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How to make your home festive, even if you don't want a tree!

How to make your home festive, even if you don’t want a tree!

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How to make your home festive, even if you don’t want a tree!

Any parent would agree that a lot of the Christmas decorations we bring out this time of year (the tree, stockings, lights) are all because of our children. We love to see their faces light up when the tree goes up, and we cherish all of those lovely traditions we create with our families when we decorate our homes with decorations that come out year after year. It’s a magical time for children, as it should be, but if they have grown older, or moved on to school or beyond, bringing out all those boxes of holiday decor when it may just be two of you at home can be, well, daunting. And is it even necessary?

I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist at heart, especially when it comes to the holiday season. I’m not into oversized decorations that cover my home floor-to-ceiling: I prefer a few, curated trimmings that I sprinkle around to give that holiday feel without going too overboard (and, no, we haven’t done a tree in years!).

Here are some festive ideas to bring the magic of the holidays to your home without feeling like you have to recreate Santa’s workshop:

What’s your palette?

It’s okay if you’re not a big fan of red and green (I’m not either), so instead, lean into tones that will complement your existing decor. Silver, gold, and bronze are lovely, and I do love sprigs of evergreen and cranberries added into the mix too.

For the mantel

For a sophisticated display, keep your pairings minimal. A grapevine branch with evergreen branches and pomegranates would look stunning over your mantle, especially if you pair it with a trio of white candlesticks. I also love the use of in-season produce such as lemons, tangerines, and oranges.

Fireplace

Set a cosy scene by wrapping some twinkling holiday lights around a couple of birch logs either on the mantle (if they can fit) or lying in front of your fireplace. Add some simple votives along the sides for a little extra sparkle.

For an end table or deep windowsill

I love the warm glow of a lit candle, so I would set up several glass candlesticks (varying sizes and heights work) with some gold or silver glass votives. Or take some ordinary pillar candles and wrap each with a piece of festive ribbon to boost the holiday vibe. You could also add a few coloured ornaments in a glass bowl of your choosing.

Front door

If you’re not into a Christmas wreath, a beautiful red velvet bow would be just as impactful – and festive. If you do like wreaths, there are so many sophisticated options available now, beyond the traditional pine branches and pinecones. Pottery Barn always has excellent options come the holiday season.

Light in unexpected places

Instead of stringing lights around your trees, and all the usual spots, drape them around different exterior features: A trellis, birdbaths, large flower pots, and other landscaping features you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Big Style, Small Spaces

Discover your decorating style – It’s a very personal process

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Discover your decorating style – It’s a very personal process

Do you know what your decorating style is? It feels like a simple enough question, but the answer can be more difficult to find, and deciding on what will you like (and what you will not) is a very personal process.

When it’s your own home, everything in your space inherently has to feel like “you” and that’s why it’s so critical to nail down what that actually means. Will you be happy living in a certain space with a certain style (i.e.: Traditional? Modern? Bohemian?) and then what? You need to find the pieces, colour choices and other furnishings that complement that decor style.

Whether you’re in a new, blank home that needs filling or you want to revamp your existing space, there are some tricks of the trade to help you pinpoint your favourite look. Here are a few things to consider!

Photo courtesy Covet House
Photo courtesy Covet House

Deep dive into your own life

What other interests or lifestyle choices do you consider yourself to know well? Fashion? Cooking? Look for characteristics in these other areas to give you some hints on what you may like. If you’re a minimalist in your style, perhaps you will be minimalist in your home design too.

What was your favourite vacation? Or your favourite country?

If you have fond memories of a tropical vacation and all the bold colours and patterns that go along with it, could this theme play well in your home design as well? Or if you enjoy the earthy, rustic tones of a Tuscan landscape, you might find those similar colours will lend a beloved feeling to your interiors.

Do your research

Pinterest is a great platform for all things design-oriented, and you can really go down the rabbit hole of inspired home design and décor for some fantastic ideas for your own space. I’m also still fan of home design magazines. Flipping through pages, you can easily tear out some of your favourite looks that can help you build your own mood board. Save the photos of the rooms that catch your eye and that you could envision yourself living in. Gather together a list of paint colours and fabric swatches, too. Once you bring all of this together, you should start to see a pattern forming of what you are drawn to.

Call it by its name

You may feel like you have a mish-mash of a bunch of styles together after you’ve created your mood board, so now’s the time to take your time and edit it down. What look or style is on the top of your list? Which is on the bottom? You might actually see a couple of interior design buzz words pop up: Scandi, Industrial, Modern, Minimalist, Classic, Mid- Century, and so on. Once you name your style, you can then start searching for inspiration – online or in magazines – from just these few words. Also, don’t fret if you find yourself in the middle of, say, two styles. That’s okay! I’m always between styles and often combine a few together.

