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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

Small spaces are always a design challenge. In my recent tiny kitchen refresh, I was tasked with creating a functional and efficient cooking space for a busy family who loves to cook and entertain, without sacrificing style. Here’s how I did it!

Countertops

The space already had relatively newer countertops that my clients wanted to salvage – this translates into massive savings! The existing countertops were black with flecks of greys, browns and taupe – it served as our starting point in the design process.

The engine of the kitchen

The appliances are the main engine of any kitchen, so choosing the right style, colour and functionality is key. For this space, I needed to play off the black countertops; this naturally led me to a Whirlpool black stainless-steel suite. Knowing how vital cooking is for this family, I wanted to give them appliances that had practical technology but didn’t compromise on design. Whirlpool’s fingerprint-resistant finishes hide fingerprints and smudges, and easily wipes clean, which is crucial for busy young families.

Chilling and grilling

I love the cool features that Whirlpool appliances now offer to help ease regular household chores and duties. Their new slide-in electric range has a “control from anywhere” feature that allows you to multitask with the Whirlpool app. Busy bathing the kids but need to preheat the oven or slow down cooking? Start it remotely or adjust the temperature with the keep warm technology from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet so it’s ready when you are. In a small space, I love to introduce a refrigerator with French doors. The dual-opening, side by side doors allow you to open the fridge without blocking the entire area. And this French Door Refrigerator’s features are amazing – everything from tuck away shelving, spill-proof shelves, and adjustable door bins. All these features make life for a family easier.

Clean-up crew

With a growing family, a full-size dishwasher is non-negotiable. My clients had an apartment sized dishwasher before this refresh. While the inclusion of a full-sized dishwasher did mean giving up some cabinet space, it was well worth it, especially for the one-hour wash cycle. And I was able to compensate for lost storage space with taller upper cabinets and the addition of a pantry next to the fridge, addressing one of the family’s biggest concerns – not enough storage space!

Cabinets cost

A significant cost in a kitchen renovation is cabinets. In this case, some of the cabinets were in good shape, so I decided to keep the lower cabinets as they were to create a trendy wood colour palette for a two-toned kitchen look. All I had to do was update them with new hardware. While I kept the lowers, I opted for replacing the upper cabinets. The uppers were replaced with a hardware-free, glossy white, flat front style. The gloss on these allows the light to bounce off them, creating the illusion of a larger space. Choosing to go without hardware kept the lines clean and simple, allowing the eye to travel over them.

Colour continuity

A little paint can go a long way to transform a room, and it’s very cost-efficient. This house is open concept, so we had to paint the entire main floor for a better visual flow. It was a pretty extensive paint job, including the kitchen, dining room and the entire first floor! A new coat of paint helped the whole space to have a fresh, clean look. Especially since we brought in white stark gloss cabinets, I wanted the walls to blend in.

A splash of colour

Another key to a sophisticated kitchen and an element that can make a huge design impact is tile. For this space, I went with a funky glass pattern backsplash from The Good Tile. My clients love to cook, so these tiles were perfect as there is no grout needed for installing, making them easier to clean. The glass retro backsplash is a genuine wow factor that draws your eye in creating more depth in this small space with another reflective material for more light to bounce off.

Let’s eat

In the dining space, I created a gorgeous picture wall with some of the clients’ favourite pieces of art. An antique sideboard was a perfect complement to the clients’ retro style. And, an ideal solution for additional storage so the table can be kept clean and open. The colour of their existing table and chairs was a perfect tie in with the upper cabinets for continuity.

The finishing

The final touches in this kitchen that tied everything together were the cabinet handles, lighting and the faucet. The cabinets had outdated handles, and I found replacement handles in black that took the cabinets to a whole new level of sophistication. The lighting went from functional to an integral part of the beauty of the space. And the faucet is stunning! This sleek black Delta faucet has every feature you can imagine from a pull-down nozzle to spray options, but it’s the design that makes it a showstopper.

In small city dwellings when you can’t change the footprint of a space, some clever attention to detail can make even the smallest space feel grand.

Jo Alcorn has more than 15 years of experience as a celebrity interior and home product designer, expert instructor, corporate ambassador, TV personality and entrepreneur. Her passion for design has been showcased on HGTV, Discovery Channel, Marilyn Denis, CBC’s Steven & Chris, CityTV, BT, CHCH, Global Morning and Noon, Rogers Stations, CP24 and more. alcornhome.com

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Get fit, designer Jo Alcorn shares an inspiring home gym renovation

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Get fit, designer Jo Alcorn shares an inspiring home gym renovation

When I found out my clients wanted to do a home gym renovation, I was ecstatic. With all the restrictions due to the pandemic, I thought it would be the perfect time to show these homeowners how to maximize their space with a home gym tailored to their needs.

In this space, weight training and yoga were the two primary activities. With this in mind, I divided the space into zones.

The first was the yoga zone. I wanted this space to be serene, relaxing and warm. To achieve the feel I was looking for, I chose a fireplace from Dimplex. The company’s Ignite linear electric fireplace was the perfect fit because it gives off heat when you want to cosy up for some downward dog, yet, if you want to turn the heat off while working out, you can also use it with just the flame feature.

What gym is complete without a television? I chose the Q8G Quantum Dot TV from Hisense for this space.

