4 Tips for Styling Stems

We all have those awkward corners and spaces in our home, those areas that cry out for a touch of decor and style. It can be challenging to know just what to tuck into these spaces – I know I have a couple that have challenged me!

For one of those corners I have a distressed ‘sap’ bucket that I use for faux stems that I update for each season and celebration.

I have used creamy white and blue/gray hydrangeas as the base element – I never remove them. The other stems are changed out according to the season or celebration and are in colours that coordinate beautifully with the white and blue/gray colour scheme.

For the fall I clear out the more summery items (sea grass and eucalyptus), leaving the hydrangeas.


Next I tuck in silk oak leaves with acorns and creamy white silk Chinese lanterns.

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These are followed by straw pumpkins for an added touch of harvest and Halloween.

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When I’m planning for and styling my bucket I bear in mind a number of design elements:


This is where the rule of odds comes in. Yes, it seems counter intuitive but odd numbers of items bring more balance to your decor look and provide a more full display.


A beautiful and visually pleasing vignette has items that are relative to one another in scale. While you want items of varying scale, do not make them too large or too small compared to one another. To avoid this, use a range of sizes scaled from smaller to larger so the difference is not so striking.


When working with a display of botanicals the overall height of the stems should not be more than 2/3 higher than the container they are in. If the stems are too short or too high the overall look is out of proportion and off balance.


My approach is to balance texture within my display. If the container I am using for a display of botanicals has a lot of texture, I tend to take a monochromatic approach and use botanicals that are all the same colour. And if the container is very plain and simple, I use botanicals with lots of visual texture in a variety of colours – typically an odd number of botanical types (in this case hydrangeas, oak leaves and pumpkins) and colours (in this instance creamy white, blue/gray and jute).

The most important part of creating or styling decor is to have FUN! Style, re-style, experiment, play with the display, try it out in various locations. It costs nothing to keep moving things around until you have a look you love and is stunning tucked into the chosen space. And be sure to share pics - I love seeing the results of your work!

3 Tips to Achieve Your Monochromatic Look

I’m sure you have witnessed the trend to monochromatic rooms – those serene oasis of calm and sophistication that grace the pages of design and decor websites and magazines. Many of us shy away from a monochromatic look, afraid that it will look boring, flat and uninspired. But it doesn’t have to be so!

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I love the pluses of monochromatic rooms:

  • sense of elegance, simplicity and harmony
  • easy to update because there’s no need to match colours
  • allows a loved treasure to stand out

A monochromatic look can be achieved by using tints (adding varying amounts of white) and hues (adding varying amounts of black) from the same colour family, that is, shades of blue, green, red, even neutrals. When developing your palette, think about how many shades you want to include in your room - what is your main colour, what are the accent colours? Where are you going to use the main colour - on the walls or walls and sofa? And where and how are you going to incorporate the various ‘accent’ colours?

When pulling together a monochromatic look it is about more than your colour choices. It is important to take into consideration principles of design as well.


Pattern gives lovely visual texture to a room and prevents the look from being bland. Depending on the vibe of the room, incorporate florals, stripes, plaids, polka dots, geometric shapes, etc. to create visual interest, depth and movement. Your room doesn’t require a lot to be visually interesting and attractive and pattern can be used in linens, pillows, lamp shades or an area rug.

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Scale is key to ensuring your room is balanced and can be achieved by using items of various shapes and sizes. This applies to furniture as well as decor items. Furniture that is too small for the room, pillows that are too small for your sofa, lamps that are too big for an occasional table and patterns that are too big or too small are going to make the room appear off kilter.

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Texture is both visual and tactile and creates movement in the room. Your visual texture will come from the patterns used in your room. But tactile texture is in the finishes you choose. It’s the wood grain in occasional or coffee tables, upholstery fabric, the material of pillows or throw or even a house plant. It can also be in architectural details such as cove ceilings, ceiling beams or window and door trims.

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Enjoy the experience of creating a monochromatic room – the colour choices are endless and it’s fun exploring the possibilities. And be sure to share pics of your room - I love seeing the results of your choices!



Source: www.simplyswankdecor.ca

5 Steps to Styling My Hutch

Starting an update to any area of my home is typically triggered by a change of seasons or special occasion, i.e. Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes it’s a special occasion called boredom that is the incentive and a new look is necessary to highlight a favourite item that has been out of sight for too long or I want to play “interior designer”.

These are the steps I follow to styling or restyling a display:

1. Clear the Decks

Whatever the occasion or reason, I start by ‘clearing the decks’ and cleaning the area (while dust bunnies are cute, they have no place in decor!). This enables me to see the space anew and clearly and allows me to consider the space I have to work with and what might fit.

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2. Shop for Display Items

Next I think about what treasures and items I have that will work together to create a fresh look in the space or best relate to the occasion I am updating for. I shop my home – the various rooms as well as storage – for items I want to use and can be re-located. Because I only keep or buy items I love and that bring me joy, it is often a challenge in deciding what to include from among my treasures, but hey, it’s going to change soon anyway :)

3. Balance

I place the larger items first as they are the anchors in the display. I use the ‘rule of odds’, that is, an odd number of items bring balance to the display. Typically this is 1, 3, or 5 but can be 7 or 9 depending how large the item is. For example, if you collect salters which are smaller items, displaying 7 or 9 can be attractive and not too cluttered or overwhelming. However, it you collect antique crocks, displaying 7 or 9 would be overwhelming and crowd the space. In the case of my hutch, I used 3 larger items as the anchors and built around them.

