Design Tips

From Cookie Cutter to You

So many modern builds these days tend to look much like all the others. This is especially so for condos. Same isn’t a bad thing, and it’s always nice to live in a space with a familiar and functional layout, but every home needs to reflect the people who breathe life into

the walls. Here are some easy – and inexpensive – ways to make a cookie cutter home, undeniably yours. Lighting be2ff7c4a0d006ea8b91589cd85e7c27 zenza light

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Rentals, new condos and town homes usually come with that builder’s choice lighting. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s so…blah. Nothing can add warmth and impact to a space than swapping out those fixtures and adding beautiful lighting. Zenza pendants are striking and when illuminated cast the most striking shadows across your room. Try hitting up antique and flea markets too for special finds for every room and for every budget. Textiles swazi bowls

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Area rugs, dramatic drapery and fun throw pillows are a great way to add instant visual and textural interest to any space. Here at Snob, we also love to take handwoven baskets and hang them as wall art. These can work in many spaces, big or small, just keep your eye on proportion: choose the right number and size to ensure you’re not over-powering or underwhelming in your chosen space. Paint painted vanity painted door Quick and easy on the pocket book, paint – especially in a bold colour or in an unexpected place can elevate your room. Think doors, ceilings or cabinetry or even hardware. Spray painting in metallics can turn the most most boring piece into something truly glam. Wallpaper wallpaper 2 wallpaper An accent wall in a pretty print can be just what you need to separate your space from the masses. There are so very many options on the market these days to suit just about any taste and aesthetic. Wallpaper can be a good way to define space in open concept layout too, helping the eye to break up space. A Custom Piece LookBook2015113 metal-sideboard-10001

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If not a custom piece, than invest in a piece that stands out. Sometimes this may mean a cool upholstery for your seating or a daring ostrich clad piece. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that resonates with you, something you really love.   Happy Decorating!

What a Set of Legs Can Do

Peg leg entry Want to literally elevate a piece of blah furniture? Change out the legs! Have you noticed how the right set of legs help to define shape, highlight negative space and even echo an era in design? It’s true. The right legs can transform something clunky into a new piece that’s fresh, light and modern. When you’re buying your next piece of furniture or just DIY-ing a piece currently your collection, consider updating the legs. Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.04.15 AM   NestingTablesWe love these light as air side tables that are defined by their see-through shape. Our nesting tables topped with marble are perfect for small spaces. They help give you a functional surface and display place, while still keeping things light and open.   Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.03.46 AM There’s a wonderful company in Sweden called Pretty Pegs that specializes in selling peg legs that instantly update your IKEA furniture. It’s such an inexpensive and fun way to create the look of an expensive and customized piece of furniture. Check them out! They ship worldwide! Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 12.59.37 AM Oh these are special. Denise came across them in South Africa on a recent buying trip and we have not been able to hang on to them, they’ve all walked out the door with their happy new owners. Luckily more are arriving soon. These are sculptural, architectural. They’re fun but sophisticated. It’s not easy to find a piece of furniture that can embody all of that. Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.06.01 AM And if you’re looking for something truly unique, try a piece of furniture built on a horn base. I love the curvy femininity of the cow horn side table and the kudu horn table. Really this is statement art as much as it is a table. Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 12.59.59 AM We’ve been building a lot of custom pieces lately on these wooden stands. The strong and imposing shape of this ostrich clad buffet is perfectly juxtaposed by the light and open stand it sits on. And these babies can carry an awful lot of weight. Just check out this wardrobe we built. Standing a massive 7 feet it’s a sight to behold! charcoal wardrobe - small What’s your favourite shape for the legs of your furniture? Do you like to keep your lines strong and modern or a little fun? Isn’t cool how just changing the legs can also evoke a completely new era of design? Take for example the peg legs which add that mid-century modern air to just about anything.

Moving Outside

fairy ligths

Despite an early April snowstorm here in Toronto, nice weather is around the corner. I mean it has to be, right?! And for those of us lucky enough to have outdoor space – a deck, a garden, an entertainer’s dream patio – it’s time to give some thought to swinging the doors open and moving some of our day outside.

