Monthly Archives: May 2010

IT’s New: Entertain In Style With These Hot Outdoor Accents!

With the SUMMER ENTERTAINING season now officially in full swing it’s time to make sure your outdoor spaces look just as impressive as your indoor spaces! These cool contemporary planters are the epitome of outdoor chic and will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing at your next BBQ, pool party, or family get-together:

And for those of us with a less-than-green thumb these AMAZINGLY LIFELIKE plants are perfect for covered patios, balconies, and entryways!

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Check out these and dozens of other fabulous interior and exterior decorative elements in the HOME ACCESSORIES department of the DIO STORE!

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Fab Rooms Aren’t For the Faint of Heart

Creating a truly spectacular room is not a task for the faint of heart. As is true for most things in life, if you want to create something remarkable you have to take a few risks.

I’ve found this to be particularly true with clients and the color red. This dramatic color often captures the hearts and desires of inspired homeowners, but all too often when it comes time to say “I DO” the doubt creeps in and the once-courageous people start searching for a safer option.

Diluting your decorating dreams is like diluting coffee: eventually you end up with nothing but boring and flavorless water.

So, if you find something you love, GO FOR IT, don’t chicken out! Inspiration is often the hardest part of decorating, so when you do find something that makes you heart race a little faster take the leap! Chances are you’ll create something amazing that you’ll enjoy for years to come instead of constantly searching for something else to add to give the room that punch of personality that you’re looking for!

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Window Coverings 101

The right window coverings are an essential decorating element in a room

Window coverings are one of the most important design elements in a room; unfortunately, they are also the one most commonly overlooked.  Even the most perfectly painted, furnished, and accessorized room can appear flat and unfinished if the window coverings are either unsuitable or missing altogether. Here are a few of the basics to keep in mind when exploring your window covering options:

Vintage Velvet Drapery Side Panels

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Curtain Panels: This is the all-encompassing term for many types of fabric panels that are hung from a rod on either side of a window. They can be either purely decorative (in the case where blinds or sheers are also used to cover the window) or functional and come in a variety of styles, from tab-top and rod-pocket, to grommeted and pinch-pleated..

 

Sheer Linen Drapes

 

 

Sheers: Often layered behind curtain panels, but equally impressive on their own, sheers are curtain panels made from semi-transparent fabric that diffuse the light and provide a moderate level of privacy while still allowing people to see out (and others to see in) to some degree. Sheers generally create a more feminine, classic, or traditional look that other types of window coverings.

 

2" wood Blinds with Cotton Accent Tapes

 

Venetian Blinds: One of the most versatile window products ever invented, Venetian blinds allow for varying degrees of light and privacy at the flick of a wand. A series of metal, plastic, or wooden slats are arranged horizontally so they can be angled together to block light completely, angled to diffuse and direct it, or set flat so as to appear almost invisible. They’re available inexpensively at most home improvements stores, but for a more custom fitted look try ordering your

 

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Roman Shades

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Roman Shades: A roman shade consists of of a length of fabric that is sewn with a series of bats or spines it it to give it shape and to enable it to fold uniformly as it is drawn upward with an integrated cord. Roman shades are available off-the-rack at most home improvement and variety stores, or can be custom-made in almost any imaginable fabric by a professional drapery workroom.

 

 

Bamboo Woven Wood Blinds

Woven Wood Shades: A personal favourite of mind, woven woods are a fantastic way to add texture to a room. Available in a wide variety of natural fibers like seagrass or bamboo these blinds work well in both traditional and contemporary rooms. Woven Woods function just like Roman Shades and are often available with a Top Down Bottom Up feature for versatility and privacy.

Panel Track Vertical Blinds

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Panel Track Vertical Blinds: A stunning modern alternative to it’s dated cousin (vertical blinds), Panel Track Verticals are perfectly designed for large windows or patio doors. Available in a wide variety of fabrics and colors these blinds look best in contemporary homes.

Roller Shades

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Roller Shades: These are comprised of a long piece of weighted fabric or vinyl that is rolled around a spring-loaded rod that is mounted at the top of a window. The purpose of the spring-loaded rod is to allow the fabric to roll back up easily with a simple tug of the bottom. Roller shades are available at almost any home improvement and department store, or they can be custom made in a variety of materials from fabric to wood to sheer-woven composites that allow for both light and privacy.

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For help finding the most stylish window coverings for your space visit our DESIGN SERVICES page and check out our affordable range of professional decorating packages!

