The Design, Decor and DIY Blog
This Victorian Villa shows off a lovely renovation with a lesson in mixing styles. The gorgeous, historic features of the home are juxtaposed against modern, fun, family friendly furnishings and decorRead More
I'm really loving black and brass these days. Why? I've been watching a lot of movies from the 70's and early 80's and marvelling at how fashions, or particular eras of fashion, at which I once turned up my nose, are now bountiful sources of inspiration.Read More
It's time for another great Before & After from a recent project. A blank slate project is always fun for a decorator and this condo was no exception. The remit from the client was to keep this open living/dining room space simple, modern and clean. The walls had already been painted an off-white, with a single wall in dark grey, but other than that, it was wide open. The client had some art he wanted on the walls, but was happy to leave space for future purchases. This is an approach, by the way, that I'm fully behind. Your walls need not be filled if it means putting up objects or pieces that you have no connection with. You don't need to hang expensive art, or even limit yourself to pictures and paintings, but what you do hang, you should love for one reason or another. But never mind all that, on to the before and after pictures!
Working with the client, we decided on a monochromatic palette of greys and whites with natural accents through wood and greenery. this is a simple scheme to use and it holds well over time. Additionally, should the client ever feel the urge to add pops of color, this would be simple to do through cushions, throws and other accessories around the space. It also allowed him to add a huge splash of color with a painting by local artist Mitchell Wiebe.
This space is typically used for socializing (read: the TV is in another room) so we created two distinct spaces: a living area and a small dining area that takes advantage of the space without making things cramped.
With a big piece of art on one wall, and wall space reserved in the dining room for future purchases, the lights were kept simple - a flush mount in the living area, and this clear globe in the dining area.
Greenery gives the space light. A small grouping like this can be built on, or even split up later.
A simple dining table and lucite chairs keep the look light. With limited space, using pieces that have clean lines and avoid bulk helps to maximize the feel of the room.
When choosing plants, we kept in mind that the client travels quite a bit. We talked to staff at a local nursery to ensure we chose plants that would flourish in indirect light, and require moderate to low levels of care. Succulents, yuccas and cacti fit the bill.
We also included an air plant, which make wonderful solitary or group displays, and require no watering in the pot, just the occasional soak and air dry.
The bar stools gave a dose of wood to the space, while still keeping in stride with the calm palette of greys. Modern with a hint of retro, their low profile doesn't crowd the living space.
A simple, clean modern space that is comfortable and allows the works on the wall to shine. To see more of our work, visit our gallery.
Multifunctional spaces are useful to everyone, but especially to anyone with limited space. If you don't have room for a separate TV room and a lounge/entertaining space, then you need to consider if your space if really doing all it can for you. One of the things that a good decorator or designer will do for you is not only make your space beautiful, but ensure that it is functional as well. To show you how this can be accomplished, we've created an example of a small living room that looks reasonably familiar to us.
We often see spaces like this set up with nice furnishings and fixtures, but not quite being all they could be. Let's take a look at some easy changes could be made to bring this living room from basic to so much better.
We've kept the colors in the space fairly neutral as we're not going to focus on those today. Instead, let's look at Four main things we can do to improve this room:
- Hang the drapes to take better advantage of the only window.
- Stop letting the TV hog valuable floor space.
- Put in a rug that is more appropriately sized.
- Take advantage of the left side of the room.
Right now, all we can imagine doing in here is sitting on the sofa and reading a book in front of the fire, or watching a bit of TV. And that not a bad thing, but what if you wanted to socialize or entertain a few friends in here? Without throwing away what you have, and by changing a few things and adding just a few items, the space could look more like this:
- Hang your drapes about 6 inches out from the window, and 6 inches above (space allowing). This allows the drapes to stay out of the window space when they are pulled open, and also makes the window look bigger and the walls higher. (We'll show you another angle of this below.)
- Mount the TV above the fireplace. This allows you to use that precious floor space to add a small armchair. We've also added a floor lamp. Having light come from different sources and different angles in the room is important. We're also using the wall space here to hang a few small pictures. Don't be afraid to group your pictures together in different configurations.
- Add a rug that connects the sofa with the table and the chair. This brings the space together. (We'll show you another angle on this below.)
- & 5. This space on the left was under utilized. We changed the standing shelf to something that offers display space as well as storage space, which the room lacks, and again used the wall space for a picture or some art. We also rehung the room's original painting, and added a small bench. This gives you a little more flexibility for seating in the space. You can also style the bench as you would a coffee table, with some books, cushions, a small tray with candles, etc.
To get a better idea of how small things can have a big impact on your space, here's a look at those drapes before and after:
And having a rug that is adequately sized really creates a change:
You don't have to throw everything out or buy a whole new living room suite to create big changes in a small space. Just take a few minutes to ask yourself what you need to the space to do for you in terms of beauty and functionality, and proceed from there.
