Creating a Suite Retreat…

We talk often about creating the whole package when designing your home…you’ve got to pull all aspects together for a peaceful and harmonious balance in your life.  So what better way than keeping this philosophy in mind as you go about designing and decorating your Master Bedroom.  It often is the last place in your home that you tend to…it’s understandable that you want your public living areas to be finished first as this is where your guests gather.  But it is so important to have a restful, peaceful area to go to at the end of a busy work day!  So don’t cut yourself short…whether you are living in a tiny apartment, or enjoy the luxury of a large estate home, be sure to pay some attention to your Master Suite…a sweet retreat!

Photo Courtesy of Design Connection, Inc.

In choosing your color palette, as always, choose colors that envelope you with a peaceful feeling.  So popular now are the pale aquas and silvery greens, or a shade of champagne…what could be more relaxing (and romantic!) than champagne…whatever your choice, choose colors that you love.  Layer on shades of similar color choices in your bedding and accessories  for a serene look.  Different textures of materials will add interest, but keeping the same colors sends a relaxing message of not being too busy and crazy—the last thing you want at the end of a nutty day!

Photo Courtesy of Beyond Drapery

In choosing materials to finish and furnish your bedroom, check out the ever increasing range of allergen-free products.  If you’re prone to allergies, you are better to eliminate carpet out of your plan, and go with a hardwood surface.  If hardwood isn’t in your budget, check out the many great alternatives…there are some vinyl products that mimic hardwood that are fantastic.  Blackstock Leather is a fabulous eco-friendly product that I am considering using my own Master Bedroom.  It can be applied as flooring, or onto walls (yes, walls!!)  How about that for a feature wall behind your bed—even as a headboard it looks just great!  I am NOT in love with my current shag carpeting that was existing in our recently purchased home, and think this might be a great replacement option.

 Photo Courtesy of Candice Olsen

As a long time fan of Candice Olsen, the above Master Bedroom Suite is a perfect inspiration for a restful, luxurious retreat.  Layers  of patterns and textures in shades of blues.  Carrying the draperies right to ceiling height add height to this already grand room and highlight the architecture of the ceiling.  It is always nice if you can incorporate a chair into your bedroom if you are lucky enough to have the space.  Can’t you just picture having morning coffee here?

Photo Courtesy of Style North

Don’t have enough in your re-decorating budget for all new furnishings?  Consider spraying your current furnishings to coordinate the look.  Many people have collections of mis-matched nightstands, dressers, and such.  Choose which pieces you really love that will fit in with your new design plans, fitting your storage requirements, and furniture layouts.  Have your pieces all painted in one color coordinating with your room.  By keeping the color consistent, you maintain a cohesive look, and you have done a great thing for both the environment and your pocket-book!

Wishing you Sweet Dreams!



Adding some Spring to your Step…and your Home!

It is that time of year when visions of green keep popping into our head!  Spring is just around the corner,  and now is the time to start planning those spring time projects for your home, both inside and out.  Having a new yard to begin landscaping has me designing various layouts for upcoming flower and shrub beds, including moving plants that have become too large for their space and filling up a corner of my yard that is difficult to mow and really is a dead space calling out for a special feature–maybe a water fountain surrounded by some beautiful perennials.

But until the snow is gone…let’s focus still on interiors.


Photo Courtesy of Child

As clients are excited about updating and freshening their spaces for Spring, various shades of green keep popping into our plans.  Whether planning a modern twist on a traditional nursery, as above, or re-creating your main living area, I love the various shades and combinations of green.  Easily incorporated into a variety of styles, we continue to see greens ranging from sages and olives to the crisp apple and acid greens.  Espresso and black tones of furnishings partner well in a traditional home.


Photo Courtesy of House and Home

I love these rustic end tables mixed with the crisp traditionally upholsetered side chair.  If contemporary is more your style, pair apple and acid toned greens with Chrome, brushed stainless, white and translucent furnishings.

Photo Courtesy of Stanley Furnishings

The above photo highlights a shade of green we are currently using in a project.  Benjamin Moore Grasslands CC-590 is a perfect shade to partner with medium toned rustic wood flooring.  Our trim color choice is Navajo White OC-95.  It is the perfect combination to brighten up a dull, dated interior.

