Design Chick  

Gift guide for the decorista

The holidays are right around the corner, and perhaps you’ve been struggling with what gifts to get the savvy design decorista in your life?

If you have a decorating maven at home, I have the perfect little list that's sure to set their eyes all aglow.

1. & 2. Velvet & Metallic Luxury

Chic, shaggy, and glamorous – the Metallic Stripe Pillow $59, and Velvet Applique Pillow in Copper $39 from West Elm are two fabulous items every design aficionado is sure to quickly fall in love with. 

3. Sassy Java Repeat

Brunette The Label out of Vancouver is a fun and fearless company offering up bold and sassy sayings on numerous accessories and clothing items. You might not have heard of them before, but you’ll surely recognize their super popular sweatshirts when you catch them waltzing down the street; Fries Before Guys coffee mug $25.

4. Pewter Love

Keep all your cards and cash in one safe spot with the extra cute Cross Body Saddle Bag … metallic leather-alternative with snap close front and adjustable strap, this little gem can be dressed up or dressed down to perfection. $40 from Gap.

5. Coffee Table Fodder

Who doesn’t love a sexy looking coffee table book? The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus hardback isn’t just another pretty face that will sit unread. Inside you’ll find never-ending inspiration and design ideas for those with a penchant for classic and organic spaces. $54, available at Chapters.

6. Tech Pretty

This leather Sliding Mirror Case for iPhone 7 comes in a vintage floral print inspired by Italy’s vine-strewn balconies. A practical two-in-one features a slide-out mirror at the bottom so that it can be used for touch-ups on the go; $68 from Tory Burch.

7. Wooden Charm

Simple, sophisticated, and the perfect shelf accessory or office paper weight, these Petrified Wood Objects
$41-$62 from West Elm are an easy shoe-in for those who love a little unconventionalism in their lives.

8. Shine

When in doubt, candles are always a fail-proof and beautiful gift… this Voluspa Lidded Glass Jar Candle in the scent Branche Vermil has a delicious scent and comes in a speckled mercury glass container. $38 from Indigo.

9. Black & White

Abstract photography is still a really hot design trend this year, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Art is so subjective, and meant to be played with — so don’t worry about trying to match your decorista’s existing style too much.

Pineapple by Style In Form is a fun canvas piece, with ample presence at 39”x55”: $599 from Urban Theory Design.

10. Wrap It Up

The Diamond Mosaic Blanket — an essential in colder, breezier climates — is made from pure Australian wool chosen for its exceptional quality and softness. Perfect draped around stylish shoulders or over the side of a chair. The fringed edges are finished by hand, and the signature diamond mosaic pattern was designed specifically for Aritiza; $85.

11. Moroccan Flavour

The rustic and round Banda coffee table, made of solid mango wood has a funky white-wash finish and adds a Moorish vibe to neutral spaces needing a dose of something different. $1,389 from Urban Theory Design.

12. Uber Chic Wallpaper

And last – but definitely not least –  a new favourite of mine can be found in the collection of chic wallpapers offered through Bohemian retailer Anthropologie; perfect for adding a dash of drama in a powder room or as a feature wall, the Edith pattern is but one of many designer styles available now at www.anthropologie.com. $88 per role.

Be merry, bright for holidays

Each year comes the time to deck your halls for the holidays — one of my favourite things about winter.

If you’re looking for an alternate to the traditional Christmas red and green, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five fresh and bright ideas to help give your spaces some holiday cheer, and bring in a lovely twist of the crisp outdoors…

Star Lanterns

I’ve been in love with these beauties for several years, and for several great reasons: a classic and modern shape, the star is gorgeous in any space, and even better when assembled as a grouping.

Because of their timeless nature, they create a statement all on their own — consider hanging a cluster of white and gold in different sizes over a dining table, cascading down a large front window, or as we’ve done in the past, suspended over your front door outside.

Minimalist Evergreen

Add several touches of fresh greenery in a few different spaces throughout your house in the form of simple little evergreens, nestled in galvanized metal pots or woven baskets, or freshly pruned branches tucked into Hurricane vases.

Place them on an end table, beside a hearth, on a deep window ledge or mantle, or even on the end of a large kitchen island… No need to dress them up; simply letting them be will lift your spirits and add amazing aroma throughout the house all winter long.

Metallic Everything

This is the time of year you can go a little overboard with opulent and metallic finishes, and it won’t seem out of place. Candles, candle holders, frames, mirrored serving trays, glasses, vases, decorative accessories… the sky’s the limit really.

I stumbled upon a neat DIY project, and it fits in perfectly here: gather some dried branches (scrape off loose debris and sand lightly), and spray paint with your favourite metallic paint finish… pop them in a tall floor vase or intertwine them on a dining table for a chic new tablescape.

Faux Fur

Curl up beside a roaring fireplace or picturesque lake view with an oversize, cozy faux fur blanket; casually layering a luxurious throw over the back of a chair or draped on an ottoman is a beautiful way to stay warm over the holidays.

