My Top Gift Picks This Year!

This year, let’s think outside the box and get that special someone something truly unique and special. Each year I try to go above and beyond what I did the previous year to surprise and please my loved ones. See a few of my top picks below. 

jo alcorn products

I typically go all white with my holiday décor but a great option is a trend I am seeing this year towards black and gold. I love the idea of gifting someone a tree decoration with a special note attached; or filling a stocking with some of their favourite goodies and hanging their gift right on their mantel with this great marble stocking holder from Lowe’s. These items are part of the Lowe’s Opuluxe holiday trend. They also have some fantastic black and gold ornaments and lanterns this year. 

black and white Ornaments

In keeping with the trend of gold this year I found the most gorgeous teacup and saucer and gold hued coasters from Homesense. These would pair nicely with a selection of your recipient’s favourite tea. 
 

tea cup and coaster, home sense


The Canadian Red Cross has great options to give the gift of two blankets to keep refugees and migrants warm. A warm blanket can help carry them through the cold snap of winter, give their children something to sit and play on and help them get a proper night’s rest. This gift is certainly warms my heart and at $15 if’s affordable yet so significant. See all of their gift options at www.redcross.ca/perfectgifts
 

red cross blanket

I love bubbly water (ok bubbly anything for that matter!). Last year I tried to go a little bit more green and bought a SodaStream FIZZI sparkling water maker. This bubbling machine is like magic. It doesn’t require a plugin and all you do it pop your bottle of tap water in the SodaStream and turns ordinary tap water into sparkling water with the touch of a button within minutes. It’s the perfect gift for all those FIZZI lovers out there like me (and it also keeps cans and bottle out of landfills!). The special holiday pricing is $99.99 and available in red for a limited time only. 

sodastream

 Gifts for Friends with Four Legs
Having two fur friends myself, I could NEVER forget about pups on Christmas morning. This year I am happy to launch our donut dog bed which both my pooches have already fallen in love with! This year they will each be getting their very own, super comfy new bed from my Jo Alcorn collection. 
 

dog beds, jo alcorn

Sometimes something cozy is in order for the holiday season. Bouclair has great accessories, candles and throws to choose from for that last minute gift idea. 
 

bouclair decor

Mighty Power. Mini Footprint. The KitchenAid Artisan Mini Stand Mixer makes up to 5 dozen cookies in a single batch. This bold countertop staple is smaller than the brand’s classic stand mixer but fits all standard attachments, like the Pasta Press or Spiralizer, making this the perfect gift for the foodie on your list.

red kitchenaid mini stand mixer

Set the mood for winter cuddle ups with the cutest plug-in electric fire place imaginable, from Dimplex. It’s not only charming, it can also heat a room up to 400 square feet. This little gem provides cozy ambiance and charm. It’s also small enough that you can take it with you outside in the summer on cool nights.

dimplex fireplace

Who doesn’t love the look and feel of fresh new bedding? Gift your loved one a crisp new duvet and sleeping pillow from my new line this year. My new Jo Alcorn bedding collection is Hypoallergenic, Dust Mite Control, Fully Washable, Animal Cruelty Free and feels just like down. 

bedding, jo alcorn

Finally, who can resist the gift of these adorable and comfy socks for the holidays? I know I’d personally love to receive a pair (hint, hint). I can’t even imagine anyone on my list who wouldn’t love these paired with a nice bottle of wine or a gourmet bag of coffee. I found these little sweeties at an online shop called RJDAX.

socks with sayings

Happy Shopping this season!! 

gift ideas

Tips on how to survive a home renovation

As you may or may not know from my constant social media updates, I have been living through a massive kitchen renovation since September.  That means 3 months without water, counters, floors and more! Did I move out? NO. How did I cope? Here I share a few tips and tricks on how to live in a home that is under construction and no go crazy in the process (ok, maybe just a bit crazy – that’s acceptable).

To start, the inspiration collage is what kept me sane and helped to keep the end product in mind when the going got tough. I would look at that gorgeous inspiration and know that one day it would all be mine…no pain-no gain right?

inspirational board

Compare that beautiful inspiration image to this – this was my reality for THREE months! To stay sane, and functional, and still live there, I had to find ways to make things work for all of us.
 

renovation

I have two sweet dogs that live with me, so I desperately needed to keep the space clean and tidy – not only for my own health but for their health and safety as well. I can’t tell you how many Swiffer pads I went through each day! I was constantly whipping that magic tool around, day in and day out. I’d start with the Swiffer Sweeper to trap and lock in all the dirt (and let me tell you there was A LOT of dirt). Next I’d then use the Swiffer WetJet on the finished hardwood floors to clean up any remaining dirt and grime and make it a safe haven at the end of the night … until the dirt and dust appeared the next day and then I’d repeat.
 

floor cleaing

I’m not sure if you can tell but I am a bit OBSESSED about cleanliness. It’s pretty hard for someone like me who lives in tidy home to live through a Reno. I turned to tools and products that would give me peace of mind, knowing they’d help keep my space as clean as it could be, for all of us. I tried Scrub Daddy for the first time during my Reno and it was life changing! This little sponge doesn’t scratch delicate surfaces and doesn’t require harsh chemicals, which I am totally against for my own health but also the health of my fur-friends. The power of this little scrubber is amazing.  

Scrub Daddy

 On top of cleaning the floors, it’s so important to clean surfaces, windows, tops of furniture and anything the might be mingled with dust. Because I am so against toxins and chemicals, I was thrilled when I found out about Thieves; this is an all-natural, 100% pure, plant-based, essential oil cleaner from Young Living. Half a capful makes a full bottle of this cleaning goodness (one single Thieves bottle will make 26 full bottles of cleaner - at $27.50 for the Thieves, that is a steal!). In addition to being all plant and essential oils based, it kills 99.96% of airborne bacteria and germs, it’s safe around kids, and I don’t need to worry when my sweet pups come into contact with it. Where to find it? The Oil Girls Canada
 

cleaning oils


Speaking of cleaning, people often overlook cleaning the inside of their appliances. After, or even during a Reno, if you still have appliances up and running it’s important to take care of them. Did you know that only 27% of Canadians have cleaned the inside of their dishwasher in the past 12 months? EWWW! Imagine that! There are specially formulated tablets that actually clean the inside of dishwashers called affresh. They clean the hard water and mineral deposits that accumulate in your dishwasher over time. During and after a Reno is possibly the most important time to tackle this task. 
 

whirlpool


Living without a kitchen is hard…I don’t mean kinda hard, I mean REALLY hard. To stay sane I had to make sure I had access to appliances and alternate items so I was not breaking the bank every night eating out … but keep in mind all my appliances had been removed! My KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker was my saviour. All you have to do is throw in your ingredients, let them simmer and have a meal at the end of the day. It also automatically goes into keep warm mode for up to four hours so you know you’ll have a hot meal to look forward to.
This compact oven from KitchenAid is also great if you are going to have to go longer periods of time without a kitchen (and mine was pretty long). It takes up a very small footprint, you can plug it in just about anywhere to make a “make-shift” kitchen in another area of your home to make anything from roasted meats, fish and vegetables, to quiche, pizza, muffins and more.
 

kitchenaid

Clean air is so importance to me because I have severe allergies. If you are living through a Reno, or you have kids or pets, clean air should be a top priority. The Philips Air Purifier is proven to reduce allergens, odors, volatile organic compound emissions and even certain bacteria – say that three times fast! The filter removes 99.97% of allergens and pollutants while the Active Carbon filter reduces gases and odors from the air.

air purifier, philipps

  This might seem like an odd recommendation but another key to surviving a reno is to decrease your stress (and trust me I had A LOT of it when there were hiccups in the delivery times, delays and changes that needed to be made, all which inevitably slowed down the process). Make sure you have a safe, clean retreat to get away to where you can rest and restore before conquering the next day that will have an entirely new set of challenges! Soft pillows, a comfortable mattress (my new Bills Bed mattress sure came in handy these past few months!). Try out my new fully washable, hypoallergenic, animal cruelty-free, Canadian made sleeping pillows and duvets – a good night’s sleep is just the blink of an eye away. 
 

morning bed, jo alcorn bedding

All in all, I think I am surviving just fine! My pups and I still live at home, eat at home, and enjoy the rest of the house – no easy feat in these conditions! But the tips I shared are sure to help you through the long weeks of a reno. Keep looking at your inspiration photos – it will all be worth it in the end.
 

