C&J Blog Article


BC Home and Garden Show!!!

Colin & Justin Tips & Trends


What do you look forward to the most at BC's show, what surprises you most about BC consumers and/or our homes, what makes our show unique/special? How many BC Home Shows have you participated in and what is the most rewarding aspect of your appearance at the show/visit to BC.

The BC Home and Garden Show, for us, is a minefield of inspiration. A mixture of big names and big ideas we see the event as a market leader in its territory. We’ve been fortunate enough to have appeared at four events, over the years, and each time we come… we learn even more! Sure, we’re booked to dispense OUR golden advice (in so far as home styling is concerned) but we reckon we also learn from listening in during other hosts seminars and by ‘walking the floor’ and visiting literally hundreds of exhibitors stands to stay up to speed with advancements in technology and design. The ultimate shopping experience, The BC show is like the ultimate high street, crammed full, as it is, of exciting inspiration and wonderful innovation. And, of course, being that it’s all under one roof, you don’t have to dash from district to district to take it all in. It’s the ultimate ‘park and shop’!

From the corners of the UK to Toronto to Vancouver, do you find there is a common denominator in people's home renovations when it comes to design dilemmas; in other words, do we generally share the same problems and pitfalls and are we more alike than different on the West Coast, back east, and across the pond? If you could sum up one tip for homeowners to adhere to because of its offending commonality on an international/national level, what would that design advice be? What are we all most desperate in need to do: colour, organization, furniture size/equal space size, etc…

As far as we see it, the design conundrums faced by our fans, both in Toronto and Vancouver, and all the way back to The UK, are very similar. People, wherever they reside, want to learn about ultimate ‘bang for their buck’. Money, these days, is short, and visitors want to feather their nest in a stylish, elegant way. Bathrooms and kitchens are multi national ‘offenders’. It’s in these rooms that the most ‘clever’ money should be spent. Get these spaces right and you’ll not only create beautiful environments but you’ll also protect your property value to the highest degree. And another ‘problem’ issue we see across the globe is storage. Good storage should consist of ‘open’ (for lovely display items and ornaments) and ‘closed’ for the general - less aesthetically pleasing - clutter that is part of every day life. Our secret formula is this: 30% open… and 70% closed. Simple as that!

How does one find their own design style; is this intuitive, can it be taught and how does personal preference and personality meet taste and good judgement? Are some folks simply a lost cause in design and beautifying their spaces?

Finding one’s own style is a relatively simple job. Read EVERY design mag’ you can get your hands on and then cut out images and assemble a mood board of the things you love. Study this and even take it with you when you go shopping for your project. Think TWICE buy ONCE is our mantra. Does that accent chair REALLY work or would it simply be an impulse buy you’d live to regret? Always measure rooms and keep a set of ‘stats’ with you as you shop. We advise our clients to visit the local library to pore over all the latest design books - doing this will save on buying and you can simply pop back as and when required for further reference. And of course shows on HGTV (like our own, and others) are a sure fire rule book of what’s hot and what’s not!

1. When the Paints go Marching in… Let's talk trends in colour, texture, and finish.

Please break down a few colour trends with examples that will take us through the upcoming seasons. What are this years inspirations and colour buzzwords? What 2011 colour accessories say modern and chic and give a fresh pop of contrast to any space?

Without a doubt we’re SO about ‘Cottage meets the City’. More and more, this elegant casual style that typifies gorgeous cottages everywhere is creeping into urban homes and condo’s. In our own Toronto condo’, for example, we’ve mixed steel and concrete finishes with ‘objets trouve’ that are redolent of uncomplicated cottage life. Don’t be surprised to see gnarled wood stools and Silver Birch bowls sitting atop our funky Jonathan Adler table. Or a throw inspired by the texture of a forest floor draped elegantly across a nickel buttoned cream linen padded bed. It’s all, as we say, in the mix! And our top colour tips? Well, we can’t get enough plum, damsel and Amethyst tones into our schemes. Kelly Green, too, is big news and of course our beloved grey palette remains HUGELy hot. We play our bigger tones against lashings of white for ultimate designer ’pop’. Be brave. It’s only paint, after all, so give it a go!

How do we best balance our colour palette if we have been fond of neutral or beige for so many years? If a homeowner is reserved and conservative with colour, how can they confidently go from bland and boring to bold without going overboard when does colour become too much of a good thing?

Simple - little tweaks here and there are a great starting point. We advise using accent walls to flavour previously restrained schemes and of course employing details such as coordinating throws, cushions and artwork. Neutral and beige schemes will come immediately to life with a few carefully selected decorating accents and these, of course, can be switched up as the seasons rotate. Don’t be shy - dive into the colour pond and give it your best!

And if we are sold on working with white, how do we get white right? What are the secrets and tips to play on its versatility and keep it from being sterile?

It’s generally best to go for a ‘bone’ or other off white shade. Pure white can be a little austere so blur lines softly with ‘hints’ to warm up your room. To the eye, your project will look predominantly white but effects will be much warmer. White and red is a STUNNING combo and white and Chanel grey is even better. And then there’s the classic Hamptons mix of white and blue. Shall we go on…? They’re ALL gorgeous!

Can grey be feminine and if so, what hues or textures work best in which rooms? Are people turning to warm greys for its sense of space or cool greys to balance the hectic noise in our lives? What tips can make homeowners self-assured in experimenting with this monochrome delight?

