Friday Musings

What a week! Have not had time to write up posts because

A: I am not organized 
B: I worked this week
C: was busy sewing roman blinds for my sister's mother-in-law 
D: When I had free time all the computers in the house were held hostage by children and husband. 

Have you tried writing a post in an iPhone? Not easy my friends.

Here is a peek at what has kept me busy this week. 

I made 3 custom roman blinds. Took me forever....tried to do my absolute best since it will be hanging in someone else's home. My sister's mother-in-law recently gave her kitchen a spruce up, stripped down the floral wallpaper from the 80's and painted her walls Benjamin Moore's Woodlawn blue. I then made these blinds for her from the gorgeous fabric she chose. Hope they like them as I deliver them today on my way home from this:

Wahoo! I am going to hang out with a few local blogging friends and take in all the beautiful things The Cross has in shop!


XO Barbara

Photo Turned Canvas Art by Posterjack

Before we left for our fabulous and much needed vacation I was given a chance to review a product from, the photo experts. The icing on the cake is they are Canadian! Give a little cheer, eh? 
My goal in our bedroom is to create a gallery wall of photos and art that are bicycle related for the bike obsessed husband. Recently I hung a gallery wall on my side of the room (pictures are coming) and his side is bare. On top of my to-do list was to take a photo he took while cycling and have it printed on canvas. came to the rescue by offering to do just that! 

 The possibilities are endless on their website. You can create your own custom art using photographs, from posters, to wood mounted photos. 

I decided canvas art was what I wanted. After uploading my photo onto their site, I chose my size (12x12) and cropped it the way I wanted it to fit. Then I just hit order! It was really quite easy. You can customize your art with colors or turn it into black and white, make effects, the list goes on.

I liked my photo just the way it was. Less than a week later, it was on my doorstep!

My husband LOVED it. It was great to see his photo turned into a gallery wrapped canvas!

Now I have to collect a few more pieces and I can get to hanging.

Prices are very reasonable and they ship quickly! 

The great part is that has been so kind to offer YOU my readers 20%!
Just use the coupon code: HodgePodge. It is valid until April 16!

XO Barbara

Guest Posting at 10 Rooms: Crushing on Colour

Hello my lovelies. It is back to regular schedule of life, after 3 weeks of no school, I am glad to be back to routine. Three weeks, you ask? Yes, there was a teacher's strike just before we left on our vacation, then regular 2 week spring break. Feels good to get back to routine. I know the routine will get "old" come June, but for now it is most welcome!

Today you can find me at Anne-Marie's blog 10 Rooms where I take part in her Crushing on Colour series.

You will have to guess which colour I have a crush on, maybe you already know that answer!

XO Barbara

So Canadian, eh? : Brian Gluckstein

It is such an honour to have one of Canada's top design gurus visiting the blog this week!

An internationally recognized designer, Brian not only contributes regularly as a guest expert on Cityline TV, has had his designs published in numerous publications but has had great success with the launch of GlucksteinHome. GlucksteinHome can be found in The Bay and Home Outfitters across Canada, a brilliant endeavour to bring affordable yet tasteful and classic decor by Brian to the average Canadian. Can't afford Brian to come in and design your home? Well you have have pieces designed by him at fabulous price points! Most recently Brian has partnered with Benjamin Moore to create custom colour palettes to coordinate with the Gluckstein Home line.

Please welcome....

He is...

Brian captures the essence of timeless and classic design. Truly a master in creating luxurious interiors dripping with elegance.

Here is a bathroom Brian designed, one of my all time favourite bathrooms!

Can you imagine bathing in this room?
When you read the interview you will see why this is "so" Brian!

Here are a few images from their Spring and Summer 2012 Patio Collection!

Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background? Has design been something you have always been drawn to?

I was drawn to design and architecture even as a young child.  I was always sketching floor plans and building houses out of Lego. I really believe Lego is the best toy and every child should have it. Later, I studied at Ryerson and graduated from their interior design program.

Have you always had a career in design?

I've always worked in design. I've never worked in another profession. Even while I went to school, I worked for another designer.

You are a well-known designer, not only nationally but internationally as well, whose work is featured in print and on television. How did you get your big "break"? How did you get to where you are today?

