Monday, March 31, 2014

A few 'rules' for creating a great dining room

Top Ten Tips for Designing a Dining Room

1.      The table size should be determined by the size of the room and the other furniture in it. Absolute minimal clearance between the table edge and any facing wall or buffet is 30-36” but this will not allow for circulation behind a seated diner, or allow access to the buffet during a meal. Ideally, you should have 48 - 60” of space between a table and facing obstruction.

2.      Each diner needs his own dining space of 24-30”wide by 16-18” deep. Generally there will also be a shared space between facing diners of

3.      When buying any area carpet to go beneath the table, all chair legs should sit on it firmly when pushed away from the table. Always buy an under pad to protect the rug fibers from the hard floor. Rug under pads should be about 2” smaller than your rug on each side.

4.      To determine furniture quality, check the details. For example, look for dovetail joints in drawers. ( Fan-shaped tendons that interlock with a corresponding notched mortises) Also, look for a piece of wood that provides a dust proofing layer between drawers.

5.      In a room with an 8 foot ceiling, chandeliers should be hung with 30 -32” of space between the bottom of the chandelier and the table surface. Increase the space by 3” for every foot if you are lucky enough to have a high ceiling.

6.      The width of the chandelier should never exceed the width of the table. Ideally it should be 1/2 to 2/3 the size of your table width. When in doubt, go smaller but not too small.
7.      Always use dimmer switches.

8.      Wall sconces should be mounted 60” from the floor.

9.      Centre pieces should never block the view of diners. Average eye level for men is 27”from the table top and for women it is 19”. 

10.  Finally, have fun and be dramatic when decorating this room. Often it is a separate, more formal space, giving you the freedom to make it different from the other areas in your home. It can be decorated with deeper, richer colours that complement candle light, sparkling crystal and gleaming white dishes.

Sources:    Human Dimension and Interior Space by Julius Panero and Martin Zelni,  Furnish – The Home Furnishings Experts; Winter 2012, Furniture Today Media Group                10 Principles of Good Interior Design by Vinny Lee

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Design and Decor Styles over the Years

I have recently been trying to walk the talk with my home.  I am working at 'de-cluttering'. It is mostly the magazines and brochures collected over the years that go back way too many years and are not really looked at again.  I decided to flip through the magazines and if something caught my eye I could tear it out.  This will be an on-going project since there are at least 14 years of magazines.  I have been focusing on my Canadian magazines recently and must say we have many talented designers and decorators. The brochures & catalogues are only a few years old but I figure between them and the magazines, I should be leaving a very nice beverage for the folks who pick up my recycling.  I will keep the amounts down each week but it really looks like I am emptying a store.  

We then get to my tschatkas and it will be like Christmas when I hit Goodwill with the many I simply cannot store in my home.  I used to change them up regularly in order to not get tired of them and of course they all could not be displayed unless I wanted to re-create a store in my living area. I have hit a stage where I want less 'stuff' around me so out it goes.

Back to the title of this post - Design and Decor over the years.  I found in flipping through some of the magazines that our design aesthetic has not changed much in the last decade. When we hit year 2000 we seem to have hit on some fantastic liveable styles that for the most part have lasted through the years.  Of course these are also all created by professional decorators and designers which speaks to the value of working with them in the first place. It also helps the landfill as well as your pocketbook since you are not discarding your possessions so fast.  Changing up accessories and smaller pieces brings new life but the main pieces and foundation of the space can remain the same and look like it was created this year.  Sure, I have to say there are definitely some things we do not want to see again - balloon curtains; borders; too many silk or plastic flowers; and I think you know where I am going.  We have moved to a more natural look in our furnishings and accessories.  I was recently at a seminar by a well known celeb local designer and he was showing us photos of work he had done 10 years ago and it looked fresh and totally current as if he had just completed it.  Now that is a good thing!!

In checking out the bathrooms I noticed we were showcasing stand alone tubs and vessel sinks way back.   Wallpaper is back but in a more user friendly way and great design. 

I can't wait to see what comes next in Design and Decor, but one thing for sure is that I am not keeping this much 'stuff' around in future.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Loving Black and White

Recently I was gifted some Home Decor & Design Magazines from France that my hubby selected for me when he was there.  I love to pick these up when travelling just to see what's happening in other places.  When I was in Cabo recently I was looking for a Mexican Decor Magazine and a nice helpful person informed me I could find English magazines at another location but I wanted the one I found in Spanish. He thought I was a little nuts but that's ok.  I wanted authentic.

While flipping through the various magazines I saw a page of my favourite - Black and White in hounds tooth so I wanted to share it.  It's still hot and I believe it will always be in style.

