternoon experimenting with our own knitted bowls. Here they are pre-felting. Hers is the vibrant red, mine of course is the light grey.
And this is her boiled, felted version that turned out perfectly. Next time we are going to double the pattern and go big!
To nurse me back to health, Melanie kept feeding me great food made from organic produce. We took a trip to the local farm and stocked up. Here’s Mel with the farm-owner Deb picking vegetables in the fields.
We loaded up on baskets of huge zucchinis, summer squash, mini potatoes, cucumber, purple and green beans and an assortment of fresh herbs. Everything was amazingly fresh and delicious, and when we got home Mel whipped up this amazing quinoa salad (below).
(serves 4 as a side dish)
1/2 cup white or natural quinoa
1/2 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Handful of chopped fresh basil, mint and parsley (or any combo of the 3)
1/2 a large sweet or Vidalia onion, finely diced
1 large tomato, finely diced or 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in halves
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/2 a jalapeño pepper (seeds removed), diced very fine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Combine white and red quinoa, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until all the water is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). Cool when done.
Step 2: Once the quinoa is cool, add the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Serve topped with crumbled feta or chickpeas.
At the end of the day, we walked down the road leading to the cottage to pick blackberries (above and below). They were growing in the brambles everywhere — so gorgeous! We rang our bear bells incessantly to make sure we had the blackberry bushes to ourselves.
When we got back, Melanie whipped up a big batch of blackberry jam that she called “Noir”. She gave me some to take home — my jars are labeled “Black and Blue” as a nod to my being sick.
I did manage to take the canoe out and go for a swim just before we left, but as it turned out, a weekend of laying low with cooking and crafts was just what the doctor ordered. I was totally inspired by Mel’s passion for cooking and came home with a few new recipes — I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Nothing makes me happier than being at the cottage, and the best part, of course, is being outside. Gathering with friends, dining under the stars, gazing at a gorgeous view — maximizing our experience outside is key. How the building connects to the land and designing the perfect deck or patio is especially important. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Thom Filicia’s 1930s bungalow lake house in Skaneateles, New York (above) is situated so close to the water that it feels like an extension of his dock. The small landing at the end of the dock provides a second private seating area, and adds a sense of grandeur to the long, narrow dock. Soft lighting from candle-filled lanterns is a must to light the way at dusk.
Filicia’s bench/railing would never pass code in Ontario cottage country, but I love the idea of a railing that acts as seating. So practical, and it keeps the view open. I have the same modern chimenea at my cottage, which my contractor found — they are perfect for outdoor fires. Filicia has decorated his deck like an outdoor living room, with small groupings of chairs and tree stump tables, and even an Ikea sheepskin rug to keep it cosy underfoot.
Here’s another alternative railing treatment — using chic ‘X’ Nantucket-style planter boxes in lieu of a railing. But they aren't going to keep anyone from falling off the edge after a few too many glasses of wine, are they? Still, I love the beachy vibe accentuated by gravel on the lower level, and the neat row of white Adirondack chairs punctuated by pots of white impatiens. You can’t beat the classic look of grey and white paired with flea-market finds for a lakeside retreat.
If you’re lucky enough to have big stretches of gorgeous granite like Michael King does at his Muskoka cottage, you can use it as a natural patio. Easy and gorgeous! And the less 'decor' you add to this the better. You don’t want to compete with all that natural beauty.
Tree-covered properties usually have less rock, so a free-form flagstone patio can re-create the effect of granite. Laying the stone flush with an entry amplifies the indoor-outdoor connection. Designer Anne Hepfer added warm cottage charm here with gingerbread detailing, a classic screen door and French-style windows.
I first saw this cottage at the architectural awards last year, and was blown away. Architects Meg Graham and Andre D’Elia of Toronto firm Superkül have done a beautiful job of blending the building into the landscape through a series of decks that seem to grow out of the rock. Every room in the house connects with the outside.
Designer Michelle Lloyd of Lloyd Ralphs Design has used a similar tactic with a low sprawling deck at her Lake Simcoe cottage (only one hour out of the city!). She decorated with an eclectic mix of Moroccan-style pillows, white lanterns, neutral side tables and rustic elements, and the grassy umbrellas play up the beachy vibe. Painting the edges of the deck white allows it to blend in with the whitewashed cottage.
