Design

Design at Home: House Projects

We moved into our new home in June 2021, and while the house does not need any major or minor work (really move-in ready!), I have a list of projects to make the house feel ours. Since June, we have done a few things that were quite necessary like installing a water softener, leveling patio stones, hiring an arborist, and getting our chimneys cleaned.

Merging two houses has also meant that we have spent a good chunk of time sorting through our pieces of furniture and artwork and deciding what we want to keep, sell, and donate. We’ve also worked on a few different layouts in different rooms as we’ve learned more about what kinds of spaces we need and want in our home.

While we don’t actually need anything for our home, there’s a bunch of stuff I want to do in 2022. Here’s my list (which my beau mostly agrees on, too):

  1. Install a new sink, faucet, and countertop in the kitchen. Replace the cabinet handles. Add a backsplash. (Affordably!)
  2. Upgrade lighting (modern, modern, modern) in as many rooms in the house as possible.
  3. Add rugs to certain space to increase cozy factor.
  4. Install a backsplash in our basement kitchen.
  5. Invest in a upright freezer.
  6. Organize and make better use of our garage and shed.
  7. Continue to hang artwork (and maybe buy a piece that both of us like).
  8. Invest in a good office chair (for my office).
  9. Continue to design my beau’s office.
  10. Add a secondary TV area.
  11. Finalize a design plan for our sitting room.
  12. Organize the kitchen pantry.
  13. And I’ll probably keep adding to the list as the year evolves!

It’s fun to have design projects on the go. I’ll check on this list in a few months or in a year to see how far we’ve come.

Design at Home: My Office

This past weekend, I worked to get my office finally cleaned up. I added a new rug and light, and I saw my design vision come to life. I love my office. It’s a positive place to work, and I think it’s an accurate reflection of me.

I originally had two similar plans for the main components in my office. One version had black accents, and the other had white. In both design plans, I had my heart set on mixing old antiques with modern elements (which is the aesthetic I’m aiming for elsewhere in the house, too). When I made the design boards, I had just purchased an antique desk similar to the one I featured.

Now, my office looks like this:

I was lucky to find my antique desk here in Waterloo from a seller who told me it was her long-time writing desk. How perfect! She bought it in Montreal decades ago, and I think it must have come from France originally. Oui oui! The desk has a leather top inset (protected with glass), wood inlay, and brass details. It’s a special piece of furniture.

Not too long after that, my mom sent me a link to an antique Italian armoire at an auction, and I jumped on it. Things were moving quickly, but I guess timing was right because before I knew it, it was mine! It is lovely!

I feel fortunate to have these two pieces of exquisite craftsmanship in my possession, and they fit beautifully into our historic home. I met the previous owners of each of these pieces, and I could tell that they had strong attachments to them. They cared for the pieces, and I promised that I would, too.

The final two pieces were the rug and the light. I tried to get the black and white striped Ikea rug (seen above) on several occasions, but it was constantly out of stock, so I took it as a sign that the rug wasn’t for this space. Instead I opted for the “let the pieces find me” approach, and when I came across a soft white rug, I took it as a sign that white accents was the way to go for my office. Then I spotted a modern, airy light, and I could see my vision come to completion.

You’ll notice that I have a lot more wood in this office than I ever had before. The pieces are so refined and I just love them against the white walls. And speaking of white, there’s still plenty of it!

The design plan is just about complete. I may exchange the rug for the next size up, and I’m waiting for the delivery of an ergonomic desk chair. In the meantime, I’m using the balance ball and have already noticed that it’s better for my back (core and legs, too) than the dainty antique chair that came with my desk (but it’s just so pretty!).

Christmas: Gingerbread Architecture

Oh, I wish I had the talent and patience to make and decorate a stunning gingerbread house like these ones. Aren’t they sweet pieces of gingerbread architecture?

Easier than spending days making a gingerbread mansion would be installing a gingerbread screensaver like this one via Jacquelyn Clark.

Design: Modern Pendant Lighting

I am gathering inspiration for lighting…again. I am currently strongly drawn to modern, unique, unexpected lighting to mix into our historic home. I am dreaming of a home with a mix of pieces that we love rather than maintaining the Edwardian style throughout.

