Design Chick  

Chic lighting for your home

The lighting of a room can either make or break your space.

With all of the focus usually put upon furniture, paint colours, and decor, you may not give the power of ambient light enough credit.

Here are a few key pointers to consider when selecting table and floor lamps, using some of my favorite fixtures from Canadian companies Flow Decor and Nuevo:


A very popular and universal shade, fixtures with round, oval, or even square shades fit in with most esthetics and styles. I find lamps with drum shades offer rooms a more open and airy quality by allowing light to disburse from the top and the bottom, and even permeate through the fabric of the shade as well.

Keep in mind the lighter the shade, the more light your room will receive. If the fabric is dark or made from a heavy or tightly woven material, you won't get much light at night time.


At the moment I'm obsessed with fixtures that have glass bases — there are some absolutely gorgeous lamps out there with hand blown, mottled, and even hand painted glass finishes.

Typically, broader and more chunky in appearance, the use of glass also helps to keep the fixture on the lighter side of things; the light from the bulb will travel through the base to the table top, and will offer the added touch of sparkle and glimmer throughout the day.


If silver is too contemporary a colour for your room, but black or brown is too heavy, perhaps you can consider a fixture with an aged bronze finish? Lamps with soft gold and bronze tones are hugely popular, and allow you to bring in differing tones of metals and materials without sacrificing style.


We don't have end tables to set lamps on downstairs in our family room (by choice. We have a huge sectional with a chunky Asian coffee table in bright red that's pretty much the focus of the room), but the addition of a free-standing floor lamp that arcs high over the back of the sectional is all we really need.

Sometimes you may not want the fuss of several lamps, but need an additional light source; a contemporary arc lamp is the perfect finishing touch.


For those with a penchant for a little glam in their spaces, you will find a ton of fixtures out there now that incorporate crystal and crystal pendants with organza or tinted glass shades. Perfect for rooms requiring a bit of opulence and shimmer, opt for a fixture that will reflect and refract the light at night.


Fixtures that have hammered finishes — whether they're in a silver, bronze, copper, or brass tone — offer spaces a more relaxed and eclectic esthetic, and are an ideal way to add some interest.

Lamps with odd looking base shapes can be mixed in with a myriad of decor styles, and allow you to have more of a global feeling influence; perfect for those that have a hard time committing to a specific style

Choosing the perfect rug

Design underfoot – how to choose the perfect area rug

Most rooms benefit from the addition of an area rug or two, so if you haven't considered one, or are looking to update what you have, this week’s column is just for you.

Besides providing comfort underfoot, they offer inspiration for colour schemes and can hide unsightly flooring, such as worn hardwood or carpeting.

Because of the myriad of designs and styles, area rugs offer a touch of class and flare in one single swoop; perfect for sound dampening in large open concepts, area rugs can be easily repositioned and reused throughout the house, making them the perfect design investment. 


Most rugs are available in a wide variety of standard sizes, from a two-by three-foot mat to a 10-by 14-foot carpet, and up; modern designs can be custom made to almost any size.

To determine the maximum-size rug that will fit in a room, I like to subtract three to four feet from the room's width and length, which will create a frame of flooring between the rug and the walls. For a dining room, choose an area rug that is four feet wider and longer than your table so the chairs will remain on the carpet even when pulled out.

For example, a 10x16-foot rug will fit under a table that seats 10 people; an 8x10-foot rug will generally fit under a table that seats six to eight. Large rugs are terrific in helping to pull furniture out and away from your walls: nothing seems less cozy than a room with everything pushed up against the perimeter and large, empty spaces in between.

And a handy little tip to consider: if you can't find the right size, snag some broadloom off-the-roll and have it bound... that's what I do in spaces that are hard to fit or a-typical in size.


Where a rug is to be placed will obviously influence your choice of material and pattern. For example, before putting a rug under any furniture, consider whether or not it's actually suitable. A needlepoint rug should not be used under a dining table, where the movement of chair legs repeatedly can damage it over time. Instead, choose a hand-knotted or a natural wool rug for its durability.

Something with an intricate pattern will also camouflage stains in a setting where food and drink will be present. If laying over hardwood in an area that gets lots of direct sunlight, remember to take them up or move to a different room in the house for a bit - over exposure of UV rays will lighten the hardwood overtime and leave a darker patch where the rug usually sits.


When choosing your pattern, consider what will work best with your decor. For example, a rug with a centre medallion design works well in an open-seating arrangement or when centered under furniture (such as a glass table), where the design will still be visible.

In rooms with awkward or asymmetrical proportions, a rug with an overall abstract pattern works best because it distracts attention from problem areas.

Pattern and colour can also create useful design illusions: horizontal-striped patterns help to make a narrow space look wider, while a rug with a mix of tone-on-tone textures helps to expand an area and keep it feeling spacious. Dark coloured rugs anchor furnishings in rooms with paler, more monochromatic colour schemes, and add an obvious focal point.

And don't be scared to go a little more daring when selecting an area rug - spaces that seem to be lacking some punch may very well be needing a rug with some wow factor to help push your design scheme to the next level.

Pretty chic, not too shabby

Don’t let the word “shabby” fool you: the look may be unstructured and lacking in formal rules, but this timeless esthetic can add an effortless elegance to your home.

With salvaged furniture, vintage textiles, and unique handicrafts available in flea markets and retail shops, you don’t have to search high and low for the perfect piece. You might even have a diamond in the rough right under your nose; a down-and-out piece of furniture just waiting to be repainted and restored.

That’s the beauty of shabby chic style; it’s budget-friendly and easy to acquire.

