With a new year come new trends in home design and decorating. Among them: paler walls contrasted with colorful furniture, and plenty of personal expression, design experts say.


Whisper-soft, ultra-pale shades of pink —described by designers as "blush tones" — are back. But the '80s haven't returned, says designer Brian Patrick Flynn says, at least not entirely.

"What's different about blush this time around is what it's paired with. In 1985, you'd find it paired with mauve and black with tons of shiny brass accents. Flash forward to today and blush is likely to be paired with preppy, masculine tones," says Flynn, founder of Flynnside Out Productions.

His favourite blush paint is Barely Blush from Glidden, which he contrasts with navy blue: "The deep, rich personality of the navy actually washes out the blush, almost causing it to look white, and the overall effect is fresh and gorgeous."

Speaking of white walls, Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham sees those coming back in a big way.

"I used to think white walls looked unfinished," she says. "But I've completely come around on this one, because white is the ultimate palette cleanser.It gives every space — even the most traditional — a modern edge, and sets the stage wonderfully for layers of colour in upholstery, accessories, area rugs and art."

But while wall colours are getting softer and paler, the opposite seems to be happening with furniture.

"Strong colours on upholstery are becoming more of the norm," says Kyle Schuneman, founder of Live Well Designs, who spent a chunk of 2013 designing his first line of furniture, in collaboration with retailer Apt2B.

He opted to create sofas in bright blues and shades of orange because "a bright sofa is no longer just for a creative office waiting room," he says. "People are bringing them into their homes."

One bold colour to approach carefully this year: red-violet. "Red-violet is the Pantone colour of the year for 2014," Flynn says. "As a designer whose specialty is using colour, let me tell you something: Red-violet is about as complex as it gets."

"My trick for using it right is pairing it with black, white and brass," he says. "It's not all that overwhelming, since it's balanced by the neutrality of the black and white, and made a bit more chic and regal with the brass."


"For accessories, the trend seems to be getting away from colour and going more into rich textures like horn, aged metallics and linens," Schuneman says. "The absence of colour is becoming chic for smaller items."

One texture Flynn says will have a big moment in 2014: felt.

"Have you looked at Pinterest lately? It's like every fifth photo you see involves felt! Ever since the handmade movement kicked in back in 2010, felt has been used in unexpected ways and in a modern fashion," Flynn says. "What makes it such a favourite for designers is how easy it is to work with. It's amazing for door upholstery due to its stiffness. It makes for awesome craft material, since it's easy to cut and stitch, and it's awesome for kids."

An easy project for even the DIY-challenged: "I modernized the classic kindergarten felt wall in a boy's room by covering a wall with batting, then literally upholstering it with white and blue felt, then cutting tons of felt into random objects and characters to give the kids something interactive and stylish."


"The idea of personalization is becoming stronger and stronger," Schuneman says. "People are wanting their homes to reflect a more unique perspective."

So rather than assuming that everyone will be buying the same popular items, "stores are doing limited runs on items more often, like art in series or a special brand collaboration for just a season," he says.

Burnham agrees. Homeowners are increasingly looking to "large-scale wall hangings" and other pieces of art to express themselves, she says, rather than doing it with bold wall colour.

"Boy, am I sick of accent walls.I really believe that trend is out!I vote for art every time," Burnham says."If you're looking for something to cover big, blank areas,shop on Etsy for macrame pieces. They add such wonderful texture to your walls, and artists like Sally England have brought them back into vogue."

She also recommends hunting for vintage posters that speak to you. Find them through online dealers and auction houses, and then frame them in a group.

"While the vintage ones are a bit of an investment," Burnham says, "they can be a lot more reasonably priced than large-scale paintings and photographs."

Another way Americans are increasingly customizing their space, according to Flynn: Western-inspired décor.

"For years I've seen taxidermy make its way into mainstream design, yet reinvented in new ways. Lately, I've been looking to Ralph Lauren-like cabins of the Western United States for inspiration in my own home. I think a lot of cabin-inspired colours such as pea greens, hunter greens and camouflage-inspired prints will become super popular."

Flynn's cabin in the north Georgia mountains is currently decorated in pea green and accented with heavy, masculine fabrics, Western hats and antlers.


"Tons of new-construction homes have awkward bonus rooms" that homeowners aren't sure how to furnish, Flynn says.

One suggestion: "Why not turn that space into an extra sleeping area that can accommodate multiple guests, but in a super-stylish, architectural manner? That's where the art of built-in bunks comes in," Flynn says.

"I turned a dated attic into a bunk room and play space for two young brothers by using one wall as floor-to-ceiling, mid-century-style bunks. This isn't exactly cheap to do, but it's well worth the investment since it maximizes space and adds an architectural focal point, albeit one that's functional, to otherwise dead space."


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As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, keep your home looking chearful and cozy with these great winter decor tips!


Focus on the Hearth


As temperatures dip lower, bring your focus inward by rearranging your furniture. If you have a fireplace, pull pieces in toward the center of the room and face them toward the hearth to create a cozy gathering spot for winter entertaining. Extra pillows and throws add warmth even without a roaring fire.

Color Me Happy


Avoid the winter blues by infusing your spaces with pops of cheery color. A bright throw or a boldly patterned pillow will do the trick, and will ensure your neutral spaces don't look stark and cold like the space outside your windows. Brightly coloredelements can also last into the spring and summer, so you'll get more bang for yourdecorating bucks.

Reflective State


With the shorter days, it's time to maximize what natural light is still available. Hanging a large mirror on a blank stretch of wall or above a mantel display will reflect light throughout your space. Turn the mirror into a decorative display by painting the frame an eye-catching color.

