Canadian Geography Lessons

We are not ashamed to wave the Canadian flag — especially when it come to bragging about our favourite illustrators and designers. And because our October issue of Covet Garden features the home of homegrown design boosters Shaun Moore and Todd Caldwell, we thought it fitting to highlight great pieces that reference maps, geography and a sense of place. And you don't have to be Canadian to love these objects.

Like this silk pocket square designed by the illustrator Gary Taxali for Harry Rosen. There five different designs (Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Canada) and they will be availble in store and online November 2nd. Taxali will be at the Bloor Street store in T.O. tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to sign your scarf.

Canada is a big country and we love mapping all the places we've been too. One day, we will further commemorate our travels to the middle of the country with Gus Modern's Prairie accent tables.

The land gives back to us in so many ways. Toronto-based textile designer Bev Hisey honours our freshwater lakes and rivers ) and comments on the commodification of water) with Blue Gold, a carpet in which of the rivers, tributaries and the great lakes are marked out in hand-knotted in gold silk.

And finally, a sneak peek at an upcoming collaboration between celebrated Canadian Artist Charles Pachter and iconic Canadian retailer The Hudson's Bay Company. There are a whole series of goodies depicting the marriage of Pachter's signature moose standing in front of a landscape composed the Bay's iconic Queen Anne's Stripe. This cushion is our favourite.


Meet NewberrySykes: Our Blogpodium Etsy Contest Winners

In September, Covet Garden partnered with BlogPodium and Etsy Canada for the Feature Your Favourites promotion. One lucky winner was chosen to be featured as a guest curator in a dedicated Etsy Canada newsletter and to be profiled on the Covet Garden newsletter on the Covet Garden blog. Today we’re happy to announce the winner of that promotion:

If you haven’t discovered this blog, it is a fantastic resource of all things design. The site is the creation of Meredith Newberry and Susan Sykes, two Ottawa-based bloggers and longtime friends who decided to band together to share decorating trends, design lessons, house tours, shopping tips, personal projects and other décor inspiration. 

We love it because it is a solid design resource — three posts in and I was already planning a drive up to our Nation’s capitol to buy the steel wall tiles that Meredith discovered at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We also love the NewberrySykes’ voice. Sue and Meredith love to share their own design adventures and support Ottawa’s creative community. 

[Sue's living room makeover.]

To illustrate how charming NewberrySykes is, we asked Meredith and Sue to give us some background on how the blog came to be.

How did you both meet?

We met working in the public relations department at Corel (the software, not the dishes!) during the technology boom. It was an amazing experience where we learned so much, and of course met each other. We'd like to say that it was a sweet little story about how we met, but unfortunately the first memory we have of each other was probably when Meredith got food poisoning in Boston on her first work trip. Sue had to take all her meetings while simultaneously running back to the hotel with Gravol and bottled water. Meredith won't eat scallops anymore. Sue always packs Gravol when they go out.

When did you decide to start blogging?

We started blogging together when we realized we could actually legitimize our magazine buying, Pinning, blog reading, window-shopping and MLS lurking tendencies by throwing our own thoughts into the mix. We're both writers at heart and crazy about interesting, creative and beautiful homes. Sue was finishing up a Residential Decor program at Algonquin College and had some great projects that would be perfect to share. Meredith was into her second year as a stay-at-home-mom and needed an outlet for some creativity that didn't involve finger painting and Cheerios. Ottawa is such a great city to live in, but with only a handful of design-related blogs we thought there was room to help inspire other Ottawa residents with our ideas and highlight some fabulous Ottawa homes and style.

We love following your own home renovation projects. What is your number one tip for anybody who is starting a project with an empty room?

Right now Meredith's in the middle of a kitchen reno that started because of a mouse in her cupboard, a wall that bothered her and a husband who thought taking down a wall could be a fun project. So her biggest advice is PLAN, don't just jump into the middle of something without knowing what the final goal is.

Sue very wisely says to everyone with an empty room, be patient! There is no magic design wand to instantly create the perfect room. Seek inspiration and create a plan, but let it evolve over time.

Why do you think you became design junkies?

