The Spooky Shelter

At Halloween, nothing makes me happier (apart from mounds of candy) than seeing a house all decked out with cobwebs, pumpkins and creepy things dangling in the wind. It's great to see people being festive and putting so much effort into something that is over so quickly! Here are some of my favourites:

It might be a little late to go all out now, but it's never too late to make a festive black vodka cocktail!

Happy Halloween!

Photos taken from: Pottery Barn, Martha Stewart and Furniture Store Blog.


Top Five

I was given advice from a friend in the industry to keep a binder of magazine clippings, or tear sheets, of things that you see and love so that you can keep a collection and watch how your style evolves. I think it's a great idea, because I seem to be constantly finding stuff that I'd love to work with (or have myself...). I'm glad shopping is a part of this job!

Of course, I often wander off when I'm searching new things online, typically ending up on a clothing website where I want just about everything. But the more design blogs I visit, the more I realize how related fashion and design are. Typically the fashion industry marks the beginning of trends for interior design, so I like to think my shopping habits are ALL work related. It's professional development. Sourcing. Finding a competitive edge.

I thought I'd do something a little different for this post. Here are five things I'm loving right now. It's a bit of everything, fashion included (excuse the tiny photos!).

1. All things embroidered.
Osborne and Little have beautiful fabrics in general, but I especially love their bright boho textiles! Clarence House is also amazing. It's nice to see bright colours used in such a delicate application. I'm dreaming of toss cushions.

2. Architect tables.

A few posts ago, I mentioned the Restoration Hardware TV easel and I've continued to admire all technical and bare-boned furniture. I love these architect tables, whether they're in glass, wood or nickel. Gorgeous.

One of my favourite stores Stacaro carries a few varieties shown here, and IKEA offers the VIKA system where you can mix and match bases and table tops!

3. Metropolitan Home Glamour book
I ordered this a few weeks ago and I love it! Its mostly pictures (my kind of book) and it looks at different ways to interpret glamour in a space. There's a nice mix of modern and traditional in the book, so I feel like this is a resource I will hold onto for a long time.

4. All Saints
This European clothing store has all neutral, slouchy clothing that has a bit of a goth feel, but I really like it! All of their pieces are unique, and you can see that they've put a lot of effort into tailoring and detailing each piece. It's probably a blessing in disguise that they don't ship to Canada.

5. Nie Nie Dialogues

A series of blogs connected me to Nie Nie Dialogues one day, and I discovered that she's incredibly popular and a great blogger. Tragically, Stephanie was in a plane crash that has made for a difficult and painful recovery, but her appreciation for life and her family are still at the forefront of all her posts. It's really inspiring to read her blog.

So there you have it....my top 5!



If you’re like me, your computer is running at a snail’s pace because of the overload of photographs and music you’ve accumulated over the years. Long after you’ve posted those photos onto facebook, zipped them for your friends, and burned a backup copy onto a CD, where do the pictures go? What use do you have for the goofy “everyone stick your tongue out” pictures, or spectacular landscape photographs from that vacation oh-so-long ago?

Well, you print them out.
And then you stick them all over the wall.

If that were really the case, I would have no hope of making a living in this profession. The truth is, hanging a photo grouping can be harder than it looks. I was just helping someone over the weekend with one, and it was no quick process. You have to keep in mind photo content, wall space, framing and layout. There really is no formula, but like most things in decorating, sometimes “it just looks right”.

Generally, the center of the grouping should measure at 5'. Sometimes it looks great to have all different frames, other times uniformly-painted frames are more suitable. I found some creative ways to think outside the box with groupings here:

One of my favourite photo groupings simply follows a grid and uses identical frames. Here, the unusual square frames look fantastic with black and white photos.

Maybe you're a bit more vain and would prefer a mirror! :) If you're tired of your old photos or love vintage frames, mirrors can make a big impact as well. Personally, I'll just take the orange vase.

Perhaps you caught on to the digital camera phenomenon a little late and don't have many to frame? Just paint the frame and go for an artsy look.

I love this idea, particularly in a heritage home with a tall narrow staircase. What a great place to see them every day.

Wallpaper has made a huge comeback recently, but you have to be pretty brave to commit to a metallic floral print all over the walls. Many paint and decorating stores have beautiful wallpaper samples that are no longer in use. If you can find one that suits your taste, framing it is a great way to create artwork and add colour. Or if you're a die-hard Debbie Travis fan who has sworn off wallpaper for life, frame your favourite fabric!

Unfortunately I don't have a picture (how ironic) of my own small grouping in my bedroom, but I do love it! It's a mix of traveling photos, a small painting I did long ago, a few professional black and white prints and a mix of various frames. I've actually matted a few photos with fabric as well.

