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Outdoor cooking and entertaining – a real life story

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It’s always a pleasure to get invited for an evening to Rod and Alexa’s house. Well, actually you don’t really go into the house, as all the entertaining takes place in their backyard.  Rod has built a wonderful stone oven and they’ve created a gorgeous outdoor living space. It’s absolutely fantastic. Spring through Fall, it’s dining under the vines. The space stays nice and cozy from the roaring fireplace. During the winter months, Rod still cooks in his brick oven and likes to tell the story of the New Year’s Eve it was -45 outside and he cooked pizzas for everyone.

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When you walk into the backyard, there in front of you is a long rectangle space that has a brick oven at one end and a fireplace at the other. It all sits on a concrete pad and has a vine covered pergola stretching over the entire space. There’s hanging cast-iron pans, cheese graters, rolling pins and other cooking utensils. Bottles of olive oil sit on the large wooden pizza board and there’s always a good supply of wine sitting on the rustic table.

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Rod is a stonemason and he created his own oven. He can tell you all the technical details about heat retention and ideal cooking temperatures. All I know is that when we took the internal temperature to cook the chickens, it was shooting up past 600 degrees. Once the oven gets to the temperature Rod wants, he scoops out all the wood and coals and deposits this into the fireplace at the other end.

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Rod is also a cook. He knows how to blend flavours and create dishes with seasonal ingredients. Rod pairs his wine carefully with the food he prepares. Alexa is the organizer and decorator. She plans out the evenings and sets the table to suit the meal. There’s always pretty linen napkins and tablecloths. She has the most beautiful serving dishes that make the table look so pretty. And as the evening gets going, there might even be singing and some tap dancing.

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What I like best about Alexa and Rod’s entertaining style is that it’s the real deal. They’ve put a lot of thought into the function of their space. It works for them to host from and it’s easy and fun for the guests.

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Now that harvest season is here, Rod is creating rustic, hearty food. They’re stoking the fireplace to take out the chill, and there’s a stack of cozy blankets. You’ve  got to love how they embrace the season and get so much enjoyment from their space. They truly understand the balance between function and pretty.

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I truly hope that your space brings you joy and good memories. It’s those sweet memories that remain with us for years. Enjoy the Autumn season and embrace the goodness of everyday moments.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Decorating on a Dime

Decorating on a Dime

Sometimes people think that to live in a nice house you have to spend lots of money. That’s not true at all. It’s more about creating a space that is comfortable, neat, and organized. Taking time to set up the furniture correctly, having baskets of books, keeping the space tidy and and most importantly, displaying items that are meaningful, is what counts.

Sometimes we don’t get to live in the house we want, or have the furniture we think we need. But life isn’t about stuff, it’s about living and doing and loving. I was very lucky because both my mom and my grandma made beautiful homes, and they certainly didn’t rush and out buy the most expensive things. They just knew that clean ironed sheets were special and that fabric napkins (even if they were made from sugar bags, as my nona did) made a meal special. It’s the little touches…and we can all do that.

Taegan’s put together a sampling of some great ideas for decorating on a dime.

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DIY projects are not only budget friendly, but there is so much satisfaction gained from creating something.

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Keeping clutter organized is vital. I love this storage solution. Cute and easy.

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If you’re an avid fan of the Little House on the Prairie books like I am, you might remember Laura and Mrs. Boast decorating the what-not-shelves with cut out paper on the edges. Wasabi Tape is just a modern way of adding some pretty.

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Anthropology has done a really good job with their buying. They have a vintage vibe that’s really colourful and pretty. But if you like hitting the second hand stores, there’s so many pretty dishes on the shelves, that it’s almost a shame to buy new.

I really believe that everything we do gives off an energy. Spending the time to get your home feeling good means that you will feel good. And never ever feel bad if you feel you want to hire a designer or decorator. We can’t all be good at everything and women shouldn’t feel that they are less if they need help. Whatever it takes, just make sure your home makes you feel good.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Creative ideas for dorm decor

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School’s started and for many students it means living in their own place - and it means money is tight. But  that’s no excuse to live in ugly. Our surroundings affect us in a big way. Everything you see, hear, smell, taste and feel impacts you more than you may realize. It’s important to put a little time and effort into where you live. Living in a home that is set up to function well and has some pretty, can make your life better. Honestly…it does.

