Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE | Week Three Update | Gold vs. Brass


Hello lovelies!

I hope this finds you all happy and inspired now that Spring has finally shown up on the scene. My body has decided to continue to do some "Spring cleaning" of its own by way of the nastiest flu I've ever experienced. Yes, I mentioned we had it run through our household last week. Well, it decided it wasn't quite ready to break up with me and came back for an extra special bonus round. So grateful I'm the only one its clinging to, but that said, I'm working on my harshest break up lines as we speak. It's not me, Flu, it's you.

Gratefully, my amazing husband is currently picking up our incredible floor tile which has just arrived! More on that next week once we have it installed. I. Can't. Wait!!

In the meantime, let me update you on the current state of affairs.

STONE SELECTED!

First off, thank you for weighing in with your thoughts on the Silestone countertop selection via Facebook, Instagram and here on the blog! The decision has been made and with a 25 year warranty, it's a countertop that will definitely stand the test of time. I can't wait to reveal it to you on Week Six!

THE GREAT FAUCET DEBATE

The decision of the hour relates to the great faucet debate. It's a battle of gold vs. brass by way of two awesome faucet options. On the left you will see the more gold finish of the Delta Trinsic, and on the right, the more brass {dare I say slightly coppery?} finish of the Brizo Solna.



This is what I call a good problem to have, my friends. I love them both! But I want to hear from you. Which one do you prefer?

Here are the amazing Lewis Dolin pulls from Upper Canada Specialty Hardware that I will be working with:



As you can see, much more gold than brass. I really think the hardware makes the decision pretty clear, but I'd love for you to weigh in. Do you like mixing various tones and hues of metal, or do you prefer to keep it all in the family so to speak?

I have to tell you that Don, Ed and the team at Upper Canada Specialty Hardware have been an absolute dream to work with, and they've been instrumental in helping me to create a most beautiful solution to the ugliest problem in the laundry room using a phenomenal sliding door system. I seriously can't wait to get it installed. More on that in the next couple of weeks!

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen the video I posted earlier this week showing how ridiculously easy the DriCore SMARTWALL system is to mud. We've just got a few seams left to mud, but here's how the room looks right this minute with the ceiling drywalled and the DriCore Subfloor R+ and DriCore SMARTWALL systems installed:



I can't tell you how excited I am to get to the pretty part! Here's THIS WEEK'S TO-DO LIST:

* Finish installing our CREE LED pot lights
* Paint the ceiling and walls
* Install the track for the sliding door system from Upper Canada Specialty Hardware
* Seal the tiles
* Lay them out to ensure the pattern is correct and we have what we need
* Cut and install the tiles and let them set
* Grout the tiles
* Paint the MDF end gables
* Install end gables and base cabinets
* Get countertop templated

Sounds do-able with a wicked flu and only a week to do it all, right? SO much more to be done once we make our way through that list, but we are just taking it one week at a time, one day at a time. I figure I can rule the world from bed with my laptop and iPhone at my side, and the plan is to be back on my feet as of tomorrow so I can dive in with Graham into the tile installation.

Be sure to check out what the other designers and bloggers have been up to and let me know what your favourite projects are so far! Stay well and have a wonderful Spring weekend!

xo
s.

Coco + Kelley * Jana Bek * Autumn Clemons * The English Room * Vanessa Francis * Greige Design * Hi SugarplumI Heart Organizing * Jenna Sue Design * Stephanie Kraus * The Pursuit of Style * Julia Ryan * Savvy Home Simple Details * Simply Grove * 6th Street Design * Jill Sorensen * Swoon Worthy * Waiting On Martha * Kimberly Shlegel Whitman * and my friends and linking participants Lisa Canning and Abby M. Interiors. Go to Calling It Home to check out all of the 150+ Linking Participants for the April 2015 edition of the One Room Challenge!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE | Week Two Update



Hello friends and design lovers! How is it Thursday again already? Man, this week has flown by! I hope yours has been a bit less of a whirling dervish than mine. Mixed in with the flu passing through our household {it still hasn't read its eviction notice properly}, we have been working hard at moving the needle forward on progress with the laundry room.

As with real life, it has not been without its challenges. The plumbing was a fairly tall order as we had to remove all the old copper pipes. Let's just say it proved more of a chore than anticipated and we actually had to move the back wall in a bit to accommodate some of the "choices" made by the previous home owner that could not be changed without ripping up the concrete. That said, my super-hubs got it done and we were able to check that off the list. We are just waiting for the electrical inspection and then we can check that off the list as well, which will be great as I can't wait to finish the drywall and get our Cree LED pot lights installed...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Right now, we are still very much in the early stages of construction. The amazing DriCore Subfloor R+ is in, though, so although the space doesn't look glamorous yet, it feels so much better. By that I mean it is so much warmer. 