Lighting

lanterns, garlands and fairy lights

I suppose fairy lights and garlands of lanterns seem a little cliche? But there are so very many lovely styles to choose from these days. Some are even solar powered, making their use without a power source that much easier. I do love the look of delicate white lights twinkling in the evening. Just picture yourself on the first truly warm spring evening, sitting on your deck, your porch, in your garden with a glass of wine and some soft tiny lights giving you just the right amount of glow.  It goes without saying, but  always be sure to choose outdoor (never indoor) lights and carefully read about their installation and use. Lighting is never the time to cheap out with dollar store garlands. Safety first people!

tree wrapped in fairy lights

And if it truly is too expected, too quotidian to string a garland of lights outdoors, why not try something a little more unique like wrapping your trees? How I’d love to sit here and read into the dusk!

Accessories

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Just like accessories and art are the final touches that make a house a home, they shouldn’t be overlooked outdoors. For patios, gardens and decks though, I like to keep accessories neutral in colour and made form organic materials. After all, we’re celebrating nature!

Baskets to hold some outdoor essentials, from books and a light throw for the dawn or dusk nip in the air, to children’s toys, or your gardening essentials are a perfect outdoor accessory. We carry an assortment of over-sized handwoven beauties that can liven up and organize your outdoor space.

ronel jordaan outdoor rocks

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Ronel Jordaan’s fabulous felt rock cushions come in an outdoor version, would you believe. A great textural addition, these add pops of visual interest while also doubling as an ever-cool seat or ottoman. And while the outdoor finish makes them perfect for transitional spaces or your patio, we don’t recommend actually leaving them out in the elements.

bamileke stool cake stand

Shop our African Stools and Tables here

Ahh the Tonga stools. These artifacts are perfect outdoors as extra seating or as a little side table. They even make a unique centrepiece for your al fresco parties! The intricate carvings in the wood add a real sculptural quality to your space.

Plant life

collander planter

There are thousands of creative planter ideas out there and if you’re putting together even a tiny outdoor space, I insist you bring some greenery to it. Go to your local nursery or farmer’s market to get advice about the hardiest plants if you’re worried about your lack of green thumb.

Furniture

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Shop our Seating here

Whether you’re going all out with an outdoor kitchen and full dining area or just have room for a little oasis, seating is a must. Go for something comfy, something you can sink into, something that invites you to stay.

These are our handwoven Malawi chairs. Aren’t they pretty? While I wouldn’t suggest you leave them out in the elements, they are perfect to bring outdoors on sunny spring and summer days. I love their curved shape, the texture and the craftsmandship that has gone into these. They’re also available painted in black and white if that’s your preference.

 

Will it Fit? Getting Furniture Through Your Door

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Today we’re posting some really practical advice. It seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised how many clients we’ve heard from who’ve experienced just this.

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Daily Deal sites like One King’s Lane, online auctions from Ebay to Live Auctioneers, not to mention wandering around your city’s flea markets and home design stores make it easy to want to snap up a spectacular find.

forest canopy bed

King sized mattresses are the best investment, provided they fit through your door

But while love at first sight or the ultimate deal may be hard to pass up, do yourself a favour and keep measurements on hand of key locations in and around your home to ensure pieces will actually fit through your door and into your room of choice. 

Zenza Lights foyer

A narrow staircase with a bend can pose a huge moving nightmare as can low hanging light fixtures.

With older buildings and homes especially, and condo and apartment elevators, it’s easy to get caught up in the expanse of your room and forget about the narrow hallways, the turn in the stairs, the weirdly small doorway or even the exceptionally narrow street, that all pose obstacles to your receiving your new gem.

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While this Snob armoire clad in a sumptuous black ostrich hide can be removed from its base, you don’t want to scratch the beautiful leather fitting it through a narrow doorway

Sofas, king sized mattresses, armoires, dining table and media centres tend to be the pieces that folks purchase (and sometimes even have custom built) that don’t end up fitting through the doors.

 

Here are some basic measurements to keep on hand:

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  1. Exterior Front doorway height,
  2. Exterior front doorway width and clearance to opposite wall
  3. Staircase width
  4. Staircase corner width and clearance to opposite wall if there’s a bend. Also note leaded windows or window sills that could be damaged or otherwise pose an extra obstacle.
  5. Height to low-hanging light fixtures
  6. Interior doorway width and clearance to opposite wall
  7. Interior doorway height
  8. Stairway overhang, beams or light fixture clearance

* Remember to ensure a large delivery truck can fit down your street and into your driveway. Ask for these measurements before delivery.

