If you’ve watched TV, scrolled through Instagram or opened a design magazine recently then you’ve more than likely come across designer and globetrotting glamour girl Janette Ewen. Janette is Canada’s leading décor and style expert and for more than a decade she’s been sharing her passion for design and fashion to avid fans through magazines, newspapers, TV and social media.
Her incredible resume includes magazine editor for Chatelaine, Canadian House and Home and Chocolat, co-host of the internationally syndicated TV series Inside the Box with Ty Pennington and currently, appearing regularly on 14 national TV programs including Cityline, CTV Morning and Breakfast Television. And as if all this isn’t enough, Janette recently collaborated with Mobilia to create the Roaring Twenties Collection. This furniture and houseware line perfectly captures Janette’s style, which she describes as “eclectic, retro glamour”.
This podcast episode is filled with amazing decor tips, travel inspiration and the real truth behind those home makeover shows! Janette is sweet, warm, funny and a true beauty. I know you’ll love listening to her as much as I enjoyed talking with her.
It happens every December 27. This is the day that I finally sit back after a month of preparing, decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking and entertaining and realize just how messy, cluttered and disheveled my house is. It is usually the day that something mysterious overtakes me and I become obsessed with ridding the house of all signs of the Christmas season in an effort to achieve ULTIMATE HOUSE PERFECTION (please read this in your best Masters of the Universe narrator voice).
But this year was different. All year I’ve been making small changes in an attempt to refocus our home on our family and how we live. This year on December 27th I didn’t find myself in a cleaning whirlwind. Instead, I found myself in pajamas, eating leftover cheesecake (chocolate caramel, of course), watching Netflix and playing games with my family.
This year’s Christmas decorations were far less and only included our favourites. The kids got their very own tree in the family room that was loaded with ALL the ornaments and lots of colourful lights – they thought it was the best. We also had a small tree tree in the living room with some of our vintage bulbs and white lights- I thought it was the best.
I baked but only made three batches of treats. Neighbours, teachers and friends all received the same gift – boxed paper whites.
The decorations did eventually get taken down. But not until January 6th. This is the longest I’ve ever left them up. To be honest, it wasn’t the worst thing ever. Since I really loved how we decorated I didn’t get tired of it all like in the past. Having less was so freeing. Another key component of our relaxed season was learning to let things go. Christmas wasn’t perfect. There was sickness, sibling rivalry and more than one batch of burnt cookies. But I’ll take real and imperfect over staged any day!
Which is why I’m excited that home decor trends are finally feeling more authentic and less carefully curated. When I look at a design magazine or website I want to see rooms that are filled with the personality of the people who live in them, not some carefully staged reproduction of family life. I want the fridge with fingerprints, the gallery wall with the quirky memorabilia and the kids rooms that actually look like real kids sleep there. So here’s to a 2018 full of the imperfect, the unstaged and homes that share the stories of the people who live there.
Last week I visited Feeder Flower Farms, which is right here in the Niagara Peninsula. This lovely, environmentally responsible farm is known for creating the most beautiful, fresh, bouquets and in the spring, its peonies. Heather and her husband Jay grow all year round on their 16 acre property in Wainfleet. When I met Heather a few weeks ago at a craft show and saw her beautiful wreaths and swags I knew I had to visit her workshop.
Her workshop is brimming with everything needed to make the perfect Christmas wreath. Three gorgeous varieties of Dogwood and curly willow also grow on the property.
I wanted the most authentic wreath making experience so first we went out into the fields to gather the greens we needed.
I’ve made a few wreaths in the past but it’s been with store bought boughs so learning which greens to use and how to cut them was really interesting.
Back at the workshop we cut the branches into smaller, similar sized pieces and created small, bouquet-like bunches.
Each bundle was tied together with floral wire. For an 18 inch wire wreath we used 18-20 bunches.
Then each bundle was attached to the front of the wreath form with more wire.And to the back.Working around the form, we added each bunch slightly below the first making sure the best branches were at the front of the wreath and the stems were completely hidden. This process was much faster than I thought it would be.
I love the way the juniper berries peak through and add subtle colour to the wreath.
Make sure to zhush the branches as you go. It should look imperfect and natural.The finished wreath turned out amazing! Heather is the best teacher – patient and kind.
A huge thank you to Heather for showing off her awesome wreath making skills! I can’t wait to visit the farm again in the spring when the peonies are in bloom. To find out about upcoming workshops, click here. Feeder Flower Farm can be also be found at the Port Colborne Farmers Market Fridays, 7 am to 1 pm from March to October.
It’s no secret that I’ve got a major thing for navy. So I’m not sure why I haven’t incorporated the world’s best colour in our Christmas decor sooner! This year I felt like I needed Christmas to be less red and green and tinsel and more blue and green and natural.
Recently I came into a bunch of Blue Willow dinnerware which was the inspiration for our holiday table. I added some greens (which I foraged from the wilds of Hobby Lobby’s artificial floral section), candles, bottle brush trees and called it Christmas.
