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Get your Cowboy On…Stampede Inspired Decor Ideas



Howdy Partner!!! It’s Stampede Time in Calgary. That means it’s 10 full days of western hospitality. The party has started and everyone is invited. Storefronts are painted and decorated, there’s hundreds of free pancake breakfasts and everyone is decked out in plaid and cowboy hats.  Stampede attracts over 1 million visitors a year and features the world’s largest rodeo. There’s good reason why it’s called the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.




Since we’re all revved up for anything western, this week we thought we’d show how to bring a little cowboy into every home.  But Beware…don’t over do it.  It’s all about using a light hand and doing western tastefully.  Unless you’re a theme park hotel. Then I guess it’s okay if you want to create a Wild West Room.




Western decor is all about rock, wood, and metal – it has a very manly feel. Which is good. We like the masculine touches. But all that manliness needs to be balanced by some pretty. I know I say this all the time, but every room needs a good balance of masculine and feminine. Notice in the picture below that the heavy wooden stumps are balanced with the delicateness of the china teapots and the airy table. We’ve also paired the rustic lamp and pine table with the elegance of a pretty gold frame.




If you live by the water, then a beach look is what you want. Put that home in the mountains and it’s out of place. Same goes for the western look. Unless you live on a ranch, don’t go overly crazy with the western accessories. For city dwellers, we like to do a nod to the west, not full blown cowboy complete with log furniture, hanging saddles and a mounted big horn sheep over the fireplace.

Subtle touches are best. Include some nailhead detailing, or a chair in leather, a rustic cabinet or a reclaimed wood accent table. Texture is always good and there’s no easier way to bring in texture then baskets.






What we love best is that you don’t have to rush out and buy things to get that natural and rugged look. Picking up pretty pieces of driftwood and displaying them is such an easy inexpensive way to add a rustic touch.




Antlers are another way to add that Western look. Antlers look great on a stack of books and we really like placing them in a more traditional styled room to add an eclectic touch. You might be lucky enough to find some on a walk, otherwise you’ll have to pick some up from Homesense.






Hide rugs are about as cowboy as you can get. We haven’t met a home yet that wouldn’t benefit from a hide rug. The best thing about them is the irregular shape. When you don’t want to define a space with a square or rectangle, a hide rug is the best choice. We love the easy care and attitude that a hide rug brings to a room.




Lately we’ve been helping our clients pick up some great pedestal tables off Kijiji. There’s nothing lovelier then a rustic dining table in your home. Think solid heavy wood, something that has a bit of wear. A table that’s been around. Some we get painted, some we leave in the natural wood colour, and some like the photo below, are done in a two tone. Mix in some pretty, like a sparkly light, a tufted bench and a bouquet of flowers, and you have created a beautiful balance of masculine and feminine.




Another way to soften the rustic look is to add a bit of cheekiness. I love the comic book coasters sitting on my wooden table. It adds some fun to the seriousness of the wood. Best of all, we use the coasters  every day. They were a gift from a family wedding we went to last summer. You can see that post here.




If you haven’t been to Stampede yet, put it on your bucket list. Everyone needs to be a cowboy for a few days.  You’ll come back with a new appreciation for the west and cowboy culture. Just don’t decorate by hanging saddles from the ceiling!


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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Canadian Colour Inspiration…Holiday Pictures and Paint Picks



Last summer we did a post with some of our holiday pictures matched to General Paint’s Canadiana Historic Colours. It wasn’t just us that loved the paint and photo connections, it was one of our most popular posts. It fills us with pride to read the paint names – Buffalo Narrows (chocolate brown), Juno Awards (pale blue),  Moose (dark brown), Killer Whale (black), Old Growth (leaf green) and the most popular, Canuck Red. 




My boys know when they’re driving around with me in the car that I’m always looking at nature’s colour palettes. I’ve even pulled over on the side of the road to memorize the colours of the wheat fields meeting the sky. They are forever being told to look at the sky colour, or the shades of the different types of lilacs.




For so long Canada has struggled to define the unique culture, characteristics and conditions of being Canadian. Maybe because we’re a relatively new country made up of so many nationalities, we don’t have many shared symbols, music and customs that date back hundreds of years.




The one thing we all have in common is our country’s natural beauty. We can all appreciate the landscape, animals and outdoor activities that are there for everyone to enjoy.




The raw beauty of Canada can literally take your breath away. It’s the natural beauty found outdoors that gives me colour inspiration daily. And it’s Canada’s colour palettes that inspire the interiors we do.