**Remember to also measure the stairwell leading up to your unit or the height, width and opposite wall clearance of your elevator, lobby and landing floor.

Happy hunting! May you find deals and treasures that will make your house the perfect a home!

Marisa Tomei’s Manhattan Apartment

We are always flipping through design magazines here. We love to see creative takes on room design, new products and profiles on designers. And of course we love to see our pretty wares featured too. Check out our media page for some of our recent coverage! We are so lucky to be included in publications month after month. ELLE_20DECOR_20Marisa_20Tomei_20living_20room2_photo_20by_20Douglas_20Friedman.0 But a few months ago, Elle Décor showed up at our door with a cover feature on the very talented actress and Oscar winner, Marisa Tomei. Standing in her Manhattan living room, I was overcome by her sense of style. It was inviting and warm, sophisticated, colourful, balanced and absolutely full of hollywood glamour. gallery-1454701364-edc030116tomei01-copy Check out her sofa covered in Kuba cloth! Striking and artful to use the textile like this. I love the richness of the colours in the textile and how they’re balanced by the neutrals of the Moroccan rug and coffee table. And while balance is a wonderful thing, the Kuba cloth is also perfectly augmented by the turquoise velvet and rich orange leather of the floor pillows. Read our 101 on African textiles if you want to learn more about how this amazing textile is created. elle_decor_marisa_tomei_living_room_photo_by_douglas_friedman_fb2c26152ce3f50ca00d1c7833445585.today-inline-large I was also impressed to see a trio of ceremonial marriage curtains decorated with cowrie shells hung as wall art. These would have come from South Africa and are very rare and quite old. I myself have only ever come across three in my travels and on my buying trips. mt 6 Marisa merges new and old with such a deft hand. Modern furniture, antiques and mid century beauties are brought together with objets from around the world that each have such a rich story to tell. The look is never precious, never too done. It is eclectic and sensual, cozy and elegant, and obviously a reflection of the person in the space. I for one am impressed by her eye. This is a fine collection of furniture and art. To pull everything together, she hired Alexandra Hayden, an interior designer, based in LA and NYC. I am totally smitten with the space. marisa1 In the article, Marisa mentions that many of the pieces in her New York apartment are the result of scouring the world’s flea markets and many many hours online at ebay and other auctioneers. It’s a skill she comes by honestly, having spent many hours watching her mom collect and refinish furniture.   All images via Elle Decor. Visit Elle Decor to read the full story and see the full image gallery.  

Spring Fashion Trends

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I got lost in the pages – both virtual and magazine – of some spring fashion trends for 2016. As always I am amazed by the artistry and technique we\’re seeing from some of the top fashion houses. Sometimes if I\’m not bold enough to take on a fashion trend, I celebrate it in a small way by introducing it into the home. Want to do the same? Here are a few ideas. \"Mali-Batek-Pillows1\"

Shop it here

Lots of designers seem to be embracing tie dye! Silky textiles, dripping with vibrant colour were seen in the collections of Altuzarra, Baja East, and Thakoon. If you want this look at home, try our Mali Batik Pillows or other silky throws and pillows. \"Spring We called it earlier in the year: we think pink is going to be huge this year in interiors, and this season we\’re seeing it a lot in fashion too! I love how versatile pink can be. From bold, strong and passionate, to romantic, to girly. Pink does it all and I\’m so glad it\’s getting it\’s moment of glory. \"Screen   \"Monkeybiz-XLarge\"

Shop this here

Get the look with a funky home accessory, like one of the amazing MonkeyBiz figures, or maybe our lovely pink marble coffee table which brings just the right amount of feminine dazzle.

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Rock and Roll is another Spring 2016 fashion trend. Designers like Alice + Olivia, Coach and Rodarte are totally paying homage to the 70s rocker chick. I love the layers, the mixed textiles and materials, the contrasting prints! It\’s over the top and it\’s awesome.

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Shop here

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Want to introduce something with a little edge in your interior? There are so many ways we can help you celebrate your inner rock star,

from feather headdresses to ostrich leather furniture, to something a touch more subdued like a suede or leather throw pillow. Come on, you know you want to!

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And last but not least, I noted lots of weaving happening in the textiles used to create some pretty gorgeous and avant garde fashion. You know how we feel about things handwoven! I love how weaving using natural fibres celebrate organic form and brings a little nature in. I also love it\’s sculptural quality and the movement it can create. Such a visual treat.

