Top 5 Tips to “Winter Refresh” your Home

Warm up to Winter

Warm up to Winter

For many of us we feel a certain sense of accomplishment when we clear away the Christmas  decorations and restore a sense of order to our homes.  It marks the end of too much; clutter, eating,  drinking, spending, analyzing our family (maybe just me on that last one) and helps us hit that New  Years’ goal of being more organized. The thing is, now our homes look bare and lifeless without all that  glitter. Time for a little “winter refresh” to help you get through the next few months of hibernation.

Tip #1 -  See your room with fresh eyes

Now that the tree is gone and there’s a big gap in your room it’s the perfect opportunity to change the layout of your furniture. Have you had the same layout for years? Is there another way to arrange what you currently have? Would replacing the coffee table with a big ottoman change the function and the warmth of your room? Could you switch up furniture between your rooms. With cold days ahead think about arranging your furniture to take advantage of your fireplace or other hotspots in your home, flanking the fireplace with the chairs is so warm and inviting that you’ll want to curl up and stay awhile.

Who wouldn't want to come out of the cold to nestle into this room. Photo courtesy of Pinerest - Handmade for the Home

Who wouldn’t want to come out of the cold to nestle into this room. Photo courtesy of Pinterest – Handmade for the Home

Tip #2 –  Baby it’s cold outside!

Add a big basket of cozy blankets to your room; it adds a splash of colour and texture as well as keeping you and your guests toasty on those chilly nights. Don’t forget to put extra blankets in your guest room.

This ladder adds a bit of dimension and provides a functional place to display a collection of blankets

This ladder adds a bit of dimension and provides a functional place to display a collection of blankets. Photo courtesy of ControllingCraziness.blog.com

Tip #3 – Paint!

I think that this is the perfect opportunity to paint. While you’re cleaning up your decorations it’s just one more step to pack up the remaining accessories. As much as I hate to admit it we’ve got at least 3 months ahead of us that are indoors… why not create a space that you love to be in! See A Colour Story to take my painting quiz.

Time to freshen up those walls your staring at.

Time to freshen up those walls you’ll be staring at all winter.

Tip #4 – Buy fresh flowers

Nothing brightens up a room faster than fresh flowers. We are fortunate that we can now find so many varieties even in winter, spring might be months away but we can add some spring happiness with tulips and amaryllis that can be found at most floral shops.

Adding citrus fruits in the base of your arrangements will provide a quick and easy hit of colour and life to any room.

Adding citrus fruits in the base of your arrangements will provide a quick and easy hit of colour and life to any room. Photo courtesy of stylemepretty.com

Tip#5 – Redistribute your art & accessories

I often work on refreshing and editing with my clients and one of the first things we do is gather up lamps, accessories and art, we then lay it out on the dining room table and find new ways/places to group and display them. It’s amazing how a group of candle sticks can look completely different when paired up with new accessories in a different location.

This sparkly grouping from Pier 1 would add warmth to a hall table or mantle. Gorgeous!

This sparkly grouping from Pier 1 would add warmth to a hall table or mantle. Gorgeous!

I’d love to hear how you make your home “winter blah” proof, leave me a note in the comment section. Happy January may it be a warm and toasty one for you!

Ottawa Design Shopping

A good part of my life is spent sourcing furniture, accessories and fabrics for design projects.  Finding the right combination of pieces that fit the vision and have that certain “Wow” factor isn’t always easy in a small city like Ottawa, but with the right ingenuity and perseverance it’s possible. I really believe that homes that have layers of personality are the most special and engaging, but this means alot of shopping to get just the right mix. I get asked all the time “Where did you find that?” So I put together a list of some of the places where I have the most success and feel confident sending my clients for a unique selection and great service. Of course Ottawa has all the big box design stores and I spend time there too but everyone knows who they are. This list is for curating your collections and shopping our local hot spots to get a look that’s got spunk and sparkle.

Furniture Shopping

Furniture Shopping

1) Urban Barn : 22 York Street in the Byward Market

I love the Urban Barn for the mix of rustic cottage and downtown glam. I head here when I need furniture with clean lines and sleek detailing without being too cold and contemporary. They also have an awesome collection of interesting coffee tables, colourful toss pillows and fun accessories.

Because I find that the finishing touches are what make the room I’m always on the hunt; I have good luck finding ready made drapery panels, large clocks and area carpets here.