I’ve always loved Christine Ralphs’ (the other half of the design duo) deck that runs off the front of her cottage. Believe it or not, it was actually difficult to find this image from the House & Home archives because we shot it so long ago! You would never guess because of her simple, timeless white-and-wood combo, accented with black butterfly chairs. Seven years later, it still looks current. What a spectacular place to dine! There is even a double chaise at the end that faces a view of the lake. You could easily sleep under the stars!
1-2. Domino August 2008, photography by Jonny Valiant
3. House & Home July 2005, photography by Ted Yarwood
4. House & Home September 2006, photography by Daniel Dutka
5. House & Home July 2009, photography by Michael Graydon
6. House & Home July 2009, photography by Tom Arban
7. House & Home July 2007, photography by Stacey Brandford
8. House & Home Summer 2003, photography by George Whiteside
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Milan furniture fair, Salone del Mobile, with Brian Gluckstein, Elaine Cecconi and Anna Simone of Cecconi Simone, as well as some of Canada’s top design journalists. It was quite the experience, mostly because we wound up in the midst of the Icelandic volcano chaos in Europe. We were hosted by Miele, and they pulled out all the stops to get us back to Canada safely. They commandeered a double-decker bus with its own café on the lower level to carry us through the Swiss Alps into Frankfurt, where we were lucky to get on a plane. And while the majority of the trip was spent figuring out how to get home, we did manage to see some great design moments in Milan and a few other places, too! It was quite the road trip.
This was my first time attending the show (hard to believe, having been in the design biz for so many years) and I was overwhelmed by its sheer size. If you took the size of Toronto’s Interior Design Show and multiplied it by three, that would give you the approximate size of one building in Milan. There were 20 buildings! It is massive and the amount of people is unreal.
To try to capture the extent of the crowds, I took this photo when I spotted a break in the rush of people moving along the main corridor. I jumped in and held my camera over my head, hoping I wouldn’t get trampled! There is no way you can see the entire show in two days. I only scraped the surface of the design and kitchen sections.
Probably the best part of the show was Eurocucina (the kitchen section) where there was a decided trend toward modern, streamlined kitchens. In fact, I counted no more than three traditional kitchens. And the predominant colour choices were pale grey, white, light grainy wood, or some combo of all three. Not a hint of wenge to be found anywhere. I loved the stainless steel and matte grey combo that was most popular.
Kitchen designs were extremely well integrated. This Arclinea kitchen was packed with people in awe of the giant 20-foot long island, including Brian, who was over the moon about this one. It was based on a professional, restaurant-style kitchen, complete with several custom functions: a plate warmer that could pop up and down, a retractable glass hood, a steamer, an open stainless steel cooking surface, even a fold-down sink!
Another section of the same space featured a wall of appliances neatly hidden behind closed doors, so that the inner workings of the kitchen are completely out of view. There was also a second island with an overhead shelf and hydroponic lighting, so you can grow your own greens indoors. Brilliant!
Appliances were also seamless — no sign of the bulky industrial stainless steel stoves and fridges that we have all been drawn to in the past few years. The Miele booth showed appliances that had white tempered glass front panels that would blend easily with an open-concept, lighter toned kitchen and living area. (Here are Brian and Anna checking it out.) Miele also featured a pop-up convection oven and retractable hood with touch technology similar to that of an iPhone or iPad.
I loved the combination of blond wood with matte white, as well as the elegant lines in this kitchen. It had a fresh, Scandinavian vibe.
I was particularly drawn to this trestle-style workstation with its solid surfacing top, trough sink and integrated plate storage and dramatic black hood. This booth had some fun styling and display ideas too, like painting old milk bottles, ladles and frying pans white and displaying them in rows and stacks for graphic impact.
Trough sinks were really big for bathrooms, too. I loved this light wood and stone version, with slatted lower shelving and a loose panel sideboard, for its rustic modern appeal.
The booths themselves offer a ton of creative inspiration. This is the exterior of another kitchen booth featuring massive crisscrossed pieces of back-lit chalky white flatware.
Or the B’ravo booth with floating chef hat lights and Polaroid art on slatted wooden walls.
And this one featuring carefully curated, boxed displays of timeworn artifacts.
Furniture-wise, there was a myriad of options, but one of my favourite booths was this one showing chairs and stools carved out of raw chunks of light wood.
The same booth featured this gorgeous Shaker-inspired wall, where shelves and storage hooks blend into the woodwork (literally) for efficient living. And there were raw wooden stools everywhere — often in place of chairs around the dining table.
