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.


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

LF 7

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!

IDS 2013

Today was Trade Day at the Interior Design Show and I thought I would take a few pictures  of my favorite booths to watch out for.  Whether you’re planning to attend this weekend or want to experience the best in show from home here are five of my faves:

1. Cocoon

I loved this booth.  It was glam, elegant, chic and so, so perfect in every way.  Lots of people ask me to describe my personal style and I would say this design is pretty darn close. Can’t you just picture me moving in?


A great example of bookcase decorating!
IMG_0097I love the proportions here: classical and symmetrical with a little bit of messiness.  I like that the stools don’t match and the books are plain white and gold. So pretty.


Oh and guess what? That’s a rug back there! What a nice way to add texture and warmth.
IMG_0100Decorating with fruit and flowers is the easiest and most cost friendly way to refresh a room.  Make sure to pick colours that match your decor.IMG_0099

A giant mirror is stunning in this vignette:  I like that it’s off centre and on the floor.IMG_0101I never liked orange as a wall colour that much…until today.  IMG_01022. Ikea

This booth is always a major showstopper and this year was no exception.  People were talking about this non-Ikea copper bathtub… too bad it’s not available at your local store.  Enjoy it here as a luxurious rustic retreat fantasy- filled with floating orchids no less!

IMG_0109 Ohhhhh the drama.  Have a tall ceiling?   Like a really, really tall ceiling? Add some potted trees to your kitchen counter and a huge grouping of pendants.  Okay…I guess this is just an inspiring concept but what an impact!

IMG_0110I always love the styling of the Ikea booth.  In the past, master prop-stylist Neil Asselin designed the booth from top to bottom and I don’t know whether or not his team did it this year BUT I have a feeling that he did.  His magic fingerprints are all over this.


3. Montauk

The makers of everybody’s dream sofa pulled off a very cool booth this year.  All of those papers are photos of Montauk’s gorgeous pieces.  And P.S. have you seen their catalogue? So nice.


4. Binss Kitchen and Bath Design

This was hands-down the best kitchen concept at the show.  I loved the finishes, and the sleek styling.  Check out this huge range hood:

IMG_0125They also did a fantastic built-in shelving unit.  Yes, everything needs to be perfect all the time and no, ugly dishes are not allowed.

IMG_0126IMG_0127IMG_01295. Earth Inc

My friends at Earth Inc are always one of the best.  They mount tranquil garden rooms for IDS that are created with such ingenuity.   This concept space showcased a modern romantic notion of what outdoor living can be.  It’s hard to capture the feeling in a photograph…imagine the sounds of a water feature and smell of beautiful green things.

IMG_0121IMG_0123That’s all for now and I hope you enjoyed my mini tour.  I’d love to hear from you so let me know what your favorites were!

Trend Rating Part II: My Pics and Pans of the 2013 Design Forecast

In part 2 of my trend-rating series I am looking at three things: “beige”, “brass” and “outdoors-in”.  There are some winners and one very obvious looser and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Trend One: Beige

Some say that Toronto suffers from an over abundance of off-white but I say that beige is an essential shade that can be updated and changed to keep up with the times.   I love how a room can feel tranquil and quiet when it’s done in layers of white, cream and taupe.  Elle Decor has proclaimed that “Beige” is one of the top trends for 2013 but has it ever gone out of style?  Yes, this is a backlash against many coloured rooms that we have seen recently but I think perhaps that beige is timeless rather than trendy.  For me, this is a 10 out of 10.

For a perfect update, add hits of caramel like in the example below (courtesy of Elle Decor):


This is a look that Restoration Hardware is doing extremely well right now and keep in mind it can be toned-down if this seems over the top:

Restauration Hardware 1 Restauration Hardware 3 Restauration Hardware 4

Trend Two: Brass

Trends in metallics are always shifting from decade to decade and we have seen tons of brushed silver and nickel in the recent past.  With the 70s making a comeback (for better or for worse) designers are using brass and tarnished gold in everything from drawer pulls to coffee tables.  I like this trend and welcome the appearance of a warm metal: 8 out of 10.   Below is an image from Elle Decor featuring an interior designed by Kelly Wearstler:


Coffee table by Mastercraft from the 1970s:Brass 2 A brass mirror from Elte:Brass 3

Trend Three: Outdoors-In

Next let’s move on to one from House and Home: “Nature Comes Inside”.  I am going to break this one into two parts: architecture (a winner) and decor (not so great).  H & H describe the trend as “breezy architecture and nature-inspired accents bridge the indoor-outdoor divide”.  For the record, I love this one and feel a great sense of joy whenever I see a house designed with big windows that open up on a terrace.  It’s a beautiful idea, but is it trend-specific to 2013?  Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater in 1935 with this exact principle in mind and has it really ever disappeared? Maybe, maybe not (I am pointing at you 1980s) but either way, I adore this look in architecture wholeheartedly; 10 out of 10. 


