Here in Toronto, the sweltering heat of summer is finally starting the clear. The sun is at that angle in the sky that washes everything in golden light and the leaves are beginning to turn. It’s a spectacular time to be in the city. And the change in leaves is a real site to behold. It’s a wonderful time to switch up accessories in the home to reflect the change in seasons.
There are so many ways to alter the mood of your environment. One way to embrace the seasons is to switch up the textiles in your living space. Baskets, pillows, and blankets can all be swapped out for things in earthy and jeweled tones, for heavier materials and cozier textures. Shop our pillows here.
Beaded art is another way of adding the drama of fall without spending a ton or going to much trouble. These fertility dolls and the clay beaded bangles from Cameroon, add a bit of shimmer, colour and sculptural interest to your tabletop displays. Shop our Beaded Art here.
If you want to add some vava-voom to your walls, nothing will achieve that faster than displaying a larger-than-life Juju feather headdress. These are show-stoppers and they come in many colours perfect to celebrate autumn. Shop our Headdresses here.
Happy Fall everyone!
I think many still think of decorating with hides and bones as being very one-note. Very masculine. Very man-cave. But truly, introducing skins and, yes even bones can truly beautify and elevate a space. Sometimes the effect will even soften a space. Skins, rich in texture and colour, are an immediate sensual feast. While the natural curve of horns evokes the feminine.
Definitely Not the Man Cave
The wall mounted kudu skull and the ostrich clad cabinet above are decidedly not for the man cave. Using horns as a table top display, mounting skulls and creating oomph with ostrich clad furniture can work in any room. All you need is a love for the eclectic.
Embrace the Unusual
Think outside the cowhide carpet or the wall mounted skull when you’re decorating with these materials. A piece of furniture wrapped in cowhide will instantly add visual interest and a splash of texture without veering too far into a given design direction, brandishing you a cowgirl.
Same goes with something like this exquisite zebra framed mirror. You’re showing just enough skin to add interest.
While many people like to display horns mounted and upright, they make a striking vertical table top display, just loosely scattered. I just love the curve of these horns, the organic texture and colour. They are a versatile yet unexpected design piece.
sometimes it’s about the subtle touches. It’s the accessories that pull a space together and offer a touch of flare and the exotic. Including pieces like this ostrich clad box or zebra hide tray will dazzle and surprise your guests. Accessories are especially great for those a little faint of heart. They allow you to try a look without all the commitment.
Throughout history textiles have been a major form of artistic and cultural expression across the world. In many parts of Africa, textiles have been used, not just as fashion, but as a powerful means of communication. Contemporary artists continue to use textile arts to tell stories and weave (pun intended) culture, history and current politics into stunning moderns works of art. These pieces deserve to be showcased on walls as art.
I love textile art. I love that textiles are a veritable feast for the senses. And more than just good for pillows, curtains and carpets, many artists are working in these media to create true works of art. I love this mud cloth wall piece: the colour, pattern, weave, and tassels really make it a showstopper.
When you’re thinking of hanging textiles on your walls, consider scale. Textile art can be a great way to display either an oversized piece or to cluster many smaller pieces together. I love the look of these colourful hand-woven reed baskets grouped together. The large piece below is being used as a headboard and works to create drama but still keeps the space cozy.
Framing textiles is another fabulous way of displaying them. Putting textiles behind glass also allows them to be preserved, something you want to do, especially in the case of antique pieces. Do be sure to go with a high quality, low reflection glass so that you can still appreciate the intricacy of the weaving, embroidery or other handicraft technique. When you choose matching frames, you can mix up your textile choices and still have a cohesive final look as below.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year when we get to pack our kids off to school. If you’ve got a university-bound student and they’ll be living on their own for the first time this year, why not spoil them a bit with some cool dorm room pieces.
Dorm rooms are notoriously small and devoid of personality. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be turned into a relaxing sanctuary or stylish study space. Because of their size, multifunctional furniture is a must.
Instead of a standard bedside table, think outside the box and use a kitchen cart, a filing cabinet or a repurposed locker. This adds lots more storage potential.
