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.

Petunia Pig.jpg

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.

Verdigris Pig.jpg

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.

Fireplace Industrial Style.jpg

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.

Scale

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.

Rhythm

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!

Simon Chang Shoes.jpg

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

Colour

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.

Fabric

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.

Hardware

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.

Rugs

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

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.

Primers

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.

brika.com

brika.com

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!

Get Ready for Summer!

Andrew Richard Designs (www.andrewricharddesigns.com)

I had the pleasure of finding the Andrew Richard Designs oasis at IDS16. What drew my attention initially was the beautifully designed booth which exuded summertime relaxation and socialization. The booth showcased the range of their designs and accessories and was at once casual and sophisticated. Besides the fantastic designs, there were two things that really stood out about Andrew Richard Designs: materials and customization.

Materials

Catering to both residential and commercial requirements, Andrew Richard Designs use quality materials such as woven Solartex, which contains high-density polyethylene, reinforced with fine PVC fibers that bring to mind the look and feel of wicker. This trademarked material can withstand sun, salt, acid rain, pollution and extreme temperatures, and won’t fade, crack, or split – ideal for outdoor requirements! It comes in a variety of weaves and colours so can be coordinated in outdoor rooms for a sophisticated and chic look.

High chair

The furniture frames are built with tubular and cast aluminum at a thickness of 2.5-3 mm (higher than the standard for residential applications). Aluminum is a weather resistant, rust-proof, non-corroding material and contributes to the strength, durability and comfort of the designs.

Aluminum frame lounging chair

The wood used in the handcrafted pieces is teak or reclaimed teak. Teak is a renewable eco-friendly wood and is incredibly oil rich material which protects it from extreme weather and reduces its tendency to crack or split. Teak is also resistant to rotting, moisture, and acid rain, and easily maintained with teak oil, making it ideal for every climate in Canada. The reclaimed teak is sourced from a variety of locations and further aging is stopped by treating and re-protecting the wood to stand the test of time in an outdoor environment.

Wooden table

Stainless steel is a sleek and stylish material and perfectly complements a contemporary outdoor room. Andrew Richard Designs use stainless steel for a number of their furniture and accessory designs. Stainless steel has a thin chromium oxide film that provides significant corrosion and rust resistance, making it both durable and reliable outdoors. In addition, stainless steel is not a significant conductor of heat so exposed frames do not become too hot in direct sun - no more burned legs!

Umbrella

Customization

Andrew Richard Designs offer custom made and designed outdoor furnishings - fantastic! This ranges from making a few minor changes to the dimension or design of one of their existing products, or starting from scratch to create a completely distinctive new collection perfectly tailored to the space, style and design, you desire. This really impressed me! We have such a short time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors during the summer; our spaces should be comfortable, unique and fit with our lifestyles.

With spring around the corner and summer fast approaching, start browsing the Andrew Richard Designs catalogue and plan to make your outdoor living experience exceptional!

IDS 2016

The International Design Show (IDS) is Canada’s premier showcase of new products, innovative designers and avant-garde concepts from North America and beyond. But OMG! I was like a kid in a candy store – where to start?! I dutifully followed the floor guide and took the grid approach until I started following the ‘shiny bits’ and wandered to whatever caught my eye.

The spectrum and variety of companies present covered all aspects of home design and decor from flooring, window dressings, lighting, plumbing and furnishings to art and décor. Against a schedule of presentations by world renowned designers, the show was a Mecca of design spanning all styles and tastes.

But there were a number of companies that really stood out for me based on their company philosophy, their approach to design and décor and the flexibility of designs, products and services. The next few blog posts will profile these companies and I highly encourage you to check each of them out! I guarantee you will find something unique and stylish for your home, so stay tuned!

Inter Leather (http://www.inter-leather.com/)

Inter Leather is a company providing premium upholstery leathers to manufacturers, designers and the A&D trade as well as the garment and bag industries. Targeting the mid to high end residential market as well as the marine, commercial, automotive and hospitality sectors, their collections provide an almost endless selection of styles and variety of colours in solids and embossed leathers, ensuring long lasting, durable and stylish pieces. Bill Corless and his partner (she likes to be in the background), produce three collections under the Inter Leather name.