Reno Stage of My Kitchen Makeover

When I moved into my home four years ago, I didn’t like the kitchen. I knew a full renovation would be required but it wasn’t in the budget right then. Instead I gave the kitchen a facelift until I could really do what I wanted with it. 


If you’re working on a budget and simply need to make a space livable you can try the steps I took. I painted the walls and the existing cabinets, changed the cabinet hardware and the faucet, and added in touches of warmth, like rugs and accessories. While it wasn’t my dream kitchen yet, it certain went a long way toward making the space more likable for me, and an area of my home I wouldn’t avoid.


Take a look at the before pictures and what I refer to as my “holdover” stage. Those relatively small changes made a huge impact. It’s hard to believe those are the same cabinets!  
 

galley kitchen makeover


Now let’s fast forward to a few months ago, when I was finally ready to being the real reno my kitchen so desperately needed.  


A renovation project is a big undertaking. It should not be entered into quickly – you need time to decide on a direction, find what inspires you and collect those images, consider some products/brands/features you would like; this will include (but not be limited to) everything you love from countertops to cabinets, lighting to seating…really anything you find that you would love to have in this room. Collect all this information in one place – make it your inspiration or reno file. You’ll be surprised by how often you’ll refer to this during the process, as you consider options and make decisions. Don’t be afraid to update what’s included but use this to keep sight of what you wanted in the first place.


My inspirational mood board, focus my direction.

kitchen mood board

 

After pulling together my inspirational look, the work began. A floor plan was created to scope out what I could actually do with the small space. Floor plans are important to any project as you can work out the kinks on paper and not in real life – definitely a bonus!  This is the time to play around with a few layouts until you get to the one that works for you. Be sure to do this – don’t just go with what you already have, or follow someone else’s ideas; this is the time to get what you really want from your reno! 


Once you’ve exhausted the options and decided on the floor plan, you’ll have in hand a blueprint for your dream reno, which will save you time and money. The bonus of this is that it allows contractors to quote more accurately since they know what they’re working toward, and not creating (and changing things) on the fly.
 

Kitchen Floor Plan

I needed a kitchen cabinet company, flooring company, countertops, appliances, blinds and more! All these companies needed to be sourced to find the right look, feel, and materials I wanted included in my dream kitchen. There was shopping and sourcing, meetings, paperwork and so much more. Once I knew what I wanted to include in the space, the next step was to find a contracting company that could bring my dream to life. 


Hiring a general contracting company is the best way to go when you have a busy work/ lifestyle. They manage every moving part to the renovation so that you don’t have to organizing each trade at each phase. And the order of the trades being involved is very important. I chose to work with Make it Right Corp to do the job - they gutted the kitchen, removed the wall and organized all the trades for each stage, at the right time. They coordinated the kitchen cabinets, flooring, countertops, appliances, blinds and more. 

renovation

While the renovation was happening, product orders were placed and items delivered. It was like a finely choreographed dance – items had to arrive in just the right order, for the trades to install before the next step in the process. 


A true inspiration for me was the flooring. I lovingly selected beautiful marble Herrington bone tiles from Creekside Tile Toronto. These are a showpiece! And they pull everything else together! Take note: Flooring can take longer than expected to arrive so have that on order as quickly as possible or it can delay the entire job. 
 

herringbone floor tile


Next up in the process was a meeting with the kitchen company I chose, DV Kitchens and Bath. They came on site to finalize measurements and materials. I had my inspirational collage to show them my tastes, ideas and requirements; that made it easy for them to zero in on what would be ideal for me. They showed me their high gloss flat panel cabinets – perfect for my dream kitchen! Because I didn’t want handles distracting from the clean, sleek look of these cabinets.


As part of the design of my new kitchen, I struggled with having handles distracting from the clean and sleek look of my new kitchen cabinets. As I thought about how I was going to accomplish a handle free look but also incorporate some of the new technology available today, I turned to GRASS. GRASS is a company I have come to love over that past year for their innovations and sleek designs and amazingly great soft close hinges and slides. GRASS has been supplying the kitchen and furniture industry for over 70 years.  GRASS hardware has everything for the home-owner with an attention to detail. They specialize in concealed soft-close furniture hinges, fully synchronised under mount soft-close drawer slides that are guaranteed to please, double-wall drawer box systems and, not to be forgotten, their own line of cabinet door lifters. A kitchen in my mind is not complete without these precious gems hidden behind closed doors & drawers. These are luxuries you want to have installed in your home and will come to regard as necessities; enjoy the silence of precision soft-close! This is an investment you will never regret!
  

Grass Canada hardware


It was an easy decision to keep the paint the same throughout the house. Using the colour I love in the rest of the house, Para Paint Jojo whitewash PF17, gives illusion of much more space and creates a consistent look throughout. In small spaces, keeping the paint the same will make the space seem bigger, and help to open it up.
 

white paint, jojo whitewash PF17


The colour of the appliances directed me on faucet style. I selected a unit from Delta that was sleek, modern and the perfect jewelry piece for the sink area.  This model is a single handle pull down kitchen faucet in Champagne Bronze finish, the Delta Trinsic model. I found simple, classic brass pendants that are not distracting or block the view from Artcraft Lighting. One of my pet peeves is having to look around pendant lights at an island to see the person on the other side.  So these were the perfect solution.   
 

BRASS FAUCET, PENDANT LIGHT


Next came the counter top from Ceasarstone, because I simply fell in love with their Calacatta Nuvo collection. I reached out to Ross at Renovare Marble and Granite to fabricate and install the stunning counter tops, knowing that it would be done to perfection and in a reasonable time frame.  
 

CEASARSTONE COUNTERTOP

Onto window treatments. I reached out to my friend Karen at @inspireddrapestoronto a Budget Blinds dealer. I was looking for something that gave me privacy but also let in a lot of light. 1TriLight is a unique combination of a sheer pleated shade on top and a honeycomb shade on the bottom, an item found exclusively at Budget Blinds. It is the perfect look … classy and soft but allowing me to have three different looks. I feel like I have a three in one shade! 
 

WHITE BLINDS


I had to find a door for my little closet and knew I wanted something more elegant than a standard closet door in my now stunning kitchen. So I turned to Metrie to find a door that was 96”x24” and found a perfect one in their True Craft Finishing Collection to highlight the size and with just the right amount of drama! I then added a simple black lever handle and it finishes off that area just perfectly!
 

METRIE INTERIOR DOOR

After all the main pieces were ordered and in place, it was time for some shopping! I order new stools and more on Wayfair.ca. Since I now have open shelves holding my everyday dishware, I ordered new glassware and dishware, pieces that were as stunning and perfect as everything else in my dream kitchen; it was ordering art for the shelves! The whole design direction of the space was to have everything calming, easy on the eye and white. With that direction, it was easier to shop for exactly what I needed … and wanted!
  
