Design

Spring Influence

What can we say, spring has definitely sprung! The frigid days seem to be a distant memory as we start to soak up the sun on dare we say it… a patio. With brighter days and warmer weather, a refresh should be in order. Time to swap out some of those dark tones for something a bit more fresh and less reminiscent of the gloomy winter days. Keep reading for what we’re eyeing this season!

Ceramics

Move over porcelain! We’re seeing a push for a little more warmth with a touch of texture and ceramics is the new way to go. There is something about it that makes it so personable and inviting. Picture this – your favorite tea steeping in the palm of your hands within a handmade ceramic mug. We’re loving these generously sized hand-made mugs from local Vancouver retailer Nineteen Ten. Why not pair it with a beautiful ceramic French press as well? This matte sand colored one from Old Faithful Shop has a cute copper pull detail. For those who appreciate a beautifully plated meal, the ceramic tableware from Kinto is a must. They are made entirely by hand in a traditional pottery village in Nagasaki, Japan! Level up your packed lunch or leftovers with a Porter Bowl. The light blue ceramic is fun and your food is protected by a silicone wrap, rigid plastic lid, and snap-tight silicone strap!

A Touch of Nature

What better way to inject some life back into your home than with a nod to nature. If you are in the market for some new furniture pieces, might we suggest considering some with a touch of wood? There is something fun about these old-school looking Soft Edge 10 chairs from Hay that are reminiscent of childhood. Prefer something a bit more grown-up? The Soft Edge 12 chairs offer a more neutral and sophisticated look that is sure to pair well with a simple white dining table. Looking for something that is a little less typical? The Form Rocking Chair from Normann Copenhagen would be perfect for those who have little ones, but can still stick around even after they have grown. Ikea celebrates their iconic bookcase “Billy” turning 40 years old with a new name, bright new colors (like sunshine yellow), and accessories.  Of course, we can’t forget about the addition of some real foliage. We love these crafted solid oak plant stands from Old Faithful Shop that quite literally elevates your plants. Add a few of these to your home in various sizes with some large-leafed tropical plants and watch your space come alive! For those of you who have the budget, splurge on a bundle of fresh flowers and keep them in a simple glass vase to add some oomph into any room. Living in a concrete jungle? Ikea offers some options on bringing greenery indoors in their inspiration board. Why not try hanging plants with their Bittergurka if you lack floor space?

Fashion

Simons dares us to shock our wardrobe with electrifying colors like ochre, yellow and sienna. Woven bags are one of the biggest spring trends from  Club Monaco,  Shopbop and Aldo just to name a few, and at every price range. You are sure to find one the bag that best fits your personality. Nordstrom offers us a world alive in color – especially that inspired by sunshine.

Paint

Sherwin Williams and West Elm have paired up to recommend a dozen Spring 2019 colors. Ranging from Banna Cream, Rosemary to Ravishing Coral to name a few.  Cloverdale Paint included Yellow Umbrella, Elk Skies, and Perennial Garden among others in the 2019 Trend guide. Broken down into four color palettes read about the inspiration behind each one.

 

What are your spring influences? Let us know with the hashtag #area3springinfluence

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It’s Blooming Blue – Spring Colour Trend

Well if you are lucky enough to be a Vancouverite, then you realize we have welcomed spring with a bang. This last month has felt more like summer weather and we are loving it!  Along with the blue skies and bike rides along the seawall, we are noticing a lot of blue in the design industry. In this blog post, we are going to elaborate on just one very popular colour trend at the moment. From dinnerware, furniture, fashion, and cars, you can’t help but find the palest of blue to the deepest indigo in any showroom. We have captured a few ideas on how you can incorporate this trend in your own home.

For the timid may we suggest experimenting with smaller pieces like dinnerware? Available online at March is the beautiful Italian stoneware collection by Rina Menardi’s in deep blue. Over at Crate and Barrel, you will find multiple lines in shades like navy and denim. Even Ikea is getting in on the action with their everyday value sets like Dinera for $34.99 in gray-blue. Or how about layering the bed or adding some toss cushions? Who doesn’t love linen? Check out the Belgian flax linen melange bedding set at West Elm.