Modern Magnolia

Ditch the bushy pine and cedar garlands and swags, and instead opt for something a little sleeker and more modern you can hang on your doors and mantles this year.

Minimal feeling pieces made from magnolia or eucalyptus (or both!) are a simple and unfussy approach to adding touches of a more organic and chicer holiday style.

I know just the perfect local floral Maven to make them for you too… www.passionateblooms.ca.

Sage advice for designers

Each week, I share my love of interior design with the world, but this week, my fellow designers and decorators, is for you.

If I can share any sage advice that might help you on your own professional journey, this is definitely it: here are three of my top takeaways.

Charge For Your Consultations

We all know how tempting it can be to take a meeting with a potential client, in the hope of it leading to a much larger project, for free.

We think that once we have an audience, they’ll fall in love with our amazing personalities and stellar design advice, and of course, book us for their job. But let me be perfectly honest here: free advice is rarely taken, and always undervalued.

If you’re not willing to establish yourself as a business professional by valuing your services enough to charge for them right from the beginning, your client won’t view you as such either.

Sure, there are other companies or individuals willing to offer free design advice or in-home consults, but when a potential client pays for your time, they’re invested – and will treat you, your time, and your expertise with respect.

Know When To Walk Away

No project is worth conceding your energy, time, and talent over. It doesn’t matter how amazing or visible the project is. If a client is compromising your professional standards and expectations, or starts jeopardizing the outcome and final quality of the project in any form, walk away.

This is especially hard to do when we all rely on constantly updated portfolios to help sell our services, but the stress, time wasting, and energy drain a less than stellar client causes is never worth sticking it out for in the hopes you’ll have some pretty pictures at the end.

While you’re busy saying yes to a bad situation, you’re saying no to an amazing opportunity waiting in the wings.

Artsy People, Know Your Worth

I find designers and decorators are cut from a similarly familiar cloth: we’re people pleasers, ultra concerned with our clients and their needs.

We agonize over minutiae; needing things to be perfect and harmonious in order to feel a healthy level of self-satisfaction and worth. High achievers, we’ve been praised mostly only for our talents throughout our earlier years, and as a result, we don’t always know our own self-worth as adults, let alone professionals.

If you want a super-solid business practice, with well-paying clients and superb projects, you have to first truly know your own self-worth, what value you have to offer this world – especially your clients, and lastly, charge a fair and established premium for it.

Interior design style secrets

Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of some of your favourite interior design inspirations? What’s the story behind all those style choices and aesthetics?

I was recently asked to break down the design of a gorgeous executive-style lake home we collaborated on from top to bottom, and here’s a sneak peek into that process…


As senior designer and owner of Urban Theory, I was hired by the client to design the exterior/interior architecture, and source all of the materials and finishes for the build. This was a fantastic dream project. 

Together with the client and the builder, we were able to design a modern, yet organic executive haven off the lake.


Because the home is so open-concept, one of the main design elements focuses on using the open space to create natural pause and placement by crafting expansive furniture arrangements, a floating wall at the front entry, and enticing the kitchen island out of the kitchen nook slightly and into more of the main dining space.

Playing with these groupings and the layout helped perfectly define each individual area within the open floor plan.


The whole home feels energetic, yet grounded; which creates an amazing sense of comfort and ease. The master ensuite with the semi-opaque 3Form textured acrylic panel in the shower is a clever design feature, and the linear structure of the corner windows above the soaker tub offer an incredible view of the lake and wooded areas surrounding the house.

I also love just how much gorgeous sunshine washes in throughout the day and illuminates the stunning, walnut flooring running throughout.


Urban Theory Design has come to be known for our ability to execute dynamic, contemporary/organic design… not too rigid or austere, and with just enough temperament and playfulness.

Truthfully, we are able to work with almost any design style, because our emphasis is on bringing out the very best of our client’s personalities, and we then infuse our ideas and inspiration to help create the most authentic, soul-hugging spaces.


We have always loved the whimsy and distinctiveness behind Hubbardton Forge lighting pieces, so tailoring the selections for prominent yet effortless and airy fixtures was fairly easy to do.

This build required fixtures with character, but clean lines, and the HF design story complimented the build scheme perfectly. www.hubbardtonforge.com


We opened an office in beautiful Kelowna in 2014, and the ability to work on projects overlooking some of the most majestic natural scenery has completely opened up and expanded our design focus.

Lately we’ve been dreaming in hints of L.A. and Big Sur… we would love to take on a substantial luxury coastal retreat for a client wanting to create the utmost in well-being and leading-edge, personalized living.

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About the Author

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory; a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field.

She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and proficiency required to grow incredible long-standing client relationships. 

Crispin embraces a life full of ingenuity and imagination, fueled by raw ambition and a desire to leave her mark on the world. Her impeccable design style, expertise, and a rock-solid business acumen is the foundation which allows Urban Theory Interior Design to provide full scale services with authenticity, innovation, and ample amounts of personality.

Featured in Style At Home Magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and The National Post – www.urbantheoryinteriordesign.com


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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