Very Pinterest-ing

28 Oct

These are busy times and I really have more important things to be working on, BUT, I do have a cold, and I do feel crummy, and its been eons since I last posted on my blog and this seems like a good subject and….and….well those are all the excuses I have right now for being glued to my computer for my latest compulsion – Pinterest.

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If you work in any design-related field and don’t have a Pinterest account yet to help inspire and keep those creative juices flowing, well, shame on you!

So really this post is complete, below are some awesome pics from my Pinterest account, take a quick look – and then go go go get your own account!

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By Bobby McAlpine (who else?!?!?)

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Source unkown, repinned from Rachel Halvorson on Pinterest

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Via HouseBeautiful

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Via SouthernAccents – by McalpineBoothFerrier

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Via ElleDecor (this actually inspired a current room I am working on – can’t wait to share – love Hague Blue!)

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Source unknown, repinned from Carly Mitchell

And it’s not just about design, but also crafting, baking, humour, etc. It’s all about inspiration….

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….via pinterest…just because…..

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via pinterest – almost makes me want to learn how to bake

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Via – I just need to think of something to bottle….

Happy Pinning!

Amy B




1stdibs addiction

28 Jun

This post is long over due – almost embarrassingly so. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day!

….having said that – I do seem to find time to check out my newest addiction a few times a week….

I am sure this is old news to most of you – but for those of you who have not been to this site – I demand you go check it out right this second….and enjoy the daydreaming!

I leave you just a couple of the dreamy items I found today….

Petrified Wood Side Table – How can you not love an item that has “1/2 million years old” stated in its description?
I saw this Jacobean inspired settee in person at Kantelberg Antiques – even more dreamy in person.
This industrial steel table has a great look to it – a fun piece.
American 19th Century folk art horse – love it.
At $40k – this tapestry doesn’t come cheap but it is beautiful. Measuring 11’6 x 7’3, this 1880’s French masterpiece would make a great drape! Think I’m nuts? – I am planning a post on my fave architect Bobby McAlpine – and you will see what I mean!

In honour of Google SketchUp

19 Nov

Well it has been an insanely busy couple weeks and I have barely had time to breathe let alone write a blog entry. I am new to the world of blogging and to those who have been at it for some time and never miss a beat, I say hats off!

As I sit here quickly sketching a free-standing window seat to submit for a quote I think to myself “thank God for SketchUp”…… so what better time than now, in my frazzled and rushed state to write a (very) quick post  in honour of one of  my favourite time-saving tools: Google SketchUp.

I started using SketchUp early on in my design career – and I thank my lucky stripes for that. A self-professed computer nerd, I loved learning new computer programs and prided myself on having a fairly extensive working knowledge of a large array of programs. I was excited to take on the challenge of SketchUp. As it turns out, there wasn’t much of a challenge at all. It was intuitive and fun to learn and has now become an integral part of my design process. Clients really appreciate being able to visualize the end result – and if I can help alleviate even 1% of the stress associated with any redecorating/designing project – its worth it! 

I love the fact that you can get a 3-D model drawn in under an hour and from that drawing you can make endless changes to not only colour and finishes but to the walls and structures themselves easily and quickly – way more efficient than hand-drawing – at least for me, anyway.

So here are some recent projects I have done in SketchUp. Note that I do use the Pro version as I wanted to integrate with AutoCAD and use the Layout function…the regular version is free! As you can see from the (admittedly poorly taken) photo at the bottom, renderings can be very accurate. I am curious who else is using SketchUp – or will be after reading this post :)

Thats it for now – I gotta get back to work!!!





Everything Old is New Again – Salvaged Light Fixtures

4 Nov

I stopped in at The Door Store today –  it’s a fabulous  salvage shop just North of downtown Toronto. I was in search of the perfect light fixture for a breakfast nook I ‘m working on.

From the second I walk through the front doors,  I feel as though I am transported to another world (in my head I am imagining that I am within the pages of Stephen King’s “Of Needful Things” – but I mean that it the best way possible!)

Personally, I love salvage shops and could spend hours perusing the assortment of old doors, hardware, corbels, and fixtures. Plenty of inspiration and unique design ideas to be found. Another great thing about The Door Store is they can service much of what they sell… Need the arm on that fixed pendant shortened? No problem, there is a workshop right in the store.

Today I found some real beauties. They may be a little rough around the edges – but that’s what makes them so charming – plus they will clean up well. For the client who prefers more of a “pristine salvaged” look – Restoration Hardware is the place to go. Often the prices of the new goods are less than its salvaged counterpart – but in my opinion they can never truly offer the same vibe that an original salvaged item can. It’s simply a matter of preference.

So where does one start?

I start by looking waaaaay up – and I spotted this one right away – strong possibilities…perhaps a little rough around the edges….

But the Optic Pendant from Restoration Hardware is a great alternative…

I really love this old factory pendant from The Door Store – but the top seems a little unfinished….

