Houzz contributor and award winning designer provides interior design for private residences. Our work runs from very modern to crisp updated traditional. We love art, colour, pattern, and most of all we love to be inspired by what you love.
One of the trickiest predicaments for a design newbie is figuring out how high (or low) to hang your lighting fixtures. Chandeliers, pendants, etc. can mystify even the veterans because they are all so different. Though there is a bit more of an art than science to it, here are a few factors to consider:
Hang over an ‘Anchor’ – Chandeliers and pendants can make a striking impact when hung correctly. If you’re looking to hang a chandelier over your dining table, master bed, kitchen island or bathtub, treat those furniture pieces and fixtures as your anchor. The space will look more visually appealing if the lighting is centered to these instead of centered to the entire room.
Play off of Architectural Accents – Does your home have beautiful crown moulding or an opening you can play off of? Can you align your lighting to match the height of door openings or windows? Pay attention to how the builders have set up your home and hang your lighting accordingly.
Consider your Sight Lines – Put yourself in your space as if you are seeing it for the very first time. Where does your eye naturally wander to and from? How can you hang your lighting in a way to draw a visitor into your space and attract attention to the features?
Size it Right – In a designer’s eyes, there is almost nothing worse than seeing a dinky light fixture being swallowed by a huge space. In recent years, design trends have swung to the other side of the spectrum with intentionally oversized lighting. It takes a trained eye to get really good with proportion but for now let your eye be your guide as there are no strict rules regarding size.
When hanging light fixtures over a kitchen island, the bottom of the light should be within approx 30-34 inches above the countertop.
If your ceiling height is higher than 8-9 feet, you can add a few inches (approx 2-3 inches in height from the countertop) for each extra foot of ceiling height). Be sure to leave a minimum of 6-8 inches from the side of the island to the edge of the light, so they don’t look like they are hanging over the edge.
Also, ensure you have at least 18-24 inches
between each light fixture if you’re hanging more than one, so they don’t look
too crowded. You will have to eyeball it a bit based on the scale and visual
weight of the light fixtures but this is a good starting point. Don’t be afraid
to use your eye and designer instincts to get the perfect placement for your
Over a dining room table, it is best to have the bottom of the light approximately 30-36 inches above the top of the table. In a room with a higher ceiling you can raise the lighting a bit, but you still want your light fixture to be grouped with the table visually, not hovering above. So, if your ceiling is higher than 8-9 feet you can add a little bit (approximately 3-4 inches in height from the countertop for each extra foot of ceiling height).
In either case, be sure to leave a minimum of 6-8 inches from the side of the table to the edge of the light so they don’t look like they are hanging over the edge, and so people can’t bump their heads.
Here are some rough numbers to go by:
Right Height to Hang a Dining Room Fixture / Chandelier
8′ ceiling 32 -36″ between the top of your table and the bottom of your fixture
9′ ceiling 36″-40″ between the top of your table and the bottom of your fixture
10′ ceiling 40″-44″ between the top of your table and the bottom of your fixture
Right Height to Hang Wall Sconces
Wall sconces are typically installed at a height of 66 to 72 inches (5.5 feet to 6 feet) above floor level, but there is some discretion depending on where they are used and what the overall ceiling height is (rooms with vaulted ceilings can take a higher placement). In narrow hallways or areas where there is high traffic, I like to place them a bit higher to make sure they aren’t likely to pose a hazard for taller people.
a Light in an Entryway or Foyer
A good rule of thumb is you should have 7′ of
clearance (minimum) from your floor
to the bottom of your light if you have a 1 level entryway. This will allow for
most non-basketball players to avoid bumping their heads.
All this talk about lighting has us thinking about our favorite fixtures and how they can transform interior spaces. Below are some of our tried and true chandeliers, pendants and sconces, plus a few that we are excited to use in 2019!
If you live in the beaches, or
anywhere in the southeast quadrant of the city, you have probably heard of the
Balmy Beach Club. If you have had the pleasure of visiting the club, you will
recall it’s beautiful patio overlooking the boardwalk and Lake Ontario. It is a
great setting for a hot summer night, but many are not as familiar with the
private member’s lounge.
When we were invited to bid on a refresh project to the member’s lounge, we were thrilled, and truly honoured. However, we were in no way prepared for the community, the depth of caring and local history that was contained within its walls.
The lounge was sadly in need of an
update so we were thrilled when we were told that we had been the selected
design team to lead the renovation and rejuvenation of the private member’s
Enjoy a quick look through the
transformation process and be prepared for a dramatic before and after!