The natural leathers collection covers the full range of leather from lighter to heavy weight, protected, cracked and stressed, semi-aniline and aniline. The range of available colours is impressive!

Natural leather

The embossed leathers are truly unique and the patterns and textures stunning. The range of patterns across the five collections as well as the selection of colours and availability of custom colours ensures there is something elegant and stylish for every décor style and taste.

Embossed leather

The eco-leathers are comprised of three collections all dyed through a natural process using an olive leaf extract as the tanning agent. A by-product from olive oil production, the olive leaves can decompose with the tanning agent removed. All are heavy weight leathers and range from soft and elegant to gently distressed.

Eco-leather

But what really struck me about Inter Leather, as if the above isn’t enough, is their commitment to sustainability and reduction of their carbon footprint. Inter Leather will only work with tanneries around the globe that share their same commitment to sustainability and who meet or exceed legislated environmental requirements. This ensures:

·         No hazardous tanning agents are used in the process

·         All finishes are water based

·         All water is monitored and treated with a substantial proportion being reused through the tanneries

·         Any water not reused is discharged in compliance with European environmental requirements

·         All effluents of the tanning process are independently monitored to ensure a two tiered control on discharge.

 And Canadian to boot? I’m in!

 

Be Bold!

I recently wrote about how scary colour can be; just the sheer number of colours, hues, tints and shades make selecting a colour an intimidating experience! What if you really like a bold colour such as red or orange or bright purple and want to experiment but are nervous about stepping outside your comfort zone? Relax! There are a number of ways in which to use bold colours but keep it from dominating or overpowering your decor.

French artist Henri Matisse loved the use of bold, brilliant colour. His goal was to create work that would result in “a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair.” When looking at his vibrant work, soothing and calming are not words that come to mind. However, his approach and the bold use of colour are easily integrated into home décor and design.

Following are some suggestions for using bold colours while still maintaining a calm and relaxing atmosphere in your space:

Paint One Wall

If painting a whole room a bright or bold colour has you hesitating, paint one wall instead. An accent wall can highlight interesting architectural features, provide a back drop to a beautiful piece of furniture or draw attention away from an unattractive view or feature in the room. And if the colour doesn’t work? Repainting one wall is relatively painless!

interiordezine.com

interiordezine.com

Accessorize

Adding a bold colour through accessories still provides that burst of colour but without as much work & commitment as painting the walls. Think pillows, throws, a bouquet of fresh flowers, coloured glass, candles or lamp shades. And against a neutral background, bold colours really stand out!

huffingtonpost.com

huffingtonpost.com

Artwork

A print that incorporates the bold colour you want to add to the room is another easy and relatively inexpensive way to add splashes of colour. This doesn’t have to be expensive; craft stores often sell prints in a variety of sizes and also sell frames and mats which can make the piece look posh and high-priced. Hung on a neutral colour wall the art work will stand out and draw the eye.

Mary Derrick, "When the Skies Weep"

Mary Derrick, "When the Skies Weep"

Paint Furniture

Let’s face it; we all have pieces of furniture that we value far more than they’re really worth or that we’re tired of in their current state. How about painting the piece in a bold, new colour? Think occasional table, book case, dresser or chair.

everydayexp.com

everydayexp.com

The web is a fantastic source of DIY ideas and the pics are so inspirational! There’s usually good how-to info as well. Any one of these options is an inexpensive weekend project and will provide an immediate update and refresh to any room. Have fun experimenting and remember to make it “Swank”!

Colour Can Be Scary!

 

So many of us are afraid of or don’t understand colour. It’s an intimidating experience facing the wall of colour chips in the paint department of our local home improvement store – there are so many! How do we ever determine what is best for that room we’re making over?! Let me help; there are some considerations to bear in mind when faced with the task of picking a colour.

