Friday, 21 December 2012

Season's Greetings. See you in 2013!

I'm wishing you a happy and safe holiday season. May the new year be full of beautiful interiors and great, inspiring design!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ideas for your holiday table

Holiday table à la Homesense. Note the china
in alternating colours, the varied heights of
vases and decorations, and the sparkles from
candles and glass balls.
Preparing your holiday table can be very enjoyable, especially if you have plenty of time and a few helpers. Here are ten tips on how to add interest and personal touches to your arrangements:

1) Think layers. Start with charger plates or placemats atop a table cloth and work your way up with  plates of different sizes. Mix patterned and solid-coloured china.
2) Throw in vintage pieces. Scout thrift stores for unique serving bowls or, if you're lucky, simply open your cupboards and take out grandma's old porcelain.
3) Bring in something from nature. 
Small spruce tree branches don't just look pretty, they also spread a lovely holiday scent. Pine cones and grey, dry moss look authentic in a centrepiece arrangement.
4) Personalize your guests' place cards. Handmade paper has a nice texture. Add layers of paper in complementary colours and varied thicknesses.
5) Think beyond red and green. There are so many other nice colour combinations for Christmas; light blue and silver, gold and purple, red and turquoise.
6) Prepare a feast for all the senses. No need for artificial fragrances with all the wonderful natural scents from food, beverages, pine trees...  Cloves in mandarins look and smell wonderful. Textured table cloths and napkins feel good to the touch.
7) Make sure the vases, candles and other decorations on your holiday table are of different heights.
8) Add some sparkle. Whether it's a mirrored tray or glass balls in a bowl, reflective surfaces on your table will make the light bounce around and spread interest.
9) Think beyond poinsettias! Why? Because they are so predictable! Surprise your guests with a more unexpected flower on the table.
10) Want more drama? Dim the lights and add yet another candle.

Light blue and silver make an elegant colour
combination for Christmas. These trees
are from the Green Store in North Bay.

Include something green, complementary scents,
layers and textures... Your personalized place cards
will be a hit!

So are you going with the real thing this Christmas, or
are you also a fan of the "real lite" battery-operated
candles, as seen at the Green Store?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Retailers' Christmas picks

Christmas preparations are in full swing! Everything is right here, so there is no need to leave North Bay to celebrate in style. I asked local retailers to share their treasured holiday items and ideas. Read on for some of their suggestions:

A new use for grandma's white crocheted doilies:
hip and decorative snowballs, as seen at the FARM.
These doilies are from Antiques at Deegan's. Be
sure to scroll down to the end of the posting for
DIY instructions. You  too can make these beautiful
The Farm carries these cozy mittens, made in Hamilton,
ON by SLO Mittens. Katie Bevan, the FARM: "This is a
new purpose for those old "ugly" sweaters we all wore
in the 90's. The mittens fit nicely and are lined with eco
fleece. They are so soft you'll want to climb right in and
curl up! They come in two different sizes and retail for $38."

And here is yet another way to use granma's
doilies. Pillow from the FARM.

A soft, red throw from the Great Room.
Nancy Fullerton: "This looks great for
the Christmas season, but can be used
all winter long. Nothing better than having
a cozy throw wrapped around you on a
cold night!"

How about a TV stand from the Cutter's Edge?
Megan, the Cutter's Edge: "This is a great and
popular spouse gift. It can be passed down for
generations.  Since customers can choose their
own stain colour and wood it’s easy to make it
match in any home."

Plush Santa/Moose/Snowman, also from
the Cutter's Edge. 

And here are the instructions for the crocheted snowballs, courtesy of the FARM's Katie Bevan. Make at least three of them, or five, for a decorative display (odd numbers generally look best).

You need:
- Balloons (the punching balloons that you can get at the party store are best)
- Doilies
- White craft glue from the hardware store (more affordable than the glue sold at art stores), with a very little bit of water to make it smoother to put on
- Brush to apply the glue to the balloons
- String for hanging the snowballs
- LED lights (optional) for inside the balls

Inflate the balloons, wrap  the doilies around them and apply generous quantities of glue. Hang to dry for about 24 hours. Pop the balloon when you are sure the glue is dry, and remove it. If the decorations deflate, just soak them with water and re-glue. Easy peasy!

