Friday, 26 July 2013

Design destination Port Carling

Muskoka Living Interiors in Port Carling is a mecca
when it comes to cottage style and modern rustic.
The next few photos are from the store.
Port Carling is fairly close, and definitely an attractive summer destination, not the least for its fantastic design stores.

I recently spent a hot, intense day in the area, taking in all the splendor of Muskoka cottage country - and the design style that goes with it.

Here are some shots from my trip.

Slipcovered chairs and white-painted
furniture rule. The style is relaxed, fresh
and summery. I like the fabric on this chair.

Here it is again on a pillow.

Inside the store - every inch is used to display

The store's impressive selection of rugs. Flatweave and
natural fibre dominate.
Driftwood is definitely part of the cottage style.
Here's a driftwood-framed mirror.

I've said it before: put it in a nice frame and anything can be art!
I'll try this with a vintage bathing suit that belonged to my grandmother.
Maps and sea charts make for interesting artwork.

Next stop in Port Carling: Peaks and Rafters - also well
worth a visit. The store has a nice mix of glamour and
rustic, lots of really nice art, and very unique light fixtures.

Muskoka Cottage Emporium is another Port Carling
design store. I especially liked the area downstairs.
Who can resist a barn full of antiques? This one
is on the way to Port Carling from Bracebridge,
on Regional Road 118 W.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Design right on Target

It's official: we can now find Nate Berkus designs in North Bay.
The word is definitely out because the shelves in Berkus'
section looked a bit scarce in places. I hope they will re-stock
Target opened its first North Bay store this week, and many curious visitors have checked it out during the last few days.

So have I. But for me, the purpose of my visit was single minded: to look for items by design celebrity Nate Berkus. I'm a big admirer of his and was anticipating the day when we could get some high-style Berkus right here in North Bay. We can now, thanks to Target, and that at accessible prices. Hooray!

While at the store, I also looked at other home décor pieces - and I was pleasantly surprised. 

Here are a few highlights:
Colourful straw bowl by Nate Berkus.
This puzzle paper weight could look interesting on your desk...

...and so could this shiny rhino!

Pillow with metal applications by Nate Berkus.

I love this graphic rug! Would look great by the front door.
Stylish straw tray by Nate Berkus.

Another graphic touch by Berkus, this time on a bath towel.
And here's a selection of other home décor pieces at the store:

Here's why I love benches: they are extremely flexible,
can be put almost anywhere; by being relatively lightweight,
they can be pulled in from, say, the hallway to provide extra
seating for large gatherings; they break up the "chair monopoly"
by offering a different kind of seating around a dining table; AND
they are a beautiful, slender piece of furniture, especially
when upholstered in a fun graphic print like this. It's a piece
that is asking you to please have some fun with it!

Why not pair the bench with this cheery side table?
This oversized, turquoise glass jar
could also be thrown into the mix...
And here's the perfect lamp shade for the
bench and the table. It has some yellow up top
and also introduces some turquoise into the space. I
would put it on a white lamp base. could these stacking chairs. Their simple lines
would "calm down" the patterns in the yellow table
and the bench. The blue colour is fun.
This is a unique table, featuring a coloured glass top and golden legs.

A graphic memo board for your office or a kid's room.

A fancy, layered mirror.

These sculptural table lamp feet are a favourite and
would work well with... 

...these stylish lamp shades. And I who complained
in a recent blog post about the lack of fun lamp shades
in our local stores!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Getting the exterior colour right

We chose between five colours, but
quickly eliminated three of them.
Summer is the perfect time to repaint the exterior of a house. That's what my family is doing right now. I'm excited to see how my 1970s home is taking a big leap into the current millennium - one wall at a time - wearing a coat of Benjamin Moore's Barnwood. This weathered grey works beautifully with the surrounding trees, existing patio stones, and our plans for a new roof.

Choosing the right exterior colour deserves it's own, future blog post. Let's just say that you should take cues from the fixed elements that are already in the space and which you are not likely to change any time soon. I'm thinking of your driveway, brick walls, windows, roof, eavestroughs and so on.

Put white paper next to the samples, to get a neutral
background to which compare.

This post, however, is about how you can make it easier to reach a decision on colour once you've narrowed down the options.

This is what you do:

1) Buy sample cans of the contenders (cost around $5; most paint stores sell them) and paint test areas directly on the exterior siding. Or paint on white cardboard and attach to the house; the bigger cardboard the better.

2) Try your contenders where the pre-existing fixed elements are. Right next to the front door is one good place. I also painted a test area on an exterior wall that is visible through a window from inside the house. I wanted to make sure that the chosen colour worked with my interior walls.

3) Surround your samples with white space so that you get a clean, neutral background. This allows you to fully appreciate the colour options and to detect any unwanted undertones (more on that in a future post).

4) Observe how the colours behave in different lights during different times of the day and make a decision based on what you see and like.

5) Enjoy the transformation! Nothing beats paint when it comes to dramatic change.

Our home dressed in the chestnut brown colour
it's had since it was built in the mid 1970s.

Two walls done, "only" sixteen more to go! Re-roofing
is on the "to-do list", as are many other, additional projects.
We are also planning to paint the trim dark, and add an accent
colour to the front door.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Let there be light!

These paper "flower shades" are certainly different and
loaded with personality. 
Want to infuse your space with personality? Bold, fun or oversized light fixtures are the answer!

They are a great way to add impact and a touch of fun to any space, whether it's your dining room, bathroom, mudroom, hallway or bedroom.

Lamps have the ingenious ability to take a room from "normal" to "shining", quite literally. And they can do it without you having to spend a fortune. 

But while our stores boast many interesting chandeliers and glamorous pendants, I find that the selection of lamp shades is a lot more limited, at least here in northern Ontario. That became even more apparent during my trip to Stockholm some weeks ago. There the design stores are full of shades in just about any colour and pattern, ready to add some "oomph" to a space - and a smile to the beholder's face - challenging us to have some fun with design.

Have a look at this:
High-impact style and function in this bubble lamp from Italian design
house Missoni. The company has a collaboration with Target - fingers
crossed that we'll see their designs in Target's North Bay store, slated
to open this summer.

How about the versatility of this lamp shade collection?
I can spot only one, single white shade, the rest are
covered in designer Josef Frank's playful patterns. The
Svenskt Tenn store is a must for any design fanatic
visiting Stockholm, Sweden.

Another interior from Svenskt Tenn. Observe how
the ceiling fixture picks up the colour of the china.

Dried plants give this white shade interest.

This feathered friend seems to like to be in the
Speaking of feathers, this shade
is made of them.

Here's a close up of the shade.
An unorthodox use of porcupine quills...
These traditional shades take on quite
a contemporary expression when they
are bundled together like this.

Among the many metal fixtures in a variety of
shapes and sizes, I saw a surprising number of soft,
inexpensive shades in simple, loose fabrics (see
the yellow, diamond-patterned shade in the
foreground). They can be quite impactful grouped
together in a mix of prints.