Decor Doesn't Take a Holiday

While summer technically goes on for another month, at least in the northern hemisphere, many view the end of August as the end of summer. I hope you have had a chance to get away, get some r & r, explore or visit family and friends. I have been very fortunate this summer to have escaped not once but twice to cottages. Nothing like a change of scenery and pace to make you truly appreciate down time and summer!

The cottages we rented were beautiful and well equipped which made our stays comfortable, with lots of seating areas perfect for a calm cuppa in the a.m. or a peaceful sip of something delish late in the afternoon. The serenity is addictive and it’s always so hard to leave these places!

I have to say though that decor doesn’t take a holiday ;) I just can’t be at a cottage without adding my own personal ‘touch’. These ‘touches’ are usually natural items found in the woods or along the shoreline of the cottage and are a perfect way to bring the outdoors in and ground the spaces.

Most cottages I’ve rented don’t have vases, decorative bowls or candle holders but this has never stopped me! It’s an opportunity to get creative and look at the possibilities in ordinary, every day items. Check out these options for your next vacation and if camping is more your style, these can work equally as well in a camper or the picnic table.

Wine glasses are perfect for floating flowers.

December 2016 366.jpg

Water glasses with tea lights are lovely as a centrepiece and bring a warm ambience as the sun sets.

Candle Shells Centrepiece.jpg

Beer mugs or small jugs are a casual and informal way to add a touch of greenery to the space.

Greenery in a Beer Glass.jpg

Small colourful stones or seashells decorate window ledges and remind us of the day’s explorations.

Stones & Shells on Window Ledge.jpg

I hope these ideas inspire you and be sure to check back next week for tips on transitional fall decor.

Simply Swank Decor Blog: The Year to Date

I hope this finds you all well and finding time to complete some fun decor and design updates in your homes! I have been loving (hope you are too) the guest blog posts I have been sharing this year so far. The talent and creativity of people never ceases to amaze and impress me and stay tuned for June’s guest blog post that will be out next Wednesday – I am totally IN LOVE with my guest’s creations!!!

In anticipation of next week’s post, this week’s blog spot is a review of the four guests that have been featured at Simply Swank Decor so far. If you like what you see and are interested in acquiring one or more of their pieces, be sure to contact them directly – I know they’d be delighted to hear from you!

Grab a cuppa or a glass of something yummy and enjoy the read. Cheers!

Wendy Parlow 6.jpg
Guest Blogger - Elizabeth Hesp -Pic #4.jpg
Shrouded, oil on canvas, 24x24, 2017.JPG

Summer in the Dining Room

If you are like me, you are more than ready for the long hot lazy days of summer – days spent lazing on the porch with a cold beverage, enjoying barbecues with family and friends, heading off to the beach at each and every opportunity, or playing in the garden. While we are anxious to spend as much time as possible outdoors we still want the inside of our homes to look stylish but desire decor that is simple and easy to maintain. For the next few blog posts, I am going to share some suggestions for simple updates you can make to ensure easy, low-maintenance interior decor to keep you outside as much as possible.

When the sunny, hot days are upon us, we want to incorporate lighter colours, lighten the mood throughout our homes, and banish the darker colours and materials we associate with winter. This week, I focus on the dining area of the home.

  • Centrepiece

    • tray, large plate (flat or pedestal) or bowl as the base
    • add natural elements such as a stones or seashells

    • incorporate white or pastel coloured candles

    • use botanicals - faux flowers or succulents look shabby chic paired with natural elements!

    • add clear glass candle holders or jars (Mason jars are such an easy addition and add a casual vibe to the space)

  • Table runner in a natural fibre such as burlap or jute

  • Plate mats and napkins in cotton or linen (have some fun and let your whimsical side show!)

    • striped place mats with polka dot and/or flowered napkins

    • use multiple colours that say summer to you - crisp white and navy, pale blue, sea green and soft yellow, navy, white and coral

    • napkin rings that complement the chosen look/style

Create a signature look and have fun pulling it together! And remember all of this can be moved al fresco for an even more casual summer dining experience.

Add Emotion and Depth to Your Decor With Art Work

It’s that time in my blogging month – guest blogger week! In this week's blog post I am excited to introduce you to another of the 'creatives' that I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I would say meet, but Mary Derrick and I haven’t actually met face-to-face yet (that will change this summer ;) We were introduced virtually by a mutual friend who thought I would like Mary’s work. And DID I?! I checked her website and immediately bought a piece. I include here again but you will recognize it from my Instagram and Facebook posts.