Now, can you live with it?

Seems obvious, but ask yourself the question. Can I actually live in this space with this style? Consider how you live your life and who’s living with you. Your home design has to compliment your lifestyle and you have to think about the practicality of it all – your furniture, the flow of your home and everything in between.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Big Style, Small Spaces

Big Style, Small Spaces: Enjoy the Winter

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Enjoy the Winter

After the holidays have passed, when winter settles in and the snow piles up around the windows, it’s tempting to put on pajamas, watch old movies and snuggle with the family. After all, the holiday rush is over, and you don’t really have to go outside.

That’s exactly when I conjure up images of my childhood. When you’re young, the winter doesn’t bother you – in fact it is an invitation to get outside and make snowmen, have snowball fights, skate and ski. It’s just what you did, you didn’t think about it twice, because it was always great fun.

As we get older, though, winter isn’t quite so welcome, especially the remembrance of cold, wet feet and hands. But it’s so important to keep moving, even though you can get lulled into inaction at this time of year. Not moving can lead to unwelcome weight gain – definitely something I want to avoid. But it’s really important to have a plan every day. I like to go for a walk in the morning, take the dog and get out and get moving, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. And Lucy loves it, too.

One of the things I like about having a dog, besides totally loving my Lucy, is it actually keeps me active, forces me outside to walk and connect with the other dog lovers in my neighbourhood. You don’t want to hibernate no matter what age you are – and if you don’t have a dog, hiking is a great option.

My husband, John, develops and builds townhomes. He always carefully picks the locations to be close to established downtown areas and close to greenspace. When you’re close to nature, get out there for a hike or cross-country skiing – the city of Toronto is very good at maintaining the trails and pathways, keeping them clear of snow so it’s easier to walk, and, weather permitting, you can strike out off the main path on your skis.

But it’s important to dress properly. Layers are the key — a t-shirt, a sweater and then the jacket. I prefer to wear the new leisure kind of winter pants, which are kind of between a sweat and a dressier pant. I love my jeans and they’re great but they don’t keep me warm like these do. It used to be about the bundling up but now with these technical fabrics you don’t have to feel like the Michelin Man. And they’re available in just about any good sport goods store.

As for an overcoat, if you’re out walking get something that reaches your knees, preferably down filled, and if you’re being more active — say on cross-country skis — get a nice parka that at least covers your behind. Wear a toque, and if you’re in really rough cold weather, like Calgary, go for a full balaclava to cover your face, which also protects your delicate facial skin. I look a bit strange, but at least I’m warm.

The biggest problem I encounter is the fingertips – I usually wear mitts when walking the dog because it lets me move my fingers and keep them warm. When driving I wear gloves, but the secret I’ve found to warm fingers is mitts with glove liners. Same goes for hiking boots – there are good insoles out there to add to your boots, designed for winter to keep moisture and cold out. They also work in skates.

When buying boots for outdoor activities, get ones with good treads to keep from slipping on slippery sidewalks. Public paths you don’t have to worry about because the city keeps them cleared. And if you live in a Dunpar community, like I do, the snow removal comes with your purchase.

Another challenge with winter is where to store your gear. What I like about my home is that you walk through from the garage right into the lower level. While the closet won’t stow all your skis and skates and so on, there’s good space to keep your coats, mitts, hats and scarves. But the garage is a goldmine – it’s the perfect place to install built-in storage, or freestanding units, like Ikea sells. It’s a good investment to get built-ins to store winter gear for easy access, or summer furniture. You can hang your bike from the ceiling and your skis and poles on the wall. You come in from downstairs and there’s some room to hang your coat and leave the boots outside.

Let’s face it — winter is here, so let’s embrace all it has to offer.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.



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Big Style, Small Space: Spring is in the Air

Big Style, Small Space: Spring is in the Air

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Big Style, Small Space: Spring is in the Air

by Lisa Rogers

And that means it’s time to wash away the winter doldrums

The arrival of spring means longer warmer days and an urge to head outdoors. But when the sun starts to pour in your house, it also shows how much housekeeping we let slide over the winter as we cocooned against the cold. There’s a reason it’s called spring cleaning, and for me that’s not only the time to deep clean but also the time to shed any excess. This is especially true if you’re getting ready to sell your home in preparation to downsize.