It’s interesting to us that many of our younger clients want their home to have a Canadian feeling. Lately we’ve decorated several homes with  Hudson Bay blankets and often put antlers on a stack of books. Pretty rocks picked up from rivers and lakes in Canada often end up on the coffee table. One client this spring wanted cable knit cushions because it reminded her of the sweater she wore when she used to go skating on the creek.




Canada is our home and I think the greatest country in the world. Anytime we can incorporate bits of Canada in to the homes we decorate, it makes us happy. Even if it’s just a wall painted  White Spruce (CH047), it’s a nice connection to our wonderful country.




Whether you live in Little Heart’s Ease (CH099), Barkley Sound (CH085), or Thunder Bay (CH108), we wish you Happy Canada Day and a wonderful summer.

To see the original blog post, click here. And if you want to receive our blog every Tuesday to your inbox, click the link below.


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 do Menswear Inspired Decor




The boys and I went shopping to get a father’s day gift. We tossed around a few ideas…you know the typical man gifts – socks, ties, wallet, briefcase, maybe a new belt. In the end we decided to give their dad the same as last year, a collection of different beers. They like going into the cooler at Co-op Liquor store and choosing the different types. Then we always do a steak and chicken wing dinner. Really it’s what they all like. As a matter of fact, they like it so much, I often get a steak and chicken wing dinner for Mother’s Day.


image from downtown abbey
image from downtown abbey


All this talk about Father’s Day and men’s gifts, has me thinking about menswear inspired decor. I don’t know if it comes from living with 4 guys, but I love pinstripes, plaids, tweed, leather – basically any menswear touches. Women have always raided the boys closets, from trousers to fedoras and trench coats. And what you see on Savile Row often shows up in home interiors.







When it comes to home interiors, no one does menswear inspired decor as well as Ralph Lauren. He is the master of creating beautiful spaces that appeal to both men and women. His interiors borrow heavily from men’s fashion, yet they have a lightness and elegance that keeps them from being too heavy. The images below are perfect examples of the Ralph Lauren look.


ralph lauren interiors
ralph lauren interiors


Traditional menswear fabric such as plaid and flannel have made a big comeback in home decor. Many mills in England and Scotland are still making their tartans with traditional methods, producing classic designs from 150 years ago.  Click here for the blog I wrote on Moon Fabrics. Lately we’ve had a lot of clients wanting to have something plaid. If you don’t want to commit to a large furniture piece like like a sofa or chair, then a tartan cushion will give that pop.








It’s not just menswear fabric that adds a masculine touch. Other menswear inspired details we like are touches of leather. We found the beautiful ottoman below at Domaine Fine Furnishings in Calgary. It has patchwork detailing and gives a soft relaxed look to the room. The leather and metal chair,  also below,  is all strong lines and hard surfaces. The baseball stitching adds another menswear touch.






Nailhead detailing has been around for 400 years, so I guess you can say it’s a classic. It adds a strong presence to upholstered furniture. Right now I notice at HomeSense they’re showing nailhead on everything, and lots of it. For the classic look, don’t go overboard with the studs. We like a worn brass finish as opposed to the trendy shiny silver.






Often it’s the small details that add the character. This floor lamp below has a small touch of antiqued brass which gives it a more masculine feel. As you’ve probably heard, brass is back. However, antiqued classic brass never really went anywhere. It was that shiny 80′s/90′s brass that has come and gone.




For some reason mid-century furniture has come to be considered masculine. The clean lines and lack of ornamentation make it fall into the ‘manly’ side of decorating. It’s quite popular now, especially with younger homeowners. If you check second hand stores and kijiji, it’s not too hard to find some nice pieces.




Unless you’re decorating a little girls room, every room needs a few menswear inspired details. What you must be careful of is overdoing it. If it’s all menswear inspired, then you’ll end up with the lodge look, like below. That’s okay if you have a place in Canmore or Whistler, but a touch overdone for the city.




To get the mix just right, always balance menswear with a lighter touch. Notice below in this room designed by Encore Design, the fussy details mixed with the plaids. Although very ornate, the plaid helps ground the room and keep it from going over the top frilly. Basically I would say this room is very pretty and dare I say it, girly. Choosing to cover the chairs in a different plaids, makes it way more interesting.


image and design from Encore Decor


The room below, one of my favourites by Mark Badgley and James Mischka, is far more tailored and masculine looking. Yet it’s not all menswear inspired. There’s balance provided by  the delicate turned leg of the night table, the fresh white on the bed and the light coloured walls. Notice that even with the dark colours and menswear inspired chest and plaid, the room has an airiness and simplicity to it.


