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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.



Creative ideas for dorm decor

Dorm Decor
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.



Lake living…a behind the scenes look

Gagnon Camp Post

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.



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.

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.
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.















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.



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.



The story of us…and a great before and after


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.



Yard Sale 101 – decorating on a budget

Summer is here and so is yard sale season. If you want a unique look and like DIY projects, then get out and start hunting. A little bit of elbow grease and creative thinking can give new life to old pieces.

When Taegan, our junior designer, was putting together her first home, she hit the thrift stores and yard sales like a crazy. With her designers flair, she was able to spot these great finds. With a little loving care, she created a beautiful home.



One of the best things about recycling older pieces is that you can put together a really creative style. Your place won’t have that ‘furnished from the big box store’ look. And the price…don’t forget that important fact. It’s a really economical way to get designer style.





Beautiful spaces don’t have to be expensive. As Taegan found out, you don’t need a sack of gold to make your space nice. We believe that everyone deserves to live in a nice space that functions well. People feel better, they’re happier, children behave better and husbands are sweeter. It’s a Karen Fron Interior Design fact.

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.



Nail the details

Nail the details

Nailhead trim on furniture is hip and funky! Hard to believe that this detail is 400 years old. It looks modern and sexy, and is showing up in lots of new applications to create bold looks.

via graham and green

The use of nailhead trim dates back to the period of 1560-1643 with the rise of French Country Style during the reign of Louis XIII.

via hickory chair

Today nailheads are paired with contemporary fabrics and bold colours for a sophisticated look.

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Both upholstery and case goods are showing off their studs these days. The formal lines of the furniture can be outlined, but we are also seeing nailheads used to create bold artistic designs.

via Horchow

Many furniture manufacturers allow customization using nailheads. As well, nailhead trim can be added as a DIY project.

via lee industries
Whatever your choice, get some nailhead in your home. It’s like jewelry for your furniture!

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


What is the right interior white?


We’re a young couple and this is our first home. We need help picking a wall colour. We were thinking white but now we’re stuck. We don’t know which white is right because we have white trim and baseboards already. Can you help us out?  signed T&D 

Such a smart couple to know that white is difficult to choose. But when done right, white is fresh and youthful. First off, there’s nothing wrong with using different shades of white in one room. It actually looks wonderful. If the baseboards and trim are a crisp white, painting the walls a lovely warm shade of white will look great. Some of my favourites are Pointing 2003 by Farrow and Ball, as well as Benjamin Moore Cloud White (CC – 40).


Another favourite white is Benjamin Moore Ballet White (OC – 9). It’s a slightly chalky greyed white. It’s never harsh and still looks clean. Judging by your floor colour, Ballet White might look good because it definitely is a deeper white.

A trick of the trade is to use a combination of glossy, flat and eggshell. If you want just a slight variance between colour, changing the finish will do that.


When doing white walls, it’s important that the white is repeated in the room. Pops of colour can still be done, but there must be a tie-in. Even if it’s just some accent pieces or cushions, you need to continue the white.

redonline  /  houzz
redonline / houzz

Don’t be afraid to do an accent wall in a colour. The accent wall above works beautifully because of the white shelves that sit on it. There’s nothing worse than having a brightly coloured wall that doesn’t relate to anything. Be wary of doing a quick fix accent wall – usually not a good idea. Always have a tie in.

bhg / petitpapier.typepad
bhg / petitpapier.typepad

Having a little contrast in a room adds style. Notice the windows above and how they provide such a punch. A touch of dark will bring a room alive.

onekinddesign   /   blueprintmodern
onekinddesign / blueprintmodern

Dark floors with white walls look amazing, especially if there are dark touches in the room. In the room on the left hand side, note the brown colour repeated in the throw, the wall sconce, the picture frame and the door rail.

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decor8blog /

The amount of light a room receives is important to consider when choosing white for the walls. If you like a crisp fresh white like the room on the right, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (OC – 117) is a great choice, especially if you are painting the window trim and baseboards the same as the walls.

lauriegrassi   /    twentythreefour
lauriegrassi / twentythreefour

Another way to add punch to a room is to highlight a door. Painting an interior door black will elevate the entire room. Matching the door to the furniture, as in the photo on the left, adds another layer of interest.



Because of the position of your fireplace and tv, you can have some fun with paint on that wall. Paint the wall a warm white, but highlight the fireplace by painting a vertical strip of black from the tv cutout, floor to ceiling. Since there is no stone or brick to give the room some strength, use paint to do it. You could use a flat black paint and that will give you some beautiful depth.



The best thing about paint is that it’s an inexpensive fun fix. Consider doing the above door a warm black (Benjamin Moore Black Beauty  2128-10) as well as the handrail. Do the handrail in a glossy black for a bit of shine. White and with a punch of black, such a classy combination.
Thanks for the before photos and your question about white. Have fun, think outside the box and always test colour on the wall. Don’t make your final decision from a 2inch paint sample. Oh and send us the after photos – would love to see how it looks.

For more information on how to choose the prefect white click here.

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.



Wallpaper is cool again

After a short hiatus, wallpaper is back in fashion. We should have seen this coming as wallpaper has a long interesting history.


In the middle ages the elite class hung tapestries on their walls. This added colour as well as much needed insulation. Less well off members of the upper-class turned to wallpaper to brighten their rooms.


Early wallpaper featured scenes similar to those depicted on tapestries. Some early wallpapers were even hung loose to mimic the look of a tapestry.


During the Protectorate, under Oliver Cromwell, the manufacture of wallpaper was seen as frivolous and was halted. Following the restoration of Charles II, the lure of wallpaper was as strong as ever and wealthy people all across England began decorating with it again.


The development of the steam-powered printing press in Britain in 1813 allowed manufacturers to mass produce wallpaper. Thus its price was reduced and wallpaper became affordable to working class people. It was a cheap effective way to brighten up cramped and dark rooms.

 William Morris was one of the most influential designers of wallpaper and fabrics during the latter half of the Victorian period. Although he believed in ‘art for all’, his wallpapers were expensive and there wasn’t much uptake. However, he has had a long lasting effect on wallpaper design and his papers continue to be popular. Charles Francis Annesley Voysey  was an Arts and Crafts architect who also designed fabrics, tiles, ceramics, and wallpapers. His style combined simplicity with sophistication. His wallpapers feature stylised bird and plant forms in bold outlines with flat colours. Many of his designs still remain in print.


During the late 1980’s, wallpaper fell out of favour in lieu of faux painting. Now we’re seeing wallpaper show up in stylish homes, often as a feature wall. The patterns are big and bold and the colour choices are simply beautiful.


Consider adding wallpaper to your home. Email me if you would like to see some of the newest and stylish patterns. Seems our love of wallpaper can only be suppressed for so long. So go ahead, enjoy this inexpensive way to bring colour, texture and pattern to your walls.

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