Archive for January, 2011

This one is dedicated to my friend, mentor, colleague, Hilary Smyth.  She is the world’s number one enthusiast when it comes to potted citrus trees for their casual European flair.  Plus, as she points out, they add an air of freshness and sunshine all winter long.  A huge bonus when the snow is piled up outside!

Enjoy these sunny, citrus-y images on a brand new Monday morning!



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IDS 2011

Well I survived!

Despite having to work through the weekend, IDS was a fun and exciting experience.  House & Home had a beautiful booth set up with tons and tons of magazines for people to buy, plus demos and interviews with design celebs.  If you made it out, I hope you got lots of ideas and inspiration!

Till next year!

That’s Joel Bray and I being filmed  for houseandhome.com/tv

And here is one of the many projects we showed – an Ikea secretair that we turned into a custom gift wrapping station.  Imagine!  How luxe!  But the beauty is that you can hide away all of the mess behind closed doors and even keep this in a living room.  The wrapping paper is held on with cafe curtain tension rods – what could be simpler!  Check out the video online when it goes up…

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Inspiration Board

Sometimes you just need to let yourself play and be creative .  This is a snapshot of my inspiration board at the magazine and it’s basically me just playing around with fabric and paint swatches.

Often times I’ll come across a fabric or wallpaper full of colour and pattern and I can’t help but make a scheme around it.  This vintage-looking floral fabric is from Designer Fabrics on Queen St. West in Toronto and I was thinking about upholstering a curvy headboard with it.  Paired with light and bright bedding I would make two big fat Euro shams with the David Hicks brown and white graphic print.  A total contrast to the floral, but that’s why I like it.  Then the brown and white stripe would be a fun bedskirt I thought.  The blue/green and saffron coloured fabrics were just me experimenting with other colours to throw into the mix.  I think it would be one or the other though!


And here’s one more collection of fabrics, this one centring on this fresh tree of life pattern.  I love the faded looking stripe with it and also a touch of leopard! Crazy?  Maybe.  But that’s why it’s fun to just mess around with ideas and sit with it for a while.  Maybe give it a try when you’re working on a scheme for your room.


P.S. Sara hates the leopard!

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Come To IDS 2011!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the annual Interior Design Show is happening now!  Open to the public this weekend, IDS 2011 promises to be a who’s who and what’s what in the world of cutting edge interior design.  Famous for it’s envelope-pushing concept spaces and dynamic display booths, the show is also a great place to hear your favourite design personalities speak!  I’m even one of them this year!

I’ll be presenting some Stylist Tips & Tricks and also some DIY demonstrations at the House & Home booth on Saturday.  On Sunday I’ll be part of a panel presentation hosted by H&H’s Mark Challen where I discuss my Toronto Apartment and my decorating secrets.  Along with Mark and me, you’ll see more H&Hers like Cameron MacNeil, Meg Crossley and Beth Hitchcock!

And if that’s not enough, IDS will be featuring the likes of these mega-watt stars…

Darryl Carter!

Allegra Hicks!

Cobi Ladner!

Sarah Richardson!

Arren Williams!

And many more!

So run, walk, take the TTC and the GO and get down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to see IDS 2011!

I’d love to say hi!

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Welcome to our home!

The first time Sara and I stepped into our house we were both so excited.  We’d been hoping we would find a home that was older and full of charm and character and this one certainly fit the bill!  It had lots of wood moulding, nicely proportioned rooms, and gorgeous old windows.  There was a lot of untouched woodwork that made the house feel pretty old fashioned and a little heavy, but we could see past that.

Here’s a sneak peek into the living room – the first room you see when you enter our home.  These are ‘before’ pictures taken a while ago now.  Lots has changed since then, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

The living room seemed quite large to me and I was already envisioning furniture arrangements.  I loved the fireplace with it’s symmetrical built-in cabinets on each side.  The mantle runs the entire width of the room and I thought it would make for some interesting and unique display opportunities.  The humble fire screen came with the house, which was good because I loved it.  It’s a lot like the one used in the 2010 Princess Margaret lottery housed designed by House & Home.

There was a large bay window along the front of the living room, made up of five individual windows.  They are the classic casement style windows with substantial wooden mullions that I love.  I was not in love with the finish on the woodwork, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to get rid of it entirely.  Also, I wasn’t sure about the scalloped wooden valance in the bay window, probably dating from the 1950’s.  But look at all of that light!

