I want to thank everyone who left words of encouragement and virtual hugs last week.

Last week my husband was laid off after working with the same company for almost 21 years. He started there after graduating from university and his job had us move between cities, provinces and countries. It came as a shock to us and we are still reeling from the news. 

It has been an emotional roller coaster. 

 What the future holds for us is unknown. 

Some of my projects on my to-do list have taken a back seat while we ponder our future. Somehow spray painting a chair just doesn't seem to matter. 

Thank-you for all your support, friendship and encouragement. You have no idea how loved and encouraged we feel. I feel. So many of you who I have told have sent me stories of encouragement, and quotes that are so meaningful and appreciated.

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart.

XO Barbara

Three Inspiring Office Spaces

Yesterday Emily Clark posted photos of her finished office space. 

I am so smitten with her new space!

Another photo that had me at "hello" was this space that Carol posted on Facebook.

 Finally another space I absolutely adore, is Edie from Life in Grace blog's work space.

What I notice about these three spaces is the perfect balance of colour, patterns, and materials. These eclectic spaces are jaw dropping gorgeous! 

I think every office space needs a signature chair, fabulous wall of bookcases artfully arranged along with a mix of traditional, industrial and vintage and a bit of the unexpected thrown in!


Only wish I had a office space to call my own.


****Don't forget you have until Friday to enter my giveaway to win a free CUSTOM blog header and button OR 50% off a whole blog re-design!***

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh?: Andrea Lauder Johnson

Visiting this week is a local blogger and designer who with her infectious smile dresses to kill! 

Every time we meet, or bump into each other running errands, she is stylin' and smilin'. You can not help but love to be around her.

Give a warm welcome to the ever so incredibly talented.....

Andrea Johnson from Andrea Johnson Design

She is

Andrea has such amazing taste, her sense of style is impeccable, and it translate into her interiors as well. 
If I ever get my dream house one day, Andrea would be one of the first designers I would call upon. She is a master of mixing the high with the low, creating a seamless and cohesive space that drips with style.

Her spaces are drool worthy!

Don't believe me? 

Check out her portfolio....

 My favourite rug, the ever elusive rug from Ikea!

 Marble topped breakfast table - yes please!

Her kitchen....speechless..

 All photos by Tracey Ayton 

Andrea also writes the fabulous blog, From My Living Room, where she shares her design projects and dilemmas, designers that she adores, her latest decor finds, and feature her amazing wardrobe ensembles!

Be sure to pop by and say hi!

Tell us a bit about yourself; what is your background, your education? Where you always interested in design?

I studied at Langara College for two years before transferring to SFU with my main focus being child psychology!  I know, it seems odd to me now but at the time I really thought that’s what I wanted to do.  I never ended up completing all the years necessary to make that happen.  I realized that I didn’t have the passion for it anymore so I took some time off from school to work and make some money.  I ended up working for a telecom company and then a reproduction art company, got married and had a baby.  I then decided to go back to school and study Interior Design.  I went to BCIT and did as many courses as I could while pregnant with my second baby.  I then gained some experience working with a local designer.  I didn’t decide to start my own business until both kids were in school all day and my business took off from there.  It’s funny looking back because I have always loved interior design from a young age and why I went off track to study psychology I’ll never know.  I would have saved a lot of years in school and student loans if I realized this when I was much younger!

What made you decide to start a blog?

I came across interior design blogs while surfing the net and started to read them on a regular basis.  I thought that it was such an amazing outlet to express your style and creativity with like -minded people.  After following many blogs I decided to bite the bullet and start my own blog.  For the most part I didn’t think I would have anything interesting to say nor did I think that anyone would ever read it.  It’s scary to put yourself out there!

What have you enjoyed about blogging, anything surprise you?

When I started blogging I had no idea how many people I would meet along the way and what a supportive community it has turned out to be.  It has also been a great avenue for my business.  Clients have found me through blogging and anything that helps to grow my business is a great thing!

What hopes and dreams do you have for your future, where do you hope to see yourself, say in the next 5 years?

To keep building my business and making clients happy.  I feel blessed to be able to do something that I am so passionate about.

When you get a new design project, how do you start each project, what inspires the direction of your designs?

Inspiration can come from anywhere, it could be the view outside, from something a client already has like a painting or a throw blanket, or a fabric swatch is a great jumping off point and can inspire a whole room. Once I have an understanding of the style the client is after I will put together some fabric and colour options as well as furniture pieces to present to the client and make sure we are on the same track. 

