Less is More

As a decorator and home stager I often encounter homes where I have to let the client know that while they have some lovely things, you can’t see them from their other stuff! It’s a basic yet profound rule I’ve learned that applies to so many things in life- less is more. Whether it’s the number of items squeezed onto a mantle (seriously, how do these things not fall off?), what we keep on our kitchen or bath counters, or even what we put in our mouths (eventually too many cookies or chips catches up to us).

De-cluttering is touted as the most important thing to do when selling your home. I agree with this as well. I advise homeowners to make rooms feel as spacious and open as possible by removing excess things. But why wouldn’t we want to live like this always, not just when selling our homes?

I strongly believe that beyond just de-cluttering our ‘stuff’, there is more impact to our beautiful objects when displayed on their own, instead of mixed in with other decorative pieces, fabrics, art, rugs, etc…Now I don’t mean you should only have one lovely thing per room, but I am of the belief, despite what many high-paid tv designers show, when your eye can’t focus on any one thing, some of the impact is lost.

Take for example this very expensive (no doubt), highly-curated dining room. There are some lovely items here ranging from the bold,metallic wallpaper; multi-patterned chairs; geometric mirror; heirloom art, silk drapes and statement lighting. But I can’t appreciate any of them to the same degree as I would on their own, as I feel they drown each other out somewhat.

Eloborate DIning roomHowever, when there are a few outstanding elements, they can truly shine. Here’s an example of that:

Dining Room elementsThe serene art, outstanding lamp and beautiful wood table stand out to me while the other items fade into the background and don’t compete. I would still remove a few excess items but hey, I know it’s for show 🙂

So while these are just my own views and opinions, I do think with spring arriving, we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering of excess from our lives and rooms. Less truly can be more!


Summer Must Haves for the Outdoors

Nowadays people are turning their outdoor space into extentions of their indoors. They realize it gets them so much more square feet to enjoy and so it becomes another room to decorate. I’ve scoured online to pick out some of my favourite & easy DIY ideas, to turn these areas into cozy and comfortable retreats, along with a few neat ideas to put in your garden. All non-specified photos are from bhg.com.

Swap Out your Cushions:

Swap out your Cushions

You should pick furniture for your outdoor rooms that are durable and of quality that will last you for many years. Then simply swap out cushions whenever you feel like a new colour scheme. Try some bold colours if your furniture is neutral.

Mix Elements:

Mixing Elements

If colour is not your cup of tea, then use several different types of materials to create visual interest. A metal table pairs well with the dark wicker furniture, porcelain garden stool, and worn wooden oars propped up in the corner.

Paint your Brick:

Paint your BrickTo instantly lighten and brighten any outdoor room, consider painting out the brick white. Wicker furniture and the substantial amount of natural light streaming in give the space a light and airy feel. However, take note that once brick is painted, you will need to repaint every few years depending on your climate.

– Pattern for Porches:

Another way to inject interest if colour is not your thing, is to introduce several different patterns in your cushions. Even the woven chairs enhance the scheme though additional patterns. Add in some placemats and a rug, and voila… you’ve got one stimulating room!

Paint your Wicker:

Photo by SET For Design

Photo by SET For Design

Photo by :  SET For Design

As someone who has done this themselves (see photo directly above for my own front porch), painting wicker couldn’t be any easier! Keep it neutral and bright or go crazy and pick a fun colour. It’s only paint and can be swapped out again.

Create a Hanging Garden:

Hands down this is the best use for an old unwanted shower caddy! Spray paint it out in whatever colour you like. Line the baskets with preserved moss to hold soil and plants while allowing excess water to easily drain away. Creates an interesting focal point for your fence.

– A New Use for Terracotta:

Rather than discarding that assortment of terracotta pots, consider using them as in-ground planters. Tuck the planters in among other bedding plants to add dimension to your garden.

