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Mixing High & Low…we share our secrets

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Somehow we’ve been program to think that something nice has to cost a lot of money. While it’s true that quality does cost money, not everything in a beautiful room has to be best quality. We like to mix it up and combine quality new items with vintage pieces along with our favourite budget finds. The trick is to have a mix of items. We’re certainly not above shopping at Target, Bouclair Home or Ikea. They all have some great pieces. Our rule of thumb is, it’s important to have quality for pieces that get used all the time…for the others, maybe this is where you can save a little.

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One area where I never scrimp is cushions. Having a few luxurious cushions in a room sets the tone. When doing a grouping, there’s always the one or two cushions that are the stars and the others that are the worker cushions. For one client, we had two custom cushions made and the cost was just under four hundred dollars. Since we blew the budget on those, the rest came from Target and Ikea for twenty dollars each. Now we were back on budget and the entire grouping looked fab. Those two cushions made the room and tied it all together. Moral of the design story – look at your budget as a whole. Don’t get too caught up on the price of one or two items as long as the entire project stays on budget.

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Every home needs original artwork. It adds class and keeps a space original. I encourage clients to slowly build a collection and only have original pieces on the wall. Before you start thinking that it’s just out of the budget, consider some of these options. Check out yard sales and goodwill stores. You’d be surprised at the amount of original art you can pick up for a good price. Go to smaller art shows and support hobby painters and artists just starting out. Frame your children’s artwork – it really does look great. If custom framing is not an option, then use frames from Ikea. They’re simple and have lots of white matting that shows the art off beautifully.

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Sometimes a room really does need an entire redo, but it’s just not an option at the time. One way to elevate the entire look is with wallpaper. It adds texture, colour, movement and instantly brings a sophistication. It takes the eye right away from a not so new carpet, makes an older sofa look stylish and will help blend some mismatched pieces.

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Accent pieces make a room. They tell the story of the people that live there. But it’s important they have a curated look. These pieces need to look like they were collected over time. This is where splurge/save is most important. In every room there’s a spot where the eye is automatically drawn too – a large coffee table, the end of an island, a fireplace mantle. Put your best items there. Something unique, handcrafted or an heirloom piece. And we’re not saying it has to be your heirloom either – that’s what antique and thrift stores are for. Just make sure that it’s quality. Then all your accent pieces look good.

One last piece of advice for mixing high and low. Certain stores have signature pieces – those Ikea pieces that we all know are from Ikea, and likewise Bouclair and Target…don’t get those pieces. They’re too easily identifiable. The fun with mixing high and low is that it shouldn’t be easily recognizable.

I leave you with some of our projects where we’ve mixed it up. As you can see from these rooms, scale, proportion, balance, colour, texture and harmony are what make them beautiful.

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

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

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Before & After…Personalizing a New Home

New homes are lovely. They’re modern, clean, and everything works. The downside is that new homes don’t have a lot of personality. We think it’s a good idea to move in, live in the space for a while, and then figure out how to make it your own. That however, can be the tricky part. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what we want and what we really like.

We received a call from a lovely young couple who wanted some help with their space. They are a couple that appreciates quality and likes traditional elegance. That’s where they stalled out. They knew that they wanted it to be more on the formal side, yet it had to be youthful.

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An important part of the design process is to evaluate how space in a home is used. It was determined that the main space was mostly used for cooking, eating and small group entertaining. They have a wonderfully relaxing space on the upper level and a great casual entertaining space in the basement, which is bright and airy. We suggested the piano be moved to the main level so that it would be easily accessible.

Tony + Sharon 2The upper living space was made into a cozy reading and television watching area. The grey area rug was  originally on the main floor, but we thought it would be better laid on top of the beige wall to wall carpeting. Having layers creates visual interest and gives a space coziness.

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Every space needs that mix of pretty and rough. Formal draperies add elegance, and we added in some organic and whimsical pieces. The eating area seemed to call out for a sparkly light fixture. We felt  the tear drop fixture kept it airy and glitzy, yet in a very modern way. The pewter finish of the bird lamp is classic, but the little bird is that unexpected treat. An organic element is brought in with the rough wood table and the faux fur throw.

