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3 ways to refresh your home for spring

3 ways to refresh your home for spring

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3 ways to refresh your home for spring

Looking to update your home for the season but don’t have time or budget for a major renovation? Do it right with these three easy DIY paint projects that can each be done in just a day.

“The seasonal transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to freshen up,” says Sharon Grech, colour and design expert for Benjamin Moore. “If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited time to devote to working on your home, which is why small weekend projects are perfect because they’re quick, easy and affordable.”

DOOR: Night Train 1567, Aura® Grand Entrance, Satin TRIM: Plantation White, Aura® Grand Entrance, High Gloss EXTERIOR WALLS: Grant Beige HC-83, Aura® Exterior, Satin
DOOR: Night Train 1567, Aura® Grand Entrance, Satin TRIM: Plantation White, Aura® Grand Entrance, High Gloss EXTERIOR WALLS: Grant Beige HC-83, Aura® Exterior, Satin

Hit refresh with paint

Nothing says refresh quite like bringing new life to a tired piece of furniture. A fresh coat of paint is the perfect solution to make old, dated furniture seem trendy and new. Look for pieces that have solid construction and interesting shapes. Grech says headboards, wardrobes, chairs and side tables are all great pieces to transform. If you are unsure of the condition of the furniture or how to paint it, visit a local paint retailer to ensure you get the product that is right for your project.

Amaze with an accent wall

Feature walls are a great way to make an impactful change to a space. “Many people think accent walls need to be very bold and vibrant hues, when they can be neutral to create a more cohesive and harmonious feel,” says Grech. Explore painting the fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, for a unique and modern look that can add dimension to a space.

Front door décor

The front door has the ability to instantly create an inviting impression before guests enter your home. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door is a great DIY project that can be done quickly and can invigorate the look and feel of your home,” says Grech. “Because it’s so easy, you can even change your door colour seasonally.” Benjamin Moore’s Aura® Grand Entrance collection, inspired by European enamel finishes has more than 42 curated colours.

Find more informaiton at benjaminmoore.com.


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Yes, You Can Garden Now

Yes, You Can Garden Now

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Yes, You Can Garden Now

There is an opportunity to squeeze much more gardening from the month of April than you likely realize. By “squeeze” we mean enjoy, well before what has traditionally been the start of the gardening season in May.

Sow and Grow

Start vegetable and flowers seeds indoors now. Many garden seeds can be sown now indoors. Frost tender flowers like marigolds, alyssum, zinnias, cosmos and a host more should be started in the next couple of weeks either under grow lights or in a sunny window. Same with tubers of dahlias and tuberous begonias.

There are many opportunities to sow crops directly in your garden. Onions by seed and bulb, carrots, beets, kale, radishes, Swiss chard and peas can be sown now. Prepare the soil by turning it with a garden fork or spade once, bang the clumps out of it and add lots of compost. For root crops, add generous quantities of sharp (sand box) sand at least 30 cm deep to open the soil up and improve drainage.

Wait a few more weeks for flowers that are cold hardy, as we do expect frost for the next 6 weeks in the GTA (zone 6 and north of Highway 7, zone 5). Sow calendula (pot marigold), dusty miller and alyssum outdoors any time from April 15 onwards.

Plant

All woody, winter hardy plants are good to go for April planting.

If the plant is dormant and leafless when you buy it you know that it is in its natural state, versus forced in a greenhouse. It is important to know the difference. A plant that is in full leaf is soft and susceptible to frost damage. A dormant tree, shrub or rose plant is naturally protected from temperatures below 0 Celsius. It might not be as attractive but it will transplant more easily.

Perennial divisions

Perennial divisions from your own garden or that of a friend or neighbour, can be planted now. Again, if you are shopping for perennials and they have soft green foliage or flowers, it is best not to plant them yet as the new growth is frost tender. But a dormant hosta or rhubarb root is safe to dig and transplant now. This is the perfect time of year to move most herbaceous perennials around your yard or divide the mature ones and give away the divisions.

Prune fruit trees

Apples, peaches, plums, cherries: most fruit trees respond best to an early spring pruning. As a rule of thumb, we remove up to one third of the growth, concentrating on the upright growing water sprouts and the criss-crossing branches in the interior of the tree.

