Living etc - March 2016

I don't think I have yet proclaimed my true addiction to Living etc. It's my absolute favorite design magazine, and I have a lot of favorites (Dwell, House & Home, Elle Decor...).

There's something about Living etc that I am just so obsessed with. I like that they feature interiors that combine interesting architectural spaces with modern design elements. They aren't afraid of quirky patterns and colors and they truly like to show off happy spaces. Yes happy spaces. The kind of rooms that make you feel alive, and good, and calm, and inspired to re-create in your own home. 

Since I'm always jotting down ideas when I read magazines, I thought that I would share some product highlights that stood out for me in the March issue. Perhaps this is something I will continue to do, since scribbles of paper get lost and it's easy to forget all those interesting items that you wanted to reference for a future project one day. I may even revisit old issues. But let's see what we find here first.

Bolle Light from Gallott & Radice - A spectacular light fixture that features hand burnished brass and transparent blown glass balls.

Turn Sofa from Fern Living - I have been a massive Ferm Living fan for years, mainly of their textiles and small accessories, but they have recently come out with a new sofa collection. Check out those slim metal legs on this minimalist beauty. And the best part is that you can quickly switch up your upholstery fabric by flipping the cushion.

Anita Johansen Day Bed for Menu - I've seen this day bed before and I'm really crushing on it. Those oak legs with the soft upholstered wool seat makes me really want to put this in our living room asap.

Vanita Cake Stand by Matii for Clippings - I've never seen a more cool looking cake stand. Made of glass and comes in four colors.

Rowan Washstand for Waterworks - Small freestanding vanity in brass & marble that's perfect for small spaces.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Samsung - The most beautiful TV in the world. I never thought that could be said, but holy crap, somebody finally designed it. This flat screen television is available in different sizes and colors, and can be put on legs (as above) or can simply be put on a shelf.

Smart Garden by Plantui for Finnish Design Shop - What a clever idea for your home. Now you can create your own small garden any time of the year,  no matter the weather.

Electronic Smoke Alarms by Jalo Kapu - Fire alarms have come a long way. These small units are easily attached to the ceiling and come in several different shades and a battery life of five years.

My Favorite Design Trends 2016

I've wanted to do a post on some of my favorite 2016 design trends for a while now and I'm happy to say I've finally gotten around to it. Perhaps I should call this post "my favorite designs moments", or "design trends that are still going strong", or perhaps even more fitting "design ideas that I like that may or may not be actual design trends" because at the end of the day, these are things that inspire me and influence my style in a tremendous way. 

I think what's really important that's been developing over the last couple of years is that people want their spaces to be a true reflection of themselves. No longer do we want generic homes - god no.  Builder basic? Gross. Cookie cutter? Don't even say those words! We want to add flavor and personality - even if that means doing an all white space (and yes it's all about texture).  I love that normal human beings (not just designers or those with a creative flair) are pushing themselves to experiment. People are finally opening up to different styles, even if it's outside of their comfort zone. We are no longer safely decorating for the sake of simply making sure it's going to work for -- you know where I'm going - "re-sale".  At least I like to think so. It's as if we have unlocked this little design box that we've lived in for a while, and now, finally, we are not scared to be a little different. And you shouldn't be because who wants to be boring anyways?

I'm a bit weary of people that don't embrace change. I know it's easy to get stuck in ruts, but I dare you to casually toss aside what your preconceived notions are of what HGTV has shown you to be "on trend". Sorry, I probably played a somewhat very small role in that, but on shows we have limited budgets and are told to cater to Suzy (or Linda, or Tammy), who's middle aged, shops at Homesense (nothing wrong with Homesense, but you get the idea) and lives somewhere -- and nowhere -- in Sarnia or middle America. Sorry Suzy, Linda and Tammy, but yellow chevron stripes and barn board are just not cool anymore. And "pops of color", especially in teal (unless done well), are dreadful. Ladies - I beg you, please open your eyes, and listen...these awful style decisions are just made for mediocre television shows, based on product availability, fast turn arounds and tight budgets. And often bad design taste from junior designers, who are probably working their butts off but not getting paid very well.

Now that I've offended most of middle America, and probably all women over forty that live in small towns in Canada, and of course, anybody named Suzy, Linda and Tammy.., let's continue, shall we?

How would I define my style? Well that's a good question. With an extremely hard and convoluded answer.  I like simple forms so I gravitate towards Scandinavian and Mid Century shapes. But I also like playful and happy touches so I'm not afraid to play with patterns and colors. And then I also love antiques and introducing unexpected pairings.  I suppose I like layered spaces that are contemporary (the most dreaded style word because it means so many things to different people BUT the true definition would be what's currently on trend, not the sterile and cold spaces you are probably imagining), modern and eclectic, but spaces that are also fun, fresh and playful. Basically, I'm a minimalist at heart who loves things.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's take a look at some design trends. I know there are a million more that I could have added but I'm a one woman show here, and this took forever!

UPDATE: I only got around to doing half of my intended design trends, pop by soon to see part two!

BLACK STEEL FACTORY STYLE WINDOWS AND DOORS - This style has been around for a long time and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. It's both modern and classic, and works with any interior. I love the idea of using it to separate spaces within the home. Keep in mind that this look works best with light colored floors, white walls and lots of natural light. Absolutely gorgeous.

OMBRE TABLES - This is certainly an interesting trend, but I really like it. The fluid ombre effect gives each piece a cool edge. This is the Proenza Schouler of your wardrobe or Aquazzura of your shoe closet. 

ARCHED DOORS / DOORWAYS - To help offset all the hard edges we are seeing in interiors of the moment, softer forms, often found in the architecture of the home, give spaces a sense of warmth and history.

DEEPLY VEINED MARBLE - I love marble. I understand mining it is not the best for mother earth, but it's so pretty. And I like that I'm seeing more variations in what people are choosing to install in their kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. I love classic white marble, but there are so many other gorgeous kinds out there that add so much more character. Don't be afraid to experiment.

UNEXPECTED PAINT JOBS - I love things that are unexpected. And using paint to add more dimension and interest to your home is a cool and completely affordable option.

PUNCHY YELLOW - Yellow makes me happy. It takes a bold person to add a really strong yellow to their home. This is not soft and mellow country yellow, but yellow on acid. If using this kind of yellow, try to keep other colors on the down low.

CANED FURNITURE - Caned furniture has never been viewed as sexy. You don't often go "if only I had a caned furniture piece in here it would make the room".  It makes me think of grandpas or libraries and a nice wool cardigan over a gingham button down.  And yet it has a special place in my heart. Most caned furniture is both timeless and classic. Today, caned furniture has had a subtle but fresh update. Lighter woods, upholstery and leather additions have re-imagined these forms, allowing each piece to either become a showstopper (take a look at the geometric high back chair below) or an instant classic, like the long bench, which would be a welcome addition to any entry.

ROUND MIRRORS - Circular mirrors are having a bit of a moment. Not sure why, maybe because square mirrors have been dominating the home for so long. I love brass and gold, so those are the ones I gravitate to the most. These days, you can now find large circular mirrors at a majority of retailers like CB2 and West Elm.

SLEEK BUILT IN STORAGE SOLUTIONS - I have been fascinated by built ins ever since I can remember. Most homes in Europe had them and I always thought that they were so elegant. I can still recall the entire wall of built in cabinets we had in our apartment in Athens, it was the most beautiful thing ever. Today, build ins are quite sleek and minimal, with few even having any hardware. It's a seamless look that is essential if you hate clutter and want to tuck most of your things away.

SHADES OF GREEN - Green is a beautiful color in any shade. Forest green has such a regal quality, while lighter shades of mint feel cool and fresh.  I love that all kinds of green are popping up in kitchens, furniture and even flooring. I may die of green envy any day.

WINDING STAIRCASES - I find winding staircases to be so sexy. They add plenty of movement and are often the highlight of any room. I mean, have you ever been inside a home that had a winding staircase and it wasn't the first thing you were drawn to? I didn't think so.

PATTERNED TILE - I know, patterned tile has been around for literally ages, but then Pinterest came along and all of a sudden it's the next big thing. Bold geometric shapes have taken the design world by storm, but there are still plenty other ways you can add patterned tile to great effect. I will do a whole blog post on my favorite pattered tile when I can, but in the meantime, enjoy these beauties here.

BLACK AND GLASS DISPLAY CABINETS - This is a great example of a trend (see black framed steel windows and doors above) that's been filtered down and made more accessible. Those wanting to bring a touch of the look can do so by adding a black framed glass display cabinet to their kitchens, living rooms or even bedrooms.

SHEEP - Yes - sheep! If I had the option, I would probably have a strange animal object in each room in my house (on second thought, we do actually, but they are rather quite small and unobtrusive). Unfortunately, I don't think my husband would allow it, nor would my dog appreciate it or find it cute and hilarious. I've been loving the quirky addition of sheep in interiors for a while now, it makes such an oddball statement and a unique conversation piece. Design is supposed to be fun and it doesn't get more fun than sitting on a flock of sheep in your living room.

