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home office

Have a consistent routine at your home office

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Have a consistent routine at your home office

by Lisa Rogers

Working from home has lots of advantages – the office commute is about 30 seconds, you can stick a load of laundry in between conference calls, and you can wear PJs for most of the day. The downside is you’re too close to it to get away, you don’t want to be doing laundry all day, and PJs are really a fashion crime.

Whether you work for yourself, or for a company that allows for some work from home, you still need a proper office. To start with, plan by making a list of everything you need in order to work well — natural light, tons of storage space, miles of counter top for spreading stuff around.

Where you work is important — preferably a dedicated office space in the guest bedroom, a main floor den, or the basement. This also depends on the kind of work you do – clients dropping in need a place to sit. Laptops and Wifi make it easy to move your office around, even to the back deck.

Include space for printer, phone, and resource materials. Rarely used items can be stored in the basement or a closet.

Chair

You’ll be sitting in this for six to eight hours a day, so get one that adjusts to your specific ergonomics. As pretty as leather is, refrain from buying it because you need something breathable.

Desk

Standard desks are 29 inches high, but 27 inches high is actually ergonomically better for where your arms and hands are while using a laptop. If the desk isn’t adjustable, raise your chair a little. You also need enough work space to spread out papers; if one desk won’t do it, add a second.

A writing desk is preferable to those clunky mid-century office desks – much lighter and easier to move around.

Place your desk so you have a view of the room, and of the outdoors. Remember to place it so that light falls over your shoulder.

Storage

Drawers in the desk – or in stackable containers on top – are good for having stationery, paper clips, pens, pencils, staplers close at hand. Wall mounted storage minimizes physical and visual clutter.

Wherever you keep your files – on computer, external hard drive, or in file folders – make a habit of culling regularly. If you haven’t used something in a year, toss it. (Except taxes – those you need to keep for seven years.)

Lighting

Natural light is best, especially since windows also provide good ventilation. But if that’s not possible, bump up the overhead and task lighting, like a reading lamp. If there’s no room on the desk, have it wall mounted.

Decorate

If your home office is visible from the rest of the main floor, try to tie it in decoratively, so that it blends in style, colour, and theme.

Don’t be afraid of colour, or at least adding colourful accessories. I love white space, but I still like to add colour through accessories – a Navajo blanket, or beautiful pillows on a chair. Incorporate colour as well into stationery, magazine racks, storage containers and so on. Colour affects the way you feel – orange is considered a colour that stimulates creativity, green is restful, blue is calming and yellow makes you happy.

This isn’t the corporate office, it’s your home, so get creative in making it yours, and making a place you look forward to working in. Incorporate art, lamps and accessories that convey your personality. Use what you have – turn a vase into a pen holder, wicker baskets for scrap paper, the dining sideboard for printer, phone and other supplies.

Scheduling

When you work alone, getting down to work can sometimes be hard – far easier to check out the fridge, stare into space, or run the vacuum through the main floor. Most successful people say that having a consistent routine, one that triggers the brain to get into think mode, is the only way to get things accomplished.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Finishing Touches

Tips to help you choose your new home finishes

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Tips to help you choose your new home finishes

Once you’ve figured out your home’s style, the rest comes pretty naturally – including picking the right finishes for your house, inside and out. Here are a few tips on helping you decide which way you’re leaning towards when choosing the right finish for you.

TAKE YOUR TIME

I say this with everything related to home decor and design, but it bears repeating: Take your time and don’t rush through any decision. It can become paralyzing when you think about everything you need to do – including picking every finish for every room – so know that you don’t have to replace every door knob and every hinge in a week. Slow it down and take your time, and move from room-to-room. That way you know you’re making an informed decision and will end up with a look you love. Trust me when I say you will appreciate the process of making the right choices.

LIGHTING

Choosing the lighting fixtures for the house is one of the many details you need to plan when decorating a new space, but to make the decisions more manageable, I’ve broken a home down room-by-room to share some suggestions.

• Entryway: The right lighting for an entryway is critical because it sets the mood and it can make your home look very inviting. A large lamp or chandelier can be lovely. If you have nice artwork displayed on your walls, accent lights can help to enhance their inherent beauty.