Feeling a little braver? You could always paint a single accent wall in your home. Benjamin Moore included 4 blue versions out of 15 shades in their 2019 Color Trend Forecast. We particularly like the more muted versions like Black Pepper 2130-40 or Hale Navy HC-154.  For a statement furniture piece, you need to look no further than one of our favourite lines Blu Dot. Founded by two Architects and a Sculptor who make beautiful, affordable and functional pieces. The Clutch Lounge Chair in Edwards Navy and Ash is sure to be the most popular seat in the room. Or another navy option is their Strut coffee and end table collection. Perfect for the minimalist home.

Fashion-wise we suggest a few pieces from Club Monaco like the Robetta Skirt in Marfa Blue or the Yolande Pant in Canyon Blue. Forbes tells us how to shop denim in Spring 2019 top trends. Who What Wear names midnight blue as one of the hot colours for spring/summer 2019.

Be sure to tell us how will you incorporate this colour in your space? #Area3blue

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2019 Home Design Trends

If you are scouring the internet for the hottest design trends for 2019, we have found what you are looking for! Contrary to popular belief, we don’t think that bold colors everywhere will be all the rage for your home and definitely not the maximalist renaissance paintings – let’s leave those in the museums. What’s hot in 2019 then? We will boil it down to three trends and we hope that they don’t just trend, but hold a steady pace as key home design strategies!

Timelessness

Timelessness really shouldn’t be a trend, but something everyone should strive for in a designed space. In a time where sustainability and being environmentally conscious is becoming increasingly important, we should create and live in spaces that can withstand the test of time. There’s nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars on your home and having to replace it all in a few short years because it looks outdated, or even worse, did not hold up. We work on projects a few years before they are even occupied, so we are always cognizant that the home should look great the day someone moves in. Long past (or so we hope) are the colored bathtubs, appliances, and shag rugs! If anyone has lived in one of our older walk- up/ lowrise buildings in Vancouver you know what we are talking about. Looking past aesthetics and really considering the materiality of finishes and furniture should be the new trend. We believe that the key to a great space is the design of an impeccable foundation – one that evokes emotion and is simply timeless.

White with a Hint of Color

There is a critique going around that says minimalism and Scandinavian design are too stark and lacks personality – we disagree. It is known that we here at A3  love our neutrals, especially white! If you need a quick way to bring life into a space, never underestimate the power of a white wall and good lighting. While living in an entirely white box of a space – taking minimalism to the extreme – white should not equate to sterile. Use white as a backdrop to really let what you want to feature truly shine such as exposed wood beams and columns, brick and stone to name a few. Want some more color? Go with the 90/10 rule and balance the 10% of color with 90% white. It’s like cooking – you add a little spice for flavor, not the other way around!

Biophilia & Natural Tones

Punchy color does not need to be in your wall color or your cushions. Pause and read that sentence again. Statement walls were once the rage, but having to repaint that wall year after year to stay on top of trends is probably getting exhausting. Instead, introduce natural colors into your home through biophilia – the fancy word for plants. There are countless studies that show how views of nature and elements of biophilia in a space have benefits to human health and provide a sense of respite. Some large plants we are loving right now include cactuses, succulents, air plants, the rubber tree and split-leaf philodendron. The dark leaves enliven a space without being too vibrant! Don’t have a green thumb? Introduce natural tones into your home instead of through warm-toned woods such as white oak. They key here is not to over-do it!

What do you think will be a home design trend in 2019? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designtrending2019

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A3 Christmas Gift Guide 2018

It’s that time of year again when the gift buying madness ensues. The hours on end at the mall or the millions of tabs open on your web browser filling your physical or digital basket. For those of you who haven’t even started or need some help with those difficult people – we have you covered. We suggest you make yourself some eggnog or apple cider, get comfortable and read on for Area3’s 2018 Christmas Gift Guide!