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The basement area will be mostly used for gatherings of friends or quiet at home weekends. To give this space a focal point, we suggested hanging some Ikea cabinets. The wall was painted a brown colour to match and the result is stunning. It looks like built-ins and gives the room some strength and purpose. There’s nothing worse then a tv just floating in a space. The two sofas were older ones from a before-marriage apartment, but they look great down here all dressed up with cushions and throws. We have saved many sofas by loading it up with cushions. Again we threw down an area rug on top of the wall to wall carpet, as this takes the eye away from the not-so-new furniture. Now the space functions as a cozy sitting/tv area and the back half for games and food serving.

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Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the function and design of your own space. You know what you want, but it is difficult to bring it all together and create a home that really reflects how you live. That’s when it’s important to call in a designer. A good designer will asses how you use the space, listen to what you want, read between the lines, and create a look that functions for the way you live, while making it look beautiful.

Have a nice week. As evening settles in early now,  dim the lights, light some candles, and enjoy the warmth and coziness of your 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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From Dark to Light…A Before and After

What do you do when you find a home that’s the perfect size, on a perfect street, with a large yard, but not so perfect inside? You buy it anyways, and overtime, make it beautiful. This week we’re going to show you how one of our clients did just that.

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The home may have been outdated, but it was well kept and well built. Basically the layout worked for the couple and their two young daughters. The biggest issue for this young family was how dark everything was. It made the home look dreary. First thing they did was paint everything a beautiful warm white, and put a warm greige on the walls. They knew they wanted a brand new kitchen, so for a while they made do, and waited until they could get what they wanted. As the before and after pictures show, you’ll see how their home went from dark to light, and how pretty it turned out.

This is the Before…

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And this is the Beautiful After…

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Susanmore21Unlike an HGTV redo, this reno did not take a mere few weeks. This labour of love took about four years, as the homeowners wanted to do a lot of the work themselves. We were called in at the beginning and together we made a plan for the space. Little by little, the work was completed, and each phase brought the home closer to the final look. Last month we came in for a final styling day. Although there’s still window coverings and a few little touches to add, this home has emerged from the darkness. It’s a wonderful space full of light and laughter.


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 Create a Classic Nursery

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We love babies. And we love children. We love the good things like little toes, cooing noises and that sweet after bath delicious smell. We also appreciate the hard times. Those moments that aren’t easy but are important learning lessons for child and parent. One thing we learned along the way is that kids are smart. And really creative. And they will rise up to meet expectations.

What’s this got to do with decorating a nursery you say? A lot actually. We believe that a nursery shouldn’t be too babyish. That’s right – a baby’s room shouldn’t be too babyish. It should be sweet, and clever, and inspiring. It also shouldn’t have to be redone in a year or two when baby becomes toddler and then little person. That’s just a waste of money. We all know that Karen Fron Interior Design hates to waste money. Spend it on quality – yes. Save it where you can – double yes.

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We were lucky to work with a couple who shared our philosophy. This is their first child so they wanted a room that would suit a girl or a boy, and could either grow with this child or maybe be used for baby #2. They wanted a few quality pieces, and were fine with mixing the high and low.

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We found a beautiful persian rug and that was the inspiration for the room. This is a piece that will last for a lifetime. A good investment for sure. It is classic and edgy at the same time.

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Next came the wallpaper. We loved the black and white trees for the possibilities it offered. It’s an enchanted forest where the princess lives…it’s the secret passage way to find the Wild Things. It’s child-like and grown up at the same time. Creative types can even take a cue from the papers above and create decals to personalize their paper.

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The happy parents-to-be wanted a rocking chair in the room. We chose this custom made rocker in a soft cozy fabric. This was another investment piece. Eventually it will be used in the tv room to replace one of the chairs there. That’s what happens when you buy quality and have a long term plan. Maybe you put out a little more up front, but you get your money’s worth in the long term. Plus it’s pretty great looking and so comfortable. Wonder if daddy or baby will fall asleep first?

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It was time for art. It had to be cute, clever and not a Disney commercial. There’s nothing wrong with classic Disney but I have a real problem with making children’s rooms into an advertisement for the latest animated movie. Yuck. Kids deserve more breathing and thinking space than that.

