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

Nature Decor Post

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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Truly Canadian

To celebrate Canada’s birthday, here’s a short list of favourite Canadian decorating items.

1.  Hudson Bay Blanket

thebay.com
Hudson Bay blankets are a symbol from the beginning of our country. Originally valued for their warmth, even when wet, the Hudson Bay Blanket now holds iconic status in Canada. There’s nothing better than snuggling down deep in a bed made up with a Hudson Bay blanket.

2. Toboggans

woodlandcreekfurniture.com
todd falkowsky sled table

 

Before crazy carpets and steerable sleds, there was the toboggan. The thrill of going down the hill, made up for the chore of lugging it back to the top. Toboggans were the original mode of transporting goods for the Inuit and Cree. Today, they are not so commonly seen on the sledding hill, but have made their way into Canadian decor.

3.  Log Furniture

brentcomber.com

Whether it’s as simple as using stumps for chairs around the campfire, log furniture has been the Canadian way. It continues to be popular in fashionable interiors and Canadian designers such as Brent Comber are internationally known.

4. Canadiana

ebay.com

It’s not just moose antlers and Mounties. Canada is known for more than we give ourselves credit for. Throwing in a bit of Canadiana works for all decor styles. Repurposing bits of our heritage keeps us connected to the past and adds interest to interiors. Love this to hold books and newspapers.

5. Maple Leaf Forever

styleathome.com

If the days of hanging a Canadian flag in the window are long gone, then this patriotic cushions offers a grown up way to display your pride. The maple leaf is the quintessential Canadian symbol. Show yours with style.

Happy Birthday Canada. Cheers to living in one of the freest, happiest and welcoming places around!


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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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.

via prestigioustextiles.com

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.

via prestigioustextiles.com

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

via prestigioustextiles.com
via prestigioustextiles.com

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.

via prestigioustextiles.com

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.

via prestigioustextiles.com

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.

via prestigioustextiles.com

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.

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An old fav…Over the moon

Yesterday at the fabric showroom, I found the most amazing fabrics. My client is going for a modern British look, yet still a bit clubby and menswear inspired. These fabrics by Abraham Moon and Sons have me swooning.

moon.co.uk
moon.co.uk

Moon has been making woollen fabrics in the United Kingdom since 1837. They still use many of their old patterns from the early 1900s. Tweeds, tartans, heather colours, checks and stripes are manufactured for both fashion and home design.

moon.co.uk

The colours are muted, yet the fabrics have such depth to them. Whether it’s a large upholstered piece, draperies, or simply a few toss cushions, they’ll add quiet luxury to a room.


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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10 Questions for Karen

For this week’s post, Taegan, our junior designer, asked Karen 10 questions.
 

1. The most important element in a room

Tension. Every room needs that bit of tension so that it doesn’t read all matchy matchy. It’s putting the unexpected in a room. Combining opposites that almost clash. It could be an antique buffet in a modern space or a pop of raspberry in a monochromatic room. The trick is making it look unified while still giving off tension.


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2. Best way to make a room feel more spacious

Clear out the clutter. I hate clutter…it ruins everything. Baskets are my favourite way to control clutter.  Ask yourself how much stuff you really need around.

 

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3. Favourite paint colour
Right now it’s not so much a specific colour I’m loving, but more a mood. I’m liking the warm grey’s. They’re clean, fresh, yet not cold. These always depend on the light in a space.
 

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4. Favourite tile

Classic tiles never get old for me. 1. 3×6 white subway, 2. 1 or 2 inch Hexagon3.  Basketweave 4. Penny Round (photo: lifeingrace blog) and anything out of 5. Carrera Marble.

 

May 4th- 10 Questions5

5. Design rule
I have so many rules…and then I go and break them all. But I guess my absolute rule is only have what you love. When you really love something, it always looks good. And buy quality…quality never goes out of style.

 

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6. Design pet peeve
When people don’t put any effort into making their homes look nice. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to create a beautiful space. It does take some effort, but it’s time well spent.
 
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7. Favourite lighting tip
Bright overhead lighting creates no ambiance – there should be a dimmer switch on every light in the house. Put the foyer lamp on a timer so that there’s always a welcoming light when coming home.

 

May 4th- 10 Questions7
May 4th- 10 Questions6

8. Best DIY project
Rehang your art. Group it gallery style and hang it lower than you think you need to. Also a little piece of surprise art makes such a statement. Hang a small piece under a window, or just above a console table as part of a grouping. Small walls look great with art hung vertically.

 

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May 4th- 10 Questions8

9. Best use of $500
New cushions. Period. Nothing updates and refreshes a room like new cushions do. Custom cushions in luscious fabrics add luxury and make a big impact.

 

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10. Most common mistake people make
Well I think there’s two big mistakes people often make. Number one is thinking that hiring a designer is a luxury. Anyone who’s ever chosen the wrong tile, counter, paint colour or sofa knows that choosing right the first time saves money. Second common mistake is pushing all the furniture up against the walls. And not having a focal point in the room. Every room needs a focal point. Technically that’s three, but they’re common ones.


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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Quote Round Up & Instagram Love

If you’re not on instagram already, download the fancy app here. You won’t regret it!