Mark Badgley and James Mischka


In the photo below, the pinstriped fabric plays off the ornate carving of the settee. That one touch alone is enough to balance the heavy textured wallpaper, the heavy baseboards, as well as the menswear fabric cushions and the plaid area carpet.




The following rooms show a great balance of traditional menswear inspired decor, with lighter more delicate pieces. There really is an art to blending together a room. Too much menswear and it will feel heavy. All lightness and curves, and it will feel too sweet.
ralph lauren interiors




Since today is Father’s Day, we want to send a bunch of  love to the dad’s in our life. Thank you for all the things you’ve taught us and shown us. Wow, when we started pulling out the old photos to scan, it’s scary how quickly the years fly by.




Next week we’ll be celebrating Canada Day on the blog. To me, that always seems like the first day of summer. Enjoy the week! Sign up below if you want to get our blog directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

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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6 Simple Tips for Summer Decorating


A few years back, I bought a magnet with the word simple on it. It sits on the side of my microwave to remind me that sometimes simple is best. It’s my own take on the well known ‘less is more’.

It was the architect Mies van der Rohe who adopted this phrase to explain his approach to minimalist design. I like these words because they give us permission not to go overboard, or fill every space, or for that matter, cram full every minute of the day. Basically it’s saying to keep things simple and by keeping things simple, we’re promoting quality over quantity.

With summer now here, it’s a great time to adopt the simple philosophy. Here are simple summer tips.

1. Have fresh flowers in the house always.
It’s so easy in the summer to bring in something from the garden. A small vase of pansies or a few branches from a tree is an easy way to summer up a home.


2. Let the light shine in.
Pull back the draperies and open the blinds. Move furniture away from the windows so the light can flood the room.
3. Eat most meals outside.

Food just tastes better when eaten in the fresh air. Set up the outdoors so it’s easy and convenient to have meals outside.

Harvest Post26
4. Take advantage of yard sales.
Not for buying more, but for getting rid of useless clutter. Become a ‘less is more’ devotee. If an object isn’t visually pleasing, as well as functional, toss it.


5. Plant a pot of herbs and enjoy.
Not only will a planter of herbs look beautiful, it’s also useful.


6. Smell the fresh air.
Open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. One of my favourite tricks to having a beautifully fragrant home is to lightly spray a good quality home fragrance on my window screen. As the breeze blows through the house, so too does a wonderful scent.
Life today seems to be always in high gear. I’ve found that the breaks can be put on by just keeping it simple. When our homes are peaceful and organized, it allows us to enjoy the simple things. Summer is about sunshine, fresh air, and laughter. Does your home allow you to enjoy these simple things?

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 Mix and Match Throw Cushions Like a Pro


Are you craving a change in your home? I’ll share a little secret, throw cushions are decorating magic. Add a few to a sofa or bed and you have an instant makeover. I can’t tell you how many times we go into a home and the homeowner is thinking of getting a new sofa to make the room prettier. News flash…a new sofa alone won’t bring your room from drab to fab. It’s all about the accessories…and throw cushions are the bomb.

We’ve put together some images from homes we’ve decorated to show you how to cushion it up like a pro.


Trim is making a major comeback…Did anyone else have a poncho with this type of trim on it when they were little?  My mom made my sister and I matching ponchos, way back when. For a current, fun look, add a cushion or two with some trim. There are many modern trims available now, so please don’t resurrect some trim cushions from the early 90′s.

Mix and match patterns…don’t match everything perfectly. Go out of your way to put together fabrics that don’t match, but do co-ordinate in the room. There’s nothing wrong with putting paisley, stripes and zig zags together.


Have something that’s a bit different…we love furry cushions or hand embroidered motifs. With the popularity of the bohemian look, embroidery is starting to show up again. It’s nice to throw in that cushion that is a little bit different or hand made.


Every room needs a touch of animal print…and throw cushions are the perfect way to bring in the animal. Whether you choose to do it in bold or bright, animal prints add that touch of exotic. Just remember that a little goes a long way.



Mix together formal and casual fabrics…it gives a room some tension and edginess. Notice how the sheen of the velvet below contrasts with the nubbliness of the Ralph Lauren wool plaid cushion.


Use different textures…groupings look so much more cosy when they are not all the same. Combining heavy and light textures provides a high end look. A simple way to think about it is to make sure you have soft and rough. Easy peasy to remember when shopping.




Combine solids and prints…The orange chair below is so very orange that we put an unrelated cushion as an accent. Having orange in the cushion would be too matchy matchy…and you know how we feel about that.


Make sure some of the cushions become useful…The felt cushion below is the homeowner’s favourite. She uses it as a bolster cushion for her back. So even though most of us think about cushions for decorating, they often do serve a purpose.


