A New Design Gem Opens in Leslieville

It’s not everyday that a new design boutique opens within steps of my front door and so I can’t help but get very excited, especially for something that is so fabulous that it reminds me of New York a little bit- which is really something to shout about don’t you think?   And what am I so giddy about?  The opening of Black Rooster Decor‘s first bricks and mortar store on Queen Street East, a few blocks east of Carlaw.  Until recently, most would agree that this side of Queen Street lacked luster until an influx of condos and a reno-boom improved everything.  Now, we Leslievillers get to enjoy the fruits of all the change: great stores are coming too.  Hallelujah.

Black Rooster Decor already has a very successful online business so the new store is a natural move.  Their strength is providing great design to clients who are looking for a well curated collection of items ranging from mid-century modern to European antiques.  While most of their business is currently across the border, they are dedicated to like-minded Canadian suppliers and designers.  They also have a personal shopping service which is fabulous for those who need a little inspiration.  See below for my interview with owner Nina Ber-Donkor.


photo 5photo 1photo 3photo 1-2photo 1-1photo 2-3photo

How would you describe the over-all style of the store? A mix of what we sell online with some local items thrown-in to make it special for our Toronto clients.

What makes you unique? We’re really lucky to have some local designers and clients in Toronto that have supported us, so we’re coming in with a perspective of what they like and want to see in-store.

Why Leslieville? It’s our favourite hood and close to home. 

What new products are you most excited about? Discovering new artisans that are making affordable and unique everyday home goods. It’s thrilling to offer something not found at the chain stores, something you won’t see in every home.

Where do you find your treasures? Are you off on buying trips all the
time? Not as often as I would like to… many of our purchases are made from visiting with our suppliers, seeing their new product lines, going to trade shows and sometimes blind trust in a product we’ve never seen but can tell will be awesome based on past experiences. 

What magazines are your go-to’s for inspiration? Domaine, Rue, Lonny. They’re killing it right now. And Instagram is a major source of inspiration. 

Why expand from a successful online business to bricks and mortar 
(when many retailers are doing the exact opposite at the moment)? It’s not an expansion but rather an extention of what we do. No one would question us opening a storage warehouse so a retail store is just as important for our business where customers can come in and chat and look and feel and get inspiration. And it’s really nice to actually talk to people and not sit behind a computer all day. 

Where can you be found? Instagram, Twitter, Website


So long Suzani, it’s all about Shibori.

We all need a little pattern in our lives and when the urge strikes we tend to reach out for textiles made in exotic places.  A hit of lovely embroidered fabric adds depth, character and a whiff of travel to a room that is full of life.  For years it’s been Ikat from Indonesia or Suzani from Persia and as stunning as they are, there is a new kid on the block called Shibori from Japan.  This traditional tie-dying technique is most often done with watery indigo blue dye on white fabric so that the play of light and dark works very well together.  Interestingly, there is a also a bit of an African influence here which I think is wonderful.  Both West Elm and Anthropologie have picked up the trend saving us all from home tie-dying disasters- ahem-I mean adventures.  Anyway, enjoy and let me know what you think!

HeartwareRemodelistaVenice BeachAnthropologieIndigo and Snow on EtsyWest ElmIFPhoto credits: 1. Heartwear photo by Marie Taillefer, 2. Pillows by Rebecca Atwood, 3. Anthropologie, 4. SF General Store in Venice Beach, Remodelista.com, 5. Indigo and Snow on Etsy,  6. West Elm, 7. Heartware at Merci in Paris, Trendtablet.com


Trend Spotting: Distressed Walls

In part three of my Trend Spotting series I’m looking at a type of wall treatment that I’ve seen pop up all over the place, from hip magazine like Living Etc to the showroom at ABC Carpet and Home in NYC.  Essentially, what I’m calling “distressed walls” are rough surfaces (brick, plaster) with chipped or layered paint that create a gorgeous patina.  Some walls even look like artwork themselves.  While wallpaper has had a major heyday in the last few years, things are shifting to a much less polished look- in some circles anyway.  Think New York loft…actually, make that Brooklyn loft.  Or a Parisian atelier touched by time but not by progress.  Imagine a big open space with drafty windows and a rickety freight elevator complete with metal cage that you have to pull down by hand.  Imagine cement floors and sparse bohemian furniture that could either cost a fortune (Anthropology) OR cost nothing (curb-side find).  And imagine stacks of books, frayed rugs, linen everything, and mismatched kitchen dishes.  Get the picture?  The beauty of this look is that furniture really pops.  Here are a few great pics to give you an idea:

Leslie Dilcock

Living EtcLeslie Dilcock 2Sofa Workshop 5
Sofa Workshop 3Tom Leighton 2Tom Leighton 3
IMG_2083IMG_2089Photo credits: 1. Leslie Dilcock; 2. Living Etc; 3. Leslie Dilcock; 4 and 5. Sofa Workshop; 6 and 7.Tom Leighton; 8 and 9. My own from the ABC Carpet and Home showroom.


Trend Spotting: Pendant Lights Go Low, Low Down


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

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!


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.

MC 2MC 7MC 4MC 8

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.



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.

LF 11LF 5LF 4LF 3LF 2

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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!


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!

Marcel Wanders: Design Poet

I had the incredible honour of meeting international design superstar Marcel Wanders last week at an event held at Klaus in Toronto.  The party was fantastic, but more importantly I got inspired to find out more about what makes him tick and dive into as many images as Google will provide (countless, it turns out).  While I already knew about his work with Mooi and loved his imaginative style, there is so much more to admire than I ever knew.  photo

Wanders places a great emphasis on communicating whimsy, magic, daydreams and wonder (in fact, his twitter handle is @wanderswonders).  His designs are like Alice in Wonderland does Elle Decor with exagerated propotrion, pop-out textures and enchanted  motifs.   He creates everything from high-end hotels to private residences to table-top to furniture and accessories.

Here are my top 10 stunning images of Wanders’ interior design work.

The first one is from the glittering lobby of the Andaz Hotel in Amsterdam; a magical constellation that connects travelers to the heavens above.

Skylight with Bells

The bell theme continues in the Mondrian Hotel in South Beach.  Wanders thinks of bells as the original vehicle for mass-communiction.

Mondrian Dining

Also from the Mondrian, this gorgeous poolside is incredible:

Monrian outdoor

Wanders designed this private Mallorca residence in mostly circular lines, including this sofa (by Poliform). This was his first full residential project and he calls it “unavoidably exuberant and unabashedly outrageous”.  There is a real tension between the modern elements and classic hits like the little black table with antique-style legs.

Red Couch

This is the outdoor courtyard at the Kameha Grand Bonn hotel.  The giant gold pots and cross-word puzzle looking tile pattern visually fill the wide space without restricting it.


Also from the Kameha Grand, this lobby shot is to die for.  Again, the bell theme comes back but this time we get disco balls, a killer black ceiling and oversized decorated pillars.

Hotel Lobby

A bathroom shot from the same hotel.  I love how the gold tile wraps down on to the floor:Bathroom

Shifting to another private residence In Amsterdam, this not-so-huge space required a dedication to organization that is typical of Netherland style.  Despite the desire for streamlined minimalism, every inch of it still sings a wild tune.  Note the decorative ceiling, wallpaper, floor, furniture, partition…etc etc. This works well because amongst all the texture there are also simple surfaces (couch, table, pendant) to give the eye a break.

Room 1

This powder-room has a glass door. I’m not sure I would want to hide that tile either….

Room 4

A door detail with Wanders’ signature logo.



For more inspiration watch this little video: