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Five ways to spruce up your cottage on a budget

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Five ways to spruce up your cottage on a budget

As your cottage is likely your second home, you may be reticent to invest the time and money required for a full interior renovation, complete with brand new furniture. Instead, you may consider revamping your cottage space with some new accent pieces and DIY projects. Even the smallest updates can have a dramatic effect on the look and feel of your city-escape, breathing new life into it as you sip your Niagara wine and lounge on your Muskoka chairs.

There are plenty of foolproof and inexpensive ways to instantly refresh your space (cottage or otherwise) that you can start implementing today. Here are five budget-friendly tips and tricks to get you started.

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Vintage vibes

Whether you bought your own cottage, inherited it from family, or renting with friends, it’s likely that the space came with much of its own furniture. While this certainly makes furnishing your home-away-from-home easier, the furniture may not be to your taste. In the spirit of recycling and saving money, you can opt to re-finish some classic, staple pieces such as an old dining table or re-upholster an old sofa. If, however, you’re keen on keeping the vintage vibe, but with new furniture, you can easily purchase home décor pieces made in a similar antique style. While there’s always the option of purchasing these pieces second-hand from charity shops or lawn sales, there are many new pieces on the market made to simulate the past. When shopping for these pieces, look out for antique, rustic and vintage styles that complement your current decor.

With your new array of vintage (or vintage-inspired) pieces, you can decoratively arrange them upon an accent table or cabinet. These pieces can be new purchases, or even simple everyday objects, such as: a collection of pitchers or carafes, glass jars or vases, some candles or candle holders, even a collection of mirrors and photo frames arranged in a gallery-style wall will do the trick.

Under cover

Slipcovers have received a bad rep over the years, but rest assured that these new options aren’t your grandmother’s slipcovers! These handy fabric options have come a long way in fabric and design, and are a great (and inexpensive) way to refresh old sofas, armchairs or dining chairs. There are many options when it comes to slipcovers: you can choose to purchase a new piece complete with its own slipcover; purchase a stand-alone slipcover; or have one custom-made for a piece you already own. They’re washable and durable, and because of this, practical even in light, neutral colours. In fact, light-coloured slipcovers work well if you want to achieve a laid-back, beachy vibe for your space. You may even choose to purchase a few different kinds with different colours or patterns to transition your furniture seasonally, or change up your style every summer.

Slipcovers can also easily be used on outdoor furniture, providing comfortable seating for large parties or solo lounging. Their low maintenance makes them especially suitable for outdoor furniture, as they can easily be thrown in the wash and are durable against the elements.

In addition to slipcovers, accent pillows, throw blankets, decorative rugs and tablecloths are other inexpensive textiles you can purchase (or make yourself) to instantly refresh your space, both indoors and outdoors.

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Flower power

Flowers and other greenery are great and budget-friendly ways to instantly add style to your indoor space. They also work to bring outdoor elements inside to give your cottage a cozier, more natural feel. You can opt to use flowers and greenery purchased at your local florist, or simply use those picked on your morning walk. Rather than using a traditional vase, opt for a glass jar or other decorative vessel.

In addition to flowers, other natural elements such as: sea shells, foliage, wood and sand can also be incorporated indoors to impart a rustic, relaxed vibe. In the spirit of bringing the outdoors in, you may also decide to incorporate patio furniture, wicker and outdoor lighting into your interiors.

Simplicity is key

Regardless of the theme or aesthetic you’re going for, ensuring to keep the design simple is key to creating a relaxing oasis away from the city. Making use of accent pieces, such as cushions, colours and textures are great ways to evoke a theme or style without being over-the-top. Mismatched pieces, such as chairs, bunk beds, plates, tables or glasses are all part of the charm of a rustic cottage and allow you to re-purpose pieces you may already have. If, however, you decide to buy new furniture, be mindful of choosing neutral tones, clean lines and all-purpose material, especially for your outdoor space.