Be sure to highlight a gorgeous view to the outside if your scenery allows.  As below, if you are surrounded by greenery and lush surroundings, create a vista inside your home that compliments the view to the exterior.  This beautiful island home features the armoire flanked on either side by windows with a great view to the greenery outside.  Layering the décor accessories in varying heights on top of the armoire creates height and interest. Along with keeping all colors in the room neutral with a  shot of gorgeous wood tones in the armoire makes this piece a real stand-out.


Photo Courtesy of

Whatever way you choose to incorporate green into your home, whether on the interior or exterior, it won’t be long before we are enjoying the outdoors.  So hurry and get organized with planning what’s on your Outside To-Do list…and maybe think about adding some spring shades of green to your interior space.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!


Have You Got your Tangerine On?

Photo Courtesy of Furniture Home Design

Well…okay, maybe you’re not prepared to paint entire walls Tangerine.  But there are plenty of ways to bring this fun, energetic color into your home.  Voted Pantone’s Color of the Year 2012, Tangerine Tango is sure to bring some pizazz into your space.  As the trend for color continues–yes, even in Alberta, where the color of choice is tan, we can easily add a hit of Tangerine to brighten things up.

I love this shade partnered with white and chrome accents.  It is a perfect color for a teen’s room, as they move from their childhood color schemes into a more grown up theme.  Don’t worry…they are only teen-agers for a little while!  And remember my motto…it’s only paint!  Definitely use it as a feature wall.  If you just can’t commit to paint, there are some fabulous bedding and decor accessories out there to add some punch to a neutral backdrop.  Pair Tangerine with Turquoise and add a pop of yellow, and you can’t help but be instantly energized.

Photo Courtesy of Style at Home

I can think of a couple of nephews that would be thrilled to have this fantastic color added to their rooms.  The graphic prints available now are a great way to update a dated room.  The 60’s and 70’s inspired patterns are funky and contemporary.  Imagine my thrill when a client dug out an old pair of table lamps–a beautiful shade of Tangerine complete with Chrome Base!  They are minus the shades, but a quick addition of a new shade and they are right back in style.  Eeeek…how great is that!

Photo Courtesy of Lamps Plus

Here’s to a bright and cheery spring!


Family Photo Gallery…Display your Loved Ones with Style

Nothing makes a house feel like your home until you surround yourself with the photos of your children and family.  I recently finished two family homes by assisting them with their family art collections.

In one instance we created a Family Gallery Wall.  This is a great way to showcase your family through the various stages of their lives, and the great memories you have from activities or vacations you have travelled on together.  It’s unique just to you, and it creates a sense of family pride amongst your children to see their photos showcased in such a special way.

The Gallery Wall you create doesn’t need to have all matching frames.  Though if you like the look of the consistency of all black contemporary, or the crispness of an all white-framed gallery against your walls, by all means start collecting those types of frames.  Some crafting stores sell entire packages of a selection of various sizes of frames with a template to follow…if you are concerned about your placement abilities, this is definitely the way to go!

I think it is fine to have an assortment of different frames for your Gallery Wall.  Keeping within the same color family will keep your collection maintain a flow when you have different styles of frames being placed together.  A variety of sizes of frames will add interest.  Varying the layout to have large, medium and small can be tricky.  I suggest beginning with the largest piece in a place of high-light, and build your layers from that.

Spacing is important also as you begin to lay-out your photos.  I suggest sorting your portraits first as to kids’ collections, photos of generations past, frames that don’t have any relationship to the style of gallery you are trying to create.  With a variety of frame sizes being hung on the wall, keep the spacing in-between consistent.  2 -3 inches is what I prefer as it ensures a cohesive look without being too crowded.

As you create an off-set placement of your large to small frames, you allow yourself to add to your gallery as the years pass.  As in the Wall we created for our client most recently, some of the frames needed to be up-dated or changed out to fit the style selection of the majority of their family portraits, which consisted most of ornately embellished frames in dark wood tones.  Some had gold or metallic highlights which gave them an eclectic feel with which they can add and change frames as they desire.

By grouping your Family Photos together, you are celebrating your family and your home.  You are giving your photos importance by grouping them together as a feature to all that visit your home.


Gallery Wall Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Whew…December’s Here!

Wow…December is here!  ‘Tis the Season and may I say “Yay”!!  I love the Christmas Season and have been thoroughly enjoying the excitement brewing with friends and family.

