I'm a big believer in reusing and recycling vintage furniture to give new designs soul and history. Even if your sofa, carpet, lamps and curtains are brand spanking new, you should always try to incorporate something vintage to really bring the composition to life.
Vintage chairs, sofas and ottomans are the perfect way to do this. They usually have unique shapes, beautiful scale and lines, and were made from sturdy materials to stand the test of time. If you find a solid vintage piece of furniture at a reasonable price, you can have it recovered in something fresh and interesting.
Windsor Smith's pieces may be new or old, I'm not sure, but they're certainly keeping with vintage designs and styles. Notice how they used a daring ikat print on one chair? It really makes this room.
Here are some vintage upholstered pieces I've found in my travels. Some of them still torture me with regret — why didn't I buy them?!?! They're so wonderful!
With a little imagination and some fantastic and fun fabric, you can get the look of the Windsor Smith ikat chair or these examples below from Peter Dunham and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Give it a try!
See this DIY Chair Makeover to see how I transformed an occasional chair with a bit of paint and fabric.
1. House Beautiful
2-7. Michael Penney
8. Gloria Chair, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
9. Cole Chair Ottoman, Hollywood at Home
10. Hemingway Chair Upholstered, Hollywood at Home
11. Zondra Chair, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
12. Cole Chair, Hollywood at Home
Decorating a large expanse of wall can be tricky. There are tried and true options such as a gilded mirror, a gallery wall of framed photos, a large screen, and so on. But if you're tired of these, why not consider a collection of ceramics on your wall? Something like this:
Here, we've got a whole bunch of blue and white ceramics — plates, decorative tiles, saucers, and even architectural tiles meant for the floor or a fireplace surround. There are chinoiserie, Moroccan and even Delft motifs here, but they are held together by the common blue and white theme. Also, they're placed in this symmetrical graphic pattern and this, too, holds the many designs together. I like the idea of painting the wall itself blue to pick up on the ceramics and make the grouping hang together as one cohesive look. It's totally unique and unexpected and really makes a statement above this fireplace, don't you think?
You can get a similar look with a bunch of decorative plates of various sizes like this collection from John Derian.
How gorgeous is this one?! If John Derian's shop in New York is too far to travel — I'd be in this group, by the way — you can hunt high and low at thrift shops, antique stores and flea markets to create your own blue and white ceramic collection to hang on your wall. Just get ready for the ooohs and ahhhs!
Once in a while you stumble upon images so beautiful they take your breath away. The design landscape is cluttered with so many photos and projects and opinions and trends, that when you see work like Amy Merrick's flower arrangements, you just stop and appreciate. Amy's styling is all about the simple beauty in nature, carefully coaxed into splendor by the hands of an artist.
You may know her from her work on design*sponge, or her charming blog An Apple A Day, or her floral designs for former employer Saipua in Brooklyn, New York. Amy has just launched a new website, Amymerrick.com, and it is full of such lush beauty I just had to share it with you!
Influenced, I think, by the famous 20th century British florist, Constance Spry, Amy incorporates fruit, berries and natural elements with flowers, ferns and foliage to create romantic arrangements like these.
Images on Amy's blog feature her family's charming country cottage in New Hampshire.
Some images are light and springy...
... and some are dark and moody. All are absolutely beautiful and will give you a breath of fresh, inspirational air. You may never look at flowers, fruit — or even weeds for that matter — in the same light again.
Be sure to check out Amy's gorgeous site soon!
For more inspiration, see our Easy Flower Arrangements gallery.
For years now I've been wailing and complaining that no affordable retailers have been offering sensibly priced 'global' decorating staples. You know, those block print cushions, suzanis and ikats we all love? The ones that can cost an arm and a leg?
Well, West Elm must have heard my griping because this season they've got a ton of global decorating items to choose from. Even just one will liven up your space with earthy, saturated pattern and style.
Here are my faves:
The new Tribal Jute Rug feels like it was just carried back from some far-off land and has a pleasing mix of warm colours and classic black. The jute material keeps it organic and textural.
