Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Favorite Things

Just in time for New Years my version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic... something light to hum about.

Neutrals on sofas and rich hardwood flooring
Stainless steel fridges and granite topped islands
Beautiful lighting dripping with crystals
These are a few of my favorite things...

Fresh cut bouquets and tables of whiteware
Flat screen tv's and black and white artwork
Plump downy cushions in designer fabrics
These are a few of my favorite things...

Hotel chic bedding and feather bed toppers
French pleated panels and white pillar candles
Glass topped tables with naguchi bases
These are a few of my favorite things...

When the room bites
When there's no bling
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things....
and then I don't feel so bad

Soft muted walls and bright coloured accents
Five paneled doors with brushed nickel hardware
Beadboard wainscotting all trimmed in cloud white
These are a few of my favorite things...

Warm cotton throws and button tufted headboards
Bowls filled with seashells and stacks of design books
Wicker baskets that contain all the clutter
These are a few of my favorite things...

When the room bites
When there's no bling
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Contained Christmas Decorating

The snow has finally made an appearance here on PEI and from my contacts with people across Canada, it seems to be everywhere and all at once. Canada, winter, the two go hand in hand. Except Vancouver, we had a sales rep in the store today who just got back and said the weather on the other side of the coast was wonderful.

I have to say I'm like most people and not a big fan of cold weather. In fact, I caught myself saying, out loud today, that I hate winter. It was so cold and windy here today, minus minus minus. How cold did it get? I'm not sure but let me check the weather channel. ... TV on, select channel. (does your tv say hello to your when you turn it on?) Ok, it says minus 7 but I'm not buying it. It has to be minus 20... brrrr

The one thing about this kind of weather is it really gets people in the mood for Christmas, decorating, shopping and entertaining. I had the opportunity to do a seminar on Christmas decorating a couple of weeks ago , which was really fun. I thought I would share some of my ideas with you.

Here are a few tips and things that I like to do with containers, glassware, dishes and bowls to keep things simple and stress free.

Glassware: It isn't just for flowers. I love and I mean love using glass vessels, whether they be vases, hurricane lanterns or bowls and filling them with Christmas ornaments. This is so easy to do. Take any vase and just load it up with colourful balls, shiny, matte or glossy, they just look good. Other things I like to do. Load up your vases with pinecones and perhaps a ball or 3 and again, voila instant arrangement. How about a taper candles tied with a pretty ribbon and just laid inside or on top of a glass dish. I also like to pour some sand inside and then add a pillar candle and a wee tiny ornament for colour. Has anyone ever used epson salts inside vases. It looks like crystals of snow and again just add a candle as above and you get another new look.

Cranberries: Don't just save them for turkey dinner. Cranberries placed in vessels with or without water and a candle makes a nice colourful arrangement. Amazingly they last for weeks. One of my favorite cranberry recipes goes like this... Get a tall open mouthed vase out of the cupboard, add some cranberries, then some water so they float, add a bunch of willow branches in the center and finish off by adding 3 stems (or more) of white lilies. I'm no florist but hey, I can pull this one off in my sleep. The lilies give you beautiful fragrance and the berries add a nice splash of colour. Depending on how fresh you can get your flowers this should last about a week. Once the flowers have seen better days throw them out, change the water and replace the lilies. A word on lilies. The stamens need to be picked off just as they begin to open. If you do this regularly you will not end up with the orangey stains they can leave behind on anything which touches up against them. I usually put a kleenex in my hand and pick them off with this as they stain like crazy.

Candles: Everyone loves candlelight. Flat dishes, trays or flat bottomed bowls are great for making terrific looking candle arrangements. Pillars set on flat surfaces surrounded with cones, sand, salts, little ornaments or balls set the mood. To get a nice burn trim your wicks to about half of their original height. Design tip: Use candles in odd numbers, 3, 5 or 7 etc... and either use all the same height or stagger them with varying heights.

Flowers: Spring bulbs aren't just for spring. Pick up spring bulbs from the garden center in the fall. Instead of putting them in the ground in the fall place them in your fridges crisper. Leave them there for at least 8 weeks and make sure they have holes in the bag so they don't go moldy. After 8 weeks take them out and plant them in a container as follows; Add some river rock to the bottom of your container then fill with water just up to the level of the rocks. Place your bulb or multiple bulbs with the root sides down. Now place them in a bright location for another few weeks and after that a sunny spot. Keep on with the water just to the root level. Within a few weeks the roots will sprout and then the flowers will explode. This is actually a very simple thing to do to have flowers throughout the dreary winter days. Bulbs that work best include, paperwhites, amarylis, hyacinths and muscari. They also smell terrific!

Fruit: So good for you to eat and so good to decorate with. Citrus colours are in. The bright yellow of lemon, the warmth of orange or the bright green in limes look stunning in glass bowls. Vitamin C never looked so good. Granny Smith or Red Delicious Apples in ample amounts set about in bowls add to the feast of Christmas. Go for real or go for faux, fill a bowl and add instant colour.

I could likely write on and on but these ideas are hopefully a good start to easy Christmas decorating with everyday items.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Island Living

Just today the newest issue of Island Living Magazine arrived in the store. Moving Designz work was featured in this, the Christmas edition. The feature was a pictorial on the condo we decorated for Christmas in Harbour Terrace Condominiums. The beautiful condo is located upstairs in the same building as our store.

Kudos to Karla Kordyban, publisher, (and her husband Ralph) for her tremendous drive and spirit for starting such a magazine. I hope that many of you reading this blog will support the magazine and buy issues. The articles, writing and photography truly show a representation of what PEI is all about. I'm thrilled to be part of the magazine since its inception just this past June.