Window Dressing


Even kitchens need a little TLC during the winter months. Adding bold window treatments to your kitchen windows, like these cheery red curtains, will keep your workspace feeling cheery and bright. Create your own by purchasing a yard of fabric in the color or pattern of your choice, hemming the raw edges, and using clip-style curtainrings over rods.

Seated in Style


Similar to winter fashion, winter decorating is all about layering on the fabrics. Cozy yourdining room up for the season by covering your chairs with simple slipcovers. Slipcovered chairs add warmth and style to this neutral dining room and can be easily taken off for a quick cleaning after a family dinner or gathering with friends.

Luxe Looks


Give your bedroom a quick style update and prepare it for the season by layering in textured bedding, throws, and pillows. A luxurious cashmere throw and soft velvet bed pillows turn this bedroom into a cozy refuge from \those harsh winter winds.

Toasty Transitions


Adding a sheepskin instantly brings warmth to any room in your home. Place a sheepskin rugbeside your bed, a cozy greeting to feet on brisk winter mornings, or toss one over anottoman or a chaise to provide a toasty spot to tuck chilly toes while reading or relaxing.

White as Snow


Collect a display of crisp white glassware to bring a hint of winter's beauty into your home. Bright white dishware stands out against a black-painted hutch backed with pretty patterned wallpaper. Accents of silver scattered throughout the display echo the sparkle of freshly fallen snow.

Comfort Underfoot


Although wood floors create a sophisticated style statement year-round, you'll need to cozy them up for the cold winter months. A fluffy area rug sets off this living room's main seating area and adds warmth and texture underfoot. For a unique style statement, layer one rug on top of another to add more visual interest.

Layered Rugs


Make an existing rug even more cozy by layering a thinner, smaller rug on top of it. If it won't damage the rug material, consider placing hook-and-loop squares on a couple of points on the smaller rug to help it stay in place and prevent tripping.

Pillow Panache


Layer in a few extra throw pillows for a quick winter style update. Playful patterns and bold orange hues stand out against dark wood furnishings and a creamy white sofa in this cozy living room. Choose accent pillows incolors and patterns that match your existing decor to ensure you don't have to make any more decor adjustments.

Warm Up Windows


Block out chilly winter drafts by layering onwindow treatments. Thick, striped draperies add volume to floral-pattern Roman shades in this pretty breakfast nook. Replace the thickcurtains with sheer draperies during warmer months, or simply remove the extra treatments altogether until temperatures plunge again.

Cozy Reading Nook


A window seat offers the perfect perch for everything from an afternoon nap to a day spent lost in a good book. Keep your window seats cozy by bulking them up with fluffyseat cushions and pillows. If space permits, use under-seat storage to house blankets for the season.

Fireplace Facelift


As temperatures dip lower, your focus will naturally shift toward the hearth. Give yourfireplace a quick makeover to ensure it's ready for all that extra attention. A large mirror above the mantel instantly elevates this fireplace to focal point status, while an ornate screen adds both style and function below.

Scents of the Season


Although decor and accessories can go a long way toward cozying up your home, it's important to fill it with the smells of the season, too. A fragrant bowl of potpourri -- in a wintry scent such as cinnamon, pine needles, or evergreen -- can do the trick and will fill your home with seasonal cheer. Display the arrangement prominently on a mantel or in a casual dining room tablescape.


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The fall season is in full swing. We can smell the sweet aromas of the harvest in the air and see the vibrant hues of autumn peeking through the trees. As the evening temperature slowly starts to drop, seasonal decor has started popping up in homes across the country.

For those of us who have been eagerly anticipating the dawn of fall decorating, rejoice! Autumn is finally here and it has arrived with an abundance of fresh hues, modern motifs and a seasonal sprinkle of sparkle and shine.

“For most of us, fall is already such a visually beautiful time,” says Pottery Barn spokesman Kendra Stewart. “And it’s a great chance to bring some of that inspiration from the outdoors in.”

With a focus on botanicals, natural elements and the autumn’s dramatic colour palette (think gold-yellow, terracotta, smoky blue, wheat and mocha), Stewart says updating your home for the season can be as simple as taking cues straight from Mother Nature and adding your own trendy touch. Stewart recommends mixing materials and textures such as ceramics and wood, metals and linens, or burlap and glass to create a casual yet inviting environment.

“Those warm woods and soft textured elements, paired with a shiny element like mercury glass creates a real decorative pop,” she says. While traditional motifs such as pumpkins and natural foliage such as branches, leaves or pinecones are always part the festive season, Stewart says classic objects are being created this year using modern materials such as etched mercury glass or metallic finishes. “Just to add some sparkle and shine,” she says.

Stewart advises would-be decorators to always keep the festive season in mind when making design decisions. A big fan of Thanksgiving herself, Stewart thinks it’s important to deck your halls for holiday gatherings with family and friends.

“That’s what the season’s all about,” she says. “It’s all about making your space welcoming to guests and the best place to start is with the front door. Adding a festive wreath to the front door creates instant flare.” If you are going to splurge on seasonal accessories, Stewart suggests investing in some quality basics before going for anything bolder.

“Classic pieces create a beautiful foundation for any occasion,” says Stewart. For instance, you can easily change up your table through accessories such as table runners and other linens, but a classic dinnerware collection is a great neutral that works perfectly on any tabletop.