Check out this link for more details and inspiration, and have fun:

Do you have other great DIY Christmas ideas? Drop me a line and send a photo!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Easing into the holiday spirit

Nothing says Christmas more than candles... 
I love the soft glow from this electric advent
Fake or real? More or less? Same old or something new? I'm talking about Christmas decorations. Some of us unpack them after Halloween. Others wait until the day before the holidays. Whatever your preference, I'm sure that your home is taking on a festive mood.

For more inspiration and ideas, why not head out this Saturday to attend the first annual Christmas Home Tour? St. Andrew's United Church puts on this fundraiser, featuring five North Bay area homes. Buy your tickets at Century 21, Gulliver's, Leon's and From the Heart Flower Boutique. The organizers promise an exciting mix of styles and decorating tastes!

That event, plus tomorrow's Downtown Christmas Walk should put us all in a holiday spirit. Now it's official: Christmas definitely is around the corner! No more excuses; my own decorations are going up this weekend.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Clarion Christmas Show this Sunday

Come see me at the Christmas Artisan Show at the Clarion this Sunday, November 25!

I will be selling some of the products featured in my recent blog "Design that makes you smile"; cutting boards, tea towels, oven mitts, table runners and more. 

So unique, so playful, and so perfect as hostess gifts this season!

What: Christmas Artisan Show
Where: Clarion Resort Pinewood Park in North Bay, ON
When: Sunday, November 25, 2012, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

See you there!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Artful displays

Toronto Star, Wednesday, April 24
2010 by Pete Smith.
Enter the 1930's period house on First Avenue in North Bay, and you are surrounded by deep grey walls. "They are the perfect backdrop for contemporary art", explains Joan Ferneyhough, the owner of the gallery that bears her name. "Dark walls give contrast to art, but they do require very good lighting".

She should know. Since 1996, she has highlighted fine contemporary art from a select group of Canadian artists, many with roots in northern Ontario. Their work includes paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture.

What should people think about when they buy original art? For Joan the answer is simple: "You really have to love the piece!", she says. "You should also know why you are buying. Are you collecting, or are you decorating? In either case, you have to consider the space where the piece is going."

Lori Grace-Johnson's installations are presently
on display at the gallery.
Joan firmly believes that contemporary art has a home in more traditional interiors. "You can put anything anywhere if it's done right. Art can be the bridge that pulls the two styles together. The framing or the matting can be changed to make a piece fit in."

But when it comes to buying art for somebody else, she is more hesitant. "I recommend gift certificates! Art is such a personal thing."

Whether you are buying for yourself or somebody else, the gallery's consultations, art "loans" and rentals should make the decision easier.

Linklichen,  Ed. 15 by Arnold Zageris.
Check out this selection of art by artists represented at the gallery.

And here are Joan's tips for displaying art:

1) Good overhead lighting is critical. Pot lights give a lot of flexibility.
2) Choose the right kind of glass to prevent deterioration of the piece of art.
3) Don't put fragile work on paper in the bathroom or other space with high humidity.
4) For wall sculptures: make sure the walls are strong enough to hold the piece.
5) Rule of thumb: The centre of the painting should be 54" - 58" from the floor.

Farmhouse, Route 12, New York by David Lewis.

Moon rising, sun setting by Judy Gouin.

Northland Water Garden by Michael Dobson.

PIXIE'S WORLD: SugarFree Violin by Marlene Hilton Moore.
Tree Column by Robert Game.

Looking West by Regina Williams.

Kipawa Profile by Susan Farquhar.

Outlook by Ted Fullerton

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Design that makes you smile

Humour and joy. That’s what my friend, Swedish designer and illustrator Lotta Glave wants to express with her creations. “I love it when people say that my designs make them happy!", says Lotta.

Her playful patterns, decorative every-day objects and illustrations have adorned homes since 1990.  That's when she and her designer husband Bengt Lindberg launched their company “Bengt & Lotta”. Their designs are now represented at museums and sold worldwide (also here in North Bay, see my previous blog!).
Animals, angels and people are the stars of Lotta’s designs. You find them on candleholders, tea towels, cutting boards, clothes hangers, blankets and more.

The inspiration comes from everything that surrounds her; her three children, travels and nature. There are also some creative genes at play. “My grandmother was an illustrator and a huge inspiration when I was a child. It’s probably thanks to her that I became a designer.”

Lotta's expressive and naïve creations add a touch of fun to a space, and more often than not a splash of colour. “A home with dots of colour becomes more personal", she comments. "I don't feel relaxed in too strict, impersonal homes where the eye doesn't have anything fun to rest on. I want to see that there are real people living in a home."

