Let There Be Light

I recently had the ‘opportunity’ to replace the window in my front door, not by choice however, but rather due to an unfortunate incident. As it’s now covered up while the glass is being ordered, it did make me realize how much I love natural light and miss it when it’s not there.

I didn’t always have light there- it was a solid door with a dark foyer at one time. A few years ago I decided I had to get more light inside and the way to do that was to install a window into the door. That started me on a hunt on how to do that. I thought I would share  a few different ways to bring in light; as it’s so important to your feeling of well being, and also helps immensely when selling your home!

1. Install a window into a solid door:  If the door is made of fiberboard with hollow-core construction, this can be done with ease by most big box stores in a matter of hours. Here is an example of one I had installed in a south-facing kitchen. Some come with blinds within the window if privacy is an issue.

WIndow Installed in Door by SET For Design

Window Installed in Door by SET For Design

If the door is wood, it is more cumbersome. Fewer establishments will take on the responsibility of cutting out the hole, without interfering with the integrity of the door and having glass made to fit perfectly. In Toronto, I did find one such place called Charles Summut, a custom window and door manufacturer.

Here is a picture of my front door before & after the window was installed. It now floods the foyer with light, as opposed to it being the dark, gloomy ‘welcome’ it used to be.

Foyer After Installation of Window by SET For Design

Foyer After Installation of Window by SET For Design

 2) Skylights & Sun Tunnel Skylights: There is nothing better to bathe a top floor in light than skylights. There are so many variations in size, material and price nowadays, it is almost a guarantee you will find something that works for your home and budget.

Skylight courtesy of VELUX

Skylight courtesy of VELUX

A sun tunnel skylight is a smaller, more flexible option for bathrooms and confined spaces where regular skylights may not fit. The Sun Tunnel Skylight by VELUX emits passive light from the sun without the heat emitted by electrical light sources, so is a Green option as well.

Sun Tunnel Before

Sun Tunnel Before & After


3. Clear your windows!  If renovations of any magnitude are not in the budget or you just want a quick and easy option… open your blinds, curtains, shutters and shades! It seems like such a basic thing, but as a stager I see so many homes with people who live like hermits with their windows covered. Let in the light! If the window treatments are old and have seen better days (and privacy is not a requirement), take them down! A bare window will look better and make the room feel bigger than one covered in out-dated, room-darkening materials. Sometimes less is more.

Windows by North Star Windows

Windows by North Star Windows

Personally I can’t wait for my window to be fixed and have the natural warmth and brightness back in my home. Too much light is impossible if you ask me… wear sunglasses instead 🙂


Where Do You Get Design Inspiration?

That’s a question that as designers we always face. For me, it’s a combination of places.  Magazines are an obvious choice. Sometimes I watch HGTV (who doesn’t love Sarah Richardson?). Then there are seminars, tradeshows and special events. It’s the last two that I thought I would touch on here.

Shows such as the Interior Design Show (typically held in January in downtown Toronto), and most recently The International Decorating Show (held last week in the International Centre by the airport in Toronto) are great for 1) finding new and innovative products being displayed  2) seeing terrific talks and rooms done by experts on new trends, design ideas and looks they love.  I volunteered for the CDECA booth at the Decorating Show as I belong to the organization.  For those of you who are not familiar with CDECA,  it’s the Decorator’s Association of Canada. Our mandate is to ensure consistency in decorating excellence and to steer consumers to a site where they can find accredited members- http://www.cdeca.com  (in case you are interested).  Here is our booth at the show:

CDECA booth

CDECA booth at the Interior Decorating Show

Right beside us were some ‘inspiration rooms’.  You will always find rooms or sometimes entire homes at shows such as this one, that can provide you with some insight and inspiration which you can translate in some way to your own spaces.  These were done by some top Canadian designers including Kimberley Seldon, Jane Lockhart and Lynne Spence.  Have a peak at their Christmas-inspired decor:

Inspiration Room by Jane Lockhart

Inspiration Room by Jane Lockhart

Inspiration Room by Kimberley Seldon

Inspiration Room by Kimberley Seldon

Inspiration Room by Lynn Spence

Inspiration Room by Lynn Spence

Another reliable source of design inspiration for me is the Princess Margaret Dream Home. I faithfully make a trek out to Oakville every year to see what it looks like, gather tidbits of inspiration and just wish that it was me winning this lovely home.  Yup that’s me in this year’s principal bathtub 🙂

I look forward to seeing the colour schemes and what they do in the ‘money-is-no-issue’ kitchen- which by the way looked like this:

Princess Margaret Dream Kitchen

Princess Margaret Dream Kitchen

Now I may not agree with all of the choices (for example that the fridge is in another room!), but l will always glean a little something to inspire and dream by. I do feel however there has been a lot of repetition in the overall feeling and colour scheme of the dream homes over the last few years.  Perhaps they need to get a little new inspiration also 🙂

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!