Speaking of tabletop, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner decor, Stewart says it’s all about “layering, layering, layering.” Start with a fall-themed tablecloth or runner in a harvest hue, add some chic charger plates (a great basic, Stewart says) for texture and keep working your way up. “Using basic dinnerware on top of festive accents and linens can really bring a table to life,” she explains. And don’t forget about special touches like a jeweled napkin ring or a personal place card.

“Think about welcoming your guests,” she says. “Everybody feels like they have a special spot at the table. It’s something little to bring everybody together.”

Lastly, Stewart would like to remind holiday hosts not to neglect their mood lighting. “Candlelight has the power to transform any space,” she insists, advising that candles be grouped in varying heights together on a tray.

“It creates that really warm, fall harvest glow,” she says.



Festive table runners and other linens are a great way to change up your tabletop with the season. (Courtesy of Pottery Barn).



Pairing soft, natural elements such as wood with something shiny like mercury glass can create a real decorative pop. (Courtesy of Pottery Barn.)

Take the time to add some personal touches to your table settings so every guest feels like they have a special place at your table. 


Group candles of varying heights together on a tray to create a warm, fall harvest glow. 

Decorating for fall is all about making your space welcoming for your guests and the best place to start is with the front door. Adding a festive wreath to your entryway can create instant flare. 

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Cactus Club Coal Harbour
Cactus Club Coal Harbour opened doors in March 2013. Find it in Jack Poole Plaza across from the Olympic Cauldron and the Vancouver Convention Centre (1085 Canada Place). This is the largest restaurant to date from the Vancouver king of casual fine dining. The  restaurant boasts a “sea-to-sky” terrace with a retractable glass wall for open-air dining and killer panoramic views of the North Shore Mountains and Stanley Park.  Chef Feenie’s menu is full of tempting fusion dishes featuring OceanWise BC seafood. The signature cocktails–the margarita is the most popular–are the drinks to order.


The Roof at Black + Blue
If you’re into beef, particularly steak, the Roof (1032 Alberni Street) is your destination. Many have asserted Black + Blue does Vancouver’s best modern steakhouse menu. As for the roof, which opened in April 2013, it’s a one-of-a-kind, 120-seat restaurant within a restaurant on the third floor of Black + Blue. Because there’s a $20,000 Wood Stone Josper Charcoal Broiler Oven up there, the waitstaff don’t have to scurry up and down. Your steak arrives piping hot within minutes of ordering. Your view will consist of the posh decor and the city skyline. The socializing heats up at night when they light the cozy fireplace.

Tap & Barrel
This massive craft beer and BC wine joint celebrated their opening with 1,000 guests in October 2012. In May 2013, the restaurant (1 Athletes Way) is still hopping like opening day nearly every day. Situated in Olympic Village on False Creek, the two-story 14,000 sq. foot space boasts water views as well as a stunning look at downtown Vancouver and the North Shore mountains. The menu is modern pub food; it goes without saying they use local inputs and make it from scratch. But it’s the 25 rotating craft BC microbrew beers on tap, as well as 14 BC wines on tap that keep locals parked on the two patios. If you arrive and see a line, don’t be discouraged. With 300 seats, it will be your turn soon enough.


The Fish Shack
Glowbal Group moved from sleek to rustic with this BC seafood-focused restaurant that feels more like a Seattle harbour-front chain than a (1026) Granville Street destination. Whether or not you like the faux fisherman decor, there’s no denying the freshness or the quality of the seafood menu (oyster bar, gluten-free fish and chips, the simple and generous Fisherman’s Catch – crab, mussels, prawns, calamari, crayfish, potatoes, corn, chorizo cooked in a net.) The 15-seat patio offers a peek at people strolling on bustling Granville.

Pop-Up Patio at the Westin Grand
The rooftop, poolside terrace of The Westin Grand (433 Robson Street) sits above the busy intersection of Homer and Robson Streets. Starting May 30, 2013, this space will be transformed into the #PopUpPatio, an urban oasis and patio lounge open Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Guests can unwind after a hard day of work in this chill atmosphere with soft seating, green gardens and a DJ. Chef Chris Savino has designed a light menu served from a BBQ action station including items like cashew chicken satays, shrimp ceviche, and chicken fatoush salad.  Refreshing and creative cocktails will be served, like the signature pop-up popsicle: a gewurztraminer, raspberry and vanilla popsicle dunked in a mix of vodka, soda, and ginger simple syrup.


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Patios are commonly used an an outdoor extension of a home's indoor living room -- complete with lounge furniture, a dining table and chairs and mood lighting. Depending on your style, your patio can be decorated to function as a place for cookouts and fancy soirees or a tranquil space to relax. Whatever your preference may be, we've compiled a list of decorating ideas that will inspire you to live al fresco throughout the year.

Over the next few pages, you'll find ideas for adding practical touches, pure comfort, culinary flair, privacy and panache to your patio. First up, let's explore patio furniture.


10: Patio Furniture

Patio furniture can help you relax comfortably in your outdoor space -- if you plan it right. When contemplating furnishings for your patio, keep these things in mind:

  • Scale the Furnishings to the Space: One enormous couch in an area designed for a table and chairs will probably end up being a traffic hazard. Make sure that the furnishings you choose for your patio keep the space open and easy to move around in.
  • Avoid Being an Eyesore: Even though you have a lot of latitude when designing your patio, if you can see it from the front of the house, make an effort to keep the style consistent with the prevailing architecture.
  • Keep It All-weather: Keep your patio looking good for longer than a season or two by choosing furniture that's built to last outdoors. The fiber fillers in outdoor furniture cushions repel moisture and resist mildew, and the fabrics are UV-protected.