Notice I said function well and have some pretty in it. I did not say that it has to cost a million dollars. Function comes first. Spend some time figuring out the best layout for the space. Use some creative storage tricks to keep clutter under control. Once this is looked after, then there’s lots of cute, inexpensive ways to decorate.

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Dorm Decor3Lighting really affects mood, so never ever ever use bright overhead lights. Keep it soft and use lamps. Have some fun with clear mini lights.

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Inexpensive curtain panels are a great way to add colour as well as hide clutter. Target, Ikea and Walmart have some cute choices.
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Dorm Decor6It’s all about the cushions. Load up on cushions…it helps disguise a not so pretty sofa or adds pops of colour and texture to a bedroom. When doing cushions, seek out different fabric types such as velvet, cotton, wool and even leather. It adds way more interest.

Dorm Decor7Be creative with wall decor. Snapshots of friends look like art when displayed creatively.

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Secondhand stores, thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find treasures. Sometimes a little bit of paint takes something from yuck to beautiful. Right now we’re loving Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint. Imagine grandma’s orange oak dresser painted turquoise! Even doing part of a piece, like below, makes it look fresh.

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Make unique bulletin boards from frames found at yard sales of goodwill stores. All those loose pieces of paper will finally have a home. It’s impossible to get away from clutter, but putting everything in baskets makes it look better.

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Whether you consciously realize it or not, our surroundings do affect us. Retailers know this and they spend a lot of time and money creating their stores so that we spend money. Workplaces are starting to realize that their environment affects employee’s productivity. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a space pretty…just a bit of time. Invest in yourself and you’ll feel the difference.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Summer inspiration…how mother nature does it best

Sometimes people ask us where we get our inspiration from. Is it HGTV or magazines or what? The biggest source of inspiration for us is mother nature…nobody does colour and texture better.

Since it’s the  long weekend and the end of summer holidays, we’ve put together some of our inspiring pics. Those truly Canadian colour combinations that will stay in our mind as the warm weather fades.

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Goodbye summer 2014. It’s been a slice.

We’ve got some really big projects lined up for the next few months and some great ideas for dorm decor, budget decorating and as always the before and afters. Check back every Sunday, or sign up to get the blog emailed direct to your inbox.

Happy first day of school!!

 


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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How to bring nature inside…plus it’s free and healthy

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As a mother of three boys, we spent a lot of time outside. We had to. It was the only way we could survive the days if I didn’t want my house trashed. No matter the season or the weather, we’d head outside. It gave them room to run and play and explore. But more than that, it gave us direct contact with nature and made us feel good.

Studies show that being in nature has positive health benefits such as stress levels, confidence and self-esteem. Studies also show that simply looking at nature through a window or in a poster can also deliver some of these healthy benefits. So too can bringing touches of nature into your home.

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When Debbie and I did a lot of staging, we’d usually have a short time frame and a tight budget. We’d move around furniture, remove clutter and fluff it up with pretty cushions and lamps. Then while I was doing the last bits, Debbie would rush out into the yard and cut branches and flowers and collect twigs and rock and fill the house with beauty. All for FREE. I can’t tell you how many times I’m driving back roads with her while she searches out the perfect branches for a client’s home.

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One of my favourite decorating tricks is to put wee bouquets of flowers in bathrooms or on night tables. I collect different shaped small vases and always have the perfect vessel for whatever flower we find. I let my kids go out and collect what they like. When they were really little, I learned to love the beauty of dandelions!

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Nothing beats the beauty of tulips though. It’s not that I love them so much, but I love the promise they bring. In March when it’s suppose-to-be-spring, picking up a bunch at the grocery store is one way to get through until mid-June when real spring comes to Calgary. Don’t think of it as a splurge, but think of it as medicine for your soul.

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Remember when everyone had tall straight twigs in large vases… that ship has passed now. Take them out of your home and if you just can’t throw them out, then put them outside in a garden pot. What you want in your home now are twigs with movement. Twigs that have some interest. Just ask Debbie, she’s always on the lookout for that perfectly shaped branch that curls just so.

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Rocks are pure magic. They hold clues to other worlds and could be millions of years old. They feel cool and smooth in our hands, or rough and jagged. They sparkle in sunlight and change colour when wet. Who can resist the lure of skipping stones on calm waters. Sometimes a rock looks ordinary and dull until you look closely and see all the colours. Collect rocks from wherever you go…put them in your home. Even if you don’t have little kids around, it’s okay to have piles of rocks in your home.

