Friday, December 19, 2008

Winging Their Way Back!

Originally created to protect royalty from drafts in those old stone castles, the wing chair is again falling into the "What's New for the Upcoming Year".

What I like about a wing chair is the comfort it provides for both reading and snoozing, add an ottoman and you’ve got an all out lounger! You can’t go wrong with purchasing a quality wing back chair. They will always be popular, whether they are at the top of the trend list or not.

Hans J. Wenger/Carl Hansen Wing Chair
In 1960, Danish designer Hans J. Wegner created an upholstered modern version of the wing back chair which saw only limited production. Now, Carl Hansen & Son, the Danish furniture maker, has dusted off the drawings to bring this contemporary classic back to life. With its calm, clean lines and exceptional comfort - hallmarks of Wegner's best work - the Wingchair's timeless appeal has won awards at IMM Cologne 2006 and at the Copenhagen International Furniture Fair.

Tom Dixon Wing Chair
Traditionally manufactured, fully upholstered high-back lounge chair.Solid wood frame with mohair velvet upholstery and solid turned leg with black lacquered or natural finish. Mohair velvet available in 15 colours.

Alexandra Angle's Wingback Chair
From Aqua Vitae Design - a modern take on the classic wingback chair. Available in available in different fabrics and sizes. Comfortable by design and a twist on the traditional style.

I will be taking the next two weeks off for Christmas break but will be back in 2009 with fresh ideas. All the best to you and your family this holiday season!

Friday, December 12, 2008


“Going green”, “sustainable living”, “eco-friendly environment” to name just a few…. It seems every industry today has their buzz-word for how to be kind to the earth. The question is what will truly make a difference and what is just hype?

I just finished taking a Kitchen Series seminar for the past few weeks and one subject we discussed was how to work sustainable living into a kitchen renovation. It’s worth noting however, that many of these points apply to any kind of home renovation.

In order to help you remember each point try using the acronym F.R.E.S.H.

F is for Functional
If something isn’t functional, then it’s not worth the effort or price tag. It can be the trendiest appliance on the market and boast being a great energy saver, but if you aren’t going to find it useful in your environment then what is the point?

R is for Renewable
When practical, look to utilizing products that are grown, harvested and replanted on a relatively short rotational basis. For example; bamboo, grasses, cork, soy, hemp, cotton, etc. There have been some amazing advances in these areas of innovation. Check out for some of the latest sources.

E is for Eco-Friendly
Do our part to leave the smallest footprint on the environment. We can do this by installing the minimum amount of product during a renovation. Ask yourself questions such as; Are we really making the best use of the space we already have? Do we really need both upper and lower kitchen cabinets? Could we just re-purpose our cabinet doors? How about open storage?

S is for Sustainability
This refers to meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. By purchasing durable, quality products instead of throw away items we are reducing the amount of trash in our land-fills and ensuring products are lasting for years to come.

H is for Healthy
By keeping yourself informed on the latest in green products and technology you can take advantage of the zero or low VOC paints and water based stains and finishes. Try to choose cabinet interiors that do not off-gas VOC’s and utilize countertops such as quartz made with microban to inhibit bacteria growth.

By remembering the acronymn F.R.E.S.H. you can always be sure to take into consideration these points when undertaking any home renovation project.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Modern Pet Furniture - Is there such a thing?

One eye sore that seemed impossible to get away from in the home were cat trees. You know the ones... You fork over $250.00 for a two-tone carpeted faux tree stump with green podium that your cat(s) scratch up and lay all over? Worse yet, it sits in the middle of your living space because, god forbid, your little one be closed off from all the action! Well, I’ve recently come across a great alternative from a company called Hepper Home.

This pet products company was born from that universal thought: “there’s got to be a better way”. In their search for truly innovative, functional, cool beds for pets they decided to make their own and now have created an array of modern pet furnishings. You can get all the specifics on their products here:

I’ve just ordered the tres cool Pod for my boys Barley & Hops. They will be receiving it from Santa for Christmas!

Hepper Pod
The Pod offers the security of a mountaintop cave with way more style. It serves as your pets own personal sanctuary a perfect place for curling up to snooze, hide, or reign supreme.

Hepper Podium
Just the bottom half of the Pod, your Pet can just curl up for a nap in the most stylish spot in the house.

Hepper Nest
This floor-level sanctuary is perfect for curling up for a nap, storing toys, or falling asleep to daydreams of…zzzzzzzz.

Hepper Wave
This hammock-like perch keeps your furry friend cool in the summer and toasty in the winter. Ride on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paperweights - Rarely used for holding down paper anymore

I'm a treasure hunter. I look for unique items in out of the way stores and on eBay. They don't have to be expensive items, just items that I like and feel will add to the decor of my home. One of my recent purchases was a glass paperweight with a dandelion incased inside. I just thought it was beautiful and something that I could have sitting on my coffee table.

