So Canadian, eh? : Cobi Ladner

This week's 

has been a favourite of mine for quite some time. My admiration of her goes far, not only is she a working mother of two, the creator behind her newest business design venture but she held the coveted position of editor at Canadian House and Home for 15 years!

Please give a warm welcome to......

The fabulous Cobi Ladner!

She helped bring Canadian House and Home to where it is today, a magazine that can be found on every design aficionado's  coffee table.

One of my favourite renovation projects that was featured in Canadian House and Home was her fabulous kitchen. I love how she hung a chandelier in the skylight  - a brave and bold move that really helped add that extra sparkle to the room.

Cobi hung up her editor's hat in 2008, started a blog, features fabulous house tours on Steven and Chris {a Canadian TV show hosted by the fab design duo} and is spearheading a design campaign to bring more colour into Canadian households by creating cobistyle, a fabulous juicy new line of furniture, accessories, drapery and fabric exploding with colour and pattern.

Photos courtesy of Cobi Ladner

1.     Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood?

I studied RTA (radio and television arts) at Ryerson and planned to become a tv producer like Mary Tyler Moore.  Landing my first job at Chatelaine as the jr. decorating editor, I found out very quickly that I loved magazines and I loved decorating.  I actually loved decorating at a very early age (hence, the insistence of  wallpaper on 4 of my walls as a girl rather than the usual 1 ‘feature wall’ - my poor parents).

2.     You were the former editor for one of my favourite Canadian publications, Canadian House & Home, how long did you have that position and what made you decide to switch gears? How has that job helped shape where you are today?

I was editor of H&H for 15 years (18 years with the company).  I worked there all through my 30’s and really ‘grew up’ with the magazine.  It didn’t only help shape what I am today - it reflected all of the steps along the way to where I am today.  I loved working on the magazine and was very fortunate to hold that position which gave me access to so much.  When I hit my mid 40’s however, I realized that you can have too much of a good thing and that if I didn’t strike out on my own then, I never would.  It was just time.   And so after a ton of soul searching and about 2 years of contemplation,  I jumped!

3.     Now you are the creator and driving force behind, cobistyle, a fantastically fresh line of furnishings, fabrics and accessories. What was the motivation and inspiration behind your new venture?

It was the combination of two things really.  1.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist  to figure out that people were being beiged-to-death.  The world has been bombarded with neutrals for the past decade (at least) and homeowners were crying out for change.  2.  People would ask me where I found things for my own home and I didn’t have good answers for them.  My best stuff, I found at flea markets; antique shops; chinatown; out of the way places that weren’t generally accessible.  I want to create products that are easily accessible to all and still have tons of character and personality in them.  It’s a lofty goal but I think we’re on the right track with the launch of cobistyle!

4.     Even though most of us would feel that your job would be our dream job, what goals or aspirations do you have for yourself and for cobistyle?

To have some help would be a good start!  Kidding, but I do look forward to building a team of like minded people though.  That’s what I miss most about the magazine.  The synergy of a creative team with a common goal is wonderful.  I just want to turn this whole crazy scheme into an actual business with a positive balance sheet and a roof (beyond my house) and maybe a pretty teapot in a staff kitchen.  That would be fabulous.  If it had a retail store with the whole story collection out in front, that would be even better!    I would also love to make an impact with the line -  south of the border.  A girl can dream, can’t she?  I’ve been asked to speak at High Point, NC - the big furniture mart in the US in October -  and I’m excited to introduce the line down there and see what our southern cousins think.  The fun part is that they don’t know me down there and so the line will have to speak for itself.   A good challenge that I’m totally up for.

5.      You still have your finger on the pulse of the design scene; tell us where do you find inspiration for your product line?

It doesn’t matter what you do - whether you work at a magazine or in a Dr. office -  if you’re interested in design, you find inspiration everywhere.  I find it shopping - high end or grungy junk shop; on the web; in magazines; books; music; nature; it doesn’t matter.  If you’re interested in something, all roads lead to Rome.

6.     What tips do you have for aspiring designers in getting their design work published or to hone their skills?

Pick up the phone!  Send an email!  There’s no special trick.  Take pictures and send them off.  So many good designers don’t self promote.  If you’re too busy - I guess that’s a good sign - but it really isn’t hard.  There’s no inside scoop.  It’s all about showing magazines what you’ve got and reminding them every so often that you’re around.  Once you’ve introduced yourself, just let them know through an email that you just finished a project and send them some snapshots.  If the timing’s right and the look fits the bill, you’ll be in.  They need to fill the pages with great stuff as much as you need the profile.

7.     What is one design faux pas that you wish could be banished?

Small pictures on big walls.