Double duty

Whether you’re purchasing a new piece of furniture or repurposing an old one, ensuring that it can serve a double purpose is key. Furniture that serves more than one function is a worthwhile investment, especially in small quarters. For example, ottomans that serve as seating and storage are great living room and outdoor patio options. Sofas and pull-out couches are great for lounging and accommodating overnight guests. Tables can serve as decorative benches, coffee tables and even dining tables, if table height can be adjusted. Daybeds are great for turning a room into a spare bedroom, or double as an extra room for lounging, or as a studio or library.

Many of your re-purposed accents can also be used as clever storage spaces: wicker or wire baskets can be placed underneath a desk or table. Old pieces of wood can be installed as shelves, and old cabinets can be sanded, refinished and used as storage devices throughout your space.

Re-decorating your cottage doesn’t have to become an expensive undertaking. There are a number of small, yet worthwhile, investments you can make that will instantly inject new life and style into your space. See a wide selection of affordable furniture and accent pieces, perfect for your cottage.

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Red Barrinuevo on maximizing function in a small space

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Red Barrinuevo on maximizing function in a small space

From selecting the proper furniture size to using a proper layout Red discusses how to maximize function in a small living space.

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How to Determine Your Furniture Style

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How to Determine Your Furniture Style

When it comes to picking furniture for your space, you need to have a basic idea of what your style is. After all, if you don’t know what style you want to go with, you could find that your home will be a mix of different styles, and this could make it clunky or unattractive. While some people know exactly what type of furniture style they have, others need some serious help. If you fall into the latter category, then use these tips to help you determine your furniture style before making your next purchase.

Visit a furniture store

One of the best ways to determine your furniture style is to visit a furniture store. These stores are packed with different styles and you can spend some time perusing the furniture options to determine which one you like more than others. According to a furniture store in the New York City area, “It’s not uncommon for customers to visit a store multiple times before making their final decision. Taking a walk around a local furniture store will help customers find the style that suits their needs and comfort levels.”

Explore different websites

There are plenty of websites out there today dedicated to home furnishing, home style, finding furniture on a budget, and general look and feel. Take some time to explore all these websites and see if there’s a certain furniture style that you like more than others. Be sure to save pictures of the items you really like or bookmark the websites that feature the look you like most. Doing this before you visit a local furniture store can help you have a better idea of what you want to specifically look for.

Take notes while you’re out

Have you ever been at a friend or relatives house and really liked a piece of furniture? If so, talk to them about where they got it or take note of what type of style it is. This will help you hone in on what your specific taste may be, and it can help you find the items that best match this specific style. Plus, you may just find out where exactly they got the piece from, so you can easily snag that piece for yourself.

Think about what you like

In addition to all the tips above, you should also think about what you like in general. For instance, do you like a farmhouse style, or do you prefer something a little more contemporary? Knowing what you like will help you determine what furniture style you like the most. Once you have this figured out, you can hone in more on that style to determine which pieces actually make sense for your space and your style.

Think about the layout

The layout of your room will play a role in the style of the furniture, so be sure to keep this in mind. For instance, if you have a smaller space, you may want to stray away from furniture that is very large and cumbersome. Instead, you’ll want to pick a skinnier style that helps to accentuate the space and give you more room to enjoy.

Choose based on the rest of the home

Your home should follow an overall style, so be sure that you think of your style based on the other areas of the home too. For instance, if you have a farmhouse style in all the areas of your home, you should keep that style in the other room you need to furnish. If you have too many different styles happening throughout your home, it will make it feel clunky and disorganized. By following the same style throughout your home, you’ll create a more consistent look and make it easier to choose an overall style.

Let your goals be the guide

If you’re still struggling to determine your style, you should let your goals be the guide. Think about places you want to visit or things you want to do, and then let that be the inspiration needed to determine your overall furniture style. For instance, if you enjoy traveling to the south, then choosing southern-style furniture could be the best choice.

Choosing furniture can be stressful, but finding your style doesn’t need to be. If you’re trying to figure out what type of style matches you, then use these tips to help you narrow down exactly what makes sense. Once you have a basic understanding of what you like, you’ll find that your furniture style falls into place.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Urban Mode Introduces DellaRobbia

Urban Mode Introduces DellaRobbia

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Urban Mode Introduces DellaRobbia

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The Chesterfield Shop celebrates its 70th anniversary

The Chesterfield Shop celebrates its 70th anniversary

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The Chesterfield Shop celebrates its 70th anniversary

An iconic source of leather and fabric seating and furnishings since 1948.