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The IT List: Our 10 Favorite Host(ess) Gifts

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Finding the right host or hostess gift to bring when you’re invited to someone’s home can be a challenge, but it can definitely make or break your chances of getting invited back again (plus it will dictate the level of gift the host will be obligated to bring the next time they visit your home). Here are some of the best host and hostess gifts our Design Team has given and been given over the years:

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1. Flowers: Nothing brightens a room like fresh cut flowers. Neutral monochromatic arrangements like lilies, white roses, and gerberras work well in almost any space. In the case of a housewarming or bridal/baby shower where others will likely bring flowers as well include a simple but elegant vase so the host(ess) isn’t left scrambling to find a vessel to put the flowers in.

2. Wine or Spirits: If you know the host’s favorite wine or spirit they’ll likely appreciate your attention to detail. If not, opt for something obscure that they may not be familiar with (the staff at most higher-end wine and liquor stores should be able to provide you with suitable recommendations). For the teetotaling host(ess) a beautiful bottle of imported mineral water or sparkling juice is great too.

3. Live plants: More personal and long-lasting than flowers, live plants or seeds are perfect for hosts with a green thumb. Plants from your own garden or seeds you’ve had good luck with in the past are perfect.

4. Books: An elegant coffee-table book or an antique classic novel will make it look like you put a lot of thought into finding the perfect gift. Stock up on several next time you’re at a bookstore so you’re always prepared for those impromptu invites.

5. Music: An eclectic mix CD of songs that remind you of the host is another personalized gift that’s sure to wow. Or, for those hipster friends you want to impress, drop by a vintage record store and pick up a couple of rare LPs with groovy cover art.

6. Exotic Spices, Oils, or Marinades: Many gourmet specialty stores and high-end supermarkets feature exotic spices, flavored oils, and marinades for meat and fish. Pick something that looks like it would be universally appealing, and as with wine the more unique and obscure looking it is the better.

7. Baking: Anything you’ve made yourself is bound to impress any host, but avoid bringing anything you expect them to serve at the party unless you’ve made prior arrangements with them (some hosts will be offended/inconvenienced if the baking you bring clashes with the planned menu). Many gourmet stores also feature prepackaged mixes for cookies, scones, and other more exotic baked goods containing all the ingredients in a giftworthy package.

8. Cheese Basket: Gourmet cheese stores often have pre-packaged gift baskets ready to go, or you can assemble your own with small wedges of Brie, Gorgonzola, Muenster, Camembert, and other exotic offerings. Place them in a decorative basket and wrap it with cellophane tied with a large velvet bow.

9. Vintage Curios: Tiny vintage picture frames, snuff boxes, and ornate paperweights are another outside-the-box solution to the hostess gift dilemma. Find them at antique stores and flea markets and research their pedigree on the internet or make something up to tell the host when you present them.

10. Incense: Incense sticks or cones in exotic fragrances like jasmine, lavender, sandalwood, and sage make a welcome gift for the host who has everything. Plus they’re usually inexpensive to buy at Asian import stores and they often come with small wooden cases and stands to prop them on.

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And for help getting your home in tip-top shape for entertaining visit our DESIGN SERVICES page and check out our professional decorating packages designed to impress on any budget!

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Trend Alert: The 80s Revisited

We’ve already seen it in the world of fashion, and where apparel goes, interiors are soon to follow. The 80s are back in a big way! From Molly Ringwald movies and jelly bracelets to plain white walls and black lacquered tables, the decade of reckless excess is the latest retro trend du jour (they’re even making a sequel to the quintessential 80s classic Wall Street). Here are a few of the season’s gnarliest, raddest, most awesome home items to keep you up-to-the moment:

The Le Corbusier Sofa: Though it was designed in the 1920s, the sleek black leather and chrome design is associated more with the 1980s ultra-modern corporate look. $1500 in the DIO STORE.

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Cool Modern Lighting: A glowing tower of light emanates from this Asian-inspired floor lamp. $309 in the DIO STORE.

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Gold: It wouldn't be the 80s without a splash of gold. This unique contemporary wall sculpture creates fabulous focal point. $392 in the DIO STORE.

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Black lacquer: A substantial profile and glossy black finish accent this chic modern coffee table. $903 in the DIO STORE.

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Graphic Area Rug: Nothing adorns an 80s interior better than a bold geometric area rug. This one features muliticolored lines set against a neutral pewter background. $281-$1415 in the DIO STORE.

