Corporate blog review: Decor8 — July 31, 2015

Corporate blog review: Decor8

Today I’m looking forward to sharing a rather exceptional corporate interior design blog with you and reviewing just what makes this blog stand out from the rest. Meet decor8.
This blog, launched back in 2006 by Holly Becker, started off as most blogs do. Small. Back then Holly was a design student in Boston. Fast forward 9 years and Holly is now the proud author of a series of best selling books and her blog has become award winning in the world of interior and lifestyle blogs.
So how did she do it?
I think the answer is fairly simple. Holly simply loves what she does but there are some other key ingredients reviewed below.
Personal touch
The site has a really personal voice and it is gentle and mild-mannered. Holly attributes her success to her loyal readers who have helped to share her blog. As bloggers, we all know the importance of sharing posts, and even with Holly’s success, she still doesn’t forget to mention the “little people”.
Digestable text
While we don’t want endless blogs of “the top 5” or “top 10”, sometimes they are necessary. Especially when handing out decorating tips. Holly users a combination of numbers, clear headings and photos to make text informative but easy to digest (see below screengrab).
List screengrab
Beautiful photography & up and coming designers
This site is brimming with drop-dead gorgeous images of beautiful designs and the designers behind them. The images speak for themselves but Holly often introduces up and coming designers too – like the hugely talented British interior designer Luke Edward Hall.
Clear categories
I appreciate a good category and being able to find it with ease. It helps with the user experience and creates a sense of order. On Decor8, categories feature prominently  in the tool bar  and there are 10 distinct categories to choose from (see below screengrab).
Breaking news
If something is trending in the ‘decorate, design and lifestyle’ world, then this blog has it covered. If you are curious or simply need some inspiration, see what’s trending right now. Think factory windows (yes that’s correct). Think fabulous.
Jon Oron
Image source: all images are courtesy of
The site is also hugely shareable across most current and emerging social media platforms, which is a big plus. The site is also optimised for mobile.
Room for improvement
The only challenge is that some articles are a little on the long side so that is one area which could be reviewed as too much text can be off putting to the user.
Aside from that, I really think I’ve stumbled on a great read and I am signing up for the e-newsletter quicker than you can say “remove that hideous wallpaper now”.
Behind the scenes renovation interview — July 23, 2015

Behind the scenes renovation interview

Renovations are one way of getting a step closer to your dream home. Since moving to Toronto, I’ve noticed just how many peers and colleagues are doing some form of reno. And while at times the thought of it sounds very daunting, I’m also rather intrigued at how the whole thing works.
In this blog I interview a friend, Taryn Green, who together with her husband, had no background in renovating properties. Despite this they managed to turn their house into one hell of a home.
Read on for a very honest and inspiring tale of a house reno in Toronto’s Riverside.

Q1: Is there ever a good time to renovate and if so when?

A: Renovating is stressful, expensive, and time consuming so I’d generally suggest avoiding renos when you have other things going on in your life that share those qualities. Consider how it will impact your day to day life: Will you have to relocate? Do you have major expenses coming up? Are you on a really strict timeline? If so, you may want to wait or adjust your scope. That being said, we recently started a reno project when I was 30 weeks pregnant with the goal of completing it before the baby arrived.  Recognize that your life will be somewhat thrown into turmoil for a while and try to manage your expectations. You are going to experience delays and setbacks so it’s wise to prepare yourself mentally and financially so you can stay as zen as possible during the process.

Q2: How did you plan and schedule your renovations?

A: In our case, we were working with a very old house that needed a lot of behind-the-scenes work. A room by room schedule would have been challenging because so much work was needed throughout. We were fortunately able to move out while we gutted the entire house and addressed all the structural, electrical and HVAC issues at once. We’ve been gradually putting things back together floor by floor. We started with the main and second floor so that we’d have somewhere to live and have since done the third floor. The basement and kitchen will be the final phase and are in progress now. Every home and project is different so the planning and scheduling is dependent upon existing conditions, what your ultimate plan is, your budget, etc. I highly recommend seeking the advice of a contractor and architect during the planning stages. Even if you don’t hire them for a whole-house reno, they will be able to give you insights into the best way to schedule the work in order to minimize disruptions and costs.
Sneak peak of some during and after photos:
Living room during reno
Living Room Demo
Living room post reno
Living room post reno
Living room and staircase during reno
Living room and staircase
Living room and hallway during reno
Living room post reno
Living  room post reno
Hallway post reno
Hallway post reno

Q3: What did you enjoy most about the process?

A: I loved watching the progress day to day and seeing a space come together. It’s exciting to anticipate each stage and watch your vision come to life. We also did some of the work on our house ourselves and I really enjoyed learning new skills throughout the process. It was empowering to learn how to use a saw and a drill and build something with my own hands.

Q4: What advice would you give to someone considering renovating? 

A: It will always cost more and take longer than you expect. Planning is also critical – allow time for planning, procurement, scheduling contractors, etc. If you’re making all your decisions on the fly, you risk backing yourself into an expensive, stressful corner.

Q5: What was the most disruptive part of the process?

A: Demolition is messy and very noisy. Plaster dust finds its way into everything.

Q6: Where did you find your inspiration?

