Tag Archives: Jennifer Backstein

Create the perfect shelfie

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Create the perfect shelfie


Shelf styling, otherwise known as “shelfies,” is a great opportunity to show yourself and your style. Whether you’re accessorizing a large custom built-in or a small, “big box” bookcase, here are some styling tips to achieve a thoughtful and curated look.

Aim for equilibrium

Balance is soothing and somehow satisfying. It’s “right.” We naturally tend toward equilibrium in our interiors, from our rooms and the furnishings in them, right down to our bookshelf accessories. Start by arranging larger pieces, such as books, photos and art, toward the back of the shelf. Then, layer in your smaller pieces in front. Furthermore, you’ll want the overall display to be balanced, as well. Evaluate the visual weight of the large items and the overall arrangements. Is the display too top-heavy, skewed to one side or evenly distributed?

May the odds be ever in your favour

Taking balance a step further, odd-numbered groupings of items are pleasing to the eye and the mind, allowing us to naturally create symmetry that people are naturally drawn to. Arrange your collections in groups of three or five on shelves, or on any surface for that matter – tabletop, desk or mantle.

These groupings create little “landscapes,” and when done correctly, they become landmarks in the room. The eye naturally gravitates to the largest item in the centre and takes in the details around it.

When it comes to the items you choose to display, I believe in the holy trinity of shelf styling: Books, art/ accessories and plants. These offer an effortless and intriguing mix of colour, texture and shape, which keeps the eye moving from one grouping to the next. Alternate your accessories to keep your shelves interesting. This can include seasonal additions, trendy new buys or a rotation of existing collections. Just remember: For every new item you bring in, take one out. You don’t have to display everything – rather, be selective. In the case of a bookcase, less really is more.


Can you actually see the items that you’ve carefully selected and thoughtfully arranged? Or are these treasures hidden in the shadows? If you’re designing a room from scratch or renovating a space, plan your shelves and display areas together with your lighting plan. A built-in bookcase with strategically placed, focused pot lights can instantly elevate your collections from mere accessories to artfully displayed treasures.

If you’re styling an existing bookshelf but want to enhance the light around it, consider adding sconces or overhead upper embedded shelf lighting (electrician recommended!) or, as a DIY option, small table lamps or light strings arranged on your shelves can do the trick.

Shelf styling is an art, and it takes time. Experiment with existing items, display pieces you love and think beyond the cubby, so to speak. The bookshelf is not just for books anymore.

Jennifer Backstein is the Creative Director and Principal Designer for Jennifer Backstein Interiors. The firm offers a diverse range of full-scale design services in the GTA and across Canada. jenniferbacksteininteriors.com


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Creating a front entranceway that is welcoming and inspiring

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Creating a front entranceway that is welcoming and inspiring

First impressions are everything. At first glance, what does your home’s entrance say about? Is it inviting, intriguing, inspiring? If it isn’t all of those things, it’s falling short of what it could and should be. As a designer, my goal is to bring the homeowner’s personality to life in their home – even the entranceway.

Historically, many homes were designed with a vestibule separate from the other living areas, serving as a waiting area for visitors, a place to store coats and boots and a way to reduce heat loss from inside the home. Over the years, the “front foyer” has evolved, and many modern homes are designed with an entranceway that opens into its living areas. Since you can see this area from the living areas, and vice versa, it requires an added level of design consideration.

Here are some ways to maximize the modern home entranceway when it comes to style and function.

Foreshadow your home’s aesthetic

What is the overall style of the space? Perhaps it’s classic, contemporary, eclectic or something else entirely. Whatever your preferred aesthetic, the entryway is a great place to echo similar elements to hint at what’s inside and ensure a cohesive look and feel throughout the house.

My Tip: Two must-haves for an entryway are a mirror and a spot to sit down. You’ll appreciate a seat when you’re lacing up your shoes, and incorporating a piece of furniture, even a small one, can make this space feel like part of the living area. The mirror is self explanatory, for one last look before you head out for your day. However, a mirror will also amplify the natural light in this space, giving your home a bright and spacious feel on entry.

Make a statement

Your entranceway is the first impression people will get of your home (and perhaps you), so make it count. Choose a statement piece that wows, such as a bold floor tile, a vibrant stained glass window, or a favourite piece of art. Remember, if it “speaks to you” in some way, it will appeal to guests as well. Just ensure your selections convey the right message. A professional designer can help if you’re challenged in this regard.

Incorporate function

Your home’s entranceway is where you and your family land when you come home – briefcases, backpacks, shopping bags, groceries, coats, boots, the dog and all. Without the proper functional elements, this can quickly become a disheveled dropzone that leaves you feeling cramped, flustered and looking for the exit. Outfit your entrance to accommodate your lifestyle and all the baggage that comes with it. A well organized closet with doors is ideal; however, consider adding shelves, hooks or other creative solutions to keep that mess under wraps.