2) Cadieux Interiors: 1280 Old Innes Road

Cadieux is home to some of the most recognized names in the furniture industry; Drexel Heritage, Baker, Barbara Barry, Bernhardt, Calvin Klein…

If you’re looking for pieces that you see in the design magazines then this is your first stop. I really like the diverse selection of products and the well designed displays. Cadieux really demonstrates what a well designed home should look like.

3) Polanco: 177 Richmond Road in Westboro Village

Polanco is a breath of fresh air. The showroom is absolutely gorgeous; full of inspiration and sunlight with beautiful displays that make me want to order one of everything!

There is clearly a bent towards the modern, urban client but many of the pieces would mix seamlessly into a more traditional decor. The two story showroom features furniture and accessories for every room with a fabulous design studio that includes 1000′s of fabrics to choose from. Us designer types like lots of choice :)

4) Mikaza Home: 1101 Bank Street in Old Ottawa South

Mikaza has a great mix of modern classics and contemporary signature pieces. If you are a collector of all things vintage or love the Mad Men sets then you’ll feel right at home in their showroom.

A go-to for dining chairs and cool bar stools, I also think they have a pretty cool selection of lighting and accessories. For the client that is looking for a sleek and minimal bedroom they have a killer selection of bed frames and case goods.

5) MY Home: 499 Terry Fox Drive in Kanata

MY Home has a terrific mix of modern & transitional pieces that work really well for people who have a family but don’t want to sacrifice style. They have a particularly good selection of upholstery styles that are actually on the floor for you to sit on (as opposed to being handed a catalog) and they have some fab lights and accessories to pull the whole look together.

6) Philip Van Leeuwen : 10 Byward Market in The Byward Market

For design enthusiasts walking into the PVL showroom is like having a shot of espresso; there is an energy and excitement to the experience! They are well known for carrying furniture classics but mixed in with these acclaimed pieces are great value items like dining chairs and bar stools.

If you are looking for a fabulous statement sectional or showstopping coffee table, this is the place. Most people mistakenly think that because the showroom is so spectacular that the prices will be too but I think you will find that the prices are surprisingly competitive.

Furniture & Accessory Shopping

Furniture & Accessory Shopping

1) Dreamweaver: 320 Richmond Road in Westboro

Dreamweaver has a really fun collection of home accessories including wall art, toss pillows and small accents. Most notably it is home to CobiStyle which features a vibrant collection of ready made drapery, pillows and accessories. You will also find a great lineup of bath & body, candles and gift baskets that make fabulous corporate gifts. I love that they support & market Canadian product! It’s such a warm and welcoming store; the jazz tunes & friendly staff will have you swinging by whenever you’re in the neighbourhood, not to mention LeeAnne Frederickson (owner) just knocks herself out with creative displays.

2) Bank Street Framing: 728 Bank Street in the Glebe

There is always something new at Bank Street Framing, they have great little accent pieces that are fabulous for layering into a room that needs a little something. I’m always on the look out  for fun pieces for projects that I have on the go, here you will find clocks, mirrors, wall accents, pillows, wall hooks, small furniture, floral arrangements, vases and of course frames for just about anything you want to frame :)

3) Luxe Interiors: 1677 Carling Avenue

Luxe has a showroom that is jammed packed with a great selection of upholstery and accent pieces. They carry a number of different lines which means they have access to just about any style with an abundance of fabric options. Well known designer and TV personality Candice Olsen showcases her furniture line at Luxe. She has some pretty cool fashion forward pieces that work equally well in an urban loft or suburban family home. I like that they have so many styles on the floor that my clients can test drive, most people really need the live experience when choosing furniture to be able to visualize it in their home. The Luxe showroom is gorgeous and sunny and full of design inspiration.

4) C&M Textiles: 1547 Merivale Road

C&M boasts an incredibly large selection of fabrics! They shop all over the world for textiles and I find that makes all the difference in being able to find fabrics with personality and high style. If you are looking to find something a little out of the ordinary (or plain Jane) C&M is the place to start. They have large swatches of fabrics so you can really see the pattern and often have many of the textiles in stock in Montreal. C&M also features drapery hardware and finishing touches for your windows.