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4. Negative Space

In order to highlight or feature a particular item, it is important to have some negative or blank space around it so it stands out. Often we crowd our vignettes and it ends up drowning the display and is difficult to see and appreciate the items we have included. Remember that ‘less is more’.

The addition of the grape vine wreath works well with the wrought iron in the bird cage and the hydrangeas and vine add texture and coordinating colour.

The addition of the grape vine wreath works well with the wrought iron in the bird cage and the hydrangeas and vine add texture and coordinating colour.

5. Texture

Texture is critical in design and decor, especially when creating a display. Without it displays (and rooms) look flat and one dimensional; layers of texture are necessary to create movement and interest and bring vitality.

The sea grass and sea glass jar seemed a bit too much of the same colour so I added the star fish to bring a splash of white and an added dimension of texture.

The sea grass and sea glass jar seemed a bit too much of the same colour so I added the star fish to bring a splash of white and an added dimension of texture.

The most important part of creating or styling a display is to have FUN! Style, re-style, experiment, play with the display. It costs nothing to keep moving things around until you have a look you love and is gorgeous in the space. And be sure to share pics of your results in the comments section - I love seeing the results of your work!

Colour Explained

If you are like most people when it comes to colour, you have your favs and always tend to gravitate towards them. But if you want to make a change and step outside your comfort zone, the colour wall at your local home improvement store makes you freeze like a deer in the headlights! Right? The choices are overwhelming! Most men, my ever lovin’ included, see one shade of any given colour …. but believe me, there are 100’s of shades of the basic colours found on the colour wheel let alone all the other variations in between! In other words blue is not blue is not blue.

When refreshing the décor in our homes, colour is one of the easiest and economical but most complicated ones to make. To pull a look together the right hue, tint and shade can make all the difference. I know you are already overwhelmed but let me explain.

Hue and Value

The value of a colour refers to the amount of light it reflects or absorbs. A lighter hue reflects a lot of light and a darker hue absorbs a lot of light, so when looking at the colour spectrum (I only have a colour wheel, so work with me here!), the lightest hue is yellow and the darkest is violet. All colours in between the yellow and violet fall along the colour spectrum from lightest to darkest.

Tint and Shade

Colours are seldom if ever used at full saturation, that is, their purest, strongest colour. Typically we see a tint, shade or hue of the colour. A tint is a colour that has been made lighter by the addition to varying degrees of white. Whereas a shade is a colour that has been made darker by the addition to varying amounts of black. In the Benjamin Moore swatch below you can see the progression of colour from palest mauve (a tint) on the left to a rich, deep purple (a shade) on the right.

So if you are not ready for a full on, life altering change, perhaps a shade or two darker of the existing colour is all you need for a quick update. And perhaps there’s a deeper shade in your pillows, sofa or décor accessories that would make a good choice for wall colour.

Or if you are ready to shake things up a bit and want to take a giant step (or leap!) outside your comfort zone, selecting another colour all together could be just the change you need!

And now that you have a bit more understanding of hue, value, tint and shade, you will face that towering colour wall at your local home improvement store with less trepidation and more confidence. And be sure to share - I always love to see your results!

DIY Ensuite Makeover

I’m in love with white cabinetry, and have been for a number of years in spite of my ever lovin’ suggesting I would tire of it! Our current abode has lots of cabinets and the storage space is awesome. However, the cabinets throughout the house are clear oak (a bit dated for my taste!).

I recently updated the master bedroom and ensuite. The ensuite is perfectly fine in terms of layout and functionality but the cabinetry? Had to change! The large mirror was fantastic for day to day tasks but was a stock mirror and too large for the space. As a result the whole space felt off balance.

Being the thrifty, handy sort I looked at ways to update the space without breaking the bank. My research led me to the line of Rust-oleumTM products. I was pleasantly surprised to find out Rust-oleumTM isn’t just for spray painting rusty lawn chairs (ok, just dated myself!). There are a whole line of products to update and rejuvenate items around the home.

I purchased the Rust-oleumTM Cabinet Transformations kit at Lowe’s which transforms cabinets without stripping, sanding or priming. The kits will cover 100 sq ft and include everything required except paint brushes, lint-free rags, disposable gloves, painters tape and drop cloth (items a lot of us would have around the house).

After removing the doors, drawers and hardware, I deglossed the surfaces and wiped them clean. Once dry, the bond coat was applied. The bond coat is the colour you want the cabinets to be (I chose white) but it can be tinted a number of colours. I applied three bond coats and once dry, I applied the protective top coat. There is an optional decorative glaze but I applied it to one cabinet door and really didn’t like the look – I wanted a pure white, not an antiqued or aged looking result.

I am thrilled with the final result! The kit is enough to do two bathroom cabinets so the cost of the ensuite cabinet transformation is approximately $75.00 – excellent deal and way less mess and cost of having a new vanity installed.

For the vanity mirror, I looked for one that would better fit the space and be more balanced with the width of the vanity. I wasn’t able to find one that was exactly what I wanted at a price that I thought was reasonable.

Again I hit the information highway and found Fort Glass (http://www.fortglass.com). Not only did they trim the mirror to the required size but they rebevelled the edge after trimming it. And the price? Less than $30 including tax – awesome!

