10 Must-Haves for the Home by the Time You're 30

Recently, designer Tommy Smythe was on the Marilyn Denis Show discussing the 10 must-have home decor items to own by the time you're 30. Using Tommy's list as a guide, I thought I'd share a shopping list of the items I would select from each category to add to your decor.  

1. Original Art/Photography

Invest in a good piece of original art or photography, it will add interest to your space. As Tommy says, it's time to get rid of those old concert posters. I like the colour-enhanced photos of abandoned homes and buildings in Havana by Werner Pawlok. So hauntingly beautiful.

2. Good Quality Sofa

Tommy advises that a good quality sofa will cost you $2,000 at minimum. This price gets you good fabric and good construction. It's worth the investment - after all, other than your bed, it's the piece of furniture you spend the most time on. Restoration Hardware has a wide selection of really comfortable sofas starting at $2,000; you can choose the fabric and colour you want. If you like to change your decor often, stick with a neutral colour and change your accessories with the seasons.

3. Good Quality Lighting

Please, can we all get rid of those "big box, female anatomy-looking light fixtures?" You know the ones Tommy is referring to. The addition of good quality lighting can be in any form, but I prefer to spend a bit more on ceiling or wall fixtures, since they're a little more permanent. If a candelabra-style chandelier is too formal/traditional for you, try something a little more contemporary like this one from Living Lighting:

4. Antique or Vintage Items

Tommy tells us that having at least one antique or vintage item in your home shows your guests that you have a level of taste and sophistication, and I completely agree. I grew up surrounded by antiques so I would even suggest having at least a few. Antique shops and markets are everywhere and you usually have to hunt to find that perfect piece, but it's well worth the effort once you do. Here's a lovely faux bamboo brass tray from Vintage Fine Objects that would add sophistication to any style of decor:

5. Plants or Pets

Plants and pets indicate to people who come into your home that you're able to care for another living thing. As Tommy says, "you should not be the only thing alive in your apartment." Start with plants if you