All posts by Dave Gray

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Designer Touch: Inspired Holiday Hosting

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Designer Touch: Inspired Holiday Hosting

By Jane Lockhart • Photography By Gillian Jackson

Elegant entertaining without the dining table

How do you throw a holiday party with all the elegance of a sit-down dinner without a dining table? I love to entertain but I currently don’t have a dining table. I chalk it up to being a designer—I’m waiting for the right one! My client, Suzanna, is in the same position, but we turned her living room into a beautiful entertaining space to keep her guests happy and circulating— and out of the kitchen!

AWAKEN ALL THE SENSES

Whether you’re planning a formal or casual get-together, the key is to plan. You want to fill your guests’ senses. The aroma of fresh-baked goods, the taste of savoury nibbles, flickering candlelight and low-key music all can be fine-tuned for the occasion. Spatially, I like to use every surface as a “station.” Think of it like layering decorative finishes to keep the eye moving through a room. Placing food and drinks on different surfaces and at different heights, with plenty of room to walk around, adds a welcoming dimension to the room. The sideboard becomes a cheese station, the ottoman holds multi-tiered goodies and a bar cart acts as the dessert station.

TREE MAGIC

The tree may be the largest decor item in the room, so make it outstanding! It sets the tone and it can also set the colour theme, if you like. I’m all about abundance when it comes to decorating the tree—every surface and niche is filled. It too, keeps the eye moving over the spectacle.

DELIGHTFUL DETAILS

But entertaining like this is all in the details, where every surface is treated as a decorative vignette. Layers of fresh greenery laid out on surfaces create the base layer, with glittering, holiday decorations in gold and silver adding sparkle under generous candlelight. I like to mix plain white or gold finished votive, tapered and pillar candles, and lanterns with pillars clustered in groups on the floor (but not underfoot!), so every surface has light.

FESTIVE FANCY

Use varying shapes and sizes of decor. Large, gold, sculpted reindeer guard over cheese plates, while ornaments of varying sizes look festive on multi-tiered serving ware. Bring out your best serving pieces. This is the occasion to use it all!

Delicious pop-in-your-mouth cookies and sweets require a central location, like an ottoman where guests can move around and see the whole selection. Why not add glass or crystal jars filled with gold balls or batteryoperated strings of light? It’s a simple trick, and when set on a mirrored tray, they reflect the light and add sparkle. It goes without saying that stacks of holiday napkins should be made available at every station and flatware, gathered in glassware, adds a slightly informal touch and allows guests to help themselves.

STATION-INSPIRATION

Side tables are great for showcasing decor and candles, but we like to use larger ones as the coffee and tea station. Dig out the fine china and use the coffee and tea pots with matching cream and sugar, cups and saucers, so guests can help themselves.

WINDOW WONDERLAND

If you have a large expanse of windows, you might add a string of lights above the frame, or try adding multiple, lightweight wreaths hung with fishing line or fine wire attached to a curtain rod (not the fabric).

À LA CART(S)

What’s better than a bar cart? Two moveable bar carts to do the heavy lifting. One for desserts, one for the drinks (not shown). A simple drink menu, with wine, beer, warm cider and eggnog guests will be able to help themselves. Set these stations up outside the living room—we used the adjacent entry hall, closer to the kitchen for replenishing.

SPREAD THE CHEER

Don’t forget to add festive decor in the powder room. Greenery, candles, ornaments, mirrored surfaces, beautiful soaps and lush towels carry the festive spirit to this essential room, too.

TOUCHABLE TOUCHES

Finally, add a cosy layer; lovely stockings hung by the chimney (with care), scrumptious throws and squeezable pillows on the seating. This tactile touch contributes to the charm and your guests’ sense-filled experience. Then, light the fireplace and add guests. You’ll know that while you are tending to the hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen, your guests are steps away, enjoying the party. Trust me, no one is going to miss sitting at the table.