I am thrilled with the final result and of course the savings (who doesn’t like a bargain?!). I think a white frame around the mirror would be a lovely touch but that’s a project for another day!

Shelve the Accessories

While I love all things design and décor, the real fun (IMO) is the accessorizing stage. Like a classic outfit, a room is really pulled together with accents and accessories, and the whole look can be changed with new items or by rearranging what you have.

There are so many areas in our homes that are potential locations for accessorizing that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start! Mantels, the tops of hutches or book cases and shelves are ripe for décor. These areas are also easy to change when the mood strikes.

While I am often inspired at unlikely times (for example Monday morning with my cuppa) and like to change it up “just because”, at a minimum I refresh the accessories seasonally and for special occasions. This keeps the look of a room fresh and my ever lovin’ on his toes :)

I especially love working with shelves as it is easy to swap items in and out or totally redo the look. While they are tempting places to line ‘em up, the result is predictable, expected and uninspired. Shelves are ripe for self expression and provide an opportunity to display a few of your favourite things.

In this instance, the painting takes centre stage but rather than hung, it is sitting on the shelf and leaning against the wall. This makes the look more casual and is a bit unexpected as paintings are typically hanging on the walls.

The décor items on either side of the shelf continue the shades of blue from the painting as well as the bedding. The varying shades are just different enough from the painting and bedding to keep the look interesting and result in a less formal and more relaxed vibe.

And while it would be tempting to have identical items on either side of the painting, layering in items of varying heights and textures provides visual interest and keeps the eye moving across the display.

Groupings of décor items in odd numbers, in this instance three, bring balance to our displays; this is referred to as the rule of odds. Items displayed in odd numbers create a vignette that is more attractive, memorable and delightful.

As you look around your home, what areas are calling for an accessorizing update and refresh? What items can you repurpose or relocate to change the look and feel? Have some fun, create a look that is uniquely you and remember to keep it swank!

When Pigs Fly

I seem to have developed an attraction to flying pigs, yes, flying pigs! Is it the meaning behind them, “when pigs fly”, or just that they’re cute? I think it’s both. “When pigs fly” keeps me pushing towards goals, setting even more challenging goals and working hard to achieve those goals I have set for myself be it personal or business.

But flying pigs are cute; I have a couple incorporated into my décor. They’re fun, whimsical and add a touch of ‘quirk’ to my décor no matter what room or area of my home they are in. The one on my kitchen windowsill is a cute little one called Petunia that is a beautiful pale pink. As I do dishes or am moving around the kitchen cooking and baking, she reminds me to breath, see life as an endless journey of joy and laugher and reminds me of my goals, my future vision and that determination is the root of achievement.

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The verdigris flying pig which is much larger has a delightful look of joy on his face. What a charming reminder that life should be lived, every action we undertake should fill us with joy,  and that we should surround ourselves with people and things that make us happy.

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As I decorate my home, I always use items that delight me, will always bring me joy and will always put a smile on my face every time I walk into that room. Despite the item’s colour, shape, texture or purpose, incorporating items that delight me make my space personal, whimsical, add a touch of the unexpected and make that space just a little bit swank.

What is in your décor that makes you smile, makes you happy and brings joy to your space?


Six Considerations for Styling Your Home

The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus), have often explained that being minimal doesn’t mean giving up your collections or treasured possessions or even acquiring new pieces, as long as the things you own are meaningful to you. I would further add that we hang on to things that are beautiful to us regardless of whether they are a perfect fit for our décor ‘style’ or not.

One of the things, okay MANY things, I love about being an interior decorator and working with clients is the challenge that comes with integrating their treasured and loved items into their décor. Treasured and loved are completely subjective but what a decorator brings is a fresh eye and a vision of how and where to use the items.

I recently worked with a client to style her bookshelves, fireplace mantel and coffee table that were in her living room. She is working very hard (so impressed by her ‘give away’ pile!) to live a minimalist lifestyle but had a collection of loved treasures from parents and in-laws, her travels and just because that she wanted to hang on to. It was a mixture of east coast folk art, a Chinoiserie jar, Inuit carvings, pottery bowls, coloured glass and photos – LOVED this challenge. So, where to begin?!

In considering the client’s treasured collections and the spaces to be styled, I kept in mind the principles of décor: scale, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, balance and harmony.

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I found that despite the varied differences among the items, there were some commonalities. There was some cohesiveness among the colours and the furniture in the room (sofas and chairs were neutral colours and styles), there was good variation among the proportions of the items and there was great rhythm among many of the items.

Colour and Balance

So, how did we make folk art, photography, oil paintings, coloured glass, Inuit carvings, pottery and Chinoiserie work? First I put together items with similar colours but differing proportions and scale – of course remembering the ‘rule of odds’, that is, odd numbers of items provide balance. The coffee table display was comprised of a seagreen folk art fish, green sea glass Mason jar with candle and an Inuit carving that was a green based gold colour.


The mantel was narrow but had room for a few items so I went for items of various heights and items that reflected the coastal theme of the oil painting hanging above the fireplace. This was perfect for the folk art sea birds which served to draw the eye upwards and brought a playful air to the space.


