Trend Spotting: Pendant Lights Go Low, Low Down

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One of the most common things that I do on set is to hang lighting- which is always a bit of a challenge because I have to find the exact perfect height for each light to make the room look appealing and real.  There aren’t any steadfast rules so it’s a matter of using one’s eye and making an educated guess.  I won’t lie, it usually takes a few tries to get it right.  Fortunately, I never have to call an electrician since most of our fixtures are of the temporary”hang-it-off-a-long-pole” variety.  BUT for those of you who are seeking something new to do at home, a trend has shown up in a few places that I’ve visited recently: very low hanging pendants.  Where did I see it? Fashion and home decor mecca, Merci, in Paris; Toronto’s Interior Design Show and ABC Carpet and Home in NYC.   I guess I feel like I might be on to something when it pops up three un-synchronized times in three unbelievably trendy cities.    Of course, placing furniture under the pendants is key but you’ll see what I mean in the following images:

This first one is from IDS- it’s a concept space designed by Williams Craig.  For a low-slung lounge space the glass pendants worked really well.photo 1 photo 2 My next examples come from ABC carpet and home.  Please forgive the photography- I was a little too excited to slow down and frame up my shots properly.  Notice how low these are- the whole showroom was full of them.  It was raining fixtures!

IMG_2095IMG_2092IMG_2099IMG_2086Here are more cute example I found online:

Black and White Couch

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New York Window Display

“I want these windows to be perceived as hallucinations”

“You have to do all sorts of things to make a stream of pedestrians into and audience”

David Hoey, Resident Window Display Artist, Bergdorf Goodman

As promised, here are a few of the fantastic window displays that caught my eye in New York.  I am a bit of junkie in this department, and am in awe of those that do it well.  Window displays are little pieces of theatre without the interference of technology that is so common in everything else.  They combine old-fashioned techniques of staging, perspective, characters and design.  I love that good windows are static, yet create life, movement and magic.  They are their own little worlds with the sole purpose of enticing passersby with a quick moment of “wow!”.  They sell products but also delight and entertain in an old-school kinda way.   Anyway, I won’t get too wordy here as this is such a visual medium.  Here are my faves:

Bergdorf’s:IMG_1990IMG_1989

Not sure where I saw this one….sadly.  But I really loved those soaring flamingoes and hits of pink:IMG_2005

Also at Bergdorf’s, Chinese New Year theme:IMG_1992Simple, yet super special for Valentine’s Day at Tiffany:

IMG_2047Anthroplogy:
IMG_2013Again, sadly not sure what store but I love the simple lyricism of it.IMG_2009Last but not least, a wacky and wonderful display for Moncler in Soho:
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For those who are interested, I want to recommend a film called Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s for a inside look New York’s greatest department store and it’s amazing displays.

And THEN, for the serious enthusiast, check out this website for an incredible archive of windows from the past, Bergdor’s and otherwise.

I LOVE New York! A stylist’s adventure in wonderland.

IMG_1998New York City is a vibrant, energetic, creative and thought-provoking city and I decided to start my new year (not to mention celebrate a semi-significant birthday) with a seven day adventure.  My goals?  To re-fill my imagination bank and have some fun.  As much as it sounds like a cliche, NYC makes me feel like anything is possible and I get completely inspired by it.  There are hundreds of great decor stores in the city and I tracked down several that were outstanding- and different from what we have up here in Toronto (this was key).   It was a very cold week in NYC last week so I dressed up in layers and took warm-up breaks whenever possible (hello, morning lattes and mid-afternoon wine). Despite the chill, there was a lot going on in January with blessedly few tourists to block my path.  I worked my way through several different areas including the ritzy department stores of 5th Ave, the flower markets of Chelsea, the unlimited dress-making suppliers in the garment district, the boutiques of Soho and the vintage shops of Brooklyn.  While it’s extremely hard to narrow down my favourites, I am going to give you my top pics to get you started.   Truthfully, if you are in any of these areas you will find lots to see and I encourage you to get as lost as possible -with a handy subway map in your pocket of course. For those who can’t get away right now, check out the websites linked to each name.  Sometimes just a quick peak at some pretty images can lift your spirits.

I’ll start at Bergdorf Goodman’s since I essentially made a beeline for it as soon as I got off the plane.  Arguably the city’s most glamorous department store, the top floor is a heaven of small decorated rooms filled with treasure after treasure.  Perhaps the most well-known is the Kelly Wearstler collection, which isn’t new but it IS jaw-dropping.  Taking glam to it’s ultimate heights may not be your thing (nor is it mine) but it’s absolutely worth a look.  And while your at it, make sure to drop in to BG (the gorgeous resto-lounge overlooking Central Park) for a cocktail and a true New York Moment.  I treated myself to birthday lunch here and loved every minute of it.

IMG_1995IMG_1980The candle room at Bergdorf’s made me want to stay all day:IMG_1983My second must-see location is ABC Carpet and Home.  This place is a decorator’s dreamland with 6 floors of absolutely mind-boggling creativity.  While many of you decor-types have already visited, the trends on display here are still inspiring
and it’s worth another wander.  I spent hours looking and found several themes that I also saw in Paris this past August.  Namely, a very casual chic that is deconstructed and mismatched.  Fabrics are textured, worn and lived-in.  Glam is gone, replaced by real-living and comfort.  There are hand-blown pendant lights over everything, sometimes hung so low that you have to walk around to get by.  Couches are slouchy and often done in linen.  Rugs are layered, frayed and essential.  It’s a pleasurable style that doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy or bohemian- it’s just low maintenance and cool.  Oh course, contemporary designers like Tom Dixon were also on display but I feel like the other room-sets were are where the juiciest ideas come to life.

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In table-top, dishes are hand-made (or looked so) and are without decoration. One of the hottest style I saw was matte-black or grey.  Table lines are gauzy and layered and let the beauty of worn-wood tables show through.

IMG_2130IMG_2127Ok, moving on the amazing boutiques of Soho.  There are three that really stand out for me, although there are many more that I loved.  The first is a wonderful shop called Michele Varian on Howard Street.  This place is a must-see and carries everything from jewelry to wallpaper.  With a truly unique, quirky vision it’s different from anything else I’ve seen. Really, it’s a good lesson for designers: let yourself fall ALL the way down the rabbit hole, wherever it may take you.

IMG_2150IMG_2149IMG_2145 Next on my list is a custom-embroidery shop called Ankasa with an absolutely BEAUTIFUL selection of fabrics, furniture pieces, bedding and accessories. You can have anything custom done if you like or buy something off the floor and either way it’s a win win.

IMG_2138IMG_2136IMG_2137I also loved Calypso Home for it’s relaxed beachy rugs and furniture.  I loved their circular table-top lights that cast a gorgeous glow and added a cool touch to a vignette.  I’ve never seen these anywhere else and wanted to bring one home…but resisted the temptation -something I’ve since come to regret.

IMG_2141IMG_2139  Two other greats in Soho worth checking out? Aero by Thomas O’brien (grown-up furniture also carried at Elte in Toronto) and Ochre (drop dead gorgeous everything).

Next stop for decor inspiration in New York is actually in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Just a quick subway ride away from Manhattan this area is chock-full of the weird and the wonderful and is worth an afternoon of mucking about.  There aren’t any high-end boutiques here (yet and please never!) so there’s lots of room for smaller vintage shops with everything from mid-centure modern to Victoriana.   The prices were very low –(compared with Toronto) and made me want to ship home a container to sell from my living room.  Alas, my entrepreneurial spirit was dampened by a gin and soda at the Wythe Hotel…and I saved myself quite a jumble in my little condo.  Maybe next time….IMG_2235 IMG_2240That’s all for now…it was a true task to narrow down my selects and I’m still processing all of the great new information that has come my way.  All in all, I’ve decided that I need to go back, like now.  In my next post I will give you a taste of the fabulous window displays I saw across the city because there are really nothing like them. I heart NY.

Best Decor Stores in Montreal

Going to Montreal and wondering where to shop?  Let me help you.  Typically, Montreal is very well known for trendy clothing boutiques and amazing restaurants but it is also chock-full of fabulous home decor destinations that are both inspiring and unique.  On a recent trip I scoured the city for the best-of-the-best in order to bring you this mini shopping guide to use on your next visit.  There is lots here so get ready to have a bit of fun, grab a bagel along the way and pick up a few words en francais.

Zone Maison

4246 rue St Denis  http://www.zonemaison.com/

Absolutely brimming with modern decor finds this store is the mothership of Montreal style. The accessories are fantastic, the furniture pieces affordable and the store itself is bright, airy and full of possibilities.  You will find a million things that you want to take home so for that reason, it’s a must see.

Zone 8Zone 4Zone 9Zone 5

Style Labo

5765 Boulevard Saint-Laurent  http://www.stylelabo.com

This store is a more of a concept-space than a livable environment BUT you will find cool pieces that add personality to your home.  It’s part antique market, part junk-shop, part  trendy downtown workshop.  I imagine adding any number of these things to a modern space to jack up the creative content and provoke conversation starters for dinner parties. LOVE the illuminated letters!

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SL3SL5Maison Corbeil

1215 Boulevard Cremazie Ouest http://www.maisoncorbeil.com

This is the biggest and most furniture-oriented store that I visited.  Maison Corbeil carries the big lines like Ligne Roset and Cattelan but also offers a variety of less-expensive choices that are fantastic.  It has a warm yet minimal feel and covers all the bases.