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour. janelockhart.com

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Sunday is World Toilet Day

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Sunday is World Toilet Day

Every year, November 19th marks an event called World Toilet Day. No, it’s not a chance to buy leftover loos for a song. Rather, the event recognizes that there are some 4.5 billion people across the globe who do not have access to a toilet in their home. This is more than just an inconvenience – millions suffer each year from diseases spread back lack of proper sewage treatment. By one World Health Organization estimate, 2,200 children under the age of five die every day from diarrheal diseases. For more information, visit WorldToiletDay.info.

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Top Trucks and Toolin’ Vans

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Top Trucks and Toolin’ Vans

Freelance writer Herb Ellis is polishing off the last few pages of his review of the top new work vans for 2018. That article will appear in our December 2017/January 2018 issue. In the meantime, you can read his review of the top pickups here.

 

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Your Kitchen: Today and Tomorrow

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Your Kitchen: Today and Tomorrow

Considering a renovation to improve the value of your home? Two of the best and most common places to start are adding an additional bathroom (which will be the topic of my next column), and upgrading the heart of the home: the kitchen. Here’s my top tips for getting the best of your kitchen renovation in both the long term, and in your everyday enjoyment.

Think Twice:

-Before starting any kitchen reno, it’s important to consider both the short term costs and the possible long term gains. A slick renovation can add value to your home, but if you use materials that aren’t made to last, this value will disappear over time.

-Estimate how long you will live in this space before selling, and use materials that will last at least this long. For example, spending an extra 30% on cabinets now could make the difference between recouping your renovation investment later, or having to upgrade again when buyers only see dinged doors in need of replacement. Better to spend well than spend twice!

Good Basics

-Ultimately, optimizing resale value comes down to good basics rather than lots of superficial details. Kitchens are always a key feature of a home, but overspending on a reno won’t make sense if it doesn’t fit the value of your home. A budget of about 10%-15% of your home’s value usually achieves the best return on investment.

-Consider this when adding luxury features, such as heated floors or high end tile. In a first home, it might make more sense to invest in basics that all homeowners crave at any price point, such as a more storage space or good lighting. Look for: tall upper cabinets, undercabinet lights, quality appliances and hardwearing floors.

Live in the Moment

-Don’t forget the other side of the investment coin, which is the value your reno will add to your every day life! Consider resale, but don’t feel pressure to play everything safe. If you love a bold or trendy look, you can balance it with more timeless fixed elements for the best of both worlds.

-For example, consider using plain white, durable cabinet bases dressed up with fun modern door fronts (such as an exotic wood, which may not still be fashionable in 5 years). Replacing just the doors before selling is a more reasonable cost than fully gutting the kitchen.

Accessorize for Success

-Once you’ve planned out your budget for the key basics, put the rest of your budget into non-committal items or pieces you can remove. After all, personalizing with accessories means you can take the look you love with you!

-This can include small items like cabinet knobs and pulls, or more substantial pieces like a great faucet or even pendant lights—this is a smart area to try trendier finishes like copper, brass, or coloured enamel. Any of these can be taken into a new home and replaced with a more plain option if your realtor suggests they don’t suit your market.

Good Basics Part 2

Here’s a few more go-tos for a designer look that stands the test of time.

-White subway tile: it makes a beautiful and classic backsplash without a huge investment, and people will be able to imagine if fitting with their own style.

-A great dining table: In an eat-in kitchen, a beautiful tabletop will feel add to the look of the finishes, but you’ll be able to take it with you when you go. (It’s a smart place to add some must-have marble.)

-Use whatever wild and wonderful shade of paint you love, and plan at the time of your renovation to set aside a little money for a repainting later. No matter what paint you choose now, there will be a more in-demand colour in the future that you can apply to inspire a sale.

Quick Bites

  1. Invest in quality materials that will hold up until after you sell, or your renovation budget will be wasted in the long term.
  2. Budget approximately 10-15% of your home’s value for a kitchen renovation with a good return on investment.
  3. Focus on great basics like tall, durable upper cabinets with plenty of storage before luxury details.
  4. Personalize a space with moveable pieces like knobs or faucets and you’ll be able to reset the look for resale and take your favourites with you.
  5. Try plain white subway tile for a classic backsplash and a marble top dining table to bring in luxury you won’t have to leave behind

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About the author:  Yanic Simard is principal designer at Toronto Interior Design Group and TV design expert on Cityline.
*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Colour Cue: Back In Black

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Colour Cue: Back In Black

By Terry Edward Briceland • Photography By Stephani Buchman

Always touting the latest trend as the new black, a look at this unbeatable colour in fashion and design.