Have the fun factor…Cushions, like lipstick, are what people notice. Say something about your personality with the cushions you choose. After doing a Design Style Package at a client’s home, she loved her new look so much, that she wanted to just stay home! There’s no better compliment than that!!


Hope you are loving your home enough to want to stay home.

Have a great week. If you like our blog, you can sign up below and every Tuesday have it delivered directly to your inbox. We never ever give away your name or email address…to anyone…ever. And that’s a promise.

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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Before and After… a $500 kitchen remodel


Everyone deserves to live in a home that makes them feel good. No matter how hard you try, it’s hard to feel good when you’re surrounded by heavy orange oak cabinets. These cabinets, and believe me we’ve seen plenty of them, seem to suck all the life out of a room. If money grew on trees, then everyone could afford to do a full kitchen reno.

When your budget is just $500, then you have to be a little more  creative, but the result can be spectacular.

The kitchen we’re featuring this week belongs to Debbie’s niece. She wanted to lighten up her kitchen and was willing to do the work herself. Debbie, being the nice Auntie that she is, did the consult long distance via emails and texts.


Since these cabinets are solid wood and in great shape, a coat of paint makes them look new and fresh. Painting is a decorators best friend. Nothing can change a look so much as a fresh coat of paint, except maybe toss cushions. Paint and toss cushions are decorating magic…but I digress.


These cabinets were painted with Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in White Dove OC- 17- it is perfect for painting oak cabinets and trim. It floats on and you don’t see any brush marks.


The tile is a simple 3×6 subway tile from Home Depot. It’s a warm white with Oyster Grey grout. The darker grout lines give it some contrast and tie in the dark counter top. We have no problem with specifying laminate for kitchens. There are some beautiful laminates on the market and the price difference between quartz and laminate is substantial. The above laminate is Labrador Granite by Formica.


Never underestimate the importance of cabinet hardware. These new hinges and handles in an oil rubbed bronze add the finishing touch. Light fixture is also from Home Depot.  Now the room looks fresh and current. A new paint colour was chosen for the walls – Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172. 


With a small budget and some DIY resourcefulness, this kitchen went from heavy, dark and dated, to bright and pretty. Painting cabinets makes a huge difference. And if you or the man of the house are worried about painting over good wood, paint doesn’t change the fact that it’s wood. Only now it’s painted wood…and it looks soooooo much prettier. Thanks to Debbie’s niece for sending us pics of her finished kitchen. Good job!!!

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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A Good First Impression


Usually it’s the inside of the house we’re talking about, but today I want to talk about front doors. The front door is probably the most important feature of your home. First impressions are made in seconds, literally between the time someone knocks on the door to when it’s answered. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that in those few seconds standing at a front door, you’ve made opinions about those who live inside.

And if someone is going to form an opinion, then let it be a good one. We’ve gathered together some great photos of doors that we love. Some of them were taken by Taegan when she was in Amsterdam last year.


Colour on a door can be very effective. This is the one place to go bold.





Subtle colour works well too. Spice it up with planters, door knockers, interesting lights and bold welcome mats.






  Consider the overall design and balance door colour with all features.



Colortopia has a great break down on how to paint a door here. Also there is great app created called Front Door Paint which you can take a picture of your current door and flip through different paint colours to see which you like. Download via iTunes here.




Don’t forget the inside of the door! You can have a different colour on the inside and the outside. 



Design Tip:

Warm and Cool Tones Need to Balance Each Other.

If your exterior is mostly warm, choose a cool colour for the front door. It’ll add relief.


Treat your front door like the exclamation point it is. It’s the bridge between what’s public and private. Why not kick it up a notch and make a statement? Show the world who you are with pride!!

If you’re not sure where to begin, give us a call. We do exterior consults. Need a painter or a contractor? Call us and we can help.

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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Design Lesson – Outdoor Living Space


Now that the May Long Weekend has come, Canadians have officially moved outdoors. This week we’re giving you a design lesson on outdoor living spaces.  We’ve picked an outdoor space and pointed out the good and the needs improvement.

We’ve been out shopping too. Right now the stores are jammed packed with beautiful outdoor furniture and accessories at all price points. Home Outfitters and The Bay have a nice patio collection from Brian Gluckstein.  Jysk has several nice well priced pieces, as does Lowes and Home Depot. Right now I’m loving the outdoor area rugs from Pier 1. Homesense always has great summer cushions and accent pieces. Shop them all and get your own look going.

Follow our tips below for a beautiful outdoor living space.