Perennial food plants

Asparagus, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and the like, are best planted in April, while they are dormant. Buy strawberry plants as one year old roots and plant in compost-rich soil about 30 cm apart.

Raspberries are usually sold as rooted cuttings, about 30 cm high. Plant them out about 50 cm apart. Don’t wait for May, get out in the garden now.

Mark Cullen
Mark Cullen
Ben Cullen
Ben Cullen

Mark and Ben Cullen, professional gardeners, are broadcasters, writers, and public speakers.

Check out their latest podcast.


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Why a builder's online decor centre is key to your success

Why a builder’s online decor centre is key to your success

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Why a builder’s online decor centre is key to your success

The unique challenges we all have faced over the last year due to COVID-19 have made us seriously reconsider our own in-person shopping habits. More than 30 per cent of all retail sales in the last year were online. This is a tremendous increase that shows no signs of slowing down. There is no doubt that online shopping is here to stay. We have grown accustom to researching, investigating and making decisions in the privacy and comfort of our own homes.

While many homebuilders have successfully started to use resources and tools like renderings, visualizers and interactive tours to engage home shoppers before closing on a new home, they continue to be reliant on old school, in-person practices to help homebuyers choose finishes post-purchase.

Easing the process

Historically, the decor process has been known to be the most painful part of the homebuying process and creates fear in even the strongest of builder’s hearts. Specifying the various upgrade options, pricing, product library, samples and documentation needed for a successful decor appointment can be a tremendous job. The buyer primarily reviews their options at their multiple four- to six-hour in person decor appointments. It’s easy to see that the current method for decor selections can be very overwhelming.

New technology in the design space makes the process of selecting finishes simple, interactive, informative, easy to understand and use. Virtual kitchen and bathroom renders allow buyers to see what their new space will look like when they customize their selections in the comfort of their own home. By be able to view the information online, at any time from any location, not only gives the buyer confidence in their decisions, but also drastically cuts down on design centre appointments. Fewer appointments at the decor centre translates to saving the builder both time and money resulting in increases to the bottom line. With the additional benefit of the buyer engaging with your product for a longer period of time, it generally translates to them spending more on upgrades. A win-win solution.

Tangible process

While digital technology is helping to cut back on the use of the traditional design centre, it will still be important to have a physical and inspiring space for buyers to have the option to touch and feel their finishes and interact with a professional consultant. There is something tangible about this process that is incredibly difficult to replicate digitally. The online centre’s role helps to augment the overall experience to the buyer and create efficiencies for the builder.

Online decor centres are now easily accessible. There are various versions that are available with a solution that will fit your requirements and goals. You could be up and running in 30 days or less. If you would like to learn more about how My Design Studio can help you, please contact us at info@my-designstudio.com

About My Design Studio

Yasmine Goodwin is Principal at My Design Studio provides decor management services to builders requiring one stop solution for their decor program.

Whether online virtually or in-person at our 8,000-sq.-ft. centre, it develops solutions that work for home builders and owners.


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Fresh start with seven spring looks to love

7 spring looks to love

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7 spring looks to love

Soft earthy paint palette

COOL CURRENT 6199-42 by Sico. sico.ca

TRANSCEND (DLX1079-4),

BIG CYPRESS (DLX 1062-5),

MINTY AQUA (DLX1147-3) by Dulux. dulux.ca

Light wood accents

Monarch BED. $1,149. eq3.com

Redonda wood upholstered DINING CHAIR. $579. crateandbarrel.ca

Voxlov dining TABLE in light bamboo. $300. ikea.ca

Coloured sofas

DALU SOFA in hibiscus pink and oak. $1,149. article.com

Fany tufted 3SEATER SOFA in yellow. $499. structube.com

Morabo LOVESEAT in light green and wood. $600. ikea.ca

Natural elements

Rudy VASE. $30. eltemkt.com

Rattan PLANTER with wood stand. $35. homesense.ca

Turquoise druzy KNOB. $20. cb2.ca

The hand-crafted look

Linen throw PILLOW. $59. zarahome.ca

Pink seagrass BASKET. $35. homesense.ca

Stoneware SERVING BOWL. $15. hm.com

Delicate floral print

Mini floral DUVET COVER. $99-$139. zarahome.ca

Statement rugs

Patterned COTTON RUG. $35. hm.com

Colca WOOL RUG. $300-$1,800. westelm.ca

OMA RUG. $500. article.com


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Back-in-black_fi

Dark and dramatic kitchen appliances

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Dark and dramatic kitchen appliances