West Elm always has great, large-scale baskets including the Ikat woven collection with black and white stripes. Perfect for firewood or laundry.
The Kantha quilted throw collection has tons of amazing colour and texture and would wake up a basic sofa instantly!
The hand-blocked Jaipur collection of bedding comes in this tomato-red colour or a soft grey. It's priced really really well for such beautiful handmade work.
The Organic Carved Circles Duvet Cover in this luscious mustard colour can feel both global and modern at the same time. I love it paired with these taupey walls and traditional details.
The Kantha collection of hand-quilted cushions are made from repurposed saris. How lovely are these?! Each one has a unique history and will add a soulful layer in your home.
Actually, West Elm has lots of block printed cushion covers in many shades. There's everything from blue to green and yellow to neutral! Take your pick and save tons of cash!
These Hammam Soap Dishes would add Turkish bath style to any boring bathroom for only $6!!!
And the Bubbles Ceramic Stool would make a perfect perch in the bathroom or a side table in a living room. Organic and exotic, this stool is right on trend and so affordable.
The Naturalist bowl collection is great for setting the table or even better for a vignette on a coffee or side table. Viewing these gorgeous global patterns from above shows off their best side.
Or for a cleaner, easier to swallow hit of the global trend, these Modernist bowls and mugs will add some cheery colour to your kitchen.
Thank goodness we can all get in on the lush global look without breaking the bank at the boutique — or travel agency!
To see global style at its best, tour through designer Karen Cole's home.
1-11. West Elm
Most times I tell you about my antique hunting out in the country, at flea markets and old barns. Well, sometimes the best antiquing is done closer to home. Cynthia Findlay Antiques in Toronto is an amazing resource for all sorts of antiques, specializing in fine and costume jewelry from the past as well as every sort of china, glassware and silver. We use their beautiful wares at House & Home over and over again because there really is no other place that can compare!
This week I went scouting for new (old) finds and wanted to share some of Cynthia's treasures with you.
This sober and sophisticated Wedgwood Queensware caught my eye immediately. It's subtle and a true classic — you'd have this forever and could add and add to your collection.
Another long-time fave of mine is this collection of lusterware. It has a pink metallic glaze and exotic motifs that make it so interesting and romantic.
Planning a summer trip? Do it in style with some vintage LV luggage from Cynthia Findlay! Or use these pieces as fashion-forward accessories in your home.
Back to Wedgwood. How about this case full of unusually coloured Jasperware? They've got lots of traditional blue, but these green, pink and clay coloured items are amazing!
In homage to Prince William and Catherine's royal visit to Canada, Cynthia's even pulled out this collection of vintage maple leaf pins — just like the ones the Queen and Kate have worn while visiting!! Any monarchist worth their salt has got to pick up one of these rhinestone babies!
And everyone knows I'm a sucker for blue and white porcelain! This wall of platters is but a small sampling of what Cynthia stocks. In fact, it was from this collection that I found my very own Blue Willow platter, now hanging on my dining room wall.
If china's not your thing, how about a vintage car? A toy, yes, but an amazing accessory for the home? Why not?!
Cynthia Findlay has lots of white and cream ceramics to use at home on your mantel, shelf or that certain spot that just needs something...
They also have gorgeous old maps and architectural renderings to frame up. So beautiful!
Or perhaps you're in the market for someone else's ancestral painting?
For kitschy fun, Cynthia stocks cheerful Fiestaware...
And West German pottery!
But my favourite find of the day had to be this old framed photograph. This type of sporting image is all the rage, very J.Crew, but I love it for its bold geometry, subtle shades of grey and sepia and those crazy oars! Plus the vintage frame is perfect as is!
When checking out Cynthia Findlay Antiques in Toronto, be sure to take your time, ask lots of questions — Alex is my go-to guy — and have fun sifting through the decorative ages.
To see how I've incorporated some of my favourite vintage finds, browse through the photo gallery of my new house.
Plus, find retail listings for Cynthia Findlay and more in our Online Shopping Guide!
