Get your home ready for summer – lighten up!

Get your home ready for summer – lighten up!

As soon as the last snowflake melts, I start to lighten up and so do my clients! Our design office is abuzz with questions, queries and calls.

The big question on their minds is: What can I do to freshen the house up for summer?

When working with clients I always start with these tried and true, never-fail tips and tricks that always amaze and delight. It’s easy and simple, and the results have real impact.

Will-Mac-dramatic-summer-TorontoThey will take your home from the doldrums of winter to the sun-dappled shores of the Hamptons in a matter of minutes.

Lamp shades Switch out darker lamp shades for lighter ones. If you can find pink light bulbs (try online), swapping those with your usual white it makes a big difference.

Slip covers Invest in a pair of sturdy, well made light coloured slipcovers. A set in white, tan or a pastel shade made of linen, cotton, or sail cloth will not only make it seem as if you
have bought all new furniture, but will help lift the mood of any room.

Drapes If you can, remove your drapes completely and let the sunshine in. If that’s not an option, swap out your winter drapes for lighter sheers or cottons with a beautiful floral
or nautical design, or even a French ticking stripe. This will add a softness and airy feel to your space.

Bed linens A very easy change to make is your bed linens. Pale blues, cool mauves or mint green, this season’s hot colours, will add lightness and freshness to all your summer dreams.

Carpets If you have hardwood, concrete or tile floor and usually cover them with area carpets, roll them up for the season. This one thing will make a huge impact on your space. Give it try!

Clear the decks If you can only do one thing this spring, be sure to edit your space. Be ruthless.

Get rid of junk, clear all surfaces; your counter top, your coffee table, your nightstands and vanity. It makes a huge difference.

Rearrange Rearrange your furniture. It costs nothing and can make your home feel fresh and brand new. Same with art. I like picture rails or shelves that allow you to easily move your favourite pieces of art and pictures around the house so that it allows fresh new looks.

Outdoor space If you are lucky and have a garden, terrace or even a little city balcony, don’t forget about it. There are so many options to make these spaces more attractive and useful.

Outdoor furniture has come a long way. Outdoor carpets, too, have advanced to the point where I use them indoors. Plant pots with herbs and colourful annuals such as geraniums for the immediate French feel, or succulents to evoke that Palm Springs vibe.

Whatever you do to welcome summer into your home, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself. It’s far too short a season, so make it look good!

Fabrics unlock key to great looking room

Fabrics unlock key to great looking room

fabrics William-MacDonald-Design-Toronto-Sun-April-2014-5As the principal designer of a bustling interior design firm, I’m often asked a lot of questions about style, trends, design, and taste.

However, the most frequently asked question I hear is: “Where do you start when designing a room”?

My answer is almost always “with the fabric.” One of the best parts of my job is going to fabric showrooms, for me, they are places of inspiration and ideas.

I like to spread out different linens, velvets and silks intricate and simple, costly and attainable and pull together a look that I know my clients will love.

For me, fabric is the key that unlocks the door to a great looking room.

When you have a textile that’s dynamic and exciting you have a lot to work with.

I like to start with a patterned material with at least three to five colours. Perhaps a chinoiserie inspired linen like, fabulous JF Fabric Toiles or bold graphic silk/cottons.

fabrics William-MacDonald-Design-Toronto-Sun-April-2014-7From the fabric’s palette, I can then select my wall colour, carpets, lamps, and develop other ideas for the look of the room.

Mixing fabrics is very important. Be bold, confident and never boring. A boring room is the worst.

Stripes and solids, checks and prints and various textures add personality and keep a room alive and attractive.

If you’re not experienced in mixing fabrics keep a common element in mind such as colour, a motif or a natural reference.

And remember to include materials with texture; smooth and rough, shaggy and short, all will play a part in the success of a room.

I go by my own rule “if I like alone, it will work together”. Fabrics don’t all have to be super strong, in fact, I choose quite subdued colours and patterns if my clients are interested
in a quieter more understated space.

I always keep in mind the functionality of the room and my clients needs. A bedroom may inspire softer more restful fabrics where as the family room could be more playful and light hearted.

fabrics William-MacDonald-Design-Toronto-Sun-April-2014-8Where durability is a concern, I always use what’s appropriate. Linen for a family room sofa that kids and dogs use daily is not a great idea. Instead I opt for sturdy velvets or strong cottons.

Speaking of sofas and fabric, I’m a big fan of patterned fabric on sofas. For too long, sofas have been a little too safe and frankly just boring.

A bold pattern is fun and unexpected and the pattern, if chosen carefully, will stand up to daily life and be so much more forgiving.

When I’m asked how to create a beautiful room I say “start with fabric”. It’s the foundation from which I build ideas and create the look my clients want.

I start with a key fabric then add more and more keeping in mind appropriateness and good taste, of course but balancing it with the boldness of confidence and the desire not to be boring.

Because the worst thing a room can be is boring!