Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Textbook Tuesday | Brian Gluckstein | The Art of Home

Internationally renowned designer Brian Gluckstein has given us a printed collection of his work, and I couldn't be more excited to dive into this one as my first book review for fall. Growing up in Canada, there was little media attention on interior design - but Brian was a constant influence and being exposed to his work through television and other means helped me realize my own love for design at a young age. The Art of Home showcases so many of those mind-shaping projects of which I poured over every tiny detail, and so you can imagine how happy I am to have them all in one place now!


The book features luxe yet liveable spaces that I think you will agree are exceptionally timeless. Each chapter focuses in on a project, from a 'tailored beach house' to a 'historic manse' to the designers own home (truly my favorite part of the book!). In the introduction, we even get a peek at the exterior and interiors of the Toronto-based office of Gluckstein Design located in a 19th century Georgian former printing house.


In each project we see how Brian melds contemporary design with traditional. My favorite mix. And it's truly showcased the best in his own stunning home:


This would really be a perfect gift for any design-lover on your list. I was so happy to read through and find that it's also a practical, informative guide on how to transform and style your own home. 




The beautifully photographed projects are complimented throughout with anecdotes from the designer, inspiring quotes and design tips to take away from. Truly an inspirational body of work from Canada's best, I highly recommend this one as a must-add to your design library! If you've already grabbed a copy I'd love to hear what you think, and if you haven't you can order here

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wallpaper Wednesday | Sandberg Raphael



It's become an iconic pattern; Sandberg's Raphael wallpaper has that perfect mix between modernity and traditional design. For several years now we've seen this paper rise to fame, and I think it's beauty makes it an obvious choice for many designers. I love all the colorways and it turns out that the pattern is available as a fabric as well, but only in the green colorway.  I've gathered up some of my favorite recent examples of uses of Raphael, starting up top with probably my most favorite - Marianne Simon's powder room mixed with brass and the perfect dose of marble.


Amy Meier Design (photography by Karyn Millet





It's so good in every installation! You can purchase Sandberg Rapahel wallpapaer through Wallpaper Direct here, and if you are afraid to commit to a bold wallcovering I'd definitely suggest trying a powder room or small area like the butler's pantry directly above. Paired with coordinating trim or cabinetry, it's a match made in heaven!


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Thursday, August 9, 2018

8 Fall Design Books to Preorder Now



Fall comes with a long list of fantastic design and art book releases, and it feels like this coming season has an even more extensive line-up than usual. Truly I could have easily included some 20 or so new releases, but I've kept my list to a short 'Top-8 Must Haves' to help you narrow down (in each case you can click the book title to pre-order now). Starting with 2 books that make me oh so happy because I've followed these ladies and their blogs for years and have watched them grow into forces in the design industry:

1. Dream Design Live | Paloma Contreras | Sept 4, 2018


Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita, one of my most beloved blogs which I have had the honor to contribute to regularly, sets out to show readers how to live beautifully in Dream Design Live. This manual of design is divided into three sections, as the title suggests, and takes readers through stunning photography mixed with accessible tips and lifestyle advice. Design-authority Architectural Digest hails the book as "a great read for design professionals and enthusiasts alike." Be sure to check in on Paloma's social media to see sneak peeks like the powder room above before the actual release date.

2. Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Interior Designers of the Past 100 Years | Jennifer Boles | Oct 2, 2018


One of the first design bloggers on the scene, Jennifer Boles was one to follow with her design history knowledge and know-how on The Peak of Chic. As the title suggests, this book will give readers all the names you should know in the last 100 years of interior design. For each designer featured we learn what we can take from their work, and how they changed the industry forever.

3. Sophisticated Simplicity | Suzanne Kasler | Sept 11, 2018


Suzanne Kasler's books have always been a wealth of original ideas and a wonderful reference, so I had to include her latest installment as another must-have for any design-enthusiasts library. We know we will get an incredible display of timeless sophistication and traditional pretty palettes with stunning photography of her work in this newest volume.

4. The Gardens of Bunny Mellon | Linda Jane Holden | Oct, 2018 


Bunny Mellon maintained homes celebrated for their style and refinement, however her greatest love was truly landscape and garden design. Linda Jane Holden, the author of this latest book dedicated to Bunny, had the chance to interview Mellon extensively before her death in 2014 and has been given access to her journals, photographs and sketches. This one will be a history lesson indeed!