The Chesterfield Shop is a second-generation family-owned company with five stores in the GTA. It is a specialist in seating with an unbeatable selection in all categories, including sofas, sofa beds, sectionals, power recliners and recliner furniture, home theatre seating, ottomans, its own City-Size seating, and chairs of all kinds, including lift, swivel and gliders of all shapes and sizes. It also has a large selection of unique contemporary accent pieces, tables, area rugs and lamps.

The Chesterfield Shop is always on top of the best and latest trends, shopping the markets of North Carolina, Las Vegas and Milan to bring the consumer the style, comfort, quality and the terrific values that it is known for.

The Chesterfield Shop makes it easy for consumers to create a beautiful home. Customers benefit from a great selection and the opportunity to decorate their homes to their specific needs with fashion-forward merchandise. At The Chesterfield Shop, customers have the ability to customize with a huge selection of leathers and fabrics and seating is available in various sizes and configurations to fit any decor.

It specializes in small-space solutions with its City-size Seating category, including a large inventory of sofa beds, available with various mattresses and upgraded mechanism options, and there is seating that can be disassembled and reassembled for hard-to-fit areas in the home.

The Chesterfield Shop also has a huge in-stock program with the Leathers-To-Go Express/Next (or Same) Day Delivery. The complimentary “check-measure” program ensures your item will fit and complement your space.

This year, in honour of The Chesterfield’s Shop 70th Anniversary, it will be celebrating with events, contests and promotions throughout the year. The Chesterfield Shop is also proud supporters of local charities, including an ongoing affiliation with The Furniture Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Pancreatic Cancer Canada and The Tracey Rubinoff Paediatric Diabetes Clinic at the Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Honesty, integrity, professional staff, commitment to quality and superb customer service are key ingredients in the success and longevity of the company. These are only a few of the reasons multiple generations and new customers recommend The Chesterfield Shop as the only place to go for contemporary seating and accessories.

There are five great locations including Dufferin Street in North York, Yonge Street south of Eglinton in Midtown Toronto, Dundas Street East in Mississauga, Kennedy Road in Scarborough and in Newmarket on North Yonge, just south of Green Lane.

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Furniture Bank celebrates 20 years of service

Furniture Bank celebrates 20 years of service

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Furniture Bank celebrates 20 years of service

Organization provides housewares to people transitioning out of homelessness, or escaping abuse as well as refugees and newcomers.

Whether you are renting a room, living in an apartment or a house, your home is your castle. But due to unfortunate circumstances, many individuals and families have a hard time being able to afford furniture and everyday necessities.

Founded in 1998, the Furniture Bank provides gently used furniture and household goods to people who have recently transitioned out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, refugees and newcomers to Canada.

This year, mark Furniture Bank’s 20th year of community service,” notes Dan Kershaw, executive director. “Over the years, we have built up partnerships with a growing list of social service agencies and shelters who play a critical role in ensuring anyone in need of a fresh start is invited to our showroom and given the dignity of choosing the items of furniture they would like to have in their homes. The Furniture Bank movement is one of empowerment.”

Founded in 1998, Sister Anne Schenck was inspired by her visits to many clients who did not have adequate furniture and necessities, which led to the development of the Furniture Bank, an organization that facilitates the transfer of furniture and necessities from individuals disposing of items to homes in need of them.

“I was asked by Catholic Immigration Services to visit one of their clients because they had no furniture,” said Schenck. “When I arrived, I found a home furnished with a milk crate used as a table, and a pot which the dinner was cooked and served in. The residents ate and slept on the floor. On my way home I came upon a sofa that had been left out on the curb for disposal. This led to the creation of Furniture Bank.

With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.