Very dated fireplace wall
Cramped storage/display that didn’t showcase the club
member’s trophies and memorabilia effectively
Distressed and worn furniture, and tired upholstery
Dated colour scheme
Space planning that offered one seat facing the main
focal wall (one of the main uses of the room is for gathering by the fireplace
and watching sporting events on the tv)
New millwork treatment for the fireplace wall
New display areas for trophies and memorabilia
Replace the uniform blocky furniture with well-made
Space planning to address the various functions that
take place in the room prioritizing seating for viewing games on the tv, space
for grabbing a quick bite after a workout, room to grab a beer among friends or
hold a meeting, and lastly comfortable seating closest to the lake and boardwalk
to share conversation and drinks with club members
A fresh colour scheme reflective of the beach/sports
club vibe to complement the changing demographic in the neighborhood
A concept to reinforce the environment beachers know
So Let’s Take a Look!
A peak at the room before:
space was dated and bleak. Why is none of the furniture arranged to see the tv
when the main use of the room is watching games and sporting events? This was
our first of many questions.
The furniture and upholstery was …
Well loved would describe it best.
After a lengthy process of designing
the layout and elevations for the new space and then selecting a contractor to
install the new windows, construction began. It was messy work, but the members
were tolerant while their home away from home was being given a new look.
New space planning accommodated many competing needs: meetings, eating/grabbing a slice of pizza, relaxing after time on the tennis courts, catching up with friends over a drink, viewing sports playoff events, curling up by the fireplace, enjoying the view of the lake …
New millwork was designed to update the fireplace wall and provide a place of prominence for the pride of the club – the many awards and trophies the members have earned and brought home to display. The dated brick had to go!
then construction began.
We selected memorabilia
from the archives to represent each of the sports groups in the club. Gallery
walls are always tricky to lay out. A few techniques really helped to prepare
the gallery display!
Lay everything out on craft paper the size of your wall or opening
Vary sizes and shapes to create interest
Over-mat or group key smaller images to give them visual importance
Cut out the shapes from the craft paper to simplify installation on the wall
The installer loved us
when he saw this!
The history contained
within these walls spans over 100 years.
had custom paddles made by local Ontario artists to reflect the BBC logo
colours and the scheme for the lounge to reinforce our concept.
…and the rest of the
photos tell the story of the new BBC.
Plenty of lounging room in front of the fireplace. This is the most popular spot for sports nights on the big screen tv.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust.
Nothing inspires and informs design more than travel.
This post is about Hong Kong, but in case you missed my posts on Singapore you can read it here, and Bali, here.
The third leg of my trip to Asia last year landed me back in Hong Kong where I again had terrific tour guides. My brother and sis-in-law live there with their triplets. This former British colony is an intense and vibrant city, global financial hub, and a major shipping port. Also noted, it is a major shopping destination – a note not wasted on me! Famed for bespoke tailors and street night markets, it’s skyline is studded with skyscrapers – some distinctive such as I.M. Pei’s Bank of China.
The view from my brother’s office showcases the view across Victoria Harbour to Kolwoon (not seen here). We met here the first day before heading out for dim sum.
Located in City Hall, the line-up looked daunting at Maxim’s Palace, but once inside we saw a cavernous unending array of tables and traditional dim sum carts capable of hosting crowds of locals and tourists.
We took a ferry across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon on a shopping expedition. Good thing I went with my mom and my brother to keep me in check!
With only four days to sight see, they were action packed. We took a ferry over to Lamma Island, a fishing village famous for seafood. Below, a quick shot from the ferry.
Approaching the village on the ferry.
Restaurants perched above the bay on stilts offer diners an excellent array of seafood served alfresco with stunning views of the sea. Fresh chilli crab, garlic prawns, squid, and steamed fish with ginger and spring onions are a few of the local favourites served.
Back in Hong Kong, double decker buses were a vestige of leftover British influence. We took all forms of transportation to get around – and there were many options! Buses, subways, ferries, elevators up the mountain and yes, double decker buses.
One of the most memorable was the bus up to “the Peak”.
It was Chinese New Year! We should have anticipated the crowds but they didn’t detract from the amazing view of an incredibly dense array of skyscrapers dwarfed by the elevation.
We ate at “Bubba Gumps”, a favourite with the kids and then caught the night scape before descending to the city below. The I.M. Pei structure is distinguished at night by the X light structure visible from any angle.
The next day my sis-in-law took us on a bus tour around to the other side of the the island to a village called Stanley. Known for housing a large expat colony, it boasted an esplanade and a local market where we did some shopping (read a lot!)
Things to do when visiting Hong Kong:
Dim Sum at Maxim’s Palace at City Hall offers the quintessential Hong Kong dim sum experience. It’s noisy and cheerful and it takes place in a huge kitschy hall with dragon decorations and hundreds of locals in City Hall. A dizzying assortment of dim sum is paraded on trolleys the old-fashioned way.