5. The Power of Pattern | Susanna Salk | Sept 11, 2018


Best-selling author and our favorite video host of Quintessence's At Home With series, Susanna Salk does it again with this pattern collection and resource guide. This will be a practical manual with tips on how to use patterns to your advantage in a space, and chapters are divided based on categories such as 'Toile', 'Chinoiserie', 'Stripes', and 'Ikat.' (Entry vignette above by Mallory Mathison).

6. Perspective | Steven Gambrel | Oct 9, 2018


For his second book, Steven Gambrel gives the reader insight into his latest projects including his own 19th century townhouse in NY City's West Village, a Bridgehampton beach house, a luxurious Astor Suite in Manhattan's famed Plaza Hotel, and a sea captain's house in Sag Harbour. If that isn't an impressive line-up, I'm not sure what is! These dream residences will be sure to inspire design aficionados.

7. Design & Style: A Constant Thread | Carolyn Roehm | Sept 25, 2018


Carolyn for the first time opens up about her own life story, her influences and her experiences working under mentor Oscar de la Renta. She tells the story of her own fashion line, and the growth of her creativity through her gardening, entertaining, and décor - all having a 'common thread.'

8. The Art of Home | Brian Gluckstein | Sept 10, 2018


Renowned Canadian designer Brian Gluckstein, whom I have loved to follow for years, is releasing his first book with, The Art of Home. You may know his name because of his extensive product lines, however one quick glance at his extensive portfolio will have you hooked. This will be a stunning compilation of his work for any one who loves his refined and tailored style, and it includes projects from New York to Aspen and everywhere in between.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Living Room Reveal With Pacific Rug Gallery



A fun reveal for you today for #transformationtuesday! I'm excited to finally show you the finished living room with the fabulous updated rug from Pacific Rug Gallery. This has done so much to transform our space; we desperately needed more pattern, more color, more depth, and this was the perfect solution to that. I really wanted to keep with a traditional feel in this room, and the previous off-white Moroccan-style shag rug was much too modern for my liking (all new photos of the room were taken by the amazingly talented Tracey Ayton, I am so grateful every time I get to work with her!).


Just for fun, a little reminder of what this room looked like a mere 2 years ago ... the real estate photos when we toured the house before purchase. My oh my, you've come a long way from your 1989 decor, little house!



So as you can see below, my previous rug in this space was a bit wrong, at least in my eyes, and I think that the foundation of the room makes all the difference to how the entire room flows and feels. Take a look and tell me what you think; for me it was too much white/off white combined with the walls, it was a tad too large at 9x12 in a smaller space leaving very little border of the wood floor showing, a bit modern in pattern, and the most crummy part ... it never stopped shedding. I thought over the few years we had it that we could vacuum it enough to eventually stop the shedding, but it was relentless! Just a follow-up note to last week's post - this shag rug is hand tufted which I only learned after the fact would likely mean it would shed forever.


Compared to now:


Here's what I've learned after doing a little homework on sizing a rug for your space:

1) Make sure that ALL of the furniture in your conversation area can have the legs on the rug. There's nothing less inviting than a rug floating in the middle of a space with no furniture on it, and it's ideal to have all furniture at least with the front legs on. For me, I still wanted to see a bit of wood bordering the room so an 8x10 was the way to go. Most rooms best suite an 8x10 or 9x12, and though these will mean more investment, it's totally worth it.

2) If you LOVE a rug that is on the smaller side (say 6x9), buy a large sisal rug and layer the unique rug on top of it. I've seen this done so beautifully often.

3) Make sure that your rug has at least 6-10" on either side of the sofa. If the width of the sofa is a similar width of the rug, everything will look off. Your room will look narrow and the rug will look too small!






This particular rug is a hand-made, hand knotted rug with a hand-spun wool pile and cotton foundation. It has over 200 knots per square inch (and this means ZERO shedding) and the design goes back over 300 years with a long history in classic Persian rugs. I personally love something with history because it let's me know it's not going to go out of style. However, the rug is a brand new weave made with vegetable dyes and natural colors and the current weavers have created a modern version of the original traditional design.

You'll likely find similar patterns referred to popularly as “Transitional Design” in today’s market. What was really important to me before committing to a rug I know I will have for years and years to come was the durability. The pile of the rug is relatively thin making it versatile and easy to clean, so it is certainly very functional for everyday use. I've never had a rug that could literally be passed down to my kids, and I could not be more thrilled about getting rid of cheaper alternatives from my home!