Photo groupings are fairly simple and inexpensive, and the best part is they're personal (I know, I'm going all Hallmark on here...). It's a great weekend project or even just a good excuse to revisit all those old photos one more time.


Interior Design Illustrated

I've been meaning to recommend this book for a while, and after referencing it (yet again) today, I think it's time!

One of my instructors suggested Interior Design Illustrated by Christina M. Scalise for our rendering class, and I'm so glad I bought it. Not only are there gorgeous pictures to admire, she goes through everything step-by-step - from hardwood floors to mirrors. She uses markers and watercolours in her illustrations, and even suggests particular shades to use for realistic finishes.

At work, I see the value of beautifully rendered drawings to sell a design to a client and help them visualize it. Of course, not all of us are professional renderers, but the skills Scalise teaches in this book are valuable for interior designers, decorators, landscape designers and furniture builders (to name a few!).

It's given me a new appreciation for this art form! Enjoy!


Everything in Moderation

Photo courtesy Sarah Richardson Design

Every time I dream of having a neutral home with layers of all things white, I see something colourful and cheerful that reminds me how fun and playful a home can be. In our climate, what's more suitable? On a cold winter day, is it more comfortable to be in a modern off-white room or a bright eclectic space?

When it comes down to it, the colour palette you choose speaks to the kind of life you lead, and how you think your house should function. Where neutral palettes are often meticulous, organized and mature, colourful schemes feel fresh, casual and youthful. Sometimes a little texture, or the use of natural materials like wood, are all a room needs to feel both clean and casual.

I realize I've drawn on designs from two ends of the spectrum, but take a look at some of these pictures. Which ones are you more drawn to?

I suppose my favourite design is one that requires a little compromise; a little sophisticated, a little fun. The best example I remember seeing of this was in July's InStyle magazine featuring Kristen Bell's L.A. home. She's used primarily neutral furniture with bold prints and bright colours injected in accessories. Love this look!

Check out decorpad.com, apartmenttherapy.com and countryliving.com for more of these pics!


A Change of Heart

We spent the afternoon at a beautiful farm today, with everything from pumpkin patches to apple cider (wink*), and I can't help but feel a little bit more in love with fall. It's my favourite season, and I love the beautiful vibrant colours that the leaves change this time of year.

Funny thing is...I really don't like orange (I'm talking jumpsuit orange). On anything but leaves or pumpkins, of course. It's just always been too vibrant and outgoing for anything I'd want to wear or put in my house. I picture psychedelic patterns and 70's bungalows..like:

(My apologies if this is your house....or you.)

Then I saw The Proposal. Only someone truly obsessed with design would look past Ryan Reynolds and admire the beautiful set he was standing in......yes, for some reason I was drooling over the ORANGE. Margaret's office was amazing! She had dark grey walls, white furniture and orange accessories, and it was beautiful. It was serious yet fun, plain yet contemporary.
Since then, I've been crazy about the grey/orange colour combination. I've started noticing it everywhere.....that or navy blue and orange, my second favourite.

While I'm onto orange....my aunt had these beautiful Chinese lanterns (technically "physalis alkekngi") on the dining room table yesterday, and they looked gorgeous. What an easy and elegant centerpiece!


The Black Hole

It seems like a never ending struggle for designers and homeowners alike; how do you stop the TV from being the focal point (or even try to hide it!) without making it inconvenient and uncomfortable to watch?

I was inspired to write this post by an article on House Beautiful that featured 14 functional TV stands that also had great style. After seeing the array of console tables, media centres and armoires, I was interested to find my own favourites.

I’m a huge fan of flat screens on console tables because they’re bulky enough to ground the room while leaving enough space to display gorgeous accessories on top. The key to a great TV console seems to be choosing a piece that has interesting detailing, like inlay, moulding or great hardware.

So, I’ve compiled my own list of top TV consoles that will keep your family room beautiful and have the function you need to curl up and watch your favourite show comfortably.

This Stanley Furniture Continuum TV console comes in four amazing colours, and is also available in a buffet if you like it enough for your dining room!

If you can minimize the cables running from your equipment, this Jonathan Adler Preston console is glamourous and functional in mock croc leather. This piece is also available in white!

BDDW makes unbelievable pieces, and although I thought beauty was in the details, this Claro Walnut Lake Credenza takes a stand for simplicity.

I just discovered MASONGRAY and love their furniture. This Regency Credenza comes in four colours and could easily be made Hollywood Glam or Country Chic.

I think this Tellers Chippendale console by Martha Stewart is versatile enough for a living room, dining room or hallway, but for the sake of this post, wherever the TV is!

What about these alternatives to a TV console:

Porada (Italian manufacturer, even better) designed this modern Domino tv stand.

This incredible TV stand was actually featured in the original House Beautiful article that inspired me. It's unusual and functional, and I absolutely love this piece from Restoration Hardware.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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