I am not one to start a collection of items, but in doing my research, I've realized that paperweights have quite a lengthly history as well as avid collector following.

History of the Paperweight
Europe in the mid 1800's was undergoing the Industrial Revolution, which caused major changes in the economy and society. The developing middle class provided a market for colorful and showy decorative arts. Additionally, this was the time when World Trade Fairs were held every few years in such cities as Paris, London and New York City. These fairs introduced new items and technology to the marketplace. In 1845 at the Industrial Exhibition in Vienna, the first paperweight was introduced to Europe.

Popularity in America
The greatest of the World Fairs was the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. It lasted 5 months, had 100,000 exhibits, and over six million visitors from around the world. Paperweights were exhibited there by the French Clichy glass factory, and they were awarded top honors.

Postal service had just begun so correspondence by letters to family and friends became very fashionable. Thus, a strong market developed for desk sets of writing equipment, accessories, and associated novelties. This is where paperweights made their initial entry into the marketplace.

Production peaked in Europe about 1851, and then sharply declined from 1855 to 1860. This was due to the economic surge of the Industrial Revolution and glass factories turning production toward more grandiose items such as palatial crystal and chandeliers. As well, more and more poor quality paper weights were entering the market, which contributed to their fall out of fashion.

In contrast to Europe, the 1860s in America had paperweights being commonplace. Many of the glass makers were European immigrants already skilled in the art. However, like Europe 40 years earlier, America also suffered a decline in quality made weights and they again fell out of favor.

Interest of Collectors
Paperweights were first recognized as a legitimate form of the decorative arts in 1925, when Sothebys conducted the first major auction of paperweights. That auction included 82 weights that sold for a total of $588 (an average of about $7 each). Auctions have been held periodically ever since.

Re-manufacture in the 1950-60s
The number of paperweight collectors began to increase sharply after World War II. This coincided with the re-manufacture of paperweights by the French factories. This was the result of the late Paul Jokelson (an importer and collector, 1905-2002), who encouraged them in the early 1950s to revive the art. The French glass artisans were then faced with the enormous task of re-discovering the lost techniques (no records of how to manufacturer the weights were ever kept). Shortly after, a paperweight cottage industry developed in Scotland, which quickly grew to become a major manufacturer of quality paperweights from modern factories.

It is estimated there are presently about 20,000 collectors, including diverse celebrities such as Peter Jennings, Johnny Carson, Alan Shepard, John Madden, Ann Bancroft, Henry Winkler, Robin Leach, and the late Malcolm Forbes.

So if you're looking for something to add some visual interest to a shelf, table or desk - consider an antique paperweight. Not only will you have a beautiful item, but a piece of history as well.

Millefiori Glass

Flowers inside glass dome

Glass Swirls

Friday, November 14, 2008

One Stop Shop for All Your Home Needs

Last night I attended an Open House hosted by Midland Appliances, Living Space and Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware. To date, I had not been in this trio of buildings located on Kingsway @ 10th Ave. Wow – talk about a one stop shop selection!

Midland Appliances “By Design” offers the latest in European and eco-friendly appliances. Name brands like AEG, Ariston and Gaggenau will have you drooling over the latest in kitchen design and technology. Midland is committed to Green, so all of their products meet the Green Technology requirements and are continuously being used in the newest Vancouver projects.

Living Space offers consumers the best in classic and contemporary European modern furniture and décor. Whether you’re looking for the classic Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman or a Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Stark, Living Space carries it. Their warehouse space is large enough to display a variety of vignettes allowing the shopper to visualize how the furnishings would look set up in their home.

The third space in this building is occupied by Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware Ltd. This showroom is a feast for the eyes. One will find the widest range of products from Europe (the leader in the industry) in an environment designed to display the products both on their own merits and as part of a design suite. There are entire walls of kitchen and bathroom pulls and knobs as well as fully functional shower heads and fixtures to test. In fact, the Vancouver Showroom has set a standard for the industry that no one yet can match.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Heywood-Wakefield Furniture

Last week I began to discuss Mid-Century Modern style furnishings and how Charles & Ray Eames' influenced this genre of design style. Another influential furniture of this time (and one of my favorites) was manufactured by the Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Co.

Designed for the masses, Heywood-Wakefield knew the world was ready for modern furniture. Their interpretation was to create solid birch, steam bent pieces that were blonde or champagne finished in colour.