I don't think I really had one big break. I feel  like my business grew organically through my relationships with my clients. I was fortunate enough to be recommended to some serious art collectors and a few people with great style early in my career. Those recommendations perpetuated that circle of clients and my business continually developed.

Your company, GlucksteinHome, has created fresh, unique and a hugely popular soft furnishings, accessories and furniture line. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I typically draw inspiration from fashion. I read all the fashion magazines and go to the shows and constantly tear images from magazines. I;m also inspired by antique furniture and textiles, whether 18th century or mid century, and I love going to antique shows and markets.

Our GlucksteinHome product line is designed with a collections approach to reflect our customer's personal style. So I'm also inspired by those lifestyles which range from traditional to sleek to cosmopolitan to glamorous.

What trends do you see being strong this year in homes, furniture and accessories?

We're going to see the integration of antique pieces- furniture and accessories. We'll create homes that don't look sterile but have personality that reflects the owner and draws on other cultures.

What hopes and dreams do you have for your company?

On the interior design side, I hope to continue to get inspiring projects both commercially and residentially.

On the product design side, we'll continue to launch new products, expand our categories and partner with great manufacturers - like our current partners including Benjamin Moore, Sealy and Remington Homes - and bring our product to an international market. We recently launched the line at Lord & Taylor Home in the US. We've also brought GlucksteinHome brand to various social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and we hope to build strong relationships with our customers and the design community. We're excited about the conversations we can have there.

How would you describe your design style?


How do you start the design process? What inspired the direction your design will take?

For interior design, I look at the client's lifestyle and the architecture of the project and interpret it.

For product design, I'll sometimes start with a textile or an antique piece. I always consider the five lifestyle collections we design under and then I create something unique to reflect each style whether it's modern, contemporary, casual, transitional or traditional. This really reflects the diversity of our customers.

What advice can you give homeowners to bring a bit of splash into their homes without a lot of cash?

For high impact with a low investment, I always recommend paint, accessories and art. You can add a great splash of colour to update the look of your space without changing the central pieces.

What design faux pas you wish could be abolished?

I'm not fond of spaces that are over thought and try too hard. Or interiors that have too many patters in one space. I like calm, meditative, beautiful spaces with several interesting focal points.

What are some tips you can share with aspiring designers to help get their work noticed, to hone their skills?

Work for the best. New designers will just learn so much when they have a great mentor. Getting published can also get an aspiring designer notices- whether it's through their own blog, traditional print media or television.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to spend time at my home in Palm Beach. I also love to read in the bath.

You and your staff read blogs, and you even have one! What are some of your favourite reads? What tips do you have for design bloggers to get their blog noticed?

I'm obsessed with my iPhone camera and shoot anything that doesn't move. I use my Tumblr blog {} to share some of my favourite images - whether it's a peek at a client's home or something inspiring from an antique fair.

Blogs allow designers to share what's happening in our world and I don't think we have enough opportunities to do that. I love blogs that have a specific point of view- it makes it a good reference and gives readers a reason to come back to it.

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays 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 Canadian designers are very sophisticated and there is a European flavour to Canadians. I think we produce some of the best fashion, design and architecture and interiors in the world and are now being recognized as such. It is truly a great time for Canadian design.

Brian I am so incredibly honoured that you visited this week. As a long time fan of yours, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview you! I love what you have accomplished in your career and look forward to seeing more amazing interiors and products designed by you!

XO Barbara

AYA "BlodPodium Bound" Kitchen Contest

I am beyond excited to share with you my dream kitchen I designed for the AYA "BlogPodium Bound" Kitchen Contest. I would LOVE to attend BlogPodium The Business of Blogging Conference in May but with hundreds of kilometres between Vancouver and Toronto and cost of the weekend standing in my way, I decided to enter this fabulous contest in hopes of winning a flight, BlogPodium ticket and accommodations!

 What a dream it would be to finally meet those amazing bloggers out east that I have been in touch with for so long. Not to mention to hob nob with companies that would like to work with us! And the icing on the cake would be to hear the every so lovely Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely!

My fingers and toes are crossed!

I don't have fancy schmancy illustrators or Photoshop, so I just put together my dream kitchen using plain ol' PowerPoint.