Whether it’s blue and white or red and green, I hope your Christmas table will be holding your favourite foods and your favourite people this season.
If there’s one thing that frequent entertaining has taught me, it’s how to whip up a good party appetizer. In my books a good app has to be tasty, easy to make, and easy to eat (if you need a fork, it’s out!). So I’m thrilled to join this holiday appetizer recipe hop. Many of my favourite bloggers are taking part in this so I know the recipes are going to be fantastic!
Olive & Cream Cheese Dip
Olives and cheese account for two of my four major food groups (coffee and chocolate make up the rest) and this recipes brings them together in a perfectly dippable, spreadable appetizer that makes it easy to eat more of my favourite foods.
1 package softened cream cheese
1 tbsp of olive oil or olive brine
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped olives – my favourites are Picholine, Kalamata and Niçoise but use whichever you like best
Balsamic oil for drizzling
Let the cream cheese come to room temperature (or if you just can’t wait, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until soft)
Stir in the garlic and olive oil or brine.
Spread mixture in a shallow bowl or plate.
Top with chopped olives.
Drizzle balsamic over top and serve with crackers or bread.
Even non-olive eaters have been converted with this easy hors d’oeuvre.
Wishing you a holiday season of easy entertaining and delicious snacking!
For more delicious holiday entertaining recipes be sure to click on the links below – these ladies know how to make easy appetizers look impressive!
You know what I love more than entertaining at the holidays? Going to someone else’s house for the holidays! Of course I’m a super helpful guest – I clear the table, wash dishes, serve the dessert, eat the dessert, you get the picture. I also try never to show up empty handed. Every great hostess, and even the not so great ones, deserve a small token of your gratitude for serving, feeding, entertaining and cleaning up after you. I consulted a few of my vintage etiquette books and found that both Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt agree that giving a hostess gift is an absolute necessity; although their suggestion of poultry shears, pencil sharpeners or ashtrays should be ignored.
Here instead are some unique, Canadian made and better-than-an-ashtray gift ideas for your favourite host.
Instead of wine (but not entirely instead of, because, it’s wine)
Not everyone enjoys receiving wine as a gift, (at least this is what I’ve been told) but if you must give a cylindrical shaped glass vessel filled with liquid then I suggest a good quality olive oil. Butter flavour is one of my favourites. Paired with with a box of unpopped popcorn, this is a perfect gift for a host to use after everyone has left and she can finally relax and binge watch Stranger Things.
Instead of candles (pretty sure no one needs another scented candle)
If you don’t know your host well, organic herbal tea from this adorable Toronto company is a good choice. Tea says “here’s a thoughtful gift I think you’ll like” and definitely not “we picked this up from the gas station on the way here”.
Instead of flowers (you’re already expecting to be given a drink, don’t bring a gift that requires one too)
I know we’re well into fall so this is kind of like cheating. I totally could have just googled this stuff so you’ll have to trust that I actually collected these trends myself by reading heaps of shelter magazines, scouring my favourite decorating websites and endlessly scrolling through Instagram. But I did it for all of you, and my sincere dedication to report on the latest trends in home fashion and definitely not because I’m a teeny bit obsessed and would have done all this whether I had a blog post to write or not!
My favourite trend of this season- the return of colour! Have you heard that it’s okay to paint your walls with colour again? It’s true. Benjamin Moore’s 2018 Color of the Year is Caliente. (It’s impossible to even say the name of the colour without sounding excited!) It’s a terrifically warm red that plays nice with blues, yellows and even greens.
More great saturated hues for your home:
Dark browns are also making a comeback. The lesson here is don’t be shy with your paint choices.
Wabi-Sabi is the new Hygge.
Wabi-sabi is the Japanese idea of embracing natural and imperfect beauty. Organically shaped pottery, timeworn housewares and anything that has more sentimental than monetary value could be called wabi-sabi. What I love about this philosophy is that it celebrates the things that tell a story, your story. Each chipped cup, worn quilt or even deep wrinkle comes with a story of how it found its way to you.
Whether it’s a plush velvet sofa, a rough wicker chair or even the natural unevenness of rustic handmade tiles, this season it’s all about the feels.
Not only is this armchair from IKEA made of on-trend wicker, it’s matte black, which is also having a moment.
I know there’s so much to love in this kitchen but try to stay focused on the gorgeous terracotta tiles.
Embracing the “previously loved”
It’s okay to admit that you picked up that incredible desk from the side of the road. Got that antique vase at a garage sale? Awesome! It seems like every house featured in decor magazines today are showing off at least one fabulous thrifted find front and centre. I’m crying tears of joy over this! My love for thrifted, used and found stuff runs deep. Besides saving money and the environment, many reproductions of vintage and classic items just don’t have the same feel as the originals.