Heywood Wakefield Modern (1936-1966)
Christened "The Heywood-Wakefield Modern Line," they produced limited quantities of these pieces and in this golden age, and America turned blonde, filling homes with the bubbly boost of birch. Various lines were introduced, ("Sculptura", "Encore", "Kohinoor") and if you can get your hands on an original piece it will be highly coveted in the mid-century modern world of today.

Heywood Wakefield Furniture

Sculptura Bedroom Suite

Kohinoor Vanity

Encore Double Chest

Back in Circulation
In the early eighties, entrepreneurs began locating new businesses in the so-called "Art Deco District" of South Beach in Miami, Florida. It was during this period that a new small store called the South Beach Furniture Company was founded. This store specialized in finding and restoring unusual or interesting furniture and decorative items from the Art Deco, '40s and '50s periods. The store owner noticed that a particular type of light-colored, solid-wood furniture would immediately find a buyer any time he was able to locate a piece for the store. This furniture was Heywood-Wakefield Modern.

In 1992 the remnants of the Heywood-Wakefieled Furniture Co. was purchased by the South Beach Furniture Company. The new Heywood-Wakefield Company began research into available sources for the manufacture of solid wood furniture, and by 1993 the first pieces of newly-made Heywood-Wakefield Modern furniture - now called Streamline - were produced.

Since that time the line has grown to more than 35 items, with new pieces added about four times a year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mid-Century Modern Designers

A few weeks back I discussed Mid-Century Modern Architecture and some of my favourite architects. Now let's take a look at some of the influential designers who created this functional, streamlined furniture.

Being a collector of this furniture myself, I have a soft spot for the pieces of this time. They are of a smaller scale, so great for those loft apartments many of us live in these days; the pieces usually make sense and have ingenius capabilities, since they were created for function first; and while modern in line and scale, the pieces transcend time in a way that makes it work in today's interiors.

Charles & Ray Eames
This husband and wife design team are best known for their groundbreaking contributions in furniture design but were also involved in architecture, industrial design and manufacturing, exhibitions, photography and film making. Married in 1941, the Eameses lived in Los Angeles and arguably became the most important designers of the 20th century.

Firmly believing in modernism as a way of social change; they were “idealistic realists” who wanted to create “the best, for the most, for the least”. They sought to bring the good life to the general public by integrating high and low art forms, modern materials, and production techniques, along with craft and design.

Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW)
Looking for a solution to provide affordable, comfortable furniture that could be easily mass produced. Charles’ entries into the Organic Furniture competition were designed to have the seat and backrest joined in a singe 'shell'. The plywood, however, was prone to crack when bent into the sharp angles and had to be covered with upholstery. Through extensive trial and error Charles and Ray arrived at an alternate solution: create two separate pieces for the seat and backrest, joined by a plywood lumbar support, with plywood legs. The result was a comfortable chair with a sleek and modern appearance. The seat was joined to the lumbar support and legs with a series of four heavy rubber washers with nuts embedded in them (later these came to be called 'shock mounts'). The shock mounts were glued to the underside of the seat, and screwed in through the bottom of the chair. The backrest was also attached using shock mounts. The rubber mounts were pliable, allowing the backrest to flex when the chair was occupied. This was one of the first examples of a chair with a responsive backrest.

Even though the plywood chair was a compromise of the Eames' vision to create a single shell chair it still constituted a successful design. Following the LCW the Eames created a family of plywood chairs. The chair continues to be an icon of Modern Design style. It is valued for its comfort as well as its status symbol. Original production models are highly valued by collectors. The chair was initially offered in 3-4 natural wood veneers such as ash, walnut, and cherry. It was also offered in two aniline dyed colors: ebony black, and red.

Eames Lounge Chair
The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman, correctly titled Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671) were released in 1956. It was the first chair the Eames designed for a high-end market. These furnishings are made of molded plywood and leather. You can see an example of this chair and ottoman as part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The chair is composed of three curved plywood shells. The shells are made with several thin layers of wood veneer glued together and shaped under heat and pressure. The shells and the seat cushions are essentially the same shape: composed of two curved forms interlocking to form a solid mass. The chair back and headrest are identical in proportion, as are the seat and the Ottoman. The chair has a low seat which is permanently fixed at a recline. The seat of the chair swivels on a cast aluminum base, with glides that are threaded so that the chair may remain level.

The Eames Lounge Chair appeals to people for several reasons. It is a classic design that has been in production continuously since its creation. In addition to the style, it is also very comfortable, a combination not always found in high-end design. There is a decent used market for these chairs. Some collectors are willing to pay high prices for earlier chairs made with Brazilian Rosewood veneer, which is no longer available. In 2006, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the chair, Herman Miller released models using a sustainable Palisander Rosewood veneer. Prices for original rosewood chairs have recently reached as much as $7,000 USD in auction.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Using Colour in Your Home

Colour does more than decorate your home. Colour has a psychological element. It makes you feel a certain way. It affects your body, mind and spirit, therefore; knowing which colours affect us and how is helpful when choosing new colours for our rooms.

First think about what kind of mood you want to create in your home? What colours make you feel happy or sad? Do you prefer a more subtle palette or are you looking for something brighter? Once you got an idea of what kind of look you're after make sure it goes well with your furnishings, upholstery, window coverings, etc. Remember, paint should be one of the LAST steps in decorating your home. It's much easier to match a paint chip to flooring and furniture than the other way around.

Limit your colour palette to 3 or 4 colours. If you use too many colours in a home it will hinder the rhythm and unity of your interior and your home will feel cluttered with no flow. If you have a larger home, you can utilize additional tones of the same colour to provide additional variety.

We react to colour in three basic ways: active, passive or neutral and you can easily match every room's colours to your personal taste and to the room's purpose.

Light colours will provide a expansive and airy feeling. The rooms will feel larger and brighter. Whereas, dark colour are more sophisticated and warm. The rooms will feel more intimate and cozy.

Not suprisingly, RED will raise the energy in a room. It’s a good choice when you want to stir up excitement, particularly at night. In the living room or dining room, red draws people together and stimulates conversation. In an entryway, it creates a strong first impression. Red has been shown to raise blood pressure, speed respiration and heart rate. Some feel it's too stimulating for bedrooms, but if you’re only in the room after dark, or use it just for an accent wall it can provide quite a libido boost.

Capturing the joy of sunshine and happiness YELLOW is perfect for kitchens, dining rooms and powder rooms. The colour is energizing and uplifting. In halls, entries and small spaces, yellow can feel expansive and welcoming. Although its a cheery colour, yellow is not a good choice in main colour schemes of a room. People are more likely to loose their tempers in a yellow room. Babies also seem to cry more in a yellow room. This could be because this colour is the most fatiguing on the eyes.

The most calming hue, BLUE brings down blood pressure and slows respiration and heart rate. It's considered relaxing, and serene, and is often recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms. Blue is universally the most popular colour on the colour wheel. It comes in a variety shades - a pastel blue will look chilly on a wall and a deep blue evokes feelings of sadness. It's best to stick with the warmer blues such as periwinkle, or bright blue, such as cerulean or turquoise. If you do decide to go with a light blue, balance it with warm hues in the furnishings and fabrics.

Considered the most restful color for the eye by combining the refreshing quality of blue and the cheerfulness of yellow, GREEN is suited to almost any room in the house. In a kitchen, a sage or medium green cools things down; in a family room or living room, it encourages unwinding but has enough warmth to promote comfort and togetherness. In a bedroom, it’s relaxing and pleasant. Green also has a calming effect when used as a main color for decorating. It is believed to relieve stress by helping people relax.

This colour is rich, dramtic, sophisticated and a signature for royality. PURPLE is associated with luxury and creativity. It does well as an accent or secondary colour. Lighter versions of purple, such as lavender and lilac, bring the same restful quality to bedrooms as blue does, but without the risk of feeling chilly.

Excitement, enthusiasm and energy is what one feels with ORANGE. While not a great idea for a living room or for bedrooms this color is great for an exercise room or office. It will bring all the emotions out that you need when jumping into your fitness routine or getting your creative juices flowing.

Neutrals are the colours basic to the decorator’s tool kit. All-neutral schemes fall in and out of fashion, but their virtue lies in their flexibility: Add color to liven things up; subtract it to calm things down. Black is best used in small doses as an accent, some experts maintain that every room needs a touch of black to ground the color scheme and give it depth.

A note about ceilings...

The ceiling represents one-sixth of the space in a room, but often it gets nothing more than a coat of white paint. In fact, many say that white is not only the safest but also the best choice for ceilings. As a general rule, ceilings that are lighter than the walls feel higher, while those that are darker feel lower. However, instead of using stark white paint on your ceiling, try mixing it with your main wall colour. This will give your ceiling the light airy feeling your after but provide a better continuity between your wall and ceiling. Another tip includes painting your entire room, including the ceiling, all one colour. This works especially well in bathrooms, where the space is small and you may want to evoke a feeling of cozy intimacy.

Choosing paint colours for your home does not have to be overwhelming. Following just a few simple guidelines can turn the experience into a personal road of self discovery. Remember, regardless of the rules, personal taste needs to be taken into consideration, choose colours that make you happy and comfortable for you, your family and lifestyle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mid Century Modern Architecture & Style

Last weekend I attended a “mid-century modern residential home tour” sponsored by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. Being relatively new on the scene to Vancouver’s architectural styles, I was very happy to see some great examples of this clean lined, fairly modest in it’s adornments, but high in it’s functionality style we refer to as “Mid-Century Modern” architecture or style.

