Monday, January 26, 2015

IDS 2015 ~ Style at Home Edition

Hello Monday! Did you all have a fantastic time at IDS Toronto on the weekend?  I loved every minute of it and was inspired by the sensational IKEA sektion kitchens, the innovative and mind-blowing Cubitat, and many fresh new local talents at #IDS15.

I must have taken over 1,000 pictures over the last couple of days (despite being under the weather and still battling with the flu), and today, we are stopping by this beautiful kitchen designed by the talented Style at Home team inspired by a classic pastry bistro in France!  

Talking about a chic entrance! I was floored the moment I saw the pair of high gloss doors in black (what a sharp contrast against the polished brass knobs), the iconic black & white gingham awning,  and that gorgeous floor with the large scale, multi-colored hexagon tiles to set the stage.

knob image via Michelle
And wow was exactly what I said when I stepped into the space.  Full height pantry filled with sexy breads (as Stacy called them) taken up almost the entire wall.  Too bad you couldn't smell these amazing breads by Ace Bakery via my photos but let me tell you, I was totally craving for carbs ... that was how heavenly these loafs smelled.  

Another showstopper in the Style at Home kitchen is this magical bike from Curbside Cycle hung high in the sky (literally) above the island to echo the chic european look.     

Here is one of my favorite shots in the kitchen:

Bakeries and restaurants in Europe (especially for those ones that have been in business for decades) tends to have a collection of mix and match art pieces / photos curated over a long period of time.  The grouping of mirrors and frames on the feature wall reminds me of the look, and gives this new kitchen an extra hint of european flavor.    

I have never thought of installing a track to hang up my small pots and other kitchen essentials.  But hey, if my pots and pans look that good, why not showcase them all! 

It's time to turn our attention to the pantry wall.  Let's take moment to be amazed by this sensational creation:  

What an absolute stunner with the matte black cabinetry soar to the ceiling!   With sleek hardware, marble counter and shelf, brass accent in shelf brackets and railing, full height antique mirror + a vintage crystal chandelier, this is the most beautiful "beverage central" I have ever seen!

Of course this bakery bistro inspired kitchen wouldn't be completed without a cozy, comfy nook.  Gilded gold mirror, dynamite wallpaper with a sky motif, pops of vivid blue from the pillows, and a pair of industrial sconces, who wouldn't want to spend Sunday morning here?  

So much to learn and be inspired by in this chic kitchen by Style at Home.  But if I have to pick one element to zoom into, it's definitely the golden towel bar that runs around the island and along the main wall.  It is a small component in the kitchen, but it is that attention to detail that wows its visitors.  I am totally stealing this idea in my next kitchen.  How about you?    

A big thank you to the Style at Home team for all the hard work, creativity, and super long hours to pull together such an incredible kitchen for us to enjoy and be inspired.  Congratulations for the huge success at IDS 2015!

The only question I now have for the team is: just how did they resist trying those delicious breads before styling the pantry? 

image via Erin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief of Style at Home

Thursday, January 22, 2015

IDS 2015 ~ Preview + Must See

Hello Thursday! Yours truly is seriously under the weather over the last couple of days and surely do hope that I will be well enough to enjoy the best design show of the year: Interior Design Show 2015.  Yes, IDS is in town again and with hundreds of exhibitors + A-list speakers gracing the centre stage, we are truly in for mega design treat.   

images via IDS / Style Garage / Caesarstone
Caesarstone has always put up a fun show at IDS and this year, this quartz manufacturing giant has teamed up with designer Philippe Malouin to dream up a play installation to emphasizing the strength, durability, and design of this extremely durable material. 

Another exciting feature is Cubitat, a 10' x 10' x 10' customizable "cube" that houses everything we need in modern living.  A kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, entertaining area, storage, and furniture by Mjolk, I surely can't wait to check out how this cube unfolds at the show! 

My favorite local furniture stores, Style Garage and Gus* Modern, are back at IDS and this year, they are featuring two new exciting additions to their collection: the Archive sofa (with beautiful walnut plywood frame and convertible to a daybed) and the lounge chair.  Be sure to try them out in person.    

images via Avenue Road 
The beautiful Bell Table has always been one of my favorites.  I remembered loving it when I saw it in person in Paris.  Now there is a chance to meet the design genius who has combined beauty and function in the creation of this classic table.  More new exciting products including the High/Low containers, Oda lamps, Wooster Street and Bell lights will also be showcased at IDS!