In the next section, we'll take a look at one of the newest designs in outdoor living: the open-air kitchen.


9: The Open Air Kitchen

Anyone who's eaten barbecue fresh off the grill knows the allure of outdoor cooking. Everything seems to taste better that way, too. Add the advantage of keeping all the heat, grease and humidity that comes with cooking outside your home, and the prospect of an open air kitchen seems downright mouthwatering.

Elaborate outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas can be big-ticket items, though. A comprehensive package including luxuries like a refrigerator, stereo, cooking island and ritzy grilling equipment can carry a price tag of more than $35,000, but you don't have to be rich to have all the tools to cook outdoors. A grill with a large prep counter setup can cost as little as $3,000, and you can pick up an all-weather stainless steel refrigerator for around $500.


8: Deck and Patio Lighting

Good lighting will make your patio safer and enhance your home's security. Embedded lights, like those in stepping stones and even stairways, help you watch your step -- literally. Landscape lights can illuminate walkways or mount to posts, fences or walls.

Regardless if you're looking to keep your electricity-related costs to a minimum or you'd like to do your part to help the planet, solar lighting is a great option.These fixtures come in a number of styles that'll work in different areas of your landscape. There are no wires to worry about, and solar lights will work almost anywhere the sun shines. A fully charged solar fixture can provide up to 15 hours of illumination.

Another good lighting option is low-voltage (12-volt) lighting. They're inexpensive and available in a number of brightness levels, plus they're energy-efficient.

Adding a few motion sensors around entrances is a good idea, too, as the sudden, surprising illumination will likely cause any would-be intruder to flee before entering your home.


7: Paying Attention to Privacy

If your patio is visible from the street or can be viewed easily by the neighbors, you might feel as though you're on stage every time you walk outside. But if you think it's rude to build a tall fence to protect your privacy, why not let nature do the work by planting a hedge or a few shrubs?Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), juniper (Juniperus) and arborvitaes will all help create a tasteful screen. If you need something taller, try planting hedges in raised beds or planting a few strategic trees, like a dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum).

Of course, if you can't afford to wait for hedges and trees to grow, consider adding a trellis or prefabricated vinyl divider to your patio. These screens are available ready-made or in do-it-yourself kits that go together easily. You can also build one yourself from wood slats. If a trellis still allows too much visibility, incorporate it with climbing vines like clematis, ivy or wisteria. Vines offer thick coverage that will conceal your patio activities while adding some color and texture to the landscape.




6: Adding Personality

Outdoor living should appeal to the senses and help relax and refresh you. To create a focal point and get a feng shui vibe going in your space, consider adding a water feature to the area around your patio. A stream with its own bridge or a pond, bird bath or fountain will supply you with the soothing sound and sparkle of water that'll put you in touch with nature. Just remember to keep your water-focused addition in scale with the rest of the landscape.

When dealing with outdoor spaces, texture is your friend. Lattice work, pots made of unusual materials like hypertufa, bamboo curtains and wrought iron all help create an interesting mood. Even ferns when juxtaposed with sturdier broad leaf plants will offer a filigree of green that's eye-catching and memorable.

Lavish color is also always an enhancement to outdoor spaces, too. If you're dealing with a plain concrete slab, brighten it up with painted benches and some colorful throw pillows.


5: Build a Fire Pit

Yes, you could buy an inexpensive fire pit consisting of a simple metal bowl on a pedestal, but by spending as little as $500 to $1,000, you can build a sturdy stone or brick fire pit right on top of your patio floor. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Do Your Homework: Before you start building your fire pit, it's important to research your area's building codes regarding permits and outdoor fires. When choosing an area in your yard, be sure to build away from any shrubs, flammable materials, structures or low hanging trees.
  • Select Your Materials: Make sure you choose a stone for your fire pit that's uniform in shape, size and quality -- it might be a little more expensive than other materials, but the consistency of these stones will save you time during the project.
  • Protect the Interior: You can protect the interior of your stone fire pit by covering the walls with black stove spray paint. This paint is fast-drying, durable, can withstand heat up to 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit and will not blister, flake or peel.


4: Plants

Spruce up your patio by adding flowers, potted plants and other foliage to your outdoor space. A simple herb garden can double as patio greenery, and it'll be easy to maintain, too. Visit your local garden center and ask which varieties of plants thrive in your area. Cacti andsucculents do well in warm, dry conditions, and other popular patio flowers, like pansies, are best potted in rich soil and kept outside during warmer months.

Be creative with the plants you choose, and combine various colors and textures in a single pot to make a unique arrangement. Use pots in various shapes and sizes, and recycle unused household items, like wooden crates and metal washtubs to serve as new homes for your arrangements. Instead of displaying plants on a traditional plant stand, place them on the steps of an old wooden ladder or inside an antique high chair to create height. Your patio space will be green, lively and have a personality all its own.


3: Potting Bench

A potting bench is a patio must-have for anyone who enjoys gardening. Not only is a bench a convenience to gardeners, but it can serve as a handy storage space for gardening tools as well.

Once you find a place for your potting bench on your patio, begin stocking the drawers and shelves with necessary gardening tools. Drawers can serve as a place to organize seeds, and large cabinets can hold heavy bags of potting soil, mulch and clay pots. Shears, pruners, a watering pail and a garden rake are common tools that every gardener should own -- hang them in a place where they are all readily available and easily accessed. Finally, leave plenty of counter space to serve as a prepping area for arranging assortments of flowers and plants.