  When The Skies Weep, Mary Derrick

When The Skies Weep, Mary Derrick

As with so many of us, pursuing her creative passion is an encore career for Mary. Read on to learn more and be sure to check out her website. And, if you are in the Peterborough, Ontario area this summer, drop by her studio (days/times noted below).

Enjoy the post and I hope you are as inspired as I was by the peace and beauty of Mary's work.

Have you always been a painter?

No, I haven't. I always loved the arts, but was really just a dabbler. Then in 1997 I was at the cottage with my husband and in-laws, at a time when my mother-in-law, a wonderful woman and water colorist, was nearing the end of her time and she was confined to her bed. I thought, “What shall I do to help her through this time?”and I thought well, painting is her passion, I'll see if she'd like to teach me how to paint....she was thrilled and excited so, that's really kind of how it all began.

She would tell me what to do from her bed and I'd be in the kitchen following her instructions and I'd bring it in and she'd critique it... so in a wonderful way she truly inspired the love of painting in me. I found later that really water colour wasn't my medium, so I switched to oils in 2008 and still dabbled while I was working full-time in a very high stress job. Then in 2011 we moved to the Peterborough, Ontario area and I was able to focus my time on painting ever since.

If not, what did you work at previously?

I spent most of my working life in the fashion and jewellery industry. I worked in pretty much every single area of the industry, from sales, to advertising, district management, buying and designing lines of private label clothing and jewellery, visual merchandising, to my last position as VP of a national chain of jewellery stores. Thankfully every position always had so much room for creativity that I was always challenged and enjoyed every stage of my career!

What attracted you to painting?

I've always been drawn to colour, texture, and movement; when I was younger I just loved to look at paintings that I could get lost in. I was always drawn to art that was representational or abstracts because with both of these there is room for your own imagination to take you where it would like to go, every time you look you might see something different in the piece or experience a different emotion. I also was fortunate enough to travel quite extensively and to have gone to some incredible art galleries, museums, etc. All of that impacts you.

 Light Play, Mary Derrick

Light Play, Mary Derrick

How did you make the transition to painting?

Once I gave up corporate life, there was no going back for me. It was truly a sense of release to pursue my dream of putting my emotions on canvas.

 Sweet Surrender, Mary Derrick

Sweet Surrender, Mary Derrick

Are there skills in from your previous work life that you made use of in your painting biz?

Oh definitely, primarily as it relates to colour & texture, but also in my last position where one of my responsibilities was picking the finishes for new stores/kiosks as they arose. That made me very aware of décor and in some ways all of these experiences have influenced me to some degree.

What are the biggest challenges of your painting biz?

That's a great question! I think like most artists the biggest challenge is to get your art seen by as many people as possible. I personally love meeting people who love art, so that one-on-one interaction for me is important. So, while I do use social media, I love opportunities to meet people face-to-face.

What gives you the greatest joy and pleasure of your painting biz?

Well first it's creating it because for me it's very much a meditative process that I love. I start with the blank canvas, with no preconceived idea of what the end result will be, though I do use primarily skies and water, sometimes fields, to project what I'm feeling onto the canvas. My art is not about places, so much as it is about feelings.

The other truly great pleasure comes when I open my home gallery to the public, or do outdoor shows as the reaction of people seeing my work is so positive and affirmative! I love to watch them: first they just stop, then the shoulders go down, then they breathe, they smile, and I can literally seeing them relaxing, and that makes the hard work all worth while! One of the most common comments I hear is, “Wow I feel like I've entered the Zen Zone” or words to that effect. When I hear/see that relaxation taking place I know I've accomplished my goal to create art that will allow people to pause and relax.

 Windswept, Mary Derrick

Windswept, Mary Derrick

How/What do your paintings contribute to interior décor?

I'd say my paintings add a calming, relaxed feeling to a room. I purposefully try to keep my work very minimal, as by removing the detail and clutter one can look and get lost in the feelings of relaxation. With life being so very busy all the time these days, its so important to take the time and to surround ourselves with pieces that bring us that moment of 'aaaah', that moment to allow ourselves to simply relax.

 Shrouded, Mary Derrick

Shrouded, Mary Derrick

This summer May/June/July/Aug I will be opening my home gallery one weekend each month (Sat-Sun, 10:00-4:00 p.m.), possibly the 2nd or 3rd weekend - I am still trying to determine that (check the website for updates). I will also be at the Lakefield Jazz and Art festival (July 7th in Lakefield, Ontario). This is my favourite event as the music is always exceptional and everyone bebops around in a great mood.