– DIY Terrariums:

Decorate with Terrariums

Terrariums are not a new concept, but lately they’ve experienced a big surge in popularity. Create a simple terrarium all on your own using no more than a wooden tray, a collection of small potted plants, and a large glass dome.

Once you’ve mastered these easy makeovers, here’s an easy beer cocktail recipe to enjoy in your new improved space (even the title works well!):

 Sublime Design

  • 3 oz Molson Canadian 67 Sublime or your favourite beer with lime
  • 3 oz pink lemonade
  • 1 tsp of frozen raspberries thawed
  • Fresh raspberries or other berries of your choice

To a wine goblet filled with ice, add the beer, pink lemonade and thawed frozen raspberries. Stir and garnish with the fresh fruit on top.

All that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy 🙂




Wallpaper… It’s Back Better than Ever!

We all remember some pretty hideous wallpapers from when we were young- or at least most of us do 🙂 I remember a pattern from our kitchen which had large yellow and green sunflowers in brown baskets. We couldn’t wait to rip it down. Now homeowners can’t wait to put wallpaper back up. It’s no longer a dirty word!

While wallpaper popularity has been on the rise for a few years now, I recently came across some that I had to share with you. There are so many varieties and categories that wallpaper fall into now, that I’m sure something will peak your interest.

  • Bold/Striking:
Wabi wallpaper, $28/sq.ft, Newwall

Wabi wallpaper, $28/sq.ft, Newwall

  • Geometric/Fun:

-Bamboo pattern wallpaper by Milton & King

  • Organic/Zen:
Toile Linen wallpaper, $170/roll, Newwall

Toile Linen wallpaper, $170/roll, Newwall

  • For Kids:MM244M - solar system wallpaper for walls by Muffin & Mani
– Solar System Wall Mural by Milton & King
-Cat Wall wallpaper by Milton & King
  • Vintage/Quirky:
C'est Magnifique wallpaper, $88/roll, Anthropologie

C’est Magnifique wallpaper, $88/roll, Anthropologie

  • Rustic/Natural:
Timber pattern by Prime Walls

Timber pattern by Prime Walls

If you still find it intimidating to wallpaper a whole room, why don’t you start small?  Perhaps a single wall behind the bed,couch or dining buffet, in a powder room or on a fireplace wall like I did for this project.

Fireplace Wall by SET For Design

Fireplace Wall by SET For Design

It’s a way to add interest, colour, texture or pattern in the most dramatic way possible.

Easy Weekend Summer Projects

Want to try some easy summer decorating projects you can comfortably tackle in a weekend or less? Here are some of my favourites that I’ve come across recently:

–  Summer Shimmer:

Summer shimmer

Summer shimmer- photo by Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil

Give an occasional chair a modern makeover with metallic silver spray paint and combine it with sherbert colours in yellow or green.

Remove the seat and spray the chair with several coats of metallic paint. Recover the chair with lattice or other nature-inspired prints.

Tribal Motifs:

Tribal motifs

Tribal motifs- photo by Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil

Go tribal by incorporating a few natural accessories in wood, bone or ebony; set off by strong graphic prints. Add small doses in neutral browns, whites and blacks which can blend effortlessly in any room.

– Vacation Finds:

Vacation finds

Vacation finds- Photo by Ore Studios

Why not add that great vase or Mexican statue that you picked up while on vacation this summer? These bold pieces will instantly add some pizazz and is a great story as well.

– Book Backdrop:

Book backdrop

Book backdrop- photo by Style at Home

Add a bright, bold or unexpected colour to a neutral room by painting the back of a bookcase in a hot hue. This is a fresh yellow-green hue, but how about coral or aqua as well?

– Stylish Storage for Kids’ Toys

Kids' storage

Kids’ storage- photo by Style at Home

With summer here, toys are everywhere! Reclaim the space by putting toys into inexpensive, galvanized buckets labelled with different categories. Use chalkboard labels so it can be changed up. Then place them in cheap and cheerful, open bookcases!