Hostess

She’s always the first person to send out an invite to a party – it’s something you can rely on! The hostess loves to entertain and open up her home. Whether it be tea with just one close friend, brunch with the girls or a big holiday party, she knows how to host them all and with ease. Get her something that she will love and use often like these double-walled glass mugs and carafe from Oak+Fort. Pair them with this metal mesh tray and a cozy wool blanket also from Oak+Fort. We also love these beautifully raw Vessels and locally made sharing bowls from Barter Design that are made from terracotta or earthenware. They would be great for serving water, a signature salad dressing or decanting a bottle of wine. For a memorable gift and great cocktail be sure to bring a bottle of this one of a kind Empress 1908 Gin from Victoria Distillers made in collaboration with the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Just add tonic and lime and enjoy. You will be sure to be a hit at any party!

Minimalist Fashionista

The effortlessly cool girl on the block is definitely the minimalist fashionista. Her chic sense of style probably revolves around her staple wardrobe of mainly neutral tones with just the perfect amount of detail and polish. You probably think that finding something for her would be impossible. We suggest getting her something that’s a little out of the box like this Versus bag from Finnell Co. It’s something that’s very unique and sure to turn heads. Looking for a smaller gift? The Min Card Holder is also a great gift for the gal that only uses cards. Looking to gift something a bit personal? This engravable bar necklace from Mejuri is made of sterling silver and will be a piece that she will never take off! Another great jewelry line is Tink. Anyone who knows us at Area3 will often catch us in one of these great necklaces. The perfect softly structured knit tunic could be your staple weekend sweater from Free People available at Nordstrom. All to be cherished by that fashionista on your list.

Man with Taste

Yes, it is true, you can tell if a man has taste by his socks. If you have never heard that before, look down and you will understand what we mean! No detail goes unnoticed and he knows how to coordinate or add a hint of fun without being overboard. We’re not saying that you should get him socks for Christmas, but if you do, take a look at Maik! Not only are the prints fun, but they are made out of eco-friendly yarn spun from Portugal in a family-run factory in France. Thinking about a getting him a piece of clothing instead? Go check out Emil on Homer St. in Yaletown for a selection of exclusive European brands. We’re fairly certain that some of the best-dressed men in Vancouver shop at this boutique. For men’s accessories, we love Litchfield’s in Gastown. How about this sleek Sternglas Naos Watch or stylish Want Les Essentiels – Trudeau 17 Computer bag? Looking for something more casual? This Arcteryx lightweight, versatile down hoody jacket provides warmth and keep you dry in the rain filled months here in Vancouver.

Experience Seeker

The experience seeker is always making plans. Whether that be a weekend getaway, night skiing, the latest exhibit or a trip abroad – this person is always up to something new and exciting! It simply makes sense to gift them a new experience. The snowmobile tour by the Adventure Group in Whistler is sure to be something they have never tried or maybe a white water rafting experience (saved for the summer months of course). A smaller and group friendly gift is an Escape room experience like the ones offered by EXIT. Not only are they challenging, but each escape room theme is also very different! Looking for a little more relaxing gift? On our wish list, this year is a gift certificate to the Miraj Hamman Spa for the Hamman (steam) and Gommage (body exfoliation) treatment (think Turkish bath).

Workaholic / Techie

No one will admit that they are, but you definitely have a workaholic in your life. They are always answering emails, ducking out to take a call or eating at their desk every day. You won’t be able to pry them away from their work, so why not get them something that will help them? Do they complain about pain in their wrists? Why not gift them an ergonomic mouse like this MX Vertical from Logitech that will help ease some of the discomforts? Are they always on their phone and always looking for a place to charge? Get them a portable power bank like this rose gold one from Mophie and they will never be scouring the walls for a receptacle again. For the pet lover and techie how about the Furbo Dog Camera? You can see, talk and toss treats to your dog even when your not home. I know a few pampered pooches who could use this! Find your keys without the swearing! Use your smartphone to make your Tile Mate ring when it’s nearby, but out of site. Great for everyone – workaholic, artist, and student. You can mark up that email, draw, sketch, take notes all with the Apple pencil. Makes a great companion to the IPAD. Sure to be on my list this year.

