Posted by Cobi on Monday March 25, 2013 at 12:59 PM
• cobistyle products
You don’t need me to tell you black and white is huge in fashion this Spring.
I suppose it’s always ‘in’.
But I find black and white at home can be harsh, even cold, if it isn’t used with a splash of colour….
Or perfectly-imperfect naturals…
I like to use it outdoors for the same reasons - the sharpness works great against the organic look of nature and it’s elements…
I also love to soften a black and white scheme with warm paint colours. I used a cream in our porch and it softly glows when the sun is out or candles are lit.
Recently we installed a new stair-runner and I just realized how similar the colourings of our hall are to our porch! I guess I really do like a warm, creamy space accented with crisp black and white.
The runner is made from Missoni broadloom by the way, which I found at Elte in Toronto.
Just as the warmth of skin colour, and softness of hair, act as a foil against black and white fashion…
So too does wood…
…and natural materials, like straw and linen, in home decor…
Even the books in this black and white room, make it more liveable and textured…
Here’s how we’re mixing black and white cobistyle accessory pieces this spring…
And it looks like IKEA agrees - check out the way they styled this cute new little trolley in their Spring collection…
Have fun serving up a bit of black and white fashion in your house this Spring!
Posted by Cobi on Monday March 11, 2013 at 07:00 AM
When we renovated our house last year, I decided to throw in a little tune up to our laundry room.
We’re in an older home with a devoted laundry room in the basement and there was no way I could justify the cost of moving it upstairs (or find the space) but I had no trouble justifying the cost of some new tile, paint and decorative doodads to make me feel better when I’m doing the deadly deed.
God knows it needed it…
So - how to spruce up a yucky laundry room without a lot ‘a moula?
I started with the floor because it looked so sad and I wanted a more permanent solution than a new coat of paint. Tiles are cheap (if you stick to standard sizes and finishes) and they come in great colours. I knew I wanted to paint the room white (for brightness) so why not have some fun with colour on the floor? I went hunting and found this 8” x 8” tile for $2.36 each and remarkably it’s called the Monocottura “Happy Series” at first I thought I would just choose one colour. But when I told my daughter I liked both the Sky Blue and Apple Green, she gave me the obvious answer - “use both!”. So I bought half of what I needed in each colour, brought them home and laid them loosely out in a few different patterns until I came up with this enlarged checkerboard (less busy than a regular checkerboard) and told my contractor to lay them on the diagonal.
Once the floor was down it was easy to choose paint colours. I wanted a fresh, crisp white on the walls - whiter than the warm ones I like in living spaces. I went with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White #2143-70 in the Aura Bath + Spa formula and love it. The whole room was painted in oil originally and we found that Aura paint covers it really well. I’ve now used Simply White in our basement bathroom as well and find it works anywhere you want a really pure white with no undertone. I decided to paint the existing peg board and upper shelves in the same white.
Where I had some fun was on the lower built-in cabinet and sewing cabinet. I chose a lime green to match my tiles - Benjamin Moore’s Hibiscus #2025-50 - some might find it too bright and I likely wouldn’t use such a vibrant colour in other places in my home, but it’s clean and fun and I love it here - why not have a bit of fun in a room that only I ever seem to use? (grrrr…)
I like to hang clothes to dry whenever possible and so I installed 3 helpers…first this great drying rack made of hardwood, powder-coated metal and a rope pully system. It can move up and down if you have high ceilings (which I don’t) but it stays stationary just fine too. It’s from a website called www.urbanclotheslines.com
I also purchased an aluminum wall mounted extension drying rack to hang over my laundry tubs - really great for wet rags or anything dripping - at www.leevalley.com. I love it that it’s made in Spain!
And lastly, I had my painter mount and paint a standard pegboard sold at Home Hardware for ironed shirts and the like.
I wanted to replace the puny little shelf that was on the wall when we bought the house because I’ve always loved the idea of a mending area. Somehow it makes the whole idea of mending more probable. My hope was to find a cute old shelf and paint it up with my same pint of Hibiscus but after a summer of searching antique stores (there’s lots of forlorn spice shelves out there by the way, but they were too narrow for my needs) I caved in when I found this perfectly-sized craft shelf on sale at Michael’s craft store. It’s not fancy but it does the trick and thankfully it took the paint too!