Society and/or self-professed style mongers love speculating what colour trend will dominate this season and overshadow the ever-popular, always in style shade: black.

Black is timeless, effortless, and it comforts our souls. Whether it’s an all-black outfit when you need to absolutely slay, or that new black ice-cream everyone and their dog has a photo of on Instagram, black is a colour we all know and love and it’s time we embrace that nothing will replace it.

When it comes to decor, black is often overlooked. Of course, no one expects you to deck out your house like an angst-filled teenager who just got upgraded to the basement room in 9th grade. But, consider breaking out of the square mould of “accent” colours and choosing unbeatable black as your go-to shade in decor.

We worked with Nina who had just finished her home and needed a bunch of stuff in it to make it livable–our favourite problem to solve! She wanted something that was outside of the norm, but airy, eclectic, modern, and had a touch of her own unique style. Enter black.

BLACK AS AN ACCENT

Black is a great colour because it goes with anything. Duh. We all know this, and that’s why our closet is full of it. It’s impossible to mess up, however, when it comes to interior design, it does take some thought in order to be done right, so you don’t end up crying with a paintbrush in your hand wondering what you’ve done to your beautiful home.

We used black to play off of the brass gold fixtures, the grey furniture, and bold Andy Warhol-inspired custom-pop artwork of family photos as complementary accents. This ensured black was never overdone and didn’t darken the room. Black accents, such as chairs, lamp covers, and black decor mixed with patterns, helped make it all happen. Artwork plays a huge role in adding diversity to the design, and custom artwork can be found throughout the house. Because hey, when you can’t find the perfect piece, why not make it yourself?

BLACK AS A STATEMENT

One of our favourite pieces is the black candle setting on the dining table. It gives the room an edge, and shows guests that Nina doesn’t mess around. The matte finish complements the brass light fixture and mirrors, while also tying with the finish of the table. The table itself is something that just screams “INVITE PEOPLE OVER TO EAT.” It was a custom teb Interiors table done with concrete and vintage maple extensions and accent legs.

BLACK AND NAVY = A LOVE AFFAIR

Have you noticed the ceiling? Do you love it as much as we do? Hell yeah, you do. We couldn’t resist completing the living room with a navy ceiling. This works thanks to the ceiling height and the white walls. The room as a result is bright, and the colourful artwork just adds a pop of colour and personality. The texture on the ceiling is to die for, and beckoned to be painted. Navy works beautifully with black, it creates an illusion of darkness but has a certain subtleness, so it’s not as sharp.

SO, YES TO BLACK

The navy curtains, alongside the black chairs, table nook, and light fixtures bring the colour throughout the home without overdoing it. When working with a colour that is so bold, it’s important to make sure that it lives in each room in a way that makes sense without going overboard. But never shy away from at least SOME crazy.

Terry Edward Briceland is the creative director of teb Interiors. Terry is best known for his many appearances on HGTV and W Network television programs. teb Interiors offers complete interior design services and specializes in custom sewing and upholstery. The firm is known for its edgy designs and for creating truly one-of-a-kind show pieces that are guaranteed to get the conversation going. tebinteriors.com @tebinteriors “we make awesome crap for your home”

 

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Cover Story: All Dressed Up

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Cover Story: All Dressed Up

By Linda Mazur • Photography By Jason Hartog

Host a memorable affair with flair

The end of the year is fast approaching—the start of what I like to call the “season of soirées.” Holiday parties this year are taking on a more luxurious tone, welcoming the return of indulgence, glamour and colour that leaves guests begging for more. Here’s my guide to creating a formal, festive ambiance for an affair to remember.