With Lotta's designs, bringing something fun into your space has never been easier. Just see for yourselves:


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Warm wool beats the cold

Soft, stylish, Swedish... Roaming fall storms might keep us inside, but now, at least, we can snuggle up in style. Gulliver's in North Bay carries these cozy blankets by Swedish company Klippan. Made from 100% New Zealand wool, they are sure to keep you warm this winter. They will also introduce a note of fun into your home, and be a design statement in your couch. Plus, what a great Christmas gift they will make!

Pick a colour that matches the rest of your décor, or choose a complementary hue that will give the room some punch. Have fun combining several throws, like in the photos below. Hurry out to get your favourite, and stay tuned for next week's interview with one of the designers behind the blankets.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fall for flowers

Think "fall flowers" and mums will probably be the first kind that comes to mind. But not for Jaime Anderson of Anderson Flowers & Giftware in the Northgate Mall. In her world, sunflowers, lilies and purple callas are just the right thing for spreading colour and aroma this season.

But Jaime doesn't stop with the flowers. She believes the container and accompanying accessories are equally important when creating appealing displays. This year's trend is to use natural and recycled products to create personalized, one-of-a-kind arrangements. Jaime explains how to make your own at home:
Spooky Sweet. Hopefully, you won't find
critters of this size in your backyard when
looking for accessories for your display!
"Use a mason jar or vase that is just collecting dust. Gather acorns, sticks, pine cones and pieces of bark and add to the display. If you want to pull a certain colour from the room, include a few silk flowers or leaves, or use botanical pods in the same colour line", says Jaime. She even suggests adding scented oils to achieve the perfect arrangement, one that speaks to all the senses.

If you're still unsure about pulling together your own display, you can always turn to the pros for help. Here are a few of Jaime's beautiful fall creations:

Friday, 19 October 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

Natural, seasonal decorating

Nothing beats nature when it comes to creating interesting displays. And this is the perfect time to revel in all the wonderful crops that nature has to offer. Bring them inside and make them the decorating stars of your decor. 

How to get it right? Think many! Just envision the following examples: An oversized, wooden bowl brimming with red apples. Or a shiny, silver-coloured platter filled with walnuts and acorns. And how about a year worth's supply of local garlic displayed in a rough wicker basket (or with my cooking, it'll probably turn out to be half a year's worth)? 

The beauty comes from contrasting textures, tonal varieties and the mere quantity of the item you display. It's decorating at its best: natural, seasonal and uncomplicated! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cool and warm hot this fall

How about a cool Raindance, Revere Pewter or Thunder for your living room walls? Or do you prefer the warm and exotic Africa, Thailand and Bali? North Bay homeowners seem to be divided when it comes to colours. One group embraces greys, bluish-greens and other less warm hues. Others favour nature-inspired tans, browns and umber.
Click here to read the rest of my article on colour trends (The Nugget, Home Renovation & Decorating).

Friday, 21 September 2012

Mainly Art on Main

Orange is such a vibrant and warm colour. 
This wall sculpture by Carole Davidson has 
extra sparkle thanks to the shiny metal.

Looking for unique pieces of art for yourself or a friend? A visit to North Bay's Art on Main is sure to solve that problem. The downtown artists' collective showcases a great mix of locally-made sculptures, paintings, jewellery, pottery and more. Look for pieces that "speak to you", in shape, colour or texture; they are sure to be conversation starters also at home!

Check out the following pieces that caught my eye recently:
Carole Davidson turns thin sheets of copper, brass,
aluminum and silver into beautiful works of art.
       Tracey Timpano's Klimt-inspired painting
       stands out...

         ...and so does this humorous painting
         by Barry Burniston, in more than one way!

     Kathleen Atkinson Hindle shows a fresh take 
     on wrought iron. Imagine the interesting shadows
     from this tree-branch sculpture when the candles 
     are lit!

             Kathleen also makes funky jewellery. 

   Quirky? Yes! Fun? Absolutely!
                  The occasional table by Kathleen
                  Atkinson Hindle is made from an
                  old, rusty car brake rotor filled with 
                  concrete. On top of the table: a cute 
                  tree sculpture. Birds included!

Terryl Ryan is the artist behind this cute basket. 
Ideal for your fall apples! 

 And how about this basket, also by Terryl Ryan,
    for all your design magazines?

                Nice colour combination in this
                rug by Terryl Ryan.