5) Multi Luminaire: 1872 Merivale Road

Shopping for lighting can be a pain in the neck! Multi Luminaire has a massive selection of lighting and have access to another massive selection in catalogs. They have every major name brand as well as some unique, independent suppliers. Their showroom can be a little overwhelming for clients (ohh look shiny thing) so I try to keep them focused by walking in a straight line, up and down the aisles, not always easy when your eyes are focused on the ceiling…hence pain in the neck. They are competitively priced and very accommodating.

6) Zone Maison: 471 Sussex Drive in the Byward Market

Speaking of shiny things, Zone is full of them! Their fabulous windows set the stage for all the little treasures inside. I head to Zone when I’m looking for modern & sleek accents; glass tables, small desks, affordable lighting, funky accessories and table ware + linens. I frequently do a little Byward Market loop: park by Urban Barn, walk to PVL and then finish up at the Zone with a few little stops in between :)

I hope you find this to be a helpful resource and will consider shopping our local retailers that work so hard to to make their showrooms destination spots.

Hope your life is full of colour today.

Jennifer

Friday’s Five Faves

This week has been an all out sprint to complete lingering projects, translation… I’ve spent a ton of time online shopping and pounding the pavement. Here are five really cool design finds that I scooped up this week.

Jonathon Adler for Kravet

Jonathon Adler for Kravet

 

Manhattan bar stool - Sunpan

Manhattan bar stool – Sunpan

 

Moma Chair - Urban Barn

Moma Chair – Urban Barn

 

New Wave Collection - Momeni Inc.

New Wave Collection – Momeni Inc.

 

Howard Elliott Collection

Howard Elliott Collection

 

Brilliant blasts of colour with design details that grab your attention was on the agenda this week, mission accomplished :) What’s up next you ask? Well, I’m on the hunt for a “showstopping” raspberry fabric and a killer dining table.

Hope you have a weekend that’s colourful!

Warmly,

Jennifer

Pinterest Fave’s

I’m a very visual person, a picture is a quick and easy way for me to explain my vision to a client. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and I’ve built a pretty good collection of images that I can use as a reference point for my clients. I thought I’d start a new series highlighting some of the great people on Pinterest that inspire me.

A word to the wise, if you’re new to Pinterest; when you click on a profile of a Pinner you have the option to follow an individual board. You do not have to hit follow all at the top, this way you can pick and choose what interests you and you won’t be clogging your feed. Also watch for boards that have the multiple Pinners icon (3 little heads).  Although some of these boards have great content they often have thousands of pins on them  and sometimes aren’t relevant to the topic. I recommend that you click through the board to ensure that it’s not just the one image that caught your eye but there are other images that reflect your personal interest.

Marnie Fuchs Martin - A colour consultant in TX. This is the most comprehensive collection that I've come across. I love the way she has laid out all her boards by both style, room and colour.

Marnie Fuchs Martin – A colour consultant in TX. This is the most comprehensive collection that I’ve come across. I love the way she has laid out all her boards by both style, room and colour.

Jennifer O'Brien - Profiles her City Farmhouse. She has a great collection of inspiring design boards and vintage ideas.

Jennifer O’Brien – Profiles her City Farmhouse. She has a great collection of inspiring design boards and vintage ideas.

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. They continually post feel good interiors, exteriors and entertaining imagery. Love them!

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. They continually post feel good interiors, exteriors and entertaining imagery. Love them!

Amber - Snippets Design. A wonderful collection of entertaining, cottage chic, garden and style. I like the way Amber has broken her boards into style categories.

Amber – Snippets Design. A wonderful collection of entertaining, cottage chic, garden and style. I like the way Amber has broken her boards into style categories.

Shanna Nicole - Design Lifestyle. If you're looking for inspiring event ideas or entertaining and high style glam then you'll love the depth of her boards.

Shanna Nicole – Design Lifestyle. If you’re looking for inspiring event ideas or entertaining and high style glam then you’ll love the depth of her boards.

Erin Olson - House of Turquoise. How I love these boards! Filled with fun colourful interiors and exteriors that will make you smile. Pinterest Happiness.

Erin Olson – House of Turquoise. How I love these boards! Filled with fun colourful interiors and exteriors that will make you smile. Pinterest Happiness.

And there you have it, this weeks Hit List. Do you have a board that you would recommend? Share it in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you. Happy Pinning :)

Cottage Chic

When I approach a new project I always take into consideration the location. This little house situated on a half acre of property with lovely views of the Gatineau Hills seemed like the perfect fit for a modern cottage feel.