COLOUR-FRIENDLY

Rich jewel tones must be in attendance at your formal get-together. Pretty amethyst, lush plum tones bordering on black, saturated pinks and potent pops of bright yellowygreen— a nod to 2017’s colour of the year—are a highlight of the upcoming holiday palette. Add these opulent hues to your fireplace mantel, centrepiece, coloured glassware and textiles, lending your soirée a lush, layered look.

DELIGHT THE SENSES

Amp up the luxury by adding texture to your decor; this is a great way to express your own style and personality, in a tactile way. Sumptuous velvets, silks and coarsely textured linens are a mainstay for the cool fall and winter nights, adding warmth and welcome to your home as your guests cosy up, relax and digest after a splendid meal.

As a designer, I’ve seen texture, pattern-play and mixed metals dominate the design scene through 2017, and indeed, these will see us through the final countdown of the year. Well-appointed, well thought-out decor reflects a more minimalistic approach to design, highlighting the beauty of each carefully selected piece or custom finish, and bringing balance and harmony to the room.

LAYERS OF LUXURY

This featured dining room showcases a mix of patterns carefully selected to complement the beautiful wallpaper—the focal point of this room. The sheen and texture of the dupioni silk drapery and the velvet dining chairs help create a sense of tactile luxury, while lending the perfect backdrop for the glamorous chandelier. We combined several different metallic finishes in this space to bring dimension to the design esthetic, and bring character and personality to the room.

5 TIPS FOR PARTY SEASON 2017

  1. Nothing sets the stage for a swanky soirée like a formal invitation! Send invites a month ahead of time, to give guests time to plan and RSVP.
  2. Glam up your tables with beautiful china, crystal and silver. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your serving dishes. It’s a great way to add personality and unique charm.
  3. Lay down freshly cut greens on top of serving trays for a quick and festive touch.
  4. Lighting is an important element not to be overlooked. Opt for dim, romantic lighting from multiple sources: chandelier, table lamps, sconces, candles. A layered lighting plan will help set the right mood.
  5. To ensure the right ambiance, communicate a dress code to your guests. They’ll appreciate getting the heads-up on what to wear (a sure distress for some!) but this will ensure the theme of your soirée is carried through from the decor, to the menu, to the guests.

THOUGHTFUL TOUCHES

Another trending element making an appearance at this season’s formal affairs is the curated and customized. Nothing screams “exclusive” like a little personalization—a relatively easy way to make your guests feel truly special. From colour that complements the occasion, to signature cocktails, and customized menu items with wine pairings, this highly stylized affair exudes elegance at every turn. This year, the design scene and the party scene run hand-in-hand, so your decor shouldn’t be an afterthought. Think personalized place-card holders, wine charms and party favours, and an elegant centrepiece to make your dining table the focal point.

Expect the best parties this season to be thoughtful, intentional and carefully crafted, to reflect individual style while indulging guests in a night they won’t soon forget.

SOURCES

DESIGNER: Linda Mazur Design Group DINING CHAIR UPHOLSTERY FABRIC by Robert Allen Manufactured by Silva Custom Furniture, CUSTOM DRAPERY FABRIC by Alendel, MANUFACTURING is Model Space Designs, WALLPAPER: JF Fabrics, LIGHT FIXTURE: Prima Lighting, BAR CART: Artage, FLORAL DESIGN by Opening Night Flowers, DESSERTS from Pusateri’s Fine Foods, AREA RUG: Stevens Omni

Linda Mazur, Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group, has almost two decade of experience running her multi-disciplinary design firm. Known for creating relaxed, stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada, her work has been published nationally in various publications. lindamazurdesign.com @LindaMazurGroup

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Garden Expert: Come One, Come All

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Garden Expert: Come One, Come All

Create biodiversity in your yard to ensure a growing population of pollinators

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~LAO TZU

I made several insect hotels in my wood working shop for some of my gardening friends. They were received graciously but, at the same time, with a common query: “What IS it? What does an insect hotel do? What kind of insects will it attract? Are they all good for my garden?”

An insect hotel encourages insects to visit and reside in your yard. It can be as simple or as complex as you choose. There are many designs for insect hotels, and if you are a creative type, you can create your own.

