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
Salt and Pepper Steak Rub
Photography by Ryan Brook Image by: Salt and Pepper Steak Rub <br /> Photography by Ryan Brook
©iStockphoto.com/oldbunyip Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/oldbunyip
We spoke to stylist Talia Brown about how to shake up your wardrobe when you feel like you’ve got nothing to wear.
It happens to everyone. You open your closet and sigh to yourself. You have nothing to wear. Even with a wardrobe full of great pieces, we all feel style fatigue sometimes. In favour of putting our best (and most stylish) foot forward, we spoke to stylist and personal shopper Talia Brown for some tips on breaking out of a style rut.
How do you know you’re in a style rut?
Most of us can tell when we’re feeling sartorially uninspired. “You look in your closet and everything starts to look the same,” says Brown, “nothing excites you.” If you don’t feel good about the duds you’re putting on, it’s time to rethink your approach to getting dressed.
You need a quick fix to your style woes
Adding a couple new pieces might just be the quick fix you need to jump-start your wardrobe. Brown recommends adding a pop of colour, especially with accessories, which can go a long way to brightening up (figuratively and literally) a stale wardrobe. “It’s nice to have a few pieces that will catch the eye of others—it will make you feel like a million bucks.”
You wear the same thing day after day, and you’re bored
If you find that you wear the same thing all the time—despite plenty of choice—then it’s time to reevaluate your closet. “If there’s something in your closet that you’re not wearing, there’s probably a reason for it—it doesn’t make you feel good,” says Brown. Evaluate what you like and are comfortable in and try to find ways to update with new colours and textures, or by adding new accessories. “Picture what your favourite little black dress would look like in pink, navy or oxblood,” says Brown.
Tip from Talia: Turn all of your hangers the opposite way (pointing out) and every time you wear something, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the right way (pointing in). Give yourself a timeline (a month, six months, a year) and if anything is still facing the wrong way, it’s time to think about letting it go.
You find that your outfits look sloppy or unpolished
“This usually happens when we’re trying to hide something about our bodies,” says Brown. Instead of focusing on the negative, think about what you love about your body. It might be as simple as adding a belt to enhance your waist, hemming a skirt to show off your gams or donning a statement necklace to draw attention to your face.
You want to find a new style
Before completely ditching your wardrobe, assess if there’s an important piece missing. Do you have the perfect black pants? Or a pair of jeans you can wear anywhere? What about a classic button down blouse? Figuring out what you’re missing and getting it can really breathe new life into your existing pieces. Having trouble? Find another set of eyes. Ask a partner or friend what they think you could add.
If you’re looking to try something new, Brown suggests heading to your local vintage store or finally splurging on that designer purchase you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to change your style, heading to a vintage shop will introduce you to silhouettes and patterns that aren’t currently in stores. “Sometimes it’s just taking that leap.”
Find a new mantra
Fashion is supposed to be fun—so make that notion your new mantra. “Play with colours and shapes and really find what it is that works for you and that makes you feel good,” says Brown. “Your body is your canvas, so express yourself.”