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V de V

5042 Boulevard Saint-Laurent http://www.vdevmaison.com/

This store is a cosy little boutique full of warm and friendly Quebecois things.  Or maybe that’s just because I visited in mid-November and they were all decorated for the holidays.  Either way, it’s a fun treat to visit and you’ll find lots to see.  Cabin-chic at it’s best.

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Lambert et Fils Luminaires

156 Rue Beaubien Est. http://www.lambertetfils.com/

I don’t know about you, but I can get very bored of seeing the same lighting fixtures over and over again.  Which is why I am soooooo excited about finding this amazing small custom shop that makes everything on-site.  The lights are modern, elegant, simple and (best of all) unique.  They aren’t cheap, but they aren’t break-the-bank crazy either.   Love, love, love this place.

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That’s all for my adventures and I’m sure there are many, many more.  Please write to me with other ideas and I will check them out on my next go-round.  What a fantastic, fantastic city.  Au revoir mes amis!

Paris! A design-love story.

Doors GoodI had the amazing opportunity to go to Paris for a week and spent the whole time walking, looking, ooing, ahhing and most of all eating!  But that’s for another type of blog.  Here, I want to show you a few of my favorite moments that have an element of design.  As you can imagine, it’s very hard to narrow down the images but I will do my best.  As infamous street fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham says, “you go to Paris to re-educate the eye”, and that is really what it’s all about.  While some shopping is a fun thing, I think that the most valuable gift I get from travel is a shift in perspective.  I need to visit other places to see what other people are doing and wearing, to soak up art that I can’t see anywhere else, to find treasures big or small and to let myself open-up.  While I love Toronto, too much of the same thing can feel like a tight little box sometimes.  So!  Escape is essential and escape I did.

Word to the wise about traveling to Paris in August: the weather is sublime, the people are happy and there is an atmosphere of summertime fun everywhere BUT there are also lots of tourists and many (many, many) of the home-design shops are closed.  With September comes slightly cooler temps and the big Maison and Object design fair, so if I did it again I would opt for after labour day.

I’ll start with the first thing that I saw in Paris: the adorable flat that my friend and I rented in Montmartre.  It was a fifth floor walk-up (fun on the first day- not so much after day five) with a gorgeous view over the Parisian rooftops and a rustic/chic Parisian decor.  Things to note: herringbone floors, huge mirror above the mantle, industrial mixed with antiques and art everywhere.  Oh and the view of course!!DSC_7059 DSC_7063 DSC_7057The next noteworthy place would surely be my favorite fashion/design store, Merci. This multi-story boutique is a MUST for anyone interested in home decor trends and fresh ideas.  The style is laid-back and unpretentious and looks as though it has been thrown together over time.  There are mismatched chairs, signs of wear and tear and inventive chandeliers or pendants with everything.  While they certainly aren’t re-inventing the wheel, I was impressed by a varitety of chic finds like great table and chair options, big lush linen sofas (wrinkles be damned!), great table top and lots of hip lighting.  Here are a few faves:

IMG_0705IMG_0708IMG_0727IMG_0732 Next I will take you to one of Paris’ most famous flea markets, Clignancourt, where you can find everything from 1920s fashion magazines to oil paintings to antique daybeds to buttons and ribbon.  It’s a decorator’s dream come true and I found myself overflowing with joy many times.   While some vendors yelled “no photos!” and chased me away, I did manage to get a few shots.  There are things there that I have never, ever seen anywhere else and I couldn’t help but wish I could work in Paris! Oh the things I could do….

IMG_0701IMG_0681IMG_0695IMG_0683IMG_0696The other super inspiring store that I found was (gasp) one of the big department stores of Paris called Bon Marche.  What a well curated space!  The home floor was elegant with an incredible flow of movement from department to department and a large selection of the most important things like table linens, lighting and furniture.  I was very, very impressed with the quality being offered here and bolstered by the sophisticated tastes of the Parisian shopper!

IMG_0750IMG_0751IMG_0746IMG_0764I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least a few of the gorgeous ornamental details that I found at Versailles.  As much as I love the laid-back chic of the contemporary stores, and the slightly worn antiques from the flea market,  I also adore gold gilt and rococco details.  Who wouldn’t? Any well-rounded look at Paris includes both so feast your eyes!

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DSC_7355IMG_0635IMG_0331That’s all for my little tour.  There is just so much to see and do in Paris that I barely sat down for five minutes- unless it was to eat several croissants at a time over coffee in the morning or sip a glass of rose while admiring the view in the afternoon.  I’ll miss it and look forward to next time.  Thanks for joining me!

