Design Informs Art

In my interior design biz I have come across a number of fascinating, unique and interesting artists, ‘creatives’ and designers. These are folks who are pursuing their passions and sharing the results with a broader audience in a number of different ways.

They have caught my eye and attention as their creations align with my aesthetic that design and decor should be comfortable and livable, simple not complicated and include a touch of whimsy – a necessary element to any design.

Read More

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!

Read More

Ideas for Simple Winter Decor

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 More

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

Read More

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.

Read More

5 Steps to Styling My Hutch

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

Read More

Colour Explained

If you are like most people when it comes to colour, you have your favs and always tend to gravitate towards them. But if you want to make a change and step outside your comfort zone, the colour wall at your local home improvement store makes you freeze like a deer in the headlights! Right? The choices are overwhelming! But believe me, there are 100’s of shades of the basic colours found on the colour wheel let alone all the other variations in between!

When refreshing the décor in our homes, colour is one of the easiest and economical but most complicated ones to make.

Read More

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!