Airy Textiles

White, sumptuous bedding adds a light, restful atmosphere to the bedroom decor: look for white-on-white patterns or details accentuated by intricate needlework like pin tucks. A couple of randomly displayed cushions in light, floral fabrics can add a dash of colour if needed.

Consider having an old, yet still comfy, sofa or chair reupholstered in a relaxed linen or cotton twill... shabby chic style isn't about matching all of your prints. The more variety you create in softer shades, the more harmonious and interesting your spaces will feel.

Wear It Out

Straight lines and man-made materials don't really have a place in shabby chic dining rooms. Reclaimed lumber can be stripped and made into a fantastic table, or an existing piece can be whitewashed for that signature worn look.

Place your table on a faded or antique rug and if you have mismatched chairs, unify them with simple slipcovers or a slick coat of fresh paint.


Believe it or not, beanbag chairs are part of that laid-back, shabby chic vibe. Rachel Ashwell, who trademarked the term “shabby chic” back in the ‘80s, features a few beanbag chairs in her Shabby Chic Couture line each year.

Find a variety of grown up versions from big retailers like Pottery Barn or Pier 1 - most have been updated in sumptuous fabrics and patterns, making these fun chairs the perfect place to curl up with a good book in a bedroom, den, or down in a family room.

Frame It

Ornate frames and framed mirrors can be refinished to display treasured art on the walls. Create a grouping over a sofa or find one lovely specimen that can help with finishing off the fireplace; some of these frames are in disguise at flea markets and antique stores.

You may find them painted in various shades of metallic or stained dark ebony, but give them a light sanding and a coat of white or pastel paint in pale green or silvery blue and they’ll be ready for their spotlight on the wall.


Old dressers needn’t be confined to the spare bedroom. They can also be used in an entrance hall, home office, or dining room as elegant storage options. A sanding, a few of coats of paint and another sanding will give a piece that well-loved look.

For that final touch to add extra colour and charm, look for dainty, vintage knobs in mercury glass, crystal, mirror, or hand painted ceramic.

Lighten Up

Whether you opt for a modern reproduction, or uncover a vintage gem, stunning chandeliers are a great way to add a little quirky elegance to a space. Hang one over a feature table or as the staple fixture over your living room furniture arrangement for added sparkle and airiness.

And if your pre-loved find is missing an integral piece, take a spin on eBay to find the replacement glass or beads you need.


Hot stuff in the kitchen

6 Kitchen Trends You’ll Flip Over This Year

We’re approaching the time of year many people begin working out their renovation plans – kitchens being a hugely popular spring project.

With all of the options and ideas floating around out there on sites like Pinterest and Houzz, I’ve put together six top notch design trends you might take some inspiration from if a remodel is in your near future. 

Open Shelving

This trend takes a commitment to orderliness and organization, but it’s one of the most gorgeous looking kitchen trends on the block.

Open shelving creates such a sense of airiness and openness - it allows the kitchen to breath, and promotes a more minimal design flavor.

Groupings of glossy white dishware, milk glass, and pared down crystal on live-edge or lacquered finished shelving add such warmth and charm; consider revamping some of your upper cabinets if storage space allows, and open up your kitchen to this striking trend.

Graphic Tile

You’ve probably noticed just how hot the graphic tile trend is of late… eye-catching and dramatic, veering away from more traditional shapes and materials and opting for something totally fun and playful is a great way to take your kitchen from drab to fab instantly.

It definitely means taking a huge leap towards the unconventional, but honestly, that’s typically where the best design magic happens.

Perfect for existing kitchens needing a pick-me-up or new kitchens wanting to add curated interest and stand out, fully tiled cabinetry walls with feature niches or gorgeous range hoods create a unique and fresh esthetic.

Inlaid Tile Runners

Easy maintenance, and extra dynamic – inlaid tile kitchen runners between perimeter cabinetry and kitchen islands or peninsulas are the perfect way to mix it up if you’re not 100 per cent sold on running hardwood throughout.

With all of the amazing patterns and styles now available, you can make it as classic or crazy as you want it to be. 

Feature Pantries

An attractive addition to the hub of the house, beautiful pantries are the new kitchen porn when it comes to what homebuyers and homeowners looking to renovate find irresistible at the moment.

In homes where square footage is at a premium, savvy space planners are converting broom closets and tiny nooks into custom showcases, housing everyday essentials in a more designerly approach.

Large glass doors, bright decorative lighting, and beautiful custom shelving can turn a closed off closet into a gorgeous pantry with huge wow factor.

Wrap Arounds

For oddly shaped kitchens or spaces needing some additional detail, the wrap-around counter with lower cabinets isn’t something you see every day, but has a highly custom and built-in look.

Instead of stopping your run of cabinetry at the corner of two walls, consider wrapping it around the corner and continuing on in the other direction. 

Sculpted Islands

I always feel like the kitchen island is usually the star of the show – the one thing you can really feature and have fun amping up the detail on.

Islands have really been taking shape over the last few years, and 2017 is all about the sculpted island:

  • think faceted and contoured edges
  • geometric shapes, extra thick end gables
  • waterfall edges
  • extraordinary materials and finishes.

Kitchens everywhere will be pushing the design envelope with impressive and innovative master islands.

More Design Chick articles

About the Author

A graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, Crispin Butterfield launched Urban Theory Interior Design in 2003 and has since been featured in Canada’s Style At Home magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and the National Post.

She’s a master in designing residential and commercial soul-hugging spaces clients relish showing up to, socializing in, and especially love coming home to.

She and her team work with clients from conceptualization to completion, providing full scale service with authenticity, innovation, and lots of personality.


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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