Clearly, this discussion has a long way to go. It started with concern about the decline in the honeybee population, and has extended to the general concern shared by naturalists everywhere about the problems with our native population of pollinators.

We are no longer concerned exclusively with the decline of honeybees. Truth is, there are over 700 species of native bees (honeybees are not native) that serve as primary pollinators ‘out there’ in the natural environment, many of which you can attract to your yard with an insect hotel. In addition, there are thousands of other invertebrates that either pollinate over 30 per cent of the plants that we rely on for food, or are essential members of the web of insects that make up the whole show.

Take a winter moment to digest the following and you will be on your way to understanding the whole, big picture.

1. UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF BIODIVERSITY. The word comes from ‘biological diversity.’ WWF defines it as, “The term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact.” Biodiversity in your yard is represented by the range of naturally occurring plant, animal and insect life that exists in it. There is much that you can do to increase biodiversity, or the range of life in your yard.

2. PLANTS–PACK THEM IN. Do not underestimate the impact that you can have on the beneficial insect life in your neighbourhood by planting flowering plants. The longer each plant produces a flower, and the more of them, the better. If you have a minimum of six hours of sunshine in your garden, you are in luck. The varieties of plants available to you are nearly limitless. If you are dealing with shade, you also have opportunities to plant flowering plants galore, but you will need to be more thoughtful about your plan. In either case, place your plants densely to attract the maximum number of pollinators.

3. GO NATIVE…OR NOT. A recent study in England indicated that it is not important to a bug that a plant is native, if it produces a blossom that attracts them in the first place. According to the results of “The Plants for Bugs Pollinator” research, it is the diversity of plant material that attracts the maximum range of bug species, not whether they are native. To quote the study, “The value of a site can be maximized for pollinators by choosing plants from different regions of the world.”

4. ADD WATER AND DON’T STIR. Adding a still-water element is the single most impactful feature that you can add to your garden or balcony for attracting pollinators. A pond in the yard or a half-barrel on the balcony works just fine. When you add a water feature, I can guarantee that you will discover wildlife in your yard that you have never seen before. As dragonflies, salamanders, frogs, toads, water beetles, amphibians, mammals and bugs discover your new drinking hole, they will grow, thrive and breed.

We are only beginning this discussion about the importance of creating biodiversity in our yards and gardens. As I look in to the crystal ball, I see the interest in attracting pollinators and creating biodiversity in Canadian gardens as growing steadily.

DIY INSECT HOTEL: Use natural materials and arrange them in such a manner that insects find attractive and move in. NB. They don’t like a sanitized environment. Instead insects like messy and thrive on clods of rotting leaves, rough-cut lumber, or better still, a stack of rotting, split firewood.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, member of the Order of Canada, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, The New Canadian Garden published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook. markcullen.com

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Let it rain: Kohler’s new Real Rain™ showerhead lives up to its name

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Let it rain: Kohler’s new Real Rain™ showerhead lives up to its name

Rain falling inside a house usually means the contractor has done something very wrong. But in the case of Kohler’s new Real Rain™ showerhead, the downpour is precisely what your clients will want.

“It all started with the notion of creating a ‘rain’ showerhead,” says Rafael Rexach, Kohler’s Lead Industrial Designer Emerging Technologies, who developed the system. “What we wanted to do is emulate nature, and nature is random,” says Rexach.

The oversized 19” x 19” (48.3 cm x 48.3 cm) square head has an unprecedented 775 individual nozzles, providing complete emersion at 2 gpm while standing under it, except for a 6” diameter area in the middle to keep water off your face. Rather than a steady stream of water, Real Rain™ relies on gravity to allow three different-sized droplets to fall in a random pattern.

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Like an actual rainstorm, this showerhead features a “Deluge” function. By pressing a button on the wall-mounted keypad the user empties a 0.5-gallon (1.9-litre) reservoir in a sustained eight-second burst, for a thorough rinse at the end of the shower.

These features recently earned Real Rain™ the prestigious Red Dot Award: Product Design, with the jury panel saying,
“The sophisticated construction of the showerhead provides a unique and, at the same time, luxurious spa experience, which finds its model in nature.”

Installing the unit is a fairly straightforward, one-person job. Installation starts with mounting a diverter valve in the wall cavity. A drop ceiling is required in the shower to accommodate the overhead unit. The printed instructions include various options for framing the space to mount the support bracket.

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It’s worth noting that in addition to the installation guides that ship with all their products, Kohler has a complete library of resources online, including installation videos. To see the eight-minute installation overview, search for “Installing Real Rain” on YouTube.

The showerhead itself is available in white or grey, with seven different finishes for the trim including polished chrome, brushed nickel, matte black, and the new Vibrant Titanium. The deluge button ships with round or square faceplates.

“Seeing people’s reaction to it really gives you a sense of accomplishment that you did create something pretty special,” says Rexach. Installing a Kohler Real Rain™ shower will help you make a special splash with your clients.

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Art Lesson: Art Matters

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Art Lesson: Art Matters

5 tips to successfully add colour into your home with art

By Claire Taylor

Decorating your space with greys, beiges, whites and blacks is generally seen as a foolproof and easy way to create editorial-worthy living quarters. Although neutral palettes emanate effortless sophistication, a touch of colour can significantly enhance the ambience of your home.

It is no secret that the symbolic meanings we associate with colour have a strong emotional impact on our atmosphere. Considering the home is a place of peace and solitude, the importance of adding a dash of colour to our environment is immeasurable.

Bringing your living space from dull to dazzling is rooted in the details—and one of the simplest ways to enhance your space is by showcasing colourful artwork.

Jane Fleetwood-Morrow

1 HIGHLIGHT THE DETAILS

Artwork has the unique ability to illuminate subtle details throughout the home and create a fresh new perspective. Your home likely already has a colour scheme, and by adding a piece of art that introduces a new splash of colour, while aligning with the existing theme, can make a world of difference.

Hanging a complex piece, like the above, looks best when accompanied with small details such as a rug, throw pillows, or a duvet with similar hues.

Amey Lai

2 ACCENT WITH ABSTRACTS

Bring your style to the forefront with thoughtful compositions that invoke awe and reflection. Abstracts are one of the easiest ways to infuse a burst of colour due to their highly interpretive quality. With abstracts, there is no need to worry about the content of the artwork, instead, focus on the colours within and the energy it emits.

Abstracts work with just about anything, but will look especially brilliant against an exposed brick wall or stark white or black finishes.

Moira Ness

3 MIXING LIGHT WITH DARK

Introducing contrasting colours and shades into your home creates depth and dimension. Dark colours make a room appear smaller, while lighter colours are inviting and make cosy spaces feel expansive. Playing with this balance through artwork will add a little intensity into an otherwise monotonous atmosphere.

Incorporating these principles within your entire home is an important aspect to creating a harmonized atmosphere, whether you are creating an intimate environment or an open one.

LuLu Ladron de Guevara

4 NEON

A more recent addition to what’s trending in the art world: neon. This type of artwork calls attention and creates an excellent addition to any space in need of a little radiance. A neon piece will characteristically brighten up your space and highlight each nuance and design within it. Personalized and expressive, neon is the ideal medium for the perfect statement piece.

Try integrating neon into your home in an out-of-the-box approach, such as positioning a neon sculpture on a side table, or neon artwork displayed in unexpected positions.

Mike Smalley

5 GALLERY WALL

Can’t decide? A wonderful way to invite colour into your home is with a montage of complementary works that contribute to a larger theme. A diverse arrangement of photographs or paintings undeniably take a little bit of pressure off finding that “perfect piece” to occupy your large space. Whether you are looking to make a blank wall come alive, or exhibit multiple special pieces in an artful fashion, a gallery wall is timeless.

Get the most out of your gallery wall by choosing pieces that have complementary hues—such as blue and orange, or yellow and purple

Be sure to check out the 2018 ARTIST PROJECT, February 22-25 at The Better Living Centre, Exhibition.
For more information, theartistproject.com

 

Claire Taylor is an art curator and consultant who serves as the Show Director at Artist Project and the Director of VIP Relations and Programming at Art Toronto. She holds a BA in Art History from McGill University and a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University College of London, U.K.