PLAYFUL LIGHTING - Who ever said you have be serious about lighting? I like adding a dose of quirk to any interior, and the lights below prove that playful lighting is sure to bring a smile to your face every time you turn on the light.

LIGHT WOOD KITCHENS - I've wanted a light wood kitchen for forever. I don't know what it is about it that speaks to me, but they just makes me feel calm and peaceful. Design trends come and go, but whether it be in oak or birch, these kitchens prove that natural wood will never go out of style.

NAKED FURNITURE - This trend is sort of tied to the one above. I remember years ago when it seemed like Ikea was the only retailer putting out any light colored furniture. I think naked unstained, birch or oak furniture has had a bit of an uphill battle over the years, not wanting to be slotted into that Ikea mindset, of cheap and cheerful design. Not all furniture needs to be stained - even if your grandma thinks so.

QUIET BATHROOMS - When it comes to bathrooms, simplicity truly is the ultimate in luxury. I love clean, zen type spaces where you can escape the hustle of the every day and take a quiet moment to yourself. I especially love the idea of limiting your materials here -- you don't need a lot going on to really appreciate the thoughtful design behind all of these bathrooms.

IDS 2016

IDS 2016 has come and gone and I can't say I was disappointed. It didn't feel like years past, where there is usually a huge draw to a few specific sponsored booths - I'm looking at you Miele and Ikea. It was more low key, perhaps with less blinding in your face sponsorships and more handcrafted, unique finds. Totally up my ally, so thank you for that. It felt quite cold a couple of years ago, with most of the show showcasing only baths, baths, and yup, you guessed it, more baths.

I have to be honest - I barely took any photos, mainly because I was with two of my design friends and we had so much to talk about I sort of slipped on that. Plus we were rushing around before one of the seminars and I left immediately after because I had a meeting scheduled close by. I also missed the opening night gala, which always gives me an extra bit of time to scout. Especially when you are stuck in a never ending drink line and truly get a sense of what's around.

Some of my favorite moments included getting up close and personal with these spectacular lights from Lightmaker Studio, who are based out of the Distillery District in Toronto. I absolutely cannot wait to work with these fabulous folks sometime in the future. If you are an amazing client, and looking to redo your lackluster space, let's make this happen now.

I also adored these very on trend blush doors from 1925 Workbench, another local shop that operates out of Toronto. I first came across their work in an Fall issue of Designlines, and I've always kept them in the back of my head as a resource for sliding doors and custom furniture pieces. I love that the company was started by a husband and wife team who created their own custom barn doors because they simply couldn't find what they were looking for anywhere else. It's an inspiring story and a great product, and I can't wait to see more of their work profiled.

I was also smitten by the gallery space created by the people behind Caviar20. WOW - I want everything you have. I'm a huge lover of art, and they seem to have a laser focus on what's current and hot. I especially liked how they styled their space, and this Pierre Paulin chair is to die for, I cannot even begin to discuss this magic combo of pink, green and black.

Other notable mentions are the brilliantly designed natural fiber and handmade rugs from Jan Kath.  I've wanted to do a post about his rugs for forever now, but somehow haven't gotten around to it, so shame on me for that. This man is an absolute artist who creates the most startlingly unique rug landscapes for your feet to rest on. EQ3 was another winner in my books, their Assembly line was well crafted and modern. I love that they support working Canadian furniture designers - really well done EQ3, seriously, well done.

I also had a great, completely unexpected, and most of all, incredibly embarrassing, run in with Orlando Soria, the designer and writer behind Hommemaker, creative director of Homepolish, and best friend of my ultimate girl crush, Emily Henderson. I was walking down Queen Street and basically walked right into the guy. Total fan girl moment ensued, and there are some things in life you can't take back. Let's just say I never stop anybody, it's totally unprofessional in my books (I am a TV producer after all), and I see celebrities ALL the time. Well maybe not all the time, but it's my job. I don't see the point of taking selfie photographs, or asking for autographs, and an awkward encounter is never pleasant for anybody. Trust me on that. And yet, I introduced myself, and tried to compose myself as best as I could under the circumstances. He was lovely, I gave him some Toronto recommends, and we parted ways with a hug. For me, that was more than enough - thanks for being classy Orlando. Me, not so much!