Hotel Design By Michele Bonan

Today I want to talk about my love for good hotel design and the numerous ideas that we can bring home.  I absolutely love to travel and finding a beautiful hotel that re-invigorates my eye for design is the ultimate treat.  While I haven’t had much opportunity to escape lately, I AM always dreaming of my next destination.  Hotels are a great chance for designers to show their stuff to the world and really infuse a space with beauty and comfort.  For us guests, it’s an opportunity to try-out different design styles to learn what makes us feel rested or ready to entertain.  While I don’t recommend bringing home everything that you love (parrot wallpaper should on the islands please, as should most folk-art and conch shells) I do think there are lots of pretty things that can liven-up the typical Canadian home. This blog post is an exploration of location-specific decorating as I bring you two very different hotels by the same designer.

I discovered the work of famed Italian architect/designer Michele Bonan while looking for the best hotels in Capri.  Bonan’s philosophy is “harmony, coherence and irony are the keys” (I’m not sure what he means by the ‘irony’ part and suspect a mis-translation).  His work is right up my alley as it is a mix of sumptuous fabrics, antiques, tasteful patterns, selective use of colour and a ‘new world meets old world’ sensibility.  His work IS cohesive and has a symmetry that  I adore.  He mixes luxury with practical comfort.

So, without much further ado, please take a little dream vacation with me to two of Bonan’s most famed properties: The JK Place Capri and The Heidelberg Suites. Both are very appropriate mirrors of their surroundings (as your home should be) with hints of the designer’s special eye for style.  I’ll give little hints of “ideas to steal” as we go along.

The stunning facade and view at the JK Place Capri make me dizzy.

I love the use of big blocks of navy with bright-white trim and moldings.  The mirrors exaggerate the architectural details while the dark wood floor and occasional furniture ground everything.  If you can only steal one small thing from this one make it the simple arrangement of while calla lilies.

The wooden trim around the mirrors and bar is fantastic.  As you’ll see in many of these shots, Bonan likes to use thin lines of dark colour as frames or accents. It’s a great tip to steal.  Also notice the gorgeous camel-coloured leather with nail-head detail on the stools.

A very luxe bedroom with an amazing canopy bed.  Again , we have one chosen colour (soft yellow) with lots of white for balance and small hits of dark for contrast.  I’ve never been one for a fussy valance but this drapery is absolutely stellar and I am changing my mind.

The mix of cream and blue is so pretty in this one.  Something to note: when your room is mostly devoid of visual clutter, you can easily add a hit of pattern like with the two zebra stools against the wall.  Pattern in moderation gives a room lift and interest.

Gorgeous!!  While I’m not crazy about the grey bathtub top, I do love the mosaic-style tiling and french doors.  The tiles mirror the black iron grill-work outside.  Again, it’s cohesive and harmonious.

The only thing that I wouldn’t steal from this gorgeous dinning room is the exaggerated white vases that flank the window.  The rest is up for grabs: white chairs with nailhead-detail, chandelier art, soft grey, white and cream pallette.

Here is a great one for home-inspiration.  I love the soft purple ikat fabric on these two chairs and the dining-height round table placed between them.  This is a great idea for a breakfast nook or a games table in the living room.  The pretty shiny table and mirror in the background make it a complete vignette.

Now, buckle your seatbelts because we are about to go in a completely different direction.

This is the facade of The Heidelberg Suites.  According to the architect, it is inspired by German romanticism and classicism interpreted by a Florentine designer.  Once again, the building’s visual harmony and elegance really appeals to me.

This hotel is in keeping with it’s historic urban setting and is much richer and darker in tone than it’s mediterranean sister.  Notice the same thin-lines used to frame the top of the ceiling and door frames: a Bonan signature.

Soft white walls and dark flooring make the space feel classic while the busts, artwork and antler details are nods to the hotel’s historical setting.

This room is divine. Ideas to steal: 1. don’t be afraid of dark walls as long as they are broken-up with windows and large artwork; 2. camel coloured leather is something to covet; 3. silk drapes in acidic green look amazing against black walls!

I love the classic elegance of this little vignette– even though the modern carpet hints of something wackier in the rest of the room.

This is an example of the ‘more is more’ school of thought.  The vignette follows a few tried and true rules: start with a large statement piece like a mirror, then layer with something tall and symmetrical, something quirky and something fresh. Et voila! Style on a mantle.  PS I also love the grey-blue paint colour because is showcases the creamy white hearth stone.

A simply heavenly way to treat an upstairs loft or attic.  Warm wood floors, soft creamy chaise, natural fiber baskets and a warm fire.  This one works in Canada for sure!

That’s the end of our tour for now.  I urge you to check out the two hotel websites (links above) on your own as they offer lots of additional pictures (and take reservations!).  Maybe I’ll meet you there one day….

For those that speak Italian, here is a clip of the “architetto” describing his process at the JK Capri- or at least I think he is.  I’d love a translation is anyone out there is fluent: youtube

All photos found on hotel websites.