The Subfloor R+ comes in square tiles that click together, making the installation super fast and easy, and amazingly it actually raises the temperature of the finished flooring by up to 5.6° C {10.6° F for all of my American friends}. That is so important in basements, especially when you aren't splurging on radiant heat. Bye-bye popsicle toes, hello happy feet!

Hello cozy toesies!
The only thing to slow us down with finishing the installation of the subfloor was our vintage 1969 concrete foundation which is ridiculously hard and dense. The older the concrete, the harder it is, which wouldn't be a big deal if we weren't tiling. But tiling means securing the Subfloor R+ with tapcons drilled into the concrete to stabilize it so the tiles won't crack. Let's just say getting those suckers into the concrete was a little bit like trying to nail jello to the wall. We had to go up a size in tapcons before we could get them to stop snapping off at the halfway point. And by "we" I mean Graham. And by "snapping off" I mean making Graham lose his proverbial jello.


My involvement in said scenario was making the run to the Home Depot to get bigger tapcons when the first ones failed completely. That and offering lots of words of encouragement to the hubs as he wrestled the concrete into submission. Gratefully, Graham can now add "concrete tamer" to his resumé and our Subfloor R+ is totally stable and secure and ready for the tile to be laid.

We {aka Graham} have also been working away on installing the DriCore SMARTWALL system. Smart is an understatement. This product is like the superhero of basement refinishing, and it will make you feel like the superhero of your basement reno.

Of all the jobs involved in finishing this space, the drywall would be what Graham likes the least, mainly because of the mudding and taping. If you have ever tackled this task yourself, you will know that it is something of an art form. A very messy, very challenging art form. Looks easy, really isn't, and looks terrible if you get it wrong. Not only that, but there are several time consuming steps involved: 1. Install insulation and vapour barrier, 2. Attach drywall to the studs, 3. Mud and tape the seams, 4. Wait for the mud to dry, 5. Sand that down, 6. Repeat the mudding with a feather coat, 7. Wait for that to dry, 8. Sand again... You get the idea.

Well, not so with the Smartwall system. Here's a side view of the product so you can get an idea of the anatomy:


SMARTWALL is brilliant because it allows you to install your insulation and drywall all in one fell swoop, but that's not even the best part! The panels click together {just like the interlocking Subfloor R+ system}, and the very small seams are then filled with a simple-to-use putty that takes the mess out of the usual experience of mudding. Hello! Happy, insulated, drywalled walls in a fraction of the time it would take to accomplish traditionally. Thank you DriCore!

We hope to finish installing the SMARTWALL panels over the weekend {remember that part about the flu slowing us down?} and I will be sure to share a photo of that stage of things next week.

In the meantime, I would love your input! I am trying to decide between two similar but different-enough-that-it's-a-decision choices for my countertop. Both are amazing engineered quartz from Silestone, and both are in quiet grey tones. Weigh in with me? Which one do you like better?


The top one is called Lagoon, and the bottom one is called Helix. I like the subtlety of the tones in the Lagoon, but I like the movement in the Helix. What do you think? I feel like they both do a great job of replicating natural stone and I love that Silestone is perfect for a high-traffic laundry room with its stain resistant, scratch resistant, bacteriostatic technology. This is truly a win-win decision I have before me! Can't wait to see where it lands. Cast your vote in the comments to help me finalize the decision!

That's it for me this week. Be sure to go and check out what these amazing creatives are up to and get inspired by their progress:

Coco + Kelley * Jana Bek * Autumn Clemons * The English Room * Vanessa Francis * Greige Design * Hi SugarplumI Heart Organizing * Jenna Sue Design * Stephanie Kraus * The Pursuit of Style * Julia Ryan * Savvy Home Simple Details * Simply Grove * 6th Street Design * Jill Sorensen * Swoon Worthy * Waiting On Martha * Kimberly Shlegel Whitman * and my friends and linking participants Lisa Canning and Abby M. Interiors. Go to Calling It Home to check out all of the 150 Linking Participants for the April 2015 edition of the One Room Challenge!