If you're not sure where to start, take a look at our decorating packages - we'll give you all the tools and ideas you need, from color schemes to floor plans and buying guides, to transform your space into the room you've always dreamed of.
Here's a quick shot from a recent job decorating a condo in downtown Halifax. Most of the pieces are in place, but there's always a delivery or two to wait on at the end! Once we've got everything in place, we'll show you the entire fun, modern, functional space!
This project offers lots of lessons about making the most of open spaces, using smaller spaces, and considering dual functions to make the most of what you have, so stay tuned!
Mixing old with new can give you a gorgeous result in your home, but it can also be a bit of a daunting task to take on. Not to worry - we've got some great examples of mixing antique and modern together in rooms around the home.
Using key features such as light fixtures or large pieces of furniture, you can easily show off your mix of old and new. The spareness of some of the modern pieces contrasts beautifully with the more intricate look of the antiques.
Typically when mixing old and new, we see old buildings and rooms with newer furniture and fixtures. In the first kitchen below, we see a beautiful modern kitchen given some real interest with an antique cabinet.
The next two examples show modern fixtures in an older home.
An older table with modern chairs is a quick and fun way to mix things up.
In some cases, simply adding one or two modern items into an older space can do the trick. Below you see a modern light fixture and chairs doing the job.
In this room, the modern chairs add a contrast not only through their form, but stunning color as well.
Here the contrast is also in color and form, with black Ghost chairsand a modern pendant lamp contrasting beaituflly with the old white table.
First up we have a real stunner. The high walls and antique chandelier are juxtaposed with a sleek modern tub and some modern recessed lighting.
This bathroom contrasts a sleek, modern shower (heaven!) with a gorgeous claw foot soaker tub. The dark color of the walls allows the striking light fixture to really sing. A stunning room.
This bathroom is all sleek, white and modern with a splash of beautiful contrast in the antique cupboard. A great use of color, texture and style.
Tiles aren't just for floors these days, though there's nothing wrong with that idea. The current trend for bold tiles, in color and pattern means there are plenty of options for you to choose from that look nothing like the neutral, quiet tiles that sit under rugs and go unnoticed. Using a bold tile or tile pattern offers a focal point or area of interest, while also giving you a durable and functional surface. Tiles are a great option for your kitchen backsplash, and you are limited only by your creativity.
The classic black and white tiled bathroom floor always creates a wonderful backdrop on which many colors or styles can be played out.
But tile is also a great way to direct the color scheme of your space, either through a main color...
....or by adding highlights with splashes of color.
Small spaces are a great place to play with bolder colors or patterns that you may be uncomfortable putting on a larger area. Think of powder rooms or bar kitchens...
But if you love color, you can always commit to it. A stunning floor like this is given all the attention by keeping the rest of the space white and muted.
The English country house of Paolo Moschino is a case study in decorating that looks effortless and yet is incredibly impressive at the same time. Of course, he has the time, funds and talent to pull of such a beautiful (and personal) project, but there is a lot we can learn form this to apply to our own projects. He offers a lot of useful decorating tips, but I think one of the best pieces of advice he gives is this: "Don't let rooms look overtly decorated. The key is to relax; you need books, you need magazines, you even need dust!"
This is a comment close to my heart. You don't live in a hotel, so why should your home look like one? It should reflect you and the things and people you love.
Throughout this house we see light, neutral walls and colors that allow prominent pieces jump out. The first thing you notice in this space is the urns, but then your eye moves around and takes in the beautiful hutch, the barrel, the dining set. None of these pieces looks like it arrived fresh from Crate & Barrel. There's a lot to be said for decorating with older pieces that you love.
A collection of Catholic statuary may not be your thing, but whatever your thing is, considering bringing your collection together and showing it off. Creating small, focal displays of things that interest you is a great way to bring your personality into a space.
Again we see light walls being used to allow the coloured objects in the room really stand out, particularly the art, which is also framed and matted in white for effect. The floor and larger pieces of furniture are also quite neutral, letting the smaller pieces like the lamp, stools and flowers grab your attention.
To get more tips from a master, and see more of this gorgeous home, check out this article in House & Garden.
Here's a peek at a dressing room recently completed for a client. The space was formerly a small nursery, with dark blue walls that made the space feel crowded and the light stark. We designed a simple organizing system that allowed them to retain space for ironing and dressing.
The walls were lightened to a pale grey, gauzy drapes and a glamorous light fixture were added, and it was ready to go - but yes there is a cellular shade as well for privacy!
Using the corner is always an issue in a closet, as clothes closest to the wall often end up half hidden behind a cupboard wall. Keeping the walls of the unit shallow and allowing a bit of separating between the two hanging spaces means the clothes in the corner are still easily accessible.
The beautiful, extra large mirror with gorgeous bevelled edges serves two functions: its obvious reflective function for dressing and maximizing light in the small space.
