Ask A Designer: How To Create A Chic & Cheery Home Office


In this Ask A Designer column, Stacy Begg shares her advice for breathing new life into your WFH space.

Question: With my husband and I home full time due to COVID-19, we’ve found it a challenge to work in the same room. I’d like to move my office to the back room and make it a place I look forward to spending time in. How should I set it up?  Lorraine, Kingston, Ontario

Answer: This room has great space and, thanks to two windows, lots of natural light, like designer Francesca Albertazzi’s own workspace (below). I would start by painting the walls white to take advantage of the light. I recommend Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White or Chantilly Lace in a matte finish.

To add visual interest and a pop of color, wallpaper the wall you see upon entering the room in a bright and cheerful wallpaper like Farrow & Ball’s Wisteria.

(Source: Wisteria BP 2212 Wallpaper, $295/roll, farrow-ball.com)

Next, head to your local big-box store for in-stock base cabinets and storage for files. Run them down the long wall and, if you’re ready to splurge, top the cabinets with a luxe, solid-surface material.

(Source: 5151 Empira White Surface, $80/sq.ft., caesarstone.ca)

Or, for a more budget-friendly option, try laminate.

(Source: Galant Storage Combination with Filing in White, $409, ikea.com)

Place a large table in the center of the room; run it lengthwise in the same direction as the cabinet wall. This will give you lots of room for your laptops and monitor.

(Source: Hamburg Solid Acacia Wood Dining Table, $449, structube.com)

Add a rug underneath to warm up the space and provide some texture. How about a fun plaid? Don’t be afraid to mix your patterns! Consider carpet tiles: they’re a clever way to build a custom-size rug.

(Source: Scottish Sett Carpet Floor Tile in Linen, approx. $27/tile, flor.com)

I love the classic ’60s Eames office chair in leather and, today, you can find great reproductions.

(Source: Shirel Office Chair in White, $89, structube.com)

For more seating and a touch of contrast, add a couple of clean-lined guest chairs in black.

(Source: Bergamo Guest Chair in Black, $265, smartideachairs.com)

A simple white barn-style fixture will illuminate your desk, as well as the eye-catching wallpaper.

(Source: Helena Pendant in White with Silver by Kuzco Lighting, $242, robinsonco.ca)

Then, to finish the look, hang graphic black-framed art and pin boards above the run of cabinets.

(Source: Mid-Post IV Framed Print, $179, willsandprior.com)

You’re going to love your beautifully decorated home office — and, look out, your husband may want to join you there, too!

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.



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Ask A Designer: How To Turn Your Bedroom Into A Nature-Inspired Retreat


In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her easy and affordable tips for creating a relaxing respite.

Question: We’re looking to decorate our bedroom with a nature theme. What do you think of a leaf- or birch tree–print wallpaper, and what colors would you recommend?  Gen, Toronto

Answer: Wallpaper is a fantastic way to add interest in a room and address large expanses of wall. Take inspiration from this beautiful bedroom designed by Jennifer Morrison of Morrison Design House.

Here’s what I suggest to get a similar look:

Paper all the walls for an enveloping, cohesive feel. This forest-print paper by Lewis & Wood has a depth that will make your room feel more expansive, and the soothing gray and blue tones won’t overwhelm. (Wallpapering behind the bed will also help camouflage the small off-center window.)

(Source: Bosky Wallpaper in Blue Yonder, approx. $156/yd. (approx. $11.80/sq.ft.), available through Kravet Canada or lewisandwood.co.uk)

(Source: Albero Duck Egg Wallpaper, approx. $198/roll (approx. $3.50/sq.ft.), grahambrown.com)

Get a louvered shutter for the small window, and paint it the background color of your wallpaper (like Benjamin Moore’s Serenata) so it blends in to the wall. Dress up the large window with drapery that has an embroidered medallion motif. The small-scale pattern will work perfectly with tree-themed wall coverings.

(Source: Aubrey Blue Embroidered Curtain Panel, starting at $170, crateandbarrel.ca)

Paint your ceiling and crown molding a pale blue pulled from the wallpaper and choose a bedding set in a similar tone.

(Source: Linen Duvet Covers in Mist, $330, flaxsleep.com)

Add a couple of shams in a small-scale pattern…

(Source: Kiska Textiles Pillow Case in Filigree Sky/Indigo, $85, shophouseandhome.com)

…and layer on a cozy throw.

