news and appearances

Thurs. Mar. 12, 2015; 6:30pm-9pm

Join me at Hudson's Bay, Queen St. Toronto

See my fave picks from the Spring Home Book and let's shop the 6th and 7th floors! Visit the event page on Facebook for more deets.


Wed. April 15, 2015

I'll be a featured speaker at:
What doesn't break you makes you stronger.

Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, Peterborough, Ont.

Buy tickets here.

Feb. 11-17, 2015


Oct. 16-20, 2014



favourite shop: dille & kamille, brussels

When Mr. A and I visited Brussels recently we came across the loveliest shop. Dille & Kamille was just steps from our hotel and I was so happy to have found it.

Of course I knew immediately upon seeing the exterior that I had to go in. Love a black and white striped awning. At first I thought it was a garden or flower shop.

The displays of neatly arranged plants on either side of the entry created a warm welcome.

This cluster of heather and sedum was so simple yet so striking. Made a note to myself to get some heather when I got home. And I did.

Inside, we discovered Dille & Kamille is much more than a garden shop. It's kitchen, bath, gourmet, utility, linens, and books and so much more. All of the goods and displays have the aesthetic of simplicity and abundance, quality and utility. My favourite.

This mountain of gorgeous market baskets caught my eye first. I want to live in a world where all the food from the market is carried home in one or two of these on a bicycle, not in a tumble of black logo-emblazoned cotton totes shoved in the trunk...sigh.

There were more lovely plants inside and they made me fantasize for a moment that maybe I should really try to keep some alive at home once I got back. I am actually trying.

The wall o' brushes for everything you could ever want a brush for was also dreamy. Yes, I find a wall o' brushes dreamy. I swooned over just such a wall at the store Manufactum in Frankfurt last year and stocked up then, otherwise a few of these beauties would have def come home with me.

More amazing scrubbing things and oh my goodness look at the blocks of soap!

Any wooden cutting board or charcuterie board you could ever want. It's here.

Also, wall o' beautiful tea. Yum.

Wall o' cookbooks. Also -- some great apron action in the forground there.

Wall o' beautiful table linens. 

Turns out there are 25 locations of this fantastic home goods shop across Belgium and The Netherlands. If you will be in either of these regions and this is your thing, I highly recommend Dille & Kamille. It's just so truly lovely and a great spot to pickup gifts to bring home. Check them out at Dille & Kamille.


ambiente fair blues (the good ones)

Hi Friends! As most of you know I was recently lucky enough to travel to Frankfurt, Germany on the #BlogTourAmbiente trip. Some of you are wondering What the heck is Blog Tour? and What the heck is Ambiente? I have all the answers right here. But first, take a look at that skyline above. Old and new bathed in the blue of dusk. Not bad for an iPhone on a moving bus. You pretty Frankfurt.

photo: Chasen West

Blog Tour is the invention of the lovely and talented Veronika Miller (in the green scarf), principal of the web site Modenus. The site features design pros and suppliers and connects them via Blog Tours to key design trade destinations. Tour attendees are mostly design pros working big budget projects who are also bloggers and active on social media. Love of wine seems to be a qualifier too, but that’s another story (look closely at the pic above and you'll see most of us are clutching glasses of a spectacular German sparkling wine, and yes, that's the magnif Rhein river beyond). What’s my connection? Well, I love wine, but I guess my social media profile and blogging are factors. Oh yes, and thanks to my day job I’m usually reppin’ Old School print too :::insert gang signs::: (But this time I was not on official mag biz -- this was vacay for me!)

So one way or another I received an invitation to join this group. The invitation landed in my inbox right around when my world had turned upside down. My Dad had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery on Dec. 24. The next day (oh yes, that was Christmas) I was stricken with an intense bout of food poisoning that lasted a week. Once I recovered I went to stay with my Dad after he was sent home following surgery. It was crazy stressful times. Once things started to normalize it wasn’t too hard for me to say, “Yes please Veronika, take me away and please make sure there is wine…and beer!”. (Didn’t hurt that the trip was scheduled for my BDay - Happy BDay to me!)