Another Big Design Do? Floating Furniture! This takes up significantly less space and uses otherwise wasted space, like walls.
We have an amazing line of Floating Furniture that includes shelves, desks, drawers, and media units. It comes in a range of finishes and sizes that allows you to customize your look to your space.
These small spaces really work hard. Students have a lot of stuff, so be sure to send your kid off with some good storage options. Covered boxes and oversized baskets are a great way to contain the mess and keep the space neat and conducive to studying. After all, a tidy space really has a positive effect on mental wellness.
Shop our baskets and boxes here.
And for our final tip, we really suggest changing out the light fixtures. Hang a dramatic pendant or get a pretty table top lamp. It will really help beautify the space and set the tone for relaxing evenings.
These new Zenza table lamps let off a warm glow and create the most beautiful cascading light patterns around your room. Check out our online store, or call us for even more selection (416-778-8778).
Wishing all the students out there – and their hard working parents – a smooth transition into the school year.
Dylan Thomas Fringe
It’s hot where we are. Truly, scorchingly hot. Hot despite being used to the temperatures of South Africa. It’s days like these when only the beach will do. Days by the water are so nourishing: refreshing, meditative. If you’re with a young family, also loads of fun. If you live to far from the water, here’s som easy breezy beachy inspiration to bring the coastal life to you.
Exotic shells can be displayed almost anywhere to instantly evoke the ocean and add some sculptural beauty to your decor. Mounted on a stand, scattered on a mantle or overflowing in an oversized woven basket, nothing brings you seaside faster.
Shop our Shells Here
I will warn that when trying to bring some seaside style home, people tend to go a bit overboard (pun intended!). Leave the sailboat and anchor motif at the store and instead try to use natural materials that you’d find by the shore. Driftwood, natural grasses, glass and shell are great options. I also absolutely adore the Ronel Jordaan rock and stone pillows.
These stunning pieces are made entirely from felt and have no seams. The rock veins are created through a unique hand-felting process. They are incredible to behold and work both inside and out. A perfect way to blend your environments.
Shop our Ronel Jordaan Felt Rocks here
One of our favourite things about decorating in the summer is that you are encouraged to be relaxed. Like the room pictured above, sometimes simplicity can be so refreshing. Handwoven poofs, baskets echo the organic texture and colour from the coast and are also incredibly functional pieces that can travel outside with you.
Shop our Baskets Here
Get the look with our range of hand-woven natural grass baskets, like the reclaimed fisherman’s baskets above. Smart storage, gorgeous texture and style that is perfect for summer.
Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi’s bathroom
Bathrooms sure are a functional area of the house. I mean given what we do in there, it’s not wonder it’s among the last area of the home to get a little design love. We just don’t give washrooms much thought above function. But even if you don’t have the space for a spa retreat, little things can elevate the lowly bathroom and make it truly beautiful. While we can be somewhat limited in the types of accessories and furniture we can use here, there is lots of potential. The above two pictures show how something as simple as a traditional wooden African stool suddenly softens the space. The rounded corners and curving lines of these pieces are a stark contrast to the hard tile and angular lines of the shower. It’s a perfect match. Swoon. Shop our African Stools here. Lighting makes a huge a huge impact in the washroom. It can be the feature that turns a humdrum room into a spa retreat. It’s also so often overlooked too. Swap out those ceiling mount builder’s choice fixtures in favour of some fun and sparkle. I love the small scale Zenza pendant in the powder room. With the shadows this would cast, the effect would be positively dreamy. Shop our Zenza pendants here. Just remembers to ensure that whatever light fixture you choose, it’s wired appropriately for the bathroom. Let’s not forget storage. From laundry to linens, toiletries and more, the bathroom is a hard working space. Gorgeous handwoven baskets are a great storage solution in the washroom. They will immediately warm up the space with their colours, texture, and shape. It’s the perfect juxtaposition really. Shop our Baskets here. And finally for those washrooms where space is an issue, try floating furniture. Look at this perfect, space saving makeup nook. Floating shelves and furniture really are the answer to so many small space problems. In a range of finishes, sizes and colours, they are versatile. The final effect is flexible too: from minimalist modern to fun and funky. Shop our Floating Shelves Here.