Falling Water

A modern example:

Modern Outdoor

House and Home also encourages using outdoor adornments like moss-filed urns and garden lanterns to decorate inside citing Anthropolgie’s Terrain collection of woodsy-inspired furniture and decor as an example.   Some things I like and others should be left in the shed. Because there are so many bad examples, I give “outdoors-in” decor a 5 out of 10.  Here are a few examples of things that I think could integrate into a good-looking modern home:
Outdoor 1 Outdoor 3 Outdoor 6
Now here are a few very bad examples.  It seems as if Anthropology is using the trend factor to majorly over charge.
This rusted old child-size chair is $300:
Outdoor 2This scrap wood cabinet could be found in the back of countless barns across the country.  And guess what? They are charging a whopping $2400!
Outdoor 4This is called the “antique swedish table” for $1498.  Unbelievable.
Outdoor 5
Like I said, there are great ways to bring nature inside like fresh flowers, lanterns, planters and drift wood.  And I do believe that it can be done tastefully and without spending a fortune.

Cottage Decorating: 12 great finds for under $50

As a long-time cottager just returned from a glorious Victoria Day long weekend, my thoughts are on easy summer decorating tips to spruce up your home-away-from-home.  I’ve been traveling to Kennisis Lake in the Kawarthas since I was a kid- my Dad having the brilliant prescience to buy land way before it was fashionable- and I’ve been part of the constant renovations that transformed a tiny A frame to a spacious retreat for a large family.  Decorating up north was always done on the cheap: old couches from home, hand-sewn curtains, hand-me-down dishes (some chipped), mis-matched sheets and the odd nic-nack that didn’t belong in the city (remember the crocheted owl?).  While I don’t recommend turning your place into a jumbled-up junk collection, I don’t think that spending a lot of money is necessary.  The look should be casual, kid/sand proof and easy to maintain with a few stylish touches to make it feel up-to-date.  In the spirit of summer (yay!) I did a little scout of my local Homesense stores to suggest a few great finds that won’t break the bank.

Here is a handy bottle tote that is as practical as it is stylish.  It’s casual and rustic and perfect for the dock, the table or a pic nic, $19.99.

Homesense does a terrific job with lanterns.  This is just one of the many, many great options.  I like this one because it’s woodsy, has a great handle and looks modern (and tropical in the right setting). $28.99

These platters are great for big BBQs. The colour is perfect for summer and the design is modern. $49.99

I love these twiggy director’s chairs. They come in two colours (avocado as seen and navy)  and have a matching table (behind). Chair $49.99

I would love to see this glass lamp with woven shade in a beachy living room with a big white couch and sisal rug.  $49.99

These carpets are indoor/outdoor and are perfect for sandy feet.  The best part? If they look less-than-fresh come September, don’t feel bad about replacing for next season! $19.99

Are you sensing a theme?  This mirror has a faux-wood frame that is perfect for a guest bedroom or foyer.  $29.99

Every cottager knows that good beach towels are a major must-have.  These ones are super plush in amazing colours. $16.99

I love this substantial planter that wouldn’t even dream of blowing over in the wind.  $49.99

I use baskets for everything from magazines to throw blankets to firewood.  I really like the worn grey-beige colour of this one. $19.99

Stylish coolers are another necessity.  I love the fresh turquoise with silver trim and great price point. Just add ice and your favorite drinks! $12.99

I like this little jug because of it’s African-craft look and pretty colour.  I think this would be perfect as a bit of cottage decoration on a book shelf or table. $19.99

Have fun decorating and remember that the purpose of escaping to the cottage is to relax and take it down a notch.  Shop for stylish items that will last and won’t cause stress when that Visa bill comes in the mail!