Zeppelin chandelier, $703USD; concert pendant, $190USD; ray pendant, $138USD

The Gino Sarfatti and Aerin chandeliers are especially striking.

Design: Table Lamps

While we don’t currently need any table lamps, I seem to be collecting images of ones that I like. For some odd reason, it’s been much easier for me to find and save images of table lamps that I like rather than ceiling lights and sconces. Why is that?

If I was in need of a table lamp, all of these six would be on my wish list.

Real Estate: Toronto, Ontario

This nearly $10M heritage home in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood is so lovely. Each room is so well-appointed with elegant furnishings and beautiful art.

Images via Paul Johnston.

Design at Home: Office Update

I have now acquired the two major pieces of furniture for my home office – the desk and bookcase (my office design plan is coming true!). Both pieces are absolutely stunning, and they make me so happy. Isn’t it funny how furniture affects us? Is it just me?

Although my office is still in a state of disarray, I love working in it. The light that shines in at this time of year is just perfect.

I now enjoy this view from my desk.

It’s not white! (And I won’t be painting it.)

My antique Italian armoire is 7 feet tall, and it fits all of my books (and more). The solid bottom of the doors hides my not-so-pretty binders and academic books, and I’ve been able to add trinkets and art among shelves of my non-academic books and magazines. I do quite like the wire front panels, but I can easily trade this out for glass, mirror, or fabric in the future.

Once I find a rug and modern light fixture, then my office will be just about complete.

Marketplace: Striped Rugs

One of the rug options that I have strongly been considering for my office is Ikea’s Stockholm rug in black and white. It, however, has been out of stock in Ontario for a long while now, so I’m considering other striped options.

The ones I’ve shown here all look pretty good online, but I’d much prefer to feel the rug in person pre-purchase. Have you ever bought a rug online? Were you pleased?

Marketplace: Fancy Mirrors

So it seems that I’m on Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji every day. You, too? Please tell me I’m not the only one who browses these sites so frequently. One of the items that I’m the lookout for is a mirror…or more than one, in fact. I have some idea of where one (or several) may end up, but I’ll know more as soon as I see one that I love. Over the last few months, I have bought three mirrors at a fraction of what they might cost at a store and, more interesting for me, they’re all antique (and unique!).

Here are some mirrors that I’ve come across lately (in Ontario) on Facebook Marketplace.

mirror, $135; mirror, $250; mirror, $450

Design: Lighting

I’m starting to gather lighting inspiration. There are so many lights in our new house, and while everything if functioning well, not every fixture suits our style or this home. That said, I am finding that choosing light fixtures is an overwhelming design task. On top of this, I’m impatient, so I have to remind myself that it’ll take some time to get all the fixtures set.

For now, here are some fixtures that are getting my attention.

Design: Round Tables

Having a bigger house means having more rooms to furnish. It’s completely fun, but it’s also overwhelming and a slow process. We also have a lot of furniture to begin with, so some of our furniture needs mean upgrading to pieces that suit our style and new home. It’s a tough problem to have, I know. We are lucky to have such problems! In other rooms, however, we are starting from nearly a blank slate. We have designated one room as our study/games room, and we are in need of a good set of table and chairs. As such, I’ve been on the lookout for an interesting round table at just the right size. I’d prefer a pedestal table, I think, with chairs that tuck completely in. I think this option would be best for the room and how we want it to function.

Here are some tables that have been inspiring me and the design for our study.

round table, 1stDibs; round table, 1stDibs; black round table, 1stDibs; dining table, Anthropologie; dining table, Anthropologie

Part of me wants something quite sculptural without chairs, but I know that wouldn’t be practical. Darn!

Design: Mixing Old & New

As I recently mentioned, now that I live in house that was built in 1908, I feel like I want to incorporate some old, charming, refined, beautiful pieces into our interior design. Yes, there will still be a lot of white and modern pieces (like lighting, I hope!), but I just feel like this home should not be filled to the brim with modern and shiny.

I’m not really spending time on one room at a time, but rather I’m going to use the approach of when I spot things we love, that we think will work in a room, and where the timing of the purchase is right, we’ll make the purchase. Slowly, we’ll build each room to our liking.