Mere: I have been reading design magazines since I was a kid. My mom stacked up back issues of Canadian Select Home [now known as Style at Home] everywhere around the house and I started reading them with her. But I think design junkie status really hit a high note when I was able to redecorate my own room when I was in grade six: pink heart wallpaper all around and a modern grey waterbed with matching furniture. I really was the envy of all my friends and I think maybe that excitement over showing off our handiwork is what gave me the bug. But thankfully I no longer decorate rooms around a waterbed.

Sue: I think a love of design and beautiful spaces comes naturally to us creative types. I've always been happiest when I'm using the right side of my brain! Moving furniture around is fun too.

To see what like Meredith and Sue are like in person, check out their video application to become part of the Para Paints Blog Crew 2014 on YouTube.


Fall Reading List

It’s a was a rainy day in Toronto yesterday and this morning it is really starting to feel like fall is settling in. At least that will be our excuse for staying snuggled under the covers with a few good books this weekend. Here’s our reading list:

As typography and design nerds, we were big fans of Vancouver-based designer Marian Bantjes’ first book, I Wonder. Her new tome, Pretty Pictures, is a monograph of her collected works but it is much more than a catalogue—it also provides a peek at Bantjes’ process with sketches, rejected concepts and her thoughts on each project. Plus, the book itself is a beautiful object.

As furniture nerds,  we can’t get enough of the work of British industrial designer Tom Dixon. The new book, Tom Dixon: Dixonary, collects the self-taught designer’s ouevre in one book, with hundreds of illustrations as well as his personal insights on inspiration. Dixonary is, in his own words words, “a simple picture book with short ‘stories’ attached.”

And as building nerds, we’ve been waiting for the perfect rainy weekend to get lost in Montreal architect Phyllis Lambert’s Building a Seagram, a memoir of the building of Mies van der Rohe and and Philip Johnson’s great modernist skyscraper, New York’s Seagram Building. The daughter of Samuel Bronfman, then head of the Seagram Distillery empire, Lambert was charged with finding an architect to design the family flagship. The book is full of  architecture and art world gossip with just enough scholarly detail to make it a not-so-guilty pleasure.


Warm and Fuzzy Etsy Finds

Felt cloud coaster set from pygmycloud.

There’s definitely a nip in the air this week. It’s a good thing the Covet Garden loves Fall — a drop in temperature gives us an excuse to prowl through the shops of Etsy looking for handmade and vintage items we can really cozy up too.

Since we spend so much time on Etsy, we are pleased as punch to be partnering with them for our first foray into an affiliate program. In a nutshell, when you, our reader, click on a link and make a purchase, we get a small commission on that sale. It’s a great way to shine a spotlight on the independent maker/shop owner community and to generate some income for the blog (which helps us bring it to you for free).

Today we jump in by sharing some wild and wooly, cool weather finds. We’ve assembled a few themed collections already and you can check them out in My Favourites gallery here. Or click the My Favourites button on the sidebar our blog (if you don't want to use my affiliate links, you can open a new browser and type in the url).

Felted polka dot slippers from Aurelia Felt Studio.

Girl's jacket from littletreekids.

Colour block geometric flat woven rug from Kitty and Pearl.

The Sarah Slouchy Cable Knit Hat from NoliePolieOlies.


People In Your Neighbourhood: Made


The current issue of Covet Garden takes you on a tour Shaun and Todd's very cool Cabbagetown home. Many of the furnishings in the house come from the same designers featured in Shaun's Dundas West store, Made. While we were there shooting the space for the issue, we also noted some of our favourite pieces in the shop — like the digital print of an original photo/painting by Christina Zeidler pictured above. 

Made, which is owned by Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson, is dedicated to showcasing the work of Canadian designers and craftspeople. You can find things small (such as the ceramic  "Pentakis Vessels" by Kristen Lim-Tung, pictured above), medium (such as Bev Hisey's "SARS" carpet, shown here on the wall) and large (like the walnut and hand-painted MDF credenza by Jason Wheeler).

The vessels look great on The Agostinis and Harrison-Off Design Institute's coffee table.

And of course, we couldn't not mention designer Katherine Morley's clever message vases (above), or the wondrous, hand painted mohair throws by Wild Haliburton Elephant Weavers (aka WHEW). We are really scratching the surface of a great design scene here in Canada. We stopped by the shop today to double check the spelling of some names and noticed that some great new pieces had into the shop. We really wish we could mention them all (another post perhaps?).