There were some fantastic designs for kids, and they were a welcome burst of colour amidst all of the natural wood, stone and white finishes.
This is Karim Rashid’s booth (check out his H&H photo gallery too) — also very different and colourful compared to most of the show. It was almost glowing, and featured his futuristic feeling outdoor line of mesh metal furniture.
I was madly taking photos whenever I could get a clear view through all of the people. I couldn’t tell you where this shot is from, but it gives you a sense of the height of each booth and the amount of space they had to be creative with. I love the dramatic impact of the grid shelving as a backdrop to the bed — this style of grid shelving was everywhere. With its fitted leather storage boxes, this one stood out. And the horizontal striped drape (to the right) is so pretty. Neutral bed linens in natural textures were everywhere, too.
Flexform featured these stunning woven doe-coloured suede baskets filled with gorgeous box-shaped linen cushions in soft shades of lavender and putty.
Unfortunately, because we had to flee Milan in a hurry and board our bus that took us through the Alps (like a modern version of the Von Trapp family), our trip was cut short. Luckily we managed to see some gorgeous things along the way. We stopped at the famed Villa D’Este on Lake Como, but they wouldn’t let us in with our bus! So, we moved onwards to have lunch at this lovely Swiss restaurant in St. Moritz, called Steffani. I loved the feel of the space. The raw wood panelling, paired with gold framed oval portraits centered in the recessed panels, Frette linens, cute red and white drapes and a view to the Alps were a welcome break from the jam-packed whirlwind and crowds of the show in Milan.
The food was phenomenal as well. The best rosti potatoes you could imagine. Here is a photo of Brian and I, post-rosti and happy.
When we finally arrived at the airport in Frankfurt, the waiting areas were filled with cots, and sadly, lots of people stranded. We were pretty lucky to have made it home safely after our adventure. All of us, however, commented on how much we liked these fold-out cots! It’s hard to find natural canvas ones like these. If we could have figured out a way to get them in our luggage, we would have. Go figure, all of that gorgeous furniture in Milan and we get excited about the airport cots!
For more design show finds, check out Lynda Reeves’ blog from the SIDIM show in Montreal last year.
One of my favourite parts of decorating is the consideration of the artwork. The salon wall in the living room of the house that I live in with my husband, Arriz, is probably its best feature. Personally, I will invest in any piece that I am drawn to, regardless of who made it or where I find it (within my budget, of course). I frame each piece to suit the art — so there’s no particular repetition of style or colour in the framing, but it works.
I picked up the gold-framed pieces by B. Munch at the bottom of this portrait from a fantastic print gallery in Paris, Galerie d’Art Martine Namy Caulier. Every time I’m in France I make sure to stop by and inevitably pick something up.
Last summer I purchased this stunning photograph of monkeys grooming themselves on a wall in India by Anthea Baxter-Page, who was showing her work at the Rectory Café on Toronto Island. I was taken by the soft painterly effect of her work — more like a watercolour painting than a photograph — as well as how it captures the quiet intimacy of a moment in the animal world set against the striking Eastern architecture. I chose a simple white frame and matting and it is stunning. It is hanging in my front hall so it's the first thing I see when I walk in the door.
Anthea is showing her work again at Toronto’s Alison Milne Design Studio starting this week. The show, India: Life and Lens, documents her travels through India and captures the spirit of the country. Like the print of the monkeys, her work’s painterly lighting perfectly captures the simple beauty of everyday events.
I am hoping she will be showing this photo of a utilitarian room with mundane objects randomly placed on the floor. The room’s elemental nature, juxtaposed with its deeply saturated blue walls, intricate armoire and the large centre window struck a chord with me. So basic, yet so beautiful. It reminds me of the small Bunkie at my cottage, where everything you need is within arm’s reach. It’s about living in a space stripped of everything but necessity.
Her still life of a rustic scale painted the same colour as the wall has a similar quality.
My dear friend, photographer George Whiteside, recently partnered with his nephew, artist Harley Valentine, to open a terrific new gallery on Toronto’s Dundas Street strip called One 800 Gallery. They renovated the space themselves, and it is fantastic (above are exterior and interior views).
The most recent exhibit was a show of Toronto’s busiest, international fashion photographers, 4XFive, with works by Chris Nicholls, Miguel Jacob, Chris Chapman, Michael Williams and George Whiteside.