From its humble beginnings, the Furniture Bank served over 10,400 individuals in 2017, over 3,800 of which were children, by way of donation of over 1,500 tonnes of furniture and housewares, much of which would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

For a pickup fee that helps to cover costs, Furniture Bank comes to your home and removes furniture and other items that you no longer need. Donated items are provided to people most in need who are referred by over 80 social service agencies in Toronto to turn an empty space into a true home.

For additional information about Furniture Bank, to donate, volunteer, visit furniturebank.org or call 416.934.1229.


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Cover Story: MORE is MORE

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Cover Story: MORE is MORE

Personality, not square footage, drives this design

By Vicky Sanderson • Photography By Asa Weinstein

Asked if executing maximalist design in small spaces is particularly challenging, Meredith Heron shrugs.

Two stools are tucked under the table (made by Heron’s mother) in the foyer also serve as extra seating at the dining table.

All it really takes, explains the Toronto-based designer, is extremely close attention to the scale, depth, and height of furniture, an appreciation of architectural constraints, an ability to weave pattern and texture through window treatments, seating, and rugs in a layered tonal palette, and the deft blending of art and accessories into an interesting, personally meaningful, and handsome mix.

Simple, right?

Heron’s own economically-sized Victorian home in downtown Toronto, less than 1,000 square feet and with a living/ dining area just nine feet wide and 21 feet long, accomplishes all that effortlessly, proving that small spaces are not necessarily best served by unrelenting understatement.

BIG ON CHARACTER

“Of course, there are personality types that thrive in a minimalist environment. Those are not my people,” says Heron, who shares the home with life/work partner, Asa Weinstein, and their son Luke, eight.

“I could not put three things in a room—of any size—and call it done. Besides, that’s not how people live. Where do guys put their pocket change and keys? A maximalist style makes it easier to disguise clutter, which is always going to happen.”

RETURN TO THE CLASSICS

Heron, who bought the house with Weinstein 14 years ago, explains that a clumsy 1970s renovation had, among other things, hidden original mouldings under a drywall ceiling that gobbled up about 12 inches of the room’s 11-foot height.

Dining chairs are covered in fabric designed by Meredith Heron through JF Fabrics

The water-damaged original moulding underneath was completely replaced, except for the original medallion in the foyer. “We liked that it looked old, and wanted to keep that charm and speak to the antiquity of the house.” Vinyl floors were replaced with in herringbone oak.

COLOUR SCHEME

The colour conversation for this space starts with walls washed in Benjamin Moore’s Full Moon 2119-70

The colour conversation for this space starts with walls washed in Benjamin Moore’s Full Moon. Technically an off white, it has enough pigment that it’s “heading toward pale blue or iris,” and is well-suited to silver, purple, and periwinkle tones, says Heron.

A Thomas O’Brien chair from Century Furniture in soft-blue leather provides extra seating.

Hints of purple and cornflower blue turn up in the sofa, custom-made by Gresham House to ensure that it did not exceed 33 inches front to back (standard is 36 inches).

“We worked really hard to minimize the guts of the back to allow for the maximum seat depth,” says Heron. “That’s one of the benefits of working with people who can customize within a framework—it doesn’t really have to add to the cost.”

Decorative boxes hide everything from toothpicks to candles and lighters on a glass coffee table that allows the eye to follow the pattern without interruption.

PATTERN-FRIENDLY PLAYGROUND

The piece is covered in a Bargello (flame) stitch in a family-friendly Crypton fabric that Heron thinks is assertive but not aggressive.

“People think they should not put a busy pattern on a sofa, so they put a tiny Herringbone or fretwork woven fabric. But the patterns are often way too small and they just make the piece seem dinkier and too traditional.”

Plaster mouldings are a more ornate design than would have been seen more frequently in Victorian homes in New York rather than sedate Toronto.

Patterns on pillows for the sofa both play with scale and connect with other elements in the room. Tones of the embroidery on a pillow with a modern Greek-key design echo the sofa, for example, while the grey on the back of the Robert Allen burnt-velvet leopard print, which Heron uses “all the time, in every project,” is a colour cousin to the draperies.

“All those tone together, so that it’s all quite complementary. That kind of sliding scale makes your eye move across the room, and makes it seem bigger,” she says.