The peak. Make sure you visit the peak while you are there to take in the view of the vast cityscape of towering condos and office buildings along with the view across the bay to Kowloon.
Stanley, promenade and market. An expat village on the far side of Hong Kong Island, this scenic seaside village was a great outing. It is a scenic forty minute bus ride from Central. Once a quaint fishing village, I am told this seaside town is popular with moneyed locals. It hosts a string of restaurants and bars along its waterfront promenade and has beaches and a local market for those in search of some Asian treasures to bring home.
Tips on how to select quality for where you take a seat.
Whether you long for the perfect work-life balance or a great piece of cheese cake without the calories, you can’t have it all. The same is true with sofas.
Growing up in a family in the furniture industry taught me a few things. There are many, and I mean many, sofas on the market at a wide range of prices. There are the mass market creations that can be big and bulky or too small and not cozy. And there are the incredibly stunning with an equally stunning price tag to match.
To navigate this plushy world to find the perfect fit for you and your derriere, the trick is to align your expectations with your price point because in the furniture world, like many others, you get what you pay for.
For example, a sofa made by Baker or Century Furniture or Kravet, or Silva (made right here in Toronto) is a different animal than what you find at West Elm, EQ3, or Restoration Hardware. Both can find a stylish fit in the right home, but it all depends on the budget, expectations and use of the space.
Does that mean everyone can, should, or must buy the former? Well if you want it to last, love to avoid creating land-fill, appreciate fine craftmanship and can afford a piece that sits like a dream, with a flourish of style, then yes. Absolutely!
Maybe this it not an option for you right now, but that doesn’t mean some additional knowledge on the construction of sofas cannot be put to good use! Knowledge is our best defense against being sold a faulty bill of sale.
Here are some things to consider:
Budget is the biggest determinant, but style and lifestyle will factor in. Know your budget, but explore the different styles, fabrics and softness across price ranges to get a really good sense of what you like in style and comfort. A great deal on a sofa is only a great deal if you actually like the thing.
If you, or your guests, are not comfortable sitting for extended periods of time on your sofa then it is not the right one for you. Some like the feeling of sitting on a cloud but that feather down softness comes at a cost. Are you a fluffer, and do you want your sofa to look neat and tidy? Down-filled upholstery comes with maintenance, but offers softness and a relaxed look like no other. Personally, I am a fan of a bit of structure and firmness. Although I don’t have back problems, family members of mine do and a supportive seat is essential for them. This is an area where spending based on your preferences pays off in the short and long run.
What to know about sofa construction:
This is one of the most important components of the sofa as the type of wood used for the construction of the frame determines the lifetime of the sofa. Our suppliers use North American grown kiln-dried hardwood frames. Maple or ash are typically used.
A good quality sofa uses kiln-dried hardwood, fastened with industrial adhesive, dowels, and screws, which lend to a piece’s sturdiness and durability, and can typically last more than 20 years! From our in-town supplier, a frame is warranted for a the lifetime of the owner. Kiln-drying removes all moisture from the wood before construction and this helps guard against cracking and twisting. It also enables the frame to retain its shape and stability for a long time to come.
A lower quality sofa uses furniture-grade plywood held together
with staples. It’s a substitute for hardwood and costs less. Some manufacturers
will use plywood with a combination of other lower grade wood which will give a
piece with a shorter lifespan at a good entry level price-point. These pieces
are great for setting up a first apartment when a young homeowner is still
developing a sense of style and tastes are quite fluid.
How to check the construction:
Inquire about what type of wood was the sofa frame constructed from.
Hold the side-frame of the sofa, and move it from side to side.
Do the same for the back-frame. A sturdy frame should not wobble or twist.
Lift up the sofa and feel the weight. It should feel solid, even
Test the frame strength by lifting one corner or leg of the sofa
up to about 15cm. If the other leg is still touching the floor, then it means
the frame is weak.
Web and coil: 8-way hand-tied is the gold standard for
upholstered seating. Some manufacturers are moving toward metal clips instead
of the traditional twine, but still used traditional web and coil. Either are
This is where we really get down to the Princess and the Pea.
There is a range of products that are used to fill seat cushions.
While not exhaustive, this is a list of what you will typically find in a custom sofa.
Foam (soy) – different densities are available, a visit to our
sofa manufacturer always involves the “goldilocks seat test”. Seat and back
densities are offered in soft, medium, and firm. Luxury sofas offer coils
within the seat cushions. If you are up
for the splurge, these offer the most luxurious seat.
Wrap – the seat cushion can be wrapped in either dacron or in a
feather envelope. This gives it a softer line taking away from the squareness
of the cushions.
