A Plus Creative
We asked some of Canada's top celebrity designers to spill the beans on their best-kept design secrets—and did they ever! Read on for expert advice on everything from space planning and choosing paint colours to styling shelves and how to create a foolproof gallery wall.
How much space do you need around your dining room table? Can you really make a room feel larger? Our experts weigh in.
Tip 1: Sofas should be two-thirds the length of the longest wall, and seating is placed close enough around so no person is more than eight feet from another to allow for easy conversation. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 2: One easy rule to figure out what size dining table you need: allow for a minimum of 30 inches walking clearance on all sides. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Space planning is critical. For a kitchen island, for example, leave three feet of space between the island and surrounding counters. Ensure that appliances (like the fridge or dishwasher) can open without blocking traffic flow or hitting neighbouring walls or cabinets. Not leaving enough room is a mistake people make all the time, before they call a designer in a panic to help fix it! — Lisa Canning
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 4: Use mirrors strategically to expand space and increase the amount of natural light reflected in the room. Framing a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors adds a dramatic effect to the feeling and scale of the room. — Brian Gluckstein
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 5: Allow for 18 inches between the sofa and the coffee table so people have enough room to pass by and to make it easy to reach for drinks or food. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 6: Want to make sure furniture fits before it arrives at your door? There are a host of free sites (like planyourroom.com) that allow you to put furniture onto a scaled floor plan. Another option? Many furniture and decor stores offer free design services, and they'll do the calculating for you. — Janette Ewen
Follow these five rules and your lights will shine in all the right ways.
Tip 1: As a general rule, place pot lights 24 inches out from walls and 24 inches apart to create a grid. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Tip 2: Install dimmer switches; they're a practical way to control light and energy consumption. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 3: The bottom of the shade of your bedside reading lamp should be at shoulder height when sitting in bed. Do the math! — Karl Lohnes
Tip 4: Choose a pendant or chandelier that's one-third the size of the table or kitchen island. Hang it approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table or island; if there are more than one, place them 12 to 18 inches apart. — Mia Parres
Did you know that paint selection should be one of the last decisions you make when decorating a room?
Tip 1: I'm a firm believer in mood boards. They're not just for designers! Gather together fabrics, paint samples and inspiration images for a room before starting. It will create a picture and a trajectory that you may not have thought of. — Steven Sabados
Tip 2: When you design a room, pull your palette from one inspiration fabric. Whether you use a whimsical print or a more traditional pattern, take all the colours present in that material and allow those to guide fabric selection for pillows, throws, drapery and upholstery in the room. Take that same fabric to the paint store and have a custom colour mixed that matches one of the hues exactly. — Lisa Canning
Tip 3: Be bold when it comes to front-door colours. One of my preferred colour schemes for home exteriors is Benjamin Moore's Chelsea Gray HC-168 as the body of the house, with Benjamin Moore's Simply White OC-117 as the trim, and a pop of colour with Benjamin Moore's Dill Pickle 2147-40 on the door. — Amanda Forrest
Photography by Amanda Forrest
Tip 4: Fine finish
Choose a fresh trim colour in a semigloss, such as Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65. It creates a subtle separation from a matte wall, and it's a much more durable finish, which comes in handy since trims are usually the most touched, bumped and scuffed parts of our homes. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Colour pop
If you buy that cool orange statement chair, give it a buddy. When you're adding a colourful piece to a space, always have at least one other subtle hit of that colour elsewhere in the room to create a cohesive feel. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 6: Want to make a room feel taller? Paint baseboards and crown moulding the same colour as the walls. Want it to feel huge? mix one-third of the wall colour into the ceiling paint. — Karl Lohnes
You've bought the sofa and painted the walls. Now what? Our experts show you how to style a room like a pro.
Tip 1: Shop at stores that have liberal return policies and buy three times as much as you think you need. This gives you plenty of merchandise to play with to see what works and what does not. Mix in unique family heirlooms and vintage finds with the new pieces you purchase to create a naturally curated look. — Janette Ewen
Photography by Magdalena M
Tip 2: For a no-fail pillow combination, you need only three: one 20- by 20-inch, one 16- by 16-inch and one 12- by 16-inch. Those sizes look good together no matter how you arrange them! — Jo Alcorn
Tip 3: Beauty is in the details
When styling a console, include framed art on easels or leaning against the wall; it's a great way to display smaller pieces. Create a dynamic vignette by mixing in boxes, vases and vintage pieces in differing heights and dimensions. — Brian Gluckenstein
Tip 4: Mix and match
Use these common elements when styling shelves: stacks of books, gorgeous flowers and at least one accessory that has a lot of shimmer and shine. Varying heights and textures is also really important for visual interest. — Lisa Canning
Take the mystery out of hanging art.
Tip 1: Make your own art! Buy a canvas in a size you're looking for, then grab some paint in the colours you're decorating with, and see what happens. Great masterpieces are born of happy accidents or beautiful mistakes.
— Tiffany Pratt
Tip 2: When hanging art on an empty wall, the middle of the art should to be hung 66 to 72 inches off the floor.
— Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Art relates to furniture, not the ceiling: Keep art about six to eight inches above the sofa, or any piece of furniture, when hanging it. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by A Plus Creative
Jodi Pudge Image by: Jodi Pudge
The Sundew Hat is one of our all-time favourite easy knitting patterns for winter—a super easy pom-pom beanie that is sure to be worn again and again.
Quick to knit and extra-cozy, the Sundew Hat is the perfect cold-weather accessory. Whether you are looking to knit a thoughtful last-minute gift or your own quintessential hat, the Sundew Hat is a crowd-pleasing favourite with its classic design and soft texture. It looks great when worn slouchy, and just as cool with the brim rolled. We designed the hat in our luxurious Alpaca Wool yarn, which perfectly balances the softness of alpaca with the structure of wool. The yarn is a pleasure to knit with and the pattern is easy to follow – you will be so pleased with your results, you’ll want to make a Sundew Hat in every colour.
The Sundew Hat is a good beginner project as the thick stitches are easy to see and you will be able to wear your finished hat in no time. Because the stitches are chunky, it is easiest to follow the instructions and begin knitting the project with round needles and then switch to double pointed needles when required to complete the crown shaping. The hat is finished with an oversized pom pom. This special touch is easy to make – you can purchase a pom pom maker or create a pom pom the old-fashioned way using cardboard cutouts. Before attempting to make a pom pom, we find it helpful to watch online tutorials, which ensure that you achieve the right look on the first try. You also have the option of buying a pre-made pompom, or leaving the hat without any embellishments at all. Either way, you’ll have a beautiful hat that you’re sure to love!
- 2 Skeins of Americo Alpaca Wool (30% Superfine Alpaca / 70% Wool) 100g / 87 yards (80 m)
- 6.5 mm (US10.5) 16-inch (40 cm) circular needles and set of 6.5mm (US10.5) DPNs
- 1 stitch marker
- Yarn needle
Note about the yarn: Alpaca Wool is available through Americo Original online and in select yarn stores. You can substitute for other bulky/heavy worsted weight yarns like Americo’s Highland Simple Twist, Copito Medio, or any bulky/heavy worsted weight in your stash.
Finished size is 20-inch (50.8 cm) circumference by 11.5 inches (29 cm) long. Yarn has considerable stretch; one size will fit most head circumferences
13 stitches = 4 inches (10 cm) in stocking stitch using 6.5 mm (US 10.5) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge.
K, k: knit
P, p: purl
DPN(s): double pointed needle(s) - a needle with points at both ends; used in sets of 5
M or PM; //M//: stitch marker or place marker; denotes stitch marker dividing sections
Ribbed/rib/ribbing: a pattern stitch – has vertical columns of knit and purl stitches, side by side, with elastic properties. Examples: (K1, P1) aka 1 x 1 ribbing, (K2, P2) aka 2 x 2 ribbing etc.
St-st/stockinette /stocking stitch: a pattern stitch – in circular knitting – knit every round
k2t (slant to R): Knit 2 together (a decrease) - insert the needle into the front of the 2 knit stitches from left to right. Draw the yarn through to the front both stitches from the needle
Using 6.5 mm (US 10.5) 16” (40cm) size needles, and Alpaca Wool yarn, cast on 64 stitches, //PM//, and being careful not to twist your stitches, join in the round.
Round 1: (K1, p1), repeat to the end of the round.
Repeat this round for 4.5 inches (11.5 cm)
Change to stocking stitch (knit every round) until stocking stitch measures 4.5 inches (11.5 cm), and you have a total of 9 inches (22.8 cm) from the beginning of your work.
Note: When the stitches no longer fit comfortably around the circular needle, change to double pointed needles.
Round 1: (k6, k2t), to end of round. (56 stitches)
Round 2 and all even rounds: knit to end of round.
Round 3: (k5, k2t), to end of round. (48 stitches)
Round 5: (k4, k2t), to end of round. (40 stitches)
Round 7: (k3, k2t), to end of round. (32 stitches)
Round 9: (k2, k2t), to end of round. (24 stitches)
Round 11: (k1, k2t) to end of round (16 stitches)
Break yarn leaving an 8-inch tail. With yarn needle, thread through remaining stitches, tighten to close the top of the hat and secure inside the hat.
A pom pom maker can be easily made using cardboard and scissors. Instructions are readily available online. A commercial pom-pom maker can be purchased.
Weave in all loose ends.
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop with its own line of quality yarns, knitwear patterns and accessories. Americo’s yarns are made exclusively in the Andean highlands of South America, using only natural fibres, including luxurious wool, llama, alpaca, cotton, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo and its in-house design lab are based in Toronto, offering international shipping from its online store: americo.ca/shop.
Celebrating holiday beauty at every age. Image by: Alvaro Goveia
"I am the type of person who stops to smell the roses every day."
After having heart surgery at age 25, Barbara's life expectancy was 30. She's now 51 years old and enjoying life to the fullest. She is passionate about writing, so she started a blog and learned how to use social media to add more creativity to her life.
Watch the video to learn more about Barbara's inspiring story, her skincare routine and what being beautiful over 50 means to her.
Try the products below to get Barbara's gorgeous winter beauty look:
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.