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Driftwood is another favourite. Pile it by the fireplace or stand it straight up in planters. This year the weather was so bad at the lake that instead of potted plants on the outdoor table, I put a collection of cream coloured pots with small bits of driftwood in them. Every time  I walk by it makes me smile!

If you’re the crafty type, then put that talent to use and make wall art out of twigs. Simple, easy, free and really really pretty.

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It’s no surprise that we relax better when in a natural setting. But why let it end there? Bring some of that tonic into your home and enjoy the benefits when most needed. Crying kids, burning supper or piles of laundry are better handled when we feel good. Nature makes us feel good…and it’s free. Bring some inside today.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Lake living…a behind the scenes look

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Years ago when I had my store in Ontario, I had a special client who used to pop in regularly. She always had awesome taste and a very distinct style. Plus she was really really fun to chat with. Skip ahead many years and in November I received an email from her and her husband. They were starting to build a new summer home on the lake and while they had a good idea of what they wanted it to look like, help was needed to pull it all together.

Emails flew back and forth and just before Christmas she flew out to Calgary and we had a full planning day. In February I met with her in Ontario and Debbie flew out in April and reviewed surface selections and paint colours. And again more emails were exchanged. Finally, after months of planning and lots and lots of decision making by the homeowners, it was time to go out to the lake and see their home. When we walked through the front door into the space for the first time, Debbie and I were absolutely thrilled. It’s everything the homeowners wanted and more. It’s organic, calm, artsy, natural and just plain perfect.

 

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This project was really fun to work on. The homeowners selected the plan and did a lot of the pre work. We were called in to review the plan and assist with surface selections, furniture placement and interior/exterior colours. We really felt that the outdoors should be the star, so we picked a palette that is more muted, but harmonizes with the surrounding scenery.

Last week was styling day. Debbie and I shopped for all the accessories that would bring it together. We loaded up the van, and we even had to ask the homeowner to load up hers. Out we went to the lake, and soon it looked like chaos. Stuff was everywhere. But then the magic happened…it started to come together and wow did it ever. Although you’ll see by the pictures, there’s still work to be done (is a home ever finished??) it’s looking mighty fine.

 

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Gagnon Camp Post8 Gagnon Camp Post9After so much work and planning by the homeowners, I’m glad that it’s starting to feel like home…their home. There’s been months of construction, dust and workers coming and going, so it’s nice to have a little pretty inside.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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European Influence – Herringbone Tile

We’ve been working on a design style for one of our clients this week. They are the most gracious, elegant and classic couple. We want their home to be a true reflection, so we’ve been researching timeless patterns for flooring, wallpaper and fabric. You know me…I love this history stuff…in great detail. However, I’ll condense my notes and give you the short version. Taegan took a bunch of pictures when she was in Europe, so you’ll get some pretty pictures too.

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In around 500 B.C. the Roman Empire developed an expansive road system called Viae Publicae which stretched for 50,000 miles. Considering all the advances in technology and construction, we still use their basic principals of interlocking patterns. Criss-crossing pavers absorb the compression of movement and become very strong and able to handle huge loads. In fabric, this pattern can be traced back to Egyptian textiles where again the use of criss-crossing threads made for a strong fabric. There are very early examples of native cultures employing zig-zag weaves to create strong waterproof baskets. So a beautiful pattern started as an effective design solution in many cultures.
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Which brings us to the types of criss-crossing patterns…chevron and herringbone. Chevron is a zig-zag pattern that comes to sharp point. Herringbone resembles a broken zig-zag, and the points do not come sharply together. They are both classic patterns, but I find that herringbone is a little softer, so I usually specify chevron for more modern applications.
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When picking the fixed elements of design, it’s important to know your history! While we all like to be current, don’t go all trendy on the big expensive stuff. Keep it basic and classic. Look to the past for inspiration and you can’t go wrong. Keep the fun trends to the top layer…and switch that out when it becomes so last year.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Canada True North Colours and some holiday pics

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I don’t know about you, but there’s something about summer that brings out the Canadian in me. I’m just so darned proud of our country and think it’s so beautiful. We really are blessed to have so much wilderness around us. This year Debbie, Taegan and myself ended up vacationing nearby each other in Northwestern Ontario. We actually had a business meeting on the dock…really,  we did talk business!