Did you notice I have a little bank on the shelf? - very handy in a laundryroom for pocket change and one day I’ll crack it open and drive the kids at Starbucks crazy with my pennies.
I also bought this great little sewing machine for quick fixes - what a steal for $69.00 at Canadian Tire - another good reason to repair - not despair!
I colour-copied two pages off the internet (quick google search) - one defines laundry symbols and the other is from dear Martha telling me how to get out stains. They fit into no-money IKEA frames in exactly my blue tile colour (score!) and act as functional art on either side of the shelf.
Oh - and here’s a little trick. I would have liked to resurface the top of the shelf unit but I just couldn’t justify it. Still, the chipped Arborite did not say ‘happy’. As a compromise, I asked my contractor to skirt the existing top in a decorative wood trim (took him no time) and once it was painted, it added a much more finished look to the counter.
And so there you have it. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing hi-tech. But a happy little laundry room to call my own, even if I’m enjoying it alone (grrrr…)
…with my cobistyle fishies and lost socks.
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 25, 2013 at 06:59 AM
• cobistyle products
In case you haven’t heard, cobistyle is back in the drapery business!
I wanted to scroll you through the patterns we chose for our debut collection - starting with this fabulous blue and white ikat print - so fresh!
For a little more subtle look, I love this faded paisley in denim blue and earthy red, printed on a natural, slubby linen.
Like something more crisp and colourful? We have a multi-coloured ikat that will work with many solid shades you may already have in your home.
I love this sunny stripe - yellow, orange, pink, purple and chocolate - it changes every time you look at it. So lively!
And this modern, stylized botanical, printed on a seafoam coloured chunky, woven cotton. Great for a family room or kitchen.
This vibrant plaid feels like silk taffeta but has the durability of polyester. It’s formal but fun at the same time.
And this large scale floral botanical has it all - colour, character, life - all printed on a chunky cream cotton weave.
If you like botanicals but a more contemporary colour palette - check out this wonderful Dijon yellow with a brown transfer pattern printed on top.
If geometric’s your thing - this charcoal grey circular pattern is contemporary but soft at the same time.
I love the Moroccan pattern on this unlined, crisp white fabric - such a great update to traditional sheers!
Here’s another fun sheer - the colour is somewhere between yellow and green - citrine! - with an embroidered fuchsia scribble pattern. So great on its own, or layered under a plain drape.
Speaking of layers - we did a beautiful linen-look white sheer. Such a classic and hard to find!
And because we loved the white so much, we also did it in natural linen-look as well. These are going in my boy’s room.
I’m a sucker for velvet and so we found four fabulous colours and lined them with a silk-lookalike for a reversible panel that is to die for.
This is the Aubergine - so regal!
And the Indigo - so rich!
And the Citrine is gorgeous…
And Mouse - a warm neutral for all the grey lovers out there…
We’re also selling all of these great drapery fabrics by-the-yard in case you want to match cushions, bedding or upholstered pieces to your drapery. So where to find it? We’re hoping to have a decor store in every major centre across Canada selling this drapery by Fall and in the mean time, you’re welcome to shop it on-line at www.qdesigncentre.com.
Designer drapery at a fraction of the cost of custom - a welcome addition to the market, don’t you think? Now I have to decide which pattern to leave up in my living room where these pictures were taken… please post your opinion!
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 11, 2013 at 01:40 PM
• cobistyle products
Gung hay fat choy Sweetheart! This past weekend I hosted my (now annual!) Chinese New Year party but this year I merged it with Valentines to give it an even rosier glow.
At first I thought it would be an odd combo…
…but it worked surprisingly well! Have a look…
First the invitations - I found Happy New Year cards (with pink envelops!) at T&T grocery store. They were only $1.49 each and quite beautiful. I wrote the invitation specifying “dress code: RED” and enclosed two traditional Chinese New Years envelopes with chocolate coins inside - so pretty! Walmart was even selling Chinese New Year treats in select stores this year. Bob handled the hand delivery for me.