The Big Sofa Challenge

There is absolutely no reason for me to currently want to purchase a new sofa. I know it's a really large investment and we shouldn't even be considering it, but my brain doesn't work that way. Ideally, I would love a modular sectional, something that can be configured any way we see fit. It would be fantastic for apartment living, and it's awesome because you can just add more pieces down the line if needed.

My first pick is the Connect Sofa by Mutto. I love how easy it is to specify exactly what modules you need to create the ideal sofa shape for your space, the low profile, and of course, it's chunky base. For what we would want, this would set up back around $10,000. Not a cheap sofa by any means, but I'm a big believer in buying something that you love once, and hopefully never having to buy it again.

My second choice is the Mags Sofa by Hay. Also modular, it allows you to configure the set up based on your needs. It looks so comfy, sturdy, and the ultimate spot to lounge out on after a long day. In terms of pricing, it comes in a tad lower than the Connect Sofa above, but again, there's not exactly a deal here.

Lastly, I'm also kind of digging the Mix, the new modular sofa system by Gus Modern. Like all the above, the Mix let you mix and match components and fabrics to build a custom sectional, so you end up with whatever shape best fits your space. Plus Gus Modern is a Canadian design company based out of Toronto, and it's always nice to support local businesses that actually make awesome products. Price wise, you have to contact the store directly in order to get a quote, so I'm not quite sure what we would be looking at here.

While I love all of the above options, I was really dismayed to learn that the Connect Sofa is made from cold foam and the Mags Sofa is made out of polyurethane foam. Seeing as how these are two Scandinavian brands that I really adore, who I hoped would care about using only natural materials in their products, it's a total bummer, especially when you factor in the high price tags.

At least the Mix Sofa from Gus Modern is manufactured to meet California TB117-2013 fire safety standards without the use of flame retardant additives in upholstery foam, however, they still use some kind of foam, made from chemicals, so while they have made a step in the right direction, they definitely have a ways to go. And while the brand is open to using a different filler for their upholstery, they suggested soy foam or recycled plastic bottles as an alternative, these options are not exactly healthy or green, even though it's easy to think they can be.

It's crazy to me that in almost 2016 (less than two months away!), most people are still sitting on and breathing in some incredibly toxic substances, mostly found in sofa cushions and mattresses. Is it for a lack of information? There have been so many studies done about this, and yet it's almost as if people don't want to believe it. These toxic substances are contributing to our failing health, leaching into our bodies and making us sick.  We made the switch to an organic latex mattress this summer (scroll down if you want to read my review - spoiler alert, it's one of the best decisions we ever made), and now I'm faced with the really difficult challenge of finding a organic latex sofa.

I know there are a few companies who specialize in making natural products in the US, like Ekla and Green Sofas, but unfortunately, here in Canada, our options are sadly pretty much non existent. The closet I got was Cisco Brothers,  who retail through Elte, and make all of their products available for purchase using their green technology. The company states "Cisco‚Äôs Inside Green technology is our smart, healthy, responsible, alternative method of building furniture made entirely from Natural Latex, organic wool, organic goose feathers and down. These natural materials are not only superior in terms of comfort and lifespan, but are inherently flame retardant and hypo-allergenic. Every product in the Cisco line can be ordered using Inside Green technology." I only wish I wanted one of their sectionals. Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, just not what I am looking for.

For now, the search continues. But if I can't find what I want, I'm going to see if I can at least switch out our current sofa cushions for organic latex versions, if I can track down a Canadian supplier willing to cut custom sizes. Again, there is a company doing it in the US called Foam to Order, but the shipping fees would be killer. If anybody knows where to look or has any suggestions, feel free to let me know.

Anna Karlin

Anna Karlin is one of those people you should probably hate - she's insanely talented, young, British, lives in NY, and is a total babe. But life is too short to hate, and I totally admire anybody who is doing what they love and and who is also doing it so well.

If you are wondering to yourself, who is this magical creature? Well you are in luck. Here are some examples of what Anna Karlin does so very incredibly exceptionally well.

Drooling over this lamp.

OMG she makes rugs too. And 100% wool.

Oh right, chairs too.

And the most super fun, 80s inspired stools. I will take all four. Please.

She also makes hand blown glass and works in brass. This decanter is beautiful.

In all seriousness, what kind of school do you go to in order to become so well versed in a million design mediums? Even her website is killing it. It's so good. I would not be surprised if she made it too.

From the looks of it, you can currently purchase her products direct (from her NY based shop - open appointment only) or you can order straight from her website as well. You can even get in touch with her to do custom pieces if you so fancy. And if you can afford it, I would really consider getting one of her pieces now, because with the amount of buzz she's already getting, I can only imagine she's going to blow up in a very big way.