2: Bar Cabinet

We've already discussed adding a possible outdoor kitchen and furniture to your patio, but why not include a fully stocked bar cabinet to the list? Shop for a cabinet with a finish that will weather with the seasons. You could even hunt for a discarded piece at your local thrift store, and give it a new life with a fresh coat of paint. No matter what kind of furniture you choose to use, just make sure it has plenty of shelves to store all the items you need to throw a fantastic, impromptu backyard soiree.

Of course, to be prepared for any party, you're going to need a fully stocked bar. Wines like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, shiraz and pinot grigio are sure to be crowd-pleasers, but remember that you should also have other spirits handy, like rum, vodka, gin, whisky and brandy to give guests a wide variety of choices at your next get together. And when the cabinet isn't being used, be sure to secure the doors with a padlock to keep contents clean, safe and out of the hands of minors.


1: Shade

While patios serve as a relaxing living space for homeowners, Mother Nature can often sweep in as an uninvited guest, ruining a day or evening outdoors with high temperatures or rain. To shield yourself from storms and the sun's harmful rays, consider adding a retractable awning or umbrella to your patio space. The shade that these coverings offer will allow you and your family to enjoy your patio comfortably regardless if it's hotter than blazes or raining cats and dogs. You'll have several options depending on your budget and the size of your patio. Such as:

  • Retractable awning: This modern shelter allows you to shade your porch and keep it dry during a storm, but you can also retract it to enjoy the sun's rays.
  • Sail shades: They're flexible enough that you can attach them to anything from the side of a house to a tree, and they come in many sizes, shapes and colors to fit any budget and style.
  • Umbrella: This back-porch classic is both decorative and functional and will give diners a shady respite during mealtimes. For nighttime parties, drape garden lights inside an umbrella for added ambiance.

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Visiting this spring's décor previews often felt like exploring an art gallery. There was an artistic vibe to everything from dinnerware to drapery, art photographs to textiles.

Manufacturers are now able to reproduce artwork with impressive detail and precision. Originals that may have been painted or inked retain evidence of brush and pen. Computer-generated designs have greater depth of colour and pattern than in the past. And photo prints are even more striking.

Zara Home has a bouquet of lovely throw pillows for spring with vintage prints or botanical ones reminiscent of paintings by the Masters. "Mariposa" features a flock of Edouard Travies-esque exotic butterflies on a white background; "Lula" evokes a Renoir still life; "Spring" has a sweet cottage floral; "Lannion," ''Hawaiana" and "Hojas'" tropical motifs have a retro vibe. ( )

A spring walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden inspired artist Matthew Lew to create an exuberant burst of white and tan blooms on a bright orange background, rendered at CB2 on a hand-tufted rug. The retailer's got another modern rug featuring a graphic brush stroke of linen white on tonal carbon grey. And artist Katherine Finn-Gamino's colorful multi-media geometric pillow is abstract art for the sofa. (Botanical rug, Swoosh rug, pillow, )

Watercolour paintings of many popular dog breeds, including Labs, golden retrievers and little terriers, are available from Pottery Barn on linen throw pillows with personalized monograms. The needle arts are showcased here, as well, on linen lampshades stitched with tonal ikat or floral motifs, and a pillow depicting a vintage bird postcard in finely-detailed embroidery.

Photographic art is an excellent way to bring a creative or unusual element to your room. Pottery Barn continues to expand its wall-art series this spring with a coterie of photo artists who have made intriguing works at a price point not easily matched in the market for great photography.

California photographer Lupen Grainne creates imagery that combines a pensive Instagram quality with professional composition. She captures dreamy San Francisco street scenes and beautiful fruit or fork still lifes that draw you in. San Francisco-based Ana Ramirez' shell photographs in stark black and white highlight the sculptural beauty of nature. And Prague-born photographer Michal Venera's expressive black-and-white Tanzanian animal prints depict the textural grace and beauty of the natural world.

You'll also find some amazing work from pro photogs Cindy Taylor and Rebecca Plotnick. ( )

At Crate & Barrel, there's the Monet-like watercolour floral of the "Myrtle" pillow, while the dramatic "Landscape" pillow, featuring a winding road through wild countryside, brings Turner to mind. ( )

Bird's eggs writ large — in fact, 32-inch-square large — are the powerful focal point of a series of wall art at Wisteria this spring. The eggs themselves are softly hued, but the scale of the photographic imagery is so remarkable that one or more would be a central feature in any room. ( )



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Although Vancouver is synonymous with rainy weather, a hot summer day is what makes this city’s tourism industry first rate. Vancouverites know that a day without a downpour is a day to take advantage of the great outdoors. And what better way to soak up the beautiful sites than on a restaurant patio accompanied by a hot dish and a cool cocktail. The following list of 25 best restaurant patios offers numerous great places to escape the usual culinary confines this summer.


Boathouse Restaurants 

Staking a claim to its name, each location offers a picturesque marine landscape. Check out the year-round heated deck located atop the Boathouse at English Bay.


Dockside Restaurant 

As the name suggests, you can pull up a chair on the dock right alongside the waterfront. Located on Granville Island, one of the city’s greatest attractions, enjoy the freshest seafood as the sailboats come in.


The Smoking Dog Bistro 

Tucked away in friendly Kitsilano, this French bistro pays homage to its culinary roots in Paris, France where the outdoor cafés line the streets. It’s the perfect cap to a day spent at Kits beach.


Blue Water Café + Raw Bar 

Located in trendy Yaletown, a mecca for people watching, Blue Water Café delivers some of the city’s finest seafood entrees and wine selections.


The Teahouse in Stanley Park 

The Teahouse is located on Stanley Park’s Ferguson Point. The spectacular view is complemented with local and cross-cultural fare to tempt all palates.