  

WAYFAIR


If you’d like to see details on all the steps in the renovation so far, watch the videos on Instagram and Facebook. And keep posted for the big reveal that will be happening soon. I love the look and function of the new kitchen – it was worth the wait and all the work that’s gone into it! I can’t wait to sharer the end result with you.

Stay tune for all the after photos . . . 
 

Sleep Tight with Bills Bed!

Sleep is an important aspect to a healthy living, and I try not to mess around with it. Recently, I was in need of a new mattress as my old one left me waking up sore and not well rested after tossing and turning all night long. 

large headboard, bedroom

I am big supporter of Canadian products so I was pleased to find Bill's Bed, a Canadian made mattress with materials from locally sourced suppliers. The other cool part that attracted me was that it would be delivered in a box, which meant I could carry it up my stairs on my own and set it all up by myself. On top of that, the delivery time was only 3-5 days. Plus they also offer a 10 year warranty and a 100-night sleep guarantee. This is a product I can rest easy with!

bills-bed_large.jpg

 

I received two boxes, one with the mattress and one with the box spring. I must admit, I was very skeptical that a queen mattress and queen box spring could arrive in a box. Air sealed tight and all rolled up, a queen mattress did arrive, along with my box spring, which only required a few steps to assemble.

bed in a box

 

The other truly unique feature about this bed is that it’s fully reversible. This double-sided mattress allows you to choose firm or plush, just by flipping it over. The decision is yours, and you can change at any time. 

bills-bed-12.png

I am happy to say that I am now sleeping like a baby, and unhappy to say I now don’t want to leave my bed ... ever!

FACTS THAT MADE ME A BELIEVER

·       Bill’s Bed is the only 100 per cent Canadian made bed in a box. If you know anything about me, you KNOW I am a huge supporter of Canadian products!

·       There are five standard sizes to the bed and it can be flipped between two sleeping surfaces depending on personal preference – I chose firm

·       Bill’s Beds are available online and are shipped directly to your door – I received mine when I was home alone and was able to bring it up the stairs solo! (Remember this is a Queen sized mattress and box spring we are talking about here!)

·       I’ve been putting the mattress to the test for 2 weeks now and there is no chance I’ll be giving up this gem but it’s pretty nice to know the company backs it’s products with a 100 night risk free guarantee 

Bills bed

Nursery Time

A baby’s room needs to be fun and playful, but also a place they can grow into. For this baby boy’s nursery I kept longevity in mind, creating a space that would take him from toddler to teen with minimal updates. 

Nursery

Sometime you need to think outside the box when choosing décor pieces. In this room we certainly did that when we took a tool box and made it into a dresser. It screams everything boy! It’s also indestructible which is ideal for rough and tumble toddlers. 

tool box ideas

Instead of just painting the walls, we wanted to add layers and textures so we went with wallpaper that is from the new Jo Alcorn Collection, dark crown molding and wainscoting to really finish the space in a unique way. 

baby boy room

I went with low profile pieces when it came to furniture. The room was small so it helped to create the illusion of more space. We chose this great Tribeca 4-In-1 Convertible Crib from Sears that will take the family through baby to toddlers years. We also added in this sweet mobile.  We finished off the bed with the most perfect bedding from Bouclair’s baby line. 

crib

We chose the most delightful glider for story time or late night cuddles. This piece from Sears fits right into the corner of the room and makes the perfect seating addition to the room.   

glinder

On a trip to Bouclair I was able to pick up affordable curtains and a rod that matched the space perfectly, and also some adorable side table décor from their baby collection. I also grabbed some baskets while I was there to use as extra storage for blankets, or even as laundry baskets if needed.

baskets

My clients really wanted an air purifier in the room for the new baby; since the room is so small, we opted to remove the closet door to give us extra room required. We chose a great Philips unit that fit in perfectly with the décor and tucks nicely into the open air closet. Other than looking great, this unit reduces allergens, gases and odors in the space and the filter captures 99.97% of particles that pass through the filters. 

closet

I added in some dramatic pieces from Homesense like a faux fur rug, side tables and lamps to completely tie the space together. This room is perfect for a baby or a toddler, and can easily accommodate an older child or teen with minimal updates.

home sense

Until next time, 


 

INNOVATIVE HOME IDEAS

In my line of work, I am often come across innovative home products, and new designer colours and trends long before they hit the consumer market. It’s part of what I love about my job!

Take a look at a few cool things I’ll certainly be including in my fall client projects.

My clients often depend on me to come up with ideas that work for them, their families, and how they live in their homes. You may have noticed, I simply love electric fireplaces, and have been using them a lot more lately. The main reasons I love them, and include them, are that the price of gas units are so high, some units in my clients’ homes were inefficient, and in some homes gas was simply not an issue. I’ve installed a unit in a master bedroom to give a warm cozy ambiance, I’ve used them in living rooms to give a bit more heat, and have even included them in bathrooms! The newest option, and a really cool one, I recently saw at the Canadian Furniture Show was a unit by Dimplex where you can take the fire box out in summer months and use the unit as a media console, and then in the winter months you add the fire box back in. How brilliant is that?

1 media consoles.png

I love to educate clients about products I use in my own space, ones they may not know about themselves, but which make a huge impact. This past year I discovered the joys of soft-close hardware. All my clients want to see the pretty outside drawer pulls and cabinet handles, and they often forget about the function of the piece. GRASS drawer slide and hinge systems are perfectly engineered to enable all design ideas while maintaining the highest performance. You could literally have a drawer faced with solid marble and GRASS soft close hardware could hold it.  

Grass hardware

 A few other innovative products I have come across lately are kitchen innovations by luxury appliance brand Monogram. They have an amazing Pizza Oven that brings a luxurious oven to homeowners. Already available in the states, this product will be launching in Canada later this year. This oven is proven to replicate the exact conditions of some of the best pizzeria ovens in the world. Now this is something I’d love to test out first hand!

Pizza oven

When an appliance can make my life easier, it always goes to the top of my must recommend list. The KitchenAid Professional Blender is the most powerful blender on the market. This means I only need ONE for all my requirements.  It can power through kale laden smoothies, it can juice the heartiest vegetables and make the smoothest soups and dips. It is a gorgeous countertop appliance well worth the investment. 

kitchenaid professional blender

And last but not least I’ll tout my own Jo Alcorn pillow line. I wanted to create a line that was stylish and trendy but was also innovative and practical. I created the pillow in great colours and patterns to match all décor types but I also thought about the functionality. They are fully washable, have dust-mite control, are hypoallergenic, Canadian made and animal cruelty free. All things that are so important to me.

Jo Alcorn pillows

Until next time, 

Closet Makeover

As a city dweller in a small space myself, I love the challenge of making useful spaces in my client’s homes. For this space, I worked with Digital Influencer and radio personality Taylor Kaye. She has a ton of outfits, shoes and bags and really had nowhere to put them, so we turned a small room into a space where she can glam up for all her special events.  

Walk in closet

The first step was to clean out the space and declutter. When cleaning out an area, I always tell my clients it’s a great time to get rid of unwanted clothing, purses, shoes, accessories and really anything that isn’t used, worn or useful to them anymore. My client for this project has a soft spot for Diabetes Canada who also operates a reusable clothing and household goods donation program, so we worked with them to have her gently used clothing picked up. For the items that were of a bit more value, she posted them on Kijiji to help make a few bucks. For those who love the look but want to try to do it themselves great how-to’s are available here.
 