It's pretty amazing to pick up a magazine and read about people you know and others you may not know but have interesting stories to share.

A few months ago I received my 20th anniversay issue of Canadian House & Home magazine in which they tell their story of how they began, the struggles they faced and how they persevered to become a leader in Canadian publishing. Hopefully, in 20 years we will all look back at Island Living magazine and remember how they have grown from such humble beginnings.

Congratulations to Karla and all her hard working associates, writers, photographers and designers in bringing this magazine to PEI newsstands. If you haven't seen the magazine yet I encourage you to go out and buy it. Find out where at

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bringing out your Inner Designer

Whether you are renovating or starting a room from scratch you need a good plan can help you to get the look you want. I thought I would list some tips that we designers use on a constant basis.

1. Make a list of your furniture and accessories wants and needs.
2. Once you make the list prioritize, based on your budget. Consider the rooms function and what pieces are essential for comfort, function, and beauty.
3. Draw a floor plan of your room. Make it detailed to include doorways, windows and any architectural features. Include the sizes of your windows for reference when sourcing window treatments. Taking a few digital pictures is also a great idea.
4. Layout your furniture. All rooms need a strong focal point whether it is a fireplace or a view, arrange your furniture around your focal point to visually ground the room.
5. Identify what style you prefer. You can easily do this by flipping through magazines or surfing the internet to find what really appeals to you and your lifestyle.
6. When buying furniture purchase the large pieces first. These pieces will be your guide when choosing smaller pieces. Take your colour cue from these large pieces. Bring your floorplan and colour palette with you when shopping.
7. Vary the heights of objects within a room. When it comes to accessorizing create interest by using tall, medium and short items.
8. Display accessories in uneven numbers. Asymmetry is interesting to the eye.
9. Leave some space around objects and furniture. We refer to this as white space, it's the space that lets your eyes wander from one object to another without being overwhelmed. Furniture placement is crucial when creating a comfortable look and feel to your rooms.
10. Keep a file of your upholstery swatches and paint chips. I find a large ziplock baggy very handy for this. Keep it in the glove box or trunk of your car. This way when you are shopping it is always available.
11. Hang artwork at standing eye level. Use a small piece of double sided tape on the back to keep it level.
12. Changing out your accessories seasonally will keep your room feeling fresh.
13. If you are struggling or unsure consulting with a designer may be just what you need to pull your look together.

Project Renovation

Recently I have been working with a couple on their 4 year old house. What started as a consult on a new colour scheme and ideas to update thier home turned into an entire cosmetic renovation. The couple had found after living in their new home it wasn't meeting their expections.

I hadn't realized the scope of work they had in mind until after we met at the house. After meeting with them and discussing their needs and wants it quickly became evident that they had put some careful thought into just how they wanted the house to suit their lifestyle. What they needed was some direction and a concrete action plan to breathe new life into their space.

The real challenge became thier timeline, they wanted the project completed by Christmas so that they could enjoy the holidays with their family and friends. I should say our initial meeting took place just 5 shorts weeks ago. The home was your average 2 story with basic builder finishes. What we planned was a complete change in the colour scheme to lighter and airier colours and upgrades to all the finishes.

One thing about renovating is you need to have a solid budget, which they did. Which leads me to another fact about renovating ... people generally get on a roll and this often leads to more work and thus more expense. With my experience I have come to realize that most renovations will end up costing more and it is wise to know beforehand that your budget will likely be stretched an additional 10-25%.

In this case I would have to say that we have exceeded this figure. My clients decided after starting that they wanted to do more. Instead of just focusing on the main floor they decided they wanted to have the lower floor redone while we were at it. We're still working out those details and waiting for new flooring.

In the past 5 weeks we have had the original kitchen cabinets painted white, added a quartz countertop, a new tile backsplash and cabinet hardware, painted each and every single room in the house, revised the lighting plan and installed new light fittings and potlights throughout the home, changed the original entry floor plan and staircase, added wainscotting, installed a new fireplace, custom bookshelves, and a built in seating bench in the dinette, retiled the entry and the kitchen, changed carpets. Truly there has not been a surface that hasn't been changed.

One of the hardest things we had to do was to rip up hardwood flooring that was in the kitchen and adjoining dining area. The family's dog had ruined the floor with claw marks and nothing could be done to save it or revive it. It is heartbreaking to rip up a 4 year old floor but now that it is replaced with tiles it is far more functional and durable.

Some things still remain on the to do list but much has been accomplished in such a short time. This case is unusual, normally with this scope of work it can take months to complete. Luckily my clients are in the building trade and could round up contractors and finish carpenters to get the job done. As with any job you can expect things to go wrong, they will and it's nobody's fault it just happens. The quartz countertop arrived ahead of schedule but it wasn't theirs. It was the right countertop but the wrong house. So we wait for that ...

I was at the house just yesterday and the results are amazing to say the least. The rooms are barely recognizable as the same house. I will be posting the renovation before and after pictures on my website in the new year.

Here are a few tips on the renovation process:

Establish a budget with extra reserves to fall back on.
Develop a clear plan to meet your needs.
Realize that you will be living in a mess short term and the results will be worth the effort and wait.
Expect the unexpected. Nothing will ever go along smoothly.
Consult professionals for guidance and advice.
Communicate with your contractors on a daily basis.
The choice and quality of finishes will affect your budget. Upgrades in finishes will increase the long term value of your home.