From the pages of 'maisons de Campagne' here are some b/w ideas

Thursday, February 27, 2014

KOHLER Artifacts, is a new faucet collection that is adding a new level of personalization to the bath. While traditional design never really goes away, this classically beautiful collection will look good in any space. Not sure what you want? You have a choice of three spouts and three different handles, all available in five eye-catching finishes. Designs include: Tea design, Bell design, and Column design, with your choice of Lever handles, Prong handles, or Swing Lever handles in finishes ranging from vibrant polished bronze to oil-rubbed bronze. Quite an interesting look using black and white which I love.

For more great photos of the Kohler line link to this

Friday, February 21, 2014

De-cluttering for a move... or just to lighten your load!

I started to go through my own home a couple of summers ago and did manage to remove some superfluous items.  It was like Christmas down at Goodwill.  I then got busy and didn't get back to it until again this past summer.  It feels so good to say bye to things you no longer need but know that somebody else will be able to use them.  I thought that if I were moving, I would definitely purge way more items that I didn't need so that is just what I am doing this wintry season.  I may very well move in the near future, but is it is a year away, then I will have done all the work prior to the move and really have lightened the load for the movers.  I found this article from Hellen Buttigieg, a professional and well known Organizer and thought I would share it. Check out her website for many other great ideas.
  1. Start now. Our tendency is to put it off until packing time, but most people are in a time crunch at that point, and will often put things in a box to deal with them ‘later’. Remember that you are paying for each item you move, not only in the time it takes to pack and unpack it, but also by the space it takes up in the moving truck. Why pay to move something you don’t really need? You’ll be busy when you move into your new home, and will probably put off going through those ‘deal with them later’ boxes indefinitely; believe me, when I work with clients, I come across unpacked boxes that have been sitting in the basement or garage for several years after a move.
  2. Take pictures of all the large items you know will not work or fit in your next home and post them on one of the resale sites online, like Kijiji, Craigslist or Ebay. You can put the extra money you earn towards your moving expenses and perhaps some pieces that fit the new place much better than your old stuff. And the nice thing about photographing them in the first place is that, if you have any sentimental attachment to the items you are selling, you can always use the pictures to trigger the memories.
  3. Go through your house one room at a time and get rid of the no-brainers first. No-brainers are items you don’t have to think twice about letting go of, like torn towels, chipped plates and broken electronics (if you haven’t fixed them by now, trust me, you probably never will). Do this every day, even if it’s just for just 15 minutes, until the task is complete. This is a great way to warm up your de-cluttering muscles and will give you an immediate sense of accomplishment and motivate you to tackle the tougher stuff.
  4. Do some research ahead of time and decide where you will take your discarded items. Although some things will be garbage, most items can be donated or recycled. You will be motivated to let go of more things if you know they will be going to a cause that you believe in or disposed of in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. Could a local women’s shelter make better use of the clothes you never wear? Find the closest drop-off location where your unused electronics can be reused or recycled safely (do an online search – there are hundreds of locations).
  5. Fight the ‘what if I need it someday’ fear. If you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you never will. For example, we wear only 20% our clothes 80% of the time. If in doubt, toss it out (or donate/sell it). On the off-chance you do need it months from now, you can always replace it, but chances are you’ll never look back. If you keep everything because of this fear, it will probably cost you much more in time, money and stress than it would to replace it.
  6. Be prepared; set up your supplies in advance. For the de-cluttering process, you will need bins, sticky notes (for labeling) and garbage bags. Use bins to do the initial sort; label them ‘donate’, ‘sell’, ‘recycle’ and ‘toss’ and ‘keep’. When the bins get full, transfer the contents into bags. Use clear bags for items that will be donated and opaque bags for garbage, so there’s no confusion. Arrange for a charity to come and pick up the donations or drop them off yourself before the end of the week (you can always go back again as you accumulate more items to donate). Give yourself a deadline on the ‘sell’ items and have a plan for the items that don’t sell (i.e. donate). Transfer the ‘keep’ items directly into the moving boxes.
  7. Get the whole family involved. Everyone should make decisions on their own things when it comes to determining what to keep and what to let go of. But a little competition never hurt, so make a game of the de-cluttering process. Set a timer, give everyone a bin, and put some up-beat music on to make it fun. Choose a token prize for the winner who got rid of the most items and a reward for the entire family for the effort each member put in.
article courtesy of Home decor and renovataions, Jun/July 2013 and Hellen Buttgieg website

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chalk Paint vs Chalkboard Paint vs Milk Paint....

You may have been hearing about Chalk Paint and wonder if it is the same as the already popular Chalkboard Paint??  They are two entirely different products with entirely different applications.  Yes both come in a myriad of colours so it may be easy to confuse. Chalkboard paint has been around for years and is now available in many great colours to enhance any decor.  It is applied to a surface so that you can apply writing, drawings, etc to it.

So what is all the buzz about lately on Chalk Paint??  Why is it different from Milk Paint??