A sofa tucks neatly into the space, while a pair of vintage Vladimir Kagan chairs “soften” an angular bay window.

Pattern, says Heron, can be “your best friend” in a small space, if kept within a consistent colour palette. Here, the living room rug is a bold trellis in an anchoring blue of Heron’s own design, which she favoured in part because “when you put a grid down on the floor, your eye follows the pattern and it spreads out and (space) seems bigger.”

SPECIAL MEMENTOS

There are lots of personal touches, including piles of books, and a crowd of photographs of family and friends on an entranceway table. Art includes a print of a photograph taken of a very young Luke on a beach, the sunny blue of his gingham shirt mirroring lampshades that sit opposite.

BUILT-IN CUSTOM STORAGE

Storage that is “really well thought-out” will be key in a small space, says Heron, who designed a shallow buffet/bar console to provide a crucial 12 inches of storage. Made from printed acrylic sheeting from fabricator Lumigraf on a plywood-box construction, it was built by a “brilliant” cabinetmaker who was bedevilled—but not defeated—by the intricate bevelling she requested.

MORE THAN JUST A LIGHT FIXTURE

Heron, who says good lighting is always a worthwhile splurge, prefers “over scale, dramatic lighting” in small spaces, especially those with higher ceilings. In the dining area, Heron likes that a large, spikey bronze fixture “feels like sculpture rather than sparkle.”

“A lot of people think that removing personality makes a space feel bigger and brighter and more open. But no matter what size your house is, it needs to reflect you. If it doesn’t, you are lying to yourself. And to everyone else, that is not who you are.”

SOURCES Most items were sourced through Meredith Heron Design LIVING ROOM: RUG: Ellwood through Meredith Heron Design, Thomas O’Brien CHAIR: Century Furniture CHANDELIER: Arteriors through Meredith Heron DINING ROOM: Dining CHAIRS FABRIC PATTERN designed by Meredith Heron through JF Fabrics LIGHTING FIXTURES: Kelly Wearstler through Meredith Heron FOYER: Hide RUG from Meredith Heron Collection

Designer and television host Meredith Heron characterizes her work as an extensive conversation with colour, form, pattern and texture. meredithheron.com

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Innovative Home Ideas

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Innovative Home Ideas

In my line of work, I am often come across innovative home products, and new designer colours and trends long before they hit the consumer market. It’s part of what I love about my job!

Take a look at a few cool things I’ll certainly be including in my fall client projects.

My clients often depend on me to come up with ideas that work for them, their families, and how they live in their homes. You may have noticed, I simply love electric fireplaces, and have been using them a lot more lately. The main reasons I love them, and include them, are that the price of gas units are so high, some units in my clients’ homes were inefficient, and in some homes gas was simply not an issue. I’ve installed a unit in a master bedroom to give a warm cozy ambiance, I’ve used them in living rooms to give a bit more heat, and have even included them in bathrooms! The newest option, and a really cool one, I recently saw at the Canadian Furniture Show was a unit by Dimplex where you can take the fire box out in summer months and use the unit as a media console, and then in the winter months you add the fire box back in. How brilliant is that?

Another great idea for client’s with electric heating, or who have vacation properties is the new CONNEX Smart Thermostat by Dimplex. They have introduced a new precision electronic thermostat, the CONNEX Smart Thermostat, which can be connected to any existing baseboard or fan-forced heaters. Simply put, this allows old and new electric heating units to now be controlled from anywhere in the world when used in conjunction with their WIFI CONNEX Controller, so arriving to a cold building is now a thing of the past.

I love to educate clients about products I use in my own space, ones they may not know about themselves, but which make a huge impact. This past year I discovered the joys of soft-close hardware. All my clients want to see the pretty outside drawer pulls and cabinet handles, and they often forget about the function of the piece. GRASS drawer slide and hinge systems are perfectly engineered to enable all design ideas while maintaining the highest performance. You could literally have a drawer faced with solid marble and GRASS soft close hardware could hold it.

