Monday, June 15, 2015

Add a little Design Drama to your Space

Who said you can’t do a dark colour in a small space? I’ve always loved to break the design rules, and I am delighted with the small bathroom makeover I just did. Current design trends are leaning toward dark wall colours, so I tested it out. A piece of advice: if you are intimidated by, or leery of a design trend, try applying it to a smaller area to ensure you love it prior to working on a larger space.  Case in point - I took on this once blah bathroom and transformed it into a moody, conversational design heaven.

First thing first, the wall colour. Yes, it is black! I went with a matt finish for a bit of drama and to be a little different all at once.  Black cabinets and walls are on the top trend list this year, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about …. now I get it! I love the drama it adds! 

 Then I found this great white gloss Canadian made vanity from Cutler Kitchen and Bath. The single drawer offers more storage than the old vanity with two doors, since the back portion of the vanity can now be accessed. I love that its floating application exposes more of the floor – always a great trick to making a small space seem larger.

 My DIY project was spray painting the handle that came with the vanity to have a vintage brass finish to keep with the room’s colour scheme. If you can’t find the exact piece or finish, don’t be afraid to alter something to make it perfect for your design concept.

The crème de la crème in this space is the stunning Delta Champagne faucet with the matching wall towel rack. It truly is the jewelry of the bathroom, and it was the perfect starting point to introducing brass and gold as the accent colours within this small bathroom. I tied in more of that brassy gold colour in the moody vanity wall light and my Etsy find vintage brass wall-art birds. Other bonus finds were the vintage pieces on the glass shelf above the toilet, which tied perfectly into my colour scheme.

 The round mirror added a different dimension and twist to the hard lines that the room had. I always like to add round elements to a space for character and interest, plus it softens the harshness.
Beyond the colour, art work is a conversation starter. Here I used my own photograph of a swan, printed through Poster Jack online, to add a personal touch and uniqueness to the space. Artwork is the ideal way to tie in your own interests and add a very personal element to any space. This image also connected to the birds on the wall – tying all the elements into a single cohesive design.

Changing out the curtain rod to a dark brass finish and adding a white shower curtain from Bed Bath and Beyond balanced off the white vanity and toilet on the opposite wall; again, making all individual elements into one consistent and interconnected look.

Overall, the contrast of white and black makes the room seem bigger and adds interest to this small space. Who knew such a boring space could be so dramatically changed by the use of colour? The bathrooms footprint stayed the same; however, it looks like an entirely different room and the best part is, it didn’t break the bank!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Daring Black and White Décor -

Jo was just on the Marilyn Denis Show talking:  

How to Decorate with Black and White

Watch the segment online

Ease Into Drama
Start with pillows to get motivated before you fully commit to a bold space. Or begin with a smaller room, like a den or bathroom; you don’t necessarily need to make the main living room the most dramatic.

Think in Reverse

If you’re afraid of a white sofa and black walls, reverse the look for a black sofa and white walls. The look should be classic, yet playful. Reinvent it to keep it current and modern.

Furniture Scale

We don’t all have the space for a large sofa; thankfully small pieces make a space seem bigger.


Mix your Golds

Everyone talks about mixing metals, but what’s really interesting is mixing warm metallics, like brass, bronze, rose gold and gold.

Conversation Starters

Add drama to any space with unusual pieces, like a big art wall, antlers, vintage pieces, or an oversized lamp.


Console Table as a Media Stand

Think outside of the box for a media stand and opt for a decorative console table with cubes underneath it for extra seating options. This will add visual interest to your TV wall.

Big Plants are making a Comeback

Add height with a fiddle fig plant. Dramatic, large plants are coming back into style.

