Monday, March 23, 2015

THE PARALYSIS OF PERFECTIONISM + THE PRESSURE OF SOCIAL IMAGE MANAGEMENT


By the time you read this post, I will be sitting in a small room with a very privileged group of entrepreneurs learning about branding and writing from Donald Miller. Don is one of my heroes of the art of great writing - the kind of writing that changes you for the better after reading it - and his latest book is clear evidence as to why. Everything Don has written has hit the New York Times' best sellers list, but Scary Close is extra special. If you only read one of his books, pick this one. And trust me, you need to read this one. It's a total game changer.

In our world of Pinterest-perfect, Instagrammable image-making, Don's book is refreshingly transparent. That's an understatement. It's so transparent that it's powerfully healing at a really deep level. He offers readers a total paradigm shift if they're brave enough to join him in making it, and I for one am ready for that kind of brave.



Here are four key insights I've learned from Don by reading Scary Close:

No. 1:  REAL INTIMACY ISN'T INSTAGRAM-ABLE


There's a big difference between people loving the image you project on social media or in your professional persona and people loving the real you. And the thing is, it takes the courage to be vulnerable enough to experience the difference.



Don paints a powerful picture of how true this is by sharing his own personal story. As he says, what attracts us doesn't always connect us. It's one thing to impress people, but it's another thing all together to love the real them, and to be loved as the real us. Here's one of my favourite quotes from the book on this topic:

"What if we are designed as sensitive antennas, receptors to receive love, a longing we often mistake as a need to be impressive? What if some of the most successful people we consider to be great are actually the most broken? And what if the whole time they're seeking applause they are missing out on true intimacy?"

I tend to think of this in the context of social media platforms. Don't get me wrong, I think the new era of socially-driven business is amazing in many respects. But I also think it can be dangerous, creating a society of very polished, very lonely people if we don't check ourselves regularly. If all we ever present to the world - on social media or otherwise - is the most polished version of ourselves, we will completely miss out on true love and belonging. Don't believe me?

Check out the next insight:

No. 2:  OUR FLAWS ARE ACTUALLY THE GATEWAY TO RECEIVING GRACE


When we feel like we have to hide our imperfections from people in order to be accepted, one of two things is true: either they are not safe people and we are right, or we have not learned to accept our own imperfections and are missing out on being unconditionally loved. Don says it so clearly:

"Those who can't accept their imperfections can't accept grace either." 

Think about the moments when you have been most deeply aware of being unconditionally loved. Were they your most pulled-together moments? I know for me they were the moments when I was in fact kind of falling apart - or you know, totally falling apart - and the people in my inner circle chose to love me anyway and pull me even closer. It's when someone sees the real, flawed and vulnerable you and chooses to stay that you know the love is legit. And there's nothing like being loved as a whole, real, flawed person. In fact, I believe it's the only thing that can truly transform us.


No. 3:  PERFECTIONISM IS A SHIELD WE USE TO KEEP FROM GETTING HURT


One of the chapter titles in Scary Close really says it all: EVERYBODY'S GOT A STORY AND IT'S NOT THE ONE THEY'RE TELLING. Why is that? Because we've all be taught along the way that the real us isn't good enough. In fact, we often learned to perform at a young age, playing the part of whoever we think we are supposed to be in order to get people to like us. And as Don describes, we often bring that young version of ourselves into adulthood, sending them out into the world to hustle for our approval and success.


As Brené Brown says, we can either stand inside our stories and own them or we can stand outside them and hustle for our worth. Don leads with his life when it comes to this stuff, and he's as courageous as it gets - not to mention all kinds of relatable and funny - in the way he shares it in Scary Close. He owns his story, and in so doing he offers courage to readers so they can do the same. If Daring Greatly showed us that vulnerability is the path to unconditional love and acceptance, Scary Close gives us the road map to get there.

No. 4:  PROCRASTINATION IS REALLY JUST FEAR DRIVING THE BUS


Quoting Dr. Neil Fiore, Don shares that the fear of letting people down is one of the primary reasons why people procrastinate. Can you relate? For me this was like a neon sign jumping off the page. Man oh man can I ever get caught in that trap. My friend Merry calls it social perfectionism, and it's a long and dark rabbit hole of paralysis if you get stuck in it. Don says,

"Is there anything more toxic than the fear of being judged? Judgement shuts us down and makes us hide. It keeps us from being ourselves, which keeps us from connecting with other people."

Here's one of the things I have realized over the last few years: Your life casts a vision for others of what is possible. You show others, just by living your regular, everyday life, a way of living that they too can choose for themselves. So what kind of vision do you want to cast? A punishingly perfect, always together, unattainable one? Or an authentic, connected and loving one?

I'm not saying we shouldn't share our highlight reels on social media. There's something really aspirational and inspirational about that and I truly think it's great. I'm just saying we should take every opportunity we can to be the real, authentic versions of ourselves with our trusted inner circle, and we should be careful not to curate our social image to such an extent that there's a huge gap between the highlight real and what life really looks like behind the scenes.

How does this relate to procrastination? Well for me, as a designer, writer and creative, it means having the courage to put ideas and content - like, for example, this post - out into the world even when I don't feel I'm totally ready or that it's quite good enough yet. It means building momentum and not getting stuck in the paralysis of perfectionism. And now I have the perfect reminder:

If I'm stuck in procrastination, it's really just perfectionism rearing its ugly head again. And perfectionism is really just fear driving the bus.

There's so much more to be gleaned from Scary Close, deep and rich insights for parents and people preparing to have kids, people who are married and people who want to be married, entrepreneurs and people who want to be entrepreneurs, people who have been hurt and people who are healing. If there's one book that can help you find clarity and vision for healthier, more meaningful relationships, this is it.

Once you're done liking and sharing this post, go pick up a copy and let me know what you think when you're done reading it. If you're anything like me, you won't be able to put it down.

xo
s.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Move Over Marble | The Best of Nature + Technology Meet in New Solid Surface from Dekton


I love marble. Something about the natural veining and poetic beauty of stone carved from the earth is both decadent and timeless, perhaps in part because we've been using it in architectural applications since Ancient Greece. Think of any French bistro you've ever been in. The likelihood is that every single one had marble countertops or tabletops.

But here's my dirty little designer secret: despite my love for marble, I have only spec'd it for kitchen counters in 3 of the countless kitchens I've designed over the course of my 12+ years as a residential interior designer. Bathrooms? Always. Kitchens? Almost never.

Why?

Quite simply, natural marble is too porous for the workhorse environment of a functioning kitchen. A little balsamic vinegar or rogue tomato sauce is all it takes to send a perfectionist into overdrive about the stains left behind on their precious countertop. Natural marble is as soft as it is porous, too, so scratches are just a part of the package.

THE GOOD NEWS IS, TIMES HAVE CHANGED!


It was an Instagram pic from Regina Sturrock that first had me doing my designer happy dance. She captured an image of the beautiful book-matched fireplace below, as seen at KBIS this year as a part of the Modenus Blog Tour. The beauty of the book-matched stone surround caught my attention, but it was the story behind this ultra-compact solid surface material that really got my pulse racing.



DEKTON MARRIES THE BEST OF NATURE + MODERN TECHNOLOGY 


For years, solid surface manufacturers have attempted to replicate the beauty of natural stone with lacklustre results. But Dekton's new product line is quite simply stunning.

How do they replicate the look of nature so effectively?



Through the use of their proprietary and revolutionary technology, Dekton has created an accelerated version of the metamorphic process that takes place as natural stone is formed over thousands of years from the heat and pressure. The result is the natural look of stone cleft from the earth, but with the best of modern technological advancements, including absolute zero porosity and none of the micro-defects found in natural stone that cause tension or weakness.

BEAUTY MEETS FUNCTION | THE TECHNICAL DETAILS


Using a combination of quartz, porcelain and glass, Dekton produces ultra-compact slabs that are heat-resistant, scratch-resistant and stain-proof to a degree we've never seen before. In fact, Dekton is the most scratch-resistant product on the market.

And yes, I did say stain-proof. Dekton naturally prevents liquids and gasses from penetrating the surface, and because it is non-porous, it never needs to be sealed. This product line is also highly resistant to ultra violet (UV) light and will not fade or degrade over time, making it perfect for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Whereas most solid surface materials have a warranty that is made null and void when the material is honed, most of the options in the Dekton line up come standard with a honed finish.

If you like to be totally wowed - or if you don't believe me on the stain-proof, ultimately scratch-resistant and heat-resistant part - check out this short video to get a sense of how virtually indestructible this material really is! Prepare for your jaw to drop.




I think we can all agree, this is a truly game changing innovation in solid surfaces. There's absolutely nothing else like it on the market.

YOUR IMAGINATION IS THE ONLY LIMIT | APPLICATION DETAILS




Dekton's ultra-compact solid surface material comes in 3 thicknesses - 8mm, 12mm and 20mm - meaning vertical applications such as the interior of elevators or yachts no longer face the same restrictions based on the weight of the materials.

And for horizontal surfaces, don't just think countertops. Dekton is just as applicable for outdoor applications, making it a brilliant solution for stairs, pool surrounds, patios and driveways as well as of course for designing the ultimate in indestructible, all-weather outdoor kitchens.



With over 5 times the strength of granite, Dekton can also be installed over greater spans, allowing for up to 12 inches of unsupported overhang on pull-up islands and peninsulas. No longer does a designer's imagination have to be held back by the previous limitations of natural stone.



Because of the extraordinary hardness of the material, even the 8mm thick slabs can be fabricated with a mitred edge to create whatever profile thickness you desire, though European trends would suggest that thin, sleek and integrated edge profiles such as the one below are heading our way for modern kitchen designs.


I will be eagerly seeking the next opportunity to specify this remarkable product line on a project, and can say that my track record of virtually marble-less kitchen counters is on its way out thanks to the innovators at Dekton.

I hope this Design Find leaves you as inspired as I am at the possibilities! Many thanks to Regina Sturrock for the photo that pointed me in the direction of this remarkable new product.

xo
s.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE AN IKEA KITCHEN | LESSONS FROM THE DESIGN TEAM AT STYLE AT HOME



If there's one thing I would say the amazing design team at Style At Home taught us at this year's Interior Design Show, it's that Paris really does hold all the secrets to a chic and gracious way of living. Walking into their award-winning customized IKEA kitchen booth felt like being transported into a grand French kitchen, where the boulangerie and bistro were both right at home. So today, I'm sharing a few design lessons we can take from Style At Home's beautifully customized space.


LESSON ONE: TAKE YOUR CUES FROM PARIS

Ask anyone where they want to travel and Paris is most likely near the top of their list. We've only been a couple of times and can't wait to go back. Our dream? A summer in Paris with our kids. But in the meantime, why not bring Paris home?


From the bicyclette suspended over the island to the large, metal-framed window to the hexagon concrete tile floors to {my favourite} the Fornasetti Nuvole wallpaper from Cole & Son, the touches of European wanderlust are everywhere in this kitchen. I feel both at home and compelled to travel all in one grand gesture, and that's exactly how I want to feel in my own inspired space. I love the sense of playfulness and sophistication so easily married in this kitchen. Ça c'est parfait!


LESSON TWO: INTEGRATE AND CUSTOMIZE


Image via @designmaze_tim on Instagram - go follow him!


Integrating a custom-designed built-in banquette can make a kitchen and eating area feel larger and more functional. Rather than cutting kitchen cabinets short or living with the limitations of how many chairs will fit into a space, create more generous seating while giving the eye a simple focal point by designing a long and luxurious banquette. Not only will this maximize your space, but it's also the perfect spot to lounge together and soak up some sun with your loved ones over a relaxed Saturday morning brunch!


LESSON THREE: USE VINTAGE BRASS ACCENTS + ARTFUL FINISHES

One of the first details that made me bite my lip was the antique brass rail installed along the front edge of the countertops on both the range side and the sink side of the kitchen. Not only does this conjure images of a busy French bistro in all its glory, it's as practical as it is pretty, allowing you to have a towel at the ready to wipe up hands and messes at any moment. After all, real cooks make real messes, n'est çe pas?

I also adore how the design team at Style At Home chose to create an artful gallery wall of antique mirrors around the range hood. The curated sensibility adds a charm and whimsy that make a brand new kitchen feel like it might have been there for decades. Brilliant.