Next up was putting together the loot bags (my favourite : ) Inside I put a little combo of things - cinnamon hearts and candle for Valentines - soap, lipstick holder and eye glass case for Chinese New Year.
It wasn’t hard to squeeze a little cobistyle into the theme!
I couldn’t resist the Valentine Chinese take-out boxes - sold both at Walmart and Dollarama this year. Perfect!
Then it was time to decorate the dining room. I pulled out all of my Valentine gear (not a lot) - then I pulled out my Chinese gear (a lot - because I’ve always loved it). It’s a wacky mix but sure beats the February blahs!
I set up a green tea bar on my narrow buffet (note the Johnnie Walker RED which the Globe wrote is good mixed in green tea after dinner - the guys sure liked it anyway!).
I hung big cobistyle paper lanterns from my regular hurricane lanterns…
And of course, filled my favourite dishes with candy…
And finally, I set the table… I had to use my cobistyle Geisha girl placecard holders even though I know they’re Japanese.
I used the cobistyle ceramic fortune cookies to stash a homemade fortune at each person’s place and tucked them inside the cobistyle mini fabric-covered boxes.
Very cute. Everyone took turns reading theirs aloud when we sat down to dinner.
I used all the red linens I have, plain white square plates and pink paper napkins. It turned out bright and pretty with all the little bits and pieces coming together to make a fun table.
Then on to food! I had a dozen of these adorable little cups that needed a purpose and so I made an easy strawberry sauce for dessert and put one on each plate.
I also put together two plates of cookies from T&T (the green tea ones are terrific!) and some chocolate covered cranberries for colour.
Then I put together a bar tray to get things started, featuring Chinese beer and my ‘signature drink’ - a Tall REDhead of course!
It’s 1 oz Vodka, 1oz Pom juice, ice, pomegranate seeds all mixed with some lemon lime pop - anyone know how to say Cheers in Chinese?
It was a ton of fun and all that RED was a great remedy to a GREY month.
Happy New Year Sweetheart!
Posted by Cobi on Monday January 28, 2013 at 07:00 AM
• cobistyle products
As you may have seen before, I have a corner banquet in my kitchen for family meals.
The shot above was done for H&H magazine in 2005 and you can see by the number of pillows, it was styled more for the camera than family dinners. After a few years of use, and more spilled milk than we’d care to remember, the fabric on the seat cushion was looking a little worse for wear. No, I will not subject you to a ketchup-stained “before shot”….but I will show you the latest “after” as we’ve recovered the seat cushion and toss pillows with fabric from the cobistyle Sunbrella fabric book. Forgive my poor photography skills.
People think of Sunbrella fabric as outdoor canvas - which it is. But now, because of new technologies, it’s also soft chenille (as is my green pillow), dreamy sheer, interesting textures and lots more.
That’s why Sunbrella is trying to change the perception of their fabric to be as much about its performance inside the house, as on the deck, dock, boat, etc.
The wear and tear of a family home can be as damaging to fabric as wind and weather. Sunbrella upholstery fabrics are softer and more comfortable than their outdoor cousins, yet with the same qualities of fade resistance, durability and easy-clean (even with bleach).
I like the idea of Sunbrella fabrics in high traffic areas of the home (family, kitchen, dining, mudrooms and kids rooms) because the website features very thorough care and cleaning instructions as well as an amazing stain chart. I’m sure I’ll be using these for our kitchen sooner rather than later.
To find out more about the cobistyle selection of fabrics designed for Sunbrella, check out your local upholstery shop, furniture store or designer showroom. If you have any trouble, contact Joanne Fabrics for more information.
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM
I don’t know if any of you remember seeing my collection of vintage noise-makers when they appeared in House & Home magazine way back in 2004.
I collected them for years but seldom seem to find them anymore. I guess I have enough anyway (39!). They range from ‘very old’ to ‘not so old’ - I can tell by the graphics and wood vs. plastic handles, plus where they’re made - Taiwan, Japan, USA and Germany. Apparently some are actually worth a fair bit more than the few dollars I spent on them.