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The rugged beauty of this area has inspired Taegan, and she’s been busy capturing it with her camera. Nature has always been a huge inspiration for us, and we’re constantly amazed at the colour combinations we see. Nobody does colour better than Mother Nature! We’ve put together a few collages of inspiration for you.

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We’ve also included some paint suggestions from General Paints. Started 96 years ago, General Paints is a Vancouver based company proud of their Canadian heritage. A few years ago, they took their  colours that have been consistently popular in Canada since the 1940′s, and called this collection Canadiana Historic. When it came to naming the collection, General Paints asked their staff from across the country to suggest a place or thing that evokes Canada for them. Then the head office staff set about matching the names to the colours.

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These are the colours of Canada. With names such as Trans-Canada Highway (dark grey),  Moose (dark brown), Killer Whale (black), Old Growth (leaf green) and Juno Awards (pale blue), these colours evoke our identity.

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You can pick up a brochure at General Paints that has all 120 Canadiana Historic colours. Reading the names and seeing the colours is like taking a trip to every corner of Canada.  About half way through reading, you’ll come to Canuck Red. Be careful, because your chest will start to puff out and you might find yourself proudly humming the national anthem!

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Debbie and Taegan join me in wishing you a very happy and Canadian long weekend.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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The story of us…and a great before and after

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Let me tell you a story about coincidences…it’s actually two separate stories that run side by side, until one day when they bump into each other and became one story.

There once was a 20 year old girl who moved to Thunder Bay from Marathon. She loved being in the big city. There were parties to go to, friends to meet up with and always a warm bar stool at the Keg. She soon had a lot of friends, but Lisa and Alexa became her besties and the three were always up for adventure. Fast forward a few years and the 20 year old met the love of her life and moved away. Not just one move, but lots of moves, because her love was a railroad man. No matter where they lived, this lady would try to get back to the Lakehead every summer. Because she was always the life of the party, the party would start when she got to town.

There once was another girl who was born and raised in Thunder Bay. She went to college and then to University in the city. She too liked a certain bar stool at the Keg, but somehow the two never ended up sitting beside each other. Fast forward a few years and this girl became friends with Alexa. Every summer this girl would hear Alexa, Lisa and Sandy making plans for when the girl from Marathon would be coming to town. Yet they still never met each other. Alexa got married and had a beautiful wedding, both  were there with their spouses, but still no meeting. Finally 8 years ago this summer, there was a party for Alexa at the Keg, and for the first time the two girls met, although no one introduced them. Everyone just assumed that they had met before.

The story now moves to Calgary, where both girls ended up relocating and working. One day these girls joined a bunch of designers who were having a quick coffee meeting at Starbucks. Both girls were there because they knew the same designer who said to each, “I know another designer that you should meet”.  When the girl from Marathon turned around from the coffee counter she saw the girl from Thunder Bay. And they couldn’t stop laughing…not even long enough to hear when their designer friend said, “Debbie Blake this is Karen Fron”.

That’s the story of us…we always say we were meant to work together.

Below are some before and afters from a Design Style Package that Debbie did. The cool thing about this before and after is that other than a few cushions, rug and accents pieces, it’s all the homeowners things. Debbie just rearranged the existing furniture, rehung the art and styled the tables and cabinets beautifully. She can do that…we say she has magic hands. Check it out and you’ll be amazed.

 

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Debbie is amazing at styling. She has a way of putting things together that makes each space unique. Not only that, she usually targets the items that have the most sentimental value. I still don’t know how she does that, but she does. It’s like she feels the energy of a space and knows. I’m so lucky to be able to work with her everyday.

The nice thing about being friends with Debbie is that we share the same history…we both like persians, Keg nachos, keg-sized drinks and being near the water. We both know not to get on the bad side of Nanabijou, it’s not a party unless there’s beef-on-a-bun and that working together is ever-nice.

If you want to have a restyle of your home, give us a call and Debbie can work her magic on your space.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Our summer so far…

It was a weekend of weddings. Both Taegan and I had a wedding on July 12 – hers in BC and mine in Ontario. Both were small weddings in small towns, held outdoors. Each bride put tons of thought into her special day, making sure that family and friends were received well. Two brides, two different styles. One thing was the same at both weddings though – and that was how much fun the guests had and the sweet moments when young and old spent time together.

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If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

Subscribe1

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