• Living room: Used as a place to relax as well as entertain, you will need to figure out the right balance in this space because this room is used quite often. There certainly are plenty of lighting options to choose from, like pendant lamps, chandeliers, floor lamps or sconces, so do a little gut check and remind yourself what your home’s overall style is and choose the lighting fixture that best compliments that. Also, don’t forget a dimmer switch. That truly makes all the difference.

• Dining room: I think this might be the easiest room to light primarily because you have the dining table as the main focal point in the room, so that means one thing: chandelier. Although pendant lights have also been gaining momentum, so again it goes back to your own personal style. Consider adding a task lamp or accent lights, too, if you wish to spotlight a certain feature in the room.

• Kitchen: Because there isn’t a single focal point in the room, it requires a more complex lighting system because of all the lighting the space requires. You’ll need overhead lights for your basic kitchen tasks, but you will also need extra lighting for areas like over a kitchen island or over the sink. I think spotlights and pendant lights both work here.

• Bedroom: Warm, warm, warm is the name of the lighting game here – you want your bedroom respite to feel restful and relaxing. Typically task lighting is used on bedside tables, but you can have beautiful sconces as well. Accent lights could be an option, depending on what you have on your walls, and I’d also use a dimmer switch here. It’s all about ambiance!

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Crafted

How to select a floorplan for your home

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How to select a floorplan for your home

It’s so exciting when you’re in the process of choosing a home! John and I are giddy over the place we’re building in Arizona, and although it’s taking a lot (a lot!) of work, we know it will be worth it in the end. In saying that, it’s also a major decision and one you can’t take lightly, so before you decide on anything else when it comes to your new home, it’s important to think about the floorplan first: this is what truly shapes how you experience your house, from the size and shape to where the rooms are located.

Here I take a look at some factors in choosing the right floorplan for you:

WHAT SIZE OF HOME BEST SUITS YOUR FAMILY?

Every family home doesn’t need to be this mammoth, sprawling compound, nor will every family feel comfortable in a two-bedroom abode. Choosing a floorplan should start with how large a home will fit your lifestyle: assess how many bedrooms you will need and how many bathrooms are enough for you – and for visiting guests.

WHAT’S YOUR DESIGN STYLE?

Every homeowner has their own design style, so choosing a floorplan is also about deciding which plan meets those needs, too. Do you like traditional, or prefer a more modern, open-floor concept? Take a moment to think about your furnishings and how you foresee decorating your space.

Typically coordinated colours are the most important when designing an open floorplan – so it’s best to keep this in mind.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS?

I’m going to tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect floorplan – it doesn’t exist – so there will always be a bit of give or take (and some compromise) on your ideal floorplan situation. Say, for example, you have a large window in your living room: That will eat up energy, so your cooling and heating bills will be higher. What if you have an open, spacious floorplan that doesn’t allow for much privacy between a family room and an office? These are the things you have to discuss ahead of time. How you live in your home, what your routines are and how that will impact layout. You need to base decisions on how the home flows and how functional it is for daily life.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Yes, this is true. You have the ability to know when a space feels right, comfortable and fits the family’s needs. There are plenty of floorplans out there, so just take your time and assess how your whole family will move throughout your house.

KNOW YOUR BUDGET

This goes without saying, but stay on course with a realistic floorplan, not one that’s heavily idealized (and heavily priced). Ask a contractor or builder to help you determine the costs associated with different types of floorplans so you know what fits in your overall budget.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Go With The Flow

BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Go With The Flow

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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Go With The Flow

A home should have a logical layout and good connection between spaces

The great secret to house design is careful planning right from the start, and this begins with deciding what kind of flow you want in your home. I know that may already sound like complicated business, but it is actually much easier to do than you think. By definition, good flow means a house that has a logical layout with a complimentary connection between spaces, meaning you have created a well thought-out home that functions exactly how you want it to. It’s really about how the house feels all the way from your front door to the backyard.

Is it comfortable, cozy, a good size and functional? Does it give you enough space to move easily from one room to the next?

This describes flow, and this is what you should think about:

  • The position of rooms and their relationship to each other.
  • The detail of how a room is laid out in terms of doors, windows and furniture, including “fitted” solutions such as flooring, kitchen finishes and cabinets, and bathrooms. These items should all have colour that is included in your overall scheme as they will certainly interact with the paint colours and sight lines to other rooms.