(Source: Nao Throw in Soft Grey, $30, shophouseandhome.com)

Update your nightstands with brighter, wood-toned versions. The legs will lift the furniture off the floor and make the space feel airier.

(Source: Kabbann Acacia Wood Bedside Table, $229, structube.com)

Add textured, white ceramic lamps on the nightstands that play on a leaf pattern.

(Source: Textured Ceramic Table Lamp, $80, bouclair.com)

Swap out your flush-mount light fixture (not visible) for a rattan pendant to bring in even more warmth.

(Source: Teresa Pendant Light, $102, vdevmaison.com)

With these updates, you’ll have a serene bedroom retreat that’s perfect for relaxing in and catching some zzz’s.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.



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Ask A Designer: How To Turn Up The Color In Your Home


In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her tips for refreshing your space while you’re staying in.

Many of you have written to us, asking how to bring color and cheer to your home while we’re all in them so much! Here are a few ideas using things you may already have on hand or are simple to get.

Style It

Drape a colorful scarf or throw over your headboard for an instant hit of color.

Make It

Create a decorative throw pillow cover from leftover project fabric, a scarf or an old but treasured piece of clothing. If you only have enough fabric for one side, use a plain fabric or an old tablecloth as the backing fabric. No sewing machine, no problem: hand stitching is fine for this small project.

Paint It

Paint can be one of the most affordable ways to transform your furniture or cabinets. You may have leftover paint from a previous project or be able to easily order it online. For minimal effort with maximum impact, paint the inside of a glass-fronted or open cabinet. Pick a bold hue for a pop of happy color, or opt for a subtle pastel for a quieter look.

Tip: Contrast mouldings are a fun way to bring color into a space. Because its sometimes difficult to figure out where to start and stop, go for a quick hit and just do the trim around a key window.

Author: Jennifer Koper

Photographer:

Alex Lukey (bedroom, cabinets); Donna Griffith (living room); Angus Fergusson (bathroom)

Source:

House & Home June 2020

Designer:

Cameron MacNeil (bedroom); Christine Ralphs & Michelle Lloyd (living room); James Davie (bathroom); Katherine Newman (cabinets)



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Ask A Designer: How To Create A Sunny Dining Area


In this Ask A Designer column, Valérie Morisset shares her advice for sprucing up a tired dining area.

Question: I just bought a beautiful condo in Old Montreal. I’d like to have a dining area next to the window, a round table with four chairs and drapery panels instead of the blind. The previous owner had a television over the mantel, but I’d prefer a mirror for more modern Parisian style. Any suggestions?  Claudia, Montreal

Answer: You definitely have a great space to work with! To brighten up the room, start by painting your walls a soft, creamy white like Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White. Look for a tulip-shaped dining table with a black base.

(Source: Saarien Round Dining Table in Rosewood & Black, starting at $2,775, dwr.com)

For a bistro feel, surround it with four Hoffmann side chairs similar to the ones in the Inspiration room designed by Joel Bray (above).

(Source: Hoffmann Side Chair in Black, $530, dwr.com)

Your existing rug is very nice; try placing it parallel to the mantel. Consider installing a pendant fixture above the dining table to cast a warm glow. The Nolan pendant in vintage brass and dark bronze would add a contemporary touch.

(Source: Large Nolan Pendant by Arteriors Home, approx. $1,965, ylighting.com)

And hanging a mirror in lieu of the television is a great idea. For a Parisian vibe, I suggest an oversized version with a polished brass frame. Have it hung so it rests on the mantel and looks like it’s leaning.

(Source: Todd Mirror in Polished Brass Metal, price available upon request, madegoods.com)

French pinch-pleat panels in a gorgeous yellow silk would be an elegant upgrade from your current blind.

(Source: Ultrasuede Green Fabric in Canary, pricing available upon request, kravet.com)

Choose a black drapery rod with simple finials for a classic look.

(Source: Umbra Curtain Rod Set in Black Steel, $60, lowes.ca)

As a final touch, set a clear vase on the table and fill it with seasonal branches.

(Source: Glass Bottle Vase, $60, bouclair.com)

Enjoy your new dining area!

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.

