Tag Archives: interior design

Boxed Up

Antique boxes from Tibet featuring hand painted tigers

Hand painted antique storage chests from Greentea Design

My partner is King of Clutter.  It can be so disheartening because while I don’t like a mess, the stuff can be hard to battle as it piles up and up and up.  But I am happy to say that I think I have finally won the heart and mind of the king vis-a-vis this crap,  and together we waged war against it, tackling the clutter pile by pile.  Several trips to Goodwill later, many hours at the shredder, this place is looking fresh!

Here’s how we did it:

The Closets

organized closet via Simplified BeeSuper organized closet via Simplified Bee

boxes in a closetImage via BHG

Clothes ClosetImage via I Heart Organizing

We started by cleaning out the closets which seems counter-intuitive.  But it’s a step I can’t recommend highly enough if you’re like us and stuff your closets with the stuff you rarely use.  We set a stale-date for the closet discoveries:  if it hasn’t been used (and in many cases even thought about) in a year, can we really make a case for keeping it?  So this is how we started the giveaway pile: toys, books, CDs, furniture, clothes, kitchen gadgets.

The next step was to get on with organizing the closets, which included putting up extra shelving so to best maximize space.

While this closet purging created waaaaay more chaos in the already chaotic apartment, it was necessary.  Not only do we have more storage space in the closets, it got us in the right Get-Rid-Of-It frame of mind, which is how you want the stage set. No namby-pamby sentimentality about that TTC transfer from that “special day”.

The Do-We-Need-It? Box

The next step, which we return to in a couple of weeks, was to go through the kitchen drawers, the “miscellaneous” drawers, the counter and renegade surface piles.  We filed what needed to filed, returned home the articles that had a designated space.  The rest we boxed and will return to in 4-6 weeks.  If in that time we don’t go in the box for it, then it gets tossed. Whatever we do use gets a permanent home.

Organizing The Rest With Pretty Boxes

It turns out that boxes are my best friend! (Or at least in the inanimate category.) Lidded ones and decorative ones especially.  They are beautiful and functional and hide the crazy so perfectly.  Greentea Design has the most amazing collection of antique storage boxes from all over Asia.  I’ve got one that sits prettily in a display nook, hiding of all things, tools, lightbulbs, tape and batteries (hey it’s out of reach of tiny curious hands, but still easy to access).

Here are some others in the showroom right now:

Tibetan fur chest

Tibetan chest adorned with fur

Antique Tibetan Box

Handpainted antique storage box

Tibetan Skin ChestChest from Tibet adorned with leather

We stocked up on boxes of various sizes from IKEA, office supply places, etc.  There seems to be no better time to find this stuff then during this Back-to-School season. Many of the things that were sitting out now have permanent homes in these boxes that are stored neatly on top of our bookcases, in closets, and the loveliest of them in plain sight.

It’s been a lot of work, but well worth it.  Home should be relaxing, the place to recharge, and your environment needs to reflect this.  And finally ours does.

How do you control clutter?

Home Sweet Office

Where would you rather work — in a stuffy, impersonal cubicle at the office or in the comfort of your own house, where you are free to decorate according to your personal taste?

Photo: Greentea Design

The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? As more and more people decide to work from home, companies are scrambling to offer environments that rival the home office in both style and amenities.

Google Pittsburgh office

Google Pittsburgh; Photo: TaskHome

Google has led the charge in the attempt to keep employees happy and productive at its offices around the world. In addition to providing free meals, access to gyms and laundry facilities, and several other onsite perks, the company has strived to create a number of whimsical office spaces in which people can work on individual or team projects.  I can only wish that my house could look as good as this loft-like meeting room at Google Pittsburgh!

Google Stockholm

Google Stockholm; Photo: Chill Out Point

When employees at Google Stockholm need to take a break, they can play games in an area that mimics a European rooftop without having to brave the elements.

Google Zurich; Photo: Ghoofie Design

For those who need a more peaceful setting to get creative, Google Zurich provides a lush indoor garden to get away from it all.

Google Zurich office

Google Zurich; Photo: The Cool Hunter

They even have a space for employees who do their best work in the tub, no water required!

Pixar Workplace

Pixar Offices; Photo: Idea Overload

Pixar has also realized that keeping its creative team happy is the key to productivity and allows its lead animators to design their own individual house-like offices, which line the corridors of the building.

Pixar Office

Pixar Office: Photo: The Dream of Pixar

Who wouldn’t want to go to work every day when one’s office is a tiki hut


Airbnb San Francisco; Photo: Airbnb via Business Insider

Everyone I know has been raving about Airbnb, a company that helps people find hip short-term accommodations around the globe. And they really practice what they preach- the meeting rooms at its San Francisco office are modelled after actual spaces listed on its site. For example, the picture above is one of the conference rooms.