This approach is slow, yes, and it feels like I’m juggling things in the air a lot, but I also feel like it’s a bit hard to concentrate only on one room at a time. In addition, we don’t actually need anything (combing two houses means you end up with a lot of stuff!), but it’s moreso that we’re trying to add pieces to our existing collections that will enhance function and style in our new old home.

On top of all of this, I’m also practical and we do have a budget to balance. We do have to spend money on less fun things as we get settled – this week’s purchase was a water softener. Not so fun, but very much needed in Waterloo.

So, anyhow, I bought a beautiful antique desk a few weeks ago, which is setting the tone for my office. I think I would like to add a wood hutch/wardrobe to serve as a bookcase, and a new rug and light that keeps the room modern. I’m not yet sure about art. I know a lot of people loved the gallery wall in my first home, but I think a similar installation would overwhelm my new office, so it’s unlikely I’ll be recreating it. Besides this, some of the art has already moved to other areas of our home. The colourful rug is currently in my office, but it, too, feels like it’s overwhelming the space and doesn’t quite match the desk, so I’ll be moving it out soon.

With that, here are two options that I quite like at the moment.

Design: Antique Furniture

For a long while, I have been interested in mixing classic, traditional pieces of furniture with modern items into my home.

What do I mean by traditional? I’m referring to pieces made from beautiful wood, from the 18th and 19th centuries, with unique, ornate details. Think marquetry, inlay, trim, marble, and gold. (Not white!) I’m referring to pieces you see in antique stores in Paris, New Orleans, and Montreal. I’m referring to the opposite of what you’ll see at West Elm and Pottery Barn.

These types of antique pieces didn’t really seem to suit my first home – an 80s townhouse – and finding just the right pieces at just the right price was never an easy task. I don’t live in France, after all!

Now that I live in a century home, I feel that the time is right for some antiques. I don’t want a house full of precious antiques, but a few select pieces mixed in with existing pieces would suit me just fine.

Here are some examples of the styles I’m eyeing.

marble topped dresser, $8039.33CAD, 1stDibs
18th century desk, $3361.06CAD, 1stDibs

What do you think of this style of furniture? Is it for you?

Design: Pretty Pinterest

What have you been pinning on Pinterest lately? Here’s what has been making my Pinterest boards pretty.

Pretty kitchens…

photo by Spacecrafting; via Domino

Pretty food…

crepe cake, Victoria

Pretty clothes…

Alexis Mabille, via Vogue

Pretty flowers…

Luna de Mare photography, via Style Me Pretty

It is so easy to spend an hour on Pinterest without realizing the passing of time, isn’t it?

Design: Monika Hibbs Home

Monika Hibbs wears and has worn many hats – doctor, blogger, influencer, designer, author, and shop owner. Based out of British Columbia, her namesake homewares shop is absolutely lovely. She has some really beautiful pieces in stock currently, especially in the areas of lighting and decor. Here are a few of the items that caught my eye (but are definitely not in my budget…sigh).

carnegie table lamp, $874CAD; vedra table lamp, $1050CAD; desmond table lamp, $1311CAD
bryant chandelier, $1249CAD; coco magnolia pendant, $3148CAD
eloise pendant, $1225CAD; eldridge pendant, $1428CAD; keil swing arm, $700+CAD
laurel pot brush set, $76CAD; bread tin, $89CAD; marble container with lid, $75CAD; calley dipped vase, $198CAD; copenhagen pot and saucer, $65+CAD; egg board, $135CAD

All product images via Monika Hibbs Home.

Design: Lune 1860

In a recent issue of Nuvo, this picture caught my attention and enticed me to read the adjacent article.

I like the table’s length and slim lines and the curve of the unusual light fixture. After reading the article, I learned that this place – Lune 1860 – is in Goderich, which is relatively close to the Waterloo region, and is a place I’ve been to several times in the last couple of years.

Lune 1860 is an event space in a 160-year old country house. It was founded by Lisa Mok, a Toronto-based creative director and graphic designer.

photos by Niamh Barry for Lune 1860

Design: Bathtubs

What are your thoughts about freestanding bathtubs? Do you have a favourite brand or design? What criteria do you have for the perfect bathtub?