What is the use of the room you are re-doing? Is the room going to be used for dining, relaxation, socialization or creativity? Different colours are associated with different activities to enhance, support and contribute to their maximum enjoyment. Carefully consider the use of the room and the ambiance you are trying to achieve.

What direction does the room face? Orientation of the room affects the amount of light it receives throughout the day. Consider the direction it faces and what time of day the room will be used for its primary activity. The direction will also influence the type of paint finish you should opt for. For example, a north facing room will not get much natural light so semi-gloss or high gloss paint is the best option as it reflects light and makes the room appear brighter. A south facing room will get lots of natural light so a matte finish works well.

What furniture or cabinetry will be in the room? If you have fav pieces you want to use in the room, what colour is the finish or upholstery? Are you budgeting for reupholstering and/or refinishing the pieces or buying all new furniture? The colour of finish on wooden pieces can influence the adjacent colour on the walls making it look much different than the paint chip. If you are reupholstering, it’s the perfect opportunity to match paint and fabric. And of course, if all new furniture is in your budget, the perfect paint match is easy peasy.

Do you have any favourite colours? Are there any colours you just can’t live with! Is there a colour range you love and always find yourself gravitating towards? Clients often say they “are totally open” to any colour, to only start saying no when the décor consultant asks about specific colours. For example, if you really can’t live with orange or yellow, rule them out right away; don’t waste time trying to make friends with these colours. I always seem to gravitate towards blue, but there are a million (okay, I’m exaggerating!) shades of blue! Colours can be cool or warm, have different undertones, and have different levels of saturation or tints or hues. Every colour is going to present many options.

Photo by catalby/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by catalby/iStock / Getty Images

How often do you typically repaint/redecorate? If the colour you are choosing is going to be changed out in a few months or a year, you can be a bit more bold and experimental. If you are going to live with the colour for a few years, you want to take more time selecting the colour and carefully consider your choice. In this instance, I believe neutrals are a brilliant choice. When we think of neutrals, we often think of boring beige or plain ol’ white. These can be outstanding and practical and provide a wide range of variations. But grays are an outstanding choice as a neutral as well; they can be green based or blue based, have more or less saturation or hue. What I love about neutrals is that when you are bored or tired with the look, changing up the accessories is a relatively inexpensive way to update the look of a room. With neutral walls, be they in the beige/taupe or gray range, accessories can be from any other section of the colour wheel. A simple change of candles, throw or pillows can completely transform the look.

I hope these questions will help ease the trepidation of selecting a paint colour and finish the next time you find yourself standing in front of that intimidating wall of colour chips. With some consideration, selecting the perfect colour can be a fun and exciting venture and a way to express your style and taste.

 

 

Cohesiveness in a Chaotic World

Have you ever walked through a décor or furniture store or been visiting someone and admired the mix of colours, patterns and textures? Invariably the next thought is, “oh my, I could never do that!” Creating a cohesive design and look isn’t as difficult or tricky as you might think; with some fundamental understanding of colour, scale and the rule of 3 (what I refer to as the ‘rule of odd’), anyone can bring balance to their space with bold, contrasting prints.

From triptychs to tripod tables, three-based designs have been used for centuries. The basic idea is this: Two contrasting patterns cause visual conflict, but three patterns create balance and cohesion. The key is to emphasize design details that pull the look together — such as utilizing rhythmic, curvilinear patterns to achieve balance between organic florals and graphic stripes.

Pillows on a chair

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as throwing any three floral, curvy lined and striped patterns together. Picking prints with similar or complementary colors is the quickest way to create cohesion. This might mean choosing prints that are all in the same color family, or selecting single-color stripes and arabesques in shades pulled from a multi-coloured floral pattern.

These three contrasting patterns work best together when there is a clear difference in scale — namely small, medium and large. Whether modern or traditional, your largest, most dominant pattern will make the biggest impact in terms of style and color palette. Your medium pattern should be about half the size of the large one and will add dramatic contrast, while the smallest will act as visual texture.


And experiment! Playing with patterns, textures and colours is fun and through this you’ll discover what is pleasing to you and maybe find a combination that you had never considered and is suddenly a favourite! Enjoy!