Author: Valérie Morisset

Photographer:

Maxime Desbiens (Portrait); Valerie Wilcox (Inspiration)

Source:

House & Home May 2020

Designer:

Joel Bray (Inspiration); Research by Natacha Nasset



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Ask A Designer: How To Make The Most Of A Compact Family Room



In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her tips for designing a functional gathering place.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: How do I lay out my narrow family room? Should I do built-ins on either side of the fireplace? I’ve already ordered a sofa and I’m looking for a coffee table — what else do I need to make the space great?  S.S., Toronto

Answer:  Since your family room is adjacent to the kitchen with its eating counter, and you have a separate dining room, I suggest you ditch your small round table and chairs. Then you’ll have room for a conversation area that includes two new armchairs in a fabric that complements your new sofa. They’ll look great placed side by side to the left of the fireplace, like in this sophisticated room designed by Workstead (below).

Thanks for sharing your choice of sofa (below); I love how sleek and modern it is.

(Source: Rye Channel Sofa, $2,015, eltemkt.com)

Opt for a round or square coffee table (instead of a rectangle) for the best fit.

(Source: Plateau Coffee Table, $1,169, urbanmode.com)

I recommend adding a larger rug that runs the length of the room. It should be big enough that the sofa and armchairs sit on it, but not so big that it interferes with the counter stools.

(Source: Serac Rug in Natural, Blue and Rust, starting at $314, westelm.com)

(Source: Arcade Ollie Chair in Camry Orange by Arren Williams, $1,099, thebay.com)

To keep the look airy, I would forgo built-ins. Instead, replace your current mirrored chest with a larger, more robust piece and move it over to the left side of the fireplace, and place a generously sized potted plant on the right side.

(Source: East Hampton Hall Chest in Cerused Linen, price available upon request, bernhardt.com)

For color and personality, lean a couple of pieces of art on the chest (they should stop short of the window above) and, to soften the look of the windows flanking the fireplace, consider having slouchy roman blinds made in natural linen.

(Source: Deia Linen in Sand by Alexa Hampton, price available upon request, kravet.com)

Enjoy your new family room!

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.

The post <span class="title_highlight">Ask A Designer:</span> How To Make The Most Of A Compact Family Room appeared first on House & Home.



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Ask A Designer: How To Modernize A Kitchen That Is Stuck In The Past



ask a designer kitchen with a light palette and open shelves

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her tips for refreshing a kitchen with a light palette and open shelves.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: I’d like to spray my lower cabinets white and swap out my uppers for open shelving. How do I make this look good? K.S., Calgary

ask a designer kitchen before with dark cabinets

Answer: Having your cabinets painted a new color is an excellent way to update your kitchen! Opt for a bright white that will reflect light around the space. Replacing your upper cabinets with open shelving will definitely make your kitchen look airier, too. For a modern vibe, consider having your vent hood boxed in with drywall and painted to match your walls. Extending the box right to the ceiling will draw the eye up and create visual interest.

ask a designer kitchen with a light palette and open shelves

Similar to the Inspiration kitchen designed by Whitney Williams (above), install two floating wood shelves on either side of the vent hood. The top shelf should align with the bottom of the hood, with the second shelf 12 to 18 inches lower. Then, continue the shelving on the window wall, stopping just shy of the window frame. The key to styling your shelves is to choose items that are both good-looking and functional.

ask a designer speckled serving bowl

(Source: Speckle Serving Bowl 14″ (set of 2), $140, shophouseandhome.com)

ask a designer pitcher

(Source: Galiano Pitcher in Beige, $28, vdevmaison.com)

For color, try leaning a piece of art on a shelf.

ask a designer artwork with pears

(Source: Art by Kate Schutz, price available upon request, kateschutz.com)

Next, swap out your backsplash for an off-white quartz or marble slab with veining. For a more affordable option, opt for ceramic or marble tiles. Install the slab or tile just below the height of the lowest shelf and then, behind the range, up to the vent hood.

ask a designer quartz slab

(Source: Chantilly Quartz Slab, price available upon request, hanstone.ca)

Consider adding two white and brass sconces on either side of the hood as decorative lighting. Additionally, you could have puck lights installed on the underside of the shelves to illuminate your work surfaces.

ask a designer sconce with brushed satin brass

(Source: Small Cypress Sconce in Brushed Satin Brass and Satin White, $408, rejuvenation.com)

Finally, to bring in some warmth, replace your cabinet pulls with brass versions and add wooden counter stools at the peninsula.

ask a designer satin brass cabinet pull

(Source: Kent Collection Contemporary Cabinet Pull in Satin Brass by Richelieu, $11.50 each, homedepot.ca)

ask a designer counter stool

(Source: Kelley Counter Stool by Nuevo, $510, thebay.com)

These simple changes will give you the look of a bright, new kitchen without having to start from scratch!

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.