Milk paint comes in a powdered form and has to be mixed with water and blended.  You have to be careful not to add too much water or it will run off the furniture and if too thick it will leave lumps.  If the piece is pre-finished you need to add a primer.  Raw wood is fine with just the paint.

Chalk paint, created by Annie Sloan in 1990,  is a decorative paint available in 30 colours, both decorative and historical and is made specifically for painting furniture, floors and gives a completely matt, velvet like finish.  

You have to wonder what is so different between this Chalk Paint and the Milk Paint we all know. 

Chalk paint comes pre-mixed but can be diluted with water to create a wash/stain.  It has the properties to stick to almost any surface with prepping..... wood, concrete, metal, matt plastic, earthenware etc. It works well on exterior applications and dries quickly. If you are interested in creating an old worn look, adding a second colour which is then sanded off lightly in strategic spots, will allow the initial paint colour to show through and give an aged look.  Another point of preference is that it has extremely low VOC's and no odor. Adding Annie Sloan Soft Wax, will achieve a subtle sheen as well as protect your piece and add durability.

Below are some of the different looks you can achieve with this paint

You may just want a nice smooth finish, no ageing

In summary below are the main reasons to give this product a try.  (from the Annie Sloan website)

1. Chalk Paint® is the BEST paint for painting furniture by a long way
2. No need to prime or prepare
3. Extremely low VOC so it is good for the environment
4. You can use it on any surface, indoors and out (the outside of our shop was painted in it -- perfect!) 
5. You can use the paint by diluting it with water to make a wash to show the wood grain
6. The colours are mixed intelligently and the website shows how you can adapt your colours for your use
7. It's a girls' paint, but boys can use it too
8. It's flexible so you can be creative and change your mind 
9. It allows your walls to breathe so it is perfect for cottage walls
10. You can use it as an impasto (thickly) - leave the lid off to thicken 
11. We've been making it since 1990 so it's tried and tested

For more information on this product check out Annie's blog

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Family Day

Well here we are half way through February and I saw the sun recently and what a pleasure that was.
Thinking about this day and how it is a time for families to get together and do something and have fun of course my mind is always on decor and design so why not feature some great "family rooms".


Monday, February 10, 2014

Great Kitchen organization

I am always interested in what great options there are for kitchens.  It has been considered the main gathering place in the home back in time and once again we all seem to congregate in the kitchen.  Having it organized and efficient is always a bonus, especially when entertaining.  We all know that the party ends up in the kitchen no matter how nice the living spaces in your home are.

I was checking out one of my favourite magazines;  New York Spaces, for products of interest and came across this line - SieMatic and their newest drawer organizers.  We have seen this type of organization growing in kitchen design from every price point.  Ikea through to Bulthaup offer their own unique versions so I thought I would add this as well.

SieMatic unveiled a new interior accessories system and cabinet enclosures and surfaces at HausFair 2013. Featuring newly designed drawers with pullouts and interior accessories that streamline the minimalist designs, the new offerings go hand in hand with the new cabinet interiors. Why shouldn't the interior complement the exterior? Take a look for yourself and see why we love them so much! For more information, please click here

Convenient docking station for smartphones

Anti slip liner - very handy

Flexible storage drawers

If you are interested in this product line it can be purchased through

Binns Kitchen & Bath Design in Toronto

Surface Innovation - flexible veneers

Several Years ago I met Mike Stiller, owner of Surface Innovation at IDS and was amazed at his product line of flexible slate and other stone products.  Over the years the line has expanded and when he introduced barn board last year I thought that was great.  Now, he has gone a step further and the latest is also made of reclaimed wood - Barn board PS which is a thin weathered wood veneer with a self adhesive backing.  How easy can it get for the average DIYer.

So with the self adhesive barn board planks you just measure, cut and stick.  I think anyone could do that and get the lovely rustic and warm appearance of barn board without the weight and thickness.  A very cost effective way to transform your space adding texture, warmth and the rustic look which is so on trend these days.

Plank sizes - 1/8" X 5" in random lengths from 1' to 4', with the option of 20 or 40 sq. ft. per box. 

Barnboard PS

There is also barn wood which are a textured wood mosaic tiles made from reclaimed barn board and ship wood tiles, made from reclaimed sunken wooden boats.  How eco is that!

Shipwood web

Friday, February 7, 2014

A great Design Source..... Sullivan Source for flooring

In early December I was introduced to a fantastic resource centre in Etobicoke thanks to a couple of design colleagues.  The Sullivan Source,  is resource centre for the design and architectural community.  They specialize in numerous flooring and wall treatments ranging from leathers, exotic hardwoods, to flat weave carpet that are imported from all over the world including India, France, Italy, Austria, and the United Kingdom.

They have products to suit both commercial and residential projects.  The materials in their library are continuously updated with new and innovative products.

This is like a designer's playground.  Check it out!!

Amazing variety of products