Tag Archives: Jo Alcorn

Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

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Kitchen reno on a budget? We show you how!

I was consulted to help figure out how to best spend a client’s modest budget, wisely, on a kitchen reno, while accomplishing a new look. She wanted to replace her cupboards for more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal and a critical eye, I could see that it wasn’t, entirely, necessary. We didn’t even need to paint them. What was needed was far less expensive and easier to do. We needed to lighten the space up and be creative with functionality. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding gliding shelf solutions within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and added extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what needed doing, and splurging on the key elements.

Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance off the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone‘s Empira White marble quartz, because of its classical white base with deep grey (almost black) veins to accent and tie in with the cabinet colour. This countertop modernized the kitchen, plus it’s durable and easy to clean.

This kitchen also needed a new backsplash. We chose a simple, white bevelled edged subway tile for its elegance and simplicity. Because it’s timeless and classic, it won’t go out of style. By using larger tiles, we maintained clean lines, but the tapered edge offered deluxe detailing.

The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small (useless) cabinet above the metal range hood. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme together. And, in keeping with the white of the backsplash and countertops, it added to the openness of the space as soon as the valance was removed.

A Whirlpool, black stainless-steel kitchen suite provided continuity in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can. By making your appliances blend into the colours of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space, because your eye doesn’t bounce to the contrast of the cabinets and appliances. Plus, the appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep.

A counter-depth refrigerator made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allowed for more clearance when the door was open, which made it easier to have two people in the kitchen at once.

While the kitchen used to have a microwave stand to the right of the range, replacing it with a custom wine rack to the cupboards, was more visually appealing. The microwave was tucked out of sight and utilized a wasted corner.

Having new appliances instantly updated the kitchen. The bells and whistles on these appliances are amazing, and so functional The refrigerator is one of my favourites. Its pantry-inspired layout, with an infinity slide shelf, which allows for extra room for tall items. The range has a touchscreen. It learns, adapts and suggests customized presets based on your family’s routine – perfect for my client and her family of four. Finally, the dishwasher has a third level rack space, so that they can make extra room for those hard-to-fit items and large kitchen utensils.

Wanting to maintain the visual continuity, I selected an under-mount sink. Coupled with a black faucet, the visual ascetics are modern and clean, and is in keeping with the colour scheme.

I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall, and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving, it created an up-to-date, open look. We wanted to replace the tan floor tiles, but the cost, timing and mess didn’t warrant it. Instead, I used the shelves, chairs and accessories to tie in the colour, making the floor seem more purposeful. The addition of natural wood helped to ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

While we were able to use the cupboards, the hardware had to go. The new brass handles were the perfect accents, along with a matching pendant light over the sink. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table.

An ultra-useful stand mixer in blue was perfect for this busy family, and I added accent pieces, including the dishware and a vase in a coordinating blue. Floor runners keep feet warm on cool days, add softness to a space, and can tie in colours. It’s important to buy ones that are machine washable.

This basic kitchen has been transformed into one that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. It’s great that we didn’t have to scrap the old cupboards, and could give them a new lease on life. Don’t be too quick to replace items. Sometimes a strategic update is the better way – and it can save a bundle.

Refrigerator
36-inch Wide Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator – 24 cu. ft.

Range
5.8 cu. ft. Smart Front Control Gas Range with EZ-2-Lift™ Hinged Cast-Iron Grates

Dishwasher
Stainless Steel Tub Dishwasher with Third Level Rack

HGTV Jo Alcorn is an interior and product designer for Alcorn Home, she has a full home furnishing and pet line collection displayed and sold across Canada and the U.S. She is known for her clean line savvy design concepts.


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Kids’ bedrooms – a labour of love for the little ones

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Kids’ bedrooms – a labour of love for the little ones

I love working on bedrooms. They come in all shapes and sizes, so a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t really work, especially when the space is small and/or awkward. That sums up my spare room, which I was challenged with turning into a home away from home for three little girls under the age of six.

With toys, clothing and gadgets for three little ones, I had to come up with unique sleeping arrangements and incorporate lots of storage to make the best use of the space.

