Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Flooring - Laminate

Laminate is considered a carefree and affordable option for floorings.  It is also extremely durable and can replicate stone and hardwood.  Laminate is a great choice if you have pets.   

The means of attaining a laminate surface begins with a high resolution image of hardwood or stone flooring.  These images are then printed on paper and together with a wear layer are laminated to a substrate made of high density fiberboard.  These days laminate has come a long way in looking more realistic than ever before.There are many options of different wood species.  Many laminates have greater repeat lines which offer a more realistic appearance as well.  They also have different widths printed on the design. Additionally you can purchase those that feature embossing which follows the wood grain and there will be a texture.  Laminate is a good choice where moisture considerations prevent use of solid hardwood like a lower level basement.

Caring for laminate is vacuuming or sweeping.  There are special laminate floor cleaners for stubborn stains.  Installation of laminate is easy and can be a DIY project.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flooring - Cork

Cork is a renewable sources and provide a green option for flooring.  

Cork is available in different textures, patterns and colours.   Like hardwood and stone, cork has natural shade variation which only adds to the beauty of the product. The textures and patterns can vary from traditional to contemporary and in many colours  

Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree found in the west Mediterranean.  It is harvested by hand and only 50% of the bark is removed.This way the tree continues to live and the remaining bark protects the tree from climate and insects.  This bark regenerates every 9 years. The best cork is used for wine stoppers while the remainder is used for flooring.   Cork is moisture resistant, durable and warm while adding comfort underfoot, thus making is excellent for kitchens, laundry rooms, playrooms, bathrooms and is excellent as an option for below grade as long as you install a moisture barrier.  Cork is anti-allergenic and is 100% biodegradable and recyclable.   Due to it's properties, cork is excellent for kitchens, laundry rooms, playrooms, bathrooms, basements and any other space you would like.  Due to it's cushioning effect, cork is great in kitchens where there is considerable standing.  Care for cork is simple - sweeping, vacuuming but no water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Let's look at Wood Flooring - Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood

Do you wonder what is the best flooring for your home.  There are so many products on the market today it is fabulous but also can be a bit daunting. Certain flooring is best in certain spaces.
Some of the options are - Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood, Laminate, Cork/Bamboo, Ceramic, LVT,  Stone, Carpet.

Let's look at wood first.  What is the difference between engineered hardwood and hardwood?  Solid Hardwood will expand or contract due to changes in moisture content. Cupping or gaping can occur in our varying humidity conditions.  It is best to keep your selection to no wider than 4 inches as the wider the flooring the more pronounced the cupping and gaping. Solid hardwood should not be used below ground due to this fact.

That is where Engineered hardwood comes into play.   Engineered floors are real wood and are made by adhering a solid hardwood face layer to a sturdy multi-layered plywood core which are placed in opposing directions.  It is more stable and durable.  It is also excellent value since  you are only using an expensive top decorative layer, you are saving money.  This multi layered construction is a greener choice since use less trees than hardwood.  The plywood core is made of rapidly renewable wood grown on tree farms. This application also allows for wider planks without cupping or gaping.  Engineered flooring can be used below grade and will not be affected by the moisture.

Refinishing - We know you can refinish a solid hardwood floor.  What about engineered hardwood? Yes you can but it is not promoted to sand and refinish either type of floor. The original factory finish is strong and should not be removed.  This can void the wear warranty.  Refinishing is a long and arduous process and will not yield the quality of the original finish.  The other advantage to engineered flooring is that it can be used in basements over heated subfloors.  Because of the multi ply core construction they are more stable than solid wood.  You cannot install hardwood in a basement due to moisture changes.

Another decision to make is the finish - matte, satin, high gloss, wire brushed, hand scraped, distressed and on it goes.  So many options and so many beautiful wood floors. These days people are choosing their floors by texture rather than just colour.  Texture is more tactile and stimulates our senses. Adding texture can be a good choice with a growing family or pets as marks will be less visible. This give a rustic look while a more sculpted floor gives a contemporary look.

These days the finishes are so durable you only need to vacuum your flooring.  Do not use water or wax on hardwood or engineered floors

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trends - Whats in and What out

Yesterday I attended a Designer event at Brentwood and the guest speaker was Shai DeLuca-Tamasi, a regular design expert on Cityline.  He spoke about some of the trends that are "in" and those that are "Out".

What's In......

One of the biggest things we are seeing and have seen for a little time now, is the use of mixed metals.  There is no matchy matchy of all one metal and this givves greater interest in the space.  We see  it in jewellery and as we know what is on the runway comes to home decor.

Mixing Black with Metals gives a dramatic and rich look

Our look is now a more liveable, relaxed and less staged look which is refreshing and welcoming.   We are less formal in our lives and now in the way we design and decorate our homes.

Area rugs that are painterly in style which is like a Monet painting.  There is an inconsistent pattern which doesn't show dirt as much as other designs.  This is great for families with young children.

Remember the 70's - well smoky glass is back.  Not sure if I like this trend.  I will let it grow on me

The colour Indigo which is a mix of black and navy is being seen and gives a moody look that can be quite elegant and very french.  Mixing it with carrara marble or mother of pearl is lovely and softens it

We are seeing graphic tiles more and more and now continuing as a popular and easy to maintain product - back painted glass which makes for easy clean up on a backsplash or shower.

What's Out....

The ombre look has been overdone and is not being seen as much.