The Organizer

You know the type, boxes, files, and clear labels are the name of their game – they know where everything is all the time! Nothing ever seems to go missing in their sight. Before we all assume that organizing has to be just boring boxes why not give Muji a browse? This Japenese store is a welcome treat to Vancouver. They have everything an Organizer personality could ever want, regardless of which room they are sorting. We love their Acrylic Storage line for items that you want to easily identify such as pens, paper clips or toiletries like makeup sponges, cotton balls, and Q-tips. Does your organizer travel often as well? Well, Herschel Supply Co. offers everything from laundry, shoe bags, and travel pouches to name only a few. Why not throw in a toiletries bag as well? Looking to make a design statement as well as get organized? The Vitra Uten.Silo has been used in many of our display homes (you will even find one in our own home). Like a piece of art with all its various shapes and size containers, metal hooks and clips this piece brings order to offices, kitchens, workshops, bathrooms and children’s rooms. Available in two sizes and a handful of colors. Makes a great gift and or investment!

For the Home

Well call us crazy – but, we have put a vacuum on this years wish list. Yes, more than one person in our office aspires to own the Dyson Stick Vacuum. Maybe Santa will deliver?  After all, this vacuum offers you the convenience of cord-free. hassle-free. powerful suction and easily converts into a handheld device. What is it they say “Happy Wife, Happy Life”? Hope all those spouses out there are listening. Named one of the 6 best Air Fryers 2018 by Forbes Magazine we are eyeing up the Phillips HD9641/96 Airfryer.  Easy to use thanks to its so-called  “QuickControl” dial, and relatively small footprint it averages 4.4/5 stars on Amazon. If you are still using a drip coffee maker – William Sonoma’s own Signature Touch 10-cup Coffeemaker is about as pretty as they come. Available with a glass or thermal cafe, it will enhance any countertop.  With its small size, trendy colors, and ease of use The Hurom slow juicer made our list. It’s patented Slow Squeeze Technology uses an auger to squeeze out the juice instead of shredding fruits and vegetables with high-speed blades like other juicers and blenders. This natural motion minimizing damage to ingredients, keeping natural taste and nutrition intact. A lot of us here at Area3 are into the cold press juice craze and would love this addition to our own kitchens.

For the Active and Fitness Friend

RYU has some beautiful bags we covet – like the modern and streamlined daily duffle. Great for the gym or overnight. How about the Quick Luick Pack LUX 18L available in a variety of colors. Why not look at either a day or seasons pass for one of our local mountains like Grouse? She to be enjoyed long after the holidays are over. The Stay Hot Keep Cold double walled stainless steel bottle, with a twist-off lid, keeps your water cold for 24 hours and hot for 9 hours, available at LuLuLemon. Using premium Italian-made fabric Karma Luxe, the Claudia tight is smooth and cool to the touch! It features mesh panels for zoned breathability and extra mobility. perfect for your fitness activities. The Nike Air Force 1 ’07 XX knows how to make a statement while honoring the details of the original in an unexpected way. For the Cyclist on your list be sure to check out The Garmin Edge 130, is a GPS-equipped bike computer perfect for the road cyclists looking to track his progress, structure training and brag to their mates.

What are you gifting your loved ones this holiday season? Let us know with the hashtag #Area3giftguide2018

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Simple DIY Holiday Décor

It’s safe to say that the holiday season has begun now that it is past Remembrance Day. You have probably been bombarded with Black Friday deals at this point and are trying not to give in the consumer culture around Christmas. Instead of going out and purchasing some new holiday décor that is probably very over-priced. Why not try and create a unique DIY décor piece? Not only is it rewarding, but it’ll be a great conversation starter at your holiday party. Never tried to DIY something before? Here are a couple simple DIY Holiday Décor pieces we found that you can tackle this weekend!

Enchanting Table Decoration

Centerpieces can make a table stunning, but that doesn’t mean that you need to put in a ton of effort. With just a handful of materials which you can gather or probably already have at home and about 20 minutes, you can create this beautiful centerpiece that is sure to create an enchanting mood to your space. All you need is a recycled can in any size you want, wet sand, foliage cuttings, pine cones, some liquid glue, and salt.

Step 1: Make your branches and pine cones snowy by coating the edges of the leaves and pine cones with glue or Mod Podge. After doing so, take a handful of salt and sprinkle it onto the fresh coat of glue. Once the glue has been coated with salt, set it aside for 10 minutes to dry. Gently brush off the excess salt once the glue has dried.

Step 2: Put some sand into the can and add water so that the sand is wet and compact it. The key is to have more sand than water.

