put a tuque on it.

Or rather, put it in a tuque. Here's a little idea: Buy yourself a pot of heather (or other seasonally appropriate plant). Remove the heinous paper wrap it came in. Place a saucer inside an upsidedown tuque. Place the plastic pot inside the tuque and arrange the tuque to conceal the soil. Done.

Dear American friends, Please accept this word as our gift to you. Love, Canada. Please feel free to stop referring to these items a beanies or knit caps or stocking caps. Tuque. It's a very good word.

And speaking of tuques, you've seen all the Pinterest posts on how to knit or crochet a cover for a stool? Pffft, forget that action. Pop a tuque on it. These three stools are covered with hats. Seriously, it's the most ridiculously easy DIY I've ever done. I mean, even the point of being a tad embarassing. But so friggin' cute, no? 

photos: 1. Me. 2. Mark Burstyn.



Hello #BlogTourCali

This is it. Today's the day. It has been 44 days since I last saw an ocean (Atlantic) and today I am Pacific-bound. No, I'm not running away to be a surfer. But a girl can dream...

Instead, this place above is first up on the itinerary for a packed junket called #BlogTourCali. Pictured is the airplane hangar that is home to the West Edge Design Fair. Should be cool. The trip is being organized by the good folks a Modenus. I'll be joining a group of designers and design bloggers from many far-flung locales. We'll take in the design show, then head up Hwy 1 all the way to San Fran. Check this link for a peek at the itinerary. We'll be stopping for a bit of spa-ing and wine-sipping along the way. I will be sure not to order the Merlot and I will try to refrain from quoting Sideways at every opportunity (I LOVE that movie -- except for the violent beating part). 

I'll be social-mediaing the heck out of this trip so please follow me over at Twitter and Insta and join me in a prayer that my data roaming package covers all my posts. (Who's the parton saint of data roaming? Googling that next.)

Meanwhile, here are a few items I'm keeping my eyes peeled for at the festival:

This thing, my friends, delivers the coffee beverage of your dreams with just a few touches to your smart device. Of course it does. Leave it to the Danes. It's the Scanomat Top Brewer.

Sexy lighting is pretty much a guarantee at a design fair. These look interesting, but will they pass the Margot's Lighting Must List. The list consists of one item: must actually emit a decent amount of light. You'd be surprised how much fancy modern lighting is actually rather useless in the function department. These look promising. They are Tripp Lights by Pelle.

It's like the love child of a Scandi safari chair and a normcore American plastic woven patio chair of days gone by. I want to give it the sit test. It's the Rod & Weave Chair by Eric Trine. I bet it makes that great creaky leather sound.

And yes, a toilet. But not just any toilet. This is the very handsome Fitzgerald from my friends at DXV, a new brand from American Standard. I met this collection at the Interior Design here in Toronto in January. At that time I didn't need a new toilet. But since moving into #AustinSuite I've been thinking the bathroom may be next on the makeover list. (after a suitable interval to receover from the stressy ickiness of our kitchen reno) Thing is, the existing toilet is perfectly excellent in function. It's just that it has the aestethic appeal of an orthopedic shoe. Also, how the lackadaisical clearner in me yearns for the ease of a skirted trapway. (PS, after you check out the DXV site, join me in a little chuckle over the fact that this company refers to its design collections as "movements". Tee hee: "Movements". Get it? I like to think that someone there has a cute sense of humour. But maybe I just need to grow up.)

And lastly, I'm playing this on repeat to power through my to do list before departure. It's "We Come Running" by Youngblood Hawke and The West Los Angeles Children's Choir. Please enjoy:





This is it. Our new home. This weekend we got the keys and efforts to put our stamp on it before moving in kicked into high gear. But first things first, the hashtag above. I'm calling it the #AustinSuite because there's just something about the word condo that I just don't love. It's just so meh. I actually prefer the word apartment and think it perfectly approriate so I may go ahead and use that. I tell you one word I won't be using in conversation or in print: unit. Yuck! Hate that. So inhospitable. 

Two things I do find hospitable about our new suite, which you see in the photo above, are the view of mature treetops and the real wood parquet floors. These are two of the benefits of buying into an older building. Ours is circa 1987. The trees are so wonderful. Many are evergreens, which is great since we will enjoy the privacy they provide all year round. And I can imagine how gorgeous they will look after a fresh snowfall in the winter. There are just enough deciduous trees to let us watch the seasons change from the window. I'm certainly happy to live with one less yard and garden to tend, but I'm so pleased to still be able to call a heavily treed nieghbourhood home -- not an easy find for every condominium purchaser.

And praise be for those parquet floors. Honestly world, I shouldn't really say anything against laminate floors except, well, they just aren't for me. And ALMOST EVERY CONDOMINIUM HAS THEM. When Mr. A and I were first hatching this plan I was euphemistically referring to our new home as a "white box in the sky". How prescient of me. Today we completed coat one of Benjamin Moore Oxford White on the walls and the lovely parquet will be next on the whiteification list.

As soon as I found this photo of an apartment for sale near Gramercy Park in New York and pinned it to my secret #AustinSuite Pinterest board I knew that a complete envelope of white was exactly the plan. I'm lucky to have a husband who gets that. Plenty of people I have told about it have recoiled in horror at the idea. It's a bit hard to tell from the size of this pic but this floor is indeed old school parquet that is painted white. And what a difference to the sense of space and light and airiness. The Scandinavians totally get this -- the English too. Our parquet has that solid feeling underfoot that hollow-bouncy noisey laminate never will. When it's painted we will still get a faint sense of the pattern of the parquet underneath. And I so hope the paint wears away in traffic areas to give it an aged look. I'm also hoping that painting everything white will solve another prob you'll see in the first photo: skimpy baseboards. Those things are pathetic. But I have so much on my plate right now I'm picking my design battles. Maybe later for a baseboard upgrade. For now, make them disappear with paint.

This is the bedroom. The whole place was this baby boy blue. Mr. A kept calling it purple. Sometimes he's design savvy but sometimes his Y chromosome shows when it comes to recognizing colours. Blue, purple, whatever you call it - it had to go. See how much more visible the little racing stripe of a baseboard is when the floor, trim and walls are all diff colours. Also, the perimiter of the room is defined so you see its proportions.

Here's the same space after one coat. I even kinda like the honey tone of the floor when the walls are white. But white on all surfaces will fool the eye into not knowing where floor stops and wall starts. Perfect. My master plan unfolds...

How did I choose Oxford White? Well, funny you should ask because believe it or not I got the idea when working on this issue of House & Home called Ask A Designer, which is on newsstands now. That place on the cover is the former home of my H&H colleague Joel Bray. The walls were Oxford White. Most of the walls in the house we sold are Cloud White (also Benjamin Moore). It's much warmer and creamier than Oxford White. Around the time I was working on this issue I got thinking about making the switch at home to a crisper, more modern white (yes, white to whiter). Then we chose this cover. Not long after that Mr. A and I decided to make the move. I knew then what colour I wanted the walls to be in our new place -- even before we started looking! So ya, white paint is a thing I think about and consider and discuss at length.

All of this said, I think I'm going to choose a slightly different white for the foors...

Lord, I think this could be the most boring blog post of all time. Forgive me for being out of practice. If you've made it this far, thanks! And do come back because there is so much more to tell.

For instance, here is the kitchen. Maybe looks harmless enough, but it's such a bag full of design crimes. I have a complete overhaul planned. So follow me on Instagram and Twitter and come on back here for the full scoop.