Back-in-black_1

We are swooning over Bosch’s line of black stainless-steel kitchen appliances. Not only does the contemporary finish guard against scratches and fingerprints, but it also looks sleek and modern when paired with a neutral-coloured kitchen. The French Door refrigeration line boasts an all-new FarmFresh System that keeps your food fresher for longer, a Home Connect app that helps you monitor and control your fridge via a smartphone or tablet, LED lights that guarantee glare-free illumination while using less electricity and more. Bosch’s industrial-style ranges (800 series) include features such as more flame control for precise simmering and melting, easy to clean black enameled cooking surface that is scratch and stain resistant, high-efficiency burners and more. The collection is sure to bring a dramatic effect and modern innovation to your cooking space.

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Ikea art event 2021

Ikea art event 2021

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Ikea art event 2021

Since 2015 Ikea has been collaborating with contemporary artists and designers worldwide to bring art to the masses at affordable prices. This year Ikea has teamed up with five artists who explore the line between art and functional design. The artists this year include Daniel Arsham, Gelchop, Humans since 1982, Sabine Marcelis and Stefan Marx. These visionaries have taken recognizable objects and added their unique artistic spin, shifting our view of what a simple clock or lamp, torch or throw, vase or picture can be. Each of these pieces has a vision of its own, elevating the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The collection is available in store and online starting May 1, 2021. For more information visit ikea.ca.


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Cool and colourful

Cool and colourful cooking space

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Cool and colourful cooking space

Photography by Heather Dunbar Photography

Designing a modern kitchen for this busy family was truly a joy. But, with every project, there are also design hurdles to overcome. Since the main floor flowed from the kitchen into the living and dining rooms, achieving the right flow was key. I never view a challenge as a pain point, but rather an opportunity to create something truly unique and reflective of our homeowner’s combined tastes.

The starting point came when the homeowners agreed to have their upper cabinets painted in a vibrant hue, Benjamin Moore’s Fair Isle Blue. From there, it was just a balancing act of transitioning one design element to the next. I chose darker walnut-stained lowers cabinets that would stand up to the vibrant upper cabinets. A subtle off-white and veined backsplash and countertop paid homage to the white colour applied to the walls. Playing off the bold upper cabinets, we added richness and playfulness by incorporating warm and confident brasses and golds within the lighting choices.

A key component in pulling the room together was finding moments where I could add a natural fluidity. This was especially effective with the pendant lights and their subtle ombre fade from brass, silver to clear. Having a strong metallic accent with this finish added depth and softness to the room’s overall palette, balancing polish with organic elements. This principle of harmonious dichotomies is one of my design philosophies.

The open concept dining room directly adjacent to the kitchen required flexibility between both formal and casual settings, with three rambunctious girls in the household. Starting with a matching bold and brass light fixture, I added a beautiful English brown-stained white oak dining table with clean and natural lines. Mixing the table with mid-century modern inspired leather dining chairs hit the perfect amount of tempered luxury. Adding a matching bench on the opposite side of the table allowed us to emphasize the space without creating a break in the flow.

Lastly, adding an oversized area rug underneath the dining area helped define the space while also echoing the kitchen cabinets’ familiar blue and teal accents.

From the project’s inception, we knew the kitchen would be the home’s natural focal point with its confident hues and bold accent metals. By choosing slightly lower height furniture pieces throughout the space, this seamlessly leads the eye back towards the kitchen from every vantage point of the floor.

Before you fully commit to making significant changes to your kitchen (whether it be bold and dynamic or subtle and modest), make sure to explore the depths of your own palette and understand its flavours. Because ultimately, with design being so subjective, there isn’t a right or wrong. It’s just a question of personal taste and, of course, balance.