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Red: No 80s retro space would be complete without a bold punch of red. These dramatic vases are fabulous in a foyer or beside the fireplace. $142-$187 in the DIO STORE.

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For professional advice on incorporating the latest trends in your space check out our affordable range of DECORATING SERVICES!

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How to Shack Up Without Breaking Up

As a follow up to our I love you, but… post about the challenges of combining decorative styles when moving in with a partner we’ve compiled a list of helpful suggestions to make the transition to a home-for-two as hassle-free as possible. Here’s what worked for us:

– Make a list of what is important to each person: Whether it’s a color, a piece of furniture, a beloved painting, or just a sentimental object, write down each person’s favorite room elements no matter how trivial or unimportant they may seem.

– Prioritize the items on the list according to importance: Have each person rank their favorite room elements in order of importance.

– Find a way to implement the most important items on each person’s list: If each person’s favorite elements don’t necessarily work together in the same room compromise by using those elements in another space in the home (and no, the garage doesn’t count!).

– Find common ground that you can both agree on: The process of compromise may also involve choosing new items for the room that both partners like. This is also a great way to develop your joint style as a couple rather than a melding of two separate styles.

– Be willing to give in (a bit): Sometimes compromise involves letting the other person have exactly what they want on certain points in the hopes they will do the same for you, so be willing to step back and acquiesce

Above all, the key is to make sure the space genuinely reflects the personalities of each partner in the relationship. It shouldn’t feel like the space is dominated by one and not the other. A happy home (and a happy relationship) will highlight the best qualities of each person to create something truly beautiful!

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P.S. As for our paint color debate, we decided to go with Natural Cream throughout the main level of the house, but Mark won out in the media room with the warmer, darker Davenport Tan. See, compromise really can be a beautiful thing!

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The IT List: Our 10 Favorite Cabinets & Sideboards

One of the biggest challenges of any decorating project is what to do with the items you want to keep out of view but also close at hand. This is especially true in a great room or dining room where toys, games, books, and other implements of daily life often clutter up the purity of the initial design. To help solve this dilemma our Design Team has compiled a list of the most elegant and versatile cabinets and sideboards from the DIO STORE, to let you stow your stuff with style!

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Lucille Bowfront Chest: This gorgeous bombe-style chest is hand-covered in silver leaf and finished with a touch of gold. It’s a fabulous choice in a traditional or eclectic space!

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Wright Sideboard: Abundant storage and a mid-century modern profile make this large sideboard a fabulous addition to a contemporary great room.

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Dalton Cabinet: This functional cabinet serves as both a storage and serving piece in a dining room or open-concept great room. Plus it’s versatile enough to work well in a variety of interior styles.

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Napoli Media Cabinet: This highly-unique storage cabinet features a cascading wave pattern on the front and ample space for storing large items in cool modern style.

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Mitchell Storage Cabinet: The perfect mix of display space and hidden storage, this sleek piece combines three glass-doored display niches and seven large doors for the best of both worlds.

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Mandarin Cabinet: Traditional Asian-inspired carved-wood doors and golden metal hardware lend an exotic flair to this compact cabinet. It makes a great addition to an Oriental or eclectic interior.

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Tivoli Sideboard: Hollywood Regency style abound on this glamorous piece. Black lacquered trim and a mirrored front, with convex round inserts make it an instant show-stopper!

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Douglas Liquor Cabinet: Tuck-away your grown-up beverages in style with this hip modern liquor cabinet. A flip-up front conceals a shelf for stemware and spirits, and the cubbies down below store 28 bottles of your favorite vintage.

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Sullivan Sideboard: This retro-inspired sideboard features flared spike legs for  a distinctive 1950s feel. Three large drawers and a black-glass sliding door hide away all your serving essentials in style.

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Rialto Cabinet: Large glass doors with an oval decorative wood frame adorn this charming storage piece. Perfect for a traditionally-themed space it also features turned spindle legs and beveled trim around the top.

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For professional advice on the best storage solution for your space check the incredibly affordable decorating options on our SERVICES page!