And I loved the opening show a few months ago that featured George’s film series — I am still considering purchasing this photo. (Enter our contest and you could win one his prints!)
Up next at One 800 is an exhibition exploring the pervasive influence of photography, as part of Contact, Toronto’s month-long photography festival.
Another gallery favourite of mine is Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects. Katharine has a phenomenal eye for selecting artists. Every time I stop by, I am spellbound. Back in the fall she showed a series of small paintings of mundane suburban buildings like this one that were absolutely exquisite. It's so detailed and realistic, it’s hard to believe it’s a painting, not a photo.
I popped by last week and, while the gallery was sadly closed, there was this striking piece in the window.
Another great source for art in Toronto, and a favourite of stylists, is Art Interiors. The girls there rep a lot of talented established and up-and-coming artists. Check out the website, too, because they post a lot of work that you can buy online. They make buying art fun and not intimidating. I bought this tiny etching called Le Faon by John Graham years and years ago and still love it. If you don’t have a big budget, check out the $250-and-under collection, and keep an eye out for the festival of ‘smalls’ exhibit they do every fall from mid-November to December. Prices are from $55 to $250, so don’t wait until the end because they sell out quickly.
There are also a ton of great online sites popping up where you can buy all types of work in any price range, but there really is something to be said for the experience of having a piece of art affect you in person. Check out your local art schools, because the end of the semester is near and there will be plenty of graduate exhibits to discover the next great up-and-comers on Canada’s art scene.
For more tips on buying and displaying art, see our Art Advice Guide.
1. All the Best blog, photography by Rob Fiocca
2. Anthea Baxter-Page
3. Alison Milne Design Studio
4-5. Anthea Baxter-Page
6a. One 800 Gallery
6b. Alison Milne Design Studio
7-8. One 800 Gallery
9. Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects
10. Suzanne Dimma
11. Ryan Louis
My husband, Arriz, and I recently took a vacation to San Miguel de Allende, a city in the mountainous Guanajuato region of central Mexico. It wasn’t the typical beach holiday; it was more like a trip to Paris — Mexican style. The winding cobblestone streets, mild weather, and preserved colonial architecture have made it popular with travelling artists, students and designers. It was designated a national monument in 1926, so there are no neon signs or modern buildings. The town’s timeworn beauty is quite stunning and there’s a sophisticated but laid back vibe that makes it cool but unpretentious. Layer a modern, stylish city on to the historically rich backdrop, and the look is that trendy mix of old and new that we try to recreate here. I haven’t come back from a vacation this inspired and excited in a long time.
Like many Mexican cities, San Miguel is walled, with all of the buildings meeting the sidewalk. The buildings have no particular identity at street level beyond the front wall, and of course the front door. There are some brilliant door designs and, because there are so many skilled metal workers, it’s easy to spot some unique hardware, too. I loved the raised diamond panels on this blue grey painted door. Brought back home and maybe painted in a super high gloss finish, it could have a Hollywood glam feel.
The gold cow handle that I spotted on another door would be perfect for a kid’s bedroom door, and the simple gold trim around the keyhole is such an elegant and simple treatment.
A number of buildings featured brilliant colour combinations. This sea foam green wall paired with the black coach lamps, and reddish brown door was gorgeous. Imagine a bedroom with those green walls, reddish accents and the blue grey from the building next door on the ceiling. Stunning.
Most of the buildings are built around an inner courtyard, which was totally romantic. I stumbled upon some of the most breathtaking indoor-outdoor spaces by peering into doorways to see what might be hidden beyond. This is a typical doorway view with gorgeous patterned tile work, a colonnade of archways and the sun pouring into the courtyard. Pick up a copy of the May 2010 issue of House & Home on newsstands April 12th for some ideas on Canadian-friendly indoor-outdoor living.
It turned out that this particular courtyard led to the showroom for the exquisite Mexican furniture line, Casamidy (available in Canada through South Hill Home in Toronto). The partners behind it also design interior projects, many of which are featured in the book Casa San Miguel by Annie Kelly. Owners Jorge Almada and Anne-Marie Midy work with the best local craftsmen of wood and metalwork for their product designs, which reference Mexican ranching culture along with a French design influence. The pairing of the two is a perfect representation of this new design scene. This gorgeous daybed vignette is what appeared as I turned around the corner of the courtyard colonnade, it is a boutique called Mitu Atelier. Behind that is Casamidy's space, featuring their modern furniture lines displayed with gorgeous textiles, artwork, and antiques. I was in heaven.