Photo: Airbnb via Business Insider

And this is the New York apartment that inspired it. If I had something like this at my office, I might never leave!

Eventbrite San Francisco

Eventbrite San Francisco; Photo: California Home + Design

I would never have guessed that Eventbrite’s San Francisco headquarters are in a sprawling 27,000-square foot warehouse based on the design of its cosy and inviting workspace. Who would mind putting in a little overtime here?

What do you think of the trend towards homey office environments? Would it be enough for you to endure the commute to work or would you prefer to be a true homebody?

Posted in Design | Tagged

Wooden Wonders

Logsimage via decor8

Nothing beats the warmth of wood, and as a natural building material it can offer incredible variety and versatility.  Furniture made of wood is of course as commonplace as it gets, but wood can also be used to make textiles, jewellery and just about anything else you can think of.

With many consumers trying to be as green as possible wood can often be a contentious issue, but there are many ways to use our trees responsibly; sourcing reclaimed or ethically harvested wood, or by choosing renewable resources like bamboo.  While not all of the products and objects featured below are green choices they all showcase the extraordinary beauty of wood.

Nordic Tales Wood LightWood Light from Nordic Tales

These wooden light fixtures are spartan in their simplicity, but the pop of colour on the cord gives them a little modern edge. They come in a variety of finishes and would look great alone or grouped together. I imagine they would look fabulous with or without a shade.

Wooden Alphabet NecklaceWooden Alphabet Necklace by Little Red Lantern

This alphabet necklace by etsy seller Little Red Lantern is a perfect gift idea for the typography enthusiast or a lover of literature. It is made out of laser-cut MDF and timber veneer sourced from tree species not on the world list of threatened trees.

Wooden Textiles by Elisa StrozykWooden Textiles by Elisa Strozyk via Freshome

How luxurious is this wooden textile created by Elisa Strocyk? The triangular wooden tiles mimic the drape and flexibility of fabric. I imagine these blankets must be as interesting tactilely as they are visually.

Wooden SunglassesWooden Sunglasses by Illesteva from Mr. Porter

A pair of wooden sunglasses are definitely a statement accessory. I’m pretty sure only the most stylish of fellas could pull of these handsome shades. The variation of the wood grain and patina makes these almost look like tortoise shell rims, don’t you think?

Loyal Loot Log BowlsLog Bowls by Loyal Loot

Colourful high-gloss paint brightens up bowls carved out of log segments designed by Doha Chehib, from Alberta’s Loyal Loot Collective. You can also enjoy these bowls guilt free because they are made from locally reclaimed trees.  Each one is unique, and they range in sizes from 2-10 inches in diameter.

Driftwood Wall GardenLog Bowls by Loyal Loot

Colourful high-gloss paint brightens up bowls carved out of log segments designed by Doha Chehib, from Alberta’s Loyal Loot Collective. You can also enjoy these bowls guilt free because they are made from locally reclaimed trees.  Each one is unique, and they range in sizes from 2-10 inches in diameter.

Posted in Design | Tagged ,

Small Spaces, Beautiful Spaces

dining areaimage via Design Sponge

Are you downsizing from a house to a condo, or perhaps looking to maximize space in your existing home? Small doesn’t have to mean cramped; with editing, the right furniture and a carefully planned layout you can create an organized and beautiful space with minimal square footage. Below you’ll find some ideas for making a small space into a beautiful and functional home.

ingenious live-work spaceimage via dwell

Living in a small space sometimes requires some seriously creative thinking. This Tokyo live/work space has ingeniously created two table surfaces out of one long dining table. The dividing wall between the office and meeting room is moveable so the two rooms can easily be converted into one. Brilliant.

loft living featuring greentea piecesimage via Greentea Design

Dual, and possibly even triple purpose furniture is your best option when decorating for a small space. It will provide clutter control, as well as keep things looking neat and tidy. In the suite above the step chest, coffee table and entertainment centre are beautiful looking pieces, and each offers a ton of storage.

small space kitchenKitchen by Peter Falico via Style at Home

Older homes, condos or apartments often have tiny kitchens. The galley style kitchen pictured above is small but stylish. Glass front doors keep the room from feeling closed off and the monochromatic colour palette keeps the room looking streamlined and chic, not cramped.