Dundarave Fish Market 

A delicious seafood market situated in the heart of West Vancouver where you can stay as long as you like and watch the passerbys while barring the cold thanks to the help of the heated street-side patio.


White Spot Restaurants 

A family-oriented west coast chain that serves up signature dishes for both kids and adults. Instead of spending the night in front of the boob tube, spend some quality time watching the street traffic at various locations with heated and covered patios.


Seasons in the Park 

Poised at the highest point in the city, Seasons in the Park offers the breathtaking, panoramic view of the city skyline, the North Shore Mountains, while nestled in the lush greenery of Queen Elizabeth Park.


Burgoo on Main Street 

This Main Street eatery excels in all things comfort, from the food, to the atmosphere, to the snug outdoor deck, you’ll feel like you never left the comforts of mom’s home cooking.


East is East

Forget the hassle of airport security checks and flight delays; you don’t have to travel to the Far East to enjoy its enticing cuisine. In fact, you don’t even have to go outside to enjoy a spectacular view either. An eclectic version of the indoor patio, this delightful dwelling promotes a lively atmosphere of dancing, camaraderie and jovial feasting amongst its patrons.


Bridges Restaurant 

Fine dining with a fantastic view from Granville Island.


Joe Fortes Seafood and Chophouse 

Escape the chaos of the streets below as you overlook the jam-packed sidewalks of Robson Street. Soak in the sun and the savoury seafood dishes atop the roof of this landmark restaurant.

Beach House 

Even if there’s no space left on the patio rest assured that there’s not one bad seat in the house as the ocean-view and mountain range virtually steal the show from the delectable seafood selections.



Casual and classy, Joey’s has something for everybody, as there are various settings to suit your mood. Choose from the casual dining room, the comfy, dimly-lit lounge/bar or the warm and relaxed patio.


Biercraft Cambie

Beer and patios are a match made in heaven and this Belgian beer-themed restaurant unifies the two most compatible ingredients to enhance those hot summer days.


The Whip 

A superb social setting for gathering the co-workers on a Friday evening after a rough day at work. Chill out on a cool night and partake in an assortment of tasty nibbles and alcoholic concoctions.


The Sandbar 

One of the busiest and largest patios, this popular seafood sanctuary provides a covered courtyard that can be populated rain or shine. An excellent environment for large parties, be sure to sample the Dragonboat appetizer plate. Try and share with others.


The Five Point 

A warm and welcoming pub with just a hint of naughtiness; this drinking abode is the perfect place to meet up with buds after a ball game. With unpretentious and easy-going wait-staff, be sure to ask about the ‘Burger & Beer’ deal.



A quaint little joint nestled along Main Street specializing in fusion comfort foods. The charming patio situated out back is the perfect setting for a quiet morning breakfast or leisurely brunch.


Cardero's in Coal Harbour 

Cardero’s Restaurant in Coal Harbour offers spectacular waterfront dining, from the main dining room, Live Bait Marine Pub to the outdoor patio.


Provence Marinaside 

Capturing the essence of Old Europe, Provence Marinaside exemplifies the Mediterranean menu while the view along the waterfront is picture-perfect.


Chill Winston 

Not just for tourists, Gastown offers up a hip and stylish patio for chilling out. Take in the city’s heritage while you enjoy an exquisite assortment of tapas.


Hamilton Street Grill 

There’s something about a patio that simply invites socializing and congeniality. Mix in some superb steak and a stomping ground for singles and you have the makings of one enjoyable eatery.


Horizons Restaurant 

Fine dining with a fantastic view atop Burnaby Mountain. Recently renovated.


The Galley Patio and Grill 

Specializing in showing off Vancouver’s stunning scenery, The Galley positions itself masterfully upon the second floor of the Jericho Sailing Club in order to deliver nothing but the best of Jericho Beach’s breathtaking backdrop.


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The biggest full moon of the year, a so-called "supermoon," will take center stage when it rises this weekend, and may interfere with the peak of an annual meteor shower created by the leftovers from Halley's comet. The supermoon of 2012 is the biggest full moon of the yearand will occur on Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT (that's 8:35 PDT "real time"), though the moon may still appear full to skywatchers on the day before and after the actual event AND AFTER THAT TIME. At the same time, the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will be hitting its peak, NASA scientists say. "Its light will wash out the fainter Eta Aquarid meteors," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center told in an email. Still, Cooke said there's a chance that the brightest fireballs from the meteor display may still be visible. 

A supermoon occurs when the moon hits its full phase at the same time it makes closest approach to Earth for the month, a lunar milestone known as perigee. Scientists also refer to the event as a "perigee moon," according to a NASA video on the 2012 supermoon. 

That's exactly what will happen on Saturday, when the moon will swing within 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) of Earth — its closest approach of the entire year. Because the moon's orbit is not exactly circular, there is a 3-percent variation in its closest approaches to Earth each month. The average Earth-moon distance is about 230,000 miles (384,400 km). With May's full moon timed with the moon's perigee, it could appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of 2012, astronomer Tony Phillips explained in a NASA video. There is absolutely no chance the supermoon will threaten Earth.

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We are inching closer and closer to Halloween and it's time to get down to planning the biggest and best bash on the block.

We've rounded up a few awesome decorating ideas to give your party a spooky, sophisticated edge that will have your guests screaming with delight. 

