Tag Archives: interior design

Putting Your House in Order in 2013

Happy New Year!

To get an early start on my resolutions, I spent the last few days of 2012 tidying my apartment before school starts. As a reward for my hard work, I tuned into a marathon of House Hunters International. Having lived abroad, it always makes me laugh to watch North Americans bemoan the lack of storage in the typically smaller homes found in Asia other parts of the world.

But we can learn from these tiny spaces, especially as condo prices rise and square footage shrinks in cities like Toronto.  I love to tour model units for design inspiration but I always wonder if I could find room for all my stuff. After all, I have the luxury of splitting it between my permanent home and my apartment at school!

Image: mi casa via homedit

But I am trying to pare down in both locations. When we downsized from a spacious three-bedroom house to a cozy two-bedroom condo almost 10 years ago, I packed up several boxes that went straight to storage and were forgotten. When I opened them several years later, I couldn’t imagine why I had kept any of the items inside. One of my resolutions is to edit every few months.  For each Christmas present that I received, I am looking for something that I no longer use to donate, sell, or throw out depending on its condition.  I apply the same system for clothes that I don’t wear for an entire season.

Image: I love my apartment on tumblr

We have slowly replaced our hand-me-down furniture with new purchases and always try to pick pieces that have built-in storage, like our bed frame with large drawers or the chest that holds our board games and serves as our coffee table.

Image: Greentea Design via Facebook

Multi-functional furniture has been our godsend, allowing us to keep our open-plan first floor a lot less cluttered. I am coveting the wheeled bench in Greentea Design’s soon-to-be-released collection. I can see it in the front hall with a bin on each end for hats and gloves, or wheeled into the living room for extra seating at parties, or even an impromptu sideboard at holiday feasts.

Image: Wayfair

Perhaps the most important thing I have been doing over the last few months is spending a few minutes at the end of each day putting everything back in its place. Of course, that means that everything we own needs a place. Sometimes this takes a little creativity but the vast array of organizational products out there really helps to maximize nooks and crannies. I have a few seasonal knickknacks that I swap out from time to time but I try to keep this to a box or two.

Image: Dear College Student

There are still a few wayward items that I need to deal with but at least I feel like this might be one resolution that gets accomplished, at least until I have to consolidate my two homes!

Wrap to Room

image via papersmash

I’m a firm believer that the presentation of a gift makes what’s inside that much more special. Whether it’s taking some extra time to personalize the wrapping paper itself or including a homemade card, it lets the recipient know you care. Looking online I’ve found a wealth of gift wrapping inspiration I’d like to share with you, and I also thought it would be a great time to play a game I like to call ‘wrap to room’.

image via anthology

Eclectic Presents

Go to town mixing patterns, shapes and different kinds of paper and materials for a whimsical feeling. This trio of presents is so happy looking, and I imagine a whole collection of these uniquely wrapped gifts would be beautiful under the tree.

image via the boo and the boy

Eclectic Room

Here, patterns and textures have been combined for the same whimsical effect. Lining shelves in patterned paper is a great way to add visual interest to a wall. This style works especially well in kids rooms and living rooms.

bobalog gift tags and wrap via papercrave

Red, White and Mod Gifts

The online seller bobalog creates this fabulously festive wrapping paper and hand stamped gift tags. Red is instantly evocative of the holidays, and paired with white and geometric shapes also appears clean and modern.

image via bhg

Red, White and Mod Room

This holiday mantle display shows how a bright red pops against an all white wall and fireplace. Geometric christmas trees, graphic pillows and a pompom garland are festive without being too cutesy.

image via odessa may society

Au Natural Wrapping

I love the effect of the delicate white pen drawing on kraft paper. If you have some drawing talent this is a beautiful way to dress up plain paper. It reminds me of snow on wood.  Tie with a simple colourful twine and you are ready to give.

image via Veronica loves Archie

Au Natural Room

Pairing white elements with light coloured wood creates a relaxed and soothing atmosphere. This sunroom is so peaceful. I especially like the wraparound benches that give plenty of spots to savour the view.

image via you are my fave

Watercolour Giftwrap

How pretty is this watercolour wrapping paper? This could be a fantastic DIY that even the kids could get involved in. The yarn bow is also a pretty and easy way to adorn your gifts, but hand-dyed ribbon would be even lovelier, I think.

image via little miss homes

Watercolour Room

It’s hard to make sure pastels stay modern and don’t look like like they should be in a nursery. The way this dining room used both bright and more subtle shades together with white is very evocative of a watercolour painting.

That concludes our game of ‘wrap to room’. Hope you’ve found some wrapping or decorating inspiration, or perhaps a little bit of both.

Happy Friday Everyone!

In the Showroom With Greg: Inspired by Christmas

Greg Laciak is Greentea Design’s lead designer.  When Greg’s not helping clients plan their dream kitchen he’s often in the showroom giving it that quintessential Greentea vibe.  With an unmatched eye for what’s beautiful and how it all fits together, The Design Tree is delighted to have Greg as a guest contributor.  This month Greg explains his process as he designs the showroom for the holidays.

People often ask me where my design inspiration comes from. Typically I answer that inspiration can be found just about anywhere, you just have to keep an open mind.  Case in point my inspiration for this year’s Greentea Christmas look came from an ad for a bathtub of all things!  Here it is:

I loved the rich wall colour and the stark juxtaposition of black and white; and how the faucet and table seemed to sparkle in contrast.  Seeing this was my lightbulb moment: I knew  I had my theme of a black, white and gray Christmas with a silver overlay.  And with the growing popularity of both industrial and rustic furniture, I also knew I wanted to showcase Greentea’s take on this design style.