Creative Space Configuration

Fitting three girls into a small space certainly made making room for beds a challenge. My only option was bunk beds and, with tight space restrictions, I had to take it a step further and have custom beds created. In order to fit them into this small, square room, I had to get really creative. First, I turned the hinges on the bedroom door so it would open in the other direction. Then I built in a wall, creating a pseudo hallway inside the room. That wall was able to serve as a headboard and I mounted the bed ladder right on the wall, making use of every square inch of space.

Smart Storage

Because little girls have A LOT of stuff, I installed drawers on wheels under the beds and added an open-shelving area for additional storage. We also tucked a window seat into the wall and surrounded it with storage as well. I wanted to add texture and a modern twist by changing the closet doors to Masonite’s Melrose Safe ‘n Sound door, from Metrie. I went with their Safe ‘n Sound core option for the weight and feel of the door, and most importantly, to keep the noise down.

A Playful Feature Wall

I added wallpaper in a geometric pattern from Wayfair to create a feature wall. Originally, I was going to wallpaper the entire room with this pattern, but there was limited stock when I ordered it. So, having fallen in love with the design, I decided to use it anyway in a smaller dose – hence, the feature wall. I also used stylish blackout blinds from Wayfair in all white; their soft, cascading design makes the space seem larger and more airy.

Space-enhancing colour palette

I used soft colours in the room by adding a patterned rug from Wayfair and the polka- dot sheets, which keeps the room soft, clean looking and fun, all at the same time.

I added hypoallergenic, dust-mite control, fully washable pillows and bedding from my own line called Alcorn Home. I cannot stress enough the importance of “washable” sheets with little ones! These beauties pop right in the washing machine – cover, filling and all. Finally, I added some pink velvet pillows (also washable), and a black-and-white throw blanket to balance off the wallpaper at the end of the bed.

Personality, function and room to play

The artwork is another source of colour and pattern. By enlarging and hanging cute family photos, it added personality and a sense of belonging for the kids.

A full-length mirror at the end of the hall is functional and created a runway for playtime. There was enough floor space for the girls to get out their doll houses and other toys, and still have room for everyone to enjoy whatever they were doing at any given time.

The biggest lesson to learn from this makeover is that sometimes you really have to think outside of the box – literally! If I had stayed with the square room, as it was, it wouldn’t have the wonderful personality and function this room has now.

I love how this space turned out, and the kids love it too – which is the most important thing. I look forward to many sleepovers here and know this is a space that will easily change with them as they grow up. Just hoping it’s not too quickly!

Jo Alcorn is founder and design specialist at Alcorn Home.

alcornhome.com

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My perfect living room

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My perfect living room

As many of you know, I recently renovated my kitchen and turned it into the kitchen of my dreams. (You can read about it)

Well, after doing my kitchen, I had to update my living room. There wasn’t anything really wrong with it — I just wasn’t in love with it. I had done a tie-over decorating job, but hadn’t yet tackled making it a space I loved. It had old dark floors and a dark mantel. When I walked into the living room from my new dream kitchen, I really felt the darkness of this room. So, it was time to make it my own!

The floors really drove the direction of this room. I was shopping for new hardwood with Neue Floors and found light bleached-out looking engineered hardwood flooring. I loved the idea of going with engineered hardwood – it’s durable, the colour is amazing and it’s easy to clean. On these new floors I can wear my high heels and my dogs can run and play without worrying about scratching and dinging these floors – they just don’t show wear and tear.

I carried the Neue flooring up the wall on the fireplace and installed a Dimplex electric fireplace. The change over to the electric fireplace was so easy – it just came out of the delivery box and slid into the existing hole left by removing the gas insert. Because this unit is electric, it offers the best options – I can have the heat on, off or set to any temperature I want. As a bonus, I don’t need to have a mantel between the fireplace and the TV so I was able to create this stunning focal point where the hardwood carried up the wall. Plus I ordered an affordable TV mount from Wayfair Canada that I can swing any want I want so I can watch TV even from my kitchen – now that’s a bonus!

Photos By Jason Hartog

Because I so enjoy entertaining, I kept my beautiful Jo Alcorn velvet sectional. This sofa is textured, lighter in tone and offers lots of seating space for guests. It’s the perfect piece to play up the Scandinavian look in this room.

Pillows, you know I love pillows! These ones are from my line as well. They are not only stylish but fully washable. As in, pop the entire pillow into the washer. They’re perfect so my pups can curl right up and enjoy this room as much as I do.

Finally, the privacy aspect. Because I’m a bit off the street level, I didn’t want to cover up my entire windows to get privacy and it was important to keep as much natural light flowing in as possible. I turned to Budget Blinds and chose a top down/bottom up cellular shade that is cordless so that there are no messy strings. This allows me all the privacy I want without sacrificing any style or light. It’s the perfect option for this room.

This room is beautiful, modern, inviting and super comfortable. It’s the perfect place to relax and to entertain.

I always love it when I’ve completed a design job for a client and you see their happiness at getting exactly what they wanted. That’s the happiness I feel right now!

Jo Alcorn is founder and design specialist at Alcorn Home.

alcornhome.com

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How to decorate a short-term rental property

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How to decorate a short-term rental property

Now that we’re a month into 2019, with financial resolutions top of mind for some, I’ve noticed that many Canadians are offsetting their mortgage and financing their vacations by becoming short-term rental hosts on platforms such as Airbnb. In fact, one in five Canadians are considering becoming a host in the future.

If you’re among them, here’s a few easy tips to set up your space for success.

My home is your home

I always recommend you include a little individualized charm. This will set you apart and let guests get a sense of who you are. It doesn’t need to be overly extravagant, but something that reflects your personality and makes guests feel at home. Try including your favourite scented candle, a warm and cosy throw blanket or notes around the house to connect with your guests and create memorable moments.

Got decor?

With short-term rentals, most people look for the comforts of a real home and not a sterile hotel room. Add accent pillows and candles, along with styled shelves or table tops. All of this can be done on a budget and with non-breakable items.

Jo Alcorn Couch Before
Couch before
Jo Alcorn Couch After web
Couch after

 

Minimal look, maximum return

As much as you want to make the space feel homey, you also want to keep the space simple and neat looking. This way your space always looks put together and people don’t feel like they are intruding on your personal space.

Lights, camera, action

A picture is worth a thousand words and the first thing a potential customer looks at, that’s why the quality of the photo is as important as the staging. Photos that showcase natural lighting, your decor and cleanliness, along with ensuring they are high enough resolution is key to coming out on top.

Keepin’ it fresh

Make sure things are easily washable so you can keep things feeling fresh between guests. I have developed an entire line of washable, Canadian made pillows that are perfect for rentals – you can toss the entire pillow right into the washer and dryer. Don’t forget about the little touches such as flowers that require minimal maintenance, or fresh white linens and towels that give that hotel clean feeling but with the comforts of home.

 

Bathroom before
Bathroom before

 

Bathroom after
Bathroom after

Protect your home

Unless your home insurance policy clearly states that short-term rental activity is permitted, you may not be covered for losses during these periods. A lot of people also assume the platform they’re using insures them, but it’s not that simple. That’s why I always recommend getting your own insurance. Duuo is an on-demand insurance service designed specifically to protect short-term rental hosts and their homes. Plus you pay only for the nights you want coverage.

Hook people with words

The description you create is as important as the photos. Not only does the description allow you to show off your personality, but it allows you to bring your space to life in a way photos cannot. And make sure your photos match your description; don’t talk about the spacious bedroom on the second floor if you don’t have accompanying imagery.

Jo-Alcorn-Bio_Shot_jan19

Jo Alcorn is a celebrity interior and home product designer, expert instructor, corporate ambassador and TV personality. To learn more, visit
alcornhome.com. Follow her on twitter at @Jo_Alcorn.

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Tips for kitchen bliss

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Tips for kitchen bliss

I recently completed a tough kitchen makeover — maybe the toughest yet as it was my own personal space. Follow my tips below on how to create a space you will truly love.