(Above: pattern play with Mary McDonald's Vanderbilt pillows and Schumacher's Pyne Hollyhock from Arianna Belle)

(Above and below: gorgeous floral arrangement from Floralista, coffee table is Bernhardt | photos by me)


It feels so good have another patterned surface layered into the space, and one that is going to be durable, clean, and more natural fibers for my family. I encourage you to get as much info about the products you choose to put in your home before you purchase! I made a few costly mistakes and I'm so thankful to be headed in the right direction now. To see more of the extensive and impressive collection from Pacific Rug Gallery, a family-owned and run company with a long history in high-quality Persian rugs, hop to their website here and my previous post here.


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Monday, June 4, 2018

Pacific Rug Gallery Q&A | How To Choose The Right Rug


(A sneak peek of my new rug which has totally transformed my living room)

When we bought our first home nearly 10 years ago, we had to fill it with ‘stuff’ of low quality on a tight budget, without taking much time or putting much thought into what we were filling our house with. Now, moving into the next stage of life I have wanted to be extra mindful of selecting quality and timeless designs. The rugs I’ve lived with for years have had every problem in the book - including constant shedding, falling apart at the seams, and not standing up to proper cleaning processes. That’s why today I’m excited to share a bit of insight with you on how to select a high quality rug that will withstand wear and tear, and truthfully be special enough to maintain & repair and pass down to your children as a family heirloom. 
I turned to Pacific Rug Gallery, a local family-owned business (my favorite type of business to support!) to help educated me. Before meeting them, I didn’t fully grasp the important difference between hand-tufted versus hand-knotted rug, now I finally understand why the quality of my past rugs was so poor! Hossein Daliri, owner of PRG, is personally trained in Persian rug creation and reconstruction and comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Given the popularity of classic Persian rugs in design right now, I thought it would be helpful to do a little interview with the owner Hossein, about these rugs and what the different styles are, how to care for them and what to look for. If you are a designer, they have a enormous selection & a trade program which you can sign up for to receive information and discounts, contact them HERE and request info on the trade program!
Nancy Marcus: Where do you source your rugs from?

Hossein Daliri: Our rugs are sourced from all over the world including Persian rugs, Indian rugs, Nepalese rugs, Turkish rugs, Moroccan rugs and ….. What is important is that we hand select every single rug before bringing it into our Gallery.
(An example of a Classic Design pattern with the ever-popular blue coloration and center medallion)

NM: What are the important characteristics of a high-quality rug that educated customers should be looking for?

HD: There are many characteristics that need to be taken into account when deciding on a rug. Quality is often dependent on the knot count and quality, generally speaking, the smaller and more compact and dense the knots are, the finer the rug and the higher the quality. Also, the materials used such as wool, silk, cotton, or a combination of them are important in determining the strength of the pile to withstand wear and tear. 

NM: Can you educate us on the superiority of the hand-knotted technique over lower-quality hand-tufted rugs?

HD: Hand tufted rugs are woven using a special tool that looks like a gun. The knots are manufactured in the gun and thus, the time it takes to complete a hand tufted rug is by far less than the time required to weave a similar sized hand woven rug. Hand tufted rugs are completed by adding a fabric backing using special glue, which may wear off over time and causes the release of fluff and dried glue into the air, it is not very nice to breathe those materials which are generally synthetic viscose.
The hand-knotted rugs are of much higher quality and require much longer time to complete as every single knot is executed by the talented hands of the weavers. They last many many years and grow in value over time like a priceless investment. The materials used are wool, silk, and cotton in combinations or on their own.

NM: What seems to be the hottest trend in rugs right now?

HD: The hottest trends include the Transitional Design which is a perfect modern recreation of classic and traditional patterns usually with a combination of wool and silk or wool and cotton. The patterns tend to use more subtle colors that are easy to fit with most decor making them versatile and beautiful in various settings.
Another trendy style is the Vintage Design made exclusively by Pacific Rug Gallery where some rugs are distressed and overdyed to create a worn look with various colors. They are also versatile and work well with both contemporary and classic home decors.

(Beautiful Vintage Design with the current popular distressed and washed-out appearance)

NM: What is one rug design that a homeowner can select to keep a classic timeless look that will never go out of style?

HD: The Heris Design is one of the most timeless and classic designs that has been quite trendy and fashionable over many years. It is also still used in the transitional rug patterns as well. 

(Stunning classic Heris Design which is guaranteed to never go out of style!)

NM: How do you care for and clean new and vintage rugs?