Let there be light

Look up. What do you see? If you have a high ceiling or a two storey entrance, enhance its sense of grandeur with a great, large scale light fixture. Ensure the fixture is suspended at the right height, the scale is key. The rule of thumb is the fixture should have two to three inches for each foot of ceiling height. A 16ft. foyer can handle a fixture that is 32 to 48 in. When installing your fixture, consider the height at which it should hang. For extremely high ceilings, the general rule is to leave six ft. between the ceiling and the top of the fixture. For a foyer with low ceilings, opt for a ceiling mounted fixture versus a pendant or chandelier. Whatever you choose, make it fabulous.

Your entranceway is one of the most important rooms in your home. Don’t let it become an afterthought. If you’re designing your home from scratch or giving it a much needed update, bring this space to the forefront and let it shine!

Jennifer Backstein is Creative Director and Principal Designer for Jennifer Backstein Interiors, Toronto. The firm offers a diverse range of full scale design services in the GTA and across Canada. jenniferbacksteininteriors.com


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Suite dreams, create a cosy bedroom retreat

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Suite dreams, create a cosy bedroom retreat

Is your bedroom’s style a dream, or is it more like a nightmare? Ideally, our bedrooms should be cosy and soothing. In reality, life happens, and between the morning rush and the evening crash, there seems to be little time left to enjoy this space for what it really is – a place to retreat and cocoon. Here are some ways to instantly boost your bedroom’s cosy factor, and enhance your use of this most-versatile room.

My tip: When positioning your bed in the room, leave at least three ft. between the bed and the walls on either side, or large pieces of furniture. For low profile furnishings such as a table or dresser, leave a two ft. buffer.

Create vignettes

You use your bedroom for more than just sleeping, right? Aside from your usual bedroom finds – bed, night tables, a dresser, perhaps an armoire – consider furnishing your master bedroom to live up to all your needs. Create “zones” within the room with vignettes tailored to your preferences. This could be a dressing area, a reading corner or meditation space. Aside from being functional, adding vignettes in designs add visual interest and help showcase the owner’s personality.

Tactile moments

You’d be surprised at how important our sense of touch is to our overall experience of a space. Layer comfort into your master bedroom with touchable items – plenty of plush pillows, beautiful bedding and textural blankets, and a soft area rug underfoot. But don’t stop there. Your upholstered headboard, armchair and drapery are perfect areas to add in subtle warmth. Textured wallcoverings are unexpected and always a wonderful surprise, without being all-consuming. Create a bold feature wall in your bedroom using three dimensional panels, earthy grass cloth or alternately, a bold statement wallpaper can also create the illusion of texture.

Choose “ahhh” colours

There’s a good reason the dreamy bedroom palette of white and its various off-white variations has been trending with no end in sight. Not only is a light, neutral palette instantly soothing, but it can also make the room feel cooler, lighter and larger. This is because light colours visually recede, making your walls feel further away. On the other hand, dark colours tend to bring walls inward, making a space feel smaller.

Bring yourself into the design

The best way to enhance your sense of comfort in any room, is to bring yourself into it. Perhaps some art, photographs, and some select pieces from your collections, thoughtfully distributed throughout the space to make it feel “yours.”

The bedroom is one of the most intimate of spaces in our homes, and our demands on this space are high. As we find ourselves spending more time at home, our bedrooms are serving double- and triple-duty. But don’t forget the main objective – comfort. The Danish have it right with the concept of hygge – warm, welcoming comforts. Dare I say it, with winter around the corner, you’ll be extra grateful for this cosy retreat!

My tip:

Speaking of “The Feels,” since sleep is the ultimate goal in this space, high quality bedding is a must. Your sheets touch your body for eight hours a night, give or take, so opt for 100 percent cotton in a high thread count. Also, a good quality mattress is a good place to splurge if you have some extra budget, to ensure rest and comfort every night. Your bedding should also contribute to the room’s overall aesthetic. Look for sooothing shades and a restful palette of monochromatic tones, such as blue, lavender or green.

My tip: To create an easy reading nook, think about common “library” elements and bring them into your own vignette. The basics include a light, chair and table. Ensure these items are scaled to the space. a stool can double as a small side table. Set it all atop a small rug to highlight this area and define it within the greater space.

My tip:

If you’re opting for a bright bedroom, invest in black out blinds or curtains. Remember that sleep is the number one function and priority in this space. darkness will help achieve a deeper, better quality sleep.

Jennifer Backstein is the Creative Director and Principal Designer for Jennifer Backstein Interiors, Toronto. The firm offers a diverse range of full scale design services in the GTA and across Canada. jenniferbacksteininteriors.com


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