Last weekend, I held a garage sale at my parents' home in Ancaster, Ontario. Despite the fact that I had never hosted one before, the sale turned out to be a huge success. Here is some advice to follow if you're planning a sale of your own:
1. Spend on advertising
Garage sale enthusiasts scour their local newspapers for listings. If your sale is taking place on a Saturday morning, you should place ads in your local daily on both Friday and Saturday (I also booked a Thursday ad in a weekly village paper). Many newspapers gave you a bonus listing online; some also offer free posters. Be descriptive in your word choice — are you hosting a garage sale? A contents sale? List any key items that could attract specific buyers. Our family was offering antique furniture, vintage books, old tools and garden decor; we mentioned all of these things in our description. I spent about $85 in advertising.
2. Take the day off work the day before (if you can)
A successful garage sale is a well-organized garage sale, and preparation takes time. Start with a clear-cut plan of action. The day before our sale, I cleaned out our entire garage, which gave us a blank slate to work with. I also made room in our backyard shed and in our basement. Don't wait until the night before to do the grunt work, or you'll be working into the wee hours of the morning.
3. Expect people to arrive early
If your sale starts at 8 a.m., count on the first people to arrive an hour early. (Ours started at 8 a.m. with the first buyers pulling up in front of our house at 6:45 a.m. A few furniture dealers actually came to our house the day before. I was happy to sell a few pieces in advance.)
4. Enlist a team of helpers
Leading up to the sale, my brother and sister-in-law did an incredible job of organizing our sale items into batches: in each room of our house, they made neat piles of all the things we'd be selling and clearly labeled them "For Sale" or "NOT For Sale!" They arrived bright and early on the morning of the sale, along with my niece and my partner. With five people working the sale, we were well covered.
5. Don't bother with pricing
Determine the going price of your important pieces beforehand. Everything else can be negotiated on the spot. Even though we had five people working at our sale, we decided that one of us needed to play the role of Tough Cop if buyers made low-ball offers (and they did). I had no problem saying no to an offer of a single dime for a lovely vintage leather-bound book!*
6. Merchandising is everything
Even though hosting a garage sale was new to me, I am no stranger to flea markets and antique shows. Here's what I've learned: display as much as you can on tables, so people don't have to bend down, and place similar objects together. I organized my family's collection of rose glassware and wine goblets on one table, and placed our crystal decanters, vintage cutlery and silver trays on another. Kitsch all got grouped together! When items start to sell, it's a good idea to either replenish or consolidate — no one likes the look of a sparsely laid table.
7. You can never have too many card tables
For a full-looking garage sale, plan on using 10-12 tables. Don't have enough? Ask your friends and neighbours if you can borrow theirs; offer them something free from the sale to say thanks! I set the tables out along the perimeter of our driveway, so that there was a nice flow of foot traffic.
8. Don't think it will sell? Think again
On the morning of our sale, my sister-in-law and partner emerged from our basement with a few dusty cardboard boxes filled with old copper pipe fittings, plumbing cast-offs and fishing tackle. They both thought we might be able to get good money for them. I was mortified. "No one will want that! Plus it doesn't look very nice!" I told them. Guess what things sold in no time flat?
9. People love to rummage
An addendum to #6 above: Even though attractive merchandising can make an everyday garage sale look more elegant, don't be afraid to include a few unorganized, haphazard boxes of "junk." People enjoy the thrill of the hunt! I was about to start organizing several boxes of old paperbacks and records onto shelves, until I saw how much people seemed to love the process of leafing though them.
10. A good back story goes a long way
I can't tell you how many times I closed a sale by offering up a fun anecdote about an object. "That glass demijohn you're looking at? My dad used to make wine in it every September!" "That framed print you're holding? It's in the style of Dutch Renaissance genre painting, and it hung above our fireplace for almost 30 years!" A little history goes a long way. Who doesn't want to bring home a fun story?
*Before you host your sale, it's a good idea to prearrange a pick-up of any items left unsold. We called a local charity and they were able to swing by after our sale. Gently used books and full sets of dishes are especially appreciated by charitable organizations.
Finally, I'll share with you list of what I found to be the most in-demand garage sale items. These were things that people either asked me for repeatedly, or pieces that we sold immediately, with no haggling whatsoever. If you have any of these items to sell, I'd suggest that you start thinking about hosting your own garage sale soon!