Here is a good alternative – but I find this one,  Restoration Hardware’s Clemson pendant, too shiny and new for the look I am after. Who, me? Picky??? Nooooo…..

I really see some potential in this fixture from The Door Store, it’s the perfect shape and scale – but I wish it were black, perhaps a can of spray paint? or….I could go with this one) from Restoration Hardware (Vintage Barn pendant).

So which one did I choose? You will have to wait and see…..stay tuned! ;)


Is Black the New White?

31 Oct


I adore white interiors – but if I had to pick one favorite colour – it has to be black. I dress almost exclusively in black, I drive a black car…..even my dog is black.  I find it beautiful without being flashy – and it goes with absolutely everything. And what better night than Halloween to post some of my favorite black interiors.

Note the use of black as trim – a great design choice that suits many interior styles from traditional to ultra modern. It can also look comfortable or glamorous depending on what you pair it with – so versatile. Looking through a window trimmed in black let’s the view take center stage – so a great option for windows with great views on to lovely scenery and green space. Also note the frequent use of white with black. These colours were made to go together.

Enjoy – and Happy Halloween!



Heading in the White Direction

27 Oct

I recently attended the CDECA (Canadian Decorators’ Association) professional development day just outside Toronto. Janice Lindsay – colour guru and PPG Pittsburgh Paints spokesperson gave a fabulous talk on the use of white (specifically paint) in interior decoration. Suitably called “White or Wrong”, her presentation was thought-provoking, entertaining and very informative and I thought I would share some of her wisdom with you all.

So when is white right and when is it wrong? Well, it’s wrong when there is too much contrast – using white paint in a room with a lot of dark wood, for example, will not lighten the room, it will just make the dark wood appear darker. It’s wrong in a room with no windows – white needs light, especially natural light, in order to look it’s best. White is a highlighter, so if you don’t want to highlight something, don’t paint it white – poor trimwork is an example. Her analogy of not wearing white spandex workout gear unless you have the body of a Greek God got that point across loud and clear!

Now, we have all seen a fabulous room done in white, right? What is it that makes white right? Well, for one: texture, texture, texture. The subtle changes in shading caused by texture helps make white more inviting and gives it more life. Using shine is another tip: take a bathroom for instance, paint in one shade of white, but in bands of different shine levels (perhaps matte and eggshell) and you have white look that works.

As any design professional can attest to, picking the right shade of white is an art. Janice Lindsay specifically cautions against assuming that the same white paint “works” on all ceilings and trim in any colour room – even going so far as implying that a certain designer “go-to” shade from a well-known maker  (we hear designers gush about this shade on TV alllllllll the time – and, yup, I have used it, too!) could be likened to a four-letter word…. Well – fair enough – I wouldn’t use it in every room either! But her point was made clear: when selecting a white trim paint – the supporting colours, along with other room elements, must be fully considered for each instance. A blue-tinged white looks the best in most rooms with blue walls. Green walls, need a white with a hint of green. The trim will still look white in contrast – but it will give you the best overall result. She suggested mixing the wall colour (about 25%) into a pure white paint for this purpose. Another caveat: be careful what will be reflecting in to the white. A white room, with green leafy trees right at the windows may make the walls appear to have a greenish hue – choosing the right white can help ensure that any casting from other sources (not just windows – think brightly hued drapes in a white room) does not reflect poorly (couldn’t resist!) on the look you are going for.

So this much is clear – there is no “perfect”, “go-to” white that simply “works” anywhere. I personally love white when used properly – in fact I have a current project which is heading in the white direction (haha)- and it will not be cold or boring – it will be bright and warm and inviting – stay tuned for the progress shots! 

Finally, I have attached some shots of white done right – won’t find any white done wrong here – we have all seen that so no visuals are required!

…think I am now feeling a post on using BLACK coming on………..

Happy decorating!


Mad about Martha(‘s Kitchens) – Part 2

23 Oct

Martha’s new kitchen line, which includes 11 cabinet styles, 8 countertops and 45 pieces of cabinet hardware and is prepping to roll out at Home Depot stores in Canada and as we speak, is an intimidating endeavour – even for Martha!  Kitchens are a focus for my design studio so I am always curious to see what options are out there and reap some new inspiration for our custom designs.

My favorite, based on the images I have seen, is the Seal Harbor – and not just because it is eerily similar to a kitchen I recently designed (before seeing her cabinets I might add)! I have always had a soft spot for the “modern farmhouse” look.

For a more contemporary kitchen – the Weston fits the bill. A great look – who doesn’t love a counter wrapped down the side of an island?

I think the Lilly Pond and Maidstone are acceptable in design – but the finishes and colours shown in these promotional shots don’t do it for me.  In another finish I think the Maidstone design could be especially acceptable…the finish shown is “Fortune Cookie” – I even dislike the name. Very un-Martha-like.

Lastly we have the Ox Hill and Skylands. Perfectly nice. Now I need to go see how much these suckers cost once you get them configured to actually fit in to an existing kitchen…