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Get the look in your home with a woven pouffe, a crocheted vessel or one of our many amazing baskets.

What do you think? Are you having a favourite fashion moment right now? Does it translate as well in design? Do tell!

The Versatility of the Tonga Stool

tonga stool lookbook natural Do you routinely find yourself in need of a few extra seats in your home but don’t really want to commit to another bulky chair or bench? In the foyer, especially while readying multiple kids for a winter’s day; in the living area, when large parties of guests are over; in the bathroom while bathing the kidlets. These are a few of the places where extra, but not permanent seating, stools or tables may be nice. tonga stool lookbook How’s this for a marvelous answer: the Tonga stool from Zimbabwe. This beauty is hand-carved from a single piece of wood. A genuine artifact, these stools were status symbols for elders of the nomadic Tonga people of Zimbabwe. They carry significant meaning, for the Tonga people, then and now. Each is carved to incorporate unique lines, shapes, and patterns, making them easy to transport but also breath-taking to behold. tonga stools pinterest

Via Queensland Homes

Genuine Tonga stools date from the late 19th and early 20th century. Some have been repaired with metal patches that just add to their beauty. There are also many contemporary versions and recreations being made today by artisans in Zimbabwe and South Africa. tonga birthday cake What I love about these is that they are truly unique sculptures. They are art. They are strong and graceful displayed on shelves. Stack multiples together to play up their curves and lines. And displayed under a console in the foyer, they are also a continually used seat, stool, and side table. tonga arlo copy In fact you may even find your Tonga stool continues its nomadic trek, albeit on a much smaller scale, moving between rooms as well as inside and out of the house. gold leaged tonga stools We are lucky to have a few of these one-of-a-kind gems in the showroom now. We’ve been playing around with gold-leafing in the showroom and love how these have turned out. Stop by or email to see what’s available. Or check our our African Stools and Tables page for a brief selection.

Spring’s Flock

birds - Tasmin Jonson

Image via My Domaine

Winter blahs got you down? It’s time to let spring into the home. Nothing says spring quite like birds to me. Their return from their winter migration. The songs that fill the trees. Nests full of new life. If you want to introduce a little bit of avian life into your home, we’ve got a gorgeous and eclectic collection for every taste. Dramatic Art blue bird room If you log onto Pinterest and you may just get lost in a tropical bird paradise with the search ‘oversized bird art’. There’s something about these magical creatures – their fine feathers, the majesty of flight and the range of form they take from the flamingo to the penguin, the hummingbird to the hawk. Adorning your walls with these birds bring whimsy, drama and a link to summer skies. We currently have a small selection of animal and bird prints in the shop. Stop by as they’re sure to be snapped up fast. birds - paris apartment If you want to go big with your avian love, there’s no better choice than the Juju feather headdresses. Hung in multiples or by itself, the feather headdress will instantly make your space pop. The texture of these is an extra sensual layer adding interest and warmth to a room. Though white headdresses are the most popular, I am partial to the richly coloured versions. Go bold, I say. Shop our feather headdresses here. Simple Accessories Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.07.00 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.06.29 PM

Shop our Eggs and Shell Collection here

From ostrich eggs to metal sculpture, hand-painted boxes to hand-carved stone birds our beautiful avian accessories work in any space and with a range of decor. A single ostrich egg can feed a family of 7. In regions like South Africa they really are a source of sustenance and life. These eggs perfectly juxtapose power and exquisite delicacy, just like life itself. stonebirds-95-ea-sold-out-but-will-get-more These stone birds, which we’ve written about before, are the perfect combination of heavy and light. Carved by hand from polished stone, we’ve mounted them on gold-leafed perches in blocks of clear lucite. Perfect on table tops, they bring a little joyous nature inside and all year round. Shop our Stone Birds here Pillows Ardmore-Pillow-Bright

Ardmore Birds PillowNavy-Ostrich-Pillow1

Blue Ostrich Feather Pillow

And of course the easiest-peasiest way to freshen up a space is with pillows and throws. Updating your pillows with something that echoes the coming spring is a wonderful way to welcome a new season. And as we love, love, love birds, we’ve got you covered if you do too. From ostrich feathers to bright avian prints, there’s no better way to warm up your space. Shop our Pillow selection here.

