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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.





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.



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.



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.



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.



Our 10 step process for kitchen selections

Lately we’ve been doing a lot of kitchen renovations. We usually spend a fair amount of time with our client figuring out their needs, how they use the space, and what they want out of their kitchen. All these things are important and these details matter a lot. It’s really satisfying to design a kitchen that works for each homeowner. Yet my very favourite part is coming up with the look of the kitchen and selecting the finishes.







So many people freeze up when they are faced with choices of cabinets, counter, backsplash tile and paint colour. Then of course there are all the little details like door profile, hardware, faucet and lighting.






It might sound daunting, but there is a method to this madness. I’ve come up with 10 steps to help make the process easier.




1. Collect pictures of kitchens that you love. Take advantage of Houzz, Pinterest and all the magazines online. Or simply start tearing up magazines, and don’t think too much. Just collect images. You’ll start to see repeats of certain features and styles that attract you. We have a great Pinterest page here that you can follow for inspiration.



2. Analyze what it is you like – white cabinets, dark floors, open shelving. Make a love it list of everything you’re attracted to. Write it down or make a collage…actually have something you can refer back to.






3. Pick, yes this is going to be hard, pick the one thing you love the most. Yup, the ONE thing you want more than anything. This is your starting point.




4. Repeat after me - You Can’t Pick Everything That You Love. Yes, you read that right. Picking selections is about designing the room, and that means choosing things that go together. There has to be harmony and balance. Of course you want to choose what you like, but it has to be carefully curated and not based on infatuation.






5.Remember - there can only be one star in each room. Meaning, if you want a very busy counter, then the cabinets, backsplash and lighting should all defer to the counter.




6. Be very very careful once you start shopping for selections. Too many times I’ve seen homeowners go into the lighting store and pick the prettiest light, then to the tile shop and choose their favourite tile and do the same with counters and cabinet profiles. This is how you end up with a hot mess. If you enter the stores without a firm idea of what you want, then it’s too tempting to pick what you like the best – not necessarily what goes the best.




7. Keep going back to what you identified as your must have. If it’s all about the backsplash tile, then plot, plan and research what will enhance that tile the best. This is the time you can go back to your list of what you like. You can start adding some of  these items only if they enhance the overall look.




8. Learn about undertones and realize that there is no room for error when doing selections. If your counter has a green grey undertone, then you can’t pick a backsplash with a violet grey undertone. It will look awful. All the undertones must co-ordinate. Don’t know what an undertone is? We have lots of tips and tricks here.




9. Throw in the one wow factor. What is it that will make your kitchen unique? I like to always do something that sets each kitchen apart, something that stands out.




10. Realize that you are spending a lot of money on your new kitchen. If you are unsure about layout and selections, then it’s time to call in a professional.  Paying for a few hours of design time will seem like a small investment, as opposed to a costly counter or tile mistake.

There are all kinds of statistics that prove that investing in a kitchen reno gives you the best return on your money. Because we’re mothers, Debbie and I know that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend good times eating and laughing, where important conversations take place while preparing meals. Snacks are eaten while the school and work day get discussed, and most importantly, problems are solved over a nice cup of tea.

If you want to update your kitchen, give us a call. We’re happy to 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.



Dreaming of Spring…a peek at my little cottage garden


Happy Happy Spring!! It’s awesome that spring has arrived – well, on the calendar at least. For most of us in Canada it’s still winter and will be for a few more months. Unless of course you live in Vancouver and post pictures of the cherry blossoms…right Aunt Bev??!!

At least it’s March and that means that the days are getting longer. We’ve had a great winter in Calgary, but I can’t stop thinking about spring, summer and gardening. We have a little cottage (or camp, if you’re from Northwestern Ontario) and I love to putter in the garden. When we purchased the camp several years ago, it didn’t have any gardens or even a deck out front.