Mary’s website is You can also find her on social media: Facebook (always the MOST current site), as well as on Instagram and Twitter as MaryDerrickArt. If you would like to contact Mary and inquire about purchasing one of her paintings, her email is




Spring Decor Updates in the Bedroom

Hello my decorating divas! It seems spring has finally arrived after a few false starts and wow, does that sunshine and warm air change one’s perspective! Along with the arrival of spring and a change of season comes the motivation to make updates to our homes. I’m not talking major renos, although I know some of you are doing that, but rather simple, easy updates that will make your home feel lighter and brighter just like the weather outside.

This week I’m talking about ideas to refresh your bedroom decor for spring while keeping it comfortable and relaxed. I hope you find these ideas inspiring!


Crisp white linens are always a boost and I highly recommend 100% cotton in the highest thread count your budget can afford. Breathable and cooler, cotton will not only lighten the room but help you get a restful sleep as well. And while we want to be cooler than the scorching temps outside, we still want our bedroom to be cozy. Instead of a heavy throw more suited to winter, switch it out for a light coloured, cotton one that will still be comfy.



I don’t know about you but I don’t think we can ever have too many pillows (collective groan here from the significant others!). Nothing will update your bedroom quicker and easier. I’m loving these ones from Pier 1 Imports ( – so cool, casual and summery!


Displays of your fav things are perfect in every room and a simple change can re-energize and refresh your room. When creating the display, be sure to include items of varying heights to provide visual interest; if all your items are the same height use a pretty pedestal cake plate, a stack of plates or books to give them a boost! Remember an odd number of items will give your display more balance and I always love including an unexpected item to give the display a bit of whimsy.

Natural Elements

As you may have guessed from my blog posts and pics that I love natural items and include them in every room and display. Natural items ground our decor and bring a less formal vibe to a room. Seashells and rocks are two of my favs, especially in the summer but flowers and potted ivy or succulents add a touch of life too.

How are you refreshing your decor this spring? Share your thoughts, ideas and pics – I love to see what you’re up to!

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet

Happy Wednesday! Although winter reached out and touched this past week, spring has to arrive sooner or later! When it does, we want to throw open the windows to the fresh air, embrace the longer days and refresh and update our homes. I know a number of you plan to paint and it truly is a quick, economical and relatively easy way to update and refresh your homes.

I say relatively easy as a trip to the local home improvement store for paint can mean you are faced with A LOT of questions and decisions. The first involves the type of finish you want: matte, eggshell or semi-gloss? Next is the type of paint: alkyd, latex, oil? Read on for time saving tips:

Paint Finish

Paint finish refers to the amount of sheen that appears on your walls once the paint has dried. The basic rule of thumb when choosing a paint finish is the higher the sheen, the higher the shine — and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be.

 ProTect Painters

ProTect Painters

  • Flat

Flat paint is a good choice for ceilings and low-traffic areas. It is also good for walls that are rough or damaged as it is the best paint for hiding imperfections.

  • Matte

A matte finish is very close to a flat finish and again 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 can make your walls appear almost velvety.

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 4 Matte.jpg
  • Satin

A satin finish is a soft sheen that does not have any glare like a high-gloss or semi-gloss paint. It is still washable and is fairly durable, which makes it a good choice for most rooms in your home.

  • Eggshell

Eggshell has slightly more sheen than a flat finish, but won't leave walls ‘shiny’. It resists stains better than matte and can be wiped with a wet rag but note it is not scrubbable.

  • 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! Semi-gloss is the best finish for cleaning so is a good choice for a child’s bedroom or playroom, bathroom or kitchen and is also popular for trim, doors, and furniture. Also, if the room you are painting is north facing, doesn’t get much light or is small, a semi-gloss finish works well as it reflects light and makes rooms feel brighter and more spacious.

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 5 Semi Gloss.jpg
  • 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 on walls for a glam look!

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 6 Glossy.jpg

Types of Paint

When I talk about the types of paint, I’m referring to the content of the product, not the finish and each type does have its use in decorating our homes.

  • Latex

Latex is a water-based paint that dries quickly, cleans up easily with water and produces very little odor. It is the most used paint these days because it is easy to work with and doesn’t require chemicals to clean up.

  • Oil/Alkyd

Oil or alkyd paint dries slower, has a strong odor and requires chemicals to clean up painting tools - and yourself! The advantages of oil or alkyd paint are 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 very well.


While it’s tempting to start right in once you have picked a colour and finish but preparation is key and you will be much happier with the results. First fill in any holes and repair any damage to the dry wall or plaster. Filler now comes pre-prepared in small tubs which is much handier than trying to make a batch yourself and mixing and remixing to find the right consistency and amount (I don’t miss those days!).