Putting together my dream kitchen using Aya's products along with my own additions was incredibly gratifying and exciting! I spent many hours browsing AYA's website, inspired by all their kitchen designs. And this is what I came up with:


#13: Kitchenaid Pro 500 Series Mixer
#15: Branch Handmade on Esty: 10 Speed Bike Bar Towel Set

Are you surprised? 

    Due to life's hiccups, buying a house is on hold, so a girl can only dream. My dream kitchen would incorporate my favourite colours, black, red and white, along with gads of marble and touches of gold. Paying homage to my Czech heritage, I would add a few European touches to the space, blue onion china along with a set of Thonet chairs to grace the family table. Also a droolicious gas range to whip up meals, along with gorgeous deep farmhouse sink with bicycle print towels to encourage husband to dry dishes. {I said a girl could dream!}

Keeping my fingers and toes crossed, hope it doesn't get too painful.

XO Barbara

Guest Contributor: Emily A. Clarke

Today I am participating in Emily's "Send me a Picture" series along with other fabulous bloggers, a few of which are Canadians!

We were asked to send in a picture of the Last Thing we Hung on our Wall.

I love Emily's blog, Emily A. Clark. Her sense of style is just up my alley and I love how she mixes a bit of DIY, Craigslist finds and new to create fabulous spaces. My favourite has to be her home office that I posted about a few weeks ago.

Hop over to see the last thing I hung on my wall!

XO Barbara

Custom Ikea Ektorp Tullsta Slipcover from Comfort Works

When Comfort Works contacted me if I wanted to review a slipcover, I jumped at the chance!!

Being an avid sewer, I know that I could make myself a slipcover but they are soooo incredibly time consuming. 

I had several pieces in the house that could use a little sprucing up. The timing couldn't be more perfect.
Comfort Works specializes in slipcovers for Ikea furniture, but they can also make custom slipcovers as well.

If you want contrast stitching, that can be done.
Contrast piping? Yes.
Embroidery? Yes.
Custom pleats? Yes.
Baseball stitching? Yes.
Constrast seat fabric? Yes.

Don't have Ikea furniture? No problem they can cover other sofa models, from stores such as Pottery Barn or other. They will just walk you through the process to make sure you get the perfect fit.

Just let them know what you want, send photos and they can work their magic.

I decided to give my Ikea Ektorp Tullsta Slipcover a bit of spruce-up.

It had been relegated to the family room, a room I am slowly re-vamping and getting a new slipcover for the armchair was perfect!

The original zipper had fallen apart {my pet peeve about Ikea slipcovers} and it was looking a bit worse for wear.

After the Comfort Works team worked their magic....

A brand new chair!


I chose Lino Brushed linen which is a nice thick, nubby linen. Perfect for this small cozy reading nook.

I love the extra details of piping and top stitching.
It is so well sewn with a sturdy zipper.

The slipcover can be washed too...that is music to my ears. With a droolly chocolate lab in the house who like to wipe his face after eating along the furniture, that was a bonus!

The fun part was choosing the fabric. Their website helps you visualize what it will look like.

First you pick the style.

Then you pick the type of fabric and they show you how it will look like!

I had fun with all the different options. I then settled on Lino Brushed Linen, it is fantastic "raw" looking linen in greige.

After the process was quite easy, I simply emailed a photo of what I wanted the piece to look like and chose not to add any custom options, I liked it simple and plain. 

Then a week later, the package arrive on my doorstep in a lovely velvet black bag!

Their prices are reasonable, my slipcover would of cost about $200US, as are their shipping costs, about $25 worldwide!

I am one happy customer.

So if you need a slipcover in the near future give Comfort Works a try for they are offering my readers
FREE shipping if you order.

Like Comfort Works on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did so,
the send an email, who will then email you the code.
Happy shopping.

* I received the slipcover for my review. The opinion is entirely my own.

XO Barbara

A Little Spring Cleaning

So we are finally over our jet lag and getting down to business of spring cleaning at our house.

My 17 1/2 year old daughter decided to do a huge purge and clean-out of her space. She leaves for university in the fall and with another week of spring break left it made for a great opportunity to sort and purge.

She is getting tired of her room, so we got rid of the lanterns and gallery wall.

Hasta la vista baby..