LESSON FOUR: USE JUXTAPOSITION TO MAKE EVERY ELEMENT SHINE

There were a lot of genius moves in this kitchen. One of them was to break up the dramatic full-height pantry wall with a built-in servery. Not only does it provide a practical nook for serving drinks to guests and cutting croissants for breakfast, but it also creates a balancing focal point on the wall opposite the range. The antiqued mirrored panels echo the statement made by the collection of mirrors installed around the range hood while also creating a sense of expansiveness and history in the kitchen. The crystal chandelier also nods at history and adds the feminine charm of a French coquette.

I don't know about you, but I could move in at a moment's notice - French press in hand - and I can assure you I would never want to leave. Many thanks to the team at Style At Home for the fuel to dream of bringing a bit more of Paris home again.

xo
s.


*All images via IKEA Canada except where noted.

Monday, February 23, 2015

4 Tips For Choosing The Right High Chair


When it comes to buying baby gear, I hear this question a lot: Do I really have to give up my design-loving ways to get something functional that I can afford?

The great news is, the answer is "No way!"

Let me show you why we love our Nuna Zaaz high chair by way of my 4 Top Tips For Choosing The Right High Chair.

TATE PULLED UP TO THE TABLE IN HIS NUNA ZAAZ, TRAY REMOVED

TIP ONE: FLEXIBILITY

Gone are the days when a piece of furniture could get away with doing one limited job for a short season of time. These days, we expect baby furniture to grow with our children throughout as many stages of development as possible. Here are three keys to finding a piece that will be flexible enough to meet your needs for several years:

1. Adjustable straps. Look for a 5-point harness that allows you to forego the over-the-shoulder straps as your babe gets bigger. Most kiddos don't like being totally restricted as they get older but still need some help remembering to stay on their bum.



2. Removable parts, especially the tray and tray table support. Being able to remove these parts of the chair allows you to pull your little one up to the table as they get older, like in the happy photos of Little Man Tate at the top of this post. Tucking that chair in at their place at the table makes them feel like they are a part of the conversation rather than stuck off to the side in a clunky chair. This kind of family connectedness is what dinnertime is all about!


3. Check out this video to see how easy it is to adjust the height of this high chair. Love this feature!

TIP TWO: WIPE-ABILITY

1. Removable parts (yep, again!). This is especially important when cleaning up the shrapnel from a post-meal foodtastrophe. No, your baby may not have intended to drop a food bomb on basically everything within a 5 foot radius, but they still did it. It's just a thing babies do to remind you of how much you love them, because if you didn't you wouldn't actually be willing to clean up after them every. single. day. But who's to say love can't be efficient? You don't want to spend your life with a toothbrush trying to clean out all the nooks and crannies and nether regions of some complicated chair. Being able to pull the chair apart easily is essential to making this job an easy one.



2. All surfaces must be made of materials that are easily wiped down. Just say no to upholstered chairs of any kind! You don't want anything you have to scrub at when they squish all the blackberries on their tray and shove at least 50% down into their seat. You want surfaces where a bit of water and a quick swipe will get the job done. The Nuna Zaaz is amazing this way - totally impervious to stains!

TIP THREE: MOVABILITY

Movability really comes down to two things:

1. Scale. This may seem like a small detail, but the scale or footprint of the chair will determine how easily it will tuck into a corner or under the table. When your babe isn't pulling up to the table yet, you don't want their high chair to take over your dining space, and when they are, you don't want it to occupy more than an average seat space.

2. Good glides on the legs. Rubber stoppers just leave marks on the floor and make moving it around a total pain in the you-know-what.

TIP FOUR: DESIGN SAVVY

Last but certainly not least, does the style work with your décor? For me that's in large part about choosing something with a subtle colour palette. I went with the Almond colour for my Nuna Zaaz because it's subtle and blends in with all the wood tones in my house.

From its modern simplicity to its highly functional, flexible adjust-as-they-grow design, we are loving our Nuna Zaaz! It truly fits my philosophy of buy less, buy better. Definitely a designer-approved high chair for our little foodie and yours. For all my fellow Canadian mamas, you can pick one up right here and you can get more details on the full Nuna line here.

xo
s.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Life Is Like A "Pick Your Own Ending" Novel



One of the things I've been learning over the last several months is that our life story is in part about how we write it. What I mean is, the same story can be viewed from many different angles.