I first became a fan of this style when living in California, where its affectionately referred to as “California Modern” style. Emphasizing bringing the outdoors inside, structures are created with ample windows and open floor-plans. With many of the homes utilizing the post and beam architectural design that eliminated the need for bulky support walls in favor of walls seemingly made of glass.

Frank Lloyd Wright
This architectural style came into vogue pre and post second world war, when new materials and technical innovation brought about a more practical approach to living for the everyday family. One of the most famous architectural pioneers to further develop this style was Frank Lloyd Wright, whose principles of organic architecture combined with many of these elements. In fact, Vancouver is home to one of only two commissioned Wright residences that were built in the 1980’s when Wright was designing primarily commercial and public buildings.

"Falling Water" stands as one of Wright's greatest masterpieces and boldy demonstrates Wright's ability to fuse organic architecture with brining the outdoors inside. This private residence was intended to be a nature retreat for its owners. The house itself is built on top of an active waterfall which flows beneath. The fireplace hearth in the living room is composed of boulders found on the site and upon which the house was built, with one set of boulders left in place and now protruding slightly through the living room floor. The stone floors are waxed, while the hearth is left plain, giving the impression of dry rocks protruding from a stream.

"Falling Water"

Commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr., the department store magnate, in 1936 as a family retreat. The house is now open to the public as a national historic landmark.

Joseph Eichler
Inspired by living in a Frank Lloyd Wright home when first moving to California in the early 1940’s. Real estate developer Joseph Eichler was instrumental in bringing the Mid-Century Modern architecture to subdivisions in California and on the East Coast. Unlike many developers of the day, Joseph Eichler was a social visionary and commissioned designs primarily for middle-class Americans. One of his stated aims was to construct inclusive and diverse planned communities, ideally featuring integrated parks and community centers. Eichler, unlike most builders at the time, established a non-discrimination policy and offered homes for sale to anyone of any religion or race. In 1958, he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a non-discrimination policy.

Eichler used well-known architects to design both the site plans and the homes themselves. He hired the respected architect and Wright disciple Robert Anshen of Anshen & Allen to design the initial Eichlers, and the first prototypes were built in 1949.

Eichler homes are from a branch of Modernist architecture that has come to be known as "California Modern," and typically feature glass walls, post and beam construction and open floorplans. Eichler exteriors featured flat or low-sloping roofs, vertical siding, and spartan facades with geometric lines. One of Eichler's signature concepts was to "Bring the Outside In," achieved via skylights and floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out on protected gardens, patios, and pools. The homes had numerous unorthodox features, including post-and-beam construction, concrete slab floors with integral radiant heating, sliding doors and cabinets, and a standard second bathroom. Later models introduced the famous Eichler atriums, an entrance foyer designed to further advance the Eichler concept of integrating outdoor and indoor spaces.

Eichler homes were airy and modern in comparison to most of the mass-produced, middle-class, postwar homes being built in the 1950s. At first, potential home buyers (many of whom were war-weary ex-servicemen seeking convention rather than innovation), proved resistant to the new homes, and Eichler faced competition from other developers who used elements of Eichler homes in watered-down, more conventional designs. Though fresh and exciting, Eichler homes never achieved large profits for their creator.
Home in San Rafael

Despite the fact that most of the “Eichler Homes” are now approaching their 50th anniversary, these homes have never been more popular amongst homebuyers looking for good modern design that’s both practical and livable. Eichler homes today sell for extraordinary sums, and Eichler-inspired designs are featured in an ever-increasing number of newspaper articles, websites, and even TV commercials

Richard Neutra
Specific to the west coast design is one of my favorite architects, Richard Neutra. Celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that represented a West Coast variation on the midcentury modern residence, he was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client's needs, much to their surprise and in stark contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape and practical comfort.

The Kaufman House, notably Neutra's most famous project, is a 1946 glass, steel and stone landmark built on the edge of Palm Springs. It has twice been at the forefront of new movements in architecture, first helping to shape post-war Modernism and later, as a result of a painstaking restoration in the mid-1990's, spurring a revived interest in mid-20th century homes.

In May of 2007, the current homeowners, who undertook the large restoration project, divorced and offered the Kauman House at Christie's Auction House in NYC in the hopes that it would attract a select group of art-world connoisseurs who would appreciate its significance and pay a price that would all but ensure its preservation.

The Kaufman House

Originally commissioned by Edgar K. Kaufmann Sr., the Pittsburgh department store magnate, was designed as a desert retreat from harsh winters.

