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Sugar and Spice

Photography by Stacey Brandford

Posted on Feb 17, 2011

When you strip away the grownup need for poise and polish, the decorating adventure takes on a purely lighthearted spirit, fuelled by the desire to create a cozy, happy nest that stimulates the imagination and celebrates the freedom of being a child. So, get ready for a colour me happy adventure in decorating…
Sugar and Spice

Start Small

I believe in looking for inspiration in unexpected places, and have been known to build entire room schemes from unusual sources. In this case, it all started with a trip to the boho chic mecca of fashion and home, Anthropolgie. If you are a fan of pattern and detail, I challenge you to resist the delicate feminine charm of this cool retail environment! It wasn’t long before I’d zoned in on a collection of charming tea towels embellished with lighthearted patterns, crocheted trim and embroidered details. With a wide variety of colours and styles, I knew I was on the path to a scheme (or two). I’d never made the connection before, but a tea towel and a standard bed pillow are roughly the same size. A quick measure of my new find revealed that I could quickly and easily seam a lowly kitchen towel into a quirky and fun pillowcase to fit a 20- by 26-inch pillow for a twin bed. Instead of starting in the bedding department, perhaps you need to take your cart on over to the kitchen aisle to kick start the creative process?

Sugar and Spice

Create A Patchwork Of Pattern

Once you’ve landed on that first vision for the room, it’s time to fill in the blanks and add the rest of the fabrics. From upholstery to window coverings, bedding to accessory pillows, there’s still plenty of room to add more to the mix. I like a loosely layered mix of fabrics that connect with each other, but don’t necessarily “match” perfectly. Using my inspirational tea towels as a guide, I combed the selections from both upholstery and garment district stores in search of easy-care cottons with happy colours and friendly price points. There are plenty of lovely, durable fabrics to be had for less than $20 a yard. Since I like a multitude of patterns, combinations are key, such as polka dots banded in solid for a bed skirt, and a large damask motif accented with a different dot for drapes. My approach to the mix is much like the way that little girls dress themselves … it’s often a cacophony of pattern that defies the rules of fashion, yet looks fun and adorable when presented as a fully realized statement.

Sugar and Spice

Go Custom On A DIY Budget

Small, shared rooms can be tricky to furnish since every inch counts, and so does every dollar usually! While the vertical efficiency of bunk beds is appealing, I find the extra height dominates the room and overpowers the space, so I devised an alternate built-in bed that would accommodate two kids on one even plane, while giving each their own space to cozy up. Have no fear; you can still execute a successful DIY project without a full suite of power tools. If you measure thrice (twice is never enough), and plan out your installation, you can have your materials precut at your local big box store, then simply install them at home with a drill (okay, it also helps to have a saw in case your measures need a bit of adjusting). I used shelves on edge as the supports for the underside of the bed (at 12 by 36 inches there was no trimming needed), then had two slabs of plywood cut to fit the standard size of a twin mattress, attached two-by-four boards to the outside wall to support the bed platform, and dressed the cut edge of the plywood and shelves with pre-primed window casing profiles. For $200 in supplies I was able to create one cool bed to fit two cool kids.

Get Online For Innovative Art

Forget pounding the pavement in search of the right art to dress up your little ones’ room. Let your fingers do the walking and enjoy the online adventure. I discovered animal cutouts made from vintage wallpaper. Eliminate the need to invest additional dollars in framing, and celebrate the fact that these exotic critters simply require a bit of wallpaper paste (included with the purchase) to affix them to the wall. From elephant to giraffe, lion to alligator, there’s an animal to appeal to your little tiger!

Sugar and Spice

The Save

Kids are little beings, but boy, they’ve got a lot of stuff to store! By the time they start asserting their independence, the amount and variety of possessions grows exponentially, so I think it’s important to get as much storage as you can out of every piece. On a regular jaunt to one of my standby sources for all things used and inexpensive, I discovered a pair of French Provincial style side tables for a mere $65. With a deep drawer and a large tabletop, they make ideal bedside tables. If the original finish of your found item doesn’t suit your colour palette, it’s time to get out the paint and embrace my favourite R word … Reimagine!