I can count on one hand the number of baths I’ve taken since I moved into my house nearly eight years ago. Maybe if I had a more ideal design (rather than a massive corner jacuzzi tub where the water gets cold by the time it’s filled), maybe I’d take more baths. This is one of my hopes as I plan my bathroom reno.

These are the styles that I gravitate toward, but I haven’t seen any of them in person (and prices are way out of budget for some of them, so I need to find other options). Since my bathroom is so square, and the shower will be rectangular, I’m thinking a curvy bathtub would be best.

Styli, $3645USD, Waterworks; Saxby $3863USD, Waterworks; Arcos, $11250USD, Waterworks; Studio S, $3126USD, American Standard; Serin, $2668USD, American Standard; Kipling, $2215USD, American Standard;soaking tub, $1199CAD, Wayfair; soaking tub, $999CAD, Wayfair; Aura, $1399CAD, Tubs; Estelle, $1299CAD, Home Hardware; Juno, $1043CAD, Home Depot; Santry, $5565USD, Waterworks

Design: Bathroom Inspiration

For the past few several many years, I’ve had a bathroom reno on my mind. It’s a really terrible bathroom, and I’ve grown more tired of it over the last year because of, well, being home and using it more than ever before. I am still a little while away from pulling the reno trigger, but here are photos that are serving as inspiration.

Marketplace: American Standard Bath Collection

Over the holidays, I received a press package from American Standard. I thought it was timely, clever, and well-designed. Essentially, American Standard’s message is to flush 2020.

American Standard Press Pack

Beyond the press information I received, I had a browse on the American Standard website to learn more about its bath collection. Here are some of the interesting things I learned.

The Spalet Bidet Toilet is a new release, and I know I’d love it. I became appreciative of these types of toilets after my 2019 trip to Japan.

The price tag is high, yes, but American Standard some bidet seat options at about half the price of the toilet.

Here are some other items that caught my attention because of their functionality and design.

Design: Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico Kitchen

I watched this video about the evolution of kitchen design from architect John Ota, and I found it fascinating. If you like history, design, and food, I think you’ll like it, too.

Here are some images of Georgia O’Keefe’s kitchen in New Mexico. I enjoy the simplicity of this white, airy, organized kitchen.

John Ota is the author of The Kitchen, a book that celebrates the kitchen (aka the heart of the home). I’ve just requested it at from my library, and I look forward to reading it.

Source of all images: Evolution of the Kitchen with John Ota.

Design: Covered Couches

In the October issue of House Beautiful magazine, two couches stood out to me because they had been treated in the same way, and I hadn’t seen this look too often before. These couches were covered with throws. And not just a throw tossed over the edge of the couch in a haphazard fashion (nothing is haphazard in styled photos), but sort of in a slip cover approach. Have a look.

I quite like this look. The throw as a semi-slipcover accomplishes several goals: (a) adds warmth, (b) adds texture, (c) adds colour, and (d) adds a layer of protection. In addition, like throw pillows, the throw cover can be changed seasonally and can be washed regularly. Given these advantages, I opted to give this look a try in my home. What do you think of these three options?

Monochromatic

Pattern

Colour

Look at how the red throw changed the colour in the room. I took these photos on a very sunny day, and the combination of the sunshine and the red throw made the room rosey! I love the red throw, and I think I’ll save this for Christmas time.

Do you like this look? Would you try it in your own home?

Interiors: Beauty Restored in Kingston, New York

I have been following Daniel Kanter (Manhattan Nest) for years. Seven years ago, he bought a dilapidated old home (with so much potential) in Kingston, New York, and he has been renovating it ever since. Recently, he has taken his readers down memory lane, and it has been wonderful to see the results of his effort to make his home beautiful. I appreciate his design aesthetic and how he has maintained the charm of historic home while injecting it with some modernity.

Photos by Daniel Kanter (living room, hallway).

Design: Floating Bathroom Vanities

What do you all think about floating bathroom vanities? Normally, I don’t like them because they don’t maximize storage. However, I’ve recently had a change of heart after seeing this gorgeous vanity (see first image below). Although the vanity is not white, I love it. I also think it’s paired beautifully with the full wall of subway tile, the delicate gold-framed mirror, and simple sconce.