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

I would love to meet Kelly Wearstler and Mary McDonald.  I think they are both amazing designers.  I love the glamour they bring to a space as well as their use of bold colour and pattern.  There’s a fearlessness to their spaces that I admire.

You are a working mother, how to find balance between your work, blogging and family life?

First of all, I wish I were a better blogger!  I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to fit everything into my life that I want to do.  It helps that my kids are in school all day and I try to do the majority of my work while they are in school.   Having said that, it can be difficult because no one is telling you to turn your computer off and go home!  Let’s just say that finding balance is an ongoing juggling act and I do the best I can.

As a self-employed designer who is building an amazing portfolio, what advice do you have for anyone just starting out?

The most important thing I have learned since starting my own business is that it’s 20% design and 80% business.  This was an important lesson I learned from Kimberley Seldon who is an amazing designer and business woman!  I didn’t come from a business background, I am all about the pretty!  Whether you like it or not the business side always plays a larger role than the fun stuff like doing floor plans and decorating.  I had so much to learn and I am still learning all the time.  Clients teach you a lot about what is or isn’t working in your business and I’ve learned a lot since I first started out.

How would you describe your design style?

I would say that it’s fresh and youthful with lots of colour.  I love mixing prints and interesting colour combinations. 

You are really good at mixing high and low, what tips do you have for my readers where to splurge and where to save?

Yes, I think it’s important to be able to mix high and low since most people don’t have an unlimited budget.  I also like mixing vintage pieces with new pieces.  I think it adds personality and keeps a room from feeling like a showroom.  When it comes to the budget I would prefer to spend money on the bones of the room first if possible.  It’s a challenge to work around something that just isn’t right.  For example, a floor that needs updating, or a room that’s calling out for some great millwork.  If you have great bones to work with then everything else will fall into place. Even if that means you can’t furnish the whole space right away.  When it comes to furniture I like to spend more money on the larger pieces and less on things like pillows, side tables and lamps as well as things that are considered trendy.  If you have a good quality classic sofa it can be mixed with either a modern or more traditional space and it ends up being a great investment piece that will stand the test of time.

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?

We have so much talent in Canada and I think we have an interesting perspective on how we approach design.  Across the country we have such a diverse landscape from the west coast to the east coast.  We have beautiful oceans and mountain views as well as the vast grasslands in the prairies and we like to incorporate our views into our homes.  We like bringing the outside in whether it’s using colour that reflects our landscape, large windows to take in the views or using natural elements in our interiors to reflect our surroundings.  

Andrea, I will be calling upon you when I get my dream home - I LOVE your design style!
Maybe you can also start giving my some fashion lessons as well? 

XO Barbara

Giveaway: Blog Header Design from Gallery No Eight

**Edited March 2, Giveaway is now CLOSED****

You all may have noticed that I am sporting a whole new look! 

I had a blog re-design done by the fabulous Brittany from Gallery No. Eight. A talented designer, currently studying media design at the prestigious Ryerson University, one of the tops in the country for the arts. 
Her graduation date is getting closer and she is ready to unleash her talent!

So to celebrate my new look Brittany is 
generously offering a 

FREE custom header and button for one lucky winner!

Or the winner can choose to get a whole blog design at 50% off!

My testimonial:

I had some ideas about how I wanted my blog to look, after sending her links to blogs I like, the kind of fonts that tickled my fancy, she came back in a matter of minutes with a few fonts that she felt captured the essence of my blog!

After a bit of tweaking she NAILED it! I am thoroughly impressed by her ability to read what I want and to express it in the design!

You will NOT be disappointed with her service.

 The install was a smooth transition, she ironed out the kinks and set it up just the way I wanted it!

Here are some samples of her work:

***Giveaway is now closed***

How to Enter to get your Free Custom Header and Button 
{or 50% off a whole blog re-design}

1. Tweet/Facebook about it
{Help spread the news about this new website designer!}

2. Follow Gallery No. Eight
3. Be a follower of my blog

Please leave a comment for each entry AND email info if you don't have one connected to your profile.

This is open to anyone, if you have a computer and internet access, well, you can enter!

This giveaway closes Friday, March 2, 2012 at 12:01AM PST.

Brittany is offering all my readers a 15% discount if you sign up for any of her services.
Just give her the code: HODGEPODGE15, which is valid until March 31, 2012.