I love their loud colours and the obnoxious sounds they make. They look great set out in a big bowl or basket over New Years and the kids enjoy the routine of opening the doors at midnight and making as much noise as humanly possible. I usually cart them to the cottage if we spend New Years up north and try to rouse the bears out of hibernation.
We’ve been known to pull them out at birthday parties too, or any celebration that needs some noise.
Perhaps you have a collectible that makes you giggle - please tell us if you do. And have a Noisy New Year!
Photography Nancy Tong.
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 05, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I’m so pleased to finally have my necklaces hung up and organized so I can see them!
I bought these hangers a long time ago and was waiting for our bedroom to be painted for me to hang them up.
I hung them behind our door which is in a small entry hall to the room.
The best part is that they’re out of the way but still visible. I’m terrible about buying things and never wearing them - hopefully this will help.
I know it isn’t an original idea but I kind of thought it was a bit unique, until I went on the internet (of course), where I found necklaces hung on shower curtain hooks on drapery rods…
On fabric covered boards with tacks…
On all kinds of coat hooks…
On peg boards…
On an old rake head!…
And even as an artistic element in a room.
Oh well, I may not be unique but at least I’ll be wearing a nice necklace.
Posted by Cobi on Monday July 02, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Friends of ours were transferred to the US last year and finally made it home for a visit. Even though it’s a busy time of year, we decided to surprise them with a Canada Day party so they don’t forget their roots are red and white with only a few blue flowers mixed in to show our Canadian open-mindedness.
Of course I love a theme party and this one started with summer market flowers in red and white, like carnations and freesia…
I pulled out my thrift-store milk glass collection that always looks great in the summer with candles, flowers or fruit…
And added some hosta leaves and lemon verbena from the garden…
It gave me a giggle that as I was arranging the flowers our copy of Macleans arrived and fit right in!
Even the food looked patriotic!
Oregano from the garden… mmmm…
It’s tough to pick The Great Canadian Soundtrack - too many choices!
Of course we used a hockey puck as a napkin weight…
And I know Dollarama is American but their Canada Day stuff is way fun and dirt cheap…
I found these priceless dinner napkins there too ~ good for a few laughs -
And Bob says I could have been arrested for using their cheap flags for a tablecloth (something about the flag act?) but they looked great!
He created a quiz for the night that was really fun - questions about famous Canadians - our daughter wrote up the clues as name tags.
Everyone got in on the act and many arrived dressed in red and white!
It was a great party and one I would do again in a minute - after all, what else am I going to do with all these little flags??
Posted by Cobi on Monday June 04, 2012 at 06:59 AM
• cobistyle products
My friend and colleague, Michael Penny inspired me a few months ago on his blog. He was writing about out setting up his office at home (since then he’s opened a fabulous shop in Whitby, Ont. which you should definitely check out). Anyway, he posted a picture of his pencil crayons and markers in containers :
It got the old wheels churning about how satisfying it is to make something visually pretty, out of things we already have around the house.
It reminded me of when Martha Stewart magazine did a beautiful story on jewellery storage and suggested using old teacups…
Although not always that elaborate, I do this kind of thing around the house all the time. For example, I had a cute unused honey pot and creamer filling space on the counter…
And one day thought - why don’t I get rid of those ugly plastic vitamin bottles in the cupboard and hide them in here…
I did the same with my rings (I have a thing for big rings)…I put them in a vintage bowl and now I wear them more…
Back in 2009 I blogged about using glass vases to hold bangles and I still use these…
I love it when people treat bulletin boards artistically to turn them into personal art pieces…
Part of the beauty of makin’ somethin’ outa nothin’ is that it doesn’t cost any money!
We’ve all got baskets and bowls and cluttering up the closets anyway. Just put 2 things together!