Our 5 Most Popular Items
- Teak furniture (preferably from the 50s or 60s)
- Vintage globes
- Antique wristwatches and jewelry
- Outdoor furniture
- Vintage tools
See a gallery of our editors' refurbished salvaged finds and read more about top flea market finds here.
Both The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post U.K. recently ran stories on the rise of the 'shelfie' – a buzzy word for the trend on social media of sharing photographs of artfully arranged items.
The habit is hardly news to design fans: we've been posting pics like these since the dawn of Instagram, when such shots were quaintly known as 'vignettes' or 'tableaux vivants'.
These photos help us define our style, get inspiration and see the beauty in the everyday – that is, until they become cliché. I couldn't help but laugh – and wince a little – at the five repetitive shelfie motifs identified by WSJ. I'm guilty of at least two. Do you see yourself on the list?
1) The Stunning Espresso
2) The Haunting Glass Cloche
3) The Casual Magazine Tableau
4) The Evocative Pair of Spectacles
5) The Strangely Popular in Norway Wooden Hand
See designers' tricks for styling bedside tables.
1. Photography by Ashley Capp
2. May 2009 House & Home, photo by Heather Ross
3. Latte via Pinterest
4. Cloche via Pinterest, photography by Renee Arns
5. Magazine via Live The Fancy Life Blog
6. Eye glasses via Real Simple
7. Wooden hand via Pinterest
For 16 years, the H&H Trends Breakfast has forecasted the looks and products we will be coveting for our homes.
This year, the event was held on December 4 at Toronto's Arcadian Court in the Hudson's Bay store in Toronto.
The annual breakfast represents not only an opportunity to thank the advertisers who support our publications (including Maison & Demeure, our Quebec edition), but offers a chance to talk about the way we live, and use our homes.
Publisher Lynda Reeves kicked the breakfast off with a compelling description of the new Super Cocooning trend. Now that homes can be equipped with every technological gadget, we're more connected than ever, but, she explains we still feel the need to congregate the old fashioned way.
She shared how she reluctantly joined a high-powered knitting circle, only to find she was thoroughly drawn in by the simple pleasure it offers. Gathering together to knit and gossip was something our mothers and grandmothers enjoyed, but they weren't surrounded by iPhones, iPads and flatscreen TVs. Even in a digital age, we still crave personal connection, and authentic, handmade goods. (FYI, knitting is a big trend among — surprise — the 25-34-year-old set. Lynda recommends newbies check out The Knit Cafe).
Then editor-in-chief Suzanne Dimma called out the big decor trends for 2014. (I'd hate to wreck the surprise, to see them all pick up the January Trends issue on Eastern newsstands Dec. 8 and in the West on Dec. 15). In it you'll find out the answers to: what's replacing the chandelier? What does this year's must-have coffee table look like? And what design trend is Suzanne most excited about? Here's a hint: it's groovy.
After the breakfast, Mark Challen announced the winner of the annual H&H Table Game. Each table was given the challenge of building their own inspiration board, complete with a fun write up.
Here's the winning entry (judged by editors Joel Bray and Stacey Smithers), which painted a vivid picture of the decor of fictitious young homeowners, Miley and Liam. Check out their furnishing choices — deemed suitable for the in-laws, and twerking.
1-8. Wendy Jacob
Gathering Canadian tastemakers such as designer Brian Gluckstein and Holt Renfrew's Barbara Atkin together to discuss trends is a fun proposition that guarantees some lively chatter.
Broadcaster Liza Fromer moderated a panel consisting of Barbara Atkin, event designer Bill Fulghum, art advisor Jessica Yakubowicz Herzig, Brian Gluckstein and travel expert Charlie Scott at Eat Drink Give on Oct. 22 by Moms for Sinai in Toronto. The evening raised over $125,000 for two new delivery suites for the David & Stacey Cynamon Mother & Baby Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital. Here are some of the panelists' bon mots about what we can expect to see in the world of fashion, décor, art and travel.
Global influences: "We are attracted to brands but we don't want to look like our friends," explains designer Brian Gluckstein (shown above). "We might like their aesthetic, but we don't want to look the same, and that goes for our homes too." To cultivate an individual look, he advises mixing up styles: put a Louis XVI chest beside a Deco chair and contemporary button-tufted sofa. "People will think it's busy but there is a tension between the high and low, formal and casual, dark and light."
Brian also explains how brands have to adapt to regions. "I went to a hotel in Arizona that had mahogany paneling and ship prints. It was so dark I kept bumping into walls. I thought 'why is this Boston interior in the desert?'" But reflecting local culture doesn't mean checking far-flung influences at the door. "I get emails from clients on vacation sending me photos of floor finishes and I think it's fantastic."