Jo Alcorn Taylor Kaye Closet Makeover

After the pairing down was complete, we had the space cleaned and painted to give it a fresh look and feel. The base of the closet system we were going to use was white, so I chose a dramatic colour to compliment the whiteness – Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore
  

Hale Navy

Now for the crème de la crème….we worked with Tailored Living to create the exact space my client needed. It was seamless! They did a consult, measured the space, asked questions to determine the needs of my client and then created a three dimensional (3D) drawing to show the client exactly how the design would work in the space. 
  

Tailor Living Closet System 3D

Tailored Living took inventory of the client’s clothes, shoes, belts and accessories.  They discussed how the space would be used and how they could maximize the floor and vertical space. In the end, they were able to provide my client with more than 25 linear feet of hanging space that is organized based on clothing styles (long hanging, medium hang and doubled up short hanging spaces) to maximize the vertical space.  They also added shelving for shoes, purses, folded clothing, etc.

jewerly organizer

To add even more organization to the space, we chose a few key pieces from Neatfreak who specializes in home organization.  We used their harmony twill collection small and large bin drawer organizers. These are great to help keep scarves, accessories and jewelry in place within the drawers. They even take care of the little details like non-slip felt hangers so clothing stays where it’s supposed to, and garment bags for when you have to travel and want to keep your clothing clean. 

Shoe storage

From Neatfreak, we also used their Everfresh laundry baskets. All their hampers have
Everfresh Probiotic natural odor control.  I love it when practical items have a dual purpose.

closet organization

 A larger more glamourous mirror from Bouclair replaced and old ottoman and mirror; I always recommend my clients try to sell larger items like these as they are always in demand. My client popped these two items on Kijiji for a quick and seamless sale. 

closet decor

To finish off the space I had tons of fun shopping at Bouclair Home for the little, yet important, details to really tie the space together. I picked up a huge mirror, drapes that matched perfectly, artwork and a few other accessories that make the room all that it is, at a great cost. 

layer mirror

Masculine Office

Masculine Office Jo Alcorn

I have worked on many office spaces but was super excited to tackle this one, as it was more male oriented and a completely different space than I was accustomed to working with. This room was the place where “things went to die”, as my client said. Old furniture, boxes, books, and anything else they couldn’t let go of. I was overjoyed with results of this clean, masculine office.

Blue and white office

First things first, I wanted to create the most dramatic wall treatment ever. This is a large room and I wanted it to feel cozy and warm. I used MDF shiplap by Metrie which covered almost all the walls in the office. The existing door casing was built out with a back band to ensure a proper edge with the shiplap. Dramatic baseboards from the Pretty Simple Collection were added to really finish off the room. All trim was painted with Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White – CC-20.

wood book shelve blue wall

The only wall that we did not add trim to was the back wall where a stunning open book shelf was added. I made this a feature wall by adding in a dark colour; for this one wall we used Banjamin Moore’s Wolf Gray – 2127-40.

Harkel Office furniture by West Eelm Workspace

Next it was time to choose the furniture. Here I really wanted to go custom and manly. I worked with Harkel Office with their new West Elm Workspace line, produced exclusively with Inscape. This line is simply stunning.

Posterjack

Working with West Elm’s Workspace, I was able to completely customize everything. From choosing amongst many different patterns for the chair and sofa upholstery, to the finish on the bookshelves, I was able to choose exactly what would work for this client.

ROKU TV

In today’s world, it’s really a must to have a TV in an office. For this space I chose a Sharp 55” 1080p HD Roku TV. Simple to use, this TV is built for streaming so it’s a perfect addition to the office. It has a great remote control but it also has a mobile app so you can control it from your smartphone, and even cast music, photos and videos to the big screen.

Linksys Velop

While the design of any space is important, an office has to also be equipped for function. In this office I installed the new Linksys Velop Whole Home Wi-Fi system. This system blankets an entire home or office with Wi-Fi, no matter the size and shape. I also love the look of the system, as it can easily be incorporated right into the décor.

Posterjack, Harkel Office

I love to include personalized artwork into offices. I chose to get all the artwork here from Posterjack, Canada’s photo art experts. I uploaded gorgeous personal photos from the client’s recent vacations and fun memories from their cottage. Of course, you can see my love of dogs also shines through in this space with photos of their family pooch. I used a myriad of Posterjack’s different options, like their Canvas MinisLacquer FramesWoodstand PrintsAcrylic Blocks, and more. It really allowed me to create a great diversity of photo art in this space. 

Westelm workspace

Lighting, oh how I love you! Proper lighting can set off a room and create a focal point. In this space I swapped out the small ceiling light that was installed there for this stunning, artistic piece from Harkel office. It has a dimmer option so my client can adjust, depending on the natural light coming in from the large windows behind the desk.

Homesense decor

Finally, the pretty. This is perhaps my favourite part of any design project, and what really creates the “wow” factor. I had so much fun shopping at Homesense and my budget went a long way to find a wide-assortment of masculine accessories to…”. I had a huge bookshelf to work with and had tons of fun searching for the perfect manly items to fill it. I found great bookends, globes, greenery and more. Finally, I topped it off with the perfect cushions and curtains that were made for this space!

Until next time . . .

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Every year we celebrate mothers – and rightly so! I grew up with an amazing mom and look forward to honouring her on Mother’s Day. The difficultly arises when trying to figure out what’s the perfect gift for such a special person. Here are my top picks for moms everywhere.

Is your mom a passionate home chef? Surprise her with a gift that inspires her culinary creativity, like the KitchenAid Artisan Mini Stand Mixer. The mixer fits 16 hub attachments, including the popular KitchenAid® Spiralizer, so Mom can reinvent classic meals into healthier recipes and explore endless kitchen creations.
 

KitchenAid Artisan Mini Stand Mixer

Another great option for moms is the new Philips Airfryer. It fries, bakes, roasts and grills with little to no oil, making it a perfect solution for fast, tasty and healthy meals and snacks for the entire family.

Philips Airfryer

A great gift idea that can really spruce up your space this time of year is artwork. Easy to switch out and super affordable at Bouclair. They have great spring inspired prints that would make a wonderful gift for mom 

flowers in a tin
Bouclair Art

Why not get your mom all the items needed for a barista bar in her own home? A pioneer in single-serve coffee, Nespresso has top of the line units for coffee enthusiasts to savour life's many moments. The Vertuo Plus boasts versatility, the convenience of an automatic closing and opening, as well as adjustable cup support for those extra large cups!
 

Nespresso Vertuo Plus

With spring in the air it might be a great gift to lighten up your mom’s décor with some new bright and crisp pillows. My pillow collection is fully washable (you toss the entire pillow – cover and stuffing – into the washer!) hypoallergenic and made in Canada. Jo Alcorn Collection

Jo Alcorn Outdoor Pillows

 

I am in love with the idea of the new FIZZI sparkling water maker by SodaStream. 
The system allows you to transform tap water into sparkling water at home, at the touch of a button, without electricity. Whether your mom is looking to fizz up her water or enjoy a cocktail, the FIZZI will look perfect on her countertop. I also love that it’s great for the environment as you aren’t using cans or bottles – you can simply use a gorgeous wine glass or glass from home!

SodaStream

If you are at a loss for what to get your mom I think HomeSense is a great store to pop into and browse. There are just so many options for gift ideas. From serving trays to tea sets, candles to notebooks there is sure to be a little something that speaks to you. 

Homesense 1.jpg
Home Sense Napkins
HomeSense Lantern

If your mom needs absolutely nothing I always suggest the gift of time. Book a spa day with her, high tea or even a weekend get away. A resort I recently visited is in the Kawartha’s and is one of Ontario’s gems called Viamede . It’s set on gorgeous Stoney Lake, has serene views, walking trails and the most delicious food. You can treat your mom to a 5 course meal at their Mt. Julian restaurant that boasts local ingredients and farm-to-table mantras. 