DESIGN

Think about your route through the whole house and each space, as these decisions will be reflected in the final plans. At this stage, always walk through your home numerous times to see how it feels.

LIMIT YOUR PALETTE

Rather than paint every room a different colour, my advice is to consider one beautiful neutral (I love a warm white) colour theme across the majority of your rooms. In saying that, be open to cherry-picking a couple of rooms in the house (i.e. a bedroom or den) where you can play with a bit of colour. Hues with similar tonal values tend to be your best bet, or even various shades of the same hue. Another great tip? Try before you buy.

The best way to avoid risk is to purchase a pint colour sample first and try it on for size. Paint your options on a board that you can move around the room for context or paint it directly on the wall and stand back.

Don’t forget wallpaper. It is making a huge comeback, and I’m currently obsessed with the return of grass cloth. I’m actually using it in a few rooms in my new Arizona home. It would look great in a powder room or library.

FURNISHINGS

Discover what your style is. Do you love Scandinavian? Modern, contemporary or traditional? You don’t want your house to be a mish-mash of all sorts of styles — it should be a story from beginning to end.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: 'Tis the Season

BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: ‘Tis the Season

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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: ‘Tis the Season

by Lisa Rogers

Shopping the flea markets and hunting for unique gems can be a thrill.

Summertime and the antique hunting’s easy — or should be when you hit the flea market trail. I admit flea markets are one of my happy places. There’s the surprise factor of never knowing what you’ll find, but it’s not just the thrill of the hunt. It’s also about being creative when incorporating those new treasures with what you already have.

Besides, flea markets are a great summer outing — they’re fun and relaxing and you meet interesting people. You can find great deals. And it’s a good excuse for doing a road trip. Whether you stick to Ontario, which has some fabulous antique shows and markets, or venture into the United States, which also has great flea markets, you get a taste of summer sun and country life.

The big ones in Ontario are the Grand Bend and Pinery markets, the Muskoka Antique Show in Port Carling at the end of July, the Aberfoyle Antique Market and the Christie Show in Flamborough in September (ChristieShow.ca). You can find a complete listing of various markets and shows at Antique 67.com to make it easy to plan your summer weekends.

If you’re thinking of going to the U.S. this summer, stick to markets in the northern states for obvious reasons. The biggest is Brimfield, Mass. (actually there are three sales in May, July and September (BrimfieldShow.com), but the flea market in Chicago is excellent and New York City has two markets every week. There’s also the world’s longest yard sale — 1,110 kilometres — in early August that runs from Michigan to Alabama along Highway 127 (details at 127YardSale.com). Only in America!

Go prepared — walking shoes, small change, bottled water and haggling skills — but also take a list and an understanding of how you want to decorate with any flea market finds so they work with your style.

The list should include room dimensions, floorplans (to identify what’s missing), a wish list and a tape measure. You don’t want to fall in love with something that won’t fit in your front door. Keep in mind your palette but remember things can be painted — metal porch chairs are a flea market staple and are easy to paint with spray-on enamel.

Often great buys are quilts, matelasse, vintage drapes and kilims (but check for holes and signs of wear and tear). If the fabric is worn in spots, pick it up if you want to make nice cushions.

Old picture frames, another staple of flea markets, are cheaper than new frames and can look wonderful when used with a B&W photos under a thick creamy mat. And you can sometimes score nice old watercolours, photographs or architectural prints. Paired with a chunky new frame, they find new life. Garden statuary is often lurking in the stalls, but masquerading as something else — a bronze bust, a metal birdcage, a terra cotta urn. They make great additions to the garden.

Dishes are in abundance at flea markets and if you don’t find a whole set, do the French thing and go for a mishmash so it looks like you’ve inherited the pieces. Go for the eclectic — matched sets come from big box stores. Six unmatched chairs for $10 each — painted high gloss red or orange — might work great with the kitchen table.

A word of caution: Know your prices so you can judge if something’s a deal and be prepared to haggle. It takes some planning — and discipline — to shop these shows and after several years searching for decor products — and making some mistakes along the way — I’ve become extremely discerning.