Paint provided by:
Dark Secret 00NN 05/000

Resource Guide:

Camille Settee, $ 1599
Aida Accent Chair, $ 1399
Mill Street Console Table, $ 1499
Rolando Ottoman, $ 577
Arcadia Cocktail Table, $ 2499

Miscellaneous Accessories

Love The Design
Fiddle Fig Plant
Wall Art
White Paper Plant Bag
Vintage Trophies
Until next time
designer girl!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Splendid Summer Patio Dining

When the warm weather arrives and you move your dinner parties outside, having an outdoor oasis is every entertainer’s dream. While you might think a successful dinner party requires sophisticated settings and mulit-course meals, just the opposite is true. All that’s required to create an enjoyable evening is appealing food, good company, and a welcoming setting.


While I leave the recipes and guest list up to you, I can certainly help with the hospitable setting. I recently enjoyed working on a client’s cottage patio, designing the perfect space for a summer full of fun dinner parties.

First thing first – you need a good floor. When we began, my client’s patio was covered in kitchen porcelain tiles which were slippery, ugly and impractical for our weather. I turned to EON Deck and Patio Tiles from The Home Depot. They are super simple to lay-down and click together easily in a variety of patterns. They are such an easy solution to update any space, large or small. They can cover up existing mistakes or be the new ground under your feet. These tiles completely transformed my client’s space and gave it a clean and inviting place to begin the makeover design plan.

Fresh paint works wonders to update any space. The existing paint here was distracting and dated so we applied fresh paint. Exterior paint from Para has longevity and instantly brightened up the area. Go the extra mile and paint all the trim work too – that additional effort will complete the fresh new look and feel.  

 With your space in good shape, it’s time to add in the key components. To have a great dinner party, you need a great table to gather around. This table is a find from The Home Depot which seats six, has a sleek design and is comfortable for long conversations. This set has stunning appeal and fit the space perfectly. The chairs even stack for easy winter storage, and have removable bottom cushions. 

 Every great table needs a great umbrella. An umbrella not only has the obvious task of providing shade, it also helps define your outdoor dining room. I found these colourful lanterns from PC Home at the Real Canadian Superstore; hung on the umbrella pillars, they provide warm mood lighting, and even a touch of romance. Tip: Be sure to add a hook and a stopper to the location of where you want the lanterns to hang under the umbrella, otherwise they will move around as the wind catches them.

Adding to the mood lighting, are the battery operated lanterns from The Home Depot. These are strategically set around the perimeter of the deck, where no one will trip over them, and they define the patio area. These lanterns have the bonus of built-in timers without having to sacrifice style.

 Onto the china…don’t get overly fussy with china. An eclectic mix feels more laid-back and it is a great conversational starter. Outdoor dishware has come a long way – you can now find stunning colours and patterns that are as nice, or nicer, than your indoor set. Mixing collections together is a fun and easy way to create interest at any table. And don’t fuss with table clothes or placemats – use chargers instead. The PC Home collection has a great selection of chargers and outdoor dishware that can either be mixed and match or pieced together for a fun table-scape that will get the dinner conversation flowing.

No outdoor party would be complete with out a BBQ. The homeowners love to cook so we chose this stunning gas grill from Weber which is ideal for entertaining. It has a multitude of features like Flavourizer bars to eliminate flare-ups, and a fuel gauge so you never run-out mid dinner party.

For all dinner parties, I am a fan of a stocked bar cart. Not only is a cart convenient for holding supplies, it is a splendid accessory in setting the mood for a notable diner party. Pile glasses on your cart, store the plates and silverware, and use it as much needed outdoor counter space and a self serving zone. Wheel it back to the kitchen if you run low on supplies, or, in the case of this cart, carry the top tray into the kitchen to refresh if you don’t need the whole unit. The bar cart is an essential for a good party hostess.

For the finishing touch on your patio oasis, including plants in different elevated planters completes the overall feel and sets the mood for many meals and conversations spent with family and friends during the glorious outdoor season.

EKK the before . . .  what a change!
Happy Patio Season Everyone! 
Until next time,
w&c design girl!

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Girls Room - For Today and Tomorrow

Designing a child’s room can seem like a daunting task that comes with a hefty price tag. Add in the belief that a child’s room needs to re-done every few years as they grow and their tastes change, and this task goes from daunting to discouraging. But it doesn’t have to be! A few simple steps can take it from chore to fun – for everyone!