Chevron - only being used in small amounts not as much as previously done

Mirrored Furniture which is still popular to a point but in the more formal design spaces

Text as decor has been around a while and now is going away

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cannes has it all - Sun, Fun and Architecture

To anyone following this blog I have an amazing announcement - Air Transit found and returned my lost tablet with my vacation photos.  Wow, I am delighted!  Now on to the 2nd part of my trip to France.

Yes, Cannes has it all - fun in the sun, great food and amazing architecture.
Our second week in France took us to Cannes, (known for the famous film festival.and pronounced Can like a can of anything)
A stop at the famous french flea markets is a must

A block from our hotel is the historic Suquet districe which is lined with
shops and cafes right down to the waterfront

A cafe closed during the early day
open at night

 Home of the famous Cannes Film Festival on the waterfront

 A short boat ride away and we landed on the Abbey of Lerins, where Monks wander and
practice as well as make wine

 A little retail therapy in the Suquet

All the fabulous yachts in Monaco

I couldn't come to Cannes without looking for the area that housed interior decor items - Le Hoche

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Accessorizing your back garden, deck or patio

A trip to Homesense will surely get you in the mood to decorate and accessorize your outdoor spaces.

Reupholstery - Guest Post by Jeanne Grier

Posted from Jeanne Grier,

New or Not? 5 Considerations before you reupholster

Many of  our clients are considering reupholstery vs. new furniture, especially those who are downsizing and already have a selection of seating on hand.  When it comes to cost, there is often little or no difference between reupholstering an existing piece or purchasing a new one.  In both cases, you should end up with a ‘new’ piece in the fabric you love.  (Note: A reputable upholsterer will remove the old fabric, replace old foam and padding, glue loose joints, and repair broken springs.) So, how do we decide whether it makes more sense to rework the old furniture or shop for new pieces?   Here are my Top 5 Things to Consider:
  • Is the piece in question well-made?  Garbage in = garbage out, as they say!  If the frame is unstable or broken, there’s no point in recovering it (unless it’s an antique that’s worth repairing — more on that, below!)
  • Is the piece comfortable?  If not, there are some minor changes that might make it more inviting — softer/firmer foam, a higher/lower seat.  However, some pieces just can’t be made more comfortable, and these pieces don’t deserve to be recovered.
  • Is the piece the right size and scale for your space?  If it’s the wrong size, no amount of wishful thinking is going to make it fit. Whether it’s too big or too small, you may be better off with a new model.
  • Is the piece a personal favourite?  If you’ve never liked it, it’s possible that new fabric isn’t going to change your opinion.  Try to separate your feelings about the piece from your feelings about its covering, to be sure you’ll be better off with a new covering.
  • Is the piece an antique?  You can ignore all of the logical reasons for and against reupholstery, above, if it’s an antique that you wish to preserve.   Except for size — a too-large piece won’t fit no matter how much you love it–the usual reasons against reupholstery become invalid if your piece is unique and irreplaceable.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A little wine with your cheese?

Guest Post by Natalie McLean

6 Quick Tips: Pairing Canadian Wines and Cheeses:

1. The easiest to pair are mild-flavored fresh and semi-fresh Canadian cheeses, such as mozzarella. They go especially well with light whites, of 12 percent or less alcohol, that have bright notes of fruit and crisp acidity, such as Prince Edward County Riesling.

2. The classic match of French goat cheese, or chèvre, is Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, as both carry the essence of fresh air and wild meadows. Try Canadian goat cheese with Niagara Sauvignon Blanc. The racy acidity of those wines cuts through to the chalky heart of this cheese, and enhances the grassy notes in the cheese.

3. Double- and triple-cream cheeses are tough to match with wine because their creamy texture can smother wine and make it taste thin. A good match is a robust white wine, such as a barrel-fermented or barrel-aged Okanagan Chardonnay. Both the cheese and the wine have creamy, buttery aromas and texture.

4. Another good match is Nova Scotia Sparkling Wine—a great fall-back for many tough-to-match foods and many Canadian soft cheeses. Bubbly helps to diffuse salt and cut through fat with its palate-cleansing acidity and effervescence.

5. For hard cheeses, such as cheddar, try a Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Their flavors even mimic some of those in mature, full-bodied reds, such as notes of earth, nuts, and coffee.

6. The most difficult cheeses to pair with wine are the blues, as their strong taste and powerful saltiness tends to make red wine taste bitter and hot. The best foil for salt is sweet, so avoid dry and off-dry wines and go straight for the sweeter ones like a Quebec Icewine or Hard Cider.

Best Canadian Wine & Cheese Pairings?
Wine drinkers battle over the best Canadian bottles for Canadian cheeses
Ottawa, Ontario, May 12, 2015 – The search for the best Canadian wine and cheese pairings launches today with The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match at

Wine lovers from coast to coast are voting via social media for their favourite Canadian wines to match with Canadian cheeses to get ready for July 1 celebrations and summer entertaining.
“The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match puts the glass in the hands of the people for the grater good,” says Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at “We’re breaking the mould from Coquitlam to Chance Cove to show Canadians the whey forward.”

Unlike traditional competitions judged by experts, The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match allows wine and cheese lovers themselves to choose their favourite pairings via real-time, online voting. The Twitter hashtag is #CdnWineCheese.  
Participants can nominate and vote for their favourite Canadian wines to pair with Canadian cheeses in six categories: cheddar, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, creamy cheese and blue cheese. Voting ends May 31 with the top wines in each category named the best match with each Canadian cheese.
“This is a coast to coast toast to celebrate our own wines and cheeses,” says MacLean. “I think we can all drink to that.”