Give a few of the following projects a try:


Glittered Pumpkin Centerpieces- This crafty project from Martha Stewart is a nice way to posh-up your Halloween party. Use faux pumpkins and paint them black for an elegant effect. Then, dip them in tacky glue and spoon black and silver glitter over them, alternating colors as you see fit. Make sure to coat the entire pumpkin and shake off excess glitter. let the pumpkins dry for an hour and retouch if needed. Then stack them on a cake stand in the center of the table with black macabre candlesticks and faux spider webs for the perfect table setting. 

Witch's Broom Place Cards - Dress up your place settings with these adorable name tags shaped like a witch's broom. All you need for this project is a pile of raffia straw, some sticks from the backyard, a brown paper bag and glue. Grab all the instructions by clicking on the link and you'll have your guests spellbound in no time!

Black Ribbon Wreath - To glam up your entry way with a little bit of gothic flair, try crafting this wreath from CasaSugar. This simple project requires some black grosgrain ribbon and a wreath form. Then you simply cut the ribbon to equal lengths and tie it in knots around the form until the wreath is full. Then hang it on the door with a longer ribbon and you have a simple, chic way to welcome guests into the party.

Black Crepe Paper Flowers - To dress up your mantle or a coffee table, consider making these delicately dark crepe paper flowers and placing them in an elegant bowl. The project requires black crepe paper streamers, floral wire and floral tape. Instructions for the project can be found in the above link. These black floral pieces will give your Halloween bash an elegant, statement-making look.


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Whether you want a simple update or an all-out decor transformation, design experts share their thoughts on the best ways to cosy up your space for fall, indoors and out. Here’s how:

1. Lay out the welcome mat

More than just a place for visitors to wipe their shoes, welcome mats say a lot about your decor savvy, says Marissa Graham, owner of Endless Ideas Interiors in Brooklin, Ont. Look for designs with rich autumn shades — she likes oranges, deep reds and rustic browns — and bold patterns to make the most of this telling area.

2. Decorate your door

The perfect display case for nature’s bounty, doors serve as a spotlight for outdoor decor. Go chic and minimalistic with black planters filled with birch logs and twigs, or homespun with a wreath embellished with branches, berries and clusters of colourful leaves, says Alykhan Velji, a Calgary-based interior decorator.

3. Embrace texture and colour

A departure from the basic beiges and off-whites hues popular of late, soft shades of blue, purple, orange and grey are big this fall, as are suede, corduroy and natural textures. Try to incorporate these elements throughout your home with candles, rugs, blankets or art for a dose of subtle elegance.

4. Accent your kitchen

To truly fall-ify the most used room in the house, you’ll need to unearth a few organic goods. Fill and display wooden bowls and rustic pottery with gourds, apples or mini pumpkins, place baby pine cones in votive-sized coloured glass and load vases with fall foliage for a playful effect, says Velji.

5. Cosy up your bedroom

Simply trading light and airy sheets or duvets for thicker, more richly-shaded versions can make a big stylistic impact. So can upholstering your bed’s headboard to be more reflective of the season. “Obviously that’s a bigger undertaking,” says Graham, “but it can be gorgeous when done right.”

6. Style your dining room table

According to Velji, the perfectly-set autumn table should have a centrepiece, a plethora of candles and a unique personal touch. “I like the minimalistic combination of birch logs, leaves and fresh-cut flowers for my own home, but adding a beautiful table runner, placemats, gourds, small pumpkins, dried flowers and berries can be very impactful, as well,” he says.

7. Lavish your living room

This is the room most often seen by visitors, so any time and energy invested in redecorating the space are well spent, says Graham. Update it for fall with a richly-shaded throw, a few textured pillows, heavier drapes and wooden accessories throughout.

8. Organize your artifacts

Fall decor is about layering patterns, fabrics and colours — sometimes all at once. To create a perfectly undone look, place collections of similarly-shaded accessories on a mantel, coffee table, windowsill or dresser. Whether grouped together or lined up haphazardly, they deliver a chic yet nonchalant effect.

9. Let there be light

Even when not lit, candles do much to infuse a space with warmth. Look for variations in sizes for dramatic impact, and place them in or on holders — votives, pillars or hurricanes — to enhance their shimmering visual appeal.

10. Invest in style

When seasonal redecorating calls for something new, investments needn’t be hefty. For affordable additions to your abode, Graham loves Memory Blocks by Sid Dickens, which can be hung on walls in large or small groupings much like paintings, while Velji recommends the Lyle Side Chair from Crate & Barrel as his vintage-inspired must have.

Written by: Liz Bruckner

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Are you over orange as an autumn decorating accent? Bored with relying on balsam and fir touches to evoke a holiday spirit in your home? If cooler weather and the coming holidays have you looking for new decorating ideas, here are some trends that will be heating up interior design this year:


Economize and simplify


"People are starting to simplify their spaces by paring down their decor to items that show off their interests and personality," says Nancy Hadley, a former design producer for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Trading Spaces and Kitchen Nightmares. "Entertaining spaces will begin to represent comfortable elegance and less pretense."


Multifunctional rooms, such as kitchens with office, homework and reading areas, will speak to this trend, Hadley predicts.


'Mad Men'-style nostalgia


"Mid-century modern has always been popular, but it's going to get even bigger this season," says interior designer Jonathan Fong, author of "Walls that WOW" and host of the web TV show "Style with a Smile." The hit TV show "Mad Men" will provide the design inspiration for the trend, but the desire for comfort through continuing economic challenges will be what draws homeowners and designers to the look, he predicts.


"As financial markets plummet and natural disasters proliferate, people are going to look for the (relative) innocence of the '60s," he says. "Look for furniture with clean lines and sleek legs, a muted color palette of grays and creams, and rich wood surfaces on tabletops and even walls."