The shelves came next with the blue, off white and cream coloured Chinoiserie jar together with a cream coloured Inuit carving and an antique brandy bottle. On another of the shelves I put together the three pottery dishes and recommended some river rock and spheres to add texture and rhythm to that ‘collection’. The client quickly got into the groove and realized that a number of her prized hand made quilts had similar colours could be folded and stacked on the shelves to pull the look together and be handy for those cold winter nights when being cozy in front of the fire was the order of the day!

So as you look around your home, what items do you have that you love, value and have meaning? What could work together and where can you display them? What is tucked away in a cupboard that could be displayed and bring great joy and memories flooding back? Shop your home, rediscover those forgotten treasures. Keep your décor fresh by moving items around from room to room and place to place.

Have an awesome weekend and remember to have fun and keep it swank!



My Source of Inspiration

Happy Friday all – hope you have a relaxing weekend planned! In chatting with family, friends and clients, I often get asked where I find my inspiration. Admittedly some days I don’t feel too inspired but, on the days I do, there are many sources of creativity. It comes from a wide range of places – hiking and observing, listening and sensing nature; magazines that illustrate many styles and approaches to design and décor; the colours and textures of natural elements; and, playing with and re-arranging accessories to find new looks and layouts for vignettes.

But there is one event that is a fantastic and almost overwhelming source of inspiration, motivation, enthusiasm and ideas that feed my décor and design passion. It is the annual Interior Design Show that takes place every January in Toronto (the fall show takes place in Vancouver). This is design and décor writ large and has participation and presentations from some of the biggest names in the biz as well as a number of brands whose booths showcase the latest products and designs.

IDS also showcases up and coming designers, artisans and craftsmen who challenge the status quo and present creations that are at once innovative, funky, practical and out of the box but will meets the emerging needs in our ever changing society.

This year, inspiration and motivation have come from these Canadian companies:

W Studio Decorative Carpets (www.wstudio.ca)

These decorative carpets are works of art, hand knotted with sustainable materials such as wool and silk. They are so unique and beautiful it’s almost a shame to walk on them! W Studio provides highly personalized service and has an extensive collection which ensures there is a perfect carpet for every décor style.

Junction Wood + Metal (www.junctionwoodandmetal.com)

The Junction Wood + Metal Company designs and creates stylish and unique furniture pieces. The pieces are crafted from sustainable woods around Ontario such as walnut, maple or white oak, or reclaimed century old douglas fir or pine. The metal bases of the tables are hand welded and frequently powder coated to maximize strength and durability. Tables are made to order in a variety of finishes, base colours and sizes ensuring you can find a piece perfect for your space and décor.

Dusil Design & Landscape Inc. (www.dusildesign.com)

Dusil Design is a one-of-a-kind design company that develops residential landscape designs to meet client’s needs. But what really caught my eye at IDS were Alica’s metal sculptures and privacy screens. This energetic and creative designer makes custom pieces that are available in natural rust or protective paint finishes. Many are designed as garden art to enliven outdoor spaces and provide some privacy but would be equally suited to interior décor. This makes for unique pieces that provide a focal point and conversation piece and the addition of lights adds yet another dimension.

Beauti-Tone (https://www.homehardware.ca/en/index/beauti-tone)

Beauti-Tone is the only Canadian owned and manufactured retail paint brand produces a full range of paint products in water and solvent based formulas as well as the popular line of Natura products, all which are exclusive to Home Hardware. Their install at IDS was varied and unique and stood out among the paint companies featured at the show.

Canadian designer Simon Chang, in partnership with Beauti-tone, has developed a line of beautiful designer colours featured in a wall of stilettos. This unique feature was playful and attracted a lot of attention, although sadly none of the shoes were for sale!

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The Beauti-tone 2017 Colour of the Year, You Look Mauve-lous (SC169-0), was featured in the home library install of the booth and featured books and objets d’art painted in the colour. This relaxing calm colour is perfect for accessories, accents and pairs well with many shades on the colour wheel.

Canadian Green Design (http://www.canadiangreendesign.com)

Canadian Green Design uses woods from around the world, including the bottom of lakes, to create one of a kind pieces for your home from tables and lighting to doors, shelving and wine racks. Each piece is polished to enhance and highlight the live edge and natural textures, patterns and colours of the wood. The woods are mixed with glass, metal and other materials resulting in unique artistic additions to any décor.

I always come back from IDS brimming with motivation, ideas and plans for new projects as well as enthusiasm for what is yet to come in the design and décor world. Can’t wait to share more with you so stay tuned! In the meantime have a fantastic weekend and remember to keep it swank!


Trends Made Simple

Happy New Year! This time of year is always energizing as we head into a brand new year – a blank slate with so many exciting possibilities, projects and plans. This is also the time of year the décor magazines, websites and blogs are filled with ideas and opinions about what is ‘trendy’ for the coming year with respect to style, architecture and colour – are you inundated and overwhelmed yet?!

The subtle or not so subtle message is that our current décor is no longer stylish or relevant and it’s time to refresh it all. The subtle message is that if we don’t implement the trending design elements, our décor will appear outdated and inappropriate.  This drives me crazy!! I don’t know about you but my budget doesn’t allow me to start afresh every year. Think of the environmental nightmare were we to do just that and the absence of our personal style and flair?

So how do we avoid becoming ‘sheep’, yet continue to stay somewhat up-to-date and stylish and reflect our own décor style with flair?