XO Barbara

Tag, You are IT!

Sorry I meant to have this post up yesterday but our life took a crummy turn yesterday. The rug was pulled up from underneath my hubby and I, we are trying to lay low and absorb the news. So let's just say life stinks right now. 

But I love the fact that I have my family and I married my best friend. All that matters is that we have each other and together we will get through the curveballs life throws out at you.

Donna Davie Photography

So enough about the %#$%@* life hands you,

onto some fun!

Last week my blogging gal pal Carol from The Design Pages tagged me in a fun game called

Tag, You are It!


Answer the questions created by the person who is "it" then come up with 11 questions that you send to 11 others you tag!

Here are the questions Carol wanted to know:

1.  What did you do last Friday night?

Spent the evening walking around Whistler Village after a day of skiing with the family while the snow was falling all around.

photos by me via Instagram

2.  What is your specialty in the kitchen?

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

3.  What is your favourite nail polish colour?

Heart and Tarts by OPI

4.  Dogs or cats?

Dog. If you had asked me this questions 25 years ago I would of said, cats. But after having the most wonderful yet insane chocolate lab for the past 11 1/2 year, it is DOGS!

5.  What is your favourite computer or phone app?

That is a hard one, I love the Canadian House and Home app but the Pinterest App is a close second. But it is also a toss-up between Twitter and Facebook too. For household management, Neer is tops!

6.  Who inspires you the most?

My fellow bloggers

7.  If you and I were going to spend a weekend together what would you plan for us?

Well first off, we would hit all the thrift stores, then hit up all the fabric shops. After that we would stop to eat yummy Indian food, you vegetarian me, not. We would wash it all down with copious amounts of wine. After I think we should have a spray paint party in the garage with our finds from the thrift store along with more wine while talking the evening away!

8.  What was the best book you read last year?

The Help

9.  What's your biggest accomplishment of 2012?

Helping my 12th grader with all her university and scholarship applications! Getting her and the family ready for the graduation year. And finally finding THE prom dress. But we are only a few months into the new year, anything can happen this year!

10. Do you like to dance?

Love to dance! The best way to get housework done is to turn on the tunes and to kick up those heels!

11. Which is your favourite, must read blog?  

That is a tough one. There are sooo many that I read daily. I can't really name one in particular that stands out, each has their own twist. I love the fact that blogs are like mini-magazines, full of amazing inspirational photos, ideas and stories! But there is one blog that makes me laugh every time, one that is so well written, witty, writes from the heart and is a mom to three, so I can relate : Bungalow 56. She is not a design blogger but more a mommy blogger who takes amazing photos and hails from a northern Canadian town. 

Tagging these wonderful bloggers!

Design Maze
The Vintique Object
Marcus Design
Isabella and Max Rooms
First Time Fancy
flutter, flutter
Nutmeg & Company
Our House
Eclectically Vintage
Jax Does Design

My 11 questions that I want to know:

1. Coffee or tea?
2. What is your favourite colour?
3. What is your go-to resource for inspiration?
4. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
5. Favourite coffee table book?
6. What design faux pas can you NOT stand?
7. What blogger would you love to meet in real life?
8. Where in the world would you love to visit?
9. What would be your ideal profession?
10. If you won the lottery tomorrow,what would be the first thing you would do?
11. What do you think you are good at?

XO Barbara

Hanging out at Prairie Perch

While the lovely Sarah is off soaking up the warm tropical sunshine she has asked me to share what I have been lovin' lately.

It was hard narrowing down what I have been lovin' lately as there is so much inspirational ideas floating around - but my top love list is over at Prairie Perch today. 

Come on over, don't be shy! 

Tomorrow's post will be a fun one, I was tagged by Carol and it's mine turn to play the game!

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Lloyd Ralphs Design

Featured this week are two amazing designers who are well known on the international design stage. Together they have created a well known design firm, one that is known for creating classic and timeless interiors, with a dash of the eclectic and loads of elegance.

Welcome to the fabulous design duo....

 Christine Ralphs and Michelle Lloyd from Lloyd Ralphs Design.

They are so...

I have always been fond of the interiors by Lloyd Ralphs Design, as a fan of black and white I am drawn to their soothing and classic design aesthetic. 

Despite the lack of bright colours, they create drama with layers of texture, objets and pattern.