Once the filler has dried and you have sanded it smooth and even, thoroughly wash the walls with TSP (trisodium phosphate) followed by a rinse. TSP is available from local home improvement stores and works three ways to make paint adhere better to the walls: degreases; deglosses; and, cleans.

If painting is on your list of spring updates and projects, this information will help you achieve a beautiful result no matter what room is on your to do list.

Decor Updates for Spring

Hello and happy spring although there’s some debate here as we await one of the worst storms we’ve had all winter! It has been a while – life (good challenges) and health (not so good challenges) have kept me from writing for you but I’m back!

I love this time of year when we transition to spring decor. With a few simple and easy changes to your rooms, you can have a fresh new look that will take you well into the next season. Read on for some ideas and tips for updating and refreshing your rooms.

Remember less is more, especially in the warmer weather when we want to feel lighter and have a more relaxed approach to our lives. Decluttering tables, book shelves and fireplace mantels will lighten the look of your spaces and using glass or lighter coloured decor accessories will open up your space, making it appear lighter and more spacious. Using white or ivory coloured candles will bring a more relaxed vibe to your spaces while still allowing for the glow of candle light in the evenings.


One of my fav ways to bring a fresh perspective to my rooms is with spring flowers. A simple bouquet displayed in a vase, mason or jelly jar adds a touch of colour, texture and life to our rooms. So many varieties and colours to choose from!

Like flowers, new greenery is cheery and bright and gives us the hope of longer, warmer days ahead. I love the succulents available to us now and the range of shapes and sizes means there’s something available for every spot in your home.

Tropical plants are excellent too with sooooo many to choose from – colour, size, shape – these provide an instant update. Check out these plant ideas


Another of my best-loved ways for updating decor is changing out pillows and throws. (One can never have too many pillows regardless of what your other half says!) In the cooler weather we want throws and pillows made with heavier weight fabrics and rich, dark colours. As the weather warms up, freshen up by using lighter fabrics such as cotton, linen or silk and softer, lighter colours as well. Instant lift!


Changing the lamp shades is another inexpensive but simple way to refresh your space. A lighter colour and perhaps even different texture goes a long way to making your spaces feel energized and new.

What do you have planned to update and refresh the decor in your rooms? Be sure to share the pics – I love to see what you’ve been working on.

Interior Decor With Lift

This week I am thrilled to introduce another guest blogger! As mentioned previously, I have come across a number of fascinating, unique and interesting artists, ‘creatives’ and designers in my work. These are folks who are pursuing their passions and sharing the results with a broader audience in a number of different ways. Their creations align with my aesthetic that design and decor need not be complicated or elaborate to be tasteful, comfortable and livable and that decor should include a touch of whimsy – something unexpected and perhaps humorous or even cheeky!

This month’s guest blogger is a unique company that not only produces furniture and decor that are works of art but that bring a whole new meaning to ‘upcycle and repurpose’. Mike and Carolynn at Craviations, use repurposed helicopter parts to create designs that “reflect your love of aviation and showcase your sense of adventure.”  (

Read on to learn more about this dynamic team of artists and aviators and the inspiration behind their story!

Have you always been an aviation artist?

Mike and I have always been of the philosophy “work with what you have” and what we have is helicopter parts, lots of helicopter parts. I grew up restoring furniture, and Mike grew up fixing helicopters, together we are masters of DIY. So, to answer the question, have we always been aviation artists? Individually no, but as a couple yes.

If not, what did you work at previously?

As I mentioned previously Mike has been fixing helicopters his whole life. I have been in the aviation industry for close to 20 years. We still operate a Transport Canada approved aircraft structural repair company, which we started 11 years ago.

What attracted you to aviation art?

Having the opportunity to see the insides of aircraft, the parts that most people don’t get to see. Seeing the beauty in the design and engineering of the structure of these parts has always been exciting.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

How did you make the transition to aviation art?

When our first Granddaughter was born, Mike decided he wanted to build a bunk bed using a helicopter. I thought it was a neat idea but who has room for a helicopter in their house (except, I knew we had a room big enough).

Are there skills from your previous work life have you made use of in your aviation art biz?

Both Mike and I have the ability to look at a part and see the finished product. We have worked together for almost 20 years, and we work well together, which is probably the most valuable skill that we bring with us.

Mike’s years of repairing aircraft have allowed him to develop many valuable skills, that he also uses when designing aviation furniture.