Solid Foundation

First, start with a solid foundation. It is important that a room have good ‘bones’ and structure. Basic elements such as a sofa and chairs and side tables, should be classic and timeless and allow for small and subtle changes to be easily made around them. If these elements are neutral in terms of style, shape, colour and finish, it is easy to incorporate elements of trends such as colour, pattern and texture. Trendy styles quickly become dated and are costly and disruptive to update.

Photo Courtesy of E. Armstrong

Photo Courtesy of E. Armstrong


Every paint company selects a ‘colour of the year’. Again, this should be an inspiration and if it is too intense for your décor or taste, consider a slightly lighter or less intense shade. If you want to make some simple updates, consider where you could use the colour to maximize impact at minimal cost. Consider pillows, a throw, lampshades, candles, decorative accessories or table linens. A trending colour can also be used on an accent wall or in draperies if you are prepared to take on a larger project and update.


Trending fabrics and patterns can be reflected in pillows or draperies or your bed linens. I also love the randomness of contrasting patterns (having everything matching is predictable and uninspired). Think stripes or checks with floral, chevrons with polka dots or geometric patterns with stripes or polka dots. The continuity and cohesiveness of these contrasting patterns comes with ensuring the scale of the patterns is consistent in size, that the tone or hue of colour is compatible and that the size of the item - for example pillows - is the same.


New hardware on doors and cabinets is an easy and economical way to update the décor in your kitchens and bathrooms as trends change. If you are doing a major renovation or building a new home, basic cabinets are timeless and classic and easily adapted to décor trends.


Replacing a tired or worn out area rug with one in a trending colour and material is another quick and practical way to update your décor. These are easy to add to every room in the house and can be coordinated with linens, pillows, throws and décor items such as candles and decorative accessories for a rejuvenated and updated look.

Mix It Up

I love the unique decor that comes with mixing contrasting materials and styles. This is an effective way of mixing your current décor with the trending elements that you love. Again, continuity and cohesiveness can be achieved by selecting a limited number of materials (I’m referring here to wood, ceramic, granite, metal, concrete, glass, etc.). Too many together can result in a space that appears disjointed and chaotic. The same applies to patterns and colour; ensure the tone and hue of colour are consistent and patterns are of similar scale to create a relaxing, comfortable space.

Photo Courtesy of E. Armstrong

Photo Courtesy of E. Armstrong

Combining differing styles can be a unique and funky way to reflect your style preferences and personality, so have some fun! I have seen French country chic with a touch of industrial or coastal with overtones of Boho – it can work and result in stunning and sophisticated rooms!

Have Fun!

These are just some of the many ways in which trending styles and colours can be integrated into your existing décor in a simple and stylish way. Refreshing the look of you home does not necessarily mean a big price tag; you can reflect your décor personality and flair in a unique way. And most importantly, have fun! Create your own look, reflect your own style and remember comfortable and elegant interiors can be achieved through simple updates.


Simply Christmas

Happy Friday all! I hope your week has been fab and that you have a restful, relaxing weekend planned. Here at Simply Swank Décor, we are gearing up for the festive season and have been designing Christmas décor ideas for each and every area of the home. I will be writing about these in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Not long ago I wrote about transitioning from summer to fall décor (how can we be discussing Christmas décor already?!). As you may recall, I have a foundation in each of the primary areas around my home that I decorate for the season and/or occasion, i.e., mantel, top of the hutch, and the dining table centerpiece. At Christmas, I go a bit further (add in my EL’s eye roll here!) and add a touch of Christmas to the bathrooms, kitchen, entry way and of course the front porch.

The dining table centerpiece was the first to be done (yep, way early there!) due to a photo shoot I did for a December magazine article. I decided to leave it in place and let it shape and influence the Christmas décor in other areas of our home. I really love and appreciate natural elements and as I transition our home to coastal décor, natural elements continue to play a huge role.

For the centerpiece, I left the foundation rocks in the wooden tray and swapped out the orange candles used in the fall for a trio of pale blue/sea green candles. They coordinate beautifully with my set of pale turquoise and white placemats and burlap table runner. I added in silver spray painted mini pinecones, some small white and silver ornaments and starfish. I initially added some grape vine stars that I had painted silver but much prefer the starfish.

I would love to know what your Christmas décor plans are and be sure to share pics – always love to see what all of you are doing. Have a great weekend!

Simply Cozy

Fall, with its cooler evenings and milder days, makes us start snuggling in. After the summer we’ve had (record breaking heat, severe drought), it was hard to imagine the autumn season would arrive. But here it is!

You may find yourself looking for a lap throw to snuggle under while reading in the morning or evening, creating a warm glow with candles, and transitioning to warmer, earthy colours in our décor accessories. Transitioning from a lighter, airy summer décor to a warmer, cozier fall style can be a simple and easy process that doesn’t take loads of time. Summer is a time of light and airy décor. In fall, the use of richer, warmer colours and textures dials up the cozy and makes our homes relaxed and comfortable and mixing contrasting patterns and textures adds even more depth and comfort.

The following ideas can be adapted to many décor styles and create rooms you may never want to leave!

Throws – drape one over the arm of your sofa or favourite chair. Available in a wide range of colours, throws can also be found in many materials such as chenille, wool or mohair and are also available in strips, plaids and solids.

Pillows – no husband that I know likes throw cushions but what a simple and easy way to change the look of any room! There are some really fun cushions out there in a wide variety of colours, patterns, textures (faux fur is back :) and appliqués.