A: All over! We got ideas from restaurants we loved, hotels we’ve stayed in, and other homes we saw while we were house-hunting. Design magazines are great but most people aren’t going to be featured in Architectural Digest so I especially love “real home” tours on Apartment Therapy and design blogs that show the entire process of a renovation.
A *HUGE* thanks to Taryn for her thoughtful response to my questions and for sharing such awe-inspiring and beautiful photos of their renovation project in Riverside.
I hope you found this interview to provide you with a solid understanding of the considerations surrounding a renovation. As well as a little inspiration for the brave who are up to the challenge of a reno, both mentally, physically and financially!
A renovation is by no means a challenge to be approached lightly, however as demonstrated in the interview and photos, the results can be truly spectacular.
Online review of CB2, Toronto — July 18, 2015

Online review of CB2, Toronto

Today I review modern furniture store, CB2 in Toronto. I hope that you will find this review helpful and that it may assist you in narrowing down your interior design hunt.
Pros of CB2: Modern, clean furniture, lighting, accessories and all things ‘house’; ‘affordable’; vibrant display; airy loft; relaxed but helpful staff.
Cons of CB2: Limited back end stock; delivery is not included in the price.
Overall experience: Having moved to Toronto in June 2014 first on my ‘to do’ list was to try and make my house a home. The Queen West area of Toronto is known for its unique furniture shops and after scouting out the various haunts, I can highly recommend CB2. A year on with no need for any more furniture, I still find myself strolling into CB2 on a lazy afternoon. I despise shopping so if you knew me, you would appreciate the significance of this statement.
When my husband and I moved from London, England to Toronto, we made sure that our furniture joined us too.  Our beautiful mid-century modern was shipped across the Atlantic and six weeks later, our condo was beginning to feel somewhat homely.
The major challenge? Lack of lighting.
Major solution: CB2.
Upon entering the store in Queen Street West, my husband and I were greeted by a laid back but helpful sales assistant. For the sake of this post we will call him John. We explained our brief, showed John photographs of the condo and he gently pointed us in the right direction, pointing out the various pros and cons of each lighting fixture. While this may sound slightly dull, it was a huge help to us to know exactly what types of lighting would work well in our space.
Possibly the most important part of the entire process was that John was helpful, but not over bearing. I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about sales assistants who get too involved or influential in the buying process. Being a Brit, it’s still taking a while for me to adjust to the overly zealous north American sales approach! Two hours later, having reviewed every light in the shop as well as discussed the up-coming stock, I felt confident that not only was I buying stylish and unique fixtures, but that these were made of quality. Delivery was a two week lead time and we found this to be true to the day.
The over all experience for me was superb. Gorgeous stock, great customer service and hassle free delivery. If these are also your values, then check out CB2. You may just find that you become a regular!
Exterior of CB2:
Exterior of CB2 on Queen St West
Exterior of CB2 on Queen St West
Rose petal table lamp
Photo of my first CB2 light fixture purchase: the divine rose petal table lamp. Sold out but you can still buy the gorgeous rosie smoke table lamp. While stocks last!
Top three need-to-know design shops in West Toronto — July 10, 2015

Top three need-to-know design shops in West Toronto

The post crafted below is a guest post that I have written, on the assumption that my article features in the hugely popular, BlogTO. This is a daily weblog, covering all local news and culture in Toronto.
In particular, I believe that my blog would sit well in the City and Culture, Fashion and Style section. There is definite synergy with my blog and other fashion/style posts featuring in this section so I believe that I am already talking to an engaged and interested audience, who I hope will enjoy my post. In addition, design shops are becoming increasingly prominent and popular in Toronto, so there is growing interest in all things design. What makes my post unique is the geographical focus – West Toronto. Enjoy!
Guest post for BlogTO:
Whether you are looking to renovate or rebrand your home, this list covers off the top three need-to-know design shops making waves in Toronto, today.
Number 1: I have a crush on you
Aside from its adorable name, this shop is a gift shop meets gallery, based in Toronto’s Liberty Village. Its founder, Amy Kwong, takes inspiration from her travels and fellow artists, musicians and clothing designers living in the surrounding area. The end result? Truly unique products that are not only functional, but will make you smile. Take the Rob Ford china plate or bowl. Contemporary and smart and with a portion of the proceeds donated to CAMH, what’s not to love?
China plates, Rob Ford
Image source:
Number 2: CB2
This store is a modern destination from Crate and Barrel, that first opened its doors in 2000.  With 11 urban stores under its belt in America, CB2 has recently ventured to the North and now you can buy what they claim to be affordable, modern home furnishings, in your very own Toronto. Based out of a lofty show room on 651 Queen Street West, this store covers everything from cutlery to couches, wall art to wine glasses, extraordinary light fixtures to egg timers. Take advantage of their sale through July 20. Good luck bargain hunting!
Finger wall clock
Image source:
Number 3: Toronto Designers Market
Last, but by no means least, the Toronto Designers Market. Possibly one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, down to the fact that it only opened its doors on May 31. Located at 1605 Queen St West, this 3000 square foot space features over 30 different designers showcasing their creative masterpieces.
From jewelry to clothing, furniture to household items, this space has it all. And with the space being affordable, you are guaranteed to see the latest raw talent, emerging from the creative designers and entrepreneurs across Canada. The market runs from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am – 6pm, so get yourself down there and get inspired!
Blue dresser
‘Today’s guest post, Katie Houghton, founder of Property Monarch, blogs about all things house-related in Toronto. To read about her musings on renting, buying, design and more, check out Property Monarch.’
Beware of online property scammers — July 4, 2015

Beware of online property scammers

This week I have recorded a three minute (well, 2:59) vlog on what you need to be mindful of when using classified sites to find a property. I include tactics adopted by scammers as well as provide you with a legitimate search site which will help you find the right property, with minimal hassle. I hope you enjoy watching!
Beware of online property scammers