Whether you have a large family or love to entertain, these massive entertaining spaces will make you drool with envy and hopefully inspire you to create an equally gorgeous space. The above image is from Diane Von Furstenberg’s Manhattan penthouse. Love how she’s used cow horns as part of the table’s centrepiece.
Open concept living is a great way to accommodate your brood. The kitchen is the new heart of the home and as such, this is where you should put your focus, your energy, your dollars when designing, upgrading and renovating. A huge island could absolutely take the place of a dining table, saving you space and increasing the function of your kitchen all at once.
Here’s another island that can seat a crowd. I love that seating works on multiple sides of the island here which makes conversation and sight lines that much better. Those chairs at the island? Stunning and architectural, aren’t they? That rich blue cowhide is everything. If you do live in a home then by all means use it! There’s something nice about the formality a dining room offers. And bonus when you don’t need to have the kitchen mess in plain sight as you eat. What makes this room are the striking Zenza pendants. A cluster over a large dining table is all the art and adornment you need in this room. Want to get the look? Create custom bar stools in exotic ostrich hide. With more than 50 colours to choose from you’re sure to find the perfect colour to make a splash. Learn more here. Our Zenza pendants and lamps are likewise a striking addition to any space, but work so beautifully above the island and over the dining table. Shop our collection here. Our kudu and cow horns make for a show-stopping table-top display. Shop our collection here.
African Masks have been an important part of traditional African art and culture for literally millions of years, with the first masks thought to date back to BEFORE the Paleolithic era. That’s right, more than 2.6 million years ago. With more than 2.6 million years to hone their craft, it’s no wonder Traditional African Masks have inspired an international audience -and artists- over centuries. Often these traditional masks are created to represent the spirits of animals or ancestors, mythological heroes and also are used to share moral lessons and values of a culture. Abstract in form, masks were used in spiritual and ceremonial rituals. In some cultures, like the Nigerian Yoruba and Edo cultures, masked rituals resemble the western notion of theatre. When wearing the mask, it’s thought the the wearer sheds his or her identity to become the bearer of the spirit within the mask itself. The mask therefore acts as a sort of medium between the dead or nature spirits. The use of masks usually accompanies music, dance and elaborate costumes for ceremonies and celebrations like weddings, funerals and initiation rites. Animals like the crocodile, buffalo, hyena and antelope are represented in masks. The antelope is the most widely referenced animal and symbolizes agriculture. The female face – the beauty ideal – is another theme for traditional African masks as are those that represent the dead. The craft of mask-making was generally passed down from father to son, and mask makers were awarded a special status within the community. Often carved from wood or made from pottery, they also are adorned with metals like copper and bronze, shells, textiles, light stone, hair and bone. Today what you’d call traditional African Masks tend to be created for an international tourist market. Now mass produced, we’re losing the artisanal handiwork passed down through generations. There are also a lot of knock-offs being passed off as genuine artifacts. It can be hard to know the real deal from the fakes, but with experience you learn what to look for. Every now and again we are lucky enough to source some centuries old traditional masks for Snob. But these days, I also love to celebrate the work of contemporary artists who are bringing this art form back to life. Weaving tradition and the pulse of the world today into their exquisite work.
Do you find that you don’t quite fit a box when it comes to interior design? Maybe you veer towards modern, but feel it’s too cold? Or perhaps you love traditional pieces,
antique and finely build wood furniture, but you don’t want the place to look like granny’s. Here are some tips for mixing design styles without looking totally unhinged.
Mixing styles is a great way to reflect your personality. It says your fun and adventurous, culturally and historically savvy. But there are certainly wrong ways to go about it.
PICK A MOOD
It’s not so much about individual pieces as it is about the mood you want to create in your room. If you’re going for something stark, choose pieces in monochromatic shades and accent with wooden furniture made with simple lines.