First and foremost, think long term. The design should incorporate elements and furniture that can grow with your child through their years, carrying them from childhood to tweens to their teen years. Don’t get carried away with a character themed room; think more generic with colour choices and include small, replaceable (read: economical) objects to incorporate their latest character obsessions
Consider what the room will be used for, and layout zones for those functions. Within my client’s little girl’s room, I created a reading area, toy storage, floor playing space, clothing organization and, of course, a great bed to curl up in. All these zones are necessary now, and can be used down the road within an updated format.

For toy storage, a cube storage unit is a great solution for the younger ones. As they grow, it can double as a space for clothing, art supplies, and more. On the wall above the cube unit, I mixed together art pieces from Home Sense with artwork created by the room’s owner to keep it fun and personal. The fun, fashionable items on top of the unit can be used for her dress up area now, then transformed into a great make-up and accessory area as she gets older.

The reading zone chair is a great Home Sense find. This chair and pink puff will be ideal for entertaining friends when that time comes; but for now, we’ve added a faux sheep skin to make it the ideal spot for her curl up with a favorite book and drift off into princess fantasy land.

Something I splurge on for any room is the closet organizer. The right organizer is a great space saver, and this is especially so in a kid’s room. I turned to Cutler Modern Living ( for the perfect closet organizer, one which allowed us to maximize hanging space, along with adding drawer storage and shelves for her to grow into. The bonus of this unit is that it can be altered over the years to suit her clothing needs. We were fortunate to have an abundant sized closet to work with, allowing us to eliminate dressers and, thus, store everything in one area.
Readymade curtains are a great accessory that is budget friendly and makes a huge impact on the space. Plus they can easily be changed over the years to update the room without getting into a major overhaul. The blue pattern I used here adds drama to the room and a bit of an older look; however, incorporating her stuff animals and bit of a softer palette in the bedding balances it out for these childhood years. When the time comes, a quick change of the bedding is all that is needed to transition to a tweens room in no time. As for the blue zebra inspired rug from Home Sense, I couldn’t pass it up – it  adds personality and attitude to the floor playing zone while being another great transition piece.

Play with textures and colours – don’t get stuck on the traditional. Allow smaller accessories to be the themed items so they can easily be changed and updated as your child grows. Patterned baskets allow for quick clean-ups and add some fashionable elements to the space. Fun pillows and throws are budget friendly and can transform the design and mood within seconds. Have fun shopping and creating your child’s ideal room for now and the future. This is the space where your child will dream, read, dress and grow…so go ahead and enjoy designing this space for them.

Until next time,
w&c designer girl!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boys & Their Toys: A Boy's Bedroom

When designing a child’s room, you need to consider the room’s required furniture, plus storage and organizing systems. Add in a touch of fun design that the child can grow with, and you will have a room you’ll both love! It’s also great to include artwork they love or (even better!) have made themselves.


My most recent makeover project was to create a boy’s dream room, a space filled with super heroes and all the functional requirements. The “must have” list included a work space, storage systems, room to play, a place to read, and, of course, a sleep spot. His action figures and comic book collection provide my inspiration, and so I began with a brick wallpaper statement wall (picked up at and allowed it to set the mood.

First up – the bed! An elevated bunk bed provides additional floor space and what kids doesn’t love a bunk bed! I choose the Ikea Stuva loft bed, which incorporates a desk, book case and storage all in one. This style of bunk bed has the added bonus of freeing up floor space to allow for additional zones within the room.


Storage and more storage! The bed added a ton of storage options; however, we still needed more space for toys, clothes, and hiding everyday items. IKEA had an ideal white drawer unit and an awesome closet system to assist with ever growing collections and changing clothing styles. The multiple sized drawers are great for housing socks, folded clothes and even keeping toys organized. I added short bins within the unit to act as dividers and an organization system to help keep everything tidy, even the hidden items. The movable and changeable closet system is perfect for a young growing child since the levels can be moved to suit his clothing needs as he moves into his teen’s years, and larger sizes. 