This image made me think about the feeling of lightness of the floating vanity. I think this would be a great option for a small space. A floating vanity would mean there would be more space for floor tile, which would give the illusion of a bigger space. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Beyond simple white vanity options in the marketplace, there’s a plethora of wood styles. These bathrooms are lovely.

Design: Two Peaceful White Homes

I crave calm after busy days full of work and social time (in both pandemic and non-pandemic times). This is one of the reasons why I live in a white home. The white walls, art, decor, and furniture make me feel happy and calm. Yes, I do have colour around my home, but for the most part, I live in quite a white space.

The owners and designers of these two homes – one in the country and one in the city – seem to feel the same what that I do about the beauty and peacefulness of white spaces.

Beach House Muskoka

Beach House Muskoka

Montreal Apartment

Azamit‘s Montreal apartment featured on House & Home; photos by Andrew Hadley

Interiors: White and Bright in California

I know my posts have been sporadic these last few months, but I think my creative juices are slowly coming back, and I feel like writing more regularly again.

I’ve had this California home saved for a while to share, so here it is. The view from the large living room window is spectacular, and I could imagine so many lovely meals at the dining room table. Wouldn’t it be ideal if the table was always set as it is in the photo?

The low-rise bed in the main bedroom is waiting for someone to jump on it, I think. And the the twin room is sweet and cozy.

All photos via Remodelista. Photography by Tessa Neustadt. Design by Jenni Kayne.

Design: Milk Glass Lighting

After seeing this beehive milk glass pendant, I went down a milk glass rabbit hole. Luckily, I found so many pretty milk glass lighting options to share with you this morning!

milk glass pendant, Shades of Light
milk glass pendant, Shades of Light
milk glass ceiling light, Two Kings & Co.

Design: Marble in the Bathroom

I have yet to tire of white bathrooms with lots of marble in them. If you look through my blog archives, you’ll see that I have been featuring white, marble bathrooms since I began writing about design over 10 years ago.

Large slabs of marble mean there are few grout lines and a lot of continuity. Alternatively, classic rectangular marble tiles can be laid down in a herringbone pattern (see final image below) to add more interest to a space. In my home, I have marble herringbone in my foyer and marble counters in my kitchen.

Amber Interiors, photo: Tessa Neustadt

Travel: Caudalie, Bordeaux, France

When I was in university (the first time), I spent my third year abroad in Bordeaux, France. I loved every minute of my experience there. My French improved drastically, I learned so much about the French way of living, and I met incredible people along the way. Bordeaux is a beautiful city and region. If you like wine, this is an incredible destination. The city is manageable in size, and the people are friendly (or friendlier than Paris, definitely).

I’ve only been a couple of time post-university, and each time, I have enjoyed my stay. If I get to the Bordeaux region again one day, I think I’ll have to stay at Les Sources de Caudalie. It is on a beautiful property surrounded by vineyards; it also has an exceptional restaurant and spa. And the rooms? They are unique and a pretty mix of traditional and modern.

All photos from Les Sources de Caudalie. I learned about this amazing property from Daphné of Mode and the City.

Design: Cozy White Cabins

We got hit with an awful freezing rain and snow storm yesterday, which meant that it was the perfect day to decorate my home for Christmas, drink multiple cups of tea, and take a nap by the fireplace. It was a good day.

The dreary day also had me down an internet rabbit hole of cozy, white cabins. I’m a cottage person more than a cabin person, but you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to stay under soft blankets and reading all day if I had a gorgeous mountain cabin of my own!

There are several elements that these spaces share: warm white tones, textured fabrics, wood accents, and fireplaces.

Brent Darby, The Daily Mail
Swiss chalet, Art de Vivre
photo by Femina, via Domino

What would be your must-haves in a cabin of your own?

Design: One Room Challenge Reveals – Fall 2019

Have you followed the One Room Challenge this fall? This is an event where featured designers and guests renovate/redo/remake a room (or more!) over a six week period. The room reveals happened this week, and I thought I’d share a few of the rooms that caught my attention.