Chelsea QC

Chelsea QC

When working with open living areas I find using a soft colour that can flow throughout, the best way to provide an open airy feeling. Benjamin Moore’s Iceberg provided a calm backdrop to the main living areas and BM’s Silver Marlin created a master bath with a spa like atmosphere.

Paint is definitely the quickest way to unify and brighten a space. The kitchen was given a new life by painting the existing maple cabinets a bright glossy white, it’s like teeth whitening it took years off it’s life! The biggest challenge is always to convince the husband in the house that painting wood is a good idea…I have no idea why men are so protective of wood, it’s like they milled it themselves and they are laying down in front of the bulldozer! Those are always tense moments but once I get a grudging acceptance the remarkable results usually win them over :)

 

 

Bench Envy

Fresh & Inviting Booth style seating. Images via Pinterest

Fresh & Inviting Booth style seating. Images via Pinterest

Lately I have noticed that I am just crazy for benches! I have tagged them in magazines, have Pinterest & Houzz boards full of them and spend hours staring at my own booth style dining room imagining what I could do with it. With so much imagery out there clearly I am not the only one who is drawn to this style of dining.

There is something so cozy about the dining nook or bench seating. Maybe it’s the communal feeling? The casual atmosphere it provides? or Could it be it feels like being in a restaurant and any minute a waiter is going to show up and ask you what you’d like to drink? Any which way you slice it I’m a big fan.

These cozy benches have great contrast with the mix of dark & light. Images courtesy of Pinterest

These cozy benches have great contrast with the mix of dark & light. Images courtesy of Pinterest

 

I love to linger at the dining room table and chat awhile , I find that our cozy nook provides a comfy place to hang out and I often find myself there with my book and a cup of tea. We have a family of six so the L-shaped bench gives us extra seating and even provides us with the option to add a leaf and a few more chairs to comfortably seat 10!

Different design, same great feeling! Photo credits 1.Mitchell Wall Architecture 2. Kim Courtney Designs. via Houzz

Different design, same great feeling! Photo credits 1.Mitchell Wall Architecture 2. Kim Courtney Designs. via Houzz

I hope that you are feeling inspired for the possibilities that a tight corner in your kitchen or dining room  could be  converted to. I leave you with my all time favourite bench envy, I love everything about this look; the casual walls, the mix of fabrics and lighting. Bon Appetit!

Sleek and modern not to mention sophisticated and elegant. Yep I packed all those adjectives in! Photo courtesy of House & Home

Sleek and modern not to mention sophisticated and elegant. Yep I packed all those adjectives in! Photo courtesy of House & Home

 

Outdoor Rooms

An oasis at home. Images via pinterst. For further details take a look at our Outdoor Spaces board

An oasis at home. Images via pinterst. For further details take a look at our Outdoor Spaces board

As the snow melts and the garden becomes visible many of us turn our thoughts to outside living. Gone are the days of folding chairs and plastic loungers, replaced with great fabrics & inside worthy comfort. That’s right we’ve taken outdoor decorating to a whole new level in our thirst to squeeze every moment out of summer :)

Does your decorating style change when you move outdoors? I find many of my clients are more open to colour and taking risks with patterns. Here are a few of my favourite new outdoor fabrics from Robert Allen & Sunbrella.

Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure

I love a sun porch that is full of a mix of eclectic colours, textures and market finds. Don’t you find that entertaining outside is so much more relaxed and spontaneous? No need to carry a conversation just the sounds of kids playing, birds chirping and ice melting in your margarita glass ;) So now’s the time to get out there and start planning (and shopping for) your outdoor room, it can be as simple as a sunny patch in the garden. Get inspired!

A slice of heaven at home. Images via my fellow pinterest peeps.

A slice of heaven at home. Images via my fellow pinterest peeps.

A Colour Story…What kind of planner are you?

Colour Theory. Photo courtesy of Sherwin Williams

Colour Theory. Photo courtesy of Sherwin Williams

Okay so we’re heading into the weekend and many of you are thinking about tackling a simple painting project that you can start & complete by Sunday. In my experience as a designer many of you fall into 3 categories;  The Artful planner, The Visual Planner & The Confident Non-Planner

Artful Planners drag samples home and examine from every angle, make vision boards, have stacks of magazines and don’t even think of making a purchase or painting a wall until they have weighed all options, consulted family, friends, colleagues and the neighbour across the street.