Viamede

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!! 


 
 

Budget Friendly Spring Home Updates

Each year as spring approaches, I typically see a surge of homeowners wanting to spruce up their homes. There are so many easy and affordable things people can do to dramatically update their homes while keeping function, style and budget top of mind. 

jo alcorn rodney sofa

Consider swapping out some accessories for lighter, brighter options. I love working with white on white (all different tones/shades of white) to create a fresh, bright pallet. Flowers are mandatory too – I cannot live without flowers – and they scream spring! 
   

jo alcorn interiors


Feeling the itch for a more dramatic change this spring? I’ve recently launched a new line of Jo Alcorn wallpaper in patterns that are guaranteed to give your mood a lift and make you feel like you’ve made a dramatic change with a little DIY magic. 

jo alcorn wallpaper


Think you have to turn off your fireplace and forget about it until fall rolls around? Think again! Dimplex has stunning units that operate with no heat; you can keep them on during the spring and summer on cool, rainy days when you want that comfy, cozy feel of a fire but without the heat. This unit that I recently styled is a new type from Dimplex called Revillusion. It can run all summer long with a no-heat option to keep a romantic, relaxing feel going strong in the warmer months. 

dimplex fireplace

 If you have an electric fire place, or even a wood burning unit, you can redecorate it to match your spring décor. HomeSense is my go-to when I want to easily change any décor with very little expense. For mantel décor in the summer months, I recommend light, airy and fun accessories. 

mantel decor

Spring is always a great time to organize and make small changes that will add huge functionality to your home. Adding in soft close hardware and drawer organizers can sometimes make it feel like you have a brand new space. GRASS, a manufacturer of soft close drawer and cupboard systems, has a new line called Tavinea which is an interior drawer system that is modularly built so it can easily be tailored to your personal specifications. The days of the junk drawer will be limited after this addition. 
    

Grass kitchen

If you have open shelving or glass cabinet doors, another option to update your décor is to change your glassware and plates. I love to pull these out early in the season and get them on display – they give my kitchen an instant spring feel. And I’m all for making it feel like the warmer months will be here soon! Walmart has a great selection of outdoor plates and glasses that are sure to please and fit the needs to everyone.

walmart glasses

Spring really does inspire us to organize, air out, and freshen up, but a spot that people often overlook is the laundry room – it’s a room that receives very little attention. I assure you, if you spend a bit of time to organize it properly, you can be far more efficient when you’re in there and have the bonus of enjoying that space! I love baskets from Bouclair to hide all the bits and bobs, cleaning supplies and other things that make the household tick. 

laundry room makeover

There is no easily, more stylish way to change up your living space than by adding in pillows. The more the merrier I always say! My pillow collection is fully washable (you toss the entire pillow – cover and stuffing – into the washer!) hypoallergenic and made in Canada. Jo Alcorn Collection

jo alcorn dog bed


Spring will be here before you know it. These quick and easy updates will make your space more functional, enjoyable, and easier to live in for more than just the season to come.
 

Love your Bedroom!

While many people overlook their bedroom thinking no one sees it but them, it is a room that people should make a priority. It’s the first thing you see in the morning, and the last room you curl up in at night, so why not make it a place that brings you joy?

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While there was nothing wrong functionally with this bedroom, it really lacked inspiration, detail and personality. My goal was to fill up this large space with items that brought it to life, and add detailing that would make it a show stopper in this home. 

 
To start, I always recommend a colour that you love; choose one that gives you a serene, relaxing feel and that speaks to you personally. For this space I chose Wickham Gray HC-171. It is the base that started to bring this room to life.


To add interest and dimension, I made a few features in this space with moulding. We created a wall treatment using great trim products from Metrie, which gives the space an elegant feel.

The most common request when working on a bedroom remodel is to create a serene, relaxing atmosphere. A fireplace is the perfect addition to a bedroom setting, but
the main issue I encounter is that wood is messy and gas is expensive to install. A great option is an electric unit. Electric has drastically evolved in recent years and can create the exact ambiance, mood and overall sense of comfort that is perfect for a bedroom. They are also easy to install and extremely affordable. This unit is a Dimplex unit that took the homeowner only 25 minutes to unload, unpack and set up!

To spice up the new fireplace unit, we had a custom build-up created to give it that “real” fireplace mantel feel. We used Metrie products again and matched the existing crown moulding to the new unit. It creates a simply stunning effect.

No bedroom is complete without a bed – it is the most important functional piece in the room. In this space we used a Casper mattress, which was delivered in a box right to the homeowners’ front door. It’s a great option for people without cars and city dwellers. Plus it’s extremely comfortable! Pair that up with the headboard and bed frame from the Jo Alcorn Collection and we have a winning combination of style, colours, textures and comfort.   

Now to dress the bed. This is where you can have some serious fun with patterns, colour and texture. We started with crisp white sheets, pillows and pillow cases from Casper and topped it off with a subtle duvet cover from HomeSense. Again from the Jo Alcorn Collection, we used pillows to incorporate the exact texture and finishing touches that are perfect for this room.  

The side table lamps and curtains were purchased from Wayfair.ca. Wayfair is a great site that has an outstanding amount of products to choose from (over 7 million to be exact!), their site is easy to navigate and they offer two-day delivery options and free shipping over CAD $75. 

I often like to add a bench to the end of the bed. It looks great and is also the perfect place to pile your decorative pillows and throw at night when you turn in. For this space I used this stylish white bench from Bouclair which fit perfectly in the space and the budget. We picked up a great light from Bouclair as well. 

 Your bedroom should be a place you love! 

Until next time, Jo

 

Thank you to the following company for their partnership in the makeover: Casper, Wayfair Canada, HomeSense, Bouclair, Benjamin Moore, Metrie, Jo Alcorn Collection

2017 Design Trends!

Each New Year brings with it new trends, colours and design options, and 2017 is no exception. Here are my top 10 trends to watch for in 2017. You might even want to try out a few!

2017 design trends, jo alcorn furniture

Darker colours add drama and warmth to any space. A colour I simply love this year is Shadow 2117-30 by Benjamin Moore. It’s bold, dramatic and fun. You can also use this colour in accent pieces to bring it into your décor. 

2017 Paint colour

 If you are nervous about adding in darker colours to your walls, a great place to start is in pillows, a duvet or a rug. It allows you to test a dramatic colour, but at the same time you can easily swap it out or try another colour. This works in any room – from bedroom to bathroom, kitchen to family rooms. Try out a few pillows from my my Jo Alcorn line as a start joalcorn.ca

wall detailing, ship lap, jo alcorn pillows

  An alternate to adding in bold, dramatic dark colours is to incorporate bright and cheery accents. Try a new headboard which will make a dramatic statement. Adding a few stools in the same pattern but different colours will also make a huge impact.  Also available on joalcorn.ca

fabric headboard, jo alcorn collection

I love wall detailing – even the most subtle elements can make an incredible impact. Both wallpaper and wood detailing can give you an elegant custom look, but if a project of this scale isn’t in the cards for you, try a bohemian wall hanging. Homesense has some great options that will make a huge impact in your space. 

dark walls, wainscotting

 Nothing is more natural and calming than a fireplace. My favourite unit is the new Dimplex Stockbridge Opti-myst stove that is functional and mobile. The flames look and sound as real as a wood burning, crackling fire. For pennies a day you can have all the comfort and nostalgia of a roaring fire without any mess or a pricy gas bill.
  