dramatic wallpapaer in a small powder roomimage via hgtv

Although the tendency is often to paint a small space in light colours there’s no need to shy away from making a bold statement on your walls, or anywhere else for that matter. This tiny bathroom makes a big impact thanks to the dramatic wallpaper choice.

kids' room image via house to home

Living with kids in a small space presents its own challenges, but it is possible as many parents living in big cities will tell you. The girls’ bedroom above is a stunning example of how built-ins can work wonders. Two beds, a desk and storage all on one wall leaving floor space in the centre of the room for playing.

mobile apartment extensionimage via inhabitat

When it comes down to it, do you just need a little extra space? It could be as easy as adding another room. This mobile apartment extension, called the Rucksack House, was designed by Stefan Eberstand for apartment dwellers who wanted to add to their living space.

inside the mobile apartment addition

Inside, the Rucksack house is minimalist and bright with multiple windows. With this addition you can add 97 square feet to your home. Cool right? Now for the unconquerable feat of trying to sell your condo board on the idea.

Do you struggle with coming up with design solutions for a small space, or do you have any tips or tricks you’ve found for maximizing space?  Leave a comment below and let’s get the ideas flowing.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Design | Tagged

Open Concept Design Tips

Open Concept SoHo Loft with Elevated sitting roomsecond view of SoHo open concept loftImages via Twisted Sifter

Whether it’s modern condo spaces, new build homes, or renovations to character houses, open concept seems to be the layout du jour.   As someone with an open concept apartment I can attest to the improvement to the flow of our home and yes, I’d go as far as to say life generally.  Being able to cook, do laundry or eke out some work time while also ensuring the kid is safe is a massive time saver.  And when we entertain we are always falling behind schedule, so to be able to visit with our guests while they enjoy a drink and we finish up (or invite them in on the cooking action) makes us look like casual fun people rather than time-sucking jerks who can’t get our act together. I know all the latest research is saying multitasking will be the downfall of us all, but honestly can I get a Hip-Hip Hooray for the open concept plan.

Open concept living, dining and kitchen areaImage via House and Home

The question that comes up is how to decorate this space; how to use the most of the sometimes meager square-footage we’ve got.  So here is a list of tips and tricks from the design experts:

Colour Scheme

accent wallImage from Deviant Art via Pinterest

Colourful accent wall in open concept spaceImage via Interior Home

For open concept spaces one big room means one big look.  Obviously the same wall colour in your open concept kitchen and living/dining area will go a long way to creating a cohesive space.  But don’t feel tied to this as a hard and fast rule.  Choosing various tones of the same neutral colour can help to divide a space while keeping the cohesion.  Accent walls can also be dazzling in open concept spaces to punch up interest and define one space from another.  If you’ve got trim – baseboards, mouldings-  throughout the space, do keep this the same colour. And while we’re at it, it may seem like one of those no-brainers, but before you settle on your paint colour follow the wall to its end.  In some open concept homes a wall can extend through an entire floor or across multiple floors.  Be sure your colour will work in what might be a very different part of the home, with different lighting and mood.

Furniture Layout

Bookcase room dividerImage via Homestilo

Both layout and the furniture you choose for an open concept space are key.  Layout will help set one space apart from another and defines your space’s flow. What you choose may need to do double duty so look for pieces that are finished on both sides. Open book shelves and step chests are wonderful room dividers that also provide much needed storage.

Big Burl Step Chest divides a spaceImage via Greentea Design

You’ll want to make sure your furniture is sized appropriate to your space.  For smaller footprint condos, smaller sized furniture won’t take over your space.  In grand lofts with soaring ceilings, don’t be afraid to go big like the step chest pictured above.


area rug in open concept living-dining areaimage via Morgan Design Inc

Generally the flooring will be the same throughout an open concept space. It’s area rugs that will become important.  Rugs can help divide up a space by holding a grouping of furniture together.  If you’ve also chosen one wall colour throughout your space, a pretty area rug will add loads of visual interest.  Just don’t go wild with rugs, especially in smaller spaces, where you’ll end up cluttering up and shrinking your room if you’re placing them in the entry way, living area and dining room.  Choose one area and lay a special standout rug.


Mizuya Pantry - the Konoha

Mizuya Pantry in the living roomImages via Greentea Design

The last thing to keep in mind is that what’s glorious about an open concept space can also be a bane.  Mess and clutter feels magnified, inescapable.  Having some closed door storage is a good option for those who can’t live a minimalist life.  Choosing a good transitionary piece of furniture will bridge spaces well.  These Mizuya Pantries can function as a hutch and pantry in the intermediary space between the kitchen and dining area.   They also work just as beautifully in other areas of the house too.

Happy decorating everyone!