Here you can see that the doorway at the north end of the room has an actual wooden door attached.  It’s a thoughtful, old-timey touch that Sara and I really appreciate.  In fact by the time we were done with the room you could close several doors and completely contain the living room from the rest of the house.  Of course my mom thought this was great for kids down the road…WAY down the road!  We thought about keeping the doors in the house in their natural wood finish and painting the trim around them.  This is something you see in lots of stately old houses actually.

The floors in the house were in pretty good shape and hadn’t been covered up with wall-to-wall carpet, so that was a bonus!  I’ve pulled up carpet and millions of staples twice before and I’m so glad I didn’t have to do it here!  Joanna, our real estate agent pointed out the squeeks in the floor but we assured her we didn’t mind (and secretly even liked it).  I also liked the big old vents and this little wall, we thought might be a good spot for the piano we hoped to bring home.  It was the piano my mom had as a child (she’s an accomplished pianist and piano teacher ) and it was the same one I learned on.

And that’s the grand tour of the living room before.  We were so happy to imagine our future here and all of the things we could do with the room.


So whaddaya think?

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Check out this house. I die.

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

Believe it or not, this house in the Hamptons is new. Designed and decorated to perfection by it’s owners, James and Whitney Fairchild. This stylish duo created their home while vice presidents of Ralph Lauren and this lush and gorgeous story ran in House & Garden (R.I.P.) in June 2004.

Can you imagine living in that house on that piece of land?!

The interiors build off an impeccable shell with pristine mouldings, double-hung windows with classic mullions, and fireplaces galore.

Photography by Francois Halard, House & Garden June 2004

Creamy walls, Chinese export ceramics, white twill sofas, and handsome antiques add up to the perfect all-American setting.

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

I love that this bathroom combines cool white marble with painted bead board. The tub isn’t a ‘statement tub’ but rather it’s encased in millwork with a stone deck. Totally understated, yet totally luxe. I’ll keep a mental note of this for one day…Oh and the tub faces a fireplace hearth to cozy up to – okay, if I have to…

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

And isn’t this campaign-style bamboo bed dreamy? It’s so bold and architectural, yet warm and inviting. I love how the Fairchild’s have gone whole-hog with this look and paired it with more Chinese export blue and white for the lamps. Blue and white ceramics are one of my all-time favourites! I have some on my computer desk as I type this blog! Also, love the personal touches like the framed family photographs.

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

And this kitchen is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! The honey-pine harvest table reminds me of butcher block and I love it paired with mid-tone wicker chairs. Then more blue and white and glassware on the table and a fireplace and brass chandelier to up the elegance factor. The shaker-style cabinets and rustic brick fire surround are humble elements and everything just adds up to a relaxed-yet-luxurious beauty. But then these are some of the top dogs behind Ralph Lauren so what would you expect?

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

Finally the arresting cover that I love! How fantastic is that bold and iconic typeset – and in crimson red?! House & Garden knew exactly how to do it. Good thing I save back issues because they are extinct! At least this beautiful story lives on to inspire us all. We can use this timeless formula of antique+wicker+blue/white ceramics+bamboo+creamy paint and upholstery at any price point and pretend we’re Ralph-types in the Hamptons can’t we?

Photography by Francois Halard; House & Garden June 2004

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The King’s Speech

So Colin Firth has been nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award this year for The King’s Speech.  Everyone is telling me it’s an amazing film and my design-type friends are raving about the gorgeous look of the film.  They’re especially into the decadent-yet-shabby scenery and the wallpapered wall with the gilded settee.  The wall almost looks like it’s collaged!

So have you seen it?  Would you recommend it?  Should we go see it this weekend?

You’ve gotta love Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen Mum!

On a side note, I’m told that the Queen Mum used to stay at the Genosha Hotel in downtown Oshawa way back when.  I’m told it used to be the place and was on par with the Fairmont Royal York before it fell into disrepair.  The hotel has had a bad rap my whole life and basically looked haunted but it’s now being redeveloped as part of the local university and as student housing.

Here are some old pictures that reflect what it would have been like in the Queen Mum’s day…

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