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
Anti aging cream Image by: Getty Images
Navigating the world of anti-aging products can be daunting. Find out which skin superstars our experts deem worthy of adding to your beauty arsenal.
What: The number one dermatologist-approved must-do: sunscreen! A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects skin from UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays), sun rays that can lead to skin cancer and skin damage.
Why: “Ninety percent of aging comes from photo damage (a result of sun-exposed skin), therefore sunscreen is the best way to prevent aging and sun damage. Don’t even look outside at the weather. Just put it on,” insists dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll. Dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett agrees, and emphasizes the importance of using sunscreen every single day, no matter the season. Just hopping into the car or working in an office? “The sun can penetrate through windows, too,” she advises.
How: Look for sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it in the morning before your moisturizer or choose a moisturizer with built-in sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply it to the neck, chest and back of hands. For a fuss-free option, look for a clear sunblock spray that’s alcohol-based and dry to the touch.
What: Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and its biggest job is to promote collagen production, helping to increase skin turnover while removing dead cells.
Why: It acts as a light peel. In the short term, dull-looking skin will be replaced with a healthy glow.
How: Choose a 1% retinol–based serum, which your skin will absorb better than a cream, suggests Dr. Kellett. It will tingle and can be a little irritating, so use it at night and when you’re out of the sun. Apply it after you’ve washed your face and before you apply moisturizer, or add a drop or two (depending on the season and your skin’s sensitivity) to your favourite moisturizer. This step will help more sensitive skin tolerate the retinol.
3. Vitamin C
What: It is a powerful topical antioxidant, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and prevent photo aging and photo damage. Specifically, look for L-ascorbic acid, one form of vitamin C.
Why: It helps fight sun damage. Vitamin C mops up the free radicals (molecules in the skin that cause damage) that can lead to photo aging (aging from the sun).
How: Depending on your skin type, look for products that contain up to 20% Vitamin C, suggests Dr. Kellett. Incorporate it into your morning routine and follow with sunscreen. “Sunscreen and vitamins C and E are great partners, working well together to create a super combo,” says Dr. Carroll.
What: “Found in red wine, specifically in the skin of its grapes, resveratrol is an antioxidant with a bit of a sexy history,” says Dr. Carroll. Plants produce resveratrol as a response to injury.
Why: It works to repair skin damage caused by the sun. It also helps increase skin firmness, elasticity and radiance.
How: Use it at night. It will work to repair the skin while you sleep. Apply it to a cleansed face. It can be used in combination with retinol.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
While we don't need a holiday to enjoy our favourite Chinese-inspired dishes, we can't wait to join in the celebrations with these delicious recipes.
The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28, and lasts until February 15, 2018. This holiday is also called the Lunar New Year, and is celebrated not only in China, but across Asia and around the world in countries like Canada, where Chinese Canadians number more than a million — one of the most common ethnic origins in our multicultural mix.
There are a number of traditional dishes served during the celebration that are meant to be auspicious. Noodle dishes are especially important, as long noodles are a symbol of longevity. Dishes that cook a whole animal (such as a fish) signify the beginning and ending of the year, and the head and tail are usually displayed intact on the serving dish. Dumplings can signify prosperity, and oranges, representing luck and wealth, are a great way to round out a meal.
Here are some of our favourite traditional and reinvented recipes that we'll be cooking up this year to join in the festivities. Gung Hei Fat Choi!
Traditionally served during the holidays and Chinese New Year, these crumbly melt-in-your-mouth cookies have three layers of almond flavour. Ground almonds add a hint of crunch, almond extract lends a sweet aroma and whole almonds make for a pretty garnish.
This Chinese classic gets a wholesome makeover by replacing the meat with loads of fresh vegetables. Korean hot pepper paste isn't traditionally found in ma po tofu, but it adds a nice kick. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store, or substitute with one teaspoon of sriracha.
“This is my take on a wintertime favourite that's served in my childhood home,” says Food specialist Irene Fong. “My dad loves this braised beef with noodles, but it's just as good served over rice.” We've used brisket here because it's unbelievably tender when braised.
The thick meat sauce on these noodles is a bit like an Asian-style Bolognese. The cooked noodles tend to stick together if they stand for a while, so mix the sauce into them and eat right away for the best texture. For a twist, serve the sauce over rice with a side of steamed bok choy.
This tofu is so delicious and simple, you'll look for any excuse to make it. Serve as an appetizer or as a meatless main, either with a side of rice or stuffed inside a steamed Asian bun.