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When I first spotted this home, designed by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, I felt it perfectly captured that easy summer vibe we all crave at this time of year. Cool white furnishings accented with oversized arrangements of foliage and classic summer textiles like linen and seagrass – it’s like a little sun-dappled picnic spot.

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But look a little closer and it turns out this space is the perfect year-round home. Take away the fresh green accents and you have a completely neutral, yet highly imaginative, interior that can be styled differently for every season. I love the use of classic black and white throughout this home – in just the right doses.

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White is used to blend in storage while black denotes key decorative pieces, feature surfaces, or this stunning kitchen island.

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This space has a mid-century feel tempered with antiques, such as the French glass bottles, contemporary and eco-inspired furnishings, like the kirei board cabinets below.

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It’s like a modern day treehouse! Perfect for a summer’s day – or a winter evening.

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All photos via Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. Her portfolio is a joy so do check it out.

These rooms are all perfect for cocooning on a winter weekend. White and light and airy for some much-needed vitamin D, yet cozy and inviting for blustery days.

Modern living room sectional

I can’t get enough of this room. The genius combination of leather and felt on the sectional, paired with a kilim rug and marble table. Wow.

Modern living room shelves rug

Gorgeous ceiling, another kilim rug, bench seating and those shelves…

Modern living room sofa pillows

I’ve got to sort out the pillow situation in our family room. I have my new velvet pillows but this picture tells me I’m far from done…

Modern living room sofa pillows

Herringbone floors, brass accents and a bit of greenery – the perfect way to ease into spring.

All of these photos are via this wonderful Flickr photostream.

My first Ideabook for Houzz appeared recently on the site’s home page. It’s a round-up of accessories to create a curated look for your home. I think the current trend for curated spaces is one that will be around for a while. It’s a more personal, easy-going way of decorating. Curated rooms are filled with well-made, meaningful treasures, which have been carefully edited. This takes time and so these spaces have more long-lasting appeal. In fact, this trend is so entrenched that entire business models have been built around it: online retailers are all launching sub-brands that sell ‘one-of-a-kind’ pieces and jumping on the daily deal bandwagon but with collections curated by tastemakers.

I’m a big fan of the curated look. But even though it looks effortless, achieving the effect is quite an art. Here are five beautifully curated houses that I believe have got it right.

Curated mantelpiece

The first two are from Emma Reddington’s picks on House and Home. This first, although just a glimpse of the mantelpiece, indicates an artfully composed space that still retains a homey, informal feel. The key here is contrasting styles: a simple modern fireplace, gilt mirror, Moroccan rug and carefully-selected prints all balance each other out making the space accessible. The symmetrical lamps help pull the whole look together.

Curated living room

This upscale living room is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s far from homey, in large part because of the size, grand architectural details and multiple seating areas. But the decor is a major contributor to this space’s high-end curated feel. Every piece seems so unexpected.

Eclectic global living room

This room, via Elle Decor, is somewhere in between. I just love this space. It actually has very few pieces in it, but each is so well chosen that I still class it as curated. The armoire with baskets on top is a big factor in defining this room’s character, as is the live edge coffee table. The trick here seems to be to use fewer, large-scale pieces and then used relaxed fabrics to prevent the space from feeling sparse.

Eclectic living room

The rich red in this room is mouthwatering! Also via Elle Decor, this room is much more feminine and traditional. But the coffee tables add some edginess. This is an example of a room that has a curated feel using only furniture, rather than accessories and art. There are two notable accessories – the coral and quartz pieces – but the impact comes from the rug, chairs, sofa and coffee tables, all of which look like they have been collected carefully over the years.

Modern wood living room

Yet another different curated space – this time using organic textures to unify a room that is packed with treasures. This one has such a cozy, eclectic vibe – and of course killer views. It just proves that curated interiors don’t have to feel like art galleries. Via Living Etc.

So what defines a curated space for you?

It’s at this time of year I start thinking about ski chalets. Not your typical A-frame alpine cabins, mind. I mean expansive wood structures with soaring ceilings, incredible views, and open fireplaces. So I was happy to discover that this month’s Architectural Digest has just such a home on its cover. Now this is my idea of a ski chalet!