Your perspective defines your experience.

Take this past Sunday, for example. I got up at 5:30am filled with excitement and anticipation. To be clear, I do not usually wake up at 5:30 this way. Sunday was special. I was headed to the airport for 7am to catch a 9am flight to Nashville. My first time in Nashville, and ironically the trip had nothing to do with music. I was headed there to meet one of my writing heros, Donald Miller, and participate in his StoryBrand workshop. It's essentially a crash course in branding and marketing that is highly personal, intensive and no doubt game-changingly awesome.

The day started well. I got up on time, nursed Tate, got ready and was even having a fairly decent hair day. It was a slightly bittersweet start, if I'm honest, as I was quietly mourning the fact that we planned to use this trip to wean Tate, but at the same time I felt grateful that doing so would mean a bit more freedom to improve my health.

Anyway, got to the airport, got checked in, got through crazy long lines at security, hauled myself all the way to the nether regions of the airport where they have the small aircraft landing and departing. Waited as per usual for the boarding call, happily reading my book. Boarded the plane, slightly giddy at the thought that I'd be in Nashville in just two hours. And then the pilot's first announcement that there was a mechanical issue and they needed to delay us by a bit.

Now, here's where the "pick your own ending" business comes in.

STORYLINE NUMBER ONE: I spent the next almost 8 hours WAITING, inhaling aircraft fumes, being told nothing helpful or of any substance, getting on and off the aircraft three different times as they discovered more mechanical issues, getting seriously hangry and realizing airport food is possibly the worst "food" on the planet, watching as a weather system set in and progressively shrank my chances of actually departing, and finally learned that the flight was cancelled and I would miss my beloved workshop altogether because all of the other flights were either full or cancelled for the next two days...

STORYLINE NUMBER TWO: I actually enjoyed having a day to myself for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. I finished reading a book that I've been trying to read for two months. I legitimately got something out of it. I engaged with some really fine and lovely folks at the airport (mostly airport staff because they weren't quite as cranky about the delay as my fellow passengers), I people watched, I reflected on life, I drank more than my required daily intake of water, and I was proud of myself for maintaining a positive attitude throughout the day as I watched others melt down like toddlers who were told they couldn't have a second cookie. I kept my perspective and my wits about me and kept reminding myself "Better that they find these mechanical problems with the plane while we're on the ground rather than when we're in the air."

Same experience. Two different perspectives.

I admit, I may have chosen storyline number one at the point when - having been at the airport for almost 9 hours - they announced that our flight was cancelled and I subsequently learned that there were no other options and I would miss my workshop altogether. I didn't yell or have a hissy fit or use any bad language, but I did start to recount the negatives in my head - the waiting, the aircraft fumes, the lack of information, the hangry, the MISSING MY WORKSHOP.

And then, as I was driving back home in the limo that the airline paid for, I started to rally. I realized that God was in this day. He's in my plans to learn and grow and become. He's not just in my plans, he's all over them. The Nashville workshop was not my only opportunity to learn. In fact, 9 hours in the Toronto airport was also an opportunity to learn, as long as I picked that ending. And the Nashville workshop will happen again. Maybe I'll be all the more ready for it when it comes back around.

Here's the thing: there could be a thousand reasons why I wasn't meant to go this time, and I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. My job is not to know. My job is to surrender and trust and choose the right storyline.

My job is to pick a good ending.

Today is Wednesday, not Monday, and Mondays are for musings. But today - even though it's Wednesday - I needed to share this with you. Because life is unpredictable, and you need to share the good stuff whenever it happens.

xo
s.

Monday, February 2, 2015

WHY SAYING NO HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH SAYING YES




“No More Yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! Or No.”

We’ve probably all heard TEDtalks speaker Derek Sivers’ famous quote by now. I mean, it’s kind of been everywhere over the last few months, hasn’t it? But why does this quote resonate so deeply with so many of us?

I’d say it’s because we are all feeling just a little {or a lot} pulled at the seams. Stretched. Overcommitted. Exhausted and barely keeping up. And lacking joy as a result.