Antiques don’t have to be stuffy. One exquisite piece can balance and warm up an otherwise modern or contemporary decor scheme. It’s juxtaposition that makes layering work – a pine harvest table with six modern acrylic chairs looks great.

As long as items have the same scale, you can mix different pieces. And nothing says you can’t reinvent a piece by painting or reupholstering unless it’s a priceless antique. In any Paris apartment, you’re likely to find an antique chair upholstered in hot pink leather on a zebra hide rug next to striped drapery and African artifacts. The floor would be stacked high with books, walls covered in photographs and framed objets d’art, the dining table set with an eclectic mix of granny’s porcelain and modern stainless flatware. It’s scale and proportion you’re looking for, so keep that in mind when you scour the flea markets. The other thing about vintage or antique pieces is they just have that layered and storied feel to them, because many hands have held them, bottoms have sat in them, feet have rested on them.

And that’s what the French call creating a personal style.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Townhouse Living

BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Townhouse Living

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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Townhouse Living

There are a lot of advantes to living in a townhome

Townhouse living has a lot of perks. It’s an ideal choice for a family who wants the feel of a single-family home without all of the maintenance responsibilities that go along with it. Also advantageous is the fact that many townhomes are typically built in a neighbourhood development (so you get that great community feel) with a multi-floor plan, designated parking spots and/or garages.

With Toronto home prices soaring over the past several years, many people can’t afford the deposit on a new home, while the idea of moving into a condo or an older home is equally as unattractive.

I’ve been working with Dunpar Homes on a fabulous new townhouse development called The Ossington, and what makes it incredibly unique to the Toronto market is that they’re not only absolutely stunning, they’re rentals. Yes, you heard it here first. Luxe, beautiful townhomes for rent on Ossington Avenue between Dupont and Davenport.

These are seriously next level. Each Georgian-style home has incredible features: nine-foot ceilings on the main floor, a gas fireplace, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and custom cabinetry (plus soaker tubs and double-sinks), but one of my personal favourite features is the ground-level gardens and rooftop patios.

If you’re thinking of buying a townhouse (or renting at The Ossington) here are a few of my main reasons you may want to strongly consider it:

A CLASSIC THAT NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE

There’s a certain historic and timeless quality of a townhouse. They’re found in virtually all great cities of the world – Paris, London, Boston, New York City and now Toronto. They stand the test of time.

ALL THAT GREENSPACE

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or creating your own little garden, your outdoor space is your small oasis. Plus, some townhome associations include lawn maintenance and landscaping for a monthly fee.

LOWER MAINTENANCE

The maintenance of a townhouse is far less than a single-family home. Typically in a townhouse community, the homeowners’ association handles all the external maintenance to ensure a uniform appearance across all homes in the community and the owner is responsible for basic maintenance of the interior.

PART OF THE COMMUNITY

Because townhouse residents tend to live in close proximity of each other, you have the opportunity to really get to know your neighbours and build that tight-knit community. This can also give you peace of mind knowing you’re all looking out for each other.

MULTI-LEVEL IS A MAJOR PLUS

One of the nice benefits of living in a townhouse is the multi-level floorplans. You will have plenty of space (and privacy) for you and your family with bedrooms upstairs, spacious kitchens and even the option of fully finished basements.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Think Inside the Box

BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Think Inside the Box

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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Think Inside the Box

by Lisa Rogers

Container gardening on balconies and patios can create outdoor magic

After a long, cold winter, we’re all itching to get outside, head to our little backyard oasis and raise our faces to the sun.

Just because you live in a condo or a townhome, doesn’t mean you can’t have a lush beautiful garden. And just because you live in a house nothing says that your leafy oasis has to be on the ground.

Anyone can have a gorgeous garden right on the deck or balcony with a little pre-planning, some fundamental principles and great looking containers.

ASSESS YOUR SPACE

Figure out how much room there is and the type of exposure – higher floors on a condo create different planting zones because they are more exposed to harsh sun and wind. Check with the nursery to see which plants are hardiest under whatever conditions you have.

Calculate the amount of sun – and whether it’s morning or afternoon sun – to determine the type of plants. If there’s a lot of shade, you’ll be checking out impatiens, periwinkle, hostas and hydrangeas, while geraniums, salvia, coneflowers and peonies are sun worshipers. To create pockets of shade, try planter boxes along the railing, letting the ivy trail and providing cover for plants below.