Be sure to join Sebastian Herkner at 3pm on Friday and visit Avenue Road at Booth #1528!

images via Avenue Road 
Speaking about A-list speakers at the show this year, major design talent Thom Filicia will be joining us at the main stage on Saturday from 4pm to 5pm to share his design visions, inspirations, and more.
images via Thom Filicia
A quick visit to Thom's website had me mesmerized by all these beautiful and elegant spaces he's created.  I simply can't wait to meet him in person.

images via Thom Filicia
Jonathan Adler will also be gracing the main stage from 12pm to 1pm on Saturday to talk about how to bring happiness to your home.  Having a fun, glam, and livable space is key to JA's designs.  Saturday at 12pm, I know where I am going to be.  Do you?

images via Jonathan Adler 
One more stop you can't miss at IDS this year is to check out the brand new kitchen by IKEA: SEKTION.  This new exciting modular kitchen will be available in Canada real soon and to celebrate its arrival, IKEA Canada is not only doing one kitchen at IDS, but has included talented design editors from the Style at Home magazine and House & Home magazine to design the kitchen of their dreams with SEKTION.     

images via IKEA
Now I better rest up before the gala and spending the weekend at IDS.  Are you heading to the show this year? I would love to see you there! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Project Rental ~ Bedroom Edition

Hello Monday!  Did you enjoy the living room makeover I shared last week? Today we are checking out the bedroom and with a few easy tips, you could also turn your blank canvas into a serene (and functional) private retreat.

Just a quick reminder of what this blend bedroom used to look like before I came into the picture:

To bring life, practical function, and style to this typical builder basic box, I started with three key elements: an elegant headboard, a couple of dressers that are at the right height to form the bases of a custom vanity, and a gorgeous fabric from Tonic Living as jumping off point for color and patterns.

Being on a tight budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on quality and style.  You just need to be patient and be a frequent visitor to your local HomeSense.   Believe it or not, the camelback headboard in cotton/linen + nailhead trim, brass floor lamp from Ralph Lauren Home, black glass sculptural side table, and the Barbara Barry inspired cut velvet pillows, were amazing finds from HomeSense!

One of my favorite transformations in the bedroom has got to be the drapes.  I was determined to say goodbye to the unsightly vertical blinds.  Not allowed to "harm the walls" means I couldn't install curtain rod for drapes.  To keep cost down and to utilize the existing track system, I asked Fine Interiors by Susan to turn a pair of shower curtains (again from HomeSense) into full length panels.

We also needed a piece of art to anchor a blank wall at the foot of the bed.  With a little smart thinking, we were able to put up a captivating master piece with removable 3M hook using a a delightful cherry blossom fabric from Tonic Living and a canvas stretcher from the local craft store.

As for the client's favorite item in the bedroom: the vanity with a gorgeous view! If you are having trouble finding a vanity that's the right length, just buy two dressers and put a piece of board on top.  The possibility is truly endless and I am loving the natural light!  

As for my favourite shot, here she is!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Project Rental ~ Living Room Edition

Hello Wednesday! Yours truly just got back in town and despite the extreme cold alert + serious jet lag + battling with a cold + getting ready for an exciting project, I finally have a touch of energy (and time) to share with you the behind-the-scene fun at the making of #ProjectRental: Living Room Edition.

As noted in my reveal post (once again, special thank you to Style at Home) and my earlier sneak peek, the living room was a classic case of builder basic before the transformation.  Here is a reminder of how it used to look like:

As for the transformation, our goal is to create an elegant yet comfortable, stylish yet livable home.  In this open-concept living room + kitchen entertaining zone, I have selected a sectional sofa with a chaise acting as a "peninsula" between the living room and the kitchen to increase sitting capacity when entertaining.

The placement of the sofa against the longest wall in the living room also allows for the best traffic flow and maximum utilization of the space without blocking access to the balcony.  The sofa wall is the first spot you see when you walked into the space.  So it has to be the feature wall and it better looks good.