I chose my appliances first. I knew I wanted something completely different and when I saw the new Fingerprint Resistant Sunset Bronze collection from Whirlpool, I made this my jumping off point. It’s the crème-de-la-crème of this kitchen. With a brushed satin finish and rose gold undertones, this fingerprint resistant suite really sets off this space.

For the walls I decided to stay true to my one true paint love – Jojo whitewash PF17 from Para. I find staying with the same colour in an open concept gives the space a cohesive and continual look.

Next, I worked with DV Kitchen and Bath to find the right cabinets for a clean, streamlined look. I decided on a flat-panel front but in trendy gloss white; the gloss helps to bounce light and creates the illusion of a larger space. Plus these cabinets are super easy to wipe down, keeping that new look and feel.

To keep the cabinets streamlined, I selected Grass soft-close hardware from their Nova Pro Scala collection. Grass is the hidden gem in any cabinet system – my cabinets push closed silently and open with a gentle touch.

For the countertop I wanted a waterfall island. I chose Caesarstone’s Calacatta Nuvo for both the island, counters and backsplash. This countertop is stunning and durable and is the centre of attention in the kitchen. Choosing a primarily white countertop with white cabinets creates the illusion of a much larger space. Don’t be afraid to have your countertops the same colour as your cabinets. And make sure you have them installed properly. I too often find clients skimp on the most important part of the kitchen renovation, which is the installation. I turned to the folks at Renovare Marble and Granite, who installed my counters with complete professionalism and perfection and also create a complete custom backsplash for my space that is a serious showstopper.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times: the faucet is the gem in the kitchen. I went with the Delta Trinsic single-handle pulldown in Champagne Bronze. The design is simply smart and elegant, with an integrated pulldown wand. Plus, the colour is a modern take on gold that pairs well with my stainless steel sink and my appliances.

I went a bit trendy with the herringbone style floor, but I used a classic and timeless marble tile to balance the trendiness. The result is amazing and ties the cupboards, countertops, closet and paint all together. This tile came from Creek Side Tile, which has a vast selection.

In my house, the HVAC piping went up through one of the kitchen walls I wanted to remove, making a full open-concept impossible. Originally I was bummed about having to keep the piping there, requiring a closet to hide it in. I now love this closet. It is a fun architectural focal point, where I was able to add display shelves and texture. To create a perfect finish and get a properly sized door for this closet, I used Metrie’s Trude Craft Collection.

Onto the stunning finishing touches. The dishware and stools were found on Wayfair Canada. They have an extensive collection of affordable options and offer free shipping. These stools are elegant, simple and have brass accents that I could not do without.

The blinds are TriLight and offer a unique combination of sheer pleated shade on the top and a honeycomb shade on the bottom. It’s like having three looks in one – all sheer, all privacy or half and half. This design is exclusive to Budget Blinds. In my kitchen I choose to go with Artcraft for lights with brass stems, accents and posts. They fit perfectly with the appliances, faucet and the accent pieces I choose – once again, tying the entire space together.

Jo Alcorn is founder and design specialist at Alcorn Home. https://alcornhome.com/

Photography by Jason Hartog

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A living room to last a lifetime

A living room to last a lifetime

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A living room to last a lifetime

by Jo Alcorn
Whitewash & Co.

There is nothing worse than a living room that is poorly laid out and/or lacking function. I recently redesigned a family room so it is comfy, cozy and a room the family wants to gather in.

And I did something that some might think is radical — I converted this family’s gas fireplace to an electric fireplace. Electric fireplaces have come so far in recent years and it’s something I recommend in almost all my designs now. For this space, I selected a Dimplex electric fireplace, which appears so real people have to look twice. The flame clarity and colour is like nothing I have ever seen before. Another feature I love is that you can use it all four seasons, as there is a no-heat option.

The fireplace was the jumping-off point for the room. I started with a unit that would fit the room and then created the most stunning built-in unit you can imagine to surround it. To create this unit we used Metrie’s French Curves Collection. This collection leans towards formal and ornate, but you can take them in so many contemporary directions.