While we don't all have the space to create a luxe dressing room with centre cabinets and walls of shoe racks, it is possible to take a small space like this and make it very functional. Who needs another guest room when you can have a spot that you will use daily and makes your life a bit easier?
It's another before and after for you - today's edition is the dining room of a home we've been working on recently. It's the same home we feature in the Living Room Before and After last week. An older home that had some patchy work done before being sold to our clients, the dining room was a drab putty tone and the light fixture was a bit dated. There was little to make this room stand out as the entertaining space our clients wanted. BEFORE:
The dining room was painted the same calm grey as the living room, and a subdued but still dramatic wall paper was added to one wall. The clients wanted a to make this room a feature while still looking clean and smart and it was decided that a chandelier would take it past that point. A simple, modern light fixture on a dimmer switch was chosen to contrast the pattern and color of the wall paper, while still offering sufficient light for dining and socializing.
The table is a vintage find, which is often a great way to mix up the look in a dining room and stay on budget. The moulded chairs provide a contrast, both against the wood of the table and floor, and the color of the wallpaper. They also tie in nicely with the white light fixture.
The dining room is a fairly small space, and a hutch or large bar would have eaten up the room and made it feel a bit crowded. A small, portable bar fits nicely in the corner, and can be wheeled out to the living room for a bit of smart cocktail entertaining.
You don't need a lot of stemware on show in your dining room if you don't have a large hutch or case for it. Pick a few of your favourite things to display, along with a few bottles of the things you love best.
The dining table has a leaf, and extra chairs are simply placed in two corners of the room, ready for use either in here, as as extra seating in the living room when entertaining.
Clients often shy away from the idea of darker walls, as they have been taught that they make small spaces feel smaller, and rob the space of light, but that's so often really not the case. Our clients were wary of the dark wall, but trusted us to make a decision that was aligned with their vision for the room. Making the far wall darker not only gives you a focal point, but it can make the wall appear further away, tricking the eye into seeing more space. This room also has a large patio door, and a wide opening in to the living room, which has a huge window. Having both of these sources of natural light meant that I would have been confident to paint this entire space dark and know that the natural light would keep it from being claustrophobic. In the end, the wallpaper provided just the right touch of drama to the room, while never overwhelming it.
A final bonus is the view of this beautiful wall from the living room or kitchen, which simply makes you want to enter the space and take a look.
Looking to 2016 and beyond, a kitchen trend to watch will be a move away from looks that stay strictly within one aesthetic to those that mix it up. So rather than the all-white kitchen, or completely urban industrial room, a more relaxed mix of looks and materials is on the horizon. I love mixing things up for an eclectic finish, so this news suits me just fine. But for many, it can seem difficult to achieve a mixed look that stops at just the right level of diversity without becoming simply mismatched. In reality, it's not. Here's a few tips to show you how you can get the look.Only mix and match a few: By this I mean, choose two main looks you are interesting in contrasting - say modern with bit of country. Very Donny and Marie! Then choose your color range. Again, keep it simple and within a few colors. Once you've done this, you'll then have a range of materials that you can choose from - marble, wood, metal. You can use a bit of variety here, but step back periodically and make sure you're not just firing in something else for the sake of it. Our choices here: In the example above, we've gone for a modern/traditional mix with some very modern stainless fixtures and lower cabinets with more traditional items like the Aga range, wood floor and kitchen accessories and cookware. Our color scheme is primarily a simple mix of white, greys and natural woods tones. Contrasting with the warmth of the woods and textiles are the shiny metals, glossy cabinets, and the marble tiles.
Source this look: 1. Arrabesco Carrera Tiles | 2. Pendre Mirror | 3. Luftig Range Hood | 4. Sektion upper cabinets | 5. Sektion lower cabinets | 6. Bamboo Island top | 7. Oak Driftwood Flooring | 8. Loloi Anastasia Rug | 9. Aga Legacy Range | 10. Kraus Stainless Steel Sink | 11. Hansgrohe Faucet | 12. Cyan Design Canisters | 13. Le Creuset Dutch Oven | 14. Food for Thought Tea Towel | 15. Sur La Table Crate and Bottles | 16. Windsor Whistling Kettle
We've got a Before and After for you today! We recently finished some work with a couple of lovely clients who took possession of an older home and wanted to rework the interior a bit. The previous owners had done a bit of updating when they prepared to sell, but had likely done a lot of the work on their own and the results, unfortunately, weren't great.