Aspen ski home

Aspen ski home

Aspen ski home

Aspen ski home

Aspen ski home

What a great juxtaposition of mid-century and contemporary with traditional craftsmanship. The architect somehow manages to incorporate those solid wood beams while keeping the overall effect light and airy. It’s a great color palette too. It reminds me of that other great ski chalet from last year’s Elle Decor. Who could forget this?

modern ski chalet

And this month’s Elle Decor has a Montana ski lodge with a similar palette, dark fire surround and beamed ceilings.

Montana ski lodge

This modern interpretation of a ski lodge, from Living Etc, also has my vote:

Ski chalet

Ski chalet

Looks like it’s time to dust off those skis!

3rd Uncle Design is a small Toronto-based design firm that has been gathering considerable recognition in recent years. And for good reason. Founded by a trio of designers, the firm has a truly refreshing portfolio. I came across its work recently when looking for inspiration for our renovation, and was attracted to its calm spaces and clean, contemporary lines. But, on digging deeper, I realized that, while many of these homes fall into the dream residence category, some also show just what can be achieved in a smaller space.

neutral kitchen by 3rd Uncle design

This kitchen is my idea of perfection. If I lived in a more contemporary home, this would be my blueprint.

neutral modern living room

Now, while the space, light and gorgeous view definitely help this space, there’s something to be learned from the low shelving and quiet seating area.

blue patterned tile wood bath bathroom

This bathroom is a wonderful combination of contemporary styling and traditional materials. Who would have thought to mix Moroccan-style tiles with a rectangular wood tub?

modern living room

This diminutive TV area (albeit within a much larger open floorplan) uses furniture with exposed legs and a striped rug to create a more spacious feeling.

modern interior design by 3rd Uncle Design

Ok, space is definitely not an issue here. But check out the collection of Moooi Random lights – they look positively ethereal suspended above the living room.

shelves by 3rd Uncle design

This ingenious shelving system is like a work of art – it also reflects the size and shape of the window frame so that it all blends seamlessly.

bathroom

Another bathroom combines traditional and modern fixtures. I like the way this portfolio contains such a range of styles – indicating the designers’ ability to reflect their clients’ own personalities – while maintaining the same sense of calm as a common thread throughout.

Enjoy more of 3rd UNCLE Design’s portfolio here.

With their intricate tilework, scalloped arches, hammered silver lanterns and cool courtyards, Moroccan riads are a decorator’s idea of pure escapism. Not many urban homes can get away with these features, but that doesn’t mean we can’t admire them and draw inspiration. I particularly like these more muted black and white riads, not only because they exude calm, but also because they allow the details to really stand out.

black+white+moroccan+riad+design

black+white+moroccan+design

black+white+orange+moroccan+riad+design

What do you think? How would you incorporate Moroccan style into a home?

1. Hotel Dixneuf La Ksour

2. Via Simply Home Designs

3. Via The Style Files

4. Via Design Crisis

Our renovation is moving ahead slowly. We still haven’t appointed the contractor, but plans are completed and we have the permit. That means we’re also at the stage of choosing fixtures and fittings – at last. In addition to the kitchen, we’re also hoping to put in a new master bath and renovate the family bathroom. For the master, I have in mind something white, light and bright, with a little warm-toned wood. So, very similar to the kitchen then… The good thing about this whole exercise is that it’s forcing me to focus on one specific style, rather than succombing to the latest fad. It’s been quite enlightening.

To give you a glimpse of the style I’m zeroing in on, here are some of the images I’m using as inspiration for the bathroom.

This is close to the effect we want, via Houzz. A honey-toned wood (in this case bamboo) floating vanity, wide mirror, square basins and lots of white. We won’t be using Carrera marble, but the faucets are pretty cool.

This, also via Houzz, has a similar color scheme, with more open shelving instead of a traditional vanity and ceramic or glass tiles instead of marble. I don’t like the glass sinks, but the mirrors are great.

More Carrera marble and the wood here is much darker than we want. However, the square sinks and frameless shower screen are spot on. Also via Houzz.

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Unfortunately, I don’t think wood floors are for us, but we can get a similar effect by using this type of wood in the cabinetry. Via The Marion House Book.

And, well, this one is just getting ridiculous (in a good way). Again, we won’t be duplicating this exact look (I wish), but the combination of materials is relevant. By Emily Summers.

Taking a slightly different direction now, I’ve also decided the bathroom has to have a little sparkle. I plan to add lustrous white glass tiles, like these (via Remodelista), in a banner along the vanity and around the room.