Funny thing how things work around here, before I even get a chance to finish, I go off in another direction. I have only shown half the space photographed, and sad photographs they were {it was before I knew how to actually use our SLR} and now we are heading in another direction. Since she is off to school this fall we will do a minimal tweaking. Tidy up and change things with a bit of fabric and new art.

Recently I ordered these prints from Elani Sofroniou to add a bit of sophisticated flair to her space.

And we are hoping to zush it up with some fabric, maybe try some florals to take the edge off that black and white!

On another note, I am sad to find out the the Hemnes bookcase WON'T fit my other daughter's snake tank that I wrote about that here.

Dang it....

It isn't deep enough.

Back to square one.

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Alanna Cavanagh

This week you are in for a treat. My guest this week has been one I have admired for quite some time after I first spotted her art in an interior featured in Canadian House and Home! 

Please welcome....

She is 
A sought after illustrator and artist, Alanna's work has graced the walls of interiors, pages of magazine and most recognizably the cover of Penguin Books!

I have been in LOVE with her work since I first saw this photo

So naturally I have now managed to spot her work everywhere! Love the vintage 50's vibe her artwork evokes. I can totally see one of her prints hanging in my house. 

Alanna's living room

A book cover.

I think "Lacey Legs" needs to find a space on my wall, non?

{all photos courtesy of Alanna Cavanagh}

Tell us a bit about yourself; what is your background, your education? Have you always dabbled in art? 

Yes I've always been doing art. As a child I was rarely seen without crayons or markers in my hand and I won my first colouring contest at 6. I studied Art History + Comparative Religion at University of Toronto and for a while thought I might be a museum curator but my love of creating asserted itself after graduation and I began to pursue a career in illustration. In 2005 after many years working on the computer as a commercial illustrator  I was craving a more inky + tactile way of producing art so I took a workshop in silk screening - and soon began a second career as a printmaker! I now divide my time equally between the 2 careers.

Where do you get inspiration for your artwork?

My work is very inspired by artists from the 1950s especially the early fashion illustrations of Andy Warhol and the wonderful work of Miroslav Sasek. (The guy who did the incredible series of This is Paris, This is New York books)
I'm also inspired by fashion, fleamarkets, textiles, travelling... almost everything.

You are such a talented designer/artist, your work featured in many publications, in amazing homes, and you are an illustrator for various clientele, such as Penguin Books. How did you get your “break”?

In illustration my big break came when I signed with an agent: Shelley Brown of i2i art. She was able to promote my work to an international market and soon after signing with her I was working for clients such as The New York Times, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Real Simple magazine, VISA, and Brooks Brothers amongst many others. She was also stellar at negotiating fees and handling contracts which was a god's send for me as I - like most artists- are notoriously bad at this part of the business! :-)

With my silk screen prints my break came when several of my customers had their homes featured in Decor magazines or blogs - such as Canadian House + Home, Design files, and Wish magazine. This introduced my work to a wide audience of design enthusiasts plus many design editors + writers.

What tips do you have for aspiring artists/designers to get noticed, to establish themselves in the design scene?

The first tip is of course to work hard and develop a focused and distinct style.
Illustration Mundo is a great website for helping you to do this.
The founder Nate Williams has a great list of resources on it plus very helpful answers for illustrators who are just starting out.
It's also helpful to enter your work in contests like 3X3 or Communication arts or on sites like Threadless as art directors often check there for new talent.
If you are specifically interested in surface design I would recommend investing in a booth at the Surtex show in NYC.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

I naturally love silk screen but also really enjoy working with pastels, watercolour and my latest fave: collage.

What goals/aspirations do you have for yourself?

I am currently working on a series of  animated films and would love to do more of them. I'm also very interested in doing more surface design- ie. creating work for fabrics, notecards, bedsheets etc etc! This connects to my love for decor - which I find 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Watch films, read books, and have long drawn out dinners with good food, lots of wine and close friends.

Tell us one thing that would surprise us!

I used to be in musical theatre and still know how to tap dance. :-)

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I wanted an outlet to share my inspirations and intense enthusiasm for design!

I am so excited you agreed to be interview Alanna, as a long-time admirer it was fabulous to find out a bit more about you! Fingers crossed I can own one of your prints one day.

XO Barbara