Back upholstery may vary more depending on the style of the
piece of furniture. Some do not have loose cushions but instead use sinuous
coils to provide springiness to offer a tidy tailored appearance. Still
providing some structure some back cushions have loose cushions typically
filled with foam wrapped in either down or dacron. A softer, more relaxed
option are filled with a densely packed envelope of dacron.
English Fill – If you love the look of a well-loved English chair or sofa, chances are good both the seat and the back are filled with feathers and down.They sit like a cloud but once you stand up, won’t restore their shape like other fills. They require fluffing up the cushions regularly but provide a very relaxed look. Then we get into the details for customization. Choice of fabric, and fabric grading is a broad topic we’ll discuss in an upcoming post (stay tuned!). Durability and resistance to staining as well as ability to hide dirt, pet hair etc. are factors to consider. We’ll go into all of that. We want you to love it for a long time.
Upholstering and Tailoring:
Seams and welting (piping) should look neat and sit straight. No
twisting or pulling.
Pattern matching will show attention to detail on a quality
piece. The pride that goes into a quality piece is evident in these details.
Happy Holidays! Are you feeling inspired during this giving season? Or feeling the overwhelm of options and expectations. Tis the season! *wink wink*
To try and lend a helping hand, I put together some design-inspired options that will surely be the favourites of the season for whoever is lucky to receive them! You may even find a thing or two that you want to treat yourself with! Remember, when shopping for loved ones to keep your eye out for something for yourself too!
I was once asked in an interview, What’s the worst colour disaster you have ever encountered?
Oh I cringe when I have to admit that I didn’t just encounter this disaster… I was the perpetrator! Here it goes. This was MY mistake, years before I ever became a designer, that taught me a great deal about colour.
It was the 1980’s when everyone was in love with muted pastels. I had hired a painter to transform my first career girl apartment thinking I was doing the grown up thing, just like Mary Tyler Moore – right? (Are you with me here, or did I just date myself?) If any of you remember the 80’s, it was an era of dusty rose interiors, Dynasty league shoulder pads, and we were all wondering who shot J.R. Ewing. (Oh I definitely dated myself now!)
I wanted to personalize my apartment and establish myself as a girl with a career and a stylish apartment. Busy with my then corporate day job, I hired a painter to paint the entire living room and dining room as I was off busy at my office job. At the end of the day, eager to see my new place, I hurried home to see the transformation. When I walked in, it was a horror! What was supposed to be an on-trend brush with dusty rose, was instead a very clear, loud, off-any trend bubble gum pink! Not a word of exaggeration. To be clear, it was Barbie doll pink! PEPTO BISMOL pink!
I didn’t have to think about it for more than a minute. It was clear I could not live with this hideous colour. So I researched and read everything I could get my hands on about colour, learned the meaning of neutralizing a colour and how to tone it down. Finally I settled on a corrective course of action. I knew then I had the right colour and with confidence I called the painter back to repaint my apartment. He came. He painted. I loved it!
It cost so much to repaint though that I vowed then to learn everything I could about hues, tones, tints, and neutralizing a colour so I would never make that mistake again. And I never did!
So, lesson learned. The hard way.
One of the most common mistakes people make when selecting colours for a room is they often pick a colour they like from the paint chip, just like I did back then. As many learn, it doesn’t translate well on the wall like they had anticipated. You may be surprised to hear neutrals are the toughest because off white, beiges and greys all have an undertone and it takes a trained eye to read them accurately.
Another common mistake is not sampling paint properly. You need to have a large enough sample, and to place that sample properly. 11” x 17” is a good size. Many paint stores carry supplies to make up a test board and will mix a sample pot of your chosen paint colour.
Paint and pigments are a matter of physics and the science of optics. People will often choose from a small swatch laid on a table. It can completely transform when held on a vertical plane as the light refracts and reflects off it differently. Also, selecting the correct colour will depend on its surroundings. A paint colour in a room will read very differently depending on whether the room it is facing north, south, east, or west. Context is everything. For example. you probably wouldn’t guess that these next two rooms are painted with exactly the same paint colour – would you? It is one of Benjamin Moore’s most popular paint colours and people buy it by name hoping for a wonderful result. Some are not disappointed.
Here are some tips for selecting a paint colours for your home:
Work with colours you love. Pick a background colour or secondary colour from an area rug, artwork you love, or perhaps a textile in the room.
Select a paint chip or several that appear close to what you are looking for.
Paint a sample board of each of the colours you have selected.
Place the sample boards one at a time in front of a white board or panel (poster board works well). This allows you to isolate the colour from your existing wall colour.
Remember to hold the sample vertical if you are painting the wall. The colour can appear very different on a horizontal plane than it will when held vertically.
Selecting colours is however still tricky. When the colour is right, everything looks more stylish, richer. When the colour is wrong, everything just seems to look wrong.