Sources

Countertop + Backsplash by Baystone Quartz

Hardware by Richelieu Hardware

Faucets from Delta Trinsic

Barn Door from Urban Woodcraft

Upper Cabinet in Fair Isle Blue (CSP-715), walls in Silver Satin (OC-26), trim in Chantilly Lace (OC-65) by Benjamin Moore

Kitchen Pendant lights and dining room pendant lights from West Elm

Dining Table from Pottery Barn

Dining Chairs, Bench and living room sofa by from Crate & Barrel

Carpet by Brayden Studio

Counter Stools by George Oliver

Floor Lamp by Williston Forge

Designer Louis Duncan-He is Creative Director and Principal of Louis Duncan-He Designs. This Calgary- and Montreal-based boutique design firm offers complete residential design services throughout Canada. With a distinct timeless perspective, it creates unified authentic designs. @louis.dhe


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NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

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NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

The National Kitchen and Bath Association of Ontario and The Pinball Clemons Foundation are looking to make a difference to marginalized youth. The kitchen and bath industry faces a shortage of trades, so it is looking for volunteers in hopes of helping marginalized youth get off the streets. Thousands of kitchen and bath industry jobs go unfilled each month, yet many marginalized youths aren’t even aware that these lucrative and fulfilling career opportunities exist. That’s where the National Kitchen and Bath Association of Ontario and The Pinball Clemons Foundation come in. “Let’s build bridges, not walls,” says Michael Pinball Clemons, Founder of The Pinball Clemons Foundation.

Michael Pinball Clemons
Michael Pinball Clemons

NKBA Ontario is the first kitchen and bath association to embark on this very important endeavor to change marginalized youth’s lives – getting them from margins to mainstream.

About NKBA Ontario Chapter

The National Kitchen & Bath Association Ontario/Canada Chapter is a non-profit association that was established in 1977 to promotes professionalism in the kitchen and bath industry. It is our vision that everyone enjoys safe, beautiful and functional kitchen and bath spaces, to help make this happen we offer a creation of marketplaces, networks, affiliations and certifications courses that raise the level of professionalism by inspiring, leading and empowering each member in our community.

About The Pinball Clemons Foundation

The Pinball Clemons Foundation’s vision is to bring youth from the margins to the mainstream, through the power of education. It provides marginalized youth with educational resources and options to integrate into the mainstream of society. With the implementation of a customized mentorship program and financial support, we are removing the barriers that often hinder success. The ultimate goal is not a diploma or degree – we want to see youth successfully enter the workforce, sustainably employed in careers they desire.

If you are interested in joining the committee and/or mentoring, please contact Lucy Traetto at lucy.traetto@blum.com


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Create big impact in a small space

How to create big impact in a small space

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How to create big impact in a small space

Small space living has been a growing trend for quite some time with soaring real estate prices and people trading in size for location. Existing in forms such as tiny houses, micro apartments and simply smaller-scaled homes, finding ways to best design and maximize our space is all that more important. The idea of working with a small square footage is often daunting as it’s difficult to find the sweet spot between both form and function. And, in these challenging times, we rely on our homes more than ever to house our possessions, keep us sane and balance our emotional ethos.

Custom solutions

One of the most powerful ways to maximize a small space is by going custom. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, custom solutions (like millwork and drapery) are tailored to fit any space. With storage often being a challenge, incorporating floor-to-ceiling millwork uses a smaller footprint compared to freestanding pieces that can just add weight and take up room. In addition, custom millwork can be designed in any style to add depth and detail along with hiding clutter. Homes with children benefit especially from hidden shelving. Custom drapery is another way to elevate and add volume. By hanging drapery high at about one to two in. below the ceiling, it creates the illusion of heightened ceilings, lengthening the room and drawing the eye upwards. In a small space, custom is worth the investment.

Scale and proportion are critical components in small space design. When furniture and decor shopping, our brains often equate smaller items with smaller spaces… but this isn’t always the best solution. The more “things” that exist in a space the more cluttered it can look. Instead of opting for multiple arm chairs and an apartment sofa, sometimes a larger custom sectional is the better choice as it can create the illusion of a larger footprint. A common design mistake we encounter at Louis Duncan-He Designs is seeing clients with area rugs that are too small. Even in a large room, having a rug in the wrong scale tells us to “live” within that limited footprint as it dictates the overall usable space. The same line of “go big” thinking can also be applied to color. Don’t be afraid to scale up! Painting or wallpapering an entire room instead of a single wall helps define the space instead of splitting up an already modest room into even smaller sections. Going bigger in scale can lead to more confident and impactful designs.