Each year we added a few gardens, planted some trees and put in a deck. We started small, but even a few plants made such a difference. The boys like having a little garden with some herbs, lettuce, and onions. We use our outdoor space all the time and love watching the bees and hummingbirds enjoy the flowers. Each year we add a few more plants and dig up a little bit more of the yard!


















If you’re like me and just can’t wait for gardens full of flowers, then you might just want to add some florals to your home and wardrobe. Last week I was at The Bay and saw so many pretty floral home accessories. Bluebellegray, an exciting young textile company from Scotland, has arrived and the bedding and furniture are gorgeous. Over in the China Department, there were beautiful floral dishes by Villeroy & Boch.


And I’ll be chasing away the winter blues by dressing in pretty florals. Everything from blazers and pants to shoes and purses are bursting with blooms. I really like the floral top below.



It looks like it’s going to be the year of pretty. I like it!! So there you have it, we don’t just have to dream of blooms, we can live with them everyday.

Enjoy the week and start planning those great outdoor spaces. Can’t wait until we can start living outside again. And I can’t wait to plant a few more blooms in my gardens.


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.



Why Using Classic Elements is so Important


Whenever we do a kitchen reno, we try to give our clients a design that will last for many years. We stay away from any finishes that are too trendy, because that will really date the kitchen. Same with bathrooms. Renovations are a lot of work, inconvenience and expense. Our job is to make sure it looks great for more than a few years. And we never want anyone to be able to say, ‘that kitchen was done in 2014-2015′ because of a backsplash tile we chose.

Take a look at the kitchen below. It was designed by Tommy Smythe. It’s hard to tell exactly what year it was completed in.


Believe it or not, this kitchen appeared in House and Home magazine in 2005. Ten years later, it’s still awesome. Tommy’s use of classic elements makes him one of my favourite designers. His work is timeless because it’s classic with a twist.

Notice how he uses a simple dark floor tile, but lays it in a herringbone pattern. The backsplash is a classic Carrera marble. The overhead light is an exaggerated lantern. Strong, pleasing elements, that never look tired.

It’s easy to get caught up in trends. When everybody’s gushing about the latest trend in flooring, or tile, or counter tops, think long and hard about choosing that finish. It’s always best to go classic.

I like to collect pictures for inspiration boards that feature classic design. The game is, are these interiors new or from years ago? Good design should last…and whether 10, 40 or 100 years old, the inspiration pics below show beautiful design.










I hope these pictures inspire you not to go chasing trends, but to look to the past for inspiration. Use classic elements for design that will last. Of course you can shake it up a little – throw in a twist for fun. Life’s too short not to have some fun!

As a tip of the hat to St. Paddy’s Day, next week we’ll be taking a look at the colour green. Have a great week.

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.



Why You Need to Decorate for Your 5 Senses


After a long day out, it’s so nice to come home, kick back and unwind.  There’s nothing better then walking through the door and getting that deep down feeling in your tummy that says, ‘all is well’.  When someone tells me that their house doesn’t make them feel good, that’s when I say we need a design intervention.

Too many times we think it has to be the latest style or the most up-to-date appliances, when really,  it’s more basic than that. We crave certain comforts and they’re tied in to our senses. We react on a very deep level, often without even being consciously aware.




To make your house an inviting place that you want to come home to, we recommend you decorate with the five senses in mind.

Sight: Okay this is a big one, but let’s break it down to the basics. Our eyes see so many images that our home should provide a peaceful respite. Start with  lighting. Get as much daylight going as you can. When evening comes, skip the overheads and keep light soft and tranquil with lamps.

Personalize your space with meaningful objects, such as photos, trip mementos and family heirlooms. Not only are these pretty to look at, they evoke emotions of happy times.

Bring in colour that makes you feel calm and content. Don’t worry about the trends or the colour of the year. Not much good using these colours if they make you feel edgy. Choose colours that make you feel happy and make sure everyone gets to pick their bedroom colour.