1-16. Michael Penney
What to do if you've got great style and no money? How do you create the living space of your dreams when you've got to be frugal and realistic with your pocketbook? If you're just starting out and need to fill, for example, your first living room, might I suggest these affordable finds?
Let's say this is your "before" shot. A sweet apartment living room in Toronto's beaches neighbourhood, with lots of detail and character. You're off to a good start!
The search begins with the biggest investment piece — a sofa. I found this one for under $750 at Guff! Its classic shape and neutral, fresh colour allows us to go in any direction we want with the other colours and pieces.
Next, we need some chairs. I found these perfectly scaled bergere chairs at a hotel liquidator in Oakville for only $55 each! They're small enough that they won't take up too much room and can easily be moved around to suit different seating arrangements. Plus, with open legs and arms, your eye sees right through them, keeping the space feeling open and large.
But that upholstery has to go! I'd go for a few yards of this punchy grassy-green and watermelon coloured ikat from Designer Fabrics in Toronto. Since you wouldn't likely need more than six yards for two chairs, and it only costs $17 per yard, you'd have your fabric for about $100. Upholstering two chairs might cost $700, so add it all up and you're looking at about $900 or around $450 per chair, which is still pretty reasonable.
To hold the TV, stereo, books, DVDs and everything else you have to hide in a small space, I'd opt for a handsome armoire like this one from the same hotel liquidator. I'd try to buff up the wood with sandpaper and keep it natural along with the tarnished brass hardware for a substantial, traditional note in the room. At $105, it's the deal of the century!
For occasional tables, I'd opt for a mix of old and new. These marble topped end tables are a steal at $113 each from Funk & Gruven A-Z in Belleville, Ontario. I would keep the marble as is and paint out the base of the tables, probably in a chalky poppy seed grey colour, highlighting the texture in the carved Greek key design.
For the new component, I'd head over to Ikea for this $90 modern waterfall-style coffee table. Clean, simple and lets the more ornate side tables do the talking.
We'd want to marry the whole grouping of furniture together and add an organic note with a jute rug like the Vejen from Ikea — again, under $200.
When it comes to lighting, I think throwing off expectations and going for something slightly industrial would be interesting. These black metal lamps from Bowring are under $50 each and would look fantastic on either end of the sofa.
With the green and watermelon ikat fabric on the chairs, it's time to pick a wall colour. White would work of course, but I'd go for something daring and handsome. Maybe even faux lacquer the walls (using high-gloss paint) in a yolky-yellow hue like Babouche (223) from Farrow & Ball.
Then I'd repeat the fabric's pink with some simple solid cushions from Crate & Barrel on the neutral sofa.
Over the sofa I'd hang this round detailed mirror from Captain's Treasures Antiques and paint the frame white.
Then I'd add some of these plaster-looking plaques from West Elm (on sale now!) in a loose, free-form drift over the sofa. So, maybe one big mirror and three plaques; two on one side, one on the other.
Here's a snapshot of the whole scheme together. Fun right? It's classic but cheeky, tailored, yet fresh.
Here's the budget breakdown:
Chairs (all in with fabric and reupholstery costs): $910
Carrera side tables: $225
Coffee table: $90
Pair of lamps: $80
3 gallons of paint: $120
3 cushions: $75
3 plaques: $80
Grand Total: $2,705
Not dirt cheap, but certainly a really great price for a sophisticated and fully furnished space like this. Now all you have to add are some fresh flowers and call it a day!
See another Colourful Apartment Makeover I did for some friends of mine with a tight budget.
3, 5. Moveline Liquidations
4. Peyton Ikat, Designer Fabrics
6. Funk & Gruven A-Z
7. Expedit coffee table, Ikea
8. Vejen rug, Ikea
9. Union Metal Task Lamp, Bowring
10. Babouche (223), Farrow & Ball
11. Nolan Magenta 20" pillow, Crate & Barrel
12. Captain's Treasures Antiques
13. Stray Dog Sea Life Plaques, West Elm