The Visual Planner has painted the room a million times in her mind, created inspiration boards on Pinterst and imagined transporting the look into her home. She sits at the dinner table and squints trying to visualize that citrus wall they saw at Pottery Barn.

The Confident Non-Planner decides while at Home Depot trolling the aisles with herr hubby for plumbing parts that today is the day to paint the foyer! Woo hoo something for me she thinks and strolls over to the wall of paint chips, surveys the options and picks something there and then has it mixed up and heads home brimming with excitement.

Closet planning board via Olioboard

Closet planning board via Olioboard

Vision Board via Olioboard

Vision Board via Olioboard

So there are certainly people & projects that fall somewhere in between but they’re no fun to talk about! I have a few tips that I can recommend to help you avoid some pitfalls.

1. Think of your house as a whole. If you’re just painting one room you have to imagine how will flow with the rest of your house.

2. Bring paint swatches or better yet a fan deck home. You need to see how a colour reacts with your light, both natural light & ambient light fixtures. A southern exposure can intensify even the lightest of colours and a room with no window will need less intensity to feel dramatic.

3. If you have more projects to undertake than just painting a solitary room, consider creating a vision board. It can be as simple as tearing pictures from magazines, swatches of fabrics and a few paint chips. This will become your guiding vision as you make purchases and select paint colours. It gives you a touch point to refer to, you can ask yourself  “how would this colour or sofa fit with this look?” In the long run it will save you time and money and more importantly frustration!

4. Just do it! Many of us are spending hours creating “future projects” boards on Pinterest. Now I’m as much of an addict as the next serial decorator but at some point you just have to jump in. We all make mistakes but nothing is worse than living in a house full of potential but never attempting to reach it.

Colour Story Inspiration. Photos courtesy of Sherwin Williams & BHG

Colour Story Inspiration. Photos courtesy of Sherwin Williams & BHG

So good luck to my weekend warrior friends, who bless their hearts are getting dirty and digging in instead of just squinting, thinking and asking for approval from the dog. However on Sunday night at midnight if you’re half done, 2 bottles of wine down and trying to decide whether the colour looks more like baby vomit or dishwater think of me :) (In a nice way like, Gee I bet Jenn could help me fix this because she’s awesome)…I’ll be happy to hear from you with no judgement, hey I’m proud of you for giving it a go. On that note I’ll be happier to hear from you at a reasonable hour Monday morning.  I know who you are!

Just Shelf It…

As winter continues to hold on tight here I continue to look for ways to add life, vitality and a touch of spring to my clients spaces. I will win against winter eventually!

Here are a few quick ways to take shelves or shelving unit from functional to fantastic. What are you waiting for?

Photos courtesy of BHG & my fellow Pinterest friends. For more details & images visit my Pinterest board 

Farewell to February

As the days get longer and I start to see Easter candy and spring clothes arriving into the stores invariably I am filled with the anticipation for spring. Ok so we’re getting another snow storm and the grass is yet again buried that doesn’t mean we can’t start living the dream inside. The following are a few of my favourite ways to protect against the winter blues.

If you have neutral furniture now is the time to add in bright toss pillows. I feel happier already! Photo courtesy of BHG

If you have neutral furniture now is the time to add in bright toss pillows. I feel happier already! Photo courtesy of BHG

By now your Christmas decorations are long gone  and only remnants of Valentine roses remain. Fresh flowers are a quick and easy hit of spring. Pretty much anything pink makes me smile right now. Courtesy of Style at Home

By now your Christmas decorations are long gone and only remnants of Valentine roses remain. Fresh flowers are a quick and easy hit of spring. Pretty much anything pink makes me smile right now. Photo courtesy of Style at Home

Nothing feels better than a little order. For a quick fix hang shelves upside down and the brackets become separators. Brilliant, thanks MarthaStewart.com
Nothing feels better than a little order. For a quick fix hang shelves upside down and the brackets become separators. Brilliant, thanks MarthaStewart.com

Is there anything better than fresh sheets? This airy palette helps you begin & end your day in a blissful happy state. Pottery Barn bedding
Is there anything better than fresh sheets? This airy palette helps you begin & end your day in a blissful happy state. Pottery Barn bedding