As for casual meals, the breakfast bar will do the trick.  A pair o stools by Sarah Richardson Design (have I mentioned I love her furniture line?) and some beautiful plates & vases from Indigo, fresh blooms, and delicious delights, I am all set for a relaxing afternoon with my favorite magazine!

I have known Christine (the client) since Grade 9 and when she asked me to help her with her new place, pale grayish lavender is what came to mind.  Lavender could be a tricky color to decorate with, especially when I know Christine wouldn't want a "girly" space.  Here is how I used lavender with soft grey and canary yellow to achieve the serene, elegant look.

Cheerful yellow and brass accents were injected in the space to add warm to the cool, delicate lavender/grey palette.  The custom drapery panels by Tonic Living replaced the harsh vertical blinds for extra softness and patterns, while the large scale medallion on the Andalusia rug from West Elm provides a dynamic backdrop to ground the space.

Christine wasn't too keen on having an extra chair in the living room, worrying the space would be too crowded.  I convinced her to let me try it and once she lived with the layout for a few days, she was sold! The best part is that this upholstered chair has a classic silhouette and stylish tapered legs and it was free from furniture heaven (a.k.a. garbage area in my condo).  We gave the chair a deep clean + a new dress, it's now a total knockout!

The floral panel behind the chair is designed specifically to hind the unsightly air return panel.  Not allow to cover it entirely or to hand anything heavy on the walls (since we were not allowed put any nail on the wall), we stretched a piece of remnant wallpaper on a canvas stretcher from local art supply store and voila, super light weight instant art (hung with 3M tapes).

While on the DIY talk, we also did the framing of the artwork in the space ourselves.  The trio of pastel colored prints are from Carococo and the black & white screen prints are of course from my favourite Alanna Cavanagh.

Decorating tips aside, here are some of my favorite pictures:

Thanks M for all the fun at the shoot and of course Christine for taking a leap of faith so I could do whatever I want with her new home.

Come back next week to check out the bedroom!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Style At Home ~ Night & Day

Hello Monday! How was your first weekend in 2015? I am surely savouring my last few days of #HolidaysinEurope in Athens, soaking up the bright sun rays (though not all that warm) by the Mediterranean Sea before heading back to Toronto.

The slightly warmer climate reminds me of the sweet spring breeze in April with the early bloomers offering us delightful pastel colors and fresh spring fragrances.  I know it's a little early to think Spring but hey, we are soon going to see Easter items hitting the stores, so why not plan ahead and brainstorm on your next home improvement project?

A couple of winters ago I sat down with my dear friend since Grade 9 to chat about her new rental.  It has a fantastic kitchen, a well-appointed layout, along with the classic light beige walls + vertical metal blinds.  With a couple of months to plan and a couple more to shop / install, my friend's rental is not longer another typical apartment around the block.  This is one beautiful story I am super excited to share with you today.  

image via Style at Home, courtesy of Donna Griffith
Tight in square footage and with almost impossible restrictions imposed by landlord (no paint or any holes on all walls) doesn't mean you will have to live with small scale furniture pieces or in a space lacking personality.  Here is how we do it in the living room.  

The lack of architectural details is enriched by the wealth of patterns, textures, soft delicate pastels, and an eclectic mix of styles.  A timeless statement such as the glass & brass table lamp from Ralph Lauren up the elegance factor, while its juxtaposition with a sleek contemporary chrome & glass side table gives the space a modern appeal.        

image via Style at Home, courtesy of Donna Griffith
A few more shots of the living room and a big thank you to Janine of Tonic Living for the sensational drapery curtains! If you have vertical blinds at home and don't want to replace the entire system, just take down the metal blinds and have your drapery panels hook onto the same track system for an instant makeover!

image via Style at Home, courtesy of Donna Griffith
Who doesn't dream of a bright floor to ceiling window in the bedroom?  The challenge of this fantastic feature is that it's also very difficult to find a vanity or desk in the market that fits the space.  With my "make-it-happen" / "slightly obsessive" personality, I wasn't going to let the space overruled my design solution.  Well, we came up with a perfect custom vanity without the expensive price tag!