CREATE A GARDEN PLAN

You want to enjoy the garden not just outside but from every vantage point inside as well, so figure out the views to coordinate colours and feel. Alternately, maybe your clean-lined modern interior would benefit from a riot of colour to draw the eye outside.

Keep proportion and ratio in mind; vary the heights of plants by mixing tall plants like palms or tropical trees with shorter bushes. Tall plants also create privacy from neighbours, as do trellises, but check with your condo board to see if you’re allowed to build. Add a couple of comfy chairs and a small table and you’ve created an oasis.

Decide on a colour scheme – not only simple and elegant, it will restrain you from buying every plant in the store. Choose two or three plants and repeat them. It saves money in the long run and creates a unified look that is calming and easier to care for.

CONTAINERS

They come in such a variety of sizes and they’ll help with the varied heights. Buy in durable lightweight materials that look like wood or stone as they’re easier to move around. And so easy – no mulch, weeding or digging.

If you like a clean look, choose identical containers that complement simple plant colours such as glossy green leaves and white blooms. If it’s a cottagey effect you’re after, use anything. An old metal wash bucket for growing herbs, wire egg baskets for hanging planters for those coral geraniums and pink begonias. Add in lime green or silvery foliage.

You can also use perennials in your containers. Although they don’t spread quite like annuals and, if you’re in a condo, you’re not likely to overwinter them.

PLANTING

Place the tallest plant in the centre of the pot and lower the heights as you move outward. For example, a tall tree or bush like hibiscus or Mandevilla, surrounded by shorter transition plants and at the edge add trailers. Spend money on plants that spread – impatiens, portulacas, various ivy like periwinkle and pachysandra – but leave enough room in the pot for them to grow otherwise they’ll die off after a month.

Bring out your indoor plants – they flourish outdoors in the summer as long as you keep an eye on sun exposure, which can burn them. Rubber plants, schefflera and Christmas cactus are ideal for the outside.

When grouping containers, remember the 3-5-7 principle — grouping in threes or fives or sevens. If you’re attaching pots to the fence, position at eye level because if they’re placed on top of the rail, you’ll see only the bottom of the pot when sitting down.

And finally, do add some garden accents. There’s nothing like the sound of water burbling all summer so add a water feature. Add a fire pit while you’re at it — summer evenings can be chilly, though it’s also handy to have a basket of pashminas at the ready for wrapping around your shoulders.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Big Style, Small Spaces: Bring Spring In

Big Style, Small Spaces: Bring Spring In

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Bring Spring In

by Lisa Rogers

Simple ways to embrace a new season indoors

There’s no denying that spring has us excited to embrace nature and the fresh air again, so while we work on prepping our patio and outdoor space, what are some simple ways we can bring the season indoors? Here, six of my favourite tips!

1. Pared-down, simple and stunning: Clip your backyard blossoms and scatter in different vases of different shapes, sizes and colours throughout your home. It’s a casual yet sophisticated way of celebrating the vitality of the season.

2. Don’t just spring clean, spring edit: You know how big I am in editing your home. Clean up over-stuffed bookshelves by removing all the novels you read during the colder season, clean out your pantry of winter fare and stock with new seasonal finds and swap out heavy, thick throws, blankets and pillows for their lighter, airier counterparts.

3. Clutter-free: This isn’t that dissimilar from above, but it’s time to get rid of all the accumulated clutter you have. Keep a few of your favourite pieces, trinkets, vases or other accessories on display, but others retire to storage and rotate when the mood strikes.

4. Break out the bright colours: A coral throw, perhaps? Or what about a new bold piece of art? Have fun with it and think of spring-friendly shades like lemon, peach, lavender or mint green. But, in saying that, reserve these new additions to “pops” of colour throughout your home, while keeping everything else neutral in tones. That way you’re giving your space a roomy, airy feel. Also, while you’re at it, swap out your heavy sets of sheets and down comforters for much cooler cottons and linens.

5. Add some houseplants or flowers: Pots, plants or vases are the easiest way to bring spring in. Little succulents are very charming, and who can forget the rainbow colours of beautiful tulips?