The sole sponsor for this Blog Tour was the Ambiente Fair itself. Ambiente is a truly ginormous trade show for tabletop, home decor and giftware. Here are my two fave stats about the show: it features more than 4,800 exhibitors (more than double the size of the NYNOW Gift Show) and the city of Frankfurt has been hosting such trade events for, get this, 775 YEARS. That’s SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE!

OK, enough with the long preamble. On to some eye candy. I took more than 1,000 photos at the show, so needless to say I will be cooking up a few more posts. Since tabletop is one of the main aspects of the show, I thought I’d start with one of the clearest trend messages I spotted: blue-and-white dinnerware. Now, in the business of trendspotting I would say blue-and-white dishes are not the newsiest of news. They’ve been coming on strong for a number of seasons, but I offer this as evidence we may be at peak blue-and-white. 

When you think blue-and-white ceramics do you think of Portugal? Sure you do! And do you think of century-old hand-painted tile? Maybe. These dishes are made by Costa Nova of Portugal. The pattern, called Lisboa, recalls the look of ages old hand-painted tile. I’ve seen some of this company’s products for sale at Anthropologie and Hudson’s Bay stores, so keep your eyes peeled.

Dutch manufacturer Wegter makes these sweet striped mugs under its Dutch Rose brand. They have a preppy vibe and make me think of lingering over late-morning coffee at the cottage.

Richard Ginori is an Italian luxury brand that was recently bought out by Gucci. The Oro Di Docchia Turchese porcelain pattern hints at tradition but is expressed with a lightness of hand that feels modern.

And if blue-and-white isn’t the official national colour scheme of Greece it should be. This pretty pattern from Ionia is inspired by mosaic tile, natch!

But the company had a whole wall of blue-and-white patterns on offer.

And in the category of Best winter/Holiday pattern that isn’t one bit cheesy, the winner is clearly the German company Kahla. I just love the modern shape and subtle silhouetted tree pattern. It's actually called "Blue Hour" and I think of it as the forest equivalent of my photo of the Frankfurt skyline - same hour, same palette. These are so brand new they are schedded for release for Advent season 2015.


Marbelization is another trend that is still going strong. These platters and bowls from LCHome are prime examples in the palette of the moment.



Paola Navone’s Taste Blue collection for Reichenbach is well known already (left), but I loved this new dipped collection with an interesting shape and overall more rustic casual mood. 


And our old friends at Royal Doulton are shrugging off a rep for  painted lady figurines thanks to several new collections and design collabs. This mix and match batch, called Pacific,  includes a few designs in another of Ambiente’s main trend motifs: splatter and brushstroke.

And speaking of brushstrokes, check out this awesomeness from Spal of Portugal. It’s called Random and it’s so cool. I’ve got half a mind to go buy some porcelain paint and get DIYing up some of these asap. Would never be the same though, of course.

Tognana is another Italian company that brings some modern pretty in the form of these simple stripped down florals. Sweet.

You’ve likely seen Tokyo Design Studio dishes and bowls at Anthro. These allover patterns borrow from traditional Japanese design but have a million uses beyond the dinner table. Ok, maybe not a million, but you get the point.

And finally, I was charmed by this booth Wonkiware from South Africa. The concept here is to mix up several different designs to create a set. The picnic check plate is definitely a fave.

So that’s it for instalment No. 1 from Ambiente. Come back for more!


#AustinSuite decorating

Here's our jumping off point. Even though our condominium suite is far from decorated, the artwork is really coming together. One friday night a few months ago we just went for it. No measuring. No level. Just hanging hardware, a hammer, wine and some high volume tunes. We used a hanging method we call "eyeballing it." This piece was one of the first we put up. Since it's a longtime favourite, we gave it pride of place. All the others fell into place around it. Now I think this piece is about to become the inspiration for our new design scheme. Specifically that ugly mossy green colour. I'm so in love with that colour.