This room needed seating that would work for this family of four; a good place to snuggle up to watch a movie, or separate nooks for reading and relaxing. I chose this giant oversized sectional from Structube. A great thing about their furniture is that it is super family friendly and the prices are incredibly affordable.

I was also able to add a side chair and a modern rocking chair, which I have been wanting to add into one of my designs forever; I am a bit obsessed with this modern rocker. Since this company is so budget-conscious, I was also able to add the gorgeous glass coffee table and raw wood side tables – all within my clients’ budget. Being a family room, I knew it was important to include some family photos. While I might not traditionally lean towards family photos for the walls, I love incorporating non-traditional and meaningful photos to a family’s space, especially when they are artistically taken. These photos were some of the most cherished memories from this family and all we did was upload them to Posterjack and with a few clicks of the mouse we chose the frame style and size as well as changing the photos to black and white.

To make this room multi-functional we also wanted to ensure you could swivel the TV so it could be viewed from all angles of the room. We chose this amazing TV mount arm from Wayfair Canada which allows you to adjust the TV so you can watch it from any seat in the room.

For this room, pot lights were not in the budget but lighting was a necessity. The room still desperately needed light so we chose lighting from Wayfair’s home improvement category. We paired together two affordable ceiling lights to give the impression of one large track lighting system.

Finally, what room is complete without proper sound? I am obsessed with my Sonos system so I naturally want all my clients to get it. The Sonos Playbar connects to my TV – which makes everything I watch sound better – and the stereo pair of Sonos Ones (with Amazon Alexa built-in) take movie nights to the next level with surround sound. And when the TV is off, I can use all three speakers to enjoy my favourite music, radio stations, podcasts and more.

With all the key components in place, I went on a shopping spree at HomeSense to give this room the finishing touches it needed to bring it to life. I grabbed a multitude of throw cushions, side table accessories, pots and bowls, which gave it the elevated look I was aiming for.

The result is a living room all member of the family can enjoy in the way they want to – watching TV, reading, relaxing or having conversations. This room works for the entire family, which is exactly what they wanted. And I was delighted to create for them.

Jo Alcorn is a design specialist and founder of Whitewash & Co..

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Top 5 Spring Trends

Top 5 Spring Trends

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Top 5 Spring Trends

It’s a time to switch things up, refresh and renew your home and backyard.

by Jo Alcorn

I love spring! It’s a time to switch things up, refresh and renew your home and, more importantly, your backyard.

I’ll be at the Backyard Living Expo — coming on April 6 to 8, 2018 at the International Centre —  for an on-stage presentation at 1:15 p.m. and would love for you to join me to talk about all things backyard decor and design. As a sneak preview, here are my top 5 tips and trends for this season.

 

High Performance Outdoor Sound

I love music and I play it all day long and there’s no exception when I go outside to relax and enjoy the warmer weather. I love the high performance outdoor sound that Paradigm has to offer. Long gone are the days of the boom box or the huge speaker systems. This company offers discrete luxury speakers that can be wall or deck mounted and faux rocks that can mix right into you garden, There is even a garden oasis systems with an underground subwoofer for large areas.

 

Shading Style

While I love the outdoors, shade is of the utmost importance. This year I am obsessed with pergolas. They have retractable systems that allow the light to shine in when you want a few rays, but you can also crank the roof closed when you need some shade. The great thing about these systems is that they can be built to spec for odd shapes, attached to an existing structure or they also have great stand-alone units.

 

Grilling Galore

There is nothing Canadians love more than firing up the grill and when your grill can match your decor it’s even better! I love the new Weber Spirit ll series that comes in four bold colours so you can add the perfect barbecue to match your decor. My choice this year would be the gorgeous ivory colour to add to my small space patio.

Burn Baby Burn

Adding a fire element to an outdoor space helps to elongate the season, creates an atmosphere of warmth (literally warm up next to the fire) and just adds a touch of sophistication. You can choose a stand-alone unit that can be purchased at most big box stores or, if you are creating your space from scratch, it’s great to incorporate a built-in unit that fits right into your design.