Candles – one of my fav décor elements! In fall I love the deep amber and orange as well as cream colours available and many stores now carry unscented candles in a wide variety of colours and sizes.

Natural Elements – leaves, fruit, pinecones and nuts and grapevine can all be beautifully incorporated into fall décor and many of these items can easily transition from fall to winter and Christmas décor (yes, I said it!). They are plentiful at the grocery store, the farmers market or in your own backyard.

Area rugs – adding an area rug or two to the side of the bed, in front of a sofa (layering an area rug over wall-to-wall creates depth and texture) kitchen or entranceway can enhance the coziness and add a splash of warm colour to your home.

Enjoy updating your home for fall and be sure to cozy up with a cuppa when you are finished so you can admire and enjoy your changes. Wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving and remember to be grateful and give thanks for the simple pleasures and treasures in your life.

Swank Smaller Spaces

As I write this I am looking out at a beautiful sunny fall day – my fav season of the year! Hope you’re having a sunny day too!

As the seasons change, I get energized and motivated to start the next home project or get the energy and incentive to finish my WIPs (works in progress). As many of you know, we have downsized twice in 4 years and are in a much smaller home that actually feels bigger than the last. The layout, number of windows, natural light and the fact that it’s a bungalow (full basement with lots of space and storage) make it feel very roomy. At this stage many of us are opting for smaller spaces but that does not mean sacrificing style and the opportunity to reflect our personality and flair in the design and décor.

This video outlines some of the general guidelines that can make small spaces ‘live large’ while keeping the rooms inviting, comfortable and functional. They are simple and can apply to any room in your home.

The guidelines are pretty straight forward, but if you’re like me, you’re visual and need to see them put into practice. The following slide show provides some beautiful photos of small living rooms that reflect a wide range of décor styles, colours and layouts. Lots of ideas here and I got excited and motivated when watching it.

These small bedroom designs would make it very hard for me to get out of bed in the morning! These are very livable rooms that are huge on style!

If you’re doing a smaller room and need ideas, let me know - I would love to work with you to create a fresh look! And if you have completed a project, be sure to share the pics – I would love to see your style and flair in action!

Have a great weekend and remember to make it swank!




Simple Fall Decor

Fall has arrived! Unofficially of course, but the temperate days and cooler nights signal that it is here. With the change of seasons many of us make some updates to our décor to reflect the fall season.

I have three main display areas in my living room and kitchen area and changes in these areas signal a change in the season and/or celebrations. While updates to these areas sound like a lot of work, I have established a ‘foundation’ display in each area that I can easily and simply update. I can update one at a time or all at once as my schedule allows, which makes for an easy transformation.

The top of the hutch has a foundation of a cork filled bird cage (a very pleasant and enjoyable work in progress!), a grapevine wreath, a hurricane vase and a candle lantern. The bird cage always remains as is. However, the wreath has greenery on it in summer which is layered with maple leaf shaped mini glimmer lights in fall (http://www.pier1.com/glimmer-strings#nav=top); the candle lantern is empty in summer but mini gourds, pine cones, pumpkins and cinnamon sticks fill it in the fall; the hurricane vase contains sand and sea shells along with a white or pale blue candle in summer which is swapped out for acorns with a cream coloured candle in fall. The filler items around this ‘foundation’ can be clear or sea blue glass bottles or more pillar candles in summer and clear glass and a white pumpkin in fall.

The fireplace mantel foundation is made up of a large rectangular silver framed mirror casually leaning against the wall along with a large apothecary candle jar and two pillar candle stands all in sea green glass. In summer these are enhanced with starfish, seashells and sea green coloured candles. The fall transition means a white candle in the apothecary jar, removal of the seashells and the addition of clear glass and white pumpkins and one of the pillar candles for balance. I did keep one starfish this year – I thought it was a lovely contrast to the teal coloured gourd. It’s a simple but festive display!

The dining table in the kitchen has a foundation of seasonal coloured/styled table runner and shallow rectangular wooden tray. The tray is filled with stones, a small glass candle holder and a couple of glass votive holders and décor elements change around this to reflect the season or celebration. In fall the stones are topped by small pinecones, acorns, colourful fall leaves and mini pumpkins and/or gourds; the candle is swapped out for a cream coloured or orange one and fall scented candles are added to the votives.

I also have a large metal bucket in a corner of the dining area and the contents are always swapped out for something more appropriate to the season or celebration – in fall it’s a large bouquet of fall leaves (maple and maiden’s hair), bittersweet and mini jute pumpkins.

Having a foundation of décor elements in each of these areas keep updates from being overwhelming and time consuming and allows for quick and simple refreshes. It also eases storage as the décor items can be stored away by location and easily pulled out one at a time or all at once, as your time allows.

Have fun transitioning your home for fall and be sure to share pics – I would love to see what you’re up to!



Decorate Anywhere Anytime

Ah, September! For many, me included, this is the ‘real’ New Year! Somehow the beginning of school whether we have children going back or not, makes us want to get organized, start new or resume established routines, improve our eating habits, start new exercise regimes and prepare for fall. I am just back from an amazing couple of weeks in Nova Scotia where reading, rest and relaxation were the orders of every day.

We rented a charming cottage at Halls Harbour in the Annapolis Valley (https://www.tripadvisor.ca/VacationRentalReview-g154967-d4125892-Huntington_Point_Cottage-Nova_Scotia.html) that provided beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy. I was in my element beach combing every day, sitting and watching stunning sunsets, watching the tide rush in and out and just listening to the sounds of the ocean. But my ever lovin’ will tell you (to his amusement) that even on vacation I have to decorate my surroundings!

