Thursday, May 28, 2015

Accessorizing your back garden, deck or patio

A trip to Homesense will surely get you in the mood to decorate and accessorize your outdoor spaces.

Reupholstery - Guest Post by Jeanne Grier

Posted from Jeanne Grier,

New or Not? 5 Considerations before you reupholster

Many of  our clients are considering reupholstery vs. new furniture, especially those who are downsizing and already have a selection of seating on hand.  When it comes to cost, there is often little or no difference between reupholstering an existing piece or purchasing a new one.  In both cases, you should end up with a ‘new’ piece in the fabric you love.  (Note: A reputable upholsterer will remove the old fabric, replace old foam and padding, glue loose joints, and repair broken springs.) So, how do we decide whether it makes more sense to rework the old furniture or shop for new pieces?   Here are my Top 5 Things to Consider:
  • Is the piece in question well-made?  Garbage in = garbage out, as they say!  If the frame is unstable or broken, there’s no point in recovering it (unless it’s an antique that’s worth repairing — more on that, below!)
  • Is the piece comfortable?  If not, there are some minor changes that might make it more inviting — softer/firmer foam, a higher/lower seat.  However, some pieces just can’t be made more comfortable, and these pieces don’t deserve to be recovered.
  • Is the piece the right size and scale for your space?  If it’s the wrong size, no amount of wishful thinking is going to make it fit. Whether it’s too big or too small, you may be better off with a new model.
  • Is the piece a personal favourite?  If you’ve never liked it, it’s possible that new fabric isn’t going to change your opinion.  Try to separate your feelings about the piece from your feelings about its covering, to be sure you’ll be better off with a new covering.
  • Is the piece an antique?  You can ignore all of the logical reasons for and against reupholstery, above, if it’s an antique that you wish to preserve.   Except for size — a too-large piece won’t fit no matter how much you love it–the usual reasons against reupholstery become invalid if your piece is unique and irreplaceable.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A little wine with your cheese?

Guest Post by Natalie McLean

6 Quick Tips: Pairing Canadian Wines and Cheeses:

1. The easiest to pair are mild-flavored fresh and semi-fresh Canadian cheeses, such as mozzarella. They go especially well with light whites, of 12 percent or less alcohol, that have bright notes of fruit and crisp acidity, such as Prince Edward County Riesling.

2. The classic match of French goat cheese, or chèvre, is Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, as both carry the essence of fresh air and wild meadows. Try Canadian goat cheese with Niagara Sauvignon Blanc. The racy acidity of those wines cuts through to the chalky heart of this cheese, and enhances the grassy notes in the cheese.

3. Double- and triple-cream cheeses are tough to match with wine because their creamy texture can smother wine and make it taste thin. A good match is a robust white wine, such as a barrel-fermented or barrel-aged Okanagan Chardonnay. Both the cheese and the wine have creamy, buttery aromas and texture.

4. Another good match is Nova Scotia Sparkling Wine—a great fall-back for many tough-to-match foods and many Canadian soft cheeses. Bubbly helps to diffuse salt and cut through fat with its palate-cleansing acidity and effervescence.

5. For hard cheeses, such as cheddar, try a Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Their flavors even mimic some of those in mature, full-bodied reds, such as notes of earth, nuts, and coffee.

6. The most difficult cheeses to pair with wine are the blues, as their strong taste and powerful saltiness tends to make red wine taste bitter and hot. The best foil for salt is sweet, so avoid dry and off-dry wines and go straight for the sweeter ones like a Quebec Icewine or Hard Cider.

Best Canadian Wine & Cheese Pairings?
Wine drinkers battle over the best Canadian bottles for Canadian cheeses
Ottawa, Ontario, May 12, 2015 – The search for the best Canadian wine and cheese pairings launches today with The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match at

Wine lovers from coast to coast are voting via social media for their favourite Canadian wines to match with Canadian cheeses to get ready for July 1 celebrations and summer entertaining.
“The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match puts the glass in the hands of the people for the grater good,” says Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at “We’re breaking the mould from Coquitlam to Chance Cove to show Canadians the whey forward.”

Unlike traditional competitions judged by experts, The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match allows wine and cheese lovers themselves to choose their favourite pairings via real-time, online voting. The Twitter hashtag is #CdnWineCheese.  
Participants can nominate and vote for their favourite Canadian wines to pair with Canadian cheeses in six categories: cheddar, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, creamy cheese and blue cheese. Voting ends May 31 with the top wines in each category named the best match with each Canadian cheese.
“This is a coast to coast toast to celebrate our own wines and cheeses,” says MacLean. “I think we can all drink to that.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Inspiration: 7 Kitchens with Bold Backsplashes

A guest post by Jane Blanchard -

Inspiration: 7 Kitchens with Bold Backsplashes

There's definitely one room that is of the utmost importance bringing the family together. It's the kitchen, and it's far more capable of producing more than just goods and aromas that are pleasing to the senses. If you're thinking of sprucing up your outdated kitchen, amazing backsplashes can do the job. Let's take a creative cue from those who brought in some color, sass, and spice to the mix!