Tim (Design Maze) worked on Chris’ office and bathroom. I followed the progress in real life and listened to Tim’s plans for wallpaper, oak, and fabric. He’s a talented designer, and I love that these spaces are calm, but show off Tim’s ridiculously amazing attention to detail and pattern mixing. The millwork is beautiful in the photos and in real life.

I spy pattern! Design Maze

Jen (Rambling Renovators) made such good use of the space in her guest bedroom. The room is inviting and warm. I really like the Jen’s use of large art over the desk.

Thalita (The Learner Observer) also included a desk/vanity in her master bedroom. It’s a calm and serene scene.

I like so much of the art in the bedroom makeover by Oscar Bravo Home. Everywhere you look, it seems there’s a beautiful piece of art waiting for you!

The wallpaper in This Life I Styled‘s laundry room (through an open passage area) caught my eye instantly. I like the thought that went into smaller details, too, like the baskets, handrail, and lighting

I never tire of a simple, white bathroom. This small bathroom by Designed Simple was done on a budget, and I think it looks great.

The before and after comparison of I Spy DIY‘s bathroom is jaw-dropping. This bathroom was a disaster zone pre-makeover.

Surprisingly, I also like a lot of the loud, colourful spaces from the designers. The Rath Project‘s dining room and sitting area has colourful art and fabrics (and paint, too!). Similarly, At Charlotte’s House used a lot of colour and a large mural in the dining room and living room makeover. The colours are definitely bold. And MSV Design‘s little boy’s room is sweet and the colour mixing is fun. Nicole (Making It Lovely) designed a new bedroom for her daughter, and I just love it. I really like the pattern mixing and the use of shades of pink.

There are a lot of reveals that include a lot of black paint and brown wood. Place of My Taste installed a dark, moody shower, and I love the large tiled floor. Clark and Aldine have a dark fireplace and plenty of warm, brown wood in the living room. Hommeboys, too, have a dramatic reveal of several spaces. The entryway is all black which is definitely moody

Did you follow along the One Room Challenge event this fall? Any favourites? What rooms do you like to see the most from designers?

Design: A Collection of Cool Chairs

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through 1stDibs and drooling over all the incredible, innovative, unique designs of years past? Yes? Great! I’m not alone. Recently, I was scrolling through the chairs, and I rounded up nine beautiful pieces. These are pricey, let me warn you. But they’re also not any chairs you’ll be finding at Ikea or CB2. These are investment pieces and works of art.

What do you think of these nine chairs? Is there one that you’d buy if money wasn’t an issue? I’d take the Alvar Aalto (bottom right) without hesitation!

Design: Easy Last-Minute Halloween Decor

I think the one of the easiest ways to add a little spooky flavour into your decor is by adding bats to your walls. Wall bats are an especially easy decor option if you’re on the last-minute decor train (like me…I don’t even have a pumpkin this year!). This is an inexpensive decor strategy as you can DIY bats from black construction paper using this Martha Stewart template. It’s also not as messy as pumpkin carving. And the bats – paper or plastic – are easy to store and re-use in future years. Finally, these bats are suitable Halloween decor for inside or outside the home.

If you’re not so into bats, perhaps these skeleton flamingos are your thing. I still think they’re the best bit of outdoor Halloween decor I’ve seen this season.

Design: Alessi Wishlist

If you have read White Cabana for a while, then you know I’m a super fan of Alessi. I adore the products from this Italian brand, and my personal collection makes me so happy. My pieces are on display in my curio cabinet, but I use them regularly, and each piece is special to me because of when I bought it or who gave it to me.

I have written about Alessi several times over the years, but I haven’t in while, so today is the day to showcase some of the pieces that are holding my attention.

Socrates corkscrew, designer: Jasper Morrison
Grind pepper grinder, designers: William Alsop, Federico Grazzini
Anna Sparkling champagne cork, designer: Alessandro Mendini
BZZZ candle snuffer, designer: Marcel Wanders
Dressed cookie jar, designer: Marcel Wanders
Noè champagne bucket, designer: Giulio Iacchetti
Plissé electric kettle, designer: Michele De Lucchi
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