A seemingly global decision has been made by so many people to simplify their Christmas season and festivities.  I have heard from alot of people that they are not going overboard with shopping, planning to spend more time visiting friends and family, and really just trying to get back to a simpler time for holidays.

On the decor front, I have loved looking through all the new Christmas decorations in the stores.  There are fabulous glittering, shining goodies…and there is also a real feeling of vintage decor coming back.  We have been recommending to clients that they don’t need to go spend alot of money on more decor…just look through your own decorations and see what you can re-vamp and re-style.  Pull items from rooms and use them in unexpected places.  A quick spray of gold and silver spray paint will give some tired tree ornaments some glitz and glam.  Visit your local craft stores and dollar stores…there are some amazing ribbons, florals, and decor to add a touch of new for not alot of cost.  We all love the coziness of the Christmas season…cozy up your house with time-worn and well-loved items.  I really think decorating for the holidays helps us get through our long Canadian winters!

Vintage is creeping into home decor more and more.  A current project of Vintage Garden and Custom Design is what we are presently working on.  It is a sign of people craving that unique look for their home that you just can’t get by buying a ready-made furniture package.  How absolutely refreshing to be able to mix high-end with existing fabrics and decor, and have a request to throw in some customized painted furniture to add to a distinct personality for the home and our lovely clients.  I love that!!

As we get closer to the Christmas Season, I hope you will add love and cheer to your home…enjoy time spent with neighbors and friends, and delight in the smiling faces of all the little ones so excited about the arrival of Santa!


Vintage Decor courtesy of

Vintage Decor courtesy of

Summer’s Past…and so nearly has Fall!

It’s been so long since my last post…I can blame a hectic summer filled with a busy schedule and much travel…and learning all the way!  Fall is upon us with its beautiful colors, chilly mornings, and a return to routine, which is something I think we all crave after holiday time.

I am always looking for ways to improve my craft and business.  This summer was filled with a love of design and a love of learning.  I had the privilege to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius property, Taliesin West.  Situated in the desert of Arizona, it is surrounded by the absolutely glorious colors and textures of the landscape and the never-ending sky.  It, by design, blends seamlessly into its surroundings.  The thought came to mind that, indeed, this man was a genius…

How thrilled I was to see the same architecture and design elements Frank Lloyd Wright created and used so long ago still being used today.  All through the landscape of Arizona, and even on our travels through Southern California, the use of his clean-lined, geometric was apparent…some were new buildings and homes, and others dating back a few decades.

The gardens and use of landscape to compliment and enhance the site of Taliesin just melded together with the home.  How lovely to have a tiny little courtyard garden right outside your bedroom, with a view of the horizon and sunset as the backdrop?

It’s the planning and design of your home and its surroundings that are crucial.  I loved that this home was built so long ago, and yet so much of it was still current and used  today.  Even its decor had me thinking of all the resurgence of up-cycled, vintage pieces that are so popular now.  Thoughts of that funky sideboard your mom has from the 50’s, the china cabinet begging to be re-purposed, and the happy feelings we get when something comes back in style for the second (or third) time!

Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes and buildings with a timeless brilliance.  Be sure to create brilliance in yours…

 Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Photo courtesy of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Amazed…be really amazed!!

This is a crazy life–we all know that!  Family, careers, after-school activities, meals to make, social functions, tv, computers, social media—to be really honest with you, it is nice just to have a break from all of it! 

As part of my mission statement in my company to bring peace and harmony to your home…I am always looking to learn more about how to not only create the most beautiful space you can be in…no matter the size or location of your home…but also how to feel content and happy within not only your space…but your life. 

My Creative Art Director (and confidante, I might add!) and I were discussing this morning how we really should be amazed.  Even at the little things in our lives.  As told in The Book of Awesome, by Neil Pasricha, there are so many things we should see as awesome, and should be totally amazed at.  And so, I had to tell her about my baby robins.  I have been watching them on and off for 2 weeks in utter amazement.  The last one finally “flew the coop” having survived running into my fence, the threat of a couple of large dogs always present during their practise runs, and not to mention–hiding in disguise in my large flower pot by the front door (which, I don’t know who was more scared–my 6’2″ son coming home from work one afternoon, or baby zooming out as he walked up the step!).  

And guess what??  Batch number 2 is on the way!!  Mama is very busy again…I can see her nest, hidden from view, from my office window.  And so…I am amazed.  And happy.