Can you say “nautical” in a country accent? We love the nautical decor that really matches the backsplash tiles. The sea-breeze blue is light enough to compliment the white cabinets as well as being able to pass off on a country theme. You have the wood paneling above the range, the dark-stained wood counter-top, and all that's needed is a nice, deep farmhouse sink.

 This kitchen is the epitome of elegance. The tile colors have been chosen for a safe and neutral tone, while still adding character to fit the contemporary style. Two thumbs up for taste and cultivated beauty.

We are totally digging how this backsplash adds depth and space to this tiny kitchen area. Even a small backsplash can speak volumes. Tip for the fearless: go bold with rich colors to add more “pop” to the small area.

A delectable, modern twist on a 60's color palette. Everything goes together just beautifully; from the sleek, chocolate back-splash and glass chandelier, to the straight metallic hardware and retro bar stools. It looks as tasty as a chocolate covered banana!

 Big high fives on pulling off a futuristic look with the embedded lighting in the white cabinets that makes the blue really glimmer and shine. It's boldness enhances the white walls and white flooring. Just don't let the kids and pets inside the house ever again, unless... 

 via Modernize have a more distinctive pattern like this to mask sticky fingers and cooking backsplash. We are on board with the small glass tiles that map out a sort of mosaic pattern that goes from the countertop to the ceiling. This creates depth in the pattern and elongates the cabinets, making the room seem taller than it really is.

 This kitchen has an Asian influence that's integrated with a modern plum color palette. We love the trendy style with a little floral that doesn't overwhelm the room. It's like a scrapbook page come to life!

The bottom line is: backsplashes can add a vivacious va-va-voom to a room. A little tile, a little shine, and a little color may be all you need.

For more design ideas and inspiration, head to

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Beauty of Soapstone.....

I recently was treated to a meal cooked by Wayne Wanamaker of Great Mountain Soapstone, on a piece of soapstone which was incredible. The food was cooked so that the meat and fish were seared on the outside and the inside was very moist.  If one can cook on it, then one can surely have it as a countertop.

Guest blog by Wayne Wanamaker -

Soapstone is becoming the “newest” oldest trend in countertops. It is gaining in popularity with architects, interior and kitchen designers alike, as they are drawn to soapstone’s soft feel and matte finish.   It is becoming a highly coveted material and is both a much needed and excellent alternative to quartz and granite.

When you mention soapstone, the first thing that comes to mind is the carvings of the Canadian Inuits.  There are essentially two categories of soapstone; Artistic and Architectural. Artistic soapstone (including most soapstone from Canada) has a very high talc (a soft mineral) content, approximately 80%, making it quite soft and ideal for carving and sculptures.  

Architectural soapstone on the other hand has a lower talc content, approximately 30%, making for a superb countertop and sink material. It still has the appearance and properties of Artistic Soapstone, but with the strength and durability needed for use in the home. This grade of soapstone typically comes from the United States, Brazil or India.

Soapstone’s talc content makes it smooth and waxy to the touch, also making it very water resistant and chemically inert as well as being absolutely stain resistant.   Red wine, lemon juice, acids, oils, vinegars, etc. will not impact the surface.  Unlike granite, there is no chemical sealing required, and so no unwanted toxins on your counter surface.  The only regular maintenance of soapstone that is required is the periodic application of either food grade mineral oil or a wax made from linseed oil and beeswax. While not required to seal the soapstone, these two products can be used to enhance the color and pattern of the soapstone. 

Another huge benefit to using soapstone is that it is heat resistant, which allows you to safely put a hot pot directly on the surface with no fear of damage.

 Soapstone can also be used to make sinks.  They can be made to any size or configuration leaving its design limitations to only ones imagination.  The sinks are put together using a blind mortise and tenon joint, fastened with epoxy and guaranteed not to leak for life.  The bottoms are sloped on all four sides to the center drain basket. The sinks are also made from the same slab as the countertop to ensure colour matching.

Soapstone is also an excellent material for use on countertops and tables in outdoor kitchens because of its non-porosity and stain resistance. Also its earthy, organic appearance lends itself to the outdoor setting.

The design possibilities with soapstone are endless for both interior and exterior projects. When designing your next project, it might be worth it to consider soapstone.

Great Mountain Soapstone currently stocks 9 colors, ranging from grey/black, green/black, grey, charcoal, black to dark green.  The slab sizes are similar to those of granite, but can vary in size, depending on the colour, and are worth the time to check out in person. We now have a full slab gallery showroom located in the International Centre as part of the SOFA family of showroom.  We are open Monday to Friday, 10 to 5.