– Table top Coverlet:

Table top Coverlet

Table top Coverlet- photo by Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil

Take a solid colour table runner. Stamp it with a pattern that evokes long grasses or some other nature-inspired print. Drape it over contrasting bedding and you’ve got an instant new look for your bedding.

– Nautical-Inspired Lamp:

Nautical lamp

Nautical lamp- Photo by Style at Home

Breathe new life into a tired lamp by wrapping natural hemp around a lamp base and shade trim. This couldn’t be any easier or inexpensive and absolutely screams “summer”!

I made my own birch log lamp last summer (see pic below), so in comparison this will be a piece of cake 🙂

Birch log lamp

My own birch-log lamp creation

Design Highlights for 2012

Happy New Year!  While there certainly is not a shortage of trend lists for the 2012- you can find them everywhere at this time of year… in magazines, TV shows and other blogs :),  I’ve compiled a short (and hopefully sweet!) list of my own favourite ideas and trends you can think to implement in the year ahead.

Black and White: Straight from the runways, it’s making a comeback! Try it as a checkered floor in the hall, as hexagonal tiles in a bath, or in fabrics for chairs or throw pillows.  Here’s an example of a chair I re-upholstered in a damask pattern.

Chair in a Black & White Damask fabric

Soft Watercoloured Wallpaper: The subtle prints add handmade charm to a hall,bedroom or bath; or works to offset edgier looks in furnishings, such as industrial pieces.  Think of a floral sundress worn with combat boots… definitely makes a statement!

Photo taken during Kravet's Designer day

Weathered Kitchens: a reclaimed wood finish balances shiny metals and sleek countertops such as quartz, granite or concrete.  And I love the chalkboard wall!

Photo: VT Wonen
Photo: VT Wonen
Camelback Sofas: The classic sofa style with a signature centre hump is clean and unencumbered by a fussy skirt. Keep the legs straight and sophisticated.

Photo: Gwen sofa by Windsor Smith Home

Bird Themes Everywhere!: In shower curtains, bedding, pillows, on runways and home decor.

Photo: Style at Home

Bedspread fabric: Vintage Plumes by Robert Allen

And if that’s just a tad too much of a good thing, how about a simple pillow?  This one is from Dwell Studio (fabric also available at Robert Allen) and comes in a variety of colours.  It looks fantastic on its own, as it makes quite the statement.

Dwell Studio pillow in Vintage Blossom

Happy Decorating in 2012!

And So It Begins…

Not a bad way to start…. even if it was just taken at the Princess Margaret dream home VIP event!  I thought I would envision how I would look when appearing on the magazine 🙂

SET For Design's 1st House & Home cover

SET For Design's first cover shot

For those of you who have not been to this event before, it’s not just limited to those in the design field.  It’s open (and free!) to anyone who signs up in advance on the House & Home website. There’s usually four free events and each includes a tour of the home, with in-depth details about where their inspiration came from and where to get all the beautiful items.  One week is a DIY event, another has a cooking demonstration.  The weekend I attended, Lynda Reeves (shown with me in the photo), the publisher of H&H, gave us a walk-through of the home, pointing out her favourite things.  I’ve picked a few of my own:

Plate display as Art

Using plates as Artwork

The dining room was lovely and used a display of Faience plates by John Derian in a variety of blue/green tones as the focal point. It was a refreshing choice, as most would have opted for the safe choice of a mirror or piece of art. Combined with all the distressed wood, it made for a striking mix.

Guest bedroom

Juxtaposition of materials makes it interesting

The reason I like this guest bedroom so much is the mixing of materials which  was done effortlessly- the woven blinds, linen drapes and headboard, cotton duvet cover and steel nightstand. The metal industrial nightstand is so unexpected with the other items in the room and that’s why I like it.  It elevates the room to a new level of interest and inspiration.

If you’d like to take a tour of the home yourself, here it is: http://www.helpconquercancer.ca/welcomehome/lynda-entrance.php

Tickets are sold out now for this gorgeous home in Oakville.

There’s always next time!