Dimplex, electric fireplace

If you are tackling a kitchen reno in 2017, look at the little details that make the biggest impact. A feature I can’t live without is soft close cabinet and drawer system. GRASS is a world class leader in soft close hardware that absorbs every load gently and silently. It’s usually only a slight increase in your budget and the return is so rewarding. No more slamming doors or jamming drawers. It’s an upgrade well worth the investment. 

GRASS hardware

While we’re on the topic of the kitchen, think about your appliances. KitchenAid has gone above and beyond with their new Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator that is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. Professionally-inspired with features like a platinum interior, unique premium wood finish and sleek Stainless Steel appearance take this refrigerator from stylish to exquisite so there’s no sacrificing function for fashion. Add to that the bonus of a PrintShield exterior which helps keep fingerprints at bay.
 

kitchenaid, stainless fidge

This is the year to add some bling to your sink – a magnificent faucet is like a jewel in the kitchen. You use it every day, people see it when you are gathered in the kitchen, and it’s meant to be functional. If you are considering an upgrade, check out Delta’s stunning new faucets in an array of styles and finishes. This year, make your faucet a focal point instead of having it fade into the background. 

Delta Faucet, Delta

Let the light shine in! Instead of the lighting fading away into the background, let it stand out. It’s all about drawing your eye up to enjoy the lighting you have chosen. This year, make your chandelier a statement piece.  Artcraft has some amazing lighting pieces that truly are a piece of artwork or if your budget doesn't allow, you can also choose less pricey pieces from Bouclair who also have a great selection. 

black lighting, jo alcorn lighting

For the bathroom a few simple upgrades can make the most impact. Try changing out your faucet to a wall mount. I love the look and finish of Delta’s new ARA collection and it’s a Two Handle Wall Mount Lavatory Faucet with Channel Spout. To add even more of a fresh feel try swapping out your towels or shower curtain, these little things can make your space feel brand new – Bouclair has a great bath selection with new lush towels, great patterns in shower curtains and towel latter's which are all very affordable. 

Bathroom decor, delta faucet

My Top Gift Picks for 2016!

If you’re like me, every year when the holidays roll around I start shopping early to find my favorite classic items, and great new options. Here are my favorite finds that are sure to please everyone on your list. 

christmas decor

 A stunning holiday décor theme is white elements mixed with winter animal accents. This year I found these great items from Bouclair Home that you’ll want to pick up for a loved one…and yourself too!  
  

Bouclair

Give your health conscious and busy, on-the-go loved ones a gift that they can really use. The Hamilton Beach Professional Quiet Blender is a great option. It’s so powerful you can chalk it full of hearty fruits and vegetables for a healthy smoothie or a warming soup on a cold winter’s day. It’s also sleek and modern so you can proudly display it on your counter top. 

Hamilton beach blender

I love functional! I recently fell in love with the Thermador Under-Counter refrigerator. These refrigerators mount under your counter and will work well in any space, whether it is a compact city condo or a large suburban kitchen. This would be a great gift to split with siblings and pair with a wine subscription for your parents.

Thermador refrigerator

Give your dog the gift of comfort this year with these reversible and fully washable dog beds (and I do mean fully – the entire thing goes into the wash!). As an added bonus, you can get matching throw pillows, so pooch’s bed is an attractive part of the décor
www.joalcorn.ca

jo alcorn dog beds


The holidays are all about giving. Plan International Canada’s Gifts of Hope are unique gifts that support real projects in developing countries. One I particularly love is Buzzing Bees that you can donate on someone else’s behalf – providing all the essentials for pollinating a buzzing family business. You can pair your recipient’s donation card with a honey pot or a beeswax candle.

Plan Canada Gifts of Hope

Cuddle up under this luxurious heated throw that combines the best of both worlds – luxury and comfort – together. The faux fur reverse to Sherpa heated throw from Sunbeam has a Sherpa lining for an incredibly cozy feel. The perfect gift to enjoy on cold winter nights.

Sunbeam

I have always loved the nature inspired selections from Artemano. I have an annual tradition of going to their store to pick up great hostess gifts – they have options that no other store carries, items inspired by or found in nature. Each unique piece is sure to delight your recipient, and bring the warmth of nature into their inside world. 
 

Artemano


I love to decorate with art – and no room is complete without some great pieces. One of my favourite sources for artwork is  Posterjack. You upload your photo on their site and they turn it into beautiful artwork on canvas or in gallery frames and unique table decor like acrylic blocks. Their artwork makes for a really thoughtful gift. 
 

Posterjack


There’s always that hard to buy for guy on your list, but this year a trip to Home Hardware is all it takes to find something perfect! I love gifts that are practical and will get used. The Benchmark Twistor is great for the handyman on your list! It’s an 8 volt cordless screwdriver features 380 different head positions with a 360 degree orbital rotation.  


 

Not sure what to get that someone who has it all? Why not consider pampering them with a get-away? I recently stayed at Viamede Resort in the Kawartha’s. It’s a two hour drive from Toronto (or they also offer a shuttle service). You can go on a weekend or even on a mid-week getaway. The gift of a getaway is perfect for that person looking for experiences instead of a tangible gift. And did I mention the food is amazing?

Viamede Resort

Happy Holiday's everyone and wishing you all a great New Years! 

Cheers, Jo 

Guide to the perfect holiday decor tips!

I recently designed a magical holiday décor scene for Niagara Fall’s Winter Festival of Lights. Several other celebrity designers also created enchanting seasonal vignettes, as did some up and coming design students from Humber College. To inspire homeowners, we’re sharing our top ten holiday décor tips. To see a sneak peak video of the set ups click here.

Table Rock Niagara Falls - winter festival of lights

“I love natural items in my holiday décor,” says Jo Alcorn. “Add in birch logs to your home for a holiday feel — whether it’s outside in an urn or a pile by your fireplace.” Deck the Falls Designer for Table Rock 

winter festival of lights, Niagrara falls

A great way to personalize home décor is to create your own tree topper. Simply purchase a variety of picks, sprays, and twigs and arrange them on top of your tree. Use extras to fill in empty spaces, or incorporate them throughout your home as floral arrangements.” Deck the Falls Humber design student, Jeanette Piatek for Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa   

winter festival of lights Christine Dovey

“In addition to lit trees, I love using LED strips and twinkle lights to enhance holiday vignettes,” Christine Dovey. “Large light globes are another wonderful way of getting high impact holiday sparkle, especially when placed beside a fireplace.”  
Deck the Falls Designer for Marriott on the Falls 

Christmas trees

“Limited space? Consider using a tall skinny tree with a smaller diameter. Make it glamorous by using jewel-toned ornaments. A great tip is to group ornaments in bunches of threes. It gives the illusion of a fuller tree, and has more impact.” Deck the Falls Humber design student, Andrea Plonka. 

Jeanette Ewen - Christmas table top Decor

"My best advice is to have fun with it! Invite friends over, have a glass of wine and let the décor take centrestage,” advises Janette Ewen. “Neutral colour schemes like gold, silver and white always look chic and are easy to work with. For 2016 my favourite theme is enchanted forest — it's easy to achieve by adding touches of moss, along with woodland and animal motifs.” Deck the Falls Designer for The Old Stone Inn.   