Step 3: Arrange your snowy branches and pine cones in the can. You may need to glue some of the pine cones to the branches in order for them to stay in place. As you arrange, make sure to step back and look at your piece from various sides to ensure that the composition is right.

Step 4: If you want to add a bit more oomph to the can, you can wrap some ribbon or twine around it and maybe add a tag. Then you’re done!

*Original DIY found here 

Evergreen Stars

Another simple décor piece are these evergreen stars. They really consist of three main materials and depending on the size, you can probably don’t need to go out and purchase any supplies. You will need 10 popsicle sticks, coffee stir sticks or basswood strips (12 inch), a craft knife, wood glue, cut greens and a hot glue gun with glue sticks.

Step 1: If you are using popsicle or coffee stir sticks, cut off the rounded tips.

Step 2: Create 8 spoke base by finding the center point of two sticks lay one over the other to create an X shape. Glue the two together using wood glue and repeat with another pair of sticks. Then arrange the two pairs to create 8 spoke base and them together. Let the wood glue dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: To create the star points, make a V shape with a pair of sticks and glue the point together with wood glue. Then glue the top of the V shape to two points on the 8 spoke base. Repeat until you have 8-star points.

Step 4: Cut your greenery to the lengths of each stick on your 8 point start and hot glue them down. And Voila! You are done!

*Original DIY found here

What DIY holiday décor will you be making this year? Let us know with the hashtag #area3DIYdecor

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How Does Fashion Influence The Home?

When you think about fashion what comes to mind? Probably one of your favorite fast fashion retailers such as H&M or maybe Paris Fashion Week. Perhaps your own closet just popped into your mind. You likely wouldn’t think that today’s fashion also influences the home. Don’t believe us? Think back to the Baroque era when classical music would float down enormous hallways lined with gold ornamentation, rosettes, enormous chandeliers, oil paintings, and intricate rugs. What were people wearing then? Dresses and outfits that were just as elaborate as their homes. We could use the 80s as an example, but we can spare us all those details! Keep reading for our take on the influence fashion has on home trends today!

Color & Texture

Have you ever stepped foot into an entirely pink bathroom? Then you would know the power of color trends of an era – the 1950s in this case. There is a source that all designers look to for the forecast on color trends and that would be Pantone. There is a Pantone Color of The Year which ends up becoming the color you see in trendy clothing, home décor, stationary… we could go on! Did you see a lot of purples this year? It’s because Ultra Violet was the 2018 Color of The Year! Keep a lookout for the 2019 Color of The Year if you want to stay on trend. Fabrics and knits are also influenced by the fashion industry. Wool with natural tones have been trending in fashion and have also become a staple in home furnishings. We love the heathered greys seen on fall and winter coats right now like this Cocoon Coat from Arizta. Camira’s Blazer line of upholstery fabrics echoes that trend perfectly. The creamy chunky sweaters and scarves that are making their way into your closet? Best believe that there will be a similar throw blanket on your sofa!

The Details

Detailing can make or break any piece whether it be an article of clothing, handbag, shoe, furniture or décor. Little things such as revealing or hiding the stitching or buttons can completely change the look. For a very clean and sophisticated look, we suggest looking for hidden stitching that matches the fabric and doing without extra ornament such as buttons. Are you a bit more brave and fun? Go for something more unexpected like a contrasting stitch in a bold color paired with a neutral fabric. We love that you can completely change up the look of the Yoom Soft sofa from Stylex by choosing one of their decorative stitches such as Blanket, Zig Zag or Bowtie in a matching or contrasting thread color. Are you like us and loving the simple forms and lines that are very on trend right now? Fashion-wise, we see these trends exemplified in pieces found at stores like COS and Oak+Fort. We also see these trends translated in home décor pieces also found at retailers such as Litchfield and Parliament.

What trends do you see in fashion and the home? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designfashionhome

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3 Great Vancouver Design Stores

Let’s talk home design stores! Surely you know that there is no shortage of them – especially the online retailers! Of course, there are also the affordable staples that we all flock too like  IKEA, CB2, EQ3, Article, and Structube.  What if you are looking for a more original piece? No, we are not talking about the KALLAX units from IKEA that I’m sure we all have. Let us point you in the direction of three of our favorite home design stores here in Vancouver! Here you will find a lot of great brands. I am sure you have seen many of these products scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram or reading that glossy home design magazine.

