Sunday, March 22, 2009

Your Guide to Outdoor Furniture

Ok, so spring is almost here. Well, officially, it is here, but we're not quite ready to spend any significant amount of leisure time outside. Now is the perfect time, however, to think about what you're going to be perched upon during said leisure time. Here are a few of your options and their pros and cons:

Cast Aluminum: By far my favourite choice of them all. Cast aluminum is strong, beautiful and extremely low maintenance. These pieces can be left outside all year (yes, even during the winter, which is great if you're low on storage space), never rust, clean up with mild soap and water and can easily last you upwards of twenty years. There is a multitude of design, size and colour options to suit anyone's taste and needs. Cast aluminum is quite pricey, though. A high quality 5 piece set can run you $2500 and up. But it's such a great investment that it pays for itself. Something to remember: although cast aluminum can be left out all winter, once it's frozen into the snow don't touch it! Well, you can touch it, but don't try to move it, or stack anything onto it. Cast aluminum gets very brittle when it's cold.
All-Weather Wicker: This is a great product for those who love the look of wicker but know that natural wicker is not a great outdoor choice for our Canadian climate. Made of virgin vinyl, all-weather wicker is durable, fade-proof, comfortable and stylish. The name is a little misleading - the weave itself would be fine in all seasons, but the hollow aluminum frame means the pieces must come in during the winter. This is because if any moisture has accumulated inside the frame it can freeze, expand and crack the aluminum.Teak: Teak is such a beautiful and durable wood. A responsible teak dealer purchases plantation-grown Indonesian teak which is sustainable, and carefully controlled to avoid over-harvesting. Teak can be left out all year and is rot and insect resistant. There can be quite a bit of maintenance with teak. If you want to maintain the honey tones of the wood you need to apply a teak oil/sealer about once a year. You also need to lift the previous year's coat by sanding or with a teak cleaner. Failure to do so could cause a build up of the product and black mildew marks to form. If you do not treat your wood it will weather to a beautiful silver-gray. This does not affect the integrity of the wood at all and is only a surface change. Outdoor Fabrics: Most outdoor pieces now come with a wide variety of fabric choices for cushions and umbrellas. 100% acrylic is the best choice for it's fade, mildew and water-resistance. Look for fabrics that have the colour all the way through the fibres (looks the same on the front and back) rather than patterns that are printed only on one side of the fabric. Sunbrella is a widely recognized name in outdoor fabrics and many fabric companies put out fabrics under their own name, but use a Sunbrella base. The cushions should be brought in if you're going to be away for a few days or if it's going to rain, but a little shower is not a big deal. The foam used is meant to drain water quickly. Clean up is easy with a mild soap and the garden hose; just give them a little scrub and rinse the soap right through.
Pictures courtesy of Hauser Company Stores
1723 Carling Avenue, Ottawa

Friday, March 13, 2009

Steven, Chris and Tracy

I read in a forum today that Steven and Chris has been cancelled. I admit I'm not that surprised. They were great as the Designer Guys (much better than the three now, who are a little dull, in my humble opinion), but their talk/lifestyle show never had the same appeal to me.
In the forum I also read that some viewers thought they should take over for Tracy Moore on Cityline. I then proceeded to look up Tracy Moore and found more forums and these ones were not kind to her at all. They were actually pretty rude. I was never a faithful Cityline viewer when Marilyn Dennis was the host, but not because there was anything wrong with her. I just didn't really relate to her. Now that I'm home with my daughter (13 mos. old and VERY cute...not that I'm biased) I have time to indulge in a little daytime TV. I think Tracy is a great host. She's young, stylish, energetic and fun. Which is what that show needs in a host. Fashion, decor, and food are fun - who wants a stodgy host!? Keep up the good work Tracy!
APRIL 10/09 -- A few weeks ago I came across Tracy's blog Baby Steps, which I totally relate to, having a 14 month old daughter (and a 6 year old son, but he's a whole other story!). In her post about babies playing with everything but their toys, she asked readers to email her with a few of the things they use to occupy their little ones. So I did, and she added my list to her blog. Check it out! Toys. Who Need 'Em? Part 2

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Colour Theory 101

Did you know that colour can affect your mood and behaviour? I'll bet you've heard it but don't really know how it works. Colour association and psychology can affect the way you feel, how you perceive others and how they perceive you, how you feel about a business; their image and logos, and how you behave in certain situations.

Emotional: serene, peaceful, harmony, tranquility, airiness, melancholy, depression
Physical: can lower blood pressure, cools, relaxes, can slow respiratory rate
Behavioural: conservative, loyal, responsible, dependable, conservative, rigid

Blue is a colour that is often chosen for uniforms (police officers, public service) because it connotes dependability, authority, and reliability while being non-threatening.
It is preferred by most people as it invokes images of sea, sky and traquility (in softer hues).
Depresses the appetite and is a poor colour choice for restaurants.


Emotional: balanced, secure, envy, detached
Physical: nourishing, nurturing, refreshing, rejuvenating
Behavioural: generous, moderate, inexperienced

Green is a poor business colour as it is associated with inexperience and personal gratification, though it continues to rise as a colour and term for environmentally friendly businesses.
Green invokes feelings of freshness, prosperity, and healing and is a great colour for bedrooms.

Emotional: radiant, cheerful, happiness, hope, nervous, anxious, irritable
Physical: can sharpen memory and stimulate intelligence, can increase irritability and agitation
Behavioural: people are said to be more argumentative in a yellow room

Though yellow is a joyous, happy colour, too much of it can cause anger or annoyance. Softer yellows, such as cream, butter, and bisque (hmm...all food names) are the best choice for interior spaces, while bolder choices, like lemon, gold and banana, are best for accessories or clothing. An intense yellow in a baby's room can cause sleep disturbances and irritability.