If you’re going for something warm and casual, ensure any antique wooden pieces are made with warm woods like pine rather than more traditional woods like mahogany.
IT’S NOT 50/50
Sure you may want to include some antique or vintage elements, but don’t give equal play to every design era. Representing two styles equally will look busy and poorly designed. Choose a dominant look and then accent with a secondary one. Just a few choice elements will do. For instance, I love the way this modern kitchen and dining area is immediately warmed up with mismatched antique farm chairs.
PLAY IT UP WITH TEXTILES
Did you find an amazing antique chair at a flea market or were you lucky enough to inherit something special from your great aunt? If you find the traditional look just doesn’t go with your sense of style, don’t be afraid to refinish the thing. Bold paint and fun textiles can take the most traditional Victorian chair and make it at home in you eclectic interiors. Doesn’t this chair make you smile? It totally says, “I’m fun and adventurous.”
Antique rugs are another way to include a nod to the past in a modern home.
PIECES THAT MELD TWO STYLES IN ONE
Another way to make multiple design eras work in one room is to choose a piece of furniture that marries two styles in one. The Philippe Stark Ghost Chair for Kartell is a perfect embodiment of this. It’s a Louis XV-style chair done in clear lucite. Gorgeous!
LET COLOUR BE YOUR GUIDE
If you’re looking to mix styles in a room, be sure to commit to a colour palette. In this room the highlights in a sunny amber is what pulls it all together: lucite table, wicker chair, antique 17th century floral wall sconces, and a simple wooden credenza all work because the hue works.
What do you think? What’s your favourite technique to mixing and matching styles?
Area rugs are such a wonderful way to anchor a room. Not only are you providing the proverbial foundation for your furniture, but you’re also adding texture, colour and warmth with rugs and accent carpets. In open concept spaces they’re even more important as they help define and designate space. Is it Big Enough? Before deciding on the type, on a design, or a material, one question you’ll need to answer is how big should your area rug be. To answer this, you’ll have to first determine the following: How big is your room? When choosing an area rug, you need to take the relative size of the room into consideration, especially if you hope to anchor your furniture on it. Here’s a handy chart:
6′ x 9′ to 7′ x 10′ room size ——— 5’x 8′ rug size
9′ x 11′ to 10′ x 12′ room size —— 8′ x 10′ rug size
10′ x 13′ to 11′ x 14′ room size —– 9′ x 12′ rug size
11′ x 16 to 12′ x 17′ room size —— 12′ x 14′
So if you’ve got a 11 foot by 13 foot dining area, you’ll want a 9 foot by 12 foot rug to fit under your dining table and chairs, if you’re going with a standard size. What’s the purpose of the rug? Maybe more important than the size of your room is the purpose of the rug. If all you really want to do is add some visual interest and a warm place to lay your feet as you’re getting out of bed in the morning, a small scale will do. But if you’re anchoring your furniture in your living or dining room, the size will need to at least as big as the configuration of your furniture. Walkways Walkways, whether down a narrow hall or in your entryway, are a great place to put a narrow area rug. They help warm up a space and direct the path of the eye. Choose a piece that will give you about 1-2 feet of floor space on either side of your rug. Defining space For modern open concept spaces, area rugs are really instrumental in breaking up the area visually. If the work of the area rug is to define a space, be sure to choose one that is big enough to anchor all the furniture in that area. Furniture Placement Generally speaking it’s good to choose an area rug big enough to have the front legs of all the area’s furniture on it. In a living room this means either the front or all of the sofa’s legs, one side of the back and front legs of each side table, and at least the front legs of accent chairs will be on the carpet. Choosing a carpet that’s big enough to fit all legs of all of your furniture also works well. How to Layer Layering accent and area rugs is a really wonderful way to add colour, depth and texture to a space. The trick is to pair an area rug with a different enough accent rug on top. Mix a neutral weave area rug with an animal hide; or mix a geometric patterned rug with a circular accent in a solid colour. Happy decorating!