Hearing: What sounds make you feel good? Soft music, no music, the washing machine going. My father-in-law loved the chime of clocks and he said it always made him feel safe and cozy. Think about the sounds you surround yourself with.

Smell: Lilacs, a newborn baby, basil, evergreens, apple pie cooking…Smell is so incredibly important, yet it is so overlooked as a decorating essential. Create atmosphere by adding scents to your home. Be careful though, using too much fragrance is simply gross. Do it naturally and in small doses.

Touch: Ask anyone who’s ever worn a scratchy shirt or had a tag rubbing how uncomfortable the wrong fabric can be. Comfort very much depends on the feel of things. Make sure your home has comfortable seating, fluffy pillows, good blankets, and cozy places to curl up in.

Taste: The kitchen is the traditional hearth of the family. A place where we feed and care of our families. Nothing makes a home more comforting than knowing that it’s full of delicious food and wonderful treats. It’s an important skill to be able to look at a pantry full of staples and know how to whip up a batch of scones, make a mac and cheese from scratch, or follow an easy recipe for molten chocolate lava cakes. Teach everyone in your family how to make a few signature dishes. Even young children should be given the opportunity to feel the pride that comes from feeding others.

Keep the pantry cupboard looking neat and tidy. Organize it so it functions well and looks pretty. Every time someone opens the door and sees the bounty, they’ll feel content and safe.





Rooms that satisfy our senses inspire feelings of comfort, joy and security. In my mind, this is essential for wellbeing. My middle son, he’s the artsy one, gave me the best compliment last week. We were back and forth on the idea of going away for Family Day Weekend, and finally I decided that maybe we should just stay put as we have been rushing around like crazys. I thought the kids might be a little disappointed, but middle boy looked at me with puzzle on his face and said, ‘Mom, you’ve set up the house so nice, it has everything we need. Why would we want to go someplace else?”.



Enjoy the holiday weekend… and most importantly, enjoy your home. If you’re not feeling the love, give us a call. Together, we can make your home a place that 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.



To Reno or Not to Reno


Last week we had you tag along on a day at work with us.  We were out to Priddis and Lake Bonavista to check on the progress of the construction work. Some of the pictures showed some major construction going on.



Often we get called in to help decide whether to do a major renovation or to do a smaller facelift. We don’t sugarcoat it. No matter how great the end result, going through a reno is always a lot more work and mess than ever planned. Daily life is disrupted and countless decisions have to be made.



In order to make the decision to reno or not, it’s important to know the answers to three key questions.

1. Are you planning to stay in the home? If there is a possibility of a move in the next few years, then the reno needs to reflect this. Now is not the time to make two bedrooms into one, or to put in lime green kitchen cabinets. Think in terms of updates that will please potential buyers. Sometimes even a fresh coat of paint will give enough of a lift.


2. Will the rest of the house fit the new look? It’s important to make sure there is flow throughout the entire home. An ultra modern      industrial looking kitchen won’t suit a 1960′s bungalow if that’s the only room being updated. Make sure the budget is enough to facelift the main living spaces in order to create unity.



3. The last question, and the one that needs the most reflection is, does this renovation enhance your lifestyle?  Function must always come first. As designers, it’s our job to not only make your new place beautiful, but to make it function well so life is better. Spending time and money to put in new wider baseboards is a nice idea, but maybe the money can be better spent to make a larger mudroom.



It’s important to think about how you want your home to feel and function. If doing major renovations doesn’t appeal at this time, there are a lot of tricks that can be done with paint, furniture placement and some great colourful accessories.

However, going through a little pain in the short-term will bring about some spectacular long term results.





It’s kind of like having a baby. Once that beautiful new space is yours, and you see how gorgeous it is, the memory of the discomfort fades and you can’t imagine life without it!

Have a great week and a Happy Valentine’s Day. Give yourself a little Valentine’s Day treat and sign up for our blog. Every  Tuesday you’ll have an email directly from us. It’s like getting a wee present every week.

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.