In designing and decorating your homes, it is a false belief that your home should look like a showhome.  Really!!  You don’t want your house to be filled with things that have no meaning to you.  You have to surround yourself with the items that have meaning and memories connected to them.  Lately, you will see a trend towards furnishings and accessories that have a bit more of a shabby-chic turned upscale…organic wooden table tops with shiny chrome legs, aged or antique accessories mixed with up-cycled glossy armoires.  Some of my favorite magazines are those that showcase the work of a variety of designers and also a vast product resource for you to be inspired by.  Take what inspiration you find in those magazines, rip out the pages of a room you have fallen in love with, and work towards creating that room.  And then realize, that you will be striving to reach that “dream room.”  It doesn’t have to be perfect right away.  Choose your paint colors, and decor items not by what is necessarily all the rage.  Be guided by that…but choose the shade that makes you happy, makes you feel comfortable…makes you feel like you!!  If you are working with a designer or decorator, be sure they see your style and take your needs into account.  Spend your hard earned money on quality, neutral pieces for the big stuff…sofas, tables, even drapery.  They’ll last long past the fads and you can switch up the colors of your accessories as your style changes and evolves.  

I have found the perfect shade of paint color for my bedroom.  It matches exactly to my bedding.  But more importantly, it is the soft, quiet shade of blue green that is going to create peace and calm.  I am super excited about it!!  But I am not going to start painting quite yet!  Summer is coming.  My deck (and its fabulous area carpet design!!) and staining is still not done…thanks to the torrential rains we have been having.  And I know that my summer with my family and friends and children are precious…and that’s where my priority lies. 

And I am very, very aware to be constantly amazed… 


Keep Life Simple…Buy What You LOVE…

So I have had these thoughts lately about the recent programs showcasing “couponing”.  I whole-heartedly admire these folks tenacity to get a great deal!  I am one who loves a bargain…always looking for a new piece of art or decoration…checking out the latest in garden decor, scouring antique and second-hand stores for cool furniture pieces…debating the value of spending this much on an item I am not really that in love with…or deciding to wait until the perfect piece jumps up and screams, “pick me, pick me!!”  The latter is a skill I have honed the older I get.  Buy something you LOVE!! End of Story.  No more taking home that quirky, wierd little kitchen decoration that you kinda like, it’s kinda cute, but hmmm, I’m not sure…no more! 

And as I watch the program of the lady who buys 28 bottles of Liquid Laundry Detergent, 37 packages of Toilet Paper, and 13 bottles of  Bathroom Cleaner, I get a little concerned.  Actually, the first thing that popped into my mind was this is a little like hoarding.  Although it is organized hoarding, I think.  Homeowners have converted spare bedrooms normally reserved for special guests like your mom (or a best friend, niece, nephew…) to glorified storage rooms to house the latest coupon deals they racked up at the latest grocery store raid.  Seriously people, is it really necessary to purchase this much stuff?!!  There is no way in this world that one single family needs this many bottles of cleaner, shampoo, soap, etc.  I beg you…please don’t give up valuable real estate in your home to stack shelving full of stuff just because it was on sale. 

It’s not that I am against couponing…I think it’s a fantastic idea.  I have enjoyed many a couponing-shopping trip on visits down south where we can come away with a phenomenal amount of new summer clothes, and many, many great pairs of shoes–and we can all use more shoes, right?!  The trick is to still keep in mind to purchase things you can use.  Within this lifetime.  If you can find a great deal on 6 pair of dress pants (and you can, just ask my husband), then go for it…but you must get rid of the 6 old pairs of dress pants hanging in your closet at home.  Donate those old clothes to a good cause, and feel absolute pleasure hanging up the beautiful new items and smile about how you got them for a steal!

My collegues and friends keep striving to live a more simple, clean, and ultimately lighter life…too much stuff weighs you down and clutters up your being.  We love a good shopping trip…we have driven down little country roads, manoeuvred big city streets, and orchestrated entire days revolving around how many home decor shops we can hit.  Believe me, these are some serious shopping enthusiasts.  But now we do things a little different.  We buy what we love…and when we get home, we know that once again, it’s time to edit.  Out with the old, in with the new!  We should probably be a little thankful, too, that we can’t coupon quite as extreme here as our neighbors south of the border…


Keep it up…then sit back, because life is good…enough!