 

The Final Touches

I love adding accessories to an outdoor space that really tie it all together. Homesense has amazing seasonal accessories that bring your space to life at affordable prices. I love to add trays, lanterns and faux plants (yes, even in an outdoor space) to my backyard designs. Pillows are also a great way to add colour and comfort to your space. I have an entire line of outdoor pillows that are fully washable and are available on my site in a variety or colours and patterns.

Use these ideas to create your very own backyard oasis. Discover the secrets behind the perfect barbecue and learn how to make the most of your backyard, no matter the size or the budget, from industry and celebrity experts at the Backyard Living Expo, which runs from April 6, 7 and 8, 2018 at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga.

Jo Alcorn is the founder of whitewash & co and Alcorn Home.


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Top trend picks for 2018

Top trend picks for 2018

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Top trend picks for 2018

Drama and colour will be the hot trend in home decorating

by Jo Alcorn

I love when the new trends for the upcoming year are revealed. It’s the perfect time to update your decor and freshen up your home. This year I am seeing (and loving) all things dramatic. Bronze decor, patterned wall treatments, beautifully bold pillows and all things brass. Here is a sneak peak at the trends I see emerging this year, many of which will be incorporated into my 2018 makeover projects.


This year, expect to see big and bold patterns and more items made in Canada. That’s certainly the case for my line of product, from matching dog beds and throw pillows, to the new wallpaper line, both are following these trends. Made-in-Canada and big bold patterns. Wallpaper $179, dog bed $129.99


The on-trend hosts will have brass silverware and plates. Brass is no longer just for your decor, you will now see it in table settings, flatware glasses and more. These beauties are from Wayfair.ca: cutlery $179.99


As the bronze trend continues, expect to see splashes of bronze throughout the home: on top of mantels, on media units, in wall decor and more. Looking for the perfect bronze decor? HomeSense has you covered from lamps and clocks to bookends and artwork.  Light $79.99; bowl $19.99; InstaFood sign $16.99


Look for a mix of materials in furniture pieces this year. This gorgeous multi-function piece is from Structube and it incorporates all the trends I am seeing this coming year – a mix of wood, glass and a metal frame along with drawers, making it the perfect blend of function meets style. Table $399


Step aside stainless steel because the new kid in town is Sunset Bronze. In 2018, it’s all about statement appliances. Functional and bold, the Sunset Bronze kitchen suite from Whirlpool brings warmth to any kitchen with its rich metallic finish. This statement suite of appliances is the very set I chose for my own kitchen reno (stay tuned for that reveal in early 2018). I wanted to go big or go bold in 2018, so this set met my criteria perfect. Pricing TBD


This year I am loving all things black in the bathroom. This trend is drastically different and really packs a punch when you enter the bathroom. The inky and edgy sophistication of matte black is the go-to finish for the design-savvy homeowner looking for a dose of drama in their space. From shower heads to faucets and towel bars and hooks, these black beauties from Delta Faucet are offered in a variety of show stopping collections including the Trinsic and Ara.

Delta Trinsic contemporary floor mount faucet $1,713.25

Delta Ara Monitor 17 Series H2Okinetic tub & shower trim $466.10


In addition to black and bronze, pink is red hot this year in wall colours, accessories and accent pieces. Want to add a bit of blush to your setting? Check out the super affordable ideas from Bouclair, from side tables and throws to artwork and accessories, they’ll have you tickled pink. Table 79.99; throw: 29.99


You all know I am obsessed with white. But this year it’s time for my love affair with white to take a backseat while I introduce bright, bold and powerful colours into my designs. It started slowly in 2017, but wait and see what I have in store for 2018. I am forecasting a mix of pinks and reds — used in the same space — for a few of my upcoming makeovers. Stay tuned for some dramatic and bold, on-trend makeovers. Here is one of the colours I think will be hot in 2018, Pleasant Pink by Benjamin Moore. From $49.99 gallon


Jo Alcorn is the founder and design specialist at Whitewash & Co..