6. Indoor herb garden: Don’t just limit all the new plant life that grows in the springtime outdoors. An indoor herb garden is a lovely way to bring some of nature inside. And the scent fresh herbs emit? Divine! Grab a few small pots, some potting soil and the seeds of some of your favourite herbs. You need the right amount of light, so be sure to start your set-up in a place where you know you’ll get ample natural light (near a window sill, or in it, is ideal). The easiest herbs to grow are chives, mint, parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary. Plant them all and watch them grow.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Big Style, Small Spaces: Book Worm

Big Style, Small Spaces: Book Worm

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Book Worm

by Lisa Rogers

Books aren’t only a treasure to read, but also to hold and display

Whoever said anything about books being obsolete hasn’t met an interior designer! Because, to us, books aren’t only a treasure to read, but also to hold and display – on your shelves and coffee table. They add weight and layers to a room, and the sense that the space has been lived in and curated by someone who cares.

I love going to the bookstore and browsing through the coffee table books – about gardening, interior design, cooking, fashion and photography. There’s nothing quite like a gorgeous coffee table book for inspiration. Browsing interiors or gardens online doesn’t compare – you can’t sit on the sofa in front of the fire, a cup of tea at hand and with the computer in your lap in quite the same way as a big fat book.

Online images are all over the place, whereas a book has a set focus and the settings and photos are related to that focus. You can be transported to exotic places you otherwise wouldn’t get to see. Vogue Living: Homes, Gardens, People, for example, is full of lavish interiors culled from the past several years of celebrity homes.

Art books are wonderful coffee table books. My new favourite is the one I got from David Hockney’s latest exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art last fall. Fashion is another passion of mine – I love anything shot by Richard Avedon, arguably the greatest fashion photographer of the 20th century, and the 2015 book pulling together his collection of Dior photographs is another favourite.

The books are timeless; Tom Ford’s book of fashion — simply named Tom Ford — was published in 2008, the Chanel Collections came out in 2007, and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was available in 2011, all of them still bestsellers. I never get tired of going through my coffee table books. If I’m starting a project, I’ll spend an hour or so flipping through and will inevitably see something I want to incorporate.

Gardening books take you to places you’d never get in to see, like secret parterre gardens in England or France, courtyards in Venice, vast expanses of flowers in The Netherlands.

Whatever your passion happens to be – horses, dogs, needlework, fashion jewellery, 11th- century Japanese porcelain — invest in some large books with beautiful photos and captivating text and put them out for the world to see.

Books aren’t just about beautiful pictures; they also help you understand something, whether that is the balance and symmetry of a garden or an interior design, or how the various flavours co-exist in a wonderful recipe. When I want to do gardening, I will pick up a gardening book because I want to know how to create a garden, what temperature the plants thrive in, the kind of soil, and so on.

Books also work well as an integral part of your interior decor – heavy ones on their side on the bookshelf, or coffee table, or on the console. I switch them up every week or so, depending on the season and my mood and love how the covers are so eye catching.

I even display cookbooks on the kitchen island, the kitchen table, sometimes with a vase of fresh flowers on top. I like to have them accessible and within reach for the recipe I might need. But they’re also handy for keeping friends occupied while you’re preparing food.

The only thing with cookbooks is they’re a genre of their own and don’t translate as well into lusciousphotography in the same way as design or gardening. But they have a unique collectible quality as social and historical documentation. I have a few cookbooks that were my great grandmother’s, passed down to my grandmother, my mother and now me. I still make the shortbread recipe at Christmas that my great-granny made.

My all-time favourite cookbooks are my mom’s Joy Of Cooking, the Silver Spoon series, all of Julia Child’s books, and the Gourmet cookbook, a classic collection that required sifting through 50,000 recipes by editor Ruth Reichel and her staff. My latest favourite is the one I picked up last summer while taking the Tuscookany gourmet cooking school in Tuscany.

It’s a wonderful thing to hand these down generationally – your kids might not want your china, crystal or furniture, but they love the cookbooks that yielded their food, because food and memories are all intertwined. I love to make something that I remember my mother making, which I now know my grandmother made and her mother before her. Every time I pick up the book I think of those women, a constant reminder and a thread through the family.

These books make great gifts, especially for thard-to-buy for friends and family. As long as they have a passion, there’s a book to satisfy it, which they can read, look at and display on the coffee table.