Gallery Walls: Private art advisor Jessica Yakubowicz Herzig (second from right) notes, "Gallery walls are a big trend that we are seeing a lot of. There might be a mask from Africa, a $30 print you bought online, an investment piece and a portrait you inherited. And the Internet is fueling the global marketplace. You can see Instagrams of Banksy's artwork being posted all over New York." Jessica also mentioned the rise of art fairs when it comes to demystifying art purchases. "Art fairs let you see the world under one roof; galleries can be intimidating."
Food as exploration: Charlie Scott (right), the co-founder of Trufflepig custom trip planning, says, "We don't want to take the trips everybody else is taking. We want uniqueness and regional experiences. Your mother was wrong: talk to strangers! Connect with real people." And food has increasingly become a framework for a trip. "Our clients want to go to a market and meet the guy who makes the bread, or the guy that makes the olive oil, then go back to the bakery and find out how he makes it. Food gives great reasons to engage in local customs."
Communal tables: Event designer Bill Fulghum (third from left) explains that at parties, "long tables are absolutely what is happening. It's more conversational." Bill showed a photo of a forest wedding in Caledon, Ontario complete with a moss "aisle" carpet ringed by evergreens, and a tent ceiling dripping with purple Wisteria blooms. "Clients want an element of fantasy, whether it's a destination wedding or a walk in the woods."
Spotlight on Africa: Holt Renfrew VP Barbara Atkin cites customization as the driving trend in fashion. "We live in a globalized world where there are fewer brands, yet we continue to look different. In the 60s everybody dressed the same way. We are unique leaders and have become our own brand. We don't wear one designer, it wasn't like that before." Atkin also pointed out the strong influence of Africa. "It's very authentic, whether it's the country's music or fashion, it resonates. Africa understands how to adorn an individual — whether by braids or tattoos or handmade jewelry — so they look unique."
1-6: Trish Mennell Photography
Fans of handmade crafts will want to check out the Brika pop-up shop that opened on October 9 in The Hudson's Bay flagship store in Toronto.
Founded in 2012 as an online site featuring products from sometimes under-the-radar makers, Brika celebrates the creators as well as their wares on their well-designed site.
Co-founders Kena Paranjape (left) and Jen Lee Koss were on hand to explain how they started this venture. "I was looking at a lot of lifestyle blogs and I found out the author of one of my favourites was right here in Toronto. So we agreed to meet at a coffee shop, in broad daylight," jokes Jen, who has heady business chops with a degree from Harvard biz school. After a successful store launch in San Francisco, the pair compiled a variety of Canadian-made ceramics, textiles, jewelry and bags for the Bay pop-up shop.
Heather Dahl's striped cylinder vase has a vaguely mid-century appeal.
Toronto-based designer Nicole Tarasick's screen-print pillow is filled with 100% feathers, and is pure Canadiana.
Heyday Design's vintage porcelain jar is a genuis play on the Mason jar. Heyday potter Claire Madill is a Vancouver-based artist who was inspired by her 92-year-old grandmother's collection of vintage jars.
Avril Loreti's Green Forest Tea Towels add a graphic pop in the kitchen.
Textile maker Heather Shaw (we featured her home in November 2009) of Pi-lo works out of a Victorian coach house in Toronto. These linen napkins display her typical understated, feminine attention to detail.
1-6. Wendy Jacob
We gave a sneak peek of Tiffany's glittering new Art Nouveau store on Bloor Street in Toronto in our November 2013 issue, but I was lucky enough to attend the opening on September 18.
The new design made me feel like I had just walked into a jewelry box. Just inside the front doors is a stunning installation hanging from the ceiling that resembles floating leaves by Japanese artist Nami Sawada.
Here I am wearing a favourite Tiffany necklace with fine jewelry sales manager Liz St. Louis (left photo), and Chrissie Rejman, supervising producer of CityLine.
This model is adorned with some gorgeous rocks, but I was equally impressed by the stair runner — the Art Nouveau-style magnolia motif runs throughout the store, and obviously extends to the food presentation. A tray of white macarons are almost too pretty to eat.
It's hard not to be impressed by the double-height foyer's 25-foot ceilings and carved stone walls. The metal balustrade resembles wheatsheaves, another recurring Tiffany motif, symbolizing golden fields and the harvest.