Why we love the insta –
1. It’s just that! Insta! Instant, quick, and easy to use.
2. Instagram is perfect for visual people like designers and artists because it’s similar to Facebook but with no silly posts, less words, and ALL images.
3. Thanks to those fab filters, everything looks beautiful. And who doesn’t like to scroll through some gorgeous snap shots while you’re waiting at the doc office or lounging around on your lazy sunday?

Don’t forget to FOLLOW us so you can keep up to date on our quotes and stunning snap shots.


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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Is your home set up for calm?

If you hadn’t noticed, it’s a crazy world out there.

www.woldcnews.com

Rush hour traffic, demanding jobs, child and elder care, combined with higher and higher expectations to do everything perfectly…whew…it’s exhausting. Not to mention overstimulating. It seems everyone wants to de-stress, go slow and calm down. Diet, exercise, spiritualism, these are all important…but the most important to me  is ‘home’.

houseplansandmore.com
Think about what the idea of home means to you –  a safe haven, a calm retreat, a place with love and laughter? Does your home provide you with this? The difference between a house and a home is vast.

feefeern.blogspot.com
Home has cozy chairs, books, good food and contains our favourite things. A house is basically just a dwelling. Anyone can live in a house, but making a home takes a bit of work.
indulgy.com

If the place where you live doesn’t make you feel good, then you are missing out. Crafting a home that reflects who you are and how you live is so worth the effort, especially in today’s crazy busy world. As Dorothy says, “there’s no place like home”.


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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Can a chicken coop be a home?

Fred van Zuiden was a nine year old boy when his homeland of Holland was invaded by the Germans. The year was 1940, and during the two years that followed, he endured worsening conditions. Eventually Fred left his family and went into hiding. In his book, Call Me Mom, Fred recounts his experiences of finding safety in twenty-six different places.

Fred van Zuiden

During the winter months, our family reads novels aloud. Fred’s book was on our reading list last winter. It affected us deeply, and like any good book, we were saddened when the last page was turned. After some lively discussions about Fred, we decided we had to meet our new hero. On a cold day in March, we headed out to our local Chapters and met with Fred and his wife.

the boys meet Fred

Fred’s unsentimental writing style allows for the horrors he experienced to speak for themselves. Although he writes about the worst of human nature, he also tells about  average people that stood up for what is just. This is why my seven year old was able to enjoy the book along with the rest of us.

When the same novel is shared amongst a family, it’s always interesting to see what resonates with each. What spoke to my children was the bullying that Fred went through. My husband enjoyed the chapters on the planes bound for Arnhem. For me, it was about the places Fred lived, and the idea of what makes a home.

Moving twenty-six times in the years between 1942 and 1945, Fred stayed in many places. Sometimes he was living with families and sometimes his dwelling places were a little more creative. From the end of summer 1943 to mid-January 1944, Fred stayed at the Poultry Palace. Upon seeing his new home, Fred commented,

“The old ramshackle building had probably been built as a shed. There was not a grain of paint left on it and the wood had weathered badly. The structure looked as though it was about to fall apart. I rationalized it would make a good hiding spot. After all, who would think humans could live in there?”

When Fred knocked on the door, he was greeted by a father who was about forty and his thirteen year old son. They spoke in whispers and their constant quest was to make sure their new home always looked like a chicken coop. They had a few crates to sit on and a rough wooden bed frame covered in straw, which they shared with the chickens. Fred’s world now consisted of this six by fourteen shack, two strangers and chickens.

similar to Fred’s home

Although danger and lack of food were constants, Fred says there were many sweet times. They followed daily routines, kept themselves as clean as could be, and concentrated on treating each other with goodwill and civility. Joking, reading, writing and celebrating holidays and occasions filled their day. In such despicable conditions, these human beings lived life.

Upon meeting Fred, I was intrigued with how normal he was. As if he would be anything but normal…yet I kept looking at him thinking about his young self, living in a chicken coop, or sleeping in an underground dugout. For somebody that lived through such horrors, he wanted to talk about sailing, skiing and share a good laugh. I asked him about living in the chicken coop and he said that he concentrated on making the best of things.

Fred van Zuiden

On this day of remembrance, I pause to think of the sacrifices so many made. We of the 3,000 square foot homes, iPads, electric heat and grocery superstores can hardly relate. Yet I think of Fred’s words, ‘concentrate on making the best of things’. Let us today find joy in simple pleasures and give gratitude for what we have.

If you want to meet Fred, check out his website www.callmemom.ca where he lists his book signing schedule for the Calgary area. And yes, I believe a chicken coop can be a home if those living in it have hope and faith and gratitude.

 


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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Let it snow….

As the snow pours down in Calgary, I feel so lucky to have chosen today to work at home. With the fire going it’s so cozy in the family room. If your place isn’t feeling warm, cozy and safe, try adding in some new toss cushions. Honestly! Whether they’re custom fabric or Home Sense, new cushions add so much to a room. A nice throw helps too…and maybe a new lamp…

 

ralph lauren fabric wallcovering

 

zoffany.com

Surround yourself with what you love. Colour is so very important, but so are textures. During the winter months it’s nice to be surrounded by velvets, wools, chenilles and cable knits. It’s all about the warm and fuzzies.


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.