Okay…June is here and we have all our Spring Stuff done, right??…

Done…what do you mean…done?? Is it ever really done? No, not really.  If you own a home, you are never really done.  Face it…there is always something to clean, something to paint, something to tidy, something to throw out.  I think sometimes, that is the greatest thing about moving.  It provides the perfect opportunity to clean, paint, tidy, and throw out!  It’s something I’ve been working on all winter…it’s the reason for what started as my hobby, and led to an obsession (oh, I mean career!).  It is a necessary evil that surrounds us all, whether we do a once-a year scrub down…or the more complicated path I have chosen, the once-every-six-years move and shake things up a bit!  It’s as my friend, Suzanne says, “It’s the process that we love.” 

So, whether you are staying in your home to live, or getting ready to sell and move…don’t fret if you haven’t got it all done.  Keeping up with the care and maintenance of your home really is the key.  One of my favorite clients this year was selling her home after 20+ years of living and loving it.  They had raised their family there, and now were faced with the daunting task of packing it all up to move.  The lady of the house hired me to help her work through all that needed doing to prepare for their move.  What an excellent student!!  She did everything that I asked of her.  We used what we could of existing decor.  She cleaned.  We painted and repaired.  She tidied and threw out…donated what she could for furniture and items she would no longer need.  As we chatted one day after a particularly gruelling day of work, she commented on how much work it was to do all the things necessary to get the house ready for sale.  She worried that 20 years of wear and tear on her home would make it difficult to sell.  I told her not to worry about it, because when all the work was done, and the time was right, her house would sell and she would be on to her next big adventure.  How do I know this??  I have moved 13 times (I think…), I have sold 4 homes, I have painted, renovated, redecorated, and revamped I don’t know how many houses.  And I believe that everything happens when it’s supposed to.  My last house sold in less than two weeks…in a recession…on an acreage. 

And so we finished our project.  And her house sold in just over a month…in still-a-recession…on an acreage.  And I told my client, “See…I knew it would happen when the time was right.”

Your home is your biggest investment.  Take care of it.  Clean it, paint it, up-date it, and love it!  And when it’s time for a new phase in your life…don’t be scared of the change to come.  Get busy with the work that needs to be done, and believe…everything will work out the way its supposed to.

PS//Thanks to my Polly…my biggest fan!  One of my soul-sisters and a constant source of encouragement…and laughs!  Love you, my friend.

Outdoor Pursuits…Freshen up, then sit back and enjoy!

The arrival of May means to most that we can finally get outside of our homes after a long-endured winter!  For me, it means my annual Mother’s Day trip to the local greenhouses…even if it is too cold to plant, it is so fantastic to just wander through the greenery, smell the fresh aroma of the newly planted seedlings, and admire the gorgeous floral baskets that I don’t dare purchase because it’s still just too cold out! 

For the painter in me, May is the perfect time for a fresh coat of stain on outdoor decks.  It is great to get this task out of the way before the rest of summer hits!  Our family has recently moved into our 5th home and through my 20+ years of renovating, I am staining yet another deck.  Through the years, the products available have improved greatly.  For this latest project, I have chosen SICO’s Exterior Wood Protector in Driftwood.  It is a great color to harmonize with my beige exterior.  It has a blue tinge going on, but dries down to a beautiful weathered-grey color.  This works well with the stone accents on the front of our home that have my favorite shades of caramels, tans, and greys. 

Even if your deck is constructed of pressure-treated wood, it is desirable to stain it.  If your home is brand new, then let it sit for a year to weather a bit as it will take the stain better.  Staining pressure treated wood gives it a finished look and reduces the signs of water staining.  Don’t be afraid!!  As with anything connected with your home, upkeep is the key.  There are so many great Exterior Stain Products out there…their resilience to wear and UV damage is greatly improved and once that initial coat has been applied, you can even skip a year before re-coating.  And of course, the vertical surfaces of your structures are going to weather far less than the horizontal, so they require less re-coating over the years.

To those who know me really well, it will be no surprise, that I am not just going to use one color of stain on my decking!  Choose your shades according to your needs and requirements of your home.  My previous two properties, which were acreages, both led me to use a sandstone shade for all horizontal surfaces.  Anyone living in the country, and also any lake or beach property, will find blending your surface to the mud and sand tracking up to your door to be a sanity-saving move!!  For my current decking, I am adding a second shade (yet to be determined…) to break up the length of the deck surface.  And the designer in me has to add the creativity to jazz it up a bit.  Stay tuned…


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