A striking hand-forged chandelier by New York-based artist Michelle Oka Doner dominates the salon, which is enveloped by powder-blue lacquer walls.
It's no surprise that Tiffany blue plays a starring role in this private area used for selecting wedding rings. Fully-leafed glass panels by John Opella act as a backdrop for the consultation desk.
And of course, I love what comes inside a blue Tiffany box, too. Some of my favourite designs include my Elsa Peretti Sevillana ring in sterling silver. I am obsessed with the graphic look of circles.
See? Obsessed. Ditto for the Elsa Peretti Padova teaspoon.
I was given Breakfast at Tiffany's sunglasses as a gift and think they are so glamorous, you feel like Audrey wearing them.
Here's another classic: the Elsa Peretti Bone cuff is one of my go-to pieces of jewelry.
The contrast of the silver bean with the rustic leather on this Peretti Bean keychain is so chic.
And the Thumbprint bowl by Peretti is just as sculptural as her jewellery.
Here's stack of Tiffany invites I keep as beautifully designed mementos.
I chat with Brent Ridge (that's him on the left below), Manhattan doctor-turned-goat-farmer extraordinaire, as he and partner, journalist Josh Kilmer-Purcell launch The Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Cottage Life Television on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. And the pair recently penned their latest book of well-loved recipes, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook.
House & Home: You and Josh won the Amazing Race in 2012. What's tougher, the race or goat farming?
BR: Goat farming. Your livelihood depends on it.
H&H: Tell us a little about how you, a doctor and your husband Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a writer for The New York Times, ended up farming the 19th-century Beekman farm?
BR: We bought a farm in 2007 in Sharon Springs, New York just as a weekend place, we had jobs in the city. Shortly after a local farmer approached us because he couldn't pay the mortgage on his farm and lost it. He asked if he could graze his herd of 120 goats on our property, otherwise he would lose those too. We thought it would be fun to have goats to play with. Then we both lost our jobs in the recession in 2008 and that's how we started our business, Beekman 1802. We sell products like goat cheeses, jam and our soaps to Williams-Sonoma and Henri Bendel. And Josh wrote a book about it, Bucolic Plague.
H&H: Now you and Josh have another book launching, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook (Raincoast 2013). Who is the best cook?
BR: I am better at savoury, Josh makes a fantastic pie crust. (We've got their recipe for Apple Tarte Tatin, shown above, try it here.)
H&H: Do you miss any cuisine from the city?
BR: No, we have everything we need. We have 110 varieties of heirloom vegetables. We produce our own beef, pork, chickens and turkeys. We keep two pigs a year, you get attached to those animals over time and it's difficult to harvest them but that is part of the process. It should be difficult, and you should think about what is on your plate. Our farm in Sharon Springs in 3 ½ hours outside New York City. We go into the city about twice a month and really appreciate the creativity and energy, it's the best of both worlds.
H&H: Your show is going to be airing in Canada, what will fans love most about The Fabulous Beekman Boys?
BR: When you work in an urban setting you are often working for someone else and don't see immediate rewards. Watching the Cottage Life Television is about a weekend that lasts all week, dreaming of a life outside, and maybe one with more meaning. Others might live vicariously through us, watching us launch the business and save the farm.
H&H: Why is rural life a cause célèbre for you? Why are small farms so important?
BR: We have to work hard. We're here to tell the story why food produced on a small farm tastes better and is worth more than what comes from factory farms or imports from China. It's reassuring to know there are people who don't want the cheapest thing, that are willing to pay a premium for a great product. Anybody who chooses to be a farmer should be able to make a living, on par with a teacher or fireman or any other professional. Farmers are the backbone of the country, if you run a small farm you shouldn't be living below the poverty level.
The velvet ropes, black SUVs and throngs of screaming fans that proliferate during the Toronto International Film Festival have once again disappeared, but some of the best things to pop up during the star-studded event can be enjoyed year-round — whether you're a VIP or not.
For the fifth year, CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight commissioned a Made in Canada lounge for the festival, a kind of extension of the green room where guests of the show are treated to a selection of goodies that are, well, made in Canada. I dropped in one day to check out the space conceived by Best PR Boutique and Montreal's Apartment 4 (and to find out what celebs were snapping up). The stars that passed through included Jesse Eisenberg (The Double, The Social Network), Ryan Kwanten (The Right Kind of Wrong, True Blood), Taylor Schilling (Stay, Orange is the New Black), Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Wire), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon, Inception), Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Paul Dano (Prisoners, Little Miss Sunshine), Zoe Kazan (The F Word, It's Complicated), Joel Edgerton (Felony, The Great Gatsby) and Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), among others.