The post <span class="title_highlight">Ask A Designer:</span> How To Modernize A Kitchen That Is Stuck In The Past appeared first on House & Home.



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House & Home


In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for making an awkward living-dining room more polished.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: The angled wall in my living room has me stumped, and I’m not sure what to put on my bare walls. Could you help me with furniture and lighting? T.M., Dawson Creek, B.C.

ask a designer awkward living-dining-room

Answer: You’re on the right track with your deep wall color, but the bare walls make the room fall a bit flat. A wonderful way to add architectural interest and texture to a space is to invest in built-in bookcases. Consider having shallow, wraparound built-ins made for both long living room walls, as well as the angled wall. Paint the bookcases the same dark hue and fill the shelves with books, art and decorative objets. Be sure to vary the “fullness” of each shelf to avoid a look that’s packed too tight. Treating all three walls the same way will also help disguise the awkward angle.

ask a designer living-dining room

Next, update your sofa with a contemporary charcoal-colored version with subtle texture. The tone-on-tone effect of the sofa, walls and bookcases will create a snug, cocooned feeling. Consider choosing a sofa that’s slightly less deep than your current one to gain back some of the space that will be taken up by the new bookcases.

ask a designer sofa

(Source: Kimberly Sofa in Midnight by Distinctly Home, $1,599, thebay.com)

I recommend swapping out your love seat for two luxurious club chairs in a channelled black leather.

ask a designer chair

(Source: Schuler Club Chair, $999, shelterfurniture.ca)

Then, add a smoked glass coffee table for a modern touch; the glass, although tinted, will make the table feel lighter.

ask a designer coffee table

(Source: Verre Square Coffee Table in Grey, $599, eq3.com)

A round wooden accent table placed between the club chairs and a nubby wool rug underfoot will bring in a touch of warmth.

ask a designer rug side table

(Source: Trill Round Wood Side Table, $499, cb2.ca)

ask a designer rug

(Source: Hand-Woven Chunky Woolen Cable Rug in Off-White by NuLoom, $444, homedepot.ca)

In your adjoining dining area, replace the exposed bulb fixture with a more streamlined shaded version that will cast a softer glow. Its classic style will also temper the more modern pieces in the living area.

ask a designer light fixture

(Source: Piaf 39 Inch 4 Light Chandelier by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort, $1,467, robinsonlightingcentre.com)

This mix of textures and styles will add plenty of interest to your space and give you a cozy but dynamic room, perfect for relaxing or entertaining.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.



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House & Home


In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for making a welcoming first impression.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: I’d like to decorate my hand-me-down-filled entryway in a classic look. What would you suggest? Z.S., Vernon, B.C.

Before Photo of a dimly-lit entryway inside a home.

Answer: Start by brightening up the space with a warm white paint. Or, for texture and architectural interest, consider cladding your walls in white shiplap similar to this entry designed by Cloth & Kind (below). Next, remove the drapery from the side windows and apply frosted window film from a hardware store for a cleaner look that retains privacy.

After photo of an entryway inside a home with white shiplap walls and glass paneling around the front door.

For major impact that doesn’t cost the moon, paint your door and the surrounding window frames a soft black — like Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty (2128 – 10). This will emphasize your tall ceilings and make the space feel grander. Replace your lighting with a pair of elegant sconces in a classic style.

Image of a sconce light

(Source: Vendome Single Sconce in Bronze by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort, $317, circalighting.com)

Then, swap out your current chest for an inviting bench.

A brown wooden bench

(Source: Churchill Bench in Carob, $699, urbanbarn.com)

Tucking a few baskets below will provide extra storage.

A round basket

(Source: Water Hyacinth Belly Basket in Natural by Distinctly Home, $28, thebay.com)

Above, between the sconces, opt for a round, modern mirror to bounce light and open up the area even more.

A circular mirror

(Source: Bryn Mirror, $385, shophouseandhome.com)

Underfoot, remove the smaller mats in favor of a large patterned rug — and be sure to have a doormat outside for wiping dirty feet!

A patterned rug

(Source: Turkish Sivas Rug in Brown and Cream, $721, ecarpetgallery.com)

Finally, place a petite side table (perfect for keys and mail) either next to the bench or in front of the side window.

A small side table

(Source: Hand-Forged Martini Table in Aged Iron, $580, unionlightingandfurnishings.com)

With these changes, you’ll have a welcoming entry to greet family and friends — and it will look fresh for years to come.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.