Another big thank you to Susan of Fine Interiors by Susan who made my off-the-shelve shower curtains into custom draperies.  A extra band of striped fabrics on the side and a wider band at the bottom, we now have full length drapes (with black out lining) that function like a dream.

image via Style at Home, courtesy of Donna Griffith
The biggest challenge yet at this rental makeover was the dark, isolated den right off the foyer.  With zero chance of nature sunlight and lack of overhead light, I knew I needed to brighten the room somehow + dress it up to wow the arriving guests.

I decided to double duty the space as a home office + romantic dining for two.  A pair of Jonathan Adler sconces (20 light bulbs in total) sets on dimmer offer both practical lighting for work and ambience in the evenings.  The dramatic hexagon wallpaper from Cole & Son adds luxe to a blend beige space, provides shimmers with its metallic finish, and it surely is a match made in Heaven with the PS Billy bookcase from IKEA!

My design vision for the den wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Vie of Anvil Wrought Iron Furniture who came to the rescue with her sleek and contemporary custom brushed brass table base.  Adding a salvage marble top and a pair of Nik dining chairs by Sarah Richardson Design, I would say this den is ready for business!  

image via Style at Home, courtesy of Donna Griffith
Thank you so much to the Style at Home magazine for the incredible feature and the super talented Donna Griffith who has captured the condo so beautifully! Many more inspiring before & after makeovers are featured in the February issue of Style at Home.  Have you pick up your copy yet?   

image via Style at Home
Come back on Thursday for more behind-the-scene fun at this rental makeover + the photo shoot, along with some tips on how to tackle a rental apartment without breaking the rules or the bank!  See you on Thursday!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Hello January 1st!! It is official and we are ready to kick start another wonderful year!  I wish you all a fantastic time today ... I will be seeing you next week!


images via Target / Pinterest

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Markets ~ Germany Edition

Hello Tuesday! As my #HolidaysinEurope approaching the end of week 2 and we are getting ready to wrap up 2014, I thought perhaps I should pop in to share some of my favourite moments at various Christmas Markets in Germany.

Christmas is huge in Germany, and every city is filled with elaborated festivities to celebrate the holiday season.  Christmas market is a significant part of the tradition, and they all come in different sizes and local flavours.  Our first stop today is at Chris' home town: Erlangen.

The Christmas market in Erlangen is smaller in scale but it is intimate and charming.  I love the pine chips on the ground (nothing reminds me of Christmas more than the smell of pine), the great variety of food options (i.e. currywurst, schnitzels, feuerzangenbowie aka fire sugar mulled wine), and the kid-friendly rides right at the market!

Our next stop is Munich.  I loved its Christmas markets last year and I surely am glad to be back for another visit this year.

Munich has the most diverse themes (medieval, asian, gay-friendly, and of course traditional) at their Christmas markets.  I love trying out different food (in small portions) and if you are like me, Munich is where you want to be for Christmas!

Thanks Igor for an amazing time and your place is so cozy and stylish!

Here is one of my favourite shots from Munich.  I can never get tired of a bright and colorful merry go round.

Augsburg is next and what a beautiful city!

Smaller in scale than Munich, Augsburg has one main Christmas market and a small one for rides.  However, I love the decoration throughout the city and as though the entire city is one big Christmas market!  If you are looking for a fun city to visit for the holidays and don't want to elbow fight with all the other tourists, Augsburg is one fine option.

I wasn't kidding when I said the entire city is one big Christmas market.  Just check out this light and music show at the square! We so need something like that in Toronto! 

Our last stop is Nuremberg, and it is world-famous for the scale of its Christmas markets.  Yes,  Nuremberg is where you will find the largest Christmas market in Germany! 

Aside from its scale, the historic significance of the Nuremberg and its heritage aesthetic caught my eyes.  Although Nuremberg doesn't offer as many variety of food options as Munich (most of the food vendors offer bratwurst on bun or with fries), it does have an international section where it showcases various Christmas traditions and delicacies from around the globe.

As for the scale of Germany's largest Christmas market, Chris was ready to join the crowd (or not)!  

For those of us who live in Toronto, I would say our Christmas market is getting better and better every year.  We may not have a historic building over 400 years old as backdrop, but we certainly have some spectacular lighting in town. 

It's time to get back to some family actions #GermanStyle.  Hope you all are having a fantastic time with your family and friends, and I will see you in 2015!