I absolutely love the Moroccan-inspired wallpaper that Vanessa Francis is using in her bathroom update. The art addict in me is all over what is happening over at Waiting On Martha, and the pattern play of fabrics in Cassie's design plan over at Hi Sugarplum is totally my cuppa. Which projects are getting your creative juices flowing? Can't wait to hear from you all this week. Here's to less flu and more follow through!

xo
s.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE | Week One: Luxe Laundry Room


And so it begins. A madcap adventure, a design dare, and a race to the finish line all wrapped into six short weeks. What is it, you ask? Well, I'm diving in head first today as a linking participant in the April 2015 edition of the One Room Challenge.

If you're not familiar, this trademarked 6-week online design challenge, created by Linda of Calling It Home, rallies together design bloggers from far and wide across the blogosphere {some professional designers, some design-loving DIYers and decorators} to tackle one room and totally complete it in a mere six weeks. Today marks week one, and if you do the math with me here you'll realize that this means I now in fact have a total of five actual weeks from today to complete my space.

*bites lip*

In the interest of inspiring you and reminding myself that there will be a whole lot of pretty at the end of this high-speed-train tunnel, let me start by sharing a bit of inspiration with you. We are renovating our laundry room for this challenge, and if I started by sharing the "before" photos, well, you might not want to read on! So first, some inspiration.



Left image via MHouseInc. Right image by photographer Sean Fennessy, styling by Lucy Feagins.

I've been cautiously curious {read: entirely obsessed} with encaustic cement tile for over a year now, which if you follow me on Pinterest you will know all too well. The references for me extend from the Spanish revivalist architecture in LA that I so adore, to bespoke dream kitchens in London, to the timeless and classic bistros of Paris, bien sûr. Even some of my favourite new local Toronto restaurants are strutting their tile-loving stuff with encaustic cement tile these days.

More than anything, I love that these hand-painted, patterned tiles tell a story of wanderlust, and they are the foundation for my design plan for our little laundry room.

It's not a huge space, but I think the "after" might just convert me into a laundry lover. That's the plan, anyway. Let's just say that I love cooking, but laundry? Not so much. But that's nothing a great design plan can't fix, right?

Here's the main elevation so you can get a sense of where things are headed:


And here's the finishes board thus far:


The direction has already changed a fair bit from the original concept, but here it is just for fun.



I've shifted gears for two reasons: ONE, I finally saw the high gloss grey cabinets in person and didn't love the finish; and TWO, I wanted to simplify the sight lines of the uppers to avoid drawing attention to the HVAC and support beam intersecting with the main elevation. That and I absolutely love raw white oak and wanted to connect the dots with the plans I have for the other side of the room. Let's just say one of the biggest problems in the space has presented the opportunity for a most beautiful solution. I love it when that happens.

But in the meantime, here's where we are actually at, my friends. Feast your eyes on our beleaguered "before."



Bit of a dungeon, no? I cannot wait to lighten, brighten and pretty it up. Time to put the "fun" back in "functional."

For now, we are busy little beavers burning the midnight oil as we prep to install the potlights, move some electrical and plumbing, and then install DriCore's Subfloor R+ and SMARTWALL system over the weekend. We are really hoping the SMARTWALL is going to save us some time, and we are super excited about installing the insulation and drywall all in one fell swoop.

Yes, you read that right. We are just crazy enough to be doing the work ourselves. Six {ahem, five} weeks with a contractor and sub-trades to finish this space? Easy peasy. Six Five weeks with two of us and a laundry list of to-do's to get done each week on top of our already very busy day jobs? Well, let's just say the updates will be laced with a necessary dose of fearlessness, and we hope you'll say a prayer for us as we launch into this daring little design adventure!

Oh yes, and be sure to check out the amazing list of bloggers and linking participants for the April 2015 edition of The One Room Challenge:

Coco + KelleyJana Bek * Autumn Clemons * The English Room * Vanessa Francis * Greige Design * Hi Sugarplum * I Heart Organizing * Jenna Sue Design * Stephanie Kraus * The Pursuit of Style * Julia Ryan * Savvy Home * Simple Details * Simply Grove * 6th Street Design * Jill Sorensen * Swoon Worthy * Waiting On Martha * Kimberly Shlegel Whitman * and my friend and linking participant Lisa Canning *

What room would you tackle if you had only six five weeks to complete it, start to finish? Are we totally crackers to take on the reno ourselves in such a short period of time? Probably. But we are also trusting it will all be worth it in the end. Hoping we all catch hold of some inspiration along the way.

xo
s.

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. Amos 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.



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