Layering for Winter

layering rugs 2 It’s winter here, and while we were lucky to get a pretty warm fall and early winter, it’s starting to get pretty nippy. This is the time to layer. And not just with fashion but our homes too. But a lot of people are hard-pressed to know how to pull this off and have the finished look be sleek and stylish. Here are some fun tips that will keep you and your home warm. Layer yourself with ponchos and capes, your home with rugs and carpets

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Denise in a Maxhosa by Laduma poncho. Maxhosa by Leduma from South Africa was recently named one to watch by Vogue Italia.

I for one, love ponchos and capes. They are the height of sophistication. I love the rich texture of wools and the the amazing patterns we’ve seen emerge over the last few seasons. What better way to cozy up in a drafty office or resto than by ever-so-casually throwing on a cape or poncho. layered rugs Carry this look off in the home by layering rugs and carpets. You’ll keep your tootsies happy while also creating cozy and warm ambience. Layering carpets can be done to add loads of pattern and colour, but it’s just as easy to layer in neutrals too for that rich and sophisticated look. Layering mirrors to make the most of sunlight and adding bling to sparkle and shine IMG_2485 While the winter sun can be nice and bright, the fact that it rises late and sets early means it’s hard to feel like we’ve soaked up enough rays. Try layering mirrors on a mantle or using mirror in more than one place in a room to really reflect the light that does make it in. For the fashionable you, get the same dazzle by layering your jewellery. Stacked rings, layers of necklaces, a jumble of bracelets is just what you need to feel and look dazzling. Metal, gems and crystal always pick up the light and add just the right sparkle. Play with texture and length IMG_2486 If you’re worried you will look boxy in layers or your home will look too busy, keep in mind that playing with length and texture is a good way to get the sleek balance you want to achieve. Long flowing drapes with a cozy sheep skin gives this nook the perfect harmony between heavy and airy. Same goes with fashion: a short chunky seater looks great over a long light blouse, just as tall boots look great over tights or jeans. What are your fashion and design tricks to stay warm in the dead of winter?

Off On the Right Foot – An Organized 2016

Snob modern living area

Happy New Year dear readers and Snob friends. I for one, enjoy the fresh start the new calendar brings. A time to renew and maybe let go of some of the harder parts of the year we’re leaving behind. For many it’s a time to finally hunker down and get organized. Stuff accumulates so fast, doesn’t it? You turn around and suddenly there’s a stack of papers, a pile of magazines and books where before there were clear surfaces. New clothes with tags still attached slump in the dressing room and that much needed kitchen gadget never did find its permanent home in the kitchen. I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast rule about how much stuff to keep around, but I do think an unorganized home can affect your mood and productivity. When you find yourself spending more than 10 minutes a day just looking for things, it’s time for change.

Snob - scale of wall art for juju feather headdress

Stuff ends of taking on the weight of our memories and sometimes we need to let go. So I propose you go through, room by room, starting with social space and then your sanctuary, and decide what needs a permanent home (and move out those things that no longer do). Once you have a sense of what needs to be put away, it’s time to get your furniture and accessories working along with your new decluttered space.

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Baskets and boxes are a great storage solution that are also so pretty. Baskets in foyers and entryways can help house cold weather accessories, especially if you have little ones around. Mounted to the wall or tucked under a console, these make it easy to find what you need as you scramble to get out of the house.

Snob stuff baskets in nursery

Baskets too are wonderful for children’s toys. Not only do they carry a load, but tossing playthings back into a basket teaches even toddler the importance of care and cleaning of our things.

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Boxes meanwhile can be fun, funky or sophisticated and are great to have in key drop zones in your house. A place to put your keys in the foyer. A safe place for jewllery in the washroom. A place to keep those “in process” documents in your office.

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Storage with doors is also your best friend. Don’t be afraid to get something customized to your space and needs. Getting ill-fitting furniture or settling for a piece that doesn’t quite meet your needs isn’t doing you any favours, especially if you end up upgrading it a year or two down the line. Being able to tuck things behind closed doors is always nice. You – and your guests – simply don’t need to see all your things all the time. It starts to make a space feel frenetic. You can cultivate all sorts of moods and energies in your home, frenetic generally isn’t one to go for.

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Wide shelving, be it a bookcase or floating units are also very versatile when it comes to proper organizing. With wider shelves, you can store boxes and baskets as well as books and your most treasured accessories.

 

Good luck with your resolutions. I wish you fortitude and calm as you integrate changes that will make for a happier and calmer 2016.