I was taken by the way religious artifacts are worked into a lot of the Mexican interiors. Wooden crosses, Vigil candles, and Retablos (pieces of metal with religious prayers) are seen in most spaces. It was so rich and lush; so colourful and layered with history and meaning.
This is a shot from Jorge’s house up the street from his studio and store. It sums up a fresh Mexican style — the mix of white walls, religious artifacts (that’s an old altar behind the table) classic terracotta floor tile (I never would have guessed that I would be drawn to terracotta tile again after the Santa Fe look died in the '80s) and of course the stunning Casamidy furniture.
If you explore Casamidy’s website, you’ll notice that a lot of their photos are taken in an old, abandoned hacienda. While Arriz and I were there we drove out of town to see it and, inspired by its faded beauty, we spent over two hours taking photos of the decaying wallpaper and paint treatments.
I kept thinking that it would make a phenomenal location for a fashion shoot. And it reminded me of our weekend workshop, Faded Glory, from the March 2010 issue of House & Home.
Another store I came across was Mixta. They carry a combination of jewellery and decorative home décor items. This is a vignette in the store and you can see that it represents a younger, more vibrant style where bright colours and layers of pattern pop against the clean white plaster walls. Totally fresh!
Of course, it’s always a challenge to re-create a look from your travels. Often the things we fall in love with abroad (like those giant sombrero hats we try to drag on the plane) simply don’t translate back at home. This room illustrates a look that I think could work just as easily in Canada as it did in Mexico.
The curved mouldings, exposed wood ceiling, weathered doors, and the mix of antiques and modern furnishings create a fresh look that could easily be adapted back home. It could be that this Mexican style is on the design and decorating horizon for next year’s top new trends.
For more Mexican design inspiration, see Andrea Mills’ Modern Mexican Style blog.
I’m not exaggerating, or making it up, when I say that my favourite chore is to get my house organized. Instead of tackling it all at once from top to bottom, I find it more effective and rewarding to pick a spot and purge. For me, it tends to happen unintentionally. I start by rearranging a few spice jars, and next thing you know the entire pantry has been cleaned and organized. It feels fresh and new and makes working in the kitchen much more enjoyable. Our hot-off-the-press March 2010 issue is full of great ideas (pick up a copy to check out some of my favourite organizing products and ideas) — here are a few more I think are worth pointing out.
This built-in bookshelf in Max and Lubov Azria’s Los Angeles home is a smart mix of open shelving for display and closed lower cupboards to hide clutter. I love traditional library ladders, more for the look than their function. Even if you never use it, it’s nice to know it’s there. Painted out white, this one feels fresh and modern, especially with the contrasting green trim on the adjacent wall.
This is a great way to get the effect of a vertical storage cabinet: using open shelves that are already there. It’s slightly impractical, unless you are super organized and don’t mind opening and closing all of those boxes over and over again (it would drive me crazy!). The bill quickly adds up when you have to buy multiple storage items, too. But there is something so appealing about a series of boxes lined up in neat rows. It’s the same reason we love the look of open shelves in a kitchen.
Because mornings tend to be frenzied, I prefer closed storage in the bathroom so I can hide everything out of sight in a flash. My biggest bathroom pet peeve is only having drawers to keep all of your bottles and products in — they never fit neatly. Inevitably, there are a few must-have products that are too tall. This is my bathroom in my first house and I loved having a vertical storage cabinet that kept everything hidden. I could see everything at a glance and get to it easily.
Agape’s new Cartesio 981 tub at Toronto’s Scavolini showroom Dekla, has storage smartly built right into it. It’s not cheap ($21,600) but at least it is multi-tasking! And stunning to look at if you keep the shelves tidy and uncluttered.
Stylist Sabrina Linn’s closet is a pass-through from the bedroom to the bathroom so it has to be organized. Her wardrobe includes so many amazing colours and patterns that her closet winds up feeling just as dynamic as the décor in the rest of her condo. Sabrina strategically placed Ikea shelving units high up on the wall to leave room for tall boot storage underneath. I highly recommend getting boot shapers to keep them upright. It’s better for your closet visually and for your boots.
Designer Michelle Lloyd of Lloyd Ralphs Design used storage to create a focal point in her own kitchen. The highlight is the weathered wood antique doors that line up with her table — its narrow shelves make it perfect for glassware. Adding to its impact and letting it breathe are the side cabinets with white painted caning. What a gorgeous detail — along with the chunky, brass hardware and exposed hinges.