Multi-functional and creative

Multi-functional is the name of the game when working in a limited area. An ottoman can extend seating, serve as a coffee table and create a focal point with the simple addition of a tray. Multi-functional furniture offers flexible performance and has since evolved to include transformative pieces which can quadruple your capacity within the same footprint. Companies have already done the heavy-lifting to create innovative pieces so make sure you’re taking full advantage of what’s available today. After all, one of the biggest goals for compact living is to find creative ways in maximizing space.

I repeat, a small space does not have to be an obstacle for good design. Larger spaces may allow for more room, but can also equate to more spaces to design. This can be daunting, labour intensive and expensive to perfect. Instead of thinking of it as a hindrance, see a small space as an opportunity to explore your imagination. Set guidelines can force us to think more clearly and beyond our creative comfort zones. With the aid of a creative compass, an artist can often create more impactful work when provided with the right parameters. And just like an artist, sometimes working small can lead to the biggest rewards.

Designer Louis Duncan-He is Creative Director and Principal of Louis Duncan-He Designs. This Calgary and Montreal boutique design firm offers complete residential design services throughout Canada. With a distinct timeless perspective, the company creates unified authentic designs.


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Appetizer recipes

Appetizer recipes

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Appetizer recipes

Just in time for the entertaining season, Canada’s baking superstar Anna Olson shares two great appetizer recipes from her latest book Baking Day with Anna Olson, Recipes to Bake Together.

Roasted carrot dip

* Simple *

The natural sweetness of carrots really comes through in this dip, and while the chickpeas give this dip some structure (and protein), they don’t overwhelm the carrot taste, so you won’t mistake this dip as hummus. I love roasting parsnips and carrots together in the fall; why not try a variation of this dip made with half carrots and half parsnips?

• serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups/500 ml) • prep time: 15 minutes • cook time: 45 minutes

1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/750 ml)

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme salt and ground black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas (or tinned, well drained and rinsed)

¼ cup (64 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

Dress up this colourful dip by adding a dollop or a swirl of plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds or pomegranate seeds – or all of these things!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Roast the carrots, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool before making the dip.
  3. Puree the carrots in a food processor along with the now-roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and coriander until smooth, adding a little water if needed (up to half-cup/125 mL) to make it smooth. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. The dip will keep for up to 4 days, refrigerated.

********

Hummus crackers

** More Involved **

I love crackers. A strange admission, yes, but I would choose crackers over potato chips in a heartbeat (but don’t ask me to give up popcorn). These crispy crackers are a delicious savoury snack all on their own or as an addition to a cheese platter, and served with a roasted carrot dip (page 110) it’s as if you’ve reversed the traditional carrot sticks and hummus.

• Makes about 5 dozen crackers • prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling • cook time: 8 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) water

3 tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed

1.5 cups (180 g) chickpea flour

3 tbsp (27 g) sesame seeds

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

¾ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp fine salt

1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried granulated garlic)

1 tbsp (30 ml) extravirgin olive oil

2 tbsp (32 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the water and ground flaxseed together and set aside. Place the chickpea flour, sesame seeds, lemon zest, cumin, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the flaxseed water, oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until the dough comes together. If the dough feels sticky, wrap and chill for 10 minutes (to let the chickpea flour absorb some of the liquid) otherwise turn the dough out onto a rolling surface.
  3. Roll out the cracker dough to under quarter in. (6 mm) thick, dusting it and the work surface with chickpea flour as needed to prevent sticking. Use a 2-in. (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Arrange them on the baking trays so they are close together but not touching. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all of the dough has been used. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Cool the crackers on the trays on cooling racks. The crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

These crackers are a perfect balance: substantial enough to hold up under a good scoop of dip but also delicate enough note to be enjoyed on their own.

Baking Day with Anna Olson

$28, indigo.ca

Visit annaolson.ca


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