 A reading zone. I wanted to add a zone where he could read, play games, hang out with friends, and act as an extra sleeping spot for guests, pending their age and size. The lounge chair was the perfect fit; it provided a relaxing spot to put your feet up, for reading alone or curling up with a parent. This chair’s purpose can be transformed as he grows up, and might even move out with him!

The colour scheme. I choose to work with a light grey paint from Para, knowing that this room will need to age well and be cool for many years to come. The natural grey is a colour that allows the room to feel warm but is not the focal point in the room. Using a lighter colour on the walls allows the pieces within to standout. As he grows and refines his tastes, these grey walls will coordinate with future room modifications.

Fun art wall. I love to bring colour and life into a room through artwork; it’s an easy way to update and refresh any space. It also adds a personal touch by including drawings and artwork created by the room owner. For kids who love to draw or paint, having a home for their masterpieces, and one that can be updated at whim, adds a touch of their own personality to their room. I used Ikea frames which come in all shapes, colours and sizes that are budget friendly for creating just such an art wall, and one that can expand as you desire or need.

I had so much fun getting into the mind of a kid who loves to get lost in comic books and super hero stories. Now that I have brought his dream room to life, my hope is that he can enjoy this space, grow with it, and return to his childhood whenever he wishes, no matter his age.
Until next time,
w&c designer girl!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Colour and Design Trends of 2015

Colour. It’s a hot topic every year – what colours are in, what colours to paint, what colours to accessorize with. And what will be around today and tomorrow. The 2015 runways are filled with colours reminiscent of the 1960s – shades such as warm olive and rich orange are being given new life, while some colour trends continue to be popular.

(Photo by- Miles Redd)

Marsala was named the Pantone colour of year for 2015, but finds its roots in the 60s. This rich and full-bodied red-brown provides depth and warmth to any room with a bit of a feminist twist.
According to Tucker &Negus, “Paint colours for the home still revolve around sophisticated basics with preference for cleaner whites, smokier neutrals and updated muted pastels. Feature walls are out, zone painting schemes are in and beige is a thing of the past.
So, what else is hot for 2015? every possible shade! You can’t go wrong with introducing a bit of blue into your space; signs show this trend will be sticking around!

Want a fun and trendy way to add some blue to your space? Mix and match coloured bases with your choice of a marble top, like the Ynes coffee table from  from EQ3. For $599 you have the option to mix and match the coloured base with your choice of marble top


You can also choose furniture pieces to your space to add a pop of colour. Try mixing up your dressers with these fun blues from Ikea for

Onto metallic accents; make room for copper in your life! The copper penny might have disappeared but we are seeing copper and rose gold appearing in home accessories everywhere!   My Connecticut Collection by found in independent lighting stores. JA802 $139.99 CDN


Grey is not only a colour – it’s a must have! Some say there are more than 50 shades of grey; in terms of colour trends, it’s a great time for the movie to come out since 2015 is all about mixing grey shades into your interiors. Pillows, baskets and throws are just a few easy ways to add grey to your interior. These baskets from Bouclair are great storage items that fit the trend and retail at great prices.







Lastly, colour is cropping up in unexpected, stylish ways. A hot trend in furniture is placing a statement sideboard in the foyer, dining room, or in the family room as a TV stand. What makes these pieces unique are their interesting materials, textures and colours. Showcasing the beauty of raw, natural wood, these pieces can be used in any space to add a natural grounding to a room enveloped in the colour trends of 2015. Aretemano has great options. This sideboard is make of metal and wood from old fishing boats and retails for $2695.


Happy 2015 everyone, wishing a great year ahead!

Until next time,
w&c girl!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Laundry in style – create a functional and fashionable laundry room

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the laundry room must be the liver. The laundry room cycles through messy household clothing and towels, and cleans them up time and time again.  In addition to being the place to do laundry and store cleaning supplies, many households also have their laundry room act as a mudroom; a place to drop off school bags, shoes, and jackets.  The laundry room gets a lot of wear-and-tear, but is often the most neglected room, design-wise! For my latest project, I wanted to showcase the laundry room, and how it can be designed as a functional and fashionable space.