Make grey feminine by adding touches of soft, rosy pink or by choosing a more delicate grey as your starting point. We love the manlier luxurious greys but whisper greys are a great half way house. In bedrooms, try adding touches of yellow to warm proceedings, and in living rooms we’re all about shots of ebony and midnight black. Gold accents, also, pop virtually any shade of grey so use this detail via picture frames and ornamentation.

What is the best way to wake up our walls? Are large-scale patterns, textured, paintable patterns, shiny metallics wallpaper still trending? What about art? A lot of BC homes infuse local works, but what about travel pieces? (I am a travel writer who has framed photographs/collectables from my favourite spots); does this design element have staying power if it follows a theme?The market is saturated with grand scale wallpaper designs, and, used carefully, these bold print patterns can enliven space to dramatic effect. But, without balance, they can also stifle your project. We tend to use less product the bigger the pattern is. If, however, we’re employing smaller pattern we’ll happily paper an entire room. With mid scale patterns we’ll tend to do just a couple of walls and with massive pattern we’ll simply create an accent zone via application to one wall. Rather than use off the shelf papers we’re also, more than ever these days, looking to companies like who will create custom wall designs from any image you provide.

2. Our Vancouver homes, often nature-infused, frequently reflect our affection for the outdoors given our use of stone the likes of granite, slate, limestone, sandstone and of course our indigenous woods. What's the best way to incorporate these materials, keeping with our urban personalities while infusing a natural, country/outdoorsy bent?

We’re SO about mixing and matching. There’s no reason why urban and country can’t be best friends! It’s always better to play major against minor though; by this we mean sticking confidently to your main ‘look’ and accenting thereafter with your secondary style. So if you’ve a modern condo… add touches of country, if you’ve a country themed bungalow… add modern touches as peppering. If you split your look 50/50 it’ll confuse the space. Balance is crucial…

3. While the economy continues its recovery, what advice would you give homeowners who can't afford an entire kitchen renovation, but require a fresh modern update? What design tip will get folks going in the right direction and what should their money be spent on to breathe new life into this space where adding luxury on a small reno budget is key; how does one achieve living large on little (with pizzazz) when it comes to the most social space in the home?

It’s amazing what can be achieved by changing up counters, switching up doors or by simply re accessorising your existing kitchen with new art work, coordinated jars and tea towels. If you want to limit your spend to paint and handles, give an old pine country kitchen an update with a few coats of eggshell. All of sudden you’ll have assembled a cosy new look that’s redolent of Shaker style. Try soft duck egg shades for a job like this or opt for slick cool cream. Make sure you sand doors before starting and leave adequate drying time between coats to let paint ‘set‘. A trip to Lee Valley for some cute new cabinetry pulls will complete your look.

4. While Food Network's "Dinner Party Wars" shares a wealth of culinary and etiquette tips, almost every episode I watch, a recurring design faux pas exists: Hosts are separated from their company either by spending all their time preparing and cooking or clearing and disappearing into another "room." Is 2011 kitchen design giving way to more open spaces to benefit frequent entertaining and family gatherings? What design details most lend themselves to create this type of communal space? Is the formal dining "room" becoming a thing of the past?

Some of our clients still ask us to create formal, separate dining rooms but, more than ever, the combined living room, kitchen diner has become most people’s holy grail. The secret to a successful open concept space like this, though, is to select cabinetry that doesn’t ’scream’ too loudly. Colours should blend from walls to cupboards and, wherever possible, appliances should be integrated so as not to confuse the eye. These slick spaces are, for us, the last word in hospitality. Add in a huge breakfast bar so hosts can prepare food on one side while guests can ‘hang’ or even get involved in food prep’ and you‘re almost done. We like to make sure there’s comfy seating, too, in our open concept designs so that guests can chill out before or after meals.

5. When it comes to a refreshing retrofit for bathrooms, when eye-pleasing elements and space-saving style are the goal, what trends are making bold statements this year in the "loo?" Without draining the budget, what hint of spa sensibilities can be incorporated?

We have to say that we’re pretty particular about bathroom refits. It’s hard to re invent an avocado or bamboo coloured suite by updating tiles or adding brightly coloured towels or new accessories etc, and, this in mind we counsel that money which might have been spent on ‘tweaks’ is saved and put towards a whole new refit. These days, big box stores such as Rona have basic white suites from just a few hundred dollars so we say; ‘out with the old and in with the new’. If you replace like with like without changing the layout of services it’s surprising just how affordable a proper refit can be. Budget ceramic tile, more than ever, is designed to look like indulgent stone or marble so great results can be achieved with minimal spend. We seldom use tile paint as it always (no matter how carefully applied) looks second rate. And besides - generally speaking, bathrooms add value and protect resale value, so bite the bullet! Save up and do it properly!

6. What's the hot ticket in lighting this year? What types of lighting make for the best mood, the best statement, and the best function?

Our top tip is the $20 dimmer switch. With the twist of a button, existing lighting can be tailored to suit mood. Simple! And, more than ever, we’re steering away from overbearing ceiling light fittings. Subtlety is key. A few carefully positioned pot lights will say much more than one overpowering dramatic shade. Less, darlings, is more! In large rooms we’ll position side lighting and table lamps to create ‘mood pools’. Again, this is a better way to go than simply dangling a single pendant light and hoping for the best.


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