Where to find them? I’m reluctant to provide a list of must-have design books because I love so many of them and it’s such a personal choice. Since it’s always best to flip through them before buying, head to the biggest Chapters or Indigo you know because they’ll have the most extensive collection. Also, Elte Market has some beautiful coffee table books for sale. Check out publishers’ websites, especially the high-end houses like Rizzoli, Taschen or Vendome Press, because their books are excellent quality, even if a little pricey.

See what books your friends have. I visited my sister in New York recently and she had some gorgeous new books out so when I returned to Toronto I ordered them directly through Vendome Press – The Haute Bohemians; Out East: Houses and Gardens in the Hamptons; Life at the Top, a look at the rooftops of New York City, The Art of Celebrating by David Monn (about dinner parties in places like the White House) and A House in the Country.

I’ll be in reading material for quite a while.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

Make sure your home office is efficient but also reflects your personality

Working from home has lots of advantages – the office commute is about 30 seconds, you can stick a load of laundry in between conference calls, and you can wear PJs for most of the day. The downside is you’re too close to it to get away, you don’t want to be doing laundry all day, and PJs are really a fashion crime. Whether you work for yourself, or for a company that allows for some work from home, you still need a proper office. To start with, plan by making a list of everything you need in order to work well — natural light, tons of storage space and miles of countertop.

Where you work is important — preferably a dedicated office space in the guest bedroom, a main floor den, or the basement. This also depends on the kind of work you do; clients dropping in need a place to sit. Laptops and WiFi make it easy to move your office around, even to the back deck. Once you’ve picked a spot, try a space planner to see where the furniture should go, making sure electrical outlets and phone jacks – if you still use a landline – are close to the workspace. Include space for a printer, phone and resource materials. Rarely used items can be stored in the basement or a closet.

CHAIR

You’ll be sitting in this for six to eight hours a day, so get one that adjusts to your specific ergonomics. As pretty as leather is, refrain from buying it because you need something breathable. Chairs range in price from $150 to $2,000, but you can get a decent one for about $300.

DESK

Standard desks are 29 inches high, but 27 inches high is actually ergonomically better for where your arms and hands are while using a laptop. If the desk isn’t adjustable, raise your chair a little. You also need enough workspace to spread out papers; if one desk won’t do, add a second.

A writing desk is preferable to those clunky mid-century office desks – much lighter and easier to move around. Place your desk so you have a view of the room and away from the outdoors. Remember to place it so that light falls over your shoulder.

STORAGE

Drawers in the desk – or in stackable containers on top – are good for having stationery, paper clips, pens, pencils and staplers close at hand. Wallmounted storage minimizes physical and visual clutter.

Wherever you keep your files – on the computer, or an external hard drive, or in file folders – make a habit of culling regularly. If you haven’t used something in a year, toss it. (Except taxes. Those you need to keep for seven years.)

LIGHTING

Natural light is best, especially since windows also provide good ventilation. But if that’s not possible, bump up the overhead and task lighting and add a reading lamp. If there’s no room on the desk, have it wall mounted.

DECORATE

If your home office is visible from the rest of the main floor, try to tie it in decoratively so that it blends in style, colour and theme.

Don’t be afraid of colour, or at least adding colourful accessories. I love white space, but I still like to add colour through accessories – a Navajo blanket, or beautiful pillows on a chair. Incorporate colour as well into stationery, magazine racks, storage containers and so on. Colour affects the way you feel; orange is considered a colour that stimulates creativity, green is restful, blue is calming and yellow makes you happy.

This isn’t the corporate office, it’s your home, so get creative in making it yours, and making a place you look forward to working in. Incorporate art, lamps and accessories that convey your personality. Use what you have – turn a vase into a pen holder, wicker baskets for scrap paper, the dining sideboard for printer, phone and other supplies. Splurge on a chaise – go modern with Eames or Mies, or traditional like a fainting couch — for naps and reading breaks.

SCHEDULE

When you work alone, getting down to work can sometimes be hard; it’s far easier to check out the fridge, stare into space, or run the vacuum through the main floor. Most successful people say that having a consistent routine, one that triggers the brain to get into think mode, is the only way to get things accomplished.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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