8.     As a mother to two children, you are actively involved in their daily life, how do you balance your family life and your work?

Lots of yelling ;)  No - moving my work home was a great thing.  Although I work insane hours -  I’m here.  And that’s a big difference when a kid comes in at 3:00 in the afternoon and can gab for 10 mins about their day.  But I will never be one to preach against women working outside the home.  I think good moms come in every walk of life and you just have to do what’s right for you.  Balance is a daily, possibly, hourly, goal for me.  It eludes me most days and I get very grouchy if I’m out of whack too long because I do love everything about the home - the kids, food, garden, decorating, entertaining, all that stuff - it’s cliche but I want it all and I get very peeved if I can’t have it!

9.   What do you like to do in your free time?

Clean up my house.  Reorganize.  Entertain.  Make a recipe.  Start a project.  Probably way too much.  I seldom sit and read a book (although I long to do that in another life).  I am a busy girl who always has something on the go.  I hope my daughter doesn’t emulate me too much.  I’m sure there are easier ways to get through life!

10   If you could meet anyone or do anything who or what would it be? 

Ok - I know I will lose the respect of many if I say Lady Di.  I did love her though.  Maybe I should say Kate?  Nah - boring.  A better answer is just to buy a one way ticket around the world and force myself to take only one bag.  That sounds like utter freedom to me.

1    You are surrounded by such amazing design inspiration, how do you decide what and how to decorate your own home?

I honestly don’t think about it too much.  I want it a certain way - and that’s it.  I think my bossy nature takes over and I just do it the way I think it should be done.  It’s usually only finances that stops the process.

 What are your views on the role of Canadian design on the world stage? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

Yes.  I think Canadian’s have a wonderful sense of style and it’s partly due to our newness.  We aren’t mired in a specific look the way Italian design is or French.  We can try all kinds of things, from all around the world - some old, some new - and whatever works, sticks.  It’s a great way to be.  I also think that Canada is so big - with so much different geography - that even with age, we will never have a cohesive, national ‘look’.  And that’s great too!  Of course Canada has 5 looks rather than one - that’s so Canadian when you think about it!

Thanks Cobi for visiting this week. I am thrilled to have had the chance to delve into your world for a bit. I wish you the best of luck in your newest design venture, and looking forward to seeing your product line grace the homes of Canadians, because we know that with our dreary winters we could sure use an injection of colour into our homes.

xo Barbara


  1. Interesting post. She certainly loves her colour ... I'm off to check out her blog.

    Suzy xxx

  2. Great interview. I love her use of color and will definitely go check out her blog. Thanks!

  3. Great interview. I love her use of color and will definitely go check out her blog. Thanks!

  4. I am looking forward to seeing her line next time I am in IN VU. I miss her at the magazine. Even though I love Suzanne Dimma, I enjoy both of their direction of the magazine.

  5. GREAT Interview Barbara! I loved reading it so much... thank you for sharing this!

    Hope your weekend has been great so far!

  6. Wow Barb, you've outdone yourself. What a great interview. It is so nice that the heavy hitters in the design world are so accessible and willing to share themselves.

  7. Wow, hope the cobistyle line does well!

  8. Fab interview Barbara!! Loved H&H with Cobi! This is a fantastic series and I can't wait to see who you have next!

  9. Wow, Barbara. I love her colours and colour schemes. I had a look at some of her furniture line and I love her lamps. Great interview.

  10. What a nice post thank you for introducing us to Cobi. I enjoyed my visit to your lovely blog. Hugs!

  11. Great interview and great person. Way to go Barbara!!!

  12. Great interview! I love the spaces pictured. So beautiful. Her use of color is great!

  13. Barbara! Well done! She's one of my favourites!!! I have some of her products on my website, and every time a shipment arrives, I get giddy. Just got two of her tufted accent chairs in linen and they're fabulous. They'll come in very handy for photo shoots.


  14. Wow, what a wonderful interview full of inspiration. I am really excited about Cobi's line!!
    Nancy xo

  15. Wonderful interview Barbara. Cobi's injection of colour is a much needed and welcome change. She has such a positive attitude and you've captured that well!

  16. Great interview! I love Cobi and am loving her new line of drapery. I remember going for a job interview with her and she was so lovely - I think I was a little star-struck at the time :)

  17. Those are great colours in her line! I'll have to go and check out her blog now. Thanks!!

  18. What a fabulous interview. I'm a fan of cobistyle and this interview really gave insight into Cobi, the person beyond the line!

    And yes, beige is so boring! Bring on the colour!

  19. Really enjoyed the read. Love what she did with the chandelier and her kitchen window treatment


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