Here is a great example of controlled chaos, again from Sabrina Linn. This is her bedside table — unique because it is so large and wide, allowing her to store and display a ton of items. This is the vignette you see as you walk into the bedroom. She definitely has a knack for styling her stuff so that it looks special.
This living room vignette shows a built-in that mixes open and closed storage — I love the subtle detailing that makes it special. Simply allowing the bottom cabinet to extend out from the wall makes that wood section feel like a floating credenza. Paired with the wide spacing on the white shelves above, it makes an elegant living room storage solution.
What is your best organizing or storage trick? Let me know at email@example.com.
For more storage ideas, view our Storage & Cabinets photo gallery.
1. Harper’s Bazaar, photography by Douglas Friedman
2. Living Etc
3. Photography by Per Kristiansen
5. From House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
6. Lloyd Ralphs Design
7. From House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
8. Unknown source: Help! Does anyone know where this shot comes from?
It’s that time of year, all the white sales are on and everyone seems to be thinking of creating a fresh home sanctuary, which usually involves the bathroom. There is a lot to be said for a clean, white, Carrara marble-clad spa escape (I have one myself!) but lately I’m inspired by a cosier, more homey look that seduces you into spending more time there. Here are a few of my favourite examples:
I’ve mentioned the impossibly stylish Jenna Lyons (creative director of J. Crew) before but I will again because who doesn’t love this chic black bathroom? I’m a big fan of the exposed tarnished brass plumbing — she weathered it herself by soaking it in salt water to remove the brassiness (keep an eye out for a patina story coming up in our April issue) — and the black walls and tub. Black bathrooms are a hot, hot trend right now and end up being far cosier than the predictable spa look. Check out the new flagship J. Crew store she designed that has a similar feel, featured in issue two of online magazine Lonny.
I have to find out where my friend Sarah Dinnick got this gorgeous tub. It is matte-coated so that it has a concrete-like finish, which coordinates with the heated concrete floors and galvanized metal window frame. Artwork and a kilim rug warm it up and give it another layer of style. I also love her extra-long, single towel bar that runs the width of the room.
The bathroom in the New York loft of Christiane Lemieux and Joshua Young, the dynamic duo behind Dwell Studio textiles, is all about the entrance. Raising it a couple of steps and adding double pocket doors makes it seem more spacious and grand. Again, a rug, a large ottoman and artwork on the ledge of the tub add character.
Continuing with the theme of furniture in the bathroom is this tailored, French hotel look that belongs to ex Domino magazine contributing editor Allison Sarofim. If you have a bathroom covered with '80s-style mirrored walls, adding wood framing is a great trick for making it feel current again. And cutting down on so many reflections of yourself!
This overly decorated look isn’t entirely my taste but it's fun and a big trend right now. I love bold colour in a bathroom and the moulding and marble backsplash around the tub are lighthearted and girly — I don’t think you could be cranky for long having a soak in here!
This space takes furniture in the bathroom to a whole new level and its cowboy-inspired, eclectic vibe is refreshingly not serious — definitely not your typical spa effect! An unfitted, country look like this is really easy to work with and change around often.
A cleaner take on cottage charm is designer Darryl Carter’s bathroom in his Virginia farmhouse. I love its rustic tub and sparse, almost monastery, vibe.
This modern bathroom designed by Dana Lyon shows an updated version of the tub and shower being integrated in a glass-enclosed wet zone, Euro style. The wood slatted siding on the tub gives it a sauna feel and warms up the marble tile. I think the real star of this room is the narrow window that maintains privacy but still permits a great view. It reminds me of a funny scene with Colin Firth in the bathroom of the John Lautner house that was featured in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. The art directors have distilled the hottest looks from the era that happen to be on trend today. I highly recommend seeing it for the juicy '60s style inspiration.
P. S. Our February 2010 issue just hit newsstands — pick up a copy for more inspiration and useful info if you’re planning your own bathroom reno.
1. Melanie Acevedo
2. James Tse
3. From House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Angus McRitchie
4. From Domino: The Book of Decorating (2008 Simon & Schuster), photography by Paul Costello
5. Etoile collection from Waterworks
6. From Domino: The Book of Decorating (2008 Simon & Schuster), photography by Eric Cahan
7. From Elle Decor, photography by Simon Upton
8. From Palm Design Group