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Accent pieces were added, feather-filled cushions that will be tossed on the floor,  jumped on and used for forts. A toy chest for secret treasures and a basket; great for the those quick toss-it-in-the-basket clean-ups.

 

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Walls were painted a warm white to match the wallpaper. The space is calm and soothing, yet has lots of interest. A few red accents pick up on the persian rug and provide a bit of colour.

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No nursery would be complete without books. If you want to raise a reader, then books need to be around and easily accessible. Own the classics and go to the library for the rest. Once baby is a little older, keep baskets of books in every room and reading together every day will be easy.

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We’re excited for baby to see their space. We send out best wishes to this couple as they enter the world of parenthood. Years ago when my first son was born, someone wrote this quote in my card…I don’t know the author, but I want to leave you with these beautiful words,

Childhood is the world where ‘make-believe’ lives and dreams can be kept in a jar;

where time falls asleep to carousel music and lullabies drift down a moonlit sea.

Walk, don’t run, through this magical place, for in the blink of an eye and without a sound,

it will disappear into the years.

Take from its’ joy and welcome to its’ wonder, wee one.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me. Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty. Subscribe1

 

 

 

 

 

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Lake living…a behind the scenes look

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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The story of us…and a great before and after

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

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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.

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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.
 
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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 / planette-deco.fr

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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An old fav…Small kitchens with big style

An old fav…Small kitchens with big style

We’re programmed to think bigger is better. This isn’t always the case when it comes to design. Often what happens with bigger is the details get overlooked.

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This small kitchen is designed for function. It has everything that a kitchen needs, as well as beautiful details.

via dwell.com

When designing a smaller space, every inch counts. Nothing is by chance.

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“The details are not the details. They make the design.”
Charles Eames

Good words to remember.

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

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Making an outdoor living room

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Back in the 60’s and early 70’s, it was high style to have a picnic table in the backyard. On warm summer days, kids would run under the sprinkler waiting for their dads to come home and barbecue. The coals were lit and burning nicely, and the picnic table was set with a plastic tablecloth and brightly coloured tupperware containers. If it was a party, out would come the aluminum webbed lawn chairs.

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Wow – have we come a long way. Today we look at our outdoor space as another living area. What fun it is to be outside after a long winter. Whether it’s dining or relaxing or even working on the computer, outdoor living spaces are getting a lot of use. Who doesn’t dream of a backyard cozy enough to relax in, yet beautiful enough to entertain in.

With so many stores offering items for outdoor spaces, there’s something for every budget. A mix of high and low will stretch the dollars. Don’t skimp on the accessories though, that’s what will make your outdoor room unique.

Here are five must haves for a gorgeous outdoor space.

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Large Furniture Pieces
I’m all about the soft seating and not so much about dining sets. If you must have an eating table, mix and match table and chairs.

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Outdoor Area Rug
Putting a rug on your deck or patio automatically elevates it to living room status. Choose something graphic and colourful. Whether it’s from Crate and Barrel or Walmart, get a rug.

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Lots of Cushions and Other Accessories
If you read this blog, you know I’m a cushion lover. Load up your wicker settee with cushions and you immediately have ‘a look’. Now throw in an oversize wicker basket ( to hold shoes, books, games and more), a ceramic spool, wooden stumps for a coffee table and it’s high style all the way.

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Planters and Container Gardens
The joy of being outside is to be surrounded by nature, and to interact with nature. Plant up some large pots with flowers that the hummingbirds like and you’ll be visited all summer. It’s also important to me to have container gardens of herbs, tomatoes, green onions and leaf lettuce. Even a small outdoor space needs some potted herbs.

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Mood Lighting
There’s nothing nicer than sitting outside while the evening settles in. Lighting gives off a cozy ambience and adds so much to a space. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even plugged in. Solar lights are awesome. I have taken the ones that are suppose to be stuck in the ground, cut the stakes off them and used them in place of candles. Plus they shine even on the nights we’re not sitting outside.

The whole point of summer is to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. There’s nothing like feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and listening to the birds chirping. Cheers to the warm weather.


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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