Friday, October 3, 2008

No-Fail Front Door Colours

Paint is the easiest and most dramatic way to transform your front door. Here are five favorite picks from paint manufacturers "Farrow & Ball". The company's Oil Full Gloss paint can be used for interior or exterior applications but is particularly well suited to front doors, where the durability of oil and the shine of full gloss are top priorities.

Citron 74
Many realtors say a yellow front door is a lure for homebuyers. Even if you aren't selling, yellow provides a cheerful greeting and works well with most home styles.

Stone Blue 86
True blue in a muted medium tone is a classic welcoming colour with a country appeal. It looks great on homes with grey, taupe or yellow brick or siding.

Olive 13
Earthy olive green is a good choice for a Craftsman style home. If you have a red brick home, painting the front door a contrasting green will make the door a focal point.

Rectory Red 217
There's no colour more eye-catching than true red for a front door. Red is daring yet formal and looks smashing on home with while painted siding or pale stucco.

Off-Black 57
A glossy black door adds an air of formality to any home. Pair it with polished brass hardware and a lion door knocker for a stately look or chrome hardware for something more contemporary.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wallpaper - "It Ain't What It Used To Be!"

I just finished wallpapering my foyer and am so pleased with the results I thought providing some information on the wallpaper of today would be a good idea.

When I mentioned to friends that I was going to be wallpapering, the reactions for the most part were of horror and amusement. Being in the design industry, I have the advantage of knowing that the wallpapers of today are a far cry from what our parents or grandparents used. Previously, wallpaper was relegated to second place for wall coverings, as the paint industry constantly strove to improve not only its products, but also its advertising. The problem with paint is that regardless of the shade or hue, it is still just paint, and can be boring. Not providing your wall(s) with any dimension or personality. However, today with the new technology “wallpaper” is no longer just paper. There is a wide range of wall coverings available so that a consumer can find exactly the type of finish, style and pattern they desire to match the décor of their home.

Here are a couple of my favorite wallpaper suppliers where you can view their wall coverings online.


I've also listed below the various types of wallcoverings available in today's market:

Solid Paper - This is the most basic type of paper. It has no vinyl protection and takes a great deal of careful maintenance to keep it looking fresh and clean.

Vinyl-Coated Paper - This wall covering has a thin layer of vinyl coating. It has the look of paper which appeals to some consumers, but must be handled with care as it tends to tear. This wallcovering can withstand some light washing.

Paperbacked-Vinyl Paper - A top layer of vinyl and an undersurface of paper is how this covering is constructed. It is usually prepasted. It is washable and very often peelable. This is the paper usually preferred by buyers today.

Fabric-Backed - This wall covering has a top layer of vinyl with a fabric undercoating made of fiberglass or cheesecloth. These are more moisture and grease resistant than other types of wallcoverings. It is also sturdier and less likely to tear. These papers are heavy and usually not prepasted. When backed with cheesecloth, the covering has some texture, which makes it ideal for hiding less than perfect walls. Most of these are scrubbable and usually strippable.

Specialty Products - These run the gamut from textured, embossed, and flocked papers, to special coverings such as silk, bamboo, grasses, and Mylar. Murals and wallpaper borders also come under this category.

Handprinted Products Wallcoverings - These are hand-created to restore historical buildings, co-ordinate with special fabric, or produced by designers offering distinct patterns. They are created by the silk screen process or by inking with carved wooden blocks. These are top of the line coverings and require much care and attention to detail.

I encourage you to consider a wallcovering the next time you are looking to update your home. Even adding a treatment to one accent wall will make a huge difference!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Truth About Veeners

Solid Wood vs. Veneers
You may have been told that solid wood furniture is better than furniture with veneers - the fact is they are both good things. It depends on the type of furniture, its purpose, location, etc. Knowing the difference between the two will help you evaluate what's best for your home and your lifestyle.

The comfort people find in solid wood furniture comes from the "what you see is what you get". Although stains can give one wood the look of another, especially if the grains are similar. Solid wood construction indicates stability and integrity, especially with such woods as mahogany, cherry, birch, maple and oak. Solid woods also have the advantage of being easily refinished, should the need arise.

Today, much of today's quality furniture is a combination of solid woods and veneers. This method allows the furniture to have the strength offered from solid wood in the frames, legs and other supporting components, while veneers can be applied to solid wood or wood composition material. This prevents the warping, splitting and denting that sometimes occurs when solid wood expands and contracts from humidity changes. A veneer is simply a thin layer of wood, chosen for beauty and character, then glued or bonded to another wood surface. It's not a poor substitute for solid wood or a synthetic material printed with a wood grain effect. In fact, bonding a veneer to another surface creates extra strength and allows for surface patterns or designs that would otherwise be impossible.