Christmas Decor

“Sometimes it’s hard not to fall into the same colour schemes or traditional vignettes. Coloured lights and mirrored ornaments feel modern, and the lights will cast moving shapes on around the tree. Twinkle and spot lights will also make your Christmas décor shine brightly.” Deck the Falls Humber design student, Thea Brothers, Embassy Suites  

holiday decor ideas, nutcrackers

“I love to incorporate a little DIY,” says Nicholas Rosaci. “For the Winter Festival of Lights I created two custom toy soldiers. We gave them a makeover with paint, beautiful ribbons, velvets and gem stones. You can also wrap empty boxes in gorgeous paper to create a little bling under your tree.” https://niagarafallshilton.com/
 

polar bear

“Make use of vertical space by introducing cotton ball and crystal bead curtains, which work as space dividers, window displays and backdrops for vignettes.”  Deck the Falls Humber design student, Sophie Bisnaire for Radisson Hotel & Suites Fallsview        

christmas gift wrapping


"My number one tip is to incorporate colour pulled from your current decor — such as art — to create a cohesive feel," says Kasia Waloszczyk. “For example, if you have art that contains a smokey teal, add some faux fur pillows in the same tone to bring in a cozy texture.  Lastly, I always love to accent in whites — it truly brings the winter vibe indoors!” http://www.oakeshotel.com/

Christmas gold

“To achieve modern, luxurious Christmas look, use gold and black to ground the space, and add focal-point pieces like Nutcrackers and gift boxes in various sizes. Fill in empty spaces at the base of the tree with large ornaments and use lights to highlight special decor pieces.”  Deck the Falls Humber design student Itza Reyes-Herra for Four Points Sheraton.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Jo Alcorn xo 

Home is where the Art is!

white office with white framed art

Artwork is often overlooked in a home but if you choose the right pieces, combinations, colours and frames you can create a statement that is jaw dropping.

wall art

You don’t always have to hang artwork. I love the look of layering on top of a hutch or buffet. Add in a few eclectic pieces and you can truly create an artwork statement in your space.

cottage wall art

This is a small space but we wanted to make a huge impact so we went vertical. We picked great pieces from an online source called Posterjack, added in some faux stag heads and let me tell you – this space certainly makes people look twice.

little girls room, pink walls

Artwork isn’t only for adults either! Kids love to display their art and be inspired by fun quotes and inspirational images. I like to choose artwork for kids’ rooms that will grow with them.

boy rooms, storage

Another tip for kids is to let them get involved in decorating. Have them create their own masterpieces and frame them for their very own gallery wall. They’ll be proud of what they produced and can swap out pieces as new ones are created.

home office

I love to make a work space as inspiring as possible and what better way than with art, inspirational sayings and visuals.

entryway art

From the moment you enter, it’s the perfect time to set the tone for the décor in your home. Art pieces don’t need to be limited to the living room or dining room; bring it right into your front foyer to welcome your guests!

posterjack

I tell all of my clients not to be intimidated by artwork or hanging art. Check out sites like Posterjack who can take your own photos and turn them into masterpieces, or you can choose from their gallery of images. Just a few clicks, then they ship right to your door.

white walls black fireplace

 Finally – get creative! Think outside the typical places you might put artwork! Find little nooks and empty spaces that might otherwise sit empty and dress them up with a great piece or two.

 Until next time, 

w&c designer girl!

 

Let's talk bathroom trends and how to spice it up on a budget

Bathrooms are typically smaller spaces so you can really have fun in them with colour, patterns and pops of colour, and make a pretty dramatic statement on a fairly tight budget. 

bathroom, bathroom trends

If your budget allows, I like to go with flooring that will be durable, stylish and fun. I prefer to source from tile specific companies like Creekside Tile. They have hundreds of options and you can gather so many design ideas from just going into their showroom.

small bathrooms

I focus on the details and functionality in all the designs I do. People often forget about the little things that make the biggest impact. I recently worked on a space and we installed Grass soft close hardware. You don't see this type of hardware since it is built right into the mechanism of the drawers, but the gentle soft close (and that there are no more drawers slamming loudly!) is a dream.
 

drawer vanity

It’s so easy to change up your current look with a coat of paint or some unique décor pieces. A new coat of paint in a dark colour might seem scary at first but a small space is the perfect spot to try a bold and daring colour as well as accessories in colours you might not typically choose.

brass birds, brass wall art

The faucet is really the jewel of any bathroom that finishes off the space just right. This is a perfect place to splurge. I love Delta’s options for a sleek and modern faucets that command attention.

delta faucets, bathroom facets

If you are thinking of replacing your current vanity I’d suggest choosing one at your local big box store. You really can get a boutique stylish unit like these Cutler Kitchen and Bath vanities that are sold at Lowe’s.

cutler bathroom vanities

If you are looking to add a spa like retreat in your bathroom, a great relaxing treat is an electric fireplace. Units like the ones at Dimplex have come along way. You can get small units to fit even the tiniest of bathrooms and grand scale units to fit the largest master bath. You may never want to leave your bathroom after you install one of these. 

dimplex fireplace, dimplex

For a quick bathroom update consider wallpaper and accessories. You can get both at very affordable prices from retailers like Bouclair Home. If you’ve wanted to jump on the wallpaper trend and try it out a powder room that is smaller in scale is a great place to test out a pattern.
 

bouclair home. shower curtains

Until next time, w&c designer girl! 

Create an easy, breezy cottage feel right in your home!

When summer arrives, everyone’s thoughts turn to a great holiday get-away. Even if you don’t have a family cottage, or can’t slip away to one this year, here are some tips on how to create an easy, breezy, cottage feel right in your own home.

Cottages are all about the outdoors, so why not bring the great outdoors inside? Get creative! Tree branches or beautiful stones from your own property are budget-friendly and look beautiful on display.

Cottages or lake properties are all about quiet escapes where you can put your feet up and relax with a good summer read. This year, change up some of your artwork to be nature inspired. Posterjack.ca is my go to for great photo options. All at the click of a mouse, I can have an entire nature-inspired feature wall created. Best of all, they deliver to your doorstep so you can spend more time enjoying the summer heat.

Summer is a great time to gather with out-of-town family and friends. Gatherings often include meals, so what better time to infuse some cottage feel? For this table setting, I used bright and bold patterns from Home Sense that were mixed and matched to create this gorgeous brunch setting.

Make a great first impression with a statement entrance. For this entrance I opted for stylish bench seating and a sturdy coat rack from Urban Barn. I topped it all off with more nature inspired prints, but this time I chose gorgeous blues and greens in more abstract nature pieces, again from posterjack.ca.

I love the light and breezy look of white seating contrast ed with greenery to really capture the cottage feel. Grab a Mason jar or large vase, add some greenery and you’ve brought the cottage feel right into your home.

Fresh flowers are a staple in any nature inspired décor. I bring fresh flowers into my home weekly all year round but especially in the summer, it’s a great way to bring summer inside.

There is nothing like a cold drink on a hot summer day. A bar cart is a great idea but if you don’t have space for one, you can still set up a nice bar a rea on your counter. Add some faux greenery and you've got your own little sipping station.

Nothing says summer like a picnic table. I love how many people can fit around it and it really brings me back to summer times as a kid.

Adding some durable, comfy and fashionable pillows to your space is sure to brighten it up for summer. Try a few from my new Jo Alcorn Pillow collection store locator joalcorn.ca

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.Until next time, 

The Perfect Family Kitchen!

The kitchen is the heart of the home so it’s a bonus when you can have an open concept to more living zones. This once multiple room traditional home in the east end of Toronto has now become a functioning family living space. Having the open concept now means you can gather in two great spaces simultaneously, whether you are hosting and tending to kitchen duties while still conversing with guests or watching over the entire family. Functionality has a whole new meaning to style. Follow these tips to create flow and décor symmetry when designing in an open concept.

Let there be light!  The homeowner knew they needed new windows and doors so that was our next step after opening up the walls. The small existing back doors didn’t allow a lot of natural light in or the view of the backyard. We created an 11’ door and windows opening to achieve the WOW factor when you walk into space. The amount of natural light tripled while making the backyard feel like an extension of the space which added visual real estate to the entire layout. We chose a great Canadian company that makes, manufactures, delivers and installs windows and doors in Toronto. Total Home Window and Doors is one of the largest window and door manufacturers in Canada and as an added bonus they offer a lifetime warranty on their products.