So, how did I decorate our space? Natural elements were plentiful and easily available. And of course, my love for anything coastal just made it that much easier and enjoyable! The wild roses in wine glasses set along the window ledge provided a beautiful splash of colour and heavenly scent throughout the cottage.

Of course, the many beautiful stones and shells made for simple and delightful vignettes on both the kitchen window ledge and the porch railing.

And candles, one of favourite décor items, are always with me and cast a lovely warm glow and ambiance for dining, reading or playing board games.

However, all too soon going to sleep and waking to the sounds of the ocean is over and reality has set in. Now that we’re home, my thoughts are turning to fall (my favourite season!) and preparing for the cooler weather ahead. I so look forward to the changing seasons and the changing décor that goes along with it. Stay tuned for fall décor ideas and simple, stylish and elegant updates.


Consulting Has Made Me a Better Interior Designer

Happy Friday! I have to confess this fantastic summer weather we're having has distracted me from my blogging so you may have noticed a few gaps in the posting schedule! But during that time I haven’t been ignoring my design and décor biz.

In fact, I’ve been networking and promoting my business and working on a couple of exciting new ventures (watch for upcoming announcements!). In the process of meeting with people the question regarding my background and experience and how I became an interior designer inevitably comes up. I was apologetically explaining that I have done a 180 and gone from working in Management and IT consulting but then decided to follow my passion. But why apologetically?!

Just like meeting clients and working with them to identify their business challenges and making recommendations for changes together with a game plan to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organization, I meet with clients to discuss and identify what challenges they are dealing with in their homes. I then make recommendations and provide a plan to create an inviting, comfortable, functional home in which they can live and play.

Surprisingly, many of the questions asked in either profession are very similar and designed to get clients talking about likes, dislikes, goals, desired outcome, etc. In fact, I relied heavily on my consulting background when developing the questionnaire for my interior design clients and just like management consulting, one or two questions are all it takes to get them chatting and discussing what frustrates them, what they would like to change, what they’d like to see disappear and how they picture using their space.

While the path I have traveled is a bit unconventional and not the one typically taken by most interior designers, I wouldn’t trade it. I loved working with my consulting clients and now I get to work with people on a much more personal and intimate level and see the recommended changes come to life.

The ultimate goal is happy, satisfied clients regardless of what services you are providing. While I am following my passion and starting my echo career, the experience gained in my previous life has actually made me a better interior designer!

Happy long weekend!

To Stage or Not to Stage?

Why stage your home?

When selling your home you want the best possible price in the shortest time possible. Staging and styling ensures your home stands out from the others on the market and enables prospective buyers to envision themselves living there.

Over 81% of buyers ‘”find it easier to visualize the property as their future home” when it’s staged. Staged homes sell 79% faster than those staged after being listed. (NAR (National Association of Realtors)

What does it cost?

The cost of staging depends on the state of the home. It can be as a simple as decluttering, cleaning inside and out, rearrangement of your furnishings and/or the addition of a few new decor items and fresh flowers. Or, it may require fresh paint, repairs and completion of unfinished home improvement projects.

 A NAR survey found the average home staging investment is 1-3% of the home’s asking price, which generated an 8-10% ROI on the cost of home staging.

Make your home outstanding!

You want buyers to be excited by what they see and select your home for an onsite visit. Exceptional photos make your home stand out and staging ensures the photographer is able to capture the attractiveness of your home so that in turn, it catches prospective buyer’s eye when they are doing online research.

 NAR found that 90% of potential buyers search online first.

These before and after photos show what a difference staging can make!

These before and after photos show what a difference staging can make!

Using items the homeowners had, this bedroom was updated for less than $400!

Using items the homeowners had, this bedroom was updated for less than $400!


Tips for Selecting Best Type of Paint

Happy Friday all! What DIY projects do you have lined up for the weekend? I know many of you (me included!) are planning to paint as part of a spring refresh or home reno project. I also know that you are faced with a LOT of questions and decisions when you buy paint: matte, eggshell, semi-gloss; VOC free, low VOC; alkyd, latex, oil? This can be overwhelming and confusing (and here you thought it was just going to be a quick paint job to update and refresh that room!!).

I thought it was timely to provide a primer (pun intended!) on paint: what to use where; what are VOCs and why should you be wary; and which paint is best to use. I won’t identify specific brands as they all have these options and a zillion colours available; the only difference is in price point.

 Paint Finishes

A paint finish refers to the amount of sheen that appears on your walls.

  •  Matte or Flat

Just as the word says, this finish is flat which is great for masking flaws on the surface to be painted. Generally matte paint is used on the ceiling where you don’t want any reflection but it can also enhance the richness of a colour when used on walls and makes walls appear velvety.

  • Eggshell or Satin

Eggshell has slightly more sheen than a flat finish, but won't leave walls looking shiny. It resists stains better than matte and can be wiped with a wet rag. This finish is often used in bathrooms, kitchens, kids' rooms, and other high-traffic areas.