Paint colors were dreary and not terribly well applied. Cracks in the corners were left un-mended, and this older home lacked sufficient outlets for modern owners. The fireplace in the living room was the original red brick, and the sconces were also from another time - which is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case....well have a look at the first before picture:
And here we are after:
Our work with these clients covered most of the spaces in the home, so the living room became part of the overall plan. The clients were looking for a mix of old and new that was still uncluttered and functional. In this space and the adjoining dining room (pictures of those to come later), we settled on a calming grey - Sherwin William "Passive." We used a simple palette of grey, blue and yellow-gold, with mixed metals, primarily brass and chrome. Modern fixtures, mix with vintage pieces to give the space a relaxed feel. There is a family room in the basement where the TV is located, so this room was kept as an entertaining space.
The drapery fabric (So Good's Medina) was worth every penny spent. Having custom drapery made can be a considered purchase once you factor in the fabric and the labor, but if the room is one that you intend to feature and entertain in, it's a worthy place to put some of your budget. These drapes look stunning and catch the eye of anyone entering the room.
What to hang on your walls? My advice is typically that it doesn't need to be "art" or even necessarily a picture or painting. It simply needs to be something that you really love and/or that means something to you. Don't hang things on your walls that you feel so-so about. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. And a few mirrors, they're great for adding light to a space ;)
Here are a few more great vintage finds that were added to the space. The sideboard was found via local classifieds. In it's former life, it was a cabinet stereo. It's now general storage and hides speakers to the bluetooth system. A bit of beeswax polish and four new legs and it became a new treasure for this home. the brass lamp is also a vintage piece, and the crow was one of those fortuitous finds at a local Yart Sale.
Now, on to that fireplace. Here's the before:
The decision was made to simply paint the fireplace, rather than replace it. If a client intends to use a fireplace like this on a regular basis, my advice is typically to renovate it and install an insert. Wood and gas inserts are very efficient heaters (and can be absolutely gorgeous as well), whereas an old wood fireplace like this, while romantic, is essentially a hole in your house through which heat escapes. If you are installing an insert, you can also take a moment to consider complely transforming the fireplace and hearth with a new front using, for example, tile, or stone.
But as they don't use it frequently, wanted to keep some of the older features of the home in tact, and wanted to reserve more of their budget for exterior work, we used a simple and inexpensive method to transform it.
The contrast between the dark charcoal color and the warm brass fittings is just gorgeous. Most of the brass pieces were sourced at vintage shops and flea markets and given a good polish. The tired old sconces were replaced with new ones that evoke the past, but still have modern chrome touches.
That's it for now. In coming posts we'll show you the before and after in other space in the home, including a fabulous new dining room.
Few people are as skilled at stylish small space living as Parisians. The average size of a one bedroom flat in Paris is around 300 square feet - far smaller than many North Americans would expect. If you have ever watched House Hunters International (or, as I have seen it fairly accurately referred to: "Assholes With Money In Foreign Countries, Unhappy With The Countertops"), this will not come as a surprise to you. Living well in a small space requires careful editing and curating of the things you have. What is a want over a need? What functions as both? This Paris loft may be small in size, but it has an abundance of inspiration for those of use who need to do more with less square footage - though there's no reason you can't apply some of these great style ideas to a larger space as well.
Making the most of the high ceiling, the beams draw the eye upward, while the picture gallery wall anchors the room.
The bathroom mixes old and new with a modern sink and older faucet and mirror. This is not only a great look for some spaces, can can be a money saver as well.
Emphasizing the height of the room again, the decor on the chimney, as well as the long, narrow closet, both reach for the ceiling, The stripped wood floors add a rustic but neutral touch to the space. Overall, the space has considered choices made about the decor present, and the furnishings are kept simple. This allows the height and light to take over the space and make it appear as large as possible. It's a Parisian dream flat. To see more, go here.
Necessity is supposedly the mother of invention, and this was true for the Swedes back in the 18th century. A critical shortage of firewood led to the development of a more efficient type of wood stove - the kakelugn. I'll show you the inner workings of one later in this post, but for now, lets just marvel at the fact in designing something so needed, they also created something so beautiful. Created in a range of colors, shapes and styles, these stoves burn hotter than the average wood stove, but use very little wood. They were designed with vents and channels to allow for a controlled burn that radiates heat day and night (see the illustration at the bottom). But enough about their inner workings, let's ogle some gorgeous stoves.
And for those who like to see the innards:
This gorgeous home in the Cotswold region of England is exactly what many of us imagine when we hear the term "converted barn". Derelict when it was purchased, it has been transformed into a charming, cozy, and stylish home.
The kitchen shines with a wooden worktop and concrete base, mixing with the cobble flooring and stone walls. Fun touches like the blue carboy on top of the hood and the cozy dog bed tucked under a shelf make this a unique space.
The living room mixes rustic and contemporary with ease. A mid-century Lady chair and modern lighting are juxtaposed with exposed beams and an old fashioned wood burning stove.
And the bathroom steals the show with the steel boat bath giving a modern and vintage feel all at once. Again, the brick flooring and plank walls compete the cozy, rustic feel.
To see more of this amazing home, go here.