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How to do IT: Creating a Killer Powder Room

The Powder Room: That impractical little half-bathroom off the foyer or hallway that is primarily designed to be used by people who don’t actually live in your house. The concept of the powder room conjures images of swank 1950s cocktail parties, where women would repeatedly duck off to “powder their nose” with enough talc to make an elephant sneeze. Nowadays the powder room is a staple of most middle class homes throughout North America, but despite being located in the public area of the home, it is largely (and unfortunately) ignored, at least from a decorating perspective. Here are a few great tips for making your powder room worthy of its pedigree:

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Color: Perhaps more than any other room in your home, the powder-room practically screams out for bold color. Because it’s a small room, usually out of the direct sight-line of your seating area, you can get away with a much bolder palette than you would in other rooms of the home. Rich reds, forest greens, navy blues, and even charcoal grey and black are fabulous choices. Don’t worry about dark colors making the space look too small (after all, it’s a powder room…it IS small!). As well, because humidity isn’t as much of a factor here as in regular bathrooms, textured wallpaper, dark wood panelling and cabinets, and more delicate countertop materials are also viable (and stylish) options.

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Mirrors: In keeping with the glamorous and dramatic theme, replace the standard builder-grade vanity mirror with an ornate gold, silver, or black framed mirror above the basin instead. The bigger the size the better! And for an ultra over-the-top look hang a large floor-lenth mirror horizontally spanning the entire wall to add a ton of bling and to visually double the size of the space!

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Lighting: We know that we say it all the time in regard to every room in the house, but in the powder room it’s absolutely essential: you MUST have a dimmer switch on your vanity light fixture! Nothing ruins a fabulous room faster than bad lighting, and in a glam space like a powder room bad lighting will not only make the room look lacklustre but will also be unflattering to the complexions of those using it. For dinner and cocktail parties set the level of light at 1/2 to 2/3 maximum intensity to create a moody glow.

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Artwork: As with your choice of mirrors, the artwork you display in the powder room should also be dramatic and overscaled to play up the glamorous side of you personality. Large framed portraits, landscapes, architectural images, or contemporary abstracts in bold colors are great choices. To coordinate with your wall palette choose images in which the dominant color contrasts nicely with your paint or wallpaper color.

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For custom advice on making your powder room fabulous check out the affordable range of professional decorating packages in our SERVICES page!

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I love you, but….(His Side)

So, I’ve always said that the color of your walls is a reflection of your personality, and after spending several years painting high-end homes I had a pretty good idea of what I liked and what looked good. We chose a house with lots of big windows and an abundance of natural light, perfect for rich, dark, warm colors. In my mind it was the ideal backdrop for the artwork that we were planning to buy, and a color scheme that I had wanted for a long time.

Naturally, Sasha wanted beige; not just on the walls, but on the ceiling, doors, trim, and cabinets! My doctor’s office is less sterile looking!

So the duel of the paint fans began, and the conversation went something like this:

Sasha: What about Ballet White, OC-9?

Me: It’s white? I was thinking more like Willow, CC-542!

Sasha: Everywhere? It is a nice color but the house will be a cave! Well, we could go a little darker if you like. What about this one, OC-14, Natural Cream? It has some warm grey undertones to it.

Me: That’s darker???

And, well you get the point. This went on for days, with the conversation slowly evolving into a debate over what furniture was coming to the new house. And after reading Sasha blog post I see where the TV conversation came from!

We did however eventually settle on a few compromises and found ways to incorporate both of our styles into the new house. During the process we discovered some unbelievably helpful tips on How-to-Shack-Up-Without-Breaking-Up. Subscribe now and don’t miss the conclusion to the paint debate!

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I love you, but…

So here are a few of the thoughts that were running through my head…

I could make it look like an “accident”?

A secret pick-up?

Chainsaw?

Moving in with the love of my life unfortunately also meant moving in with his stuff. And, the thought of transforming my beautiful world into Roseanne‘s Living Room brought out the darker, more devious side of my nature. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Mark’s taste is actually pretty good, but I really did consider secret ways to destroy his truly hideous items without getting caught.

There’s no question that I love Mark, and during the years of dating before we moved onto the “next step” I was able to turn a blind eye to his “GIANT” TV-screen and the hand-me-down end tables, because, let’s face it, we didn’t spend much time in the living room! However, when it came to planning the move, the ever-growing knot in the pit of my stomach was getting harder and harder to ignore. In order to create our home and the storybook life that was becoming all-too-clear in my mind, I was going to have to give in on a few things…ugh.

Little did I know that the tacky end tables and man-sized TV were the least of my worries! Before I get into that though I’ll let Mark tell you his side of the story…

Don’t miss “His Side of the Story“…

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