The History of Veneers
The art of veneering goes back to ancient Egypt. It was reclaimed by the master furniture makers of the 18th century who realized that sheets of expensive and exquisite woods such as mahogany, satinwood and rosewood could be glued to other surfaces to create beautiful and strong pieces of furniture.

During the Industrial Revolution, veneer lost some of its appeal as mass production led to shoddy manufacturing practices. Veneers were often low-grade woods, poorly applied to inferior materials. Understandably, such cheap veneers often warped or become detached, giving all veneering a bad reputation. However, for those willing to spend the time and effort required to do it right, veneering remained the preferred technique for achieving artistic and beautiful surfaces. This is still true - and not just for traditional or reproduction furniture. The simple lines of fine contemporary furniture also gain beauty and sophistication with veneers.

The Possibilities
Utilizing veneers expands the design possibilities by allowing the use of the most beautifully grained and exotic woods. Especially prized veneers include burl, a highly figured grain coming from an outgrowth on several varieties of trees or crotch mahogany, which is cut just below the area where two major branches meet. Neither of these woods could be used to construct an entire piece of furniture, but each makes spectacular unique veneers.

New Technology
Laser techniques provide outstanding quality control and precision in cutting veneers, allowing craftsmen to make ever more beautiful grain matches. Improved glues have eliminated problems that once made veneers separate from their surfaces, making them even less likely to crack or warp than solid woods. Despite such advances, veneering still requires great craftsmanship. Sophisticated inlays or marquetry involve several painstaking steps including matching and joining, gluing, sanding, polishing and finishing.

Sheets of veneer can be combined on larger surfaces to form interesting patterns by using the a variety of matching techniques:

  • Book matching: sheets of veneer are placed side-by-side, like the pages of a book, creating a symmetrical pattern
  • End matching: sheets are placed end-to-end to produce a continuous pattern
  • Four-way match: a combination of book and end matching
  • Slip matching: sheets are placed into side-by-side patterns to produce herringbone, diamond and checkered patterns.

Still Not Convinced?
If you're still a little wary of veneered furniture check out the 18th century master cabinetmakers like Chippendale and Hepplewhite. Their veneered furniture still graces museums and private collections and sets standards for fine design as we move into the 21st century.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Guide to Countertop Materials Part 2

As part the our series on Countertop Materials here are another three popular choices, including their pros and cons:

Butcher Block
Maple and Oak woods are the most common used for countertops, although other hardwoods such as cherry, walnut and mahogany have been known to be used as well. Butcher block counters are available in several configurations depending on your needs and all are finished with either mineral oil or polyurethane. Mineral oil prevents the wood from warping and drying out, but will not prevent stains. Polyurethane provides and impenetrable plastic-like coating.

Pros - easy to maintain, can be sanded and re-oiled or re-sealed as needed. Looks warm.
Cons - Prone to water and stain damage, must be oiled or sealed periodically to prevent dry out and reduce porosity, burns easily and absorbs odors.

Ceramic Tile
Made for a variety of materials and methods and offer a wide range of design possibilities. The most common being traditional glazed tile, which are made from clay and fired at extremely high temperatures. Its tough glasslike surface is non-porous, although the grout that holds the tiles together is extremely porous.

Pros - available in many colours, textures, patterns and price points. Glazed tiles won't stain and resist heat and moisture.
Cons - Uneven counter surface, installation requires time and attention to detail. Tiles can easily chip, scratch or crack; grout is easily stained, tough on dishes and glassware.

To create countertops, concrete is mixed with pigment, then poured into molds on-site, or pre-cast in a workshop. After it is troweled smooth, it takes several days to dry and harden. It must then be sealed to guard against stains. Concrete counters can be as thick as desired, although anything more than four inches could strain supporting cabinets and floors.

Pros - heat and scratch resistant; can be tinted in a wide range of colors; can be molded into different shapes to accommodate integral sinks, drain boards, and decorative edging.
Cons - Expensive and very heavy; cracking is common so make sure you hire a professional to pour. Very porous so it stains unless not sealed very well. Tough on dishes and glassware.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Guide to Countertop Materials

These days there are a variety of options when choosing your kitchen countertop. Over the next few issues of "ReVIBE Raves" we are going to discuss the more common materials and their pros and cons. Here are the first three:

Engineered Stone
This relatively new countertop material is a composite of rock aggregate (makes up 90% of its mass), resin and pigments. Engineered stone is sold under brand names called Silestone, for example and will commonly be referred to as quartz. Available in dozens of colors, it is non-porous and scratch-resistant. Because these stones do not contain fissures or veins, the strength of a slab may be more consistent throughout than that of natural stone. This consistency also makes seams easy to match.