Design House

True to its name, Design House has everything well-designed that you would want for your home. I am sure you won’t be surprised to find out that many of the brands that they carry are European! If you are in the Yaletown neighborhood, make sure to pop by their store on Homer Street. You won’t miss it as it is adjacent to Marimekko Vancouver – the only Marimekko Concept Store in Canada! A perfect pairing we must say! Here you will find not only furniture but also lighting and accessories for your home and some quirky gifts such as this concrete desk set from Areaware. Some of our favorite brands which they carry select pieces off include Bludot, Alessi and Normann Copenhagen.

Vancouver Special

With the same name as the architectural style of homes that were built in Vancouver from 1965 to 1985, Vancouver Special offers everything, but cookie-cutter pieces for your home. The list of brands which they carry is extensive but curated nonetheless. Some of our absolute favorite Scandinavian brands are carried here and include Hay and Muuto. What else do we love about this store? Well, if you are looking for a modular sofa, you can custom order one like The Mags Soft from Hay and pick the upholstery you prefer. If you are looking for lighting fixtures or a few outdoor furniture pieces, make sure to take a browse through their selection! Not to mention they offer a great selection of design books, magazines, record players, toss cushions and modern succulent arrangements to name a few other items. A perfect Saturday afternoon shopping excursion.

Inform Interiors

If you have never paid Inform Interiors a visit at their showroom in Gastown on Water St., you must do so! The showroom is stunning with natural light from the skylight streaming down the central staircase which connects all three expansive floors. The pieces you find at Inform are unique, each like a piece of art – and with the quality and price tag to match. With one of the largest selections of design books and magazines, you could spend hours here. Their library is located right behind the staircase on the main floor. The shelving goes from floor to ceiling and is lined with design literature that you cannot resist. Some of the great brands you will find here are Bensen (be to check out the canyon sofa one of our favorites), B & B Italia, Bocci we could keep going……….. but better that you stop by and see for yourself.

What are your favorite home design stores in Vancouver? Let us know with the hashtag #area3homedeisgnstores

 

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Splurge or Save? Maximize Style and Save Money

Let’s face it, no one has an unlimited budget – unless they recently won the lottery. In which case, congratulations! When it comes to many big-ticket items in life there also comes a budget, such as weddings and a new home. This same concept also applies to interior design and creating fabulous high impact spaces. You absolutely could spend top dollar on everything, the question is whether that is necessary? There are certain elements you should not cut corners on – there is a fine line! To splurge or to save? That is the age-old question – keep reading for our answers on how to maximize the style in your space and save money!

Splurge

There are a handful of things that you should splurge on and the rule of thumb is to invest in the areas and things that are used the most. Think about your typical day and figure out where you spend the most time in your home. Chances are, you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, bedroom and living area – those are the areas you should invest your money in. In your kitchen and bathroom, you should invest in good quality millwork. In general, millwork is always a big-ticket item, but nothing is worse than having to replace it after a few years because the material is failing or the install was not done well. Make sure you have a hardworking countertop such as quartz that comes with a warranty. The last thing you want is to be fretting over the wine that spilled on your counter and having a permanent stain after a few parties. We love the Fresh Concrete from Caesarstone. They have a visualizer tool on their website which is also very helpful if you are planning a renovation.

Which furniture in your home is most commonly used? Consider your lifestyle. Do you constantly host dinner parties? Have the gang over to watch hockey games? Do you love to hang out with your friends? We often suggest investing in a great sofa or sectional. This tends to take up a lot of visual space and is often the most utilized piece in the home. Whether you want something comfortable to relax in after a hard day? Read a book and take a nap on the weekend? A great space to entertain or a structured sofa to double as your occasional office. If furniture is constructed well with a good frame and hard-wearing upholstery, it could last you years! On that note, you should definitely splurge on pieces that impact your health such as your mattress. Spend time researching and shopping around for one that works for you (and your partner). The benefits of a good night’s sleep are priceless.