I had these french jam jars in the cupboard and use them for toothbrushes and eye glass holders…
When I entertain, I like to put pretzel sticks in milk glass tumblers or old jelly jars I’ve collected…
When I was working on cobistyle I was sure to put a couple of items in the accessory line that I knew would double duty like this drinking glass with a woven sleeve…
And these cute blue and white ceramic Chinese teacups…
Now I can admire them on my desk everyday whether I get my suggested servings of water and green tea or not!
Posted by Cobi on Monday April 23, 2012 at 07:00 AM
There’s something about screened-in porches.
They’re so relaxed.
And they’re the perfect place to enjoy ‘outdoor decorating’!
Like painting a ceiling blue.
And playing with all those great new indoor/outdoor fabrics.
You can see my own porch by clicking here to an older blog entry.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to watch a movie in a screened-in porch on a summer night?
Screened-in porches have that ‘family-board-game-feeling’ like at the cottage.
Kids of all ages love the ‘camp’ feeling they evoke.
I guess it’s just that whole romantic notion of living life at a slower pace.
And hey, if it gets us to do that, we might even be able to say they’re good for our health!
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 05, 2011 at 06:58 AM
• cobistyle products
If you haven’t seen this issue of Reno & Decor magazine, I thought I’d show you the images from my recent cover story. We photographed the story in my own dining room back in September. With years of magazine experience under my belt, it brought back many fond memories to be dressing a room for Christmas on a warm, sunny day with the windows open.
What I’m not used to, however, is seeing my own product-line in a story (and in my house!). What fun it was to have fuchsia pink cobistyle chairs delivered from Decor-Rest. Open boxes of cobistyle throws, pillows, Christmas decorations, trays and accessories from Canfloyd. And hang beautiful chintz drapery named after my own daughter, Charlotte, from inVU.
It was really fun to integrate items that I’d conceived of for my line - like this lacquer box and Xmas balls - with my own personal decorations I use year after year.
And the colourful cobistyle table-decor with my own white dinnerware, linens and milk glass collection.
The brocade-covered Chinese take-out boxes are something of which I’m particularly proud. The idea is to use them for party favours or small gifts and the colours are so pretty - they come 4 colours to a box - and brighten up anywhere they’re displayed.
I guess I have a thing for multi-colours - these cobistyle napkin rings come 6 colours to a box. The jewel-like tones look great with crisp white linens.
I love my little Geisha girl place-card holders - are they not adorable? They also work as tree ornaments.
I know the colours are not traditional for Christmas but they look festive and bright just the same, especially when mixed with each other. The advantage too is that you don’t have to take everything down the minute Christmas is over. They look great for New Years and parties throughout the winter.
This shot doesn’t feature any cobistyle products but it does express my favourite sentiment for the season and so I guess in a way it’s still ‘Cobi-style’…
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 26, 2011 at 07:00 AM
I’ve often had people ask me about the open-shelves in my kitchen. There’s an understandable fear of dust and grease making them impractical. Well I can tell you that after living with them for 6 years, I don’t find that to be a big enough issue to over-ride the appealing look, and ease of use, they bring to my kitchen.
Here are some other beautiful examples of open shelves in kitchens…
Gorgeous! But what if you aren’t renovating and want to create the look in your existing kitchen? Try removing the doors on a section of your cabinetry and paint out the interiors for a similar look…
Open shelves are often the key feature to a country kitchen…
But there are very hip looking kitchens with open shelves too…
And even loft spaces…
Open shelving is a wonderful way to show off a collection and make sure it gets use!
If you can’t find a way to incorporate open shelves into your upper cabinetry, you may want to think about a section of the lowers…
Or creating an impromptu version in a hutch…
Or even on a basic set of shelves…
Wherever open shelves are, they’re a beautiful way to create displays and vignettes in your home…
Or bring in colour…
The lack of colour on these shelves creates a more calm, classic, almost utilitarian look…
But hey, if colour is your thing, don’t hold back…
Basically, this idea is for anyone who’s open to it!
Posted by Cobi on Monday May 23, 2011 at 07:00 AM
In 2007 we did a major overhaul of our backyard. You may remember it from the pages of H&H. My dear friend and very talented photographer, Virginia MacDonald captured it beautifully. You’ll notice how my daughter (then 8 yrs old) wanted into every picture, and you won’t notice my son because he wouldn’t come near the camera!