The Splurge

If you’re spending money on new broadloom, you need to think about how you can get more from your floor. Forget about standard solids and classic cut pile and look to your floor covering as a way to introduce colour and pattern to the mix. Lucky for me, I landed on pure wool, striped broadloom with a rainbow of colours that tied perfectly to the schemes in the two bedrooms. The upside of wool broadloom is that it’s made from a renewable resource and it won’t let off gas in the same way that petroleum-based products will. Patterned options will run at least $2 more per square foot than solids, but if you’re covering a small area, it’s a small up charge to achieve a great overall look.

The Signature Sarah

Paint it, paint it, and paint it! Some leave no stone unturned, and I leave no surface unpainted. Every wall, ceiling, and piece of furniture opens the door to the possibility of utilizing yet another beautiful colour. Whether your look is tone-on-tone muted or high contrast colour, layering different hues is an effective way to tie all the elements together, especially if you’re looking for style solutions on a budget!



Chair, drapery, duvet cover & crib pillow fabric, drapery hardware, ribbon: Designer Fabrics, www.designerfabrics.ca | Orange fabric for duvet cover fabric: Chu Shing Textiles, 416-904-9069 | Polka dot fabric on drapes & change pad: Trendy Fabrics, 416-504-6066 | Fabric on foot stool: Leo's Textiles Inc.,www.leostextiles.com | Crib, small white floral vases: Ikea, www.ikea.com | Channel-back chair: Elegant Garage Sale, elegantgaragesale.com | Dresser, footstool, ceiling light fixture: Chatelet, www.chatelethome.com | Mirror: inVU Drapery Co., www.invudraperyco.com | Framed print, table lamps, pink glass bowl: Eclectisaurus, www.eclectisaurus.com | Yellow Moroccan stool: L'Atelier, 416-966-0200 | Duvet cover, pillows inserts, custom pillow sewing: Dreams Bed, Bath & Home Decor, 416-596-8489 | Yellow throw blanket, baskets under crib, red felt storage baskets in closet: Homesense, www.homesense.ca | Polka dot sheets, owl nightlight: Pottery Barn Kids, www.potterybarnkids.com | Change pad: Sears, www.sears.ca | Yellow giraffe, striped throw blanket, stuffed monkey: Indigo, www.chapters.indigo.ca/ | Paint colours: Para Paints, www.para.com. Walls: Ooh Long Tea P5077-51D; Ceiling: Slap Shot P5208-24; Crib - Orchard SR53 (P5082-85) 

Girls’ room:

Tea towels used as pillow covers, green ceramic bowl, notebooks, shelf brackets, bedside drawer hardware: Anthropologie, www.anthropologie.com | Adhesive animal wall decals: Galerie CO, www.galerie-co.com | Fabric on rectangular pillows & bed skirt: Designer Fabrics, www.designerfabrics.ca | Yellow fabric on pillows: Invu Drapery Co., www.invudraperyco.com | Fabric for roman blinds & bolster cushions: Leo's Textiles Inc., www.leostextiles.com | Detail fabric on roman blinds: King Textiles, 416-504-0600 | Carpet, white ceramic birds: Elte, www.elte.com | Bedside tables: Elegant Garage Sale, www.elegantgaragesale.com | Dresser: Naked Furniture, www.nakedfurniture.ca | Lumber for custom bed, trim, custom shelves: Home Depot, www.homedepot.ca | Twin headboards: Of Things Past, www.ofthingspast.com | Furniture spraying: Benjamen Furniture Refinishing, 416-745-2559 | Lacquer for furniture spraying: Pro Glo Paints, www.torontopaintstore.com | Sheets: Lands’ End, www.landsend.com | Monogramming on sheets & pillow cases: Dominion Regalia, www.dominionregalia.com | Ceiling light fixture: Chatelet, www.chatelethome.com | Bedside lamps: Artemide, www.artemide.ca | Blue glass bowls, art glass bowls & vintage clock: Eclectisaurus,www.eclectisaurus.com | Sewing of pillow covers, inserts: Dreams Bed, Bath & Home Decor, 416-596-8489 | Paint colours: Para Paints, www.para.comwww.sarahpaint.com. Walls: Growing Pains P5169-34D; Cucumber sandwiches P5037-41, Ceiling: Fireflies P5052-24; Headboard lacquer: Escape SR41 (P5033-83); Bedside table lacquer & dresser drawers: Brunch with friends P5164-34; Body of dresser lacquer: Snowfall SR29 (P5223-14D)  

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