For Greentea’s display, I started by anchoring the look with a three glass bankers bookcases with the  rustic table placed in front.  Both bookcases and table were set with a collection of white servingware and festive touches of silver.  After taking a few customer requests to paint some of Greentea’s pieces white and loving this effect, I knew painted white benches would pull this look together.

A big Christmas tree fit in a black pot is elegant and simple dressed in white lights and a dusting of fluffy white “snow”.

For the entryway, I used a small black buffet decorated with a large bowl of silver baubles and topped with a rustic mirror.

Two new items to our furniture line include the rustic console and  bench with industrial wheels,I felt that the big red wheels added a playfull touch, much like the red firetruck you always hoped would be under the tree. The 2 shattered glass mirrors  look amazing painted white, and the white and black cow print rug pulled all the elements together. I added the small douglas fir tree in the black champagne bucket, the paperwhites in the shiny bowl and the white tray of silver baubles – the final nod to to the festive season.

A very dear friend of mine once said that a display must always have something whimsical in it. What could be more whimsical than a trail of Santa bells!

Wishing you all the most inspired, whimsical and magical holiday season!

Alternative Christmas Trees

I love decorating for Christmas and the highlight for me is going out and picking the perfect tree to bring home and decorate with the ornaments that I have collected over the years. However, the environmentalist in me feels a little guilty killing an innocent tree to fill my house with its intoxicating scent for a mere four weeks.

Image: Bibitaro

And yet, I can’t quite bring myself to go the artificial route. I have considered a small, living potted tree but I don’t have anywhere to plant it when the holidays are over.

Image: Fleurfatale

But this is an excellent choice for people who have a backyard or who have larger indoor plants (Christmas cactus anyone?). Even a container with branches could make a cool sustainable version.

Image: AtelierboisdAme on Etsy

AtelierboisdAme plays on this idea by assembling driftwood into the shape of a traditional tree. I think this would look amazing draped with rustic ornaments.

Image: Makedo on Instructables

For the crafty types, Makedo on Instructables has an easy 10-step tutorial for a cardboard Christmas tree. If you have kids, you could keep them busy for hours decorating one with markers or decoupage. You could even make small holes in the cardboard and hang ornaments.

Image: Tattered Style

But why not use items you already have around the house? A plain old ladder looks spectacular decked out with lights and sparkly decorations.

Image: Allison Stanke on Pinterest

As a graduate student, I always have a large stack of books lying around, so I am sorely tempted to procrastinate at the end of term with this DIY project!

Image: Martha Stewart

One of the reasons that people shy away from a real tree is lack of floor space. Fortunately, several creative types have shared their 2-D solutions on the Internet.  With little more than a string of lights, one can have a merry little tree.

Image: Le Vestiaire de Jeanne via All Washi Tape

A few months ago, Mandy blogged about the wonderful possibilities of washi tape here on The Design Tree, so it’s no surprise that it has been incorporated in Christmas decorations. The huge variety of colours and patterns means that you could make a tree to match any décor.

Image: Wall Dressed Up

Snowflake decals also make a festive alternative that won’t damage the walls when they come down in the New Year.

Image: A Legg Up

I’m not much of an artist but if I was I would consider covering a wall with chalkboard paint (or butcher paper since I’m pretty non-committal in the paint department) and drawing the perfect tree.

Image: Ever After Blueprint

What about you? Do you prefer a traditional tree or would you consider going alternative this Christmas?

Small Space Entertaining Tips

image via style at home

Have you been thinking about hosting a party this holiday season but are worried you just don’t have the space to accommodate a crowd? Entertaining in a small space can hold challenges, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. With some pre-planning you can throw a memorable party in even the tiniest of spaces.  Here are a few party tips that will help make sure your guests have a blast, and that you keep your sanity.

image via freshome

Pre-Party Editing

This tip goes for any size space; before a party or big gathering go through the rooms guests will be gathering in and engage in some ruthless editing. Unnecessary furniture, knick-knacks and personal items can be moved to an off-limits space like a laundry room or bedroom. Guests will feel more relaxed if they’re not bumping into things all the time and you won’t have to worry about things getting broken.

image via a house in the hills

The Ever-expanding dining Table

If you’ve ever tried to seat six people at a four person dining table you know the difficulties. A drop leaf table or one with an expansion panel can be useful, but if you just don’t have the space consider finger foods and cocktails rather than a sit down dinner.

image via Style by Emily Henderson

Party Central

If you’ll be inviting guests over often consider investing in one piece of furniture where all your entertaining supplies can be stored. Maybe a cabinet or a knockout bar cart. It will clear off table space and keep you party ready all the time.  Finding something that offers some closed storage will be helpful for keeping odds and ends under control.

image via marie claire maison


Lighting really sets the tone for any event. If you’re throwing a holiday party use the sparkly lights of the season to your advantage when creating mood lighting. The glow from a Christmas tree or a few strands of white lights can keep the mood festive and distract from the close quarters.

Block Party Conversation Seating set from Designed Goods

Improvise Seating

Don’t have enough couch and chair space to fit everyone? Pull out benches, oversized throw pillows and chairs from other rooms and arrange them in conversation zones around the room.  This conversation seating set is perfect if you find yourself entertaining often. The various pieces can also be used as extra tables or ottomans if the need arises.

la marie chairs by Philippe Starck from hive

Get Stacking

Stackable furniture is a godsend for decorating any small space but it can be especially useful for entertaining. Stackable chairs or nesting tables can be brought out when needed, and tucked away to clear more room once the guests leave.

image via Everything Fabulous

The More the Merrier

Some of the best parties I remember going to were so packed with people it was standing room only. If you keep the mood lively, the music upbeat, the food plentiful and the drinks pouring chances are everyone will have a great time no matter how small your space.

Happy Friday Everyone!