Also in my inspo files are a whole mess of pics of this restaurant in Paris. Monsieur Bleu was designed by Joseph Dirand -- current hotshot on the scene. (As an aside, I walked by the Toronto restaurant Lee the other day and they have replicated this design exactly. That's so offside as far as I'm concerned. Inspiration is one thing, but you've got to give it your own spin. Not cool Susur et. al. Not cool.) For me it's all about those greens. I'm stealing that idea of using several shades, some even a tad clashy. I'm also inspired by the antiqued mirror, lighting and green and black marbles. 

I'm also crushing on Zak Profera's place now. Love that fabric of his on the chair cushions. Hoping the folks at  Y&Co. can hook me up with some of that. I think some middle ground between the sexy resto in Paris and this NYC place might be the stylistic sweet spot for #AustinSuite. Are you following Zak on Insta or Pinterest? I highly recommend. Love his eye and of course his adorable Shiba Inu, Shinji. Check out the Zak + Fox web site.

Our current dining chairs are courtesy of Mr. A's eagle eye and shopping genius. Love these. I think they'd be great with diff shades of green velvet or mohair seats. Mr. A likes the black leather as is. We'll see who wins that one...

Not loving our current dining table situation. It's just the trusty old IKEA Meltorp. It's fine. Just fine. But we do have a vintage white tulip table that might be ripe for reinvention so it looks more like the one above. I'd just spray paint the base myself. Love this green marble top. Need to price that out and see if it's in the realm of reality. If the tabletop were green I'd prob leave the chair seats black.

 Need to paint the interior of our entry door black ASAP. Like this. 

Speaking of doors, we currently have a coat closet that has hideous sliding mirror doors. They're taller than the nearby bathroom door and also lacking hardware. They are heavy and awkward to move back and forth. I loathe those doors. Would love to figure out a disappearing jib door situation for that...

Existing lever handles are the work of the normcore devil -- they are of the swirly brushed white metal variety :::shudders::: They'll go too. Maybe something like these above. Or antique brass? Hmmm.






Brass desk lamp is another Mr. A find. Wicked cool. The one on the right is our bathroom sconce by Flos. Love it too. I got that one at Gabriel Ross.

I have a bit of hankering for one of the lights in this new IC collection from Flos. Love that you can choose from floor, table, pendant or sconces all with this suspended light ball design. It's fun and makes me think of a balloon. Maybe a pair of bedside lamps? Or one floor lamp for the living room?

Storage is a major bugaboo right now. I thought I could tackle one area at a time, but I now realize I have to plan new clothes closet systems at the same time as I redesign the entry coat closet and some version of wall-mounted cupboards for the bedroom. I'm waiting with bated breath for the new IKEA kitchen system to hit stores. That's what I'll use (shown above) for the bedroom. 

If you can believe it we have room for only one comfy armchair. We have a petite club chair now, but I've got the chief furniture buyer on the lookout for something with more style -- like these Edward Wormley gems that cost a bajillion dollars. The sofa is a conundrum. Prob not in the budget to switch it, but not sure how to make a white slipcovered William Birch sofa work in this scheme. Like I said, a conundrum.

We've both always wanted a mobile. Mr. A actually found us a series of discs not unlike these -- ours are in bronze and gold -- we just have to figure out how to make them into a mobile. I skipped that day in physics class. Don't think I can DIY that.

So here it is all written down. Will be interesting to see if I can manage to stay focussed on this look or if I change my mind along the way.

photo credits:

1. Margot Ausitn. 2. Monsieur Bleu. 3. Brittany Ambridge. 4. Margot Austin. 5. Haus London.  6. Elisabeth Heier. 7. Andrew Skurman Architects. 8. Low Price Door Knobs. 9. Margot Austing/Flos. 10. Flos. 11. Elisabeth Heier. 12. Mid2Mod. 13. Corinne Van Havre.