  • Semi-gloss

Semi-gloss is more durable than eggshell, so will show less wear. It will reflect more light than eggshell when dry and show imperfections on the walls so be sure to repair these before painting so they don’t standout. Semi-gloss is the best finish for cleaning so is a good choice for a kids' bedroom, bathroom or kitchen and is also popular for trim, doors, and furniture. Also, if the room to be painted is north facing and/or doesn’t get much light or is small, a semi-gloss finish works well as it reflects light and makes spaces feel brighter and more spacious.

  • Gloss

Gloss paint is best for windows and trims. It also works really well for furniture due to its durable and shiny finish. Some also recommend glossy paint for a glam look!

Painting colours

Types of Paint

When I talk about the types of paint, I’m referring to the content of the product, not the finish.

  • Latex

Latex is a water-based paint that dries quickly, cleans up easily with water and produces very little odor.

  • Oil/Alkyd

Oil or alkyd paint dries slower, has a strong odor and requires chemicals to clean up tools - and yourself! The advantage to oil or alkyd paint is that it has a very durable finish that is resistant to stains, fingerprints and scratches. It is well suited to rough surfaces, furniture and floors as it sticks to surfaces really well.

Oil painting


VOCs are carbon-based chemicals contained in some paints that are easily evaporated at room temperature.  VOCs don’t necessarily have an odor which makes them deceptive in terms of risk, i.e. if you can’t smell them doesn’t mean there’s no danger or that you aren’t inhaling them. So paints that are low or no VOC are better options as working with them reduces the risk of harmful effects from inhalation.


Back in the ‘olden’ days, it was recommended that surfaces be primed before being painted. Thankfully the majority of paints now have built in primer so it reduces the number of steps you need to take when painting a room. This is particularly handy if you’re painting over a paint colour such as eye searing neon green! I especially LOVE the ceiling paints with built in primers that go on pink and dry white so you can see exactly where you’ve painted – genius!

I hope you find this primer helpful and that it provides a handy reference guide for selecting the best paint for your project – after the challenge of picking the perfect colour of course!


Simple Updates

Home décor magazines and the home décor shows flooding TV these days focus on total room or house updates and renos. Face it; they have ratings to be mindful of, right?! However, the rest of us mere mortals don’t have unlimited funds, a huge team of professionals and trades behind us or even access to the products and materials used. But, we all want our homes to be fresh, up-to-date and stylish. So how do we accomplish this with limited resources and means?

My belief is we have most of what we need. I don’t know anyone who sets out to by unattractive furnishings and décor that don’t fit in their home. But sometimes we need a simple update or refresh. This can be accomplished in so many ways. I recently did a consult with a client who wants to repaint their living room and hallway and re-do a bathroom. However, as we chatted she asked me to look at the master bedroom; she still liked the paint and colour scheme but felt the room was lacking the ‘wow’ factor.

Master bedroom pattern

While the ambiance of the room is relaxing and serene, it felt tired and humdrum. What could she do?

The picture on the wall has beautiful deep burgundy roses in it that just didn’t stand out. The handmade quilt had the same gorgeous colour in some of the fabrics. So this was the inspiration for a punch of colour. We bought a cream coloured comforter, filled out the head of the bed with king sized pillows in shams that match the comforter, added throw pillows in deep burgundy and replaced the white hydrangeas with burgundy ones. Left to do are new white lampshades to brighten the corners and update the existing, outdated shades, add some greenery to the pitcher of hydrangeas and replace the square cream pillow with a neck roll.

Cream pillow with a neck roll

The transformation is already looking awesome, don’t you think?! The room is still serene and relaxing but has that little extra something! And the picture above the bed really stands out now too!

What simple updates can you do that will freshen your home and make it swank?

Get Your Spring On!

I had a totally different blog article in mind this week. But some perfect spring weather has arrived, the snow and ice are completely gone and I think I have spring fever! (I’m sure my ever lovin’ would agree!) I have been combing the latest issues of magazines, reading décor blogs I follow and e-newsletters I receive, looking through my paint swatch books and looking at décor products on some of my fav retailers’ websites. I want to re-do every room in the house!

Spring is the time when you want to refresh everything, incorporate lighter colours and lighten the mood throughout your home and banish the cozy and warm (read darker) decor we associate with winter. While in my mind re-doing every room is immensely do-able, the reality is that this is not practical and I do need to focus – sometimes not an easy task for me!

While I am in the process of completely re-doing the master bedroom (a future blog post), the other rooms will get their spring refresh in other more manageable ways. The guest room bedding will be swapped out for white cotton, a creamy white throw will replace the dark one currently on the foot of the bed and white towels will replace the navy ones in the bathroom giving it an instant update and lighter feel.

White Chenille Throw - Pier1imports

White Chenille Throw - Pier1imports

In the living room, white candles will be added to the mantle, plants and fresh flowers will add life to the room and bring the outdoors in, the throw will be removed from the sofa and throw cushions in white and neutral colours and summery fabrics such as linen, cotton and burlap, will replace the ‘winter’ ones. I like throw cushions that say spring too – think stripes, floral patterns or polka dots!

White flowers

In the dining room, the centerpiece will be updated and will include candles, botanicals and natural elements such as stones or pebbles. And the table linens will be replaced with a white and blue table runner and white and navy linen napkins.



Swapping out décor elements and lightening up the atmosphere now makes for an easy transition to summer and the relaxed, easy vibe we want for those hot, sunny months when we’d rather be playing outside.

So, how are you celebrating the arrival of spring and taming your spring fever? I’d love to hear what you have planned!