Isn’t it nice to have an extra room for the summer? No space is too small. With a little creative thinking, you can make the most out of any size space. Check out more of our advice for creating a beautiful outdoor living space here or here.

Have a lovely week and enjoy the outdoors!

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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Time saving design solutions for you this Mother’s Day


Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved Mother’s Day. It was always a special day for our family and we usually did something fun. Now that I’m a mom, I enjoy the day because I get dinner prepared for me and we do an activity with the boys. Best of all, I take the day off. No laundry, no sorting or tidying or cleaning. How great is that?!!!

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the things that women do around the house. I’ve read several studies that say the bulk of the housework falls to women. Even as we’re becoming a bigger and bigger part of the workforce, it seems that we’re shouldering far more household and child care responsibilities then men.

This week, we’ve put together a collection of time saving solutions and organizing tricks to keep the house looking good. So put your feet up and enjoy reading some of our organizing secrets.


Tired of trying to keep household papers under control? We’ve come up with the hidden desk solution. Doors that push all the way back allow for an open office space. Tired of looking at the mess? Simply close the doors and all is tidy.


How easy are quick touch ups with the iron when the ironing board pulls out of a drawer? Great for a laundry room, but we’ve also installed this right in a kitchen. Since doing laundry is not ranked high on the list of things we’d like to be doing, a pretty laundry room helps.


Love cooking? Check out these great solutions for spices, cutting boards, knife storage and waste disposal. I especially like the way the toaster slides out from the appliance garage.




Let’s face it, televisions are just big black holes of nothingness. They never look attractive in a room. Here are two clever ideas to hide the tv when not in use.


We like the seating ideas below. They’re neat, tidy and tuck away when not in use.


There are so many automated devices on the market now that sometimes I feel a person can live their whole life through their iPhone. However, one of my favourite time saving devices are motion sensing automatic lighting. These sensors turn on lights when you enter a room and turn them off when you leave. Great for when your hands of full of laundry…or groceries…or babies… or all of the above.


As a special Mother’s Day Treat, Taegan has provided us a favourite recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes. Whether you’re cooking for Mom or having breakfast cooked for you, these are a delicious treat.



These light and fluffy lemon-poppy seed pancakes with raspberry syrup are perfect for spring and summer! They’re packed full of flavor and topped with an irresistible homemade syrup.
Author: Natalie
Yield: 16 pancakes
Recipe source: Life Made Simple and slightly adapted from Joy The Baker.
Bon Appetite!!!
If you like our blog – check us out on instagram and pinterest. We’re obsessed with interior design. If you are too, we’d love to hear from you. Share some of your time saving design solutions in the comment section below.

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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Before and After…Summer at the Lake


Summer to me means being near water. Growing up in Thunder Bay, the lake was always present. Swimming, fishing, waterskiing, tubing…it was all a part of summer. When we moved to Alberta, we’d head back to The Lakehead every summer for a few weeks. We’d move in with the grandparents and I know they loved having us, but three busy boys in the house wasn’t always easy.

Several years ago we decided that we should have our own little place. Living several provinces away, we weren’t sure how it would work out. We wanted something affordable and close to town. A property came on the market, so the grandparents and an Aunt and Uncle went to the open house. No way they said, not for us. So we kept looking on line for something else, but the location of this one and the fact that it had three bedrooms couldn’t be overlooked.

It was a handyman’s delight to say the least. But it was cute, had an indoor toilet and a great view of the Sleeping Giant. It was ours!!! We took possession in October and wanted to start getting it ready for the spring. My husband flew down to start working. We had a lot of help from the grandparents and they started the clean up.

Cabinreno5 Cabinreno6 Cabinreno4 Cabinreno3I was working from pictures as I hadn’t seen it yet, but we came up with a plan and little by little that Fall and Spring the work was done. What a treat for me when I did show up that Spring and the place was painted, new flooring installed, electrical all upgraded and bathroom in working order. All that was left was the decorating.

We choose to paint the walls a warm white to give it a summery feel. Because the place is so small, I decided against colour and kept it all in creams and neutrals. I brought in lots of texture and kept it simple and airy.


Cabinreno16   Cabinreno18   Cabinreno17








We knew right from the beginning that we wanted a window in this corner, but we choose to do the front deck first. The window was installed two summers later, and what a difference. Now the whole front looks out on the lake.






Every year we add a little more and do a few more things. The biggest change was painting the interior warm white, but it’s the little touches add the charm.









Now our place feels like home. It’s large enough to live in for a few weeks every summer. We have the best neighbours and there’s always something to do.





The boys keep busy with the important things. They love being able to spend time near the water and they have made some great friends.




Oh summer…we’re waiting for you.



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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