The set-up evoked a cozy cabin, with a branch chandelier by the Brothers Dressler adding wow factor to a snug seating area decked out with a sofa, chairs and tables by Style Garage, pillows by Pehr and Room 2046, a rug by Flor.
Painted paddles by Atelier 688, hung above an EcoSmart fireplace from Company B, gave the vignette a dose of hipster chic, while resin photo art of Georgian Bay by Christine Flynn (who owns both Love the Design shops in Toronto) stood in for windows with scenic views of cottage country.
This is Canada, so a partial wall was covered in Sher-Wood hockey sticks — a clever idea to raise money: stars could sign them for charity.
What swag was getting the most love? Those with tastes sweet and salty were satisfied by bags of caramel corn by Toronto's Bobbette & Belle. Manitoba's Wendell Estate Honey will be sweetening Hollywood's tea cups and breakfast tables, and Neal Brothers Foods captured the taste of the Great White North with its Maple Bacon potato chips. (Yum!)
For something a bit more spirited, Dillon's small batch white rye, gin and bitters proved popular, with Bitter Pear emerging as most people's first choice.
On the décor front, ceramic versions of mason jars by Vancouver-based Heyday Design were picked up for use as vases and tea light holders.
Nearly every visitor asked why the lounge smelled so good. The answer: Smells Like Canada. The company's candles come in four fragrances — Toronto Smoke, Saskatoon Wheat, Red Deer Rose and Fraser Valley Wood — with Toronto Smoke winning the most compliments.
Who says you have to walk the red carpet to treat yourself like a star?
Am I the only person who is owled out? This season, the motif of the moment appears to be owls. In the past week alone, I've received a slew of press releases featuring owl this and owl that. Every website I browse also has some sort of owl ornament, accessory, ceramic piece or textile inspired by that cute nocturnal creature.
I wonder who decided the owl should be the "it" motif of 2012? What will we do in two years time with all the owl objets we've acquired? Will we still want to arrange our flowers in owl vases, drink our coffee from owl mugs or cosy up against owl cushions?
Portlandia's Put A Bird On It spoof illustrates my point quite effectively.
Don't get me wrong — as an editor of all things decor and design, I love the notion of bringing nature into the home and taking inspiration for our interiors from the great outdoors. But sometimes, a theme or motif just gets too darn gimmicky. At this point, I don't give a hoot about the owl.
With that said, there are some very compelling owls on the market right now, and I've rounded up a few of my faves below:
Glazed Tawny Owl from Anthropologie.
Nature Nursery Owl from Anthropologie.
Caviar Owl from Anthropologie.
Owl Pillow Cover from West Elm.
Owl Dessert Plates from West Elm.
Owl print from Natural Curiosities.
What do you think of the owl motif? Comment below! Any guesses as to the next big trend for 2013?
1. Glazed Tawny Owl, Anthropologie
2. Nature Nursery Owl, Anthropologie
3. Caviar Owl, Anthropologie
4. Owl Pillow Cover, West Elm
5. Owl Dessert Plates, West Elm
6. Banzanini Owl Studies 1, Natural Curiosities
The results are in! After polling our readers online about top holiday decorating dilemmas, we can now share the votes. Much like the designers and homeowners who commented on these questions in our November 2012 issue, the numbers are close.
1. CHRISTMAS TREE: Real or faux?
57% prefer a real tree. Nothing beats the smell of natural pine.
2. ON TOP: Angel or star?
The results were especially close for this one, with 53% voting in favour of a star tree topper, and 47% would rather top their tree with an angel.
3. ORNAMENTS: Homemade or chic?
Personally I love the look of homemade ornaments, but 62% of readers polled opt for chic ones.
4. OUTDOOR LIGHTS: White or coloured?
When it comes to lighting up your home's exterior, 60% of readers favour white lights over rainbow strands.
5. DOOR WREATH: Ornaments and sparkle, or natural boughs?
Here's where we saw a clear winner — 71% of readers would pick natural boughs over wreaths with ornaments and sparkle.
Thanks for voting, everyone! Find out what Suzanne Dimma, designer Nicola Marc and more homeowners had to say about these hot holiday topics in our November 2012 issue.
Discover more Christmas and holiday decorating ideas in our guide.
1, 3. House & Home December 2011 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
2. House & Home November 2012 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson
4. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
5. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Michael Graydon