Below are a collection of some of my favourite spaces designed by the dynamo duo. Each photo tells a story of the space, a sense of who the space is designed for and who lives there.

Canadian House and Home | Photo: Jason Tse

~Michelle Lloyd~

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

I was born in Toronto where I took commercial art at Northern Secondary.  I worked in small boutiques and manufacturers in the city learning the fashion business of design and styling. I opened one of the first fashion/design boutiques in Toronto, OnlyYou. Design is where I draw my daily confidence, it has always entered into every aspect of my life.

 It is my understanding that both you and Christine worked together at Club Monaco. Was fashion your background? And if so, why did you decide to venture over into interior design?

I was the Senior VP of Fashion Design at Club Monaco for 18 years.  The transition to interiors came easily as each season at CM was viewed from a lifestyle point of view.  Who was the girl or guy and how or where did they live? 

How do you find harmony and balance in working with a design partner? What strengths do you bring to the relationship?

 Christine’s design skills are completely complimentary to mine.  We decided long ago that there is no time for disharmony when you are creating something special together. 

How would you describe your design style?

Vintage classics with a chic simple world feeling.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Vintage movies, books, Palm Beach, Miami, New York, South of France.

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

Intern at the best companies out there.  Your resume will set you apart and give you a head start.

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

Painting every room a different colour in one’s home.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Travel, photography, gardening, art shows, spending time in New York with my daughter who designs for J. Crew. Collecting anything raffia.

Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us!

I was always an avid seamstress from very young.

What goals or aspirations do you have for your design business?

To spread the joy we have for the design business by creating world class environments.

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?

The young guard of Toronto today are leading the city in innovative design.  Shops and cafes are popping up everywhere.  They are experimenting with looks on a very small budget with loads of style.  This method is where most ideas are born.


~Christine Ralphs~

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

I was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin and went to University in Ohio.  My major was in Journalism and Art but my heart was always in fashion.  I used book money to buy handbags!   So I naturally followed fashion as a career.  First working in Display for Neimans and then Harrods in London.  I moved to Canada just in time to be part of the creation of Club Monaco with Michelle where I spent 18 years as Senior Vice President of Store Design and Marketing.

1.      It is my understanding that both you and Michelle worked together at Club Monaco. Was fashion your background? And if so, why did you decide to venture over into interior design?

At Club Monaco I was in charge of Store Design and Construction so the move to commercial and residential design was seamless.  What separates Lloyd Ralphs Design from other firms is that we are able to do commercial and residential work with backgrounds as diverse as fabric and actual building construction!  A corporate retail background gives Michelle and I the ability to relate and interact with a variety of clients.

1.      How do you find harmony and balance in working with a design partner? What strengths do you bring to the relationship?

We had so many staff in our previous careers that change to a small intimate company fosters more creativity.   Because our skills are complimentary Michelle and I often have different roles in our projects.  The most important thing is that we have extremely similar taste levels and our goal is always making our clients design happy.

How would you describe your design style?

Having a background in retail store and window design I always go for a focal point ( something be it art or furniture or architecture) in any space…I like drama.  My style is a real mix but edited in a simple way….a large French mirror mixed with a 70’s sculpture and a touch of zebra!  Don’t forget to have fun!!!

1.     Where do you find inspiration for your designs? 

Travel, vintage furniture stores, art shows and galleries, basically everywhere because I’m always looking and hunting for the next new thing to fall in love with.

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

Go after your goals.  Look at the experts in your field.  If you need experience go after a position with the companies you admire.  Aim high.
If you are aiming high, your work must reflect this.  It takes talent and hard work but if you love what you’re doing it will pay off.

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

Speckled granite countertops in any room of the house. 

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

Photography, time at my island cottage or in Miami, swimming anywhere and anytime, windsurfing, creative projects, collecting as the mood moves me.

1.     Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us!

I wanted to be a television weather girl.

1.     What goals or aspirations do you have for your design business?

After 10 years in business our goals are really being realized.  We have a wonderful group of international clients who inspire us to grow and evolve our business.

1.     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?

I think that Canadian designers have an optimism and friendliness that is intoxicating.  What is most important is that the level of talent in this country is being recognized on the world stage.  It’s all about branding really.  

Michelle and Christine, as a longtime fan I am so truly honoured that you gave us a peek into your lives! 
We can all learn that being a successful designer is not only being creative but also having a keen business sense and drive. Something that the two of you have truly mastered.

XO Barbara