New Sofa

Dear Maureen,
I need to buy a new sofa for my family room, but I want something that is durable enough for my kids and dog.  What do you suggest?

Dear CB,

Thank you for your question.  I am so glad that you asked this question before you went out and impulsively bought a sofa.

There are so many important questions to ask when you are buying a piece of furniture for a very high traffic area.

The most common mistake people make is not choosing the correct fabric.  You must pick a fabric with an upholstery weight rub count.  The higher the count the better, and you can even consider commercial grade fabric.

Your fiber choice is extremely important as well.  Synthetic fabric is made from man-made chemical fibers and will stand up to whatever you can throw at it.  There are also wonderful natural/synthetic blends that can withstand a lot of abuse as well.  Also keep in mind you do not want any fabric with loose nubs or open weaves as your pet’s claws can get snagged.  

The Canadian furniture manufacturers I work with right here in Toronto provide an excellent quality product due to their high standards of workmanship.   As well, I am affiliated with all the major fabric houses.

 A careful selection taking into account these few but important issues will ensure your major purchase will not look tired and worn after a few years.

Thank you,

Until next week…

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Interior Design Show

This year, the IDS show that is held in Toronto at the Metro Convention Center, was just as inspiring as ever! Very high end finishes were shown and the kitchen and bath designs from Germany and Italy were over the top gorgeous!!!! You really should get down to see it for yourself this weekend.

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Basement Flooring

Dear Maureen,
I live in a small house with 3 children under 10.  We are going to gut the basement for the badly needed rec-room for the boys.  Right now our big debate is what is the strongest, most durable floor for hockey sticks and hotwheels?

Dear R,

Thank you for your question.  As a mom of 2 boys I can sympathize!

I would first suggest you think out of the traditional box when it comes to flooring.  As I travel the design shows, I have come across some fabulous industrial flooring used in commercial applications that are now becoming so popular in residential, because of issues like yours.  These products are synthetic rubber and come in sheet or tile varieties.

 If you are budget conscious there is Vinyl flooring that has come a long way since our childhood.  It now comes in planks that look like wood grain.  Hardwood is beautiful, but it is not the correct material for a basement.  Hardwood is natural and expands and contracts with humidity.  Only engineered hardwood is acceptable since it does not touch the concrete, but will scratch with the hotwheels.

 As an eco-friendly alternative you may also consider cork, which has so many advantages as well.  

Thank you,

Until next week…

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Tips For the Powder Room

Dear Maureen,
I finally decided to renovate our powder room.  Our main floor is quite traditional with hardwood and some antiques.  As I began to shop, I am overwhelmed with styles, wallpaper, lighting and window coverings. Do you have some helpful tips that could guide me in my decision?

Dear Overwhelmed,

Thank you for your question.  I believe so many people feel the way you do.  First, just take a deep breath and remember this is supposed to be fun!

Since this is a powder room, you can be a little more adventurous in your decorating.  I would keep your theme of traditional, since you want a cohesive look throughout your home.  

A few of my recommended tips for the powder room:

  • lighting - use incandescent light as this is not your main room for grooming and putting on makeup. Overhead and side lights provide the atmosphere.
  • window coverings: Never recommended to use wood shutters or blinds in bathrooms or kitchens because of humidity. Humidity will warp the blinds.  Custom window treatments always finish off a space.  It is like the jewelry accessorizing the outfit.
  • wallpaper/paint:  Wallpaper can give texture and pattern to a space. Do not be afraid to paint the ceiling.  Remember that if you cannot live with it after a few weeks, you can always repaint! 

Thank you,
Until next week…

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:47 AM

Dear Maureen,
I am repainting my living room/dining room and my painter just asked me if I want an Eggshell finish or a Flat finish. What do you suggest? Also what do you think about Wallpaper?

Dear Confused,

Thank you for you questions. I will explain the pros and cons of each finish for you to make an easier decision. An eggshell finish, as with any finish with a sheen, is washable. That means that if you get a light scuff or dirt, you can easily clean it with a damp cloth and a little soap. A flat finish looks very beautiful and it has a velvety look with a deeper authentic colour when it goes on the walls. It is not as easy to clean though. I always recommend an eggshell finish for high traffic areas, kitchens and bathrooms. As for wallpaper, it has really become so popular again, with the patterns becoming over sized. A great idea to make a focal point in a room,as well as being budget friendly, is to wallpaper or paint in a contrasting colour, one wall.

Thank you,
Until next week…

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:45 AM

Dear Maureen,
I have three narrow windows in my living room along one wall. How should I cover them to make them look bigger?

Dear S,

Thank you for your question. Window treatments are critical in the overall appearance and character of any room. They create warmth and a finished look. 

I would recommend you unify them by first putting up panels in between the windows to give the illusion there is one large window. Next I would recommend to install a large box valance or swag that is installed from ceiling to just under top of your lowest window frame. This will give the illusion that there is one large window and will hide the fact that your windows are at different heights.

Depending on your budget, you could use a cotton/poly blend or even 100% silk, but the curtains must be lined to avoid fading. 

As always, when you are shopping, remember to bring your existing fabric samples with you to find the right compliment to the remainder of your room.

Thank you, 
Until next week…

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:41 AM

Welcome everyone to my new weekly column called ”Dear Maureen”. Every week I will be answering your decorating questions.

Posted: 1 year ago on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 01:38 AM