I’ve admired this bathroom, from Living Etc, for years! This is the image that got me yearning for sparkly tiles!

What do you think? Is it possible to combine all these ideas successfully?

Why didn’t I know about this beautiful blog until this weekend? Of course, I’ve seen these photos of blogger Nicole’s stunning apartment all over the blogosphere, especially since it was featured in Rue Magazine. But the blog is a great source of inspiration too. Especially right now – while Nicole is off bonding with her newborn, guest bloggers are posting the cutest, most unique nursery designs.

Anyway, I just had to share some of the photos of the apartment in question since the black, white and metallic scheme is providing all sorts of inspiration for our impending kitchen makeover (which is rapidly becoming a dining room, playroom and bathroom makeover too – more of that later).

I spy a Carrera marble kitchen island…

Plattner coffee table…

Black and white ikat pillow…

And brass anglepoise lamps over the bed. Elegant and eclectic!

Photos by Emily Anderson for Rue Magazine via Sketch42.

We are in the market for a new kitchen this year. It’s going to be a huge relief to finally get rid of the ancient cabinets, cracked floor tiles and crazy layout. I’ll try to record the process here and will get the first few ‘before’ shots up soon. Meantime, I’m at the inspiration-collecting stage. I know I want a streamlined white kitchen but I don’t want it to look too clinical. So I plan to introduce some warm wood tones, probably in the flooring since that will also provide continuity with the adjoining rooms. And, you know me, a little bit of sparkle wouldn’t go amiss either… Anyway, here are some of the images currently fueling the creative process…

This one doesn’t have the wood floors, only a wood countertop. But the open shelves are great. Via Eloisa & Abelard.

This is one spectacular kitchen, via Design Manifest. Probably not exactly what I’m looking for as it has no wood at all and uses Shaker-style cabinets. But I do like the steel (or is it zinc?) doors.

This is a very streamlined kitchen but still manages to incorporate warmth with the taupe walls and pendant lights. I’m not looking for glossy cabinets, but they do reflect the light beautifully here. Via Living Etc.

This one has a much more organic feel with open shelves and wood-framed doors. Stepping out onto a deck with a pool wouldn’t be bad either…! Via Coco and Kelley.

Another lovely light kitchen, which shows how well the white cabinets look against the flooring. Via Desire to Inspire.

This wall of cabinets is cute, but it’s the wide drawers that really appeal here. Photo by Per Magnus Persson.

What a great mix of old (herringbone flooring and cornicing) and new (lots of horizontal lines, wide drawers and the Moooi Random light fixture). Via this photostream.

Now I’m probably not going to end up with a Bulthaup kitchen, but if I did, I’d like it to be this one.

This kitchen mixes materials very effectively. The Carrera marble makes a stunning backdrop to those open shelves. I’m also a big fan of the ‘waterfall’ countertops down the side of the island. From Canadian House and Home.

Not a fan of the flooring or the countertops here, but the chandelier light fixture adds just the right amount of sparkle. Also from Canadian House and Home.

Ok, this isn’t exactly a kitchen, but I do love the combination of white chairs and vintage wood table. By Vicente Wolf.

The last two are via Houzz. Lots to love about this kitchen: the unique hood, the little floating block shelves on the backsplash, the high stools, the mini pendants over the island.

More beautiful Carrera marble, dark wood floors and some striking glass pendants.

No doubt there will be many more twists and turns in this particular design journey, so watch this space…

There’s so much to like about this red-accented space that it almost makes me want to redecorate our entire house from scratch (family – don’t be alarmed, I said ‘almost’).

There’s nothing quite like joyful, juicy red, used in just the right quantity. Here, because the space is so light and easy, the effect is uplifting. I’m a huge fan of the kilim rug combined with a very simple, blocky white table.

The central shelving unit looks like a clever disguise for a load-bearing column. Doused in red, it brings the entire space together.

The Asian elements, such as these meditation chairs, the Buddah, rush mats and Japanese-inspired screens below, bring order to a small space and prevent it from looking cluttered.

Is there any smarter combination than red, white and charcoal? That dark wall works well to ease the transition between living area and kitchen.

A perfect study in red.

From MiCasa via DigsDigs

The design discoveries and dilemmas of a Brit in San Francisco as she turns a house into a home.
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