Decorating & Design
October 12, 2011
I have worked at House & Home (on and off) for about 15 of its 25-year history. I’ve seen trends come and go on our pages and I’ve also seen some cutting edge designs that set the stage for some long-lasting movements. Looking back, it’s amazing how beautiful some of these homes still look. Here are a few of my favourite spaces that have graced our pages — plus a few fads we wish we could forget. Enjoy!
We always love to peek inside a celeb’s home, and shoe designer Patrick Cox’s home in London had all of us dreaming about moving overseas to live a glamorous new life. So many elements in this space still hold strong — like that marquetry floor and showstopping trumeau mirror and fireplace, plus the tufted sofa and blue velvet chaise.
Everyone in the office was loving these oversized striped cushions in Elizabeth Hartley’s living room, including me. I bought a bunch of them and sprinkled them throughout my first apartment.
This was only our second year and look how good this Ralph Lauren-designed New England home still looks! We could run this space now and it would still hold its own. Ralph at his best!
I scouted this 600-square-foot apartment by Thomas Wiggins when I was a design editor and I remember thinking that the built-in console with the caning and crisscross detail running across the window wall was a brilliant way to introduce extra storage in a tiny space. I recreated the same design in my parents’ den.
This is when we first met Michelle Lloyd and David Bermann. Again, we all flipped out over this space. Michelle and David brought together classic French details like those tied slipcovers, the marble fireplace and pale herringbone floors, but put their own stamp on the classic look with custom plaster walls and artistic vignettes. It was a totally holistic approach.
Here is their stunning kitchen. This was the first time I had seen the chicken-wire cabinet done well, probably because Michelle cleverly recessed it into the wall so it looked like it had been there forever. Plus, there is that red and taupe varied stripe fabric draped over the powder room door. Another thing that people responded to here were those mini chalkboards — brilliant!
When we ran this shot of Jeanette Hlinka’s living room, we received tons of letters from people upset about the idea of kids jumping up and down on a Mies chaise. I actually art directed this shoot, and thought it was totally cool to see the kids enjoying the living room, putting a family spin on such an iconic piece of furniture.
Sharon Mimran’s house also struck a cord with people. I remember this cover shot with its totally symmetrical look and black and white photography. I was desperate to find a trellis table like this one… I still am. And that landing with the bold black and white gingham daybed is still so bold and graphic. Every time I visited Sharon’s house (we shot there a lot!) I would want to redo my entire house. This was when everyone was using sisal and seagrass for carpeting and area rugs. Colour or pattern on the floor was out of the question.
Theresa Casey’s home was filled with creative ideas to make a space your own — from the relaxed curtain on the timeworn rings and rod to the fabric-wrapped console table. Everything had a patina and warmth that evoked such a comforting mood. She made her un-renovated, ’50s style kitchen look super cool.
We shot this view through a doorway — so Martha-esque in its styling. I see these plate racks painted grey and I think of Martha on Turkey Hill. And while Madonna hates them, I love hydrangeas. I’ll happily take all of the ones meant for her! You can’t go wrong with a giant coach lamp over the dining table, either.
This was the home of London-based designer Eleanora Cunietti, shot back in 1999. This place struck a cord thanks to the timeworn beauty of that leather sofa, and the art rail. This was the year that no one wanted to commit to hanging up their art. Everyone was installing these simple rails to layer up everything at once. I still love them.
This was photographer Colin Faulkner’s live/work loft that he shot for us back in 1997. It was an authentic loft that he lived in well before developers started calling condos lofts. I remember attending a dinner party here one night where Colin had set up his dining table in the middle of the massive shooting portion of the space. He surrounded the room in candles and it was magical. But this shot, with its shades of grey and simplicity of forms, is a stunner. This was when the barn-style door became a ‘thing’ in design, especially as a space saving solution in the new condo lofts.
Viki Mansell’s weekend home is one of my personal faves with its organic shapes and textures pulling from nature in a soothing, monochromatic palette. This was one of the first times we had seen outdoor furniture brought indoors in a contemporary way.
The same cottage, from our Summer 1994 issue (before the reno above), was also memorable. It was the Shaker-style rack loaded up with wicker that made this corner come to life.
Designer Zuzana Wilemova’s 3rd floor apartment is still one of the most unique spaces I have ever encountered. She actually lived in a house across the street from where I live now and I remember getting lost trying to find the place back in 1993. I had never been to that part of Toronto before. When I discovered the beautiful tree-lined street with its super deep front lawns right in the heart of downtown, I thought, “Where am I?” Then I went into her place and really felt like I had stepped through a looking glass. It was pure magic and no detail was overlooked.
Wilemova created this incredibly realistic plaster effect on the walls, and she was one of the first people to flip her books around to showcase the parchment shade of the paper rather than the spines.
Tim Tanz’s sophisticated home from 1993 is another favourite. For me it’s all about that ’70s-inspired upholstered daybed, a style that is making a big comeback this year. And the layering in this space is exquisite.
This kitchen by Karen Cole and Melody Duron was part of the Junior League Showhouse in 2000 — our version of New York’s Kips Bay — and it was the talk of the show. They paid attention to every detail and truly styled the space. Check out that tiled floor laid herringbone-style!
And here are a couple of the scarier H&H moments:
April 1988/October 1988
Santa Fe overload on the left, and trompe l’oeil (all the rage at the time) on the right.
Authentic country without a twist — a bit too old-fashioned for me.
And chintz explosion, oh dear.
And here are a few of my first styling jobs for H&H:
This was the first shoot I ever assisted on back in 1992. I was helping stylist Shelley Tauber, who I later became friends with, and Lynda Reeves was there, too. I was terrified and nervous, and I think I repositioned a wooden spoon a hundred times. It made the cover though, which was pretty exciting for me. We certainly filled that wooden trug to the brim with tomatoes!
I created this set for a Minwax ad — the first shoot on my own. We must have built that gigantic combination bench and storage unit right in the house, otherwise I don’t know how we would have fit it through the door! My philosophy back then seemed to be ‘load her up!’ — apples, picnic baskets, paddles, fishing rods… the homeowner must certainly have led an active life! I still have that straw hat, by the way.
This was my first makeover of a Toronto townhouse in 1996. We worked entirely with Laura Ashley so it was very pretty, but also a bit of a one note.
This mirror shoot was memorable for me because I brought my cat Tomba to set. He was a bit scared, especially when I placed him in front of all of those awful mirrors. We would get a few shots and then he would run and hide under a couch and I would have to get him out to do it all over again. I think he knew that all the mirrors I chose were ugly and wanted out!
We used to have a column called Weekend Workshop that featured some hardcore DIY ideas. I loved this story that I did on headboard ideas back in 1999. This is around the time that styling became more subtle and realistic.
We shot this Weekend Workshop in my first house. I installed these Plexiglas shutters on my back window and removed my existing cupboard doors to install these sliding plastic ones. I actually love the shutters! And what do you know, there is one of those chalkboards like Michelle Lloyd had on the window in the background.
I have personally been on our covers twice:
February/March 1998/June 2004
The first time it was my behind standing on the rolling ladder in Lynda Reeves’ house. I was rearranging her china in the top part of her cabinets and Ted Yarwood took a photo… I never would have guessed that it would wind up on the cover! The second time was for the June 2004 issue when I was art directing the shoot at my friend Stephen Caldwell’s cottage. The shot looked empty, so I hopped into the bed and posed reading a book. It was one of our bestselling covers. I recently saw Stephen in Vancouver at IDS West and he told me that, sadly, the cabin was blown apart in a freak windstorm and had to be entirely rebuilt.