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House & Home


In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for giving a drab fireplace a modern makeover.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: We’re moving into a new home that has a fireplace with decorative niches on one side of the wall. Could you recommend a mantel style and help us furnish the space? — M.B., Kanata, Ontario

ask a designer fireplace before

Answer:  Congratulations on your new place! Instead of adding a mantel, why not try something with serious impact? For a truly modern focal point, tile or paint the fireplace wall black, similar to the Inspiration room designed by Amber Interiors (see below). This will visually unify the television and fireplace and really make a statement.

ask a designer fireplace

Ideally, you could replace your current fireplace with a larger version that would better anchor the room. Make sure that the fireplace and television are installed in the center of the wall, with the television above. I recommend drywalling over the niches to simplify the look. Opt for a paint treatment if you’re not sure you want to commit to tile, but a large, matte black, flat-edged subway tile with black grout would look very polished.

(Source: 4″ by 12″ Soho Black Matte Tile by Cinca, price available upon request, ciot.com)

Next, cozy up the space with a large leather sectional so that the wall adjacent to the fireplace isn’t left empty — and you’ll also get plenty of lounge space.

timber corner sectional through Article

(Source: Timber Corner Sectional in Charme Tan, $4,399, article.com)

To add depth and color, layer in modern and traditional rugs.

stockholm rug by Anna Sörensson through Ikea

(Source: Stockholm Rug by Anna Sörensson, $249, ikea.com)

hand-knotted touserkan rug through Shop House & Home

(Source: Hand-Knotted Touserkan Rug, $1,603, shophouseandhome.com)

For a textural accent, opt for a round rattan coffee table that can do double duty as an ottoman.

(Source: Somerset Cocktail Table in Neutral, price available upon request, cocoonfurnishings.ca)

Finally, set an open-framed accent chair just left of the fireplace.

chiara lounge chair in leather through EQ3

(Source: Chiara Lounge Chair in Leather, $1,149, eq3.com)

With these steps, you can enjoy an inviting and modern living space, perfectly set up for entertaining.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.



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Ask A Designer: How To Wake Up A Tired Dining Room



ask a designer dining room

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for refreshing a dining room without changing the furniture.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: I’d like to pull my dining room together and give it some style, but I want to keep my furniture. Where do I start? — B.B., Montreal

ask a designer dining room before

Answer: The good news is that you can definitely make this room feel fresh and beautiful while keeping your existing dining set. Take inspiration from the lovely room designed by M+M Interior Design (below) — the hand-painted mural is the perfect backdrop for classic furniture.

ask a designer dining room after

Add a similar energy to your space by installing romantic wallpaper with a botanical motif. Then, paint the ceiling a watery blue — like Behr’s Flowing Breeze (N480 – 2) — to pick up on the tones in the wallpaper and give the room another subtle hit of color.

ask a designer dining room wallpaper

(Source: Peony Tree wallpaper in Aqua by Sarah Richardson Design, approx. $234.91 per roll, brewsterwallcovering.com)

Next, remove the vase of branches and chairs flanking the sideboard to give your table and chairs some breathing room. If you have a match for the white upholstered chair, consider using them at the ends of your table. Otherwise, invest in two new upholstered end chairs to break up the set and add an element of softness.

ask a designer dining room linen chair

(Source: Slipcovered Host Chair, price available upon request, leeindustries.com)

Update your lighting by installing a pair of classic brass lantern sconces and add sparkle by replacing your ceiling fixture with a traditional chandelier.

ask a designer dining room lantern

(Source: Camden lantern sconce in Natural Brass by Regina Andrew Lighting, $496, primalighting.ca)

ask a designer dining room chandelier

(Source: The Valentina chandelier by Feiss, $1,187, livinglightingottawa.ca)

Then, switch out your art above the sideboard for a tall mirror that will bounce light around and add brightness to the space.

ask a designer dining room mirror

(Source: Dauphine mirror in Antique Silver Leaf, price available upon request, cocoonfurnishings.ca

Finally, bring in texture and coziness with a basketweave-style sisal rug. Make sure it’s large enough so that the chairs fit onto it when they’re pulled out. A great way to get a custom-size rug is to start with your preferred dimensions of broadloom and have a band added around the edge.

ask a designer dining room basketweave rug

(Source: Basketweave rug in Pewter, price available upon request, available through Signature by Shelley Alexanian)

With these changes, your dining room will feel refreshed and polished.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.

The post <span class="title_highlight">Ask A Designer:</span> How To Wake Up A Tired Dining Room appeared first on House & Home.



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