Emotional: lively, warm, inspirational, optimistic
Physical: decreases irritability and hostility
Behavioural: extroverted, sociable, friendly, cheap, gaudiness

Orange is a popular colour that appeals to many people as it is undemanding, fun, and is less intimidating than red. It can also be seen as cheap or inexpensive (Home Depot, anyone?).

Emotional: passionate, exciting, hot, bold, volatile, intimidating
Physical: can increase blood pressure, respiratory and heart rate, adrenaline production
Behavioural: sensuous, courageous, aggressive, impulsive, overbearing

Red is a great colour for a dining room or in a restaurant as it increases your appetite. People who wear red are said to be confidant and want to stand out. Be careful using red in your home as it can make your walls visually advance and can cause a room to feel warmer than it really is.

Emotional: spiritual, imaginative, contemplative, lonely, melancholy
Physical: can lower blood pressure, can decrease appetite
Behavioural: creative, noble, philosophical, wealthy, isolated

Violet is a colour that is often associated with royalty because at one time, only the very wealthy could afford the dyes. Lower class people wore mainly brown and green.
Violet combines the power of red with the calming properties of blue, making it a popular colour choice.

Emotional: affectionate, romantic, feminine
Physical: weakens muscles, stimulates sweet cravings, calms and decreases stress
Behavioural: subdued, gentle, indulged

While pink will always be a go-to choice for babies and young girls, many adults would not choose this colour for their interior space.
Many prisons will paint the cells of dangerous offenders pink because of it's tranquilizing properties.

Emotional: stable, sturdy, earthy, bored
Physical: dulls the senses, stimulates chocolate cravings
Behavioural: reliable, practical, casual

Associated with stability, dependability and reliability (UPS is a prime example). Not a great colour to wear to an interview as it makes one appear dull and lacking in authority. A great neutral in home decor that can be paired successfully with almost any other colour.

Emotional: innocent, hopeful, pure, sterile, cold
Physical: no effect
Behavioural: idealistic, cleanliness, indecisiveness

An all white room is stressful because it reflects too much light. You can avoid this by using tone-on-tone whites and lots of texture to absorb some of the light.

Emotional: aloof, mysterious, power, intimidating, fear
Physical: depresses
Behavioural: dignified, sophisticated, evil, rebellious

Black is a great multi-dimensional colour that can be used in traditional or contemporary interiors as it can be bold, graphic, elegant, classic and neutral. As we all know, wearing black makes you appear slimmer, but it is perceived that people who wear all black do not want others to invade their space.

Emotional: resigned, steady, reliability, authority, gloomy, depressing, dull
Physical: no effect
Behavioural: discerning, mature, wisdom, humilty, boredom

Gray is a popular neutral for homes and fashion. Changing gray's undertones allow it to work in a multitude of palettes, providing relief from stronger colour choices. Gray is also a professional colour that is often used for uniforms and business suits.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beauty on a Budget

This is a main floor I completed in November 2008. My client had a pretty tight budget, about $2000, but want her home to look elegant and cozy.

She had a few pieces she wanted to keep, like this Gibbard dining set (circa 1870-1900?) purchased in 1970 for $100. Yes, you read right - $100 for a 9 piece set. She's quite the bargain hunter! My client was also keeping her sofa. Though 12 years old, it was in great shape and in a neutral brown chenille. Not so hard to work with. A swivel rocker in blue also made the cut and was the basis for our accent colour.

We started with the wallpaper, a cream tone on tone botanical pattern, as the accent wall on the back wall of the dining room and the TV wall in the living room. I had a custom paint made to the background of the paper to ensure a perfect match.

We then purchased two units from IKEA; a bookcase and TV unit from the Markor series. With the clean, yet traditional lines and dark stained wood they were a great match for the Gibbard dining set.

Next came art and accessories. We purchased new drapery panels - a steal at $11 per panel. All new artwork and accessories came from Homesense, Canadian Tire, Bouclair, and Fabricland. We got some really interesting pieces at great prices. I also raided all her cupboards, closets and other rooms. You'd be surprised what a fresh perspective can do with the old knick-knacks we've all got stored away.

All in all, we came in under budget at around $1800. Not bad.

Monday, March 9, 2009

HRTC and You

In addition to decorating for private clients, I work Saturdays at Randall's Decorating Center in Bell's Corners and I've noticed that business is still strong and steady. It seems that people are not looking to sell or buy new properties, but are choosing instead to fix up the homes they have (though I did hear on the news earlier that now is the best time to buy a new construction home).

Here's where the new Home Renovation Tax Credit comes in: you can receive up to $1350 back on your tax return for the 2009 tax year. To be eligible, you must spend more than $1000 up to $10,000 on home improvement items that cannot be removed when you move ($9000 x 15% = $1350).

Here are a few examples from the Canada Revenue Agency's website:

-Renovating a kitchen, bathroom or basement
-New carpet or hardwood floors
-Building an addition, garage, deck, garden/storage shed, fence
-Re-shingling a roof
-A new furnace, woodstove, boiler, fireplace, water softener or water heater
-A new driveway or resurfacing a driveway
-Painting of interior or exterior of a house
-Window coverings directly attached to the window frame and whose removal would alter the nature of the dwelling
-Laying new sod
-Swimming Pools (Permanent - in ground and above ground)
-Fixtures – lights, fans, etc.
-Associated costs such as permits, professional services, equipment rentals and incidental expenses.

Notice the bold and italicized words above? Yes, it seems that the services of an Interior Decorator are eligible for the HRTC! I called Service Canada today to get more information, but because this is a new program, they didn't have all the info. I'll keep you posted!