The image on the screen is so life-like you’ll think the yoga instructor is in the room with you. This Android TV is user friendly, and you can easily stream thousands of movies, shows or YouTube videos while working out.

Now for the weight training zone. I wanted to distinguish the two areas, so I created an architectural component by adding wood slates to the ceiling. I had the contractor cut the floor and ceiling slates on an angle to create even more of a visual appeal, playing up lines and focal points. Having the pipes exposed created that raw industrial look I wanted. To achieve this look, I worked with Metrie to build a custom slatted wood ceiling. I used a two-in. oak flat stock boards, leaving a small gap between each slat to achieve my industrial look. I didn’t want to cut any corners in this space, so I also added in Metrie’s vintage industrial baseboards and casing, plus a door with black hinges and door handle. Sometimes, it’s these small details that make the biggest impact.

Adding music to your workout is such a must to keep you motivated

Adding music to your workout is such a must. The Sonos Move and Beam gives studio-level vibes, and the high-quality sound will keep you motivated to get in that last rep. They were super easy to set up: Download the Sonos app, connect to your WiFi network and press play. As a bonus, the Move is a portable speaker that works on both WiFi and Bluetooth, so if you want to cool down outside, you can take your tunes with you.

I wanted to make sure this space was clean, tidy and that clutter wouldn’t take away from the joy of their workout. I worked with Tailored Living to create a beautiful built-in custom storage cabinet. It has uppers and lowers for equipment storage and counter space to house essentials such as water bottles and speakers.

Now for the finishing touches. I wanted to create a dramatic effect with the artwork. I worked with Posterjack to create larger than life inspiration prints. I went to Etsy and bought some gym inspired digital artwork. All I had to do then was upload the images at Posterjack, pick the exact frame style and size of print I wanted and… voila! Art complete.

Finally, what people might not think about having in a gym are tools to help you with post-workout soreness. This gym is meant for challenging workouts and with that comes sore muscles. I love Rub A535 products to help manage pain. Not only did we need this when building the gym (DIYs and home renovations come with their own set of muscle soreness) but post-workout, it’s perfect for managing pain and muscle fatigue.

Jo Alcorn has more than 15 years experience as a celebrity interior and home product designer, expert instructor, corporate ambassador, TV personality and a strong female entrepreneur. alcornhome.com

Sources:

METRIE,metrie.com;SONOS,sonos.com;HISENSE,hisense-canada.com ;TAILORED LIVING, tailoredliving.com;POSTERJACK,posterjack.ca;RUB A535,ruba535.ca;DIMPLEX,dimplex.com

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

By Jo Alcorn

Sometimes the best design decision is not to change things too much. Let me explain. I was recently working with a client who wanted to update her kitchen. She consulted with me to figure out how to spend her modest budget wisely while accomplishing a new look.

Storage

Like most people, her dream plan included replacing the cupboards to have more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal with a critical eye, I could see that wasn’t entirely necessary. She didn’t even need to paint them – she just needed to lighten the space up and get creative with functionality, and there were far less expensive and easier ways to do that. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding Gliding Shelf Solutions (glidingshelf.ca) within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and add extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what truly mattered, and splurging on the proper key elements.

Countertop

Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone’s (caesarstone.ca) Empira White marble quartz because of its classic white base with deep grey veins to accent and complement the cabinet colour. This beautiful countertop modernized their kitchen instantly. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean, so it’s a perfect balance of fashion and function for a busy household.

Backsplash

This kitchen needed a new backsplash. We chose white, beveled edge subway tile for its timeless-simplicity, and to play off the new countertops. By using larger tiles, this kitchen kept its clean lines, but the tapered edge offered elegant detailing. The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small useless cabinet above the metal range hood that was more of an eye-sore than a focal point. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme of the kitchen together perfectly.

New appliances

A Whirlpool black stainless-steel kitchen suite (whirlpool.ca) kept the continuity of colour in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can; making your appliances blend into the shades of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space. The appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep. Having the counter-depth refrigerator further made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allows for more clearance when the door is open, which makes 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, colourmatched to the cupboards, was far more visually appealing. Fear not, they still have a microwave – it’s tucked out of sight and utilizing a wasted corner.

Shelving with purpose

Notice the floating shelves? I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving it creates a more up to date, open look. I 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 it all together, making the floor seem more purposeful, instead of like the elephant in the room. It’s also nice to have an element from nature (wood) to help ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

Finishing details

While the cupboards were able to be used, the hardware had to go. The new, modernized, brass handles were the perfect accents. And I was able to include a pendant light over the sink to match. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table, so this was a perfect compromise. As I shopped for the appliances, I found an ultra-useful stand mixer in blue, and I knew it would be so useful and fun for this busy family. I choose accent pieces like the dishware and vase in a coordinating blue. The floor runners also have a blue tie accent. While many people hesitate to include a runner in a kitchen, I love it. They keep your feet warm, add softness to the space and tie colours in. The secret is to buy ones that are machine washable.

I know this once basic builder kitchen has transformed into a kitchen that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. Remember, don’t be too quick to replace your entire kitchen; sometimes, a strategic update is the better way. And it can save you a bundle!

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. Alcornhome.com

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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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