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Top holiday gifts from Jo Alcorn

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Top holiday gifts from Jo Alcorn

Gifts that are truly unique and special

Each year I try to go above and beyond what I did the previous year to surprise and please my loved ones. See a few of my top picks below.

I typically go all white with my holiday decor but a great option is black and gold, a trend I’ve been seeing a lot this year. I love the idea of giving someone a tree ornament with a special note attached, or filling a stocking with some of their favourite goodies and hanging their gift right on their mantel using this great marble stocking holder from Lowe’s. These items are part of the Lowe’s Opuluxe holiday trend, which also includes some fantastic black and gold ornaments and lanterns.

In keeping with the trend of gold this year, I found the most gorgeous teacup and saucer and gold-hued coasters from HomeSense. These would pair nicely with a selection of your recipient’s favourite tea.

The Canadian Red Cross has great options to give the gift of two blankets to keep refugees and migrants warm. A warm blanket can help carry them through the cold snap of winter, give their children something to sit and play on and help them get a proper night’s rest. This gift is certainly warms my heart and at $15 if’s affordable yet so significant. See all of their gift options at www.redcross.ca/perfectgifts

I love bubbly water (okay, bubbly anything for that matter). Last year I tried to go a little bit greener and bought a SodaStream Fizzi sparkling water maker. This machine is like magic. It doesn’t require a plugin and all you do it pop your bottle of tap water in the SodaStream and turns ordinary tap water into sparkling water with the touch of a button. It’s the perfect gift for all those fizzy lovers out there like me (and it also keeps cans and bottle out of landfills). The special holiday pricing is $99.99 and available in red for a limited time only.

Having two fur friends myself, I could never forget about pups on Christmas morning. This year I am happy to launch our donut dog bed, which both my pooches have already fallen in love with. This year they will each be getting their very own, super comfy new bed from my Jo Alcorn collection.

Sometimes something cozy is in order for the holiday season. Bouclair has great accessories, candles and throws to choose from for that last minute gift idea.

Mighty power. Mini footprint — the KitchenAid Artisan Mini stand mixer makes up to five dozen cookies in a single batch. This bold countertop staple is smaller than the brand’s classic stand mixer but fits all standard attachments, making this the perfect gift for the foodie on your list.

Set the mood for winter cuddle ups with the cutest plug-in electric fireplace imaginable from Dimplex. It’s not only charming, it can also heat a room up to 400 square feet. This little gem provides cozy ambiance and charm. It’s also small enough that you can take it with you outside on cool summer nights.

Who doesn’t love the look and feel of fresh new bedding? Give your loved one a crisp new duvet and sleeping pillow from my new line this year. My new bedding is hypoallergenic, has dust mite control, is fully washable, is animal cruelty free and feels just like down.

Finally, who can resist the gift of these adorable and comfy socks for the holidays? I know I’d personally love to receive a pair (hint, hint). I can’t even imagine anyone on my list who wouldn’t love these paired with a nice bottle of wine or a gourmet bag of coffee. I found these little sweeties at the online shop of the RJ DAX Collection.

https://joalcorn.ca/

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Tips on how to survive a home renovation

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Tips on how to survive a home renovation

By Jo Alcorn

As you may or may not know from my constant social media updates, I have been living through a massive kitchen renovation since September. That means three months without water, counters, floors and more.

Did I move out? No. How did I cope? Here I share a few tips and tricks on how to live in a home that is under construction and not go crazy in the process (okay, maybe just a bit crazy but that’s acceptable).

INSPIRATION

The inspiration collage is what kept me sane and helped me to keep the end product in mind when the going got tough. I would look at that gorgeous inspiration and know that — one day — it would all be mine. No pain, no gain right?

GUT DOWN

Compare that beautiful inspiration image to this, which was my reality for three months. To stay sane, and functional, and still live there, I had to find ways to make things work for all of us.