A few other innovative products I have come across lately are kitchen innovations by luxury appliance brand Monogram. They have an amazing Pizza Oven that brings a luxurious oven to homeowners. Already available in the states, this product will be launching in Canada later this year. This oven is proven to replicate the exact conditions of some of the best pizzeria ovens in the world. Now this is something I’d love to test out first hand!

When an appliance can make my life easier, it always goes to the top of my must recommend list. The KitchenAid Professional Blender is the most powerful blender on the market. This means I only need ONE for all my requirements. It can power through kale laden smoothies, it can juice the heartiest vegetables and make the smoothest soups and dips. It is a gorgeous countertop appliance well worth the investment.

And last but not least I’ll tout my own Jo Alcorn pillow line. I wanted to create a line that was stylish and trendy but was also innovative and practical. I created the pillow in great colours and patterns to match all décor types but I also thought about the functionality. They are fully washable, have dust-mite control, are hypoallergenic, Canadian made and animal cruelty free. All things that are so important to me.

Jo Alcorn – Design Specialist, B.A. whitewash & co

www.whitewashco.ca

@Jo_Alcorn

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Architecture Expert: Inspired To Work

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Architecture Expert: Inspired To Work

Create a home office that works for you.

More and more people are working from home. Whether full time or part time, this requires a space where you can amp-up your productivity. Before embarking on creating your home office, there are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What type of work will you be doing in the space?
  • Will external clients be visiting?
  • Will colleagues visit for collaborative work?
  • What equipment must be accommodated? Computers, printers, etc.
  • Will you need complete privacy?
  • Will you be using the speakerphone or video conferencing?
  • What type of phone and Internet connectivity is required?
  • How much space do you have to work with?
  • What type of lighting does the space offer and can it be improved?
  • What type of storage is required?
  • What type and how much work surface is required?
  • What type of ergonomics should be considered for your chair, keyboard and work surface?
  • Have you experienced repetitive strain injuries in the past?
  • What is the maximum amount of money you want to spend?

RESEARCH RENDERS RESULTS

Once you gather this information, you can begin to make decisions about the type of home office that will suit your needs, and the requirements that you must accommodate. When dreaming of an overall design concept, think about what inspires you. Perhaps consider a favourite colour or phrase that you can incorporate into the design. How will your space reflect the type of work that you do? If you perform intense head-down work, how can you create a space that offers a respite throughout the day? Should your office offer a serene and restful environment or would you benefit from a space that energizes you?

FURNITURE OPTIONS

Planning an office takes time to evaluate your work patterns before you make purchases or big decisions. Once you determine what is required and how you might design your space, there are many options for furniture and storage. From budget-conscious IKEA to big-box furniture depots to higher-end office furniture from companies like Knoll and Herman Miller, you should invest in the best furniture that you can afford. Offices tend to take a lot of use and abuse, so you want to make sure that storage cabinets are high quality and shelves are mounted securely. Your office chair is one of the most important pieces of furniture you can own. Spending five to eight hours in a chair every day has a lasting impact on your body. It is important that you choose a chair that is highly adjustable for your height, back and arms. A new trend on the market today is height adjustable work surfaces. As a response to newer studies that show sitting in an office chair for extended periods of time takes years off your life, suppliers have created electric motorized work surfaces that can be adjusted throughout the day. Marketed as ‘sit/stand’ desks, most of the major office furniture suppliers now offer these.

LIGHT BRIGHT

Also important for the health of your body, is the type of lighting provided in the space. Simply converting a bedroom into an office without evaluating the lighting is a mistake. You must make sure that your work surface is illuminated properly, whether by ceiling lights or lamps that you add. Ensuring that your computer screen is glare-free also helps reduce eye strain.

WORK STYLE

Most importantly, your office space should be something that you look forward to spending time in—rather than dreading. It should be a space that accommodates your personality and style while offering an encouraging place to work. While some people thrive in a space that is somewhat chaotic, some people want a place for everything and everything in its place.