Clean, simple colours. I chose washable gloss white cabinets and applied a coat of CIL Wexford Fog on the walls. The simple colour palette created a calming effect in a usually chaotic room. I added in greys and stainless steel touches throughout the room for a more unisex overture. The laundry room isn’t just the woman’s domain!

Who doesn’t need more storage?
I turned to Cutler Kitchen and Bath, a company that makes cabinetry in Canada and sells through Lowes stores  (  I added tall pantry storage to one side of the room which enabled me to store laundry baskets, kids boots and bins for mittens, hats and scarves, keeping everything organized and easy to find for winter. Upper cabinets are used to store and hide away detergents, extra towels and cleaning supplies, keeping the space organized.  Using storage baskets from Bouclair Home helps the kids to put away their mitts and hats each day, keeping the room tidy with the bonus of reducing morning chaos when everyone can find their belongings on their way out the door.


Make room for countertop space. Don’t overlook counter space! Make sure you have enough room to deposit dirty clothes, apply stain treatments and fold clothes. Choose a countertop that will hide dust and dirt; I used one from Belanger Laminates, a Canadian company who creates laminates that mimic raw stone. Multiple flecks of colour help hide messes and add an industrial element to the room. Laminate has come a long way in recent years; it’s stunning how you can now get it to look almost identical to stone, but at a fraction of the price.


A well-oiled machine needs a good engine. What is a laundry room without gorgeous appliances? For this makeover I chose Whirlpool Duet Steam Front Loaders in Chrome Shadow. Not only are they stunning, they are also a homeowner’s dream. They keep clothes looking newer longer and have amazing features that make caring for clothing simple.  This washing machine does all the work for you, determining your load size, adding the right amount of detergent, even steaming and removing wrinkles.


Laundry sinks can be stylish!  Don’t forget about the sink, which is an integral part of any working laundry room. I wanted to find a faucet that was both stylish and that makes life easier.  I chose a Delta faucet where you can simply touch anywhere on the spout or handle of the faucet with your hand, wrist or forearm to start and stop the flow of water.  If your space doubles as a mudroom, this sleek faucet is not only visually appealing, it is also a great solution to easily clean up  muddy hands after gardening or washing up when arriving home from school, work, sports or  after taking the dog for a walk.

 The little touches. The laundry room doesn’t have to be a room you dread heading into. I wanted to make it a place that was functional and stylish and with a few touches from Bouclair Home the look was achieved – I added a great piece of artwork, a bowl for keys, and a multitude of great baskets to keep the room in tip top shape. Everything is out of sight and organized but very easy to access.


Make sure you give your laundry room some love to create a room that works for your entire family. Who knows, you just might enjoy doing the laundry.
Until next time,
w&c designer girl!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quick Paint Tips / Projects

With the holidays just around the corner, so grows the list of to dos within the home. Spending too much time inside makes you realize how many little projects you need to get done or want to do to jazz up your space.  Not every project has to be a big one: you can make just as much of an impact in a space with little effort. These projects can change your space completely with just a little elbow grease and paint! Need extra encouragement to take on a quick & easy DIY project? CIL Paint Testers are on sale at Home Depot for only $3.97 until December 20th!

Here are few small painting projects that make a big impact:

Accent Walls can play a huge role in any space! Only have a short amount of time? Try just a few stripes on a smaller wall

{ images: joalcorn}

Paint a Window or an Interior Door in a striking colour for a major change within any space with minimal effort.

Change picture frame colours for a whole new look.

Add some colour to your kitchen accessories and be the envy of the town and your holiday guests.
Whatever project you tackle this holiday season, have fun with it. Paint goes along way on a budget and if you dont like it down the road paint over it!  It is a great solution to keeping your items around forever and giving it a whole new look with a little facelift over the years. Dont feel like you need to buy new stuff all the time - just add a DIY paint project to your to do list. Your wallet will love you and your home will look spectacular!

Until next time,
Jo Alcorn


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