Countertops come with all different price tags. If you have a large surface area, like a island, you want to make sure counter tops are on your spurge list. Islands area a focal point within a kitchen and the most common gather space, so make sure you love what you are getting because you will be looking at every single day.  I love the look of these Caesarstone Quartz countertops from Beyond Marble and Granite. From fabrication to installation, BMG provided top-of-the-line service for this project. 

For this project I discovered a new cabinet company called Fine Line Kitchens.  Their goal is to work closely with their clients to deliver the best possible design and craftsmanship from start to finish. It’s evident from their finishing work that they have been pros in the business for over 35 years. The hidden gems behind the white shaker style doors is the home owners favorite part of the cabinets, with soft closing drawers, organization systems, and even a hidden drawer fridge, life is just that much easier when everything has the perfect home.

Appliances can become a big part of the design style. For this space I chose Samsung’s Chef Collection in stainless steel. These premium kitchen appliances are gold star and have been tested and approved by Michelin Star Chefs. Plus functionality is key when designing a kitchen so you want to make sure your getting appliances that will work with your family’s lifestyle.

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Another important feature in a kitchen is the faucet. A gem that I find people often overlook. I love to educate my clients about the importance of a great faucet and all that it can do for the space. I love the Delta Trinsic single handle pull faucet with Touch20 technology in matte black. It adds just the right amount of drama to a kitchen.

Based on the design of this kitchen it was super important to have a low profile vent hood. The Lux Island range hood from Zephyr provided an unobstructed view through the kitchen to the front hallway and it provided the minimalist look we were going for. As a bonus it has a wireless remote control. 

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Lighting is also key in a kitchen, as it becomes hanging art and a staple within the overall design concept. I went with a more industrial look pendant over the island to tie in the industrial beams, and then matched it with a two round industrial traditional lights for the over the table. Lighting can be a great way to tie in themes, as did these, marring the transitional rustic to industrial, for a very unique and coherent look. These gems are from http://www.dvcanada.com/

 

Any time you can bring the outside in and add a touch of rustic to a space jump on the opportunity. In this space we chose a gorgeous raw suar wood table from Artemano with matching benches for large a large family to gather around. The rustic table will help disguise the families wear and tear plus it becomes a beautiful focal point which helps moves the eye around the entire open concept kitchen.

The flow in this space continued to the seating area where we continue the natural theme with table top plants from Bouclair and a sofa adorned with a multitude of toss cushions from Bouclair.com as well.

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The final piece that really grounded the living room from the open concept kitchen was the rug which create a bit of separation for the two rooms. I love FLOR Tiles as you can mix and match them and if one gets dirty in this high traffic area they are easy to replace.  The carpet tiles are a great solution for any buys household.

http://www.flor.com/

 Until next time, 

w&c designer girl! 

Patio Time

Canadian summers are short, but that doesn't mean you can’t enjoy the months that you have. I took inspiration from a warmer climate, California, to transform a patio into an LA style getaway in the middle of Toronto. For those of you who are seeking inspiration to jazz up your small patio or balcony space, I have some fabulous design tips to help you get started.
 

Firstly, how do you want to use your space - lounging with friends, or dinner around a table with family? I opted for a living style hangout area, where I could sun on the sofa when I need to relax, but also have enough seating available for entertaining friends.

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Always keep in mind sizing, especially in a small space. I choose to go with small profile L-shape sofa with lower backs so that I didn’t close in the space or make it seem cramped. I found this great outdoor sofa in greys and tans at Homesense so that my LA theme could truly come together.

I couldn’t forget the bar cart area a must for those summer parties. Again, Homesense is my go-to when stocking the prettiest of bar-carts

When dealing with a balcony in the city, privacy is always an issue. I created a modern free standing privacy fence with 1x6 wood bought at a Lowe’s. I installed the boards horizontal to save on wood but to also create that more urban modern look which is a continuation from the inside to the out. 

I added an umbrella, not to block the sun, but to block the view of the neighbours above me. Taking away that fish bowl feel and creating a relaxing room. 

Adding planters of different heights to any balcony helps to keep the space interesting. Choose low maintenance plants so you aren’t fussing with them all summer and the space always looks great. I ended up mixing faux and real greenery for easy care. If you have trouble keeping plants alive, switch to faux. If you have a green thumb, go real/living all the way, but if that’s not you, go faux. Great new faux options have all the beauty of living, offering a green, lush looking patio, without any of the work.

In small spaces try to stay away from adding to many different colours with plants and décor, keep it simple so that it is easy on the eyes giving the illusion of a larger area. I added a touch of pink for that punch in my indoor outdoor pillows designed by me joalcorn.ca and can be purchased on Etsy.ca and then found a cool sign for the back fence to really make the space POP! 

The final addition was a water fountain. Not just visually pleasing, the soft gurgling of the water gives the illusion of being near a lake and helps to drown out road traffic. It also happens to be a great conversation piece.

As you embrace the warmer months, get out and enjoy an extension of your home in the great outdoors. Let your creative juices flow as you create a perfect outdoor space for your entertaining or relaxing (or both!) needs. Happy Patio Season!

Until next time,

w&c designer girl!

 

Source guide: 

All furniture, rug, décor, faux plants, sign, bar cart, and accessories Home Sense homesense.ca 
Pillows, Jo Alcorn Indoor Outdoor Pillows joalcorn.ca collection on Esty.ca
Fence, fountain and real plants and planters, Lowes.ca 

Creating that Cottage Feel

Looking for ways to create a warm and inviting inside space that is inspired by the outside? Look no further! Jo shares her top tips on how to create a great indoor retreat for rainy spring days so you can still enjoy that outdoor feel.

There is nothing like adding a raw edge piece to a space to make it feel like you’ve brought a touch of nature inside. They are an investment worth the price tag.

http://www.artemano.ca/

It’s utterly easy to switch out your art to really update your space. If you are looking to add a little outdoor feel to your space, think about changing your artwork to something nature inspired.

http://www.posterjack.ca/

On a dreary, rainy, spring day it is imperative you have a cozy comfortable spot to curl up on. I love the look a sectional gives a room.

http://www.urbanbarn.com/

When choosing lighting, there are so many wood inspired options. If you want to infuse wood into your décor, it’s an easy way to test out the trend.

http://www.urbanbarn.com/

. You can also consider a cool sofa table like this one made of drift wood from

http://www.artemano.ca/

- everything they have is truly original and nature inspired.

The easiest way to update your décor may just be with accessories. Add some wood pieces or décor accents. Accessories are where you can really have fun when trying out a new motif.

www.bouclair.com

If you truly want to make a statement in your space and want to create a feature wall, I’d suggest starting with a single wall and trying a stone veneer. It’s easy to install and makes a huge impact in a small space.

http://erthcoverings.com/

I also love using throw cushions with animal prints on them to bring a light and airy feel to any space.

http://www.urbanbarn.com/

I love to add rugs to really tie a room together. Carpet tiles allow you to mix and match a pattern and shape to make your space comfy and cozy.

http://www.flor.com/

There is nothing like a cozy little nook on a rainy day to cuddle up in. Find a big comfy chair and some toss cushions and you are all set. These pillows are from my collection and can be found on

Etsy

now.

Let’s also not forget about our furry friends! They too need a great place to snuggle up on drizzly days!  On Etsy.ca

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JoAlcornCollection?ref=hdr_shop_menu

 Until next time,

w&c designer girl!