Paint is one thing that most people would not spend a bit more money on, but really should as it has a greater impact on your health that you would think. Most paints while they dry, release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Have you ever walked into an enclosed stairwell that was painted ages ago and still smells like wet paint? That is the VOCs from the solvents off-gassing. We recommend looking for a paint that has low to zero VOC content. Yes, it does cost more, but you won’t be breathing in harmful compounds all day. Note the more expensive paints often cover with fewer coats and are easier to use. So less work for you.

Save

Believe it or not, there are tons of things you can save on. Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief! As we hinted at earlier, these would be the spaces that you use the least or are not often seen by guests (if that matters to you). Some spaces can be the laundry and mud room, which should be functional and can be more utilitarian. You will probably stress a bit less when you know that the kid’s sports gear has a home and easy to find before the next game. Did you know that Ikea has a storage planner online to help you design your own space?  The other areas such as the basement rec room, kids playroom and patio might be areas you can try to outfit with less costly pieces.

Another rule of thumb is to save on pieces that include the word accent – décor, furniture, and lighting. These are the items that are not 100% necessary but are nice to have to add some oomph to your space. In terms of furniture, you can save on the side tables (have you checked out some of the options from Blu Dot?), accent chairs and nightstands. Things that go on these pieces such as table lamps, toss cushions, throws (how about the chunky cable knit from CB2) and décor should very low on your spend list. Find the best possible deal by keeping an eye out for sales and clearances. If you are so inclined, you can possibly DIY or thrift some of these items too. Just remember before you go overboard that less is more and a few curated items are better than too many.

Finally, one area that you can also save on is the appliances. Yes, it is very tempting to buy the high-end refrigerator with all the neat functions, but will you really use them all? Go for something in the mid-range that suits your needs. Remember that you are paying for the bells and whistles, so make sure you will actually use them. Will you really connect the app on your phone to start the oven? Do you really need a touchscreen on the fridge door? Can you figure out what temperature to bake a pizza or do you need the appliance to program it for you? Don’t get us wrong we love the luxury brands, but if you need to stretch your money there are still options that offer function (maybe with a bit less sleek appeal).

 

What will you splurge and save on? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designsplurgeorsave

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Toronto by Design

They call it the Canadian Big Apple and in many ways, it does feel like a taste of New York City. Step into Yonge-Dundas Square and you will know what we mean! The dynamic metropolis of Toronto is a destination for those who want to experience the urban Canadian life. Perhaps Canadian cities are not on the top of your bucket list for places to travel to, but you should definitely give Toronto a chance! There are so many places to experience great design, so here are a few of our favorite places to eat, drink, see and explore. Happy adventuring!

Eat

Before heading to Toronto, always make sure to comb through Instagram to find photos of restaurants you want to visit. Believe us, your list will become super long! Unless you are spending a few weeks in Toronto, it will take some time to check them all out. There are just so many with beautiful interiors and great food! If you happen to be in the city in the warmer months, be sure to visit Lavelle and Kost. Both are situated on rooftops (with swimming pools) and have spectacular views of the city! Lavelle is in the bustling King West neighborhood and is the perfect spot to grab brunch or a drink by the pool at any time of day. We love their blue cabanas! Kost is on the 44th floor of the award-winning Bisha Hotel designed by Studio Munge. It is inspired by the Baja Peninsula and is an airy escape from the busy city below. Make sure to check out the patio and snap some up-close shots of the CN tower! If you are looking for a boutique stay, look at the Bisha Hotel! Another great place to grab a meal is Kiin – a one-of-a-kind Thai restaurant. Their take on Thai cuisine is exquisite with traditional dishes from all across Thailand. The interiors are also cozy and thoughtful with no detail missed! Be sure to look for the pink grout in the bathroom!