If you get stuck, I offer colour consultations and pack 150 of the most popular colours in large format samples. It will save you multiple trips back and forth to the paint store and give you the confidence in the colour before a mistake is made. Contact us about our colour consultation packages.
‘The eye has to travel,’ said the eccentric Diana Vreeland, who was well known for her colourful, and inspired work in the pages of Vogue. She had a tactful way of bringing in multiple points of inspiration and making it all just work in her spreads. One of the great things about interior design is we have that same opportunity. We can cover every corner of the world, take in the sights, the style and the culture, and create spaces that remind us of all that we saw. That’s why I love sharing about my travels — I know I finish each trip full of ideas for my home, the homes of friends and the homes of my clients. I hope you feel the same after these posts!
A while back I wrote about my trip to Bali. En-route from Bali, I also visited Singapore and took in some of its many sights. I could have stayed longer – much, but it was a short stopover as I made my way back to Hong Kong and was enough to whet my appetite. If you are heading to Asia I highly recommend a stop in Singapore.
I was again fortunate to have excellent tour-guides. Friends of mine had moved there a few years back and I finally had a chance to visit them and see the sights.
Singapore is a land of futuristic architecture in a tropical climate that is an international melting pot with a dynamic expat community. Its sights are abundant but here are a few (or more than a few) highlights from my trip. Spoiler alert: lots of architecture and design inspiration took my breath away!
First, a look at the delightful, old-world charm of the Heritage shophouses. These are some of the most iconic historic buildings in modern Singapore. Many of these shophouses belonged to the Peranakan community and one of the distinctive features of the Peranakan owned shophouses are the ornately designed tiles that adorn the buildings, known also as Peranakan tiles.
We found an artist’s interpretation using pieces of the Peranakan tile to make modern pottery.
Measuring and weighing dough for hand-made dumplings was the centre-stage display at a world class dumpling restaurant I’d go back to in a heartbeat!
A couple of pics from the Singapore’s world class rainforest zoo. How fun to be amidst the animals in each exhibit (most of the time – eeks!).
Arab Street and Haji Lane, a vibrant and colourful historic district converted into artists galleries and colourful shops.
Art Deco gems, the Atlas, celebrates the great Art Deco lobbies of Europe and their rich culinary and beverage traditions.
Greenscape echoes terraced rice paddy fields within the built environment at the Park Royal.
Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden” and to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. Beautiful to look at, these structured certainly add to the city’s futuristic skyline.
Elegant old ‘black and white’ houses evoke a refined picture of colonial Singapore and date back to when wealthy immigrants, plantation owners, built these lovely homes in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. Patterned light filters through whitewashed plantation shutters, ceiling fans bring a welcome breeze to offer relief from the tropical heat. Sit in rattan furniture on the covered verandah to capture the essence of tropical chic amidst swaying potted palms and sip on a Singapore sling.
That captures the romanticism to be found in Singapore.
We visited a ‘black and white’ that was converted to a home décor and furnishings showroom and I was in love at every sight. Among the many things I wish I had brought home were these items (but believe me, if I ever open a shop this will in be my inventory – for sure):
Using these screens is a great way to filter light and offer a bit of privacy without resorting to conventional window coverings.
My dear friend Deanna who showed me all the best spots! These Chinese wedding cabinets are typically finished in a high gloss lacquer. I really like the more subtle finish on these and was so tempted to buy a pair to house all of my fabric books. It may still happen!
These Chinese wedding cabinets are typically finished in a high gloss lacquer. I really like the more subtle finish on these and was so tempted to buy a pair to house all of my fabric books. It may still happen!
Chinese brushes make great styling items as they tell an interesting story and add texture to any tablescape.
Lunch in a black and white house converted to a restaurant – Chopsuey Cafe.
Chinese New Year decorations were revealing the year of the dog.
One restaurant on Dempsey Hill showcased three classic looks of Singapore. Black and white, Indigo and white, and the Peranakan tiles.
Again I had expert tour guides. I stayed with friends I have known since our sons were small together and had the delight of enjoying the expat life, Singapore style while I stayed with them. Deanna knows all the design sources I would want to see and I was delighted with many..
Small spaces don’t have to sacrifice style for storage. Sometimes it takes a little creativity, innovative design and practical thinking to make the most out of a limited floorplan. In this blog, we are breaking down 5 ways you can Maximize Space in your Kids’ bedrooms without giving up stylish design.
1. Rethink Side Tables
Whenever you’re dealing with a small space, first-and-foremost, you have to consider maximizing functionality. In kids rooms especially, you’ll want to think about how your child will be using their space and what your current hurdles are space-wise. One of the ways we tackled this compact girl’s room was to omit side tables completely. However, you still need a surface handy in order to keep a glass of water, cellphone, reading, or tissues nearby. To get the best of both worlds, consider incorporating a pull-out shelf above the drawers in bedside built-ins. When not in use, this smaller sliding surface can be stowed out of sight and excess clutter avoided.