If you aren’t sure this trend is for you, start small. Try a well curated consignment shop before diving head first into the pay-by-the-pound bins at your local Goodwill Outlet. Kijiji and Craigslist are both great online sites where you can pick up deals on furniture and home goods.
While florals never really fade from home fashion, their colours and size change from season to season. This year pretty flowers in big colours will be everywhere.
While all these trends may be beautiful, they shouldn’t dictate what we buy or display but rather inspire us, and point to new possibilities beyond what we already know.
In 1987, my parents kitchen was quite fashionable. It looked like so many of my friend’s kitchens when I was growing up. With its warm honey oak cabinets and brass accents it was the first stop on the house tour of our newly built home. 30 years later it’s still the heart of the house and you’ll still find everyone’s favourite shortbread cookies in the cookie jar. But it’s time for a change and a bit more than the small updates that have taken place over the years; wallpaper and paint colours have come and gone, and in the last 10 years new flooring and countertops. My parents are content with the cabinets and don’t feel the need to paint them. The renovator in me would love to rip it all out so I really have to restrain myself on this one! The cabinets stay along with the floors and countertop. Really, where’s the fun in that?
Here’s what the kitchen looks like now:
And here’s what I’m planning:
Paint the walls and ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s China White or Edgecomb Gray. This room doesn’t get a lot of natural light so many of the past paint choices have ended up looking pink rather than greige. Since the lighting in this space is tricky I’ve picked two colours and we’ll see what looks best on the walls. Always, always, always sample your paint colours and look at them in the space in different light at different times of day. I’ve avoided so many bad paint choices this way.
Creamy off-white subway tile. There’s already lots happening in the countertops and the cabinets so I want to keep the backsplash quiet. No one wants their backsplash to scream at them as they walk in the kitchen, especially first thing in the morning before coffee!
While brass and gold accents are back in a big way right now, they only make the cabinets look more yellow here. Every room needs at least a small dose of black and I’m excited about these pulls from IKEA.
The only demo I get to do is to take down the fluorescent strip light over the sink and put up this handsome guy from Wayfair.
Right now the overhead light is a classic 80’s ceiling fan with gold accents and inlaid caning. The glass shades are frosted and scalloped. So this is high on the list to replace. I’m thinking a semi flush mount light, maybe something like this one.
And lastly, a good runner to keep mom’s feet cozy when whipping up my favourite chocolate chip cookies (I’m such a brat!)
This one is from IKEA and is only $50. I’m not a fan of paying big bucks on rugs that take a lot of wear and tear and may only be around for a few years. Kitchen runners can get especially gross, and with 5 grandkids running around this one is sure to see it’s share of sticky, gooey messes.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I’m hoping to tick this project off the list before Christmas.
On the podcast this week I’m talking with Andrea Haraldsen. Andrea is the creative force behind the popular blog, Harlow & Thistle where this designer and do-it-yourselfer shares her home décor and DIY projects. Her relaxed modern style has a hint of uptown glam that makes her home stand apart. She is also amazingly talented at re-creating high end designs for less. Click the player in the sidebar to hear the interview.
As a three time participant in the One Room Challenge, Andrea knows a thing or two about renovating under pressure. Her living room and laundry room where transformed during this design challenge and she’s currently working on her office.
Here’s a peek at some of Andrea’s favourite DIY projects:
We also chat favourite paint colours. Here’s what tops Andrea’s list:
All this, and great ideas on how to decorate for the holidays. Plus Andrea’s best family-friendly decor tips. Lots of inspiration packed into this episode!
This is a bittersweet story of how we lost our sweet old pup and gained a living room rug. It’s definitely not an equal trade off or one that we planned on, but real life is full of unplanned and unpleasant moments.
In his 13 years with us, our dog Obie, who loved to eat and chew, ruined three area rugs. While ruining carpet was his specialty, he also had a knack for chewing shoes, gobbling up baby socks and making nests from clothes pulled from the laundry pile. He once ate an entire cookbook. He left the coil spine on the kitchen floor as proof he did it. Ironically, there was nothing he loved more than laying on carpet, but since he had eaten most of ours this was something he didn’t get to do very often. He would find even the smallest scatter rug or bath mat and curl himself up on it. Then he’d try to eat it. Which is why we’ve found ourselves without a living room rug for the past 2 years. A few weeks after Obie died, my husband said to me “I guess we can look for a living room rug now.” We both got teary-eyed at the memory of him and how he would have loved a new carpet!
I had recently worked on a project where we ordered rugs from Rugs USA. This was my first time buying carpet online and it was a great experience. The pictures of the rugs are very clear and true to life so what you see online is what you get. We looked here first and found exactly what we wanted. We live close to the border so I was able to take advantage of a great sale with free shipping and had it delivered to our U.S. mailbox. I know there are Canadian sites that sell rugs but I haven’t found the selection and price comparable – even with the exchange.
I love our new rug and I know if Obie were here he would too. He would also be trying to eat it! Often, as I walk through the room, I think of him and how much he would have enjoyed it and this brings a smile to my face.