Pros - Easy to maintain; resistant to stains, heat, scratches, and acid. Sealing is generally not required. Color is consistent throughout so scratches are less noticeable than with other materials. The most durable of all countertop materials.
Cons - Expensive; less natural looking than marble or granite.

A popular countertop choice because of its appearance and durability, granite is siliceous stone made from an extremely hard volcanic rock. It is available in a range of colors and is often flecked with bits of minerals that produce a salt-and-pepper look. There are two types: consistent; which has the same pattern throughout, and variegated; which has veins.

Pros - heat resistant, beautifully colored, each slab of granite is unique; good surface for working with pastry dough, since it doesn't conduct heat.
Cons - Expensive; requires regular maintenance, including periodic sealing, stains; can crack; can be tough on dishes and glassware; variegated granite pieces are hard to match.

Marble countertops are beautiful but because it is a calcareous stone, marble is softer and more porous than granite. Its permeability makes it susceptible to scratches, chips, and stains and its luster can be dulled if not properly cared for. Many homeowners choose to confine it to an island or baking center.

Pros - holds up well to heat; beautiful and luxurious; ideal for rolling out dough since it doesn't conduct heat.
Cons - Expensive; must be sealed to protect it from stains; requires regular maintenance; very soft so it scratches easily; Can be tough on dishes and glassware.

Stay tuned next week for information on the next three materials used in countertops...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life

ReVIBE Inc. believe's that living your best life involves not only a efficient and beautiful home environment, but achieving inner peace as well. If you follow even a few of the Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life you'll go a long way toward acheiving this goal.

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

4 Easy Steps to Buying the Perfect Flooring

Nothing makes such a noticeable difference in how your home looks and feels than flooring. With all the choices and technical considerations, finding the perfect floor can be an intimidating decision, but there is hope. Follow these four easy steps to ensure you get the right floor for your décor, lifestyle and budget.

Choose your décor, then your floor
Traditional Decor - Elegant, formal, classic lines and detailed finishing. Choose hardwood with distinctive grains and dark tones or exotic hardwoods such as mahogany, merbau, jatoba and cherry.

Casual Decor - Comfortable, cozy spaces that are charming and inviting. Look for mid-tone products with lots of texture and heavy grains.

Modern Décor - Monochromatic and functional with clean lines. Choose floors that will make a statement with color and pattern or subtle-grain floors to create a neutral pallet for these contemporary spaces.

Determine the function of your space
Active Spaces - Look for style and durability. Laminates are an ideal choice for high traffic areas such as family rooms and kitchens.

Relaxing Spaces - Medium to low traffic spaces where life still happens. Cork is a unique find; soft, warm and low maintenance. Look for corkfloors with bevelled edges and a leathered texture. Engineered hardwood is an excellent option, as it will not gap and will look beautiful longer.

Think outside the box
Flooring is a significant purchase. The cost of removing your current flooring and installation costs of new flooring can quickly add up and restrict your budget. Consider floor systems that can be installed right over your existing flooring.

Fall in love
Your home is a personal reflection of your style. Find a floor you love, before considering performance and functional elements. If you buy the floor you love, you’ll love your new space and that is the most important consideration of all.

- originally published by Torly's Flooring, July 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why Should I Work with ReVIBE?

  1. Your time is at a premium.

  2. You feel completely overwhelmed by the number of choices available.

  3. You have a couple of signature pieces but are unsure how to put everything together.

  4. You want to have quality work done, but don’t know where to turn for contractors, workmen, installers or other resources.

  5. You’ve already tried to decorate your home and have purchased a few items in the past, but they don’t work when you get them home.

  6. You and your partner can’t agree on anything.

  7. Your about to undertake a large renovation project and would like someone to help manage it for you.

  8. You’re not aware of the latest products, fabrics, or appliances that are available in the marketplace.

  9. You’re tired of buying things here and there but not having a master plan to put them all together.

  10. You want to have access to items you see in the home design magazines but they indicate they are “to the trade only”.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ReVIBE's Top 10 Rules for Living Your Best Life

  1. When bringing something new into the home, always look to see if you can take something old out as well.

  2. If you haven’t used something for more than one year, consider getting rid of it.

  3. If it’s innovative, practical and has good lines, it will never go out of style.

  4. Never under-estimate the power of proper lighting.

  5. Quality is always essential and available at every price point.

  6. Art is not an accessory – it should be appreciated for its own beauty.

  7. An efficient kitchen is the heart of every home.

  8. Fabric makes a room.

  9. Good design should stand the test of time.

  10. Less is more.