Natural influences, like plant and aviary-inspired tribal patterns, landscapes and natural scenes or textures like bamboo will attract homeowners looking for both beauty and conservation. Products like re-usable SmartStick wall graphics will appeal for both their beauty and practicality. Available with an array of natural scenes and textures, their modern wallpaper material allows homeowners and designers to mount a wall mural on virtually any flat surface. The space-age material is easily removable and can be moved and re-used over and over anywhere in the house. Log on to to learn more.

Homeowners and designers will also embrace energy efficiency in their interior design, Hadley says. "LED lighting will be big this year, and eco-efficient appliances will continue to dominate the market."

Anti-season decor and colors

If you're tired of rustic textures and golden hues for fall, and you've had your fill of pumpkins and holly, the anti-season decor trend may be for you. "People are putting their own spin on the holidays that is more modern and sophisticated," Fong says. "Harvest-themed decor is out, and simpler accessories in cooler, muted shades are in."

Fong predicts favored colors this season will evoke a "New Year's state of mind" with black, white and silver accents to create a clean look. "Colors will be contrasts of bold and vivid beside neutral grays, browns and warm whites," Hadley agrees. "Accent walls or brightly colored furniture pieces will play off soothing neutral areas of a room."

Furniture hacking

"Furniture hacking" - transforming or repurposing old furniture pieces - will grow in popularity, Fong says. "Crafters and DIY enthusiasts are taking the design world by storm."

Painting or decoupage gives a new life and a new look to used furniture, or you may totally repurpose an item, like a chair, and turn it into something completely new and useful, such as shelves.

"Right now, my obsession is adding graphic images to plain cabinet fronts and table tops," Fong says. "In the past, I've done this with decoupage, but now I'm trying the SmartStick repositionable wallpaper. I cut it into panels and just stick them on the furniture."

By: ARAcontent, Posted Sept. 21st /11

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How to Make Your Garden Patio Look Good Without Spending Much

Posted in Raised Garden Beds


Trend of outdoor living is growing rapidly and need of garden patio follows. Have a look at any magazine and you would notice patio garden at one place or other. You just need to use your imagination to make your garden absolutely beautiful and unique. Everyone would like to have best garden in their backyard but budget may be a constraint for some as garden may get really expensive. Get thrifty and use containers around your house for decorating your garden.


If space is limited and you want to have lots of plants, place all of them in different containers. Grow anything (flowers/ dwarf citrus-trees/ conifers) in containers and arrange the containers in unused corners of your garden patio as that allows you 5/6 dissimilar plants in different containers. You can also use small tables for placing containers as that would bring colour as well as fragrance in your patio. It would also give you some place where you can place your drink glasses.


Another great idea that saves lot of space in small patio is building an arbour. Use climbers to hang plants and that would reserve complete space on floor for the furniture. You can also attach shelves for small containers.


Lot of people prefer building raised beds in their garden patio using a matching material (like brick/ stone). Build raised beds all around patio and entire garden can be planted in them. Taller plants in centre with smaller plants on sides can be a delightful view from patio/ yard. If you have lot of space, you can use container plants outside raised beds and that would further dress up your patio.


Garden Patio is a superb place to have your personal vegetable/ herb gardens. You can grow in raised beds/ containers or anywhere. These would not only look beautiful but would also make a great addition to your daily meals. Picnic table can also be used for containers/ barrels for creating corner garden. After vegetables have been harvested, you can plant fall flowers/ foliage in containers as that would extend the growing season.


You can either plan for a formal garden patio to entertain your guests. It would also be outdoor retreat for you and your family. Formal gardens can use space around patio to include sculptures/ water features. Raised beds/ cascading plants/ stairways/ tree, shrub planted in ground around your patio can make your garden look absolutely wonderful. You can also apply themes by planting many plants from same family. Bonsai as well as bamboo are quite popular but are time-consuming.


People who have lot of time/ money to hire a gardener can go for lush garden patio. Hundreds of plants look awesome but you must not forget that each and every plant has some specific needs that you must take care of regularly, or your garden may turn looking like a jungle. You must group plants as per their water/ soil requirements. It requires lot of work, but it is very rewarding. You can also add water features to make it better.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The condo dwellers that have a patio or even a balcony can enjoy most any type of gardening. An important thing to remember is the finished growth size of plant. Another thought in planning should be size of the fruit. But there are even ways around that!

2. Check out your local gardening sections and you will find many miniature plants that will fit nicely on your balcony or patio. Before purchasing plants look at the varieties of containers available. It might be possible to combine plants in order to arrange them more efficiently in the space available.

3. Decide on what plants you want to grow. Consider the types of soil necessary for each and use this information when you combine in the same containers. This also applies to flowering plants. One condo gardener combined several different flowers in one section and it caught every visitor's eye immediately.

4. Another factor to consider is harvest time of vegetables and fruit. It might be possible to use the same space for two different plants. Timing your harvests could afford you fresh fruit and veggies throughout the season.

5. Condo gardeners have less chance of critters disturbing their plants and devouring their produce. Especially when it is a balcony garden or enclosed courtyard garden. It is also less work to water and care for this concentration of plants.

6. Another condo owner refused to give up on having fruit trees. She found miniature orange, lemon and lime trees that fit nicely on her balcony. Another purchased a long narrow container for sweet corn, which made and interesting border for the side of her patio. Don't be discouraged! There is a way to have fresh fruits and vegetables, even when you live in a condo!


Article by: By Braniac, eHow User

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