HD: For home care, the best thing to do is vacuum regularly and expose the rug to air and light as much as possible to keep away moths and ensure the rug stays in good shape. We also recommend that the rugs be professionally cleaned once every 2-3 years (which is a service we provide).

(If the traditional-look is not your personal style, these high-quality rugs also come in hundreds of contemporary designs as seen above)
I paid several visits to the bright gallery on the North Shore of Vancouver where rugs are displayed like pieces of art along the white walls. Truthfully there were so many beautiful design options for my own living room, it was a tough decision to come to! I started by selecting my desired color palette, then the size appropriate for my room (8x10 in my case - I'll talk more about gauging size of a rug for your space in a future post), and then choosing a pile and material that would stand up to every day wear and tear. Hand-knotted wool & cotton was the way to go, and the rug I chose has over 200 knots per square inch (the higher the density, the higher the quality!) on a relatively thin pile which is easy to clean and very functional for everyday use.

(A huge shout out to Hossein, Mina (pictured here), Shahab, Majid, and all the staff at PRG for their outstanding knowledge & service!)
If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I shared my selections with you and even had the chance to have you vote using a poll. On top of that, the staff at PRG helped make it easier on me by allowing me to see my top 2 choices in the actual space before finalizing such a big decision. In home trials is part of the service they offer, now that is a true customer service experience I have rarely experienced!

A huge thank you to PacificRug Gallery for helping me in selecting such an investment piece that is truly like art in my living space. I was so impressed with the exceptional selection of rugs as well as rug repair and cleaning process services they provide. And I hope it gives all of you a chance to feel like you've learned something helpful about what makes a high-quality rug high-quality! I always assume, the more we know, the better decisions we can make. I cannot wait to share the finished room with you all, I had the opportunity to have the fabulous Tracey Ayton professionally photograph the finished living room with my rug installed and I’ll have the final reveal for you next week, stay tuned! 
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 - Final Reveal



It's reveal day! This is like Christmas morning for the One Room Challenge, and I'm so excited to share my space with you! Just in case you are new to this little blog of mine, I'll introduce myself; my name is Nancy and I'm a long-time design blogger (since 2010) based in Vancouver. I started my blog to chronicle my home renovations and it has become a passion that I simply couldn't see my life without.

It has truly been a grueling 6 weeks; I'm now 4.5 months pregnant and managing a toddler, working 5 days a week teaching biology at a local college. Throw in a massive and short-timeline project to the already-crazy-mix and it was at times a recipe for disaster. My husband may have repeatedly announced that he passionately hates painting and will never take on such a task again ... but on completion I promise he turned around and asked what other rooms of the house I thought we could tackle next :)

To start off, I have to say a huge thank you to Linda of Calling It Home (she created this amazing challenge!), thank you to House Beautiful for sponsoring, & thank you to all the amazing partners that helped us beautify the space. I count myself pretty darn blessed to have been part of this ORC. Now, I'll let the "before" & "after" photos speak for themselves, and I will reference sources throughout as well as a complete list at the bottom of this post. All photography of the "after" space was taken by the lovely and wonderfully talented Tracey Ayton - honored every time I have the chance to work with her! if you are a designer located in the Greater Vancouver area you will want to get familiar with her stunning work as soon as possible. Thank me later. 

Here's our humble beginnings, the real estate photos from 2 years ago when we purchased:
And then what it looked like exactly 6 weeks ago - we had painted the walls white, changed flooring, smoothed the textured ceilings, and that was about it:


And now (drum roll please), the same corner of this room a short six weeks later:


What do you think? A big difference from the starting point, right? I think it's proof you can take any box of four walls and make it your own, always try to see past the things you may think you cannot change! There are probably many people who would have seen the space below and said, 'no way, I'm not paying top-dollar for a house like this!' Just for reference, every room was stuck in 1989.


Stroheim - grasscloth wallpaper, Tonic Living - roman shade, Bellacor - ticking stripe rug, Emtek - cabinetry hardware, Dynasty Kitchen - cabinetry, Gray Malin - artwork above desk, Couture Lamps - bookends, Jungmin Ko - portrait of my son

Over onto the wall before our handsome little vintage bed went in:


And a satisfying after:

Lamps Plus - plug in wall sconce, Arianna Belle - Les Touches pillow

Plain Jane doors and trim before:


Metrie - crown, baseboard & door casing painted BM Symphony Blue, Bellacor - ticking stripe rug, Stroheim - grasscloth wallpaper, Emtek - closet egg cabinet knobs

I'd have to say the first thing that speaks to me when I walk into this room is the Stroheim grasscloth wallpaper in Asana Natural colorway; the warmth and texture that it brings to this space is perfection. Combined with the cool blue of the cabinetry it creates a lovely contrast of shiny vs rough, dark vs light, smooth vs textured. This pairing creates so much interest! The flat roman shade was custom made to my specifications by Tonic Living, and the navy tape trim is the perfect detail. One of the true keepsakes of the room has to be this personalized portrait of my son, which was amazingly done without the artist Jungmin Ko ever even meeting him in person! 