As a self-proclaimed DIY master, and a real “work with what you have person” I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have come in handy.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

What are the biggest challenges of your aviation art biz?

Getting people to want something that they don’t know exists.

What gives you the greatest joy and pleasure in your aviation art biz?

Seeing the finished product come together, the excitement in people’s faces when they realize what they are looking at. Sharing the history of the part with people, so they understand they aren’t just looking at a modern, industrial style desk, they are also looking at a piece of history.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

How/what do your aviation creations contribute to interior decor?

If I was to describe our designs, I would say they have a modern, industrial feel while maintaining a providence that makes each design unique. They are statement pieces that tell a bit about the persons character, they are bold designs that showcase an adventurous side, while maintaining a practical function.

So to answer how they contribute to interior décor, I believe they showcase your personality.

Our Craviations are Anything but Ordinary

And be sure to follow Craviations on Instagram ( and Facebook (

Easy Update With DIY Decor

This past weekend I did 2 virtual consultations! (Call me if this is something you’d like to explore.) Not sure if it was the weather or the time of year when we’ve been indoors A LOT and look around our homes and think, “Yep! It’s looking tired, time for an update.” Whatever the reason, they got me motivated and energized to make some small updates to my home too.

A while ago I purchased a set of white shadow boxes from Michaels to display some of my seashell collection (insert Ever Lovin’s eye roll here). I was going to hang them in the Master Bath which I finished updating last year but just hadn’t got around to completing the decor. So, I dug out the frames, selected star fish and sand dollars to display and got this project done.

Starfish & Empty Shadow Box.jpg

The shadow boxes did not have finished backs in them, so I selected a beautiful blue paper, cut it to fit and glued it on.

Paper Trimmer & Blue Paper.jpg

I then used Crazy Glue to attach the starfish and sand dollars to the paper. I did give this some time to set/dry before putting them in the shadow boxes to avoid any mishaps.

Blue Paper Starfish & Shadow Box.jpg

Once dried and secure I put the backs into the frames and voila! Quick and easy update for the Master Bath and I’m very happy with the outcome.

Shadow Boxes Completed.jpg

While my style is currently tending to be coastal, you could complete this easy DIY for any of the mementos or treasures you’d like to display – postcards, coins, ticket stubs, lace, sports jersey, etc.

Shadow Box on Cabinet Shelf.jpg

While shadow boxes can be and often are hung, they have a wide frame so can be placed on a shelf, dresser or table too. Once you’ve complete yours, be sure to share – I’d love to see your results and where and how you’ve displayed them.

5 Considerations For Choosing Paint Colour

When refreshing the décor in our homes a new paint colour is one of the easiest and most economical but can also be one of the most challenging and confusing decisions to make. To pull a look together the right tone, shade and hue can make all the difference. I know you are already overwhelmed but read on!

I bet like most people when it comes to colour you know the colours you like and seem to gravitate towards but when faced with the colour wall at your local home improvement store you freeze! Deer in the headlights! Overwhelmed with choices! Most men, my ever lovin’ included, see one shade of any colour (the men in the crowd are nodding) …. but believe me, there are countless options in every colour family!

color wheel.jpg

The following are 5 things to consider when refreshing the paint colour in your spaces:

1. What is the use of the room you are re-doing?

Different colours are associated with different activities to enhance, support and contribute to their maximum enjoyment. So, how is the room going to be used? Is it for dining, relaxation, socialization or creativity?

2. What direction does the room face?

Consider the direction the room faces and what time of day it will be used for its primary activity so you know how much light the space will get throughout the day. This will influence the depth of colour your choose.

 Paint chip from Benjamin Moore

Paint chip from Benjamin Moore

The direction also influences the type of paint finish you should opt for. For example, a north facing room gets less 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.

3. 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? The colour of finish on wooden pieces can influence the adjacent colour on the walls making it look much different than the paint chip.

Are you budgeting for reupholstering and/or refinishing the pieces or buying all new furniture? If you are, it’s the perfect opportunity to match paint, fabric and finish.

Hutch Restyling 4.jpg

4. Are there colour go/no goes?

Is there a colour you love and always find yourself gravitating towards? Perhaps a different shade or hue of your go to colour would be a nice update or a warmer or cooler version of your fav would be a perfect change.

Are there ‘no go’ colours? If so, I recommend ruling them out right away; don’t waste time trying to make friends with these colours.

5. How often do you typically repaint/redecorate?

If the colour you are choosing is going to be changed out in a year or 2, you might be a bit more bold and experimental. If you are going to live with the colour for a few years, you may want to take more time selecting the colour and carefully consider your choice. If you are refreshing in preparation for the sale of your home, neutrals such as gray, cream, taupe or a rich shade of white are the best options as they will show your home in it’s best light.

