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!


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

Spring Ahead!

Well it’s that time of year again when we can’t continue to put off doing the things that we’ve managed to put off all winter. I’ve compiled a couple lists below of spring cleaning ideas (the not-so-fun one) and spring décor ideas (the fun one). Here in Toronto the weather has truly been magnificent- mid 20’s in the middle of March… Celsius that is! That should be enough to motivate you to try something from these lists 🙂

Spring Cleaning 101

The following are some tips that can be applied across all rooms in general:

1. Put all your cleaning supplies, including dust cloths and paper towels, into a clean bucket to carry from room to room.

2. Work on one room at a time, even if you’ll be doing similar chores like washing walls or vacuuming in several rooms. You’ll get a greater feeling of accomplishment, and that will keep you going.

 3. Thoroughly dust and vacuum all surfaces, from crown mouldings to baseboards and under furniture. Carefully dust light bulbs, chandeliers and wall sconces- all the things you normally don’t dust!

4. When tidying, reduce trips around the house by temporarily depositing items in one spot en route to, but not necessarily at their final destination.

5. Do two things at once. While laundry is going, wash some windows.

6. Take down sheers and curtains and wash or send out for dry cleaning. Wash interior windows as well as windowsills. Consider leaving the windows bare for a while (as long as privacy is not a concern).

7. Now is the time to tackle those small repairs. If you’re not handy, hire someone.

8. Got vinegar? Then you have a terrific natural window and surface cleaner. Mix half and half with water for a natural sparkle.

9. Roll up area rugs and vacuum the floor beneath them; then vacuum both sides of the rug thoroughly. Consider putting away the rugs till fall.

10. Bananas as a plant polish? Who knew! Use the underside of the banana peel to gently clean the leaves of plants- it works terrifically to bring out the shine in your greenery.

Lastly, open those newly washed windows wide and let the fresh spring air in!

Springtime Vibe in Decor

Here are a few of my favourite ideas for bringing some spring freshness into your home decor:

Branches:  The pared-down simplicity of blossoming backyard clippings like forsythia and dogwood captures the vitality of spring.

Rag Rugs: Swap out heavy oriental and wool rugs for a breezy rag rug.

Natural Materials: Nothing says “spring fresh” like natural materials. Grass cloth wallcoverings, rattan storage boxes, sisal mats and raw, unfinished wooden frames blur the distinction between indoors and out.

I used grass cloth behind the bed to add texture- this room feels spring-like to me.
Photo: SET For Design

Wood-handled cutlery: Gives you a feeling of having a perpetual picnic 🙂

Garden Stools: What started out as outdoor furniture has quickly become a staple indoors. Use it for extra seating or as side tables to perch books and drinks. Their small size and interesting shapes make them perfect for lightening up.

Garden Stools

Garden Stools as side tables
Photo: ApartmentTherapy.com

Slipcovers: White or light-coloured slipcovers will make any dark, winter-weary furniture feel springtime fresh.

Textiles: Switch up your bedding, blankets, throw pillows and even your napkins to reflect a fresher, livelier colour palette. You can completely change the look of a room in a short amount of time and effort.

Tangerine: While it might not be what you have in mind for a paint colour, 2012’s Pantone colour of the year can be incorporated with smaller items such as orange storage boxes, cushions or vases.

Tangerine pops for your home
Photo: AOL Shopping

Fragrant Linens: In a steam iron or a spray bottle, fragrant water adds a crisp and comforting spring scent to freshly laundered linens.

Happy Spring everyone!

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!