Here’s the porch that we added on to the house. It’s our favourite room 3 seasons of the year (we added an electric fireplace and put plexi sheets on over the screens from late fall to early spring to extend the season).
Here’s Hito, our pearl gray Porty, weighing the consequences of sneaking some of the popcorn prop…
And there goes Charlotte…
Here’s Charlotte at the bbq which is under a retractable awning - no more holding an umbrella while flipping patties…
And here’s Charlotte at the pool’s edge - we painted it grey so the water is a little deeper shade of blue…
Our furniture is from Hauser and I love the black and white theme but plan to have some fun mixing in colourful cobistyle pillows and accessories this year.
I love this shot that Virginia snapped of Charlotte. I’d like to blow it up poster size for her room some day…
Can you imagine the size of the house this oval window came out of? We converted it to a mirror to create some interest on the pool shed/sauna wall.
This furniture isn’t special but light was so pretty we had to grab it…
These floating candle holders are for the pool - I found them at Lee Valley.
Here they are at nighttime…
Although the backyard cost ten times what I thought it would (landscaping seems to be like that) we love our backyard and use it day and night.
Looking at these pictures again makes me want to get out there and set it up for another summer of fun - we just need the sun!
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 14, 2011 at 07:00 AM
This clever yet simple image from DesignSponge got me thinking about sentiments of love and how it’s fun to try other ways, beyond predictable phrases on a drugstore card, to say I love you.
When our kids were born, I wanted something in writing to mark the occasion. To me, something written in ink has a sense of permanence to it. I guess that shows my age.
Anyway, I’m not much of a poet and so I had song lyrics hand lettered by an artist I met through my work - Kathryn Klar of Tulip Press, click here to check out her website - and framed them as a gift to Bob.
When my son Aidan was born almost 15 years ago, I asked her to write out parts of “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon (who wrote it when his son Sean was born). Notice the famous line near the end of the song…
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It’s getting better and better,
Beautiful,Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
And when Charlotte was born almost 12 years ago, I went back to Kathryn and asked her to write out “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder which he wrote when his daughter, Aisha, was born.
Isn’t she lovely
Isn’t she lovely
Isn’t she wonderful
Isn’t she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we’d be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn’t she lovely, made from love
Isn’t she pretty
Truly the angel’s best
Boy, I’m so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can’t believe what God has done
Through us he’s given life to one
But isn’t she lovely, made from love
I thought of hanging the pictures in the kids rooms but instead we’ve proudly displayed them in our living room. Most visitors don’t even notice what’s written because they’re so subtly done, but our family knows the story and every so often when we look at them, we’re reminded of those tender years and how our love for each other was instantly multiplied on the days of each child’s birth.
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 07, 2011 at 06:59 AM
Here’s a little idea that really works well at my house and you may have an application at yours…
Both me and my husband, Bob, work at home now, which is great on some levels and frustrating as all-get-out on others.
Because Bob moved his work home first, he got the main office. It’s a nice room at the front of the house but it’s also right in the middle of the after-school action most days.
We put new french doors on the room when we moved in, but they don’t always do the job. The glass is pretty and pebbly but still see-through and the noise factor can be an issue.
Since then, I’ve added this layer - it was instant - and although it doesn’t solve the situation, it definitely helps.
I bought a queen-size quilted coverlet, a bronze-look tension shower rod, and rings with clips (all in one afternoon) and I came home and put it up. I guess we’re lucky to have bookcases on either side of the door but I imagine many situations have deep door frames, a wall, or free standing bookcase to use.
The quilt muffles the sound and makes the room feel much more closed off from the rest of the house. It actually reminds me of a tiny 10-table restaurant we went to in Paris a few years back where the owners had hung a velvet curtain across the entry so that when the door opened, the draft wasn’t felt as much by the diners.
In our house, it isn’t about the draft, but when quiet is in need, the curtain pulls easily across and when papa is happy, we’re all happy.