Drink

If there is one thing you will notice, it is that bars are alive all throughout the week in Toronto. You can find a number of them in every neighborhood and they each are special in their own way. If you have the chance, head out to Little Italy. Despite the name of the neighborhood, you can find a couple of great places for Spanish tapas and drinks. Start the night at Bar Raval and ogle at the Gaudi inspired interiors. The intimate bar is hugged from wall to ceiling in a beautiful curving wood and the light is perfectly diffused through bottles on the ceiling to set the mood. After a couple of their signature cocktails, head down the street to Bar Isabel. Grab a table be sure to order some Spanish cured meats and cheeses to pair with your wine. Their house-made sourdough bread is also delicious and if you are feeling adventurous, try the beef tongue and pork-belly! Definitely some of the best Spanish bites you will have outside of Spain. Finally, for those of you who are always on the look-out for caffeine, be sure to stop by Dineen Coffee Co.  Located in the historic Dineen building near the Old Toronto City Hall, this coffee shop is always bustling. Grab a coffee and pastry and take a seat on the red leather banquette bathed by the sun. The soaring ceilings in this space allow for a beautiful chandelier which was once in the iconic Royal York Hotel. The hand-painted tile floors coupled with the intricate millwork which span the height of the space make it seem like it, not from this century. Go early to avoid the rush!

See & Explore

If there is one street you should walk the span of, it is King Street. Lined with distinct brick buildings, you can easily walk many blocks without realizing. Not only are there lots of shops and places to eat, but also some neat parklets along the street! If you get the chance, stop by the Unzipped exhibit put on by Westbank. The admission is complimentary and once inside you will get to experience the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG). Not too far down the street is Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Ladies, if are looking to get pampered, this is the place to go! Be sure to make an appointment ahead of time as it is quite popular. At first glance, you would think that you are walking into a cocktail bar – which is in part it is! Start your salon/spa experience with a drink before you head into the main salon. Depending on which service you are getting, you will be taken into a different area – each with a distinct look and feel. It is definitely a memorable experience. Go ahead, treat yourself!

What would you want to check out in Toronto? Let us know with the hashtag #Area3DesignToronto

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Hardworking Home Office

It’s not uncommon nowadays to find people working from home. With flexible working hours and work that can be done almost anywhere, a lot of former nine-to-five office workers are now able to work remotely. For most, it simply makes sense to forgo the commute, but that also means you need a space to effectively get your tasks done. Working from home has its perks such as more time with the furry friends and kids, but the sofa and dining table is not always the solution. Let’s get down to business and go over what you need for a hardworking home office. Read on!

The Essentials

You need some horizontal working space and that does not necessarily mean you need a huge desk. Think about the kind of work that you do and assess how much space you need to do it. Maybe just a small nook with a few feet of built-in countertop is enough for you and your laptop. We have turned an unused closet into a desk and storage space for clients. Or a very cost effective solution is a piece like this shelving unit from CB2 with an integral desk, also requires minimum space. If you need a desktop monitor (or two), keyboard and some space to lay out paperwork, you will likely need a desk with some depth. Do you find that you are glued to your work for hours on end? Consider getting a height adjustable desk. Studies have found that alternating between seated and standing work throughout the day is good for your health and keeps you engaged and productive. You can find a relatively affordable option like the Skarsta from IKEA! Have a bigger budget? Why not consider Steelcase’s AirTouch height adjustable for anyone, anywhere. Already have a desk? Why not consider one of the Ergtron solutions available from Haworth. They have a variety of space-saving mounting options. Your next investment should be a good chair. A task chair that is fully adjustable should not be optional. Look for one that is height adjustable and has good lumbar support at the minimum. Your back will thank us! If you have the budget, there are some great task chairs from Herman Miller (we are partial to the Sayl which can be found in our office).

Bonus Material

Although a task lamp is usually an afterthought, it should really be one of the first few items you buy. You can get really inexpensive ones from IKEA or some really beautifully designed ones from places like Inform Interiors and YLighting ]. We like to think that a nice desk lamp is like the jewelry for your desk – and it glows! Why do you need a desk lamp? They help to reduce eye strain and if you get one that is dimmable, you can adjust it throughout the day. Of course, we cannot forget about storage. If you run your own business from home you will likely need room for filing amongst other things such as stationary, a printer, and other miscellaneous items. Do you have a small home office? Consider getting a custom millwork solution that gives you plenty of working space, open shelves, and storage behind cabinet doors. By keeping the messy clutter out of sight (but organized) you are able to make your small office feel more spacious. Need some inspiration? We designed some lovely home offices for The Smith and Berkeley Village that illustrates a hardworking home office.

 

 

What does your dream home office include? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designhomeoffice

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