I hope these considerations help ease your apprehension in selecting a paint colour 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 personal style and taste.

Ideas for Simple Winter Decor

Happy New Year and best wishes for a year of fun and successful decorating plans and projects. I have a few lined up that I can’t wait to get started on – stay tuned for updates and pics throughout the year! In the meantime, it’s Christmas decor clean-up and the opportunity to sort through the Christmas items to decide what to keep, discard or donate.

And now that all of that is behind us, we often look forward to calmer, uncluttered spaces in our homes. While it is far too early to decorate for spring which is a loooong way off for those of us surviving the cold, snowy winter in the northern hemisphere, what can we do to decorate for the winter season now that the holidays are behind us? Read on for my ideas and suggestions for transitioning to winter decor in our homes in this post-holiday period.

Lantern with Spheres and Glimmer Lights.jpg

I love lanterns for their flexibility - they can be used anywhere in your home and the wide variety of styles, colours and finishes available make them suitable for any decor. The addition of candles brings a soft, warm glow; decorative filler adds colour, texture and pattern; mini lights around a candle or mixed in with the decorative filler add sparkle; and decorative spheres, like the filler, bring colour and texture to your space.

Frosted Tree Hurrican & Mini Lights.jpg

I can’t get enough mini lights! They add a bit of sparkle to any decor and can be used on wreaths, in lanterns, wrapped around candles or inside a bottle or jar for a simple and easy update. What a perfect way to add a bit of light, glamour and ambiance to your rooms!

Evergreen in Hurricane.jpg

Natural items such as pine cones, nuts, branches, evergreen boughs, etc. add an earthy element and ground our decor. During the shorter days and longer nights what a comforting way to bring the outdoors in and add an earthy, relaxed vibe to your rooms.

Plant with Snowman.jpg

The green of pine, boxwood or plants bring harmony and balance to our rooms and is a simple and beautiful way to restore ourselves after the busy-ness of the holiday season. A bit of green in your rooms is restful and reassuring – the promise of spring!

Blankets on Sofa.jpg

Nothing says cozy comfort like a woollen or faux fur throw and pillows. They add instant comfort and warmth as well as a relaxed vibe to any room and are close at hand when the urge to nap and ignore the raging storm outside hits us!

And of course I love having a bit of whimsy in my decor so keep the snowmen on display long after the Christmas decor is packed away. They make me smile, are a nod to the winter season and remind me of the snowman building adventures we had with our girls.


I hope these suggestions are inspirational and give you some ideas for transitioning to winter decor. Enjoy the process!

5 Quick and Easy Christmas Decor Ideas

At this time of year time seems to shrink as our ‘to do’ lists grow and one of the ‘to do’s’ that can be the most overwhelming is decorating our homes for the Christmas season. This is often made worse by the pics we are inundated with of homes beautifully decked out – inside and out. Remember those mag pics and articles have huge teams behind them to pull the rooms together! I don’t know about you but I sure don’t have a team behind me; the elves I did have have moved out and started their own traditions and my everlovin’ is not the decorating type ;)

If you are short on time or inspiration, one of the quickest and easiest ways to bring a festive touch to your home is with the use of natural elements. These are plentiful, easily accessible, and a simple but charming way to add festive touches throughout your home. Natural elements do not require a lot of time and creativity to make a delightful display for those of us not inclined to compete with the Griswold’s and are not expensive, in fact most of them are free. Read on for some of my fav ways to decorate for Christmas using nature’s gifts!

Dec Photo 3.jpg


Pinecones are plentiful in the fall, are readily available and perfect for Christmas decorating. I love a bowl or small wooden tray of pinecones mixed with some small grapevine stars, cinnamon sticks, candles and even a few stones. Hurricane vases of varying sizes filled with pinecones, nuts and cinnamon sticks also make a beautiful display and can be used as a centerpiece, mantel display or on a coffee or side table. A small bowl of mini pinecones combined with nuts and a few cinnamon sticks also makes a lovely addition in your bathroom or guest room.

Dec Photo 1.jpg


Stones work any time and in any décor – just ask my husband! No vacation is complete without me finding some interesting stones or rocks that just have to come home! I love displaying stones in a dish, shallow wooden bowl or tray or a hurricane vase surrounding a candle and mixed with pinecones, nuts dried cranberries and cinnamon sticks. I sometimes add a few sea shells into the mix which provide additional texture. A small wooden tray or shallow wooden bowl also makes an interesting and simple container for displaying these items and is suitable as a centerpiece on the dining table or coffee table.


