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.


Let’s Go Antique Shopping: Video Project

I absolutely love a good antique hunt, big or small, because it feels like a chance to find one-of-a-kind treasures that might have slipped under the radar for years.  It’s also a fabulous opportunity to add personality to a space by layering in things that create meaning or add an unexpected touch.  My parents have always been big antique people so I’ve been surrounded by interesting stuff since I was a small child.  Now, I feel like any room WITHOUT something quirky can feel a bit drab or uninspired.  To celebrate my big love of antiques and share with you a few of my favorite tips, I made this little video at the Christie Antique Fair just outside of Toronto a few weeks ago.  I hope it inspires you to hit your local flea market or antique store to bring home something special.  Enjoy!!  And keep me posted on your fab finds!

Behind the Scenes at a Hudson’s Bay Photoshoot

One of my favorite types of projects is creating full rooms from top to bottom. To my extreme pleasure, that is exactly what I get to do with Hudson’s Bay!  Today I am going to bring you behind the scenes of a recent photoshoot that we did to showcase brand new linen collections for spring. As usual, shoots like these are HUGE productions with big crews, multiple photographers and lots and lots (and LOTS) of options.  What do I mean by options?  I mean that for every item that you see in the final shot, we probably brought 4 others to choose from.  And yes, that includes furniture.  Why do we need so many? Because I never know how things are going to look until I see them in the space, with lighting and bedding etc etc.  I would rather have an extra bedside table or two on hand and swap them in quickly than wish I had something different and get stuck.  Options are my best friend when I’m styling…unfortunately they can also be my assistant’s nightmare (thanks Biagio!).  On shoots for Hudson’s Bay I always, ALWAYS bring lots of flowers because there are bouquets in every shot and sometimes it can be a long process to get them exactly right.  We have to consider what looks good in the room, which blooms are seasonal/available (even though we are shooting months in advance), what speaks to the brand, what was done previously and what my clients prefer.  Luckily, flowers are my absolutely favorite thing to do.  See if you can spot our choices in the final images.

Anyway, without much further ado, I present to you images from the Spring Linens Book photoshoot.  Yes, we work really hard BUT we also have a lot of fun.  First is the cover image (you might recognize it from last week’s Globe and Mail insert):

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 1Setting up for the same shot.  Our locations was a super-hip furniture store in the West end.

IMG_0202On the other side of the camera: OPTIONS!!  And my makeshift desk is in there too somewhere.  Yes, it looks like chaos but I swear that we have a system.


Oh there it is! Among the flowers…on the most adorable Bay garden table.  Hey! It matches my phone!  And I always keep my receipts in a chic glass vase. Don’t you?


Biagio and I are in constant contact…and we bring our own phones.


We shot an alternative angle for the Esprit bedding and it included me (in a pink dress!) walking up and down the staircase in the background.  The image was meant to be blurred….LOL!

IMG_0227The last time you might ever see me in a dress this pink:


This is the final shot of new Distinctly Home bedding.  We were going for a uptown Kate Spade style.  I am in love with the gladiolas and the fabulous painted pipe wall! Amazing!  Oh and here’s a tip: garden stools as bedside tables. Why not?

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 2An alternative bike option for the above shot.  Super-chic no?

IMG_0215Here’s amazing off-figure stylist Rodney Smith (with photographer Paul Chmielowiec) creating those fantastic towel insert shots.

IMG_0218A better shot of Paul (the master behind all of the off figure shots in the book):

IMG_0219And who shot all the big room shots you ask?  Michael Graydon of course!  Here he is with our incredible Art Director Rebecca Watson.  Go Team!

IMG_0211All right now a few other random but fun shots. It’s raining chairs! Hallelujah!

IMG_0221Biagio, looking handsome, with “options”:


I love a pretty vignette:
IMG_0198Photo assistant Rudo working on his tan:

IMG_0220The communal inspiration desk:

IMG_0214Oh and here’s me (in my regular clothes) trying to get a handle on things.

IMG_0208What a fun shoot!!  Thanks very much to all involved especially those at Fuel Advertising and Hudson’s Bay.  A very special thank you to our tireless clients Arren Williams and Jen Radway.  Can’t wait to see you all again very soon.

PS: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention bed-stylist Charlene Walton and producer Rosanna Tanti.  Nice work ladies!!!

Indigo Fall Preview

A big part of my job is to keep current and to know what trends are going to be hot before everyone else does. Luckily, most of my favorite retailers hold seasonal presentations of their newest  collections several months before they hit the stores.  It’s sort of like when fashion designers launch their collections by doing runway shows; in home decor they do “previews” in which artfully designed vignettes are styled in a showroom for guests to admire.  A ton of work goes into these presentations because the audience is full of key people who will help move the brand along.  For a stylist, it’s a great opportunity to stock up on ideas as well as a nice time to say hello to some long-lost friends who I haven’t seen for a while.  This morning’s event held by Indigo was a bit of both and I am super glad that I went.  Below you will find images of my favorite items that should be hitting stores in time for fall.  I find that Indigo always does a great job and that the products are of shockingly good quality for the pricepoint (and no, they did not pay me to say that).

Here is a gorgeous wall of mix and match dinnerware with smooth shapes, a rustic feel and dark, inky colours that are great for fall.

IMG_0768 I loved the new line of napkins that look as if they have been hand-dyed with natural pigments.  They are meant to look a bit rumpled so no ironing required!  I think I might snap up the lush purple ones for myself come fall.IMG_0769 Who wouldn’t want a mug that says something sweet every morning?IMG_0773Chic desk accessories can be hard to find, believe you me.  Poppin is a new line from New York that will be sold exclusively in Canada at Indigo.  I like the white the best but there are also tons of peppy hues.IMG_0777 A book after my own heart (and start in the theatre oh-so-many years ago).  IMG_0781 I loved how they table-scaped this coffee table with heavy, sexy books.  Oh and the luscious roses didn’t hurt either.  Take note all you bare table people!IMG_0784 Indigo is putting a push on integrating the world of books and words into it’s home decor category.  I think it’s a clever blending and makes the home products seem so…well… at home. Love these little framed sayings (which also come on toss pillows and will be top sellers).IMG_0785 And of course, the wall of scarves, jewelery and handbags.  I have made a bee line for this stuff several times this year when a last minute gift was required.  First stop, scarf and notebook; second stop gift wrap and cards; third stop, done!IMG_0759 Okay so now some time for personal shopping: these lavender pillows are going to look great on my sofa!!  

I thought these glass decanters with gold tops were so simple and elegant.
IMG_0770 Last but not least, the wooden kitchen accessories are just a gorgeous as ever.  I love the cutting and cheese boards the best!IMG_0771Well that’s my tour for now…I’m sure that you will see all of these things on your own in the next few months but isn’t it nice to get a little sneak peak?

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.