I talked about this in my post last week on renovating your life like you would renovate your house. Change starts with recognizing there’s a gap between what you think you can {or worse, "should"} accomplish and how much time and energy you actually have to do it.

But then what?

What do you do when you realize you are chronically overcommitted?

READ THIS BOOK


Greg McKeown’s New York Times bestselling book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less offers a guide for setting our filters to know when to say “HELL YEAH!” and when to say “No.” I read it over the holidays and I'm so grateful I did. It gave me the courage I needed to say “no” to some things and really helped me set my course for 2015. I think it can do the same for you.

Here are some top tips I gleaned from the book:

1. START BY EXPLORING EVERYTHING


Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I mean, aren't we supposed to be eliminating stuff from our jam-packed schedules?

Yes.

But rather than blindly saying “yes” or “no,” McKeown says we should take the time to really think through the short and longterm implications of each opportunity through the lens of these three questions:

What do I feel inspired by?
What are my natural talents?
What meets a significant need in the world?

I would add one more key questions of my own:

Will saying “yes” to this send my life balance spinning out of control {and if so, what can I say “no” to in order to make room for it}?

2. HAVE EXTREME CRITERIA


For me this has meant establishing just 4 areas of my life as my top priority - my “focal point” for this year as I called it in my last post. If an opportunity or request doesn’t meet needs and help me achieve my goals in one or more of these areas - and even within these areas, if my immediate response isn't "HECK YEAH!" - then the answer is “no.”

For me, my "focal point" areas are:
My Family
My Health
Authentic Community
My Career

Obviously there are other areas of my life that I am investing in {like my spiritual life}, but these four areas are my top priority this year. Within these four areas, I’m striving to follow McKeown’s advice and only say yes to the top 10% of opportunities that come my way by asking the kinds of questions he suggests, like “Is this exactly what I’m looking for?”

So basically there are two stages to the filtering process. STEP ONE: Does this opportunity/commitment/relationship fit within one of my "focal point" areas? STEP TWO: Is this exactly what I'm looking for as I grow in this area of my life?

Why be so disciplined about it? Because excellence requires extreme focus. And in our ADD culture of maximalism, I’m increasingly realizing the great wisdom to be found in doing less with more.


3. RUTHLESSLY REMOVE CLUTTER


What if we viewed our life the way a professional organizer would view a cluttered closet? You can’t see what you’ve got when there’s a bunch of stuff you never use - and don’t really like - getting in the way.

As McKeown says, an Essentialist asks “If I weren’t already invested in this ______ {project, group, relationship, etc.} how much would I be willing to give up to get it now?"


4. MAKE IT HAPPEN!


Once you’ve cleared the mental, emotional and commitment clutter from your life, you’ll have WAY more space to achieve your goals. Just like designing a space that is currently cluttered with the accumulation of “stuff,” you have to start by editing things out to actually see what you’re working with!

For me, ridding myself of the weight of guilt has been HUGE.



Guilt is such an energy vampire! And for me, it has actually been holding me back from achieving some of my health goals. It’s really hard to recover your health when you’re constantly feeling like you need to be meeting everyone else’s expectations of you. So I’m taking a much closer look at what my expectations are for myself, and then I’m taking small steps toward achieving my goals in each area, knowing I will build momentum as I go.

I’m so grateful for the timing of reading this book, and I hope you find encouragement from it too. It’s firmly planted at the top of my recommended reading list for anyone looking to renovate their house or their life. For me, I’ll be applying it to both!

xo
s.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE AN IKEA KITCHEN | DESIGN LESSONS FROM THE TEAM AT CANADIAN HOUSE & HOME MAGAZINE


Photo via Global News
As a designer, I head to the Interior Design Show Trade Day every year for three main reasons:

ONE to see what new products and innovations are being introduced, TWO to get inspired, and THREE to connect with really great people in my industry.

This year, to my pleasant surprise, I found all three needs met in one place at House & Home's IKEA kitchen display. Setting the creative team at Canadian House & Home Magazine to the design challenge of customizing an IKEA kitchen - alongside the team at Style At Home who also designed a beautiful space - was a brilliant way for IKEA to introduce their new Sektion line of kitchen cabinetry to the Canadian market.

INNOVATION IS ON THE INSIDE


The new line is a huge move for IKEA in transitioning away from their popular Akurum line of kitchen cabinetry. From the little that I was able to see past the throngs of people in the booth, it's the "guts" of the Sektion line that make it most exciting, with lots of highly customizable options and extremely functional inserts. {I caught a glimpse of a drawer with a tiered sliding spice rack in it that was truly fab!} The new door profiles and colour options are very current and on-trend with what's happening in kitchen design right now.

Unfortunately for those who already have an Akurum kitchen, it appears as though the dimensions of the two lines are different, so you won't be able to retrofit your Akurum with these enviable Sektion upgrades without a total kitchen redo. That said, they are still honouring their amazing 25 year warranty on the Akurum, so all is not lost.

The House & Home kitchen really felt like an English fitted kitchen to me, with an abundance of design details to surprise and delight. In addition to the herringbone wood floors you can see in the photo above {they had me at herringbone!}, they showcased a few of my favourite timeless design trends in this beautiful space. Take a peek at some of the design lessons we can learn from Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Harthill - the senior designers leading the team on this kitchen design on behalf of Canadian House & Home Magazine.

LESSON ONE: CREATE ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST


Image via Margot Austin on Pinterest

Let's be honest, turning a basic convention-style booth into a quietly luxurious custom fitted kitchen is not for the faint of heart. Like a real home renovation or a new build, the task requires heaps of design vision and the courage to be unique. The first thing I loved is the way Suzanne and Sarah made the kitchen feel totally custom with the use of paneling.

Paneling, as I'm sure you know, is one of my timeless favourites. In fact, there are very few design projects I've done over the years that have not wound up with paneling in at least one room of the house. Why? It adds instant character and the kind of architectural interest that grounds the space and gives it a sense of history. Good bones, as we say. Always start with good bones.

The way Suzanne and Sarah integrated the simple, modern, box-style range hood into the paneling and wrapped the paneling around the room is brilliant. It truly connects both sides of the kitchen with the pantry that flanks the end wall, and it complements the raised paneling on the IKEA cabinetry Suzanne and Sarah chose without feeling too "matchy matchy."

LESSON TWO: PLAY WITH PATTERN + COLOUR



If I could have secretly stuffed this stunning Martyn Lawrence Bullard for Ann Sacks tile into my handbag to use in my yet-to-be-reno'd laundry room without creating a scene, I would have done it in a heartbeat. Delicious. I love how this tile creates a sense of history while being extremely current. Think Paris bistro floors or an English hand-painted backsplash.

I also love the dove grey cabinets Suzanne and Sarah chose {this door style is called Bodbyn and will be available February 2nd} and how they contrasted the softness of the grey with the deep peacock colour on the paneling and range hood. The art of the mix is as much about creative contrast as it is about a mix of materials.

LESSON THREE: CREATE MOMENTS of DISCOVERY



Needless to say, my photo does not do this stunning little pantry justice. Mark my words, though. When the professional photos are released, people are going to be pinning the you-know-what out of this little space on Pinterest. Beyond the charming sense of organization {which makes me want to hire Suzanne and Sarah just to bring that kind of zen into my own real-life-with-kids...even if only in my pantry! It would become my little in-home European retreat...}, it's the Peacock Garden wallpaper by Zoffany and the iron-framed French doors with egg-shaped brass knobs that make this pantry sing. I mean, who expects to see such a fantasy-world-come-to-life in the pantry? It's delightfully unexpected. This kind of "discovery moment" as I like to call it makes you bite your lip and inhale quickly when you come upon it. Just the sort of thing to make a kitchen feel entirely bespoke and utterly special.

{And I was actually kind of serious about the pantry retreat thing. I can totally see myself hiding away and sipping tea in here whilst imagining myself on a European vacation. This is either a seriously sad statement about my need for a vacation or an incredible credit to my vivid imagination.}

You'll have to wait for this kitchen to be featured in the magazine to see all of the delicious details that were so thoughtfully designed in this space. Watch for it in an upcoming issue of House & Home, where no doubt the source guide and the gorgeous photos will be worth the wait.

xo
s.
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