Personally, I dream of an office with fully enclosed cabinets and clean surfaces, but I can honestly say that I am more inspired by a space that contains some of my favourite gifts from clients, collectables and kids’ notes. The most important element of my personal workspace is a window that looks onto a tree because nature makes me happy. As well, opening the window to hear the birds sing makes me happy every day. These are small considerations, but important to my overall productivity. What makes you happy? Whatever you decide, make each day your masterpiece.

Samantha Sannella

PHOTOGRAPHY: SK DESIGN (TEXTURED WALL), JODY JOHNSON (VINTAGE STORAGE), CYNTHIA SODA, SODAPOP DESIGN (OVERALL OFFICE)

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Active Home: Choose Furniture That Fits Your Home

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Active Home: Choose Furniture That Fits Your Home

By Jane Lockhart

There’s more to selecting furniture than picking a style and a colour. When shopping for furnishings it’s very important that everything fits in relationship to the size of the space or room, and that it functions properly.

While considering scale may sound obvious, it doesn’t mean that you should choose ample, or puffy, furniture to fill a big space. In larger rooms, it’s advisable to break up the space with tailored furniture pieces that are positioned in conversational groupings. Intimate groups of furniture that are arranged together around a main seating area will not only fill the room, but make it feel visually comfortable.

Photography Gillian Jackson

LESS IS MORE

A large space also doesn’t mean that you have to have more furniture. For some it’s tempting to try to fill every corner, but it can make the room look cluttered and overwhelming. Instead, look at it from a pared-down perspective – it can make all the difference.

When downsizing, we’re forced to edit our belongings. It’s the perfect opportunity to get rid of furniture that isn’t suitable, and add new pieces that fit properly. Furniture that is too big for the space will make the room look smaller and constricted.

The shape of a piece of furniture can really help in tight situations. For instance, an attractive round table between 38 and 46 inches in diametre, can accommodate four people. This makes for cosy dining and great conversation, and also promotes a more straight-forward traffic flow than a rectangular table.

Photography Gillian Jackson

SIZE DOES MATTER

An average sofa is around seven feet in length (84 to 88 inches). Measure where you plan to put the sofa before you go shopping. For a seven-foot sofa you’ll want the wall behind it to be at least 11 feet long, allowing for two feet on either side of the sofa for end tables, if you choose to use them. We can be deceived by the appearance of space, especially when we walk into a large furniture showroom. A particular piece may look to be the right size in a different setting, so bring a tape measure to make sure that your purchase will fit in your space. As the old adage goes when building; measure twice, cut once. The same can be said when you’re buying furniture. It may look small in the store, so measure twice to make sure that it’s well suited to your space, and that it will fit through doors, hallways and openings when moving it in.

The size of the arms on a sofa or chair will also make a big difference in how a particular piece fits. A sofa with thinner arms can maximize the seating area. If space allows, consider a sofa with deeper cushions so that you can curl up on it. For a casual setting, choose a sofa with lower, boxier arms that are the same depth of the sofa. For a more formal appearance, choose one with raised arms that are the same height as the back of the sofa.

Photography by John Heinemann Photography

In a small guest room, rather than having a large bed that consumes the space, consider purchasing a chair-and-a-half as the focal point, and have a single bed tucked aside. With this type of approach, there may be room to add in a desk or sideboard.

There are so many options when it comes to bedside tables. Wider ones are like small chests with drawers for storage. The average size used to be 24-inches, but 36-inch nightstands are not uncommon, with wider ones available.

CREATE BALANCE

When it comes to light fixtures, consider them as a key piece of furniture to draw your attention to a particular area. Go dramatic with a statement fixture, and then augment the space with other types of lighting, like wall sconces and pot lights.

If you have a narrow front hall or entranceway, consider small cubes for temporary seating, and shop around for consoles that are less than 12 inches in depth.

Once you’ve chosen furniture that fits proportionately and complements the size of the room, you can then turn your attention to the fun part of decorating with colours and accessories.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., Founder & Principal Designer Jane Lockhart Interior Design. Jane is a multi-award winning designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, including six successful seasons as creative director and host of W Networks’ top ranked Colour Confidential, currently in reruns and airing on HGTV U.S. JaneLockhart.com

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