Today grapevine is available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Not only does it come in the form of wreaths but also in the shape of gourds, stars, etc. Grapevine stars look festive hung from the light over a dining table or from cabinet and drawer knobs. They also add a cheery note when set on the top of a basket of napkins or simply set along a window ledge.

A simple string of mini lights (which are available in star shapes) around a wreath makes a simple festive item and can be hung inside or out or set atop a cabinet or mantel leaning against the wall as the anchor of a vignette. In this instance it can be surrounded by hurricane vases of pinecones, jars of nuts and dried cranberries mixed with cinnamon sticks and dried anise. This makes for a lovely natural scent in your home too!


In our home, one of the first signs of Christmas is a beautiful yet simple red glass bowl with gold leaf embellishments that I fill with clementines - it provides an eye-catching splash of colour. When our girls were growing up, the appearance of this bowl with the clementines signaled the start of the Christmas season and a time of excitement! Pottery bowls or wooden trays are equally striking when filled with clementines, oranges, apples and/or nuts and can be placed on a dining table, kitchen counter or coffee or side table. And fresh cranberries are an absolute must have! Their rich red is beautiful and they are an equally lovely addition to a hurricane jar surrounding a candle or floating in a pretty bowl with candles.

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Fresh greenery, in particular pine boughs and dried dogwood branches, are very popular at Christmas and can be used both indoors and out. Fresh boughs are readily available at any Christmas tree lot and there are some excellent imitation pine boughs available today that are less messy and do not require care to make them last through the holidays. Dried dogwood branches can be found at farmers markets, craft stores and even some of the larger grocery stores.

The greenery and dogwood can be equally elegant in a tall glass vase with some sprigs of red berries and mini pinecones or stones in the bottom to anchor them. Also consider laying the greenery on a dining, side or coffee table interspersed with sprigs of red berries and/or the dried dogwood and pinecones and nuts or fruits tucked among the boughs. Ribbon wound through the branches adds another colourful dimension and can soften the look.

As we head into the last few days before Christmas I hope these ideas prove helpful and provide the inspiration to make some beautiful but simple and easy additions to your home for the holidays. Cheers!

Pillows for Christmas Decor

As we head into the Christmas season – the busiest time of the year and also the biggest decorating time – there are many of us who choose not to do a lot of decorating in our spaces:

  • we’ve downsized & don’t have a lot of room

  • we’ll be away for Christmas

  • we’re not into the Christmas spirit in a big way

But there are ways to add a touch of Christmas and celebration to our homes without a big fuss or big investment of time. One of these is the use of pillows. Now, no husband I know has ever said “we need more pillows”! But I’m here to tell you pillows are a simple and easy way in which to enhance your festive decor (and yes, you can quote me ;) It doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money either.

One of the first decor items I bring out are pillows. I have a foundation pillow collection that pretty much remains in place at all times. It consists of creamy white velvet pillows in the living room and blue velvet in the bedroom. Throughout the year and depending on the season or occasion these are combined with other pillows such as coastal motif pillows or Thanksgiving themed pillows.

Once Christmas arrives, these themed and motif pillows are stored away, the white and navy velvet remain and Christmas pillows are added. This year I have selected a white velveteen pillow with silver jewels in a snowflake pattern as well as burlap pillows covered in jewelled snowflakes. I particularly love these pillows because they aren’t Christmas specific and will be nice transitional pieces after the holidays are over.

Living Room Christmas Pillows.jpg

The texture of these pillows keeps the look from being too flat, the colours work well with the sofa and the neutral silver and white colour theme I have picked this year and the jewels add sparkle and glitz making the look feel more festive!

In the bedroom, I’ve included the same burlap pillows with multiple jewelled snowflakes – they work well with the coastal theme and the neutral colour is a rich and striking contrast with the navy pillows while the jewelled snowflakes work well with the few silver Christmas accessories and decorations I have placed in the room.

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This is just the start of my Christmas decor and I can’t wait to get decorating other areas of my home. Stay tuned for more updates and ideas for your own Christmas decor.



4 Steps to Hanging a Gallery Wall

Over time we accumulate pictures, art work, mementos and decor items that we’d like to display and enjoy rather than leave tucked away in cupboards and drawers. This is often best achieved in the form of a gallery wall. The gorgeous pics in design magazines and on decor websites make gallery walls look easy and effortless. But if not carried out in a planned and thoughtful way, we have to add patching and painting to our ‘to do’ list!