Egg Collective

Egg Collective is a New York based design company that creates truly beautiful and exquisite furniture and lighting products. They use only the finest of natural materials (such as domestic hardwoods and stone) and allow all of their unsealed metal finishes to, over time, develop a patina.

The Russel Dining Table is brilliantly simple and available in walnut, natural oak, blackened white oak, and bleached maple (seen above). Coming in at 120" in length, it can seat 10 very comfortably, but custom sizing is available upon request.

One of my other favorites is the Fern table. This would be the perfect piece to put in a long entry beside the stairs, or perhaps in a living room that needed extra display space. Just like the Russel Dining Table, it is also available in different wood finishes. While the blackened white oak is a stunner (seen on their website), I can't get enough of light wood these days.

Another standout is the Margot George Chandelier, featuring hand blown glass and satin brass. I love the smokey look of the glass, adding another layer of sexiness and glamour.

I also enjoy how their side tables can look completely different when viewed at different angles. The three ladies behind Egg Collective certainly know how to keep things fresh and unexpected.

If you are interested in one of their pieces, feel free to contact the company directly or go to their online shop for more info. They can help you organize shipping and delivery, or if you are a New York native, they are open throughout the week and can be found at 304 Hudson Street.

Design Cheats vs Originals

When it comes to designing products, it's getting harder and harder to come up with original ideas that not only look beautiful and (hopefully) function well, but ones that will grab enough attention in an overcrowded market and actually sell.  I get it, it's a tough biz these days.

But what happens when designers "borrow" from others and create products that are direct copies or slightly altered versions of the original? One such product that I recently stumbled across is this Sonora Canyon Sling Chair from Ralph Lauren (left), which bears a direct resemblance to the Borge Mogensen "Spanish" chair (right).

Call me crazy but this is a total rip off of the original Spanish chair. Sure it's in a darker finish, it's missing the flat arms and they've added an extra piece on the base, but it's essentially THE SAME CHAIR.

What is even more astounding, however, is that the Ralph Lauren chair, priced at $5,625 is actually more expensive than the Borge Mogensen chair, priced at $4,950. I understand that a lot of "knock off" versions of many different products exist out there, but when they are priced higher than the original, that's just insane. So I'm not sure if I should technically call the Sonora Canyon Sling Chair a knock off, a replica or an homage to the original.  I'm just shocked that nobody has called them out on this yet.

Get in Line

The Line constantly wows me with it's beautifully curated selections on everything from home goods to art to woman's ready to wear.  I have no recollection how I came across their website, but I'm here to stay. They specifically tailor products on offer that are classic, minimalist, beautiful and I hope, long lasting. Prices are pretty broad - so either normal or wildly expensive, but you get what you pay for.

I also really enjoy their art selection. But be prepared for sticker shock here. This stuff is not cheap. This is my favorite piece by Max Snow and it retails for $8,000.

What is the most intriguing thing about the shop however, is how they sell their products. Not only are they an online retailer, but they also sell out of their "Apartment", located on the third floor of a building in Soho, where customers can shop the stylized home itself. They also host dinners, workshops (like ballet classes & how to throw together beautiful floral centerpieces), and allow their customers to interact with some of their designers. I know others who have done pop ups in the same vein, but what's great about the Line is that they do it year round. It's not a gimmick but part of who they are. They also ship internationally, and you can expect shipping fees to be calculated at checkout. But be prepared to pay duties, taxes and customs fees if you are ordering to Canada.

Oh Hay...

What can I say about Hay furniture. Well, first, I am a sucker for anything Danish, modern, simple, extremely functional and durable. Hay truly accomplishes all of these feats, and they are gifted with being Danish, so it's truly a win win for everybody. What is there not to love about Hay furniture? Just take a look at an example of a perfect Hay office chair. I love how the bright citron pops against the white shell with a base that's done in a soap treated oak. This chair would look just as good in an office, dining room or kids play space.

Another one of my absolute favorites is this exceptionally well crafted and classically designed dining room chair. It comes in a variety of different colors, but the black is so smart and stylish. I would love to use this on both ends of a black dining room table.

Clearly by now you've fallen in love with Hay chairs, but the company also makes sofas, tables, bookcases...too many things to show you here. I highly recommend you check out their website. Besides making super great furniture pieces, they also have a huge accessories line.

All of the above products can be found for purchase online at The Modern Shop which offers free shipping anywhere in Canada on orders over $99.