I love spring cleaning and approach it in a very organized way with three foolproof steps – purging, fixing and deep clean. When it’s all done, I invite friends over for dinner on the deck with good wine and music wafting out of open windows.

FIRST THE PURGE

We’ve talked on Cityline about the best ways to clean out your closets, and I’ve found it helps to enlist a friend, someone you will be totally honest about what still works for you — and what doesn’t — whether clothing or furniture. Another way is bartering with yourself; each thing you keep means getting rid of something else, which forces you to weigh the intrinsic value of each item. Purging is best done all at once, but if time is limited, do it in stages, room by room. I’ve found it works to remove everything from a room, except essentials (e.g. bed, dresser, night tables) then reintroduce items. It’s much harder when downsizing from the family home because the accumulation of family items comes with so many memories. That’s where digital photography comes in. Take a picture of most of the items, keep a few things and get rid of the rest. Give your children the pick of whatever they want, just don’t expect them to take it all.

Get rid of old tools, duplicate pots and pans, projects you’ve been meaning to get to but never will, and the paint cans stacked in the furnace room. Some of the big box stores, like Rona, recycle leftover paint. For the rest, box it up and either donate to the thrift store or leave it at the curb with a free sign on it.

When it comes to larger items like furniture it depends on whether you’ve already purchased a new home. If so, use the floorplan to decide which existing pieces will fit. Most will be too big and heavy but to make sure, hire a design consultant who can help visualize how things will look in the new space. Better furniture stores have designers on staff who can help but obviously they’re there to sell furniture and I don’t recommend buying anything new before you move or at least have a floorplan.

Sometimes you can get so caught up in purging – or worn out by the process — you’ll be tempted to call the consignment shop to come and take it all away. That’s when you need to step away because some things are worth keeping — like that French armoire, which is a timeless bridge between traditional and contemporary.

NOW THE DEFICIENCY LIST

Walk around the house and create a deficiency list of all the small stuff you’ve ignored, such as broken drawers, leaky faucets and loose drawer pulls. Note where paint needs to be touched up on walls and cabinets, where you need to re-caulk around sinks, fixtures and mouldings, or re-grout between floor or wall tiles. Do hardwood floors need touching up, refinishing or replacing?

Check outdoors; cracks in the cement foundation or loose mortar between bricks will require hiring a professional. Determine if the trim needs painting or if there are missing roof shingles. Does the deck need re-staining or planks replaced? Are the stair rails secured?

FINALLY, A DEEP CLEAN

Start at the top of the house and work down, focusing on one room at a time. Get a basketful of great-smelling cleaning supplies (like Mrs. Meyers), slip on the earbuds and crank up the playlist.

Stow the winter stuff — clothes, bedding, throws. I use plastic bins that slide under the bed for most items, including bedlinens, but wool goes in a cedar-lined closet (which is easier and less expensive to create than you’d think).

Clean baseboards, picture frames, windowsills, blinds, cabinet pulls (Vim degreaser really works on these) and cabinets. Wash shower curtains, replace plastic liners and remove clutter from tables, counters, nightstands, coffee tables and dressers.

An area that really takes a beating during winter is the entryway, front and back. Dirt and salt is embedded in the floor, doorframe, screen door and walls. Don’t forget to vacuum and wash the rubber mat.

Odours, from pets, especially, are probably embedded in the carpets. Sprinkle baking soda, then vacuum. Adding a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda will give you an even fresher smell.

Furnace filters need to be replaced or washed.

Pick up baskets of flowers or potted plants for the porch or deck and also for inside. Freshen up the pillar candles, splurge on fresh flowers, stow front hall clutter in cloth baskets tucked under the bench or table.

Switch up your accessories – tablecloths and napkins, rugs, pillows, bedding, throws – storing the darker winter items for more colourful summertime ones.

DON’T FORGET THE OUTDOORS

Rake up dead leaves and branches – exposing the soil helps warm it up – and mulch the garden beds with a good quality black double ground. Mow the lawn, pull weeds and edge the flowerbeds.

Add compost that has been “cooking” over the winter; if you have none, check your municipality for compost giveaway days.

Clean the eaves to allow rainwater to flow freely out. Pressure wash bricks, windows, trim, doors, concrete, vinyl siding, driveway and deck floor. Clean the barbecue and check the gas tank. Polish the brass — mailbox, knocker, lamps. Clean out window boxes and urns, replenish the soil and plant with a pretty mix of bulbs and greenery and add baskets of potted spring flowers to the front porch.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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