The following steps will help you achieve a beautiful look without creating more work and effort.

1. Size and Shape

The first step is consideration of the size of the space in which the gallery wall will be located; are you going to use a whole wall? A portion of the wall? What is the size of the wall or area to used – is the gallery wall going above a sofa or console table? What is the height of the ceiling?

The overall shape the items will be hung in should be considered too. Would a rectangular, square or circular placement of items work best? Would an eclectic, free form shape be more suitable? Is there a lighting fixture or other hanging item such as a plant that will dictate the shape?

You want the gallery wall to be balanced in the space in which it is located and you want balance within the ‘gallery’ itself. Take the time to plan the gallery so it appears balanced and cohesive and not like a random collection of items hung on the same wall.

2. Negative Space

Negative space is important as it allows for visual movement and keeps the gallery wall from appearing over crowded and out of balance. When hanging your gallery wall be sure to have each item far enough away from its ‘neighbour’ to allow for movement but not so far away that there is no cohesion. I find a suitable, workable distance is 1” to 2” depending on the size of the item - smaller items can have less space between them and larger items can accommodate more space.

3. Colour

In this instance I am referring to the colour of the gallery items themselves. Are the items a series of black and white photos or a collection of brightly coloured prints? Is it a mix of both art and decor items?

A series of black and white photos is simple but dramatic especially if they are all the same size and framed in the same coloured frames. This can be even more striking if hung in a very structured way.

If the items are brightly coloured prints, consider what order the items should be hung in to ensure the colours adjacent to one another coordinate not clash. If the prints are brightly coloured, white or off white mattes and frames will visually create more negative space between the items enabling them to appear more cohesive.

If there is a mix of photos or art and decor items to be hung, what is the most appealing way of structuring the wall to ensure the items complement and support one another. The items should be hung in a way that encourages visual movement around the display.

4. Test Drive

Before committing to the actual hanging of items, cut out the size and shape of each item from craft paper and using painters tape, attach them to the wall in the arrangement you envisioned. Place, re-position and place again. Play around with the placement and alignment of items until you have it the way that is most appealing to you and works best in the space. Once you have achieved the look you want you can start committing to putting each item up and not before!

We all get excited to see the finished result so immediately start putting each item up but if you don’t want the wall to look like it has been attacked and create more work for yourself, take the time to do this all important step! (Trust me, I ‘test drive’ all these projects so you can learn from my experiences!).

These steps will help you savour and enjoy the experience of gathering the items for your gallery wall and reliving the memories each item brings you as well as assist in the arrangement of the items to highlight each and every one in a beautifully curated way. And while patience is required to work through the process, it will also save you time and effort in the long run.


Colours of the Year 2018

Every fall Pantone announce their colours of the year which in turn is followed by the paint companies announcing their colour of the year (COTY). Many of us look at the colours, either love them or dis them and move along. Then there are those of us who eagerly await the announcement to see what is going to inform interior design and decor for the following year.

While each company selects a main colour, they also develop a number of related palettes building off the Pantone colours that include various tones and hues of the COTY as well as coordinating and complementary colours.

So just what goes into selecting the colour of the year? It is not a random selection made by a group sitting around a boardroom table colour palettes in hand. It is an extensive process undertaken by each company with consideration given to global events, architecture, technology, fashion, art exhibits, socio-economic challenges and trends, industrial developments and environmental issues. All of this information is researched and analyzed and informs colour choices.

It is clear from what has been announced for 2018 that pale pastel colours are behind us and the trend is toward more intense, bold colour - a reflection of the intense feelings and situations in society and among our communities at the present time. You will also see a movement toward interesting and playful colour combinations – think blue and orange, pale yellow and rosy hues, bright yellow and lime green and intense colours balanced with black and gold.

Metallics will also continue to play a large role in design and decor but instead of the bright shiny metallics we have seen over the past couple of years, the trend is toward more neutral metallics with translucent or pearlized finishes.

 Benjamin Moore Colour of the Year 2018 - Caliente AF-290

Benjamin Moore Colour of the Year 2018 - Caliente AF-290

There is a wide range of COTY from which to choose and one or more that will work well in a variety of decor styles. If a total redo of a room or rooms is not on your schedule for 2018, incorporating a COTY can be as simple as adding pillows or a colour block throw that incorporates one or more of the colours or including candles or a floral accent in one of the COTY.

With a range of colours and related palettes informing design and decor choices for 2018, there will something that speaks to each of us and will work well with the decor in our rooms. What is your fave and how are you going to use it? I look forward to seeing your choices!

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!