LIVING WITH THE MESS

I have two sweet dogs that live with me, so I desperately needed to keep the space clean and tidy – not only for my own health but for their health and safety as well. I can’t tell you how many Swiffer pads I went through each day. I was constantly whipping that magic tool around, day in and day out. I’d start with the Swiffer Sweeper to trap and lock in all the dirt (and let me tell you there was a lot of dirt). Next, I’d use the Swiffer WetJet on the finished hardwood floors to clean up any remaining dirt and grime and make it a safe haven at the end of the night … until the dirt and dust appeared the next day and then I’d repeat.

CLEANING AND MORE CLEANING

I’m not sure if you can tell but I am a bit obsessed about cleanliness. It’s pretty hard for someone like me who lives in a tidy home to live through a reno. I turned to tools and products that would give me peace of mind, knowing they’d help keep my space as clean as it could be, for all of us. I tried Scrub Daddy for the first time during my renovation and it was life changing. This little sponge doesn’t scratch delicate surfaces and doesn’t require harsh chemicals, which I am totally against for my own health but also the health of my furry friends. The power of this little scrubber is amazing.

On top of cleaning the floors, it’s so important to clean surfaces, windows, tops of furniture and anything the might be mingled with dust. Because I am so against toxins and chemicals, I was thrilled when I found out about Thieves. This is an all-natural, 100 per cent pure, plant-based, essential oil cleaner from Young Living. Half a capful makes a full bottle of this cleaning goodness. One single Thieves bottle will make 26 full bottles of cleaner, and at $27.50, that is a steal. In addition to being all plant and essential oils based, it kills 99.96 per cent of airborne bacteria and germs, it’s safe around kids, and I don’t need to worry when my sweet pups come into contact with it. You can get Thieves from The Oil Girls Canada.

Speaking of cleaning, people often overlook cleaning the inside of their appliances. After, or even during a reno, if you still have appliances up and running it’s important to take care of them. Did you know that only 27 per cent of Canadians have cleaned the inside of their dishwasher in the past 12 months? Ewww! There are specially formulated tablets that actually clean the inside of dishwashers called Affresh. They clean the hard water and mineral deposits that accumulate in your dishwasher over time. During and after a reno is possibly the most important time to tackle this task.

STAY SANE

Living without a kitchen is hard. I don’t mean kinda hard, I mean really hard. To stay sane I had to make sure I had access to appliances and alternate items so I was not breaking the bank every night eating out. My KitchenAid six-quarter slow cooker was my saviour. All you have to do is throw in your ingredients, let them simmer and have a meal at the end of the day. It also automatically goes into keep warm mode for up to four hours so you know you’ll have a hot meal to look forward to. The KitchenAid compact oven is also great if you are going to have to go longer periods of time without a kitchen (and mine was pretty long). It takes up a very small footprint, you can plug it in just about anywhere to make anything from roasted meats, fish and vegetables, to quiche, pizza, muffins and more.

CLEAN THE AIR, TOO

Clean air is so importance to me because I have severe allergies. If you are living through a reno, or you have kids or pets, clean air should be a top priority. The Philips Air Purifier is proven to reduce allergens, odours, volatile organic compound emissions and even certain bacteria. The filter removes 99.97 per cent of allergens and pollutants while the active carbon filter reduces gases and odours from the air.

DECREASE YOUR STRESS

This might seem like an odd recommendation but another key to surviving a reno is to decrease your stress (and trust me I had a lot of it when there were hiccups in the delivery times, delays and changes that needed to be made, all which inevitably slowed down the process). Make sure you have a safe, clean retreat to get away to where you can rest and restore before conquering an entirely new set of challenges the next day. Soft pillows and a comfortable mattress (my new Bills Bed mattress sure came in handy these past few months) are absolute musts. You might also want to try out my new washable, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, Canadian-made sleeping pillows and duvets — a good night’s sleep is just the blink of an eye away.

All in all, I think I am surviving just fine! My pups and I still live at home, eat at home and enjoy the rest of the house – no easy feat in these conditions! But these are sure to help you through the long weeks of a reno. Keep looking at your inspiration photos — it will all be worth it in the end.

https://joalcorn.ca/

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