And oh, those plug-in sconces from Lamps Plus, the fact that they are incredibly gorgeous, traditional, and easy to install and I didn't have to call the electrician makes me so so happy. Because they are triple pivot they swing out a generous 18.5 inches meaning they easily hover over the bed but then can tuck out of the way when not in use. I've decided I literally need these in every room of the house.


We actually re-used the Craigslist campaign dresser and Anewall artwork from Marcus' nursery, combined with the Couture Lamps Melrose table lamp and the new ticking stripe rug from Bellacor, these items are getting a new lease on life:



Couture Lamps - table lamp, Jill Rosenwald - planter pot

This handmade-to-order large planter pot from Jill Rosenwald is like the icing on the cake, and the gorgeous floral arrangement by Floralista helps show that off. It's so beautiful, and it's these subtle touches that make a room special. You can select your color for every one of her stunning ceramic pieces - for me, this will be a true keepsake in this stunning Veranda pattern in delft blue:


PopOColor - Plaisirs de la Chine pillow, Windows by Melissa - red ticking stripe window seat, Jill Rosenwald - planter pot

I'm really happy with how our cabinetry turned out, and I hope it ends up being useful storage and seating for Marcus into his teen years. So that we wouldn't lose any usable space, Dynasty Kitchen allowed me to create a custom side-shelf facing inwards for display and books. Oh, and there are my Craigslist Britannica encyclopedias! Who knows, maybe he'll actually crack them open one day - see what 1989 was all about (literally found a set from the year this house was built)! I'm really happy with our color choice of BM Symphony Blue paired with the classic Emtek egg cabinet knobs in solid brass French antique finish that will be safe and easy to grab with no sharp metal corners for our little guy:



You can see above and below that the Arianna Belle Les Touches pillows in blue were customized with the perfect pop of red piping & repeated on the bed and window seat:

Emtek egg cabinet knob in the classic French antique finish

And oh my, that perfect pop with the Gray Malin artwork over the desk nook! Red Balloon II couldn't have fit better into our design plans, it brings out the whimsy in the space with that elephant and stack of blue suitcases:


The accessories often make the design, don't they? I found tiny little red-matted antique frames for over the bed on Etsy and I used loads of Marcus' colorful books to style the bookshelves with these gorgeous coral bookends from Couture Lamps:


Oh, and let's not forget the most important detail of ALL, the new inhabitant of the room approves!


He's tested out every corner & got some practice jumping on the bed. And that's what's most important right?


A huge sigh of relief! And a big thank you to the generous ORC sponsors who helped provide key décor elements. Here's a full list of items that went into the space:

Red Balloon II Artwork, Gray Malin | Asana Natural grasscloth, Stroheim | Symphony Blue, Benjamin Moore | Triple pivot swing-arm plug-in lamps, Lamps Plus | Vintage bed, Campaign dresser, & Encyclopedia set, Craigslist finds | Ticking Stripe Rug, Bellacor | Coral bookends, Couture Lamps | Les Touches pillows, Arianna Belle | Melrose table lamp, Couture Lamps | Veranda planter pot, Jill Rosenwald | Floral arrangement, Floralista | Egg cabinet knob, Emtek | Roman blind, Tonic Living | Personalized portrait, Jungmin Ko Art Studio | Window seat cushion, Windows by Melissa | Plaisirs de la Chine pillow, PopOColor | Bamboo chair, Ballard Designs | Artwork above dresser, Anewall |Tricycle, Tassel, & Artwork above bed, vintage finds | Linen x-bench, One King's Lane | Clock and large basket, HomeSense |

Thank you so much for following along, cheering me on through your messages here and on social media, I truly mean it when I say I feel blessed to be part of such a supportive & enthusiastic creative community. It enriches my life daily, so thank you to all of YOU! (And if you are just catching up you can view posts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 for the whole process).

I am so excited to check out the other 19 spaces today, it's been a pleasure to follow along with them and an honor to be part of this talented Spring 2018 line-up:



Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by ORC



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