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Design Expert: Glen’s Gift Guide For Guys

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Design Expert: Glen’s Gift Guide For Guys

Treat your man (and your home) with these cool gift ideas

Every year, people struggle with gifts for guys. You hear statements like: Men are not interested in home decor. Some stores even have “husband-waiting areas” while wives put the house together. Most women are striving for a home that is beautifully appointed with everything just right. Many men, on the other hand, really want a house that works well and makes life comfortable for them. Of course that is not true of every man or woman but if you have a man on your gift list, who you want to help love the house just a little more, here are some great gift suggestions.

1 THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Automated blinds, for pricing and availability, lutron.com

Music in the house is one of those things that makes for a happier home. By changing the music for the evening, you can go from a party vibe to something very romantic. Can you imagine giving your guy the gift of music throughout the house? With the Sonos system you simply need to have an Internet connection, and an electrical plug. The Internet is a vast source for music for every taste in your house. You can also select different music in each room or play the same music everywhere. Start with a few speakers and build on to the system year after year. If you have a man who wouldn’t really notice if the whole main floor was painted, this is a great gift because he will love the way the home “feels” when it’s filled with music.

2 GET SMART

PLAY:1 Home Speaker, sonos.com

Automated blinds in the bedroom, living room or media room seem like a luxury, but you don’t have to pay a fortune for them any longer. Some of the systems are battery-operated, and while you may have to change the battery every couple of years, they are reasonably durable and worth having. Men generally get used to automation, which means he gets to push a button and enjoy being in a home that serves him. If you’re interested in automating the whole house, the Lutron system can take you from beginner to voice recognition for lights, sound, blinds, entertainment and more. If we’re being honest, the automation is as much a home gift for you as it is for him; but he gets to control the remote (obviously)!

3 ECO- & WALLET-FRIENDLY

Nest Thermostat System, nest.com

Being energy-conscious is good for everyone and helps to save some money at the same time. The Nest system allows you to control the temperature in the house, even if you are not home. If your guy is a bit of a geek, he will love the emails that your thermostat sends to you to let you know about your energy savings. There is no need to program this little thing, it will learn your habits and adjust to make sure your efficiency is maximized. It notices when you get up and go to sleep, and how that differs on weekends and holidays. No more trying to guess the weather and remembering to adjust the temperature when you are away. Nest will do it for you or you can make that adjustment from your phone. It’s what I like to call, “a good gadget” for the whole family.

4 PROJECTING THE FUTURE

Sony’s Wi-Fi projector, sony.ca

The television is always an issue in home decor. How wonderful would it be if you could carry the TV like a cell phone? That big, black square on the wall steals focus when it’s on, and it’s a black hole when it’s off. Problem solved. Sony’s Wi-Fi projector is about the size of a hardcover book and works on any surface in the house. It costs about the same as an iPhone, but is likely cheaper than the combined cost of the TVs in the bedrooms, basements, kitchen, bathroom, great room, etc. The decor of the house can be clean and uncluttered and the television can be anywhere you want. He will think it’s the best gadget ever while you get to replace the black box with your favourite artist.

5 MUSIC ON THE MOVE

UE Bluetooth Roll Speaker, ultimateears.com

If you need to be a little more cost-conscious, the UE Roll Bluetooth speaker is a great “guy” gift. It has a bunch of things going for it, including a cool factor with the shape and oversized plus and minus volume controls, and excellent sound quality. If your guy is any type of a sportsman, then this is ideal. It straps onto bikes, boats and backpacks, with the built-in “bungee” cord but most importantly, it’s waterproof. With most bluetooth speakers, you have to make sure you’re taking special care of it when you’re out and about. Take this to the beach, the cottage, the backyard or the shed, and never worry. This might be a good choice for the teenagers in the house as well, because it can take a beating.

Glen Peloso has worked in the design industry for 20 years. He is co-founder of Peloso Alexander Interiors, and is a regular design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Morning Live. Contact him at pelosoalexander.com and/or follow him on social media. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner

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