2. Sneaky Mirrors
A great way to make a smaller space feel larger is to add mirrors. Because they reflect light, mirrors make small spaces feel more open and airy, and give the appearance of almost being windows to more space. Use mirrors wisely, like we did in this bedroom remodel on either side of the bed, and then you can forego bulky vanities, over-dresser mirrors, or dorm-style back-of-the-door options.
3. Closet Organization = No more Dressers
Hanging storage for clothing, drawers for pjs, sweaters and tops, and the like.
4. Storage that Makes a Statement
Our Wheeler Ave project pushed us to make the most of the small spaces. Instead of working around bulky furniture pieces, we decided to make a statement out of our storage solution with custom built-ins. By creating a focal point out of the headboard/dresser/side-table combination, we were able to draw visual interest into the bedroom without sacrificing practical storage space. The best part? We gained a lot of floor space by not needing a physical dresser and night tables after the built-in was completed. The room looks much more spacious now!
Looking for more storage? Think vertical! We are so accustomed to big dressers, chests, and side tables to hold our belongings that a good amount of space goes unused above those surfaces. Here, we were able to utilize vertical height to store out of season clothes and shoes, bulky items and memorabilia that don’t need to be accessed on a regular basis and take up valuable closet space.
5. Toys and Clutter stay Hidden
It doesn’t take a lot of clutter, toys, or knick-knacks to make a small space feel disjointed and disorganized. In fact, seeing a clutter of picture frames, accessories, and stuffed animals littered about your child’s room can actually make a small room feel smaller. Instead, create deep drawers, baskets, and cubbies to keep everything streamlined and organized.
Designer Tip: Work in a monochromatic colour palette. This will help everything appear more put together by being visually soothing. Too many colours and patterns together tend to be too busy visually and can also make a space feel smaller than it is.
Any combination of these 5 suggestions is sure to help make the most of your child’s room design. When everything has its place and every place has its things, it is much easier to stay organized. Our bedrooms are our havens, and when we design, we want the same for your children. Biggest benefit of all: When you kids love their rooms and there is a place for everything, that means NO clothes on the floor!!
Does your child’s room need a makeover? Better yet, is it time to finally treat yourself and overhaul your master bedroom? We hear it all the time. Our room comes last. Why not prioritize yourself and create a haven to restore yourself. You deserve it right? Work with the Judith Taylor Design Team by contacting us here.
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Everyone’s vision of a cottage is unique. A rustic log cabin or a modern clean-lined structure will set your process off on a different path. Your first consideration will be whether to purchase a well-loved property to fix up and put your unique look on or to start fresh with a new build. A new build decision will launch you on another diverging path: Prefab construction or custom build? These are just the first of many of the decisions we are working through with my brother’s cottage in Georgian Bay.
Although there are many paths along the decision tree, some considerations will come up no matter which way you veer. We suggest you keep the following in mind.
1. Make Clean Up a Breeze
Kitchens should be a no-muss no-fuss space with large prep area so everyone can get involved with room to move around easily and get the job done quickly. Easy to maintain, hard wearing surfaces will make the job go quickly.
Countertops: Quartz is hard wearing and stain resistant but also consider soapstone for it’s patinaed beauty and natural resistance to stains, chemicals, and bacteria, as well as granite or marble in a honed or leathered finish for that old-world feel.
Faucets: Look for polished or brushed finishes to hide finger prints and water marks or consider this year’s trend black to give your kitchen a feeling of timelessness.
Lighting: Glass is pretty but who wants to dust? (and please avoid any open topped glass globes I like to call bug collectors). Stick with metal or if you prefer glass, consider a smoked glass or pebbled glass to disguise streaks and dust.
2. Plan for the Buggy Season
Large areas of glass and screened-in viewing. Everyone wants to spend the majority of the time out of doors, in and on the water, but those shoulder months can extend your use considerably if you prepare for a place where you can enjoy the view without pesky bugs. Planning for 3 seasons at your cottage or 4 takes fore-thought.
Exposure: South facing will provide abundant sunlight and add warmth in the off-seasons.
Patio doors: A good option to leave open, or close off to the elements (like those pesky bugs and critters).
Nanawall: For a contemporary structure, a Nanawall (a bi-fold door system that can be opened floor to ceiling and wall to wall for maximal openness) is a great solution for bringing the outdoors in and still having the option to close off when the bugs are out.
Flow-through: An often overlooked design feature, can allow for a welcome breeze to pass through the structure to cool off on a summer night while keeping the bugs out.
3. Room for Dinner Guests
Invite them for a swim but when the fun goes on all day, you will be grateful for extra room at the dining table. When choosing a table look for a finish that will withstand a bit of abuse. All generations come together and this isn’t a time for precious living.
Extra depth: Opt for a 42” depth for lots of family-style dining with room for serving plates on the table.
Distressed finish: Dents, scratches and scuffs will add to the patina of a well-loved dining table.
Leg placement: Legs inset like this table base allow for maximum number of diners to come to the table without legs obstructing each corner.
4. Room for Rainy Day Fun
When designing a cottage, you might think you don’t need much indoor space because all the fun takes place outside and down at the dock. That is, until a series of rainy days roll in. Having a separate Muskoka room means you can contain the chaos and kids can let loose around a board game (yes, that still happens) while you enjoy some grown-up time curled up with a good book.
Games: Board games for the young and old make for memorable nights.
DVD’s: Internet may be intermittent — or absent. This is a great way to repurpose a DVD player that may be collecting dust at home.
Art Supplies: Drawing paper, pencils and a set of watercolours may inspire a budding artist on a rainy day.
5. A Retreat for Guests
What’s not to love about a bunkie? Private lodging for guests makes for everyone’s comfort. Sleeping for 2 to 4 extra guests brings an ease to hosting while providing a bit of privacy for peaceful sleeping.
Be sure to have books, extra blankets & pillows, and toiletries on hand for your guests. With such a comfortable space, their visit may go from temporary to permanent!
6. No-Fuss Upholstered Furniture
Who wants to worry about spills at the cottage? Outdoor fabrics are gaining popularity for indoor use now that they have improved so much. Pick forgiving neutral colours or consider opting for washable slip-covers and you’ll never have to worry about a spill.
Hard wearing all-weather fabrics can be purchased through your designer. Upholstery textiles are graded for durability and stain resistance and sold to-the-trade. Buy well once and you won’t have to worry about it again.
Neutral colours: Pick sandy colours to hide dirt well. You can always add colour with a cozy throw or accent pillows but keep the large areas kid friendly.
Wear tested fabrics: You might need a pro to help you select fabric with high abrasion testing. Professional grade textiles are tested and rated for their durability and abrasion resistance which means they will stand up longer.
Fade and moisture resistance: Another one for a pro, but many textiles are available now that resist UV rays. Some synthetic and natural fibres naturally decay or rot with prolonged exposure to UV rays or moisture.
7. Durable Materials
This isn’t the time to get precious with materials. A lot can be accomplished with a creative flourish to make the most of simple material selections, but hard working options should lead the way. This is extremely important for flooring and countertops that will take the most abuse.
Flooring: A cottage is a great place for hand-scraped flooring and the options have been refined. They offer a relaxed elegance without the fuss. Vinyl has also come along way and it is worth a second look. I’ll predict you’ve been walking on it in retail stores and clubs and didn’t even notice.
Tiles & Bathrooms: This is a good time to leave white grout behind. Neutral colours in your materials selection and textured finishes will be very forgiving. If you are still in love with white subway tile consider using charcoal grout for an aged look.
8. Layered Bedding
A light matelassé coverlet or a light quilt is the perfect foundation layer for a summer night. It is light-weight but adds a bit of warmth when the nights are cooler. Add a wool blanket for chillier nights, and a comforter if you plan to visit late into the fall or have a year round cottage. It will be so cozy!
Sheets: Sateen may be queen in the city, but I love percale sheets. They offer a crisp coolness to crawl into after a day in the sun.
Base layer: A matelassé coverlet or a light quilt offers just enough warmth without adding weight.
Second layer: You can’t beat wool for it’s insulation properties. The Hudson Bay blanket built it’s reputation on that!
Top layer: A down-filled comforter for cool fall nights is a must!
As much as everyone loves a roomy bed in the city, a pair of single beds will add more versatility for guests than one double or queen.
This is where the living will really take place. Seating at various spots around your site will allow for group bonfires and for quiet reading. Having some blankets and cushions for outside will make it all the more comfortable.
Deck: Depending on your terrain, an expanse of deck wrapping the cottage can add easy walking for older cottage-goers as well as options for those who like to sit in the shade.
Chairs: You can’t beat the Adirondack or Muskoka style chair for it’s comfort and built-in surface for a coffee or a book. Some are made with composite or resin but can be hot in direct sun. We like to stick with the classic wood option.
10. What Do You Love?
The most important design consideration of all, what do you love? What has always felt cozy, comfortable and right in a cottage to you? This should always be the driving factor when you design your spaces.
Go and pin up a storm to help determine how you want your cottage space to unfold.
If you need some help translating that Pinterest board into the perfect cottage home
When a chance of a lifetime comes along, I am on board. Pour a glass of wine and come along with me on a summary of all of the spectacular sights I got to see in Bali. As I’ve said before, many experiences in life play into design and that’s why I wanted to share a few posts here about my travels. I process my world visually wherever I go and saw plenty of inspiration to learn from.
I recently got back from a trip to Asia where I saw sights the likes of which I couldn’t have even imagined. I was fortunate to have had excellent guides at each destination who ensured I saw all the sights, best views, and design sources at each of my destinations, and tasted the most exotic delights each destination had to offer. It was a real game changer for me!
I am going to let the pictures tell the story for the most part. Here are some highlights from my trip.
My youngest brother was the best tour guide having previously lived in Jakarta for five years. It was easy to see why he moved back to Hong Kong recently with travel like this at his disposal. Fun fact (for me) I learned he can speak the Indonesian language fluently – which came in real handy at the market when I would fan out my money and ask them what colour they wanted. He swept in and quickly started bargaining on my behalf – whew!
Batiks in a local shop I couldn’t take my eye off. Many of them are so lovely people frame them as art.
A beach is a beach until you swim in the Java Sea. I swear I literally melted into the warm water and it took tremendous effort to pull myself out when I’d had a bit too much sun (read: a lot!).
A day of sightseeing took us up the east coast of Bali to a nearby town called Candidasa where my parents had spent four weeks escaping Canada’s winter a few years back. The resort we stopped at for lunch was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, called Amankila.
Our view while we ate lunch overlooked this tiered infinity pool, the water, and beyond. I’m sure what we ate for lunch was fabulous but I was too distracted by the view – wouldn’t you be?
Dessert was presented in a rather ingenious way. Raspberry and mango sorbet were served in an ‘igloo’ of ice. What a clever way when at the equator to keep a frozen dessert chilled!
I can’t even caption this one!
The monkey forest in Ubud.
A batik shop in Ubud had so much indigo and white beauty I couldn’t slow down to shoot straight (sorry for the wonky pictures) but there were so many beautiful fabrics, I wanted it all! (P.S. that’s my 86 year old mom and my brother walking away in the photo below.)
On another day trip we had lunch at a favourite spot my sister-in-law grew up visiting and described as as her happy place. It is easy to see why. What isn’t evident from this photo is the sensory input. Literally all my senses were piqued to the sounds, aromas, sights, and, of course, tastes.
In this case, the infinity pool overlooked terraced rice paddies.
Terraced rice paddies.
We shared traditional Rejsttafel, an Indonesian dish and presentation influenced by the Dutch, that literally translates to “rice table”. The ceramic piece on the serving platter with the animal face on the front was a tiny bbq filled with coals to keep the sate hot. How clever – yes?
I caption this photo, When all paths lead to bliss.
After a long day of sight-seeing, a massage is necessary. If you happen to be in Bali sight-seeing, then one must experience a Balinese massage (perhaps daily!) or, if you are so inclined, a cream bath. A cream bath is a massage experience unto itself where an intensive deep conditioning treatment is applied to strands of hair and worked through to the ends followed by a complete scalp and shoulders massage. The entire indulgence lasting as long as a typical massage, leaving your hair soft and deeply moisturized.
Keith took us to a spa after the end of the first day to ease our jet lag away and we repeated the ritual again near the end of our stay. This photo is of Keith, my 86 year-old mom (what a terrific inspiration she is!!), and a very bedraggled but blissed-out me!
Back at our resort, a Balinese bed – aka a perfect place to read a book, have lunch, get a Balinese massage, etc. A perfect place for just about anything!
The view from inside the Balinese bed. Trust me when I tell you it was difficult to say good-bye to Bali!
Travel Notes & Recommendations:
My brother worked in Jakarta for five years and my sister-in-law was born there, so I had excellent tour guides who were both fluent in the language (a big bonus when negotiating prices as I was still figuring out how the money worked). That gave me a terrific advantage but here are a few notes to help guide you.
If you go to Bali, Nusu Dua is a great place to stay. It has an incredible collection of world-class, international chain hotels. Ours, the Westin faced a pristine beachfront on the Java Sea with water so warm I just melted into it. Known for a zeitgeist that is artful, and serene, I left a piece of my heart behind in Bali.
The town of Ubud, in the uplands of Bali, is known as a centre for traditional crafts and art forms. Ikats, batiks, wood carving, and pottery to name a few. The surrounding rainforest and terraced rice paddies, peanut and marigold fields, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most famous landscapes.
The water palace is a pretty spot along the way well worth visiting to see the abundant koi fish and beautiful property.
For a great outing and special occasion dining try each of the Aman resorts: Amakila and Amandari are both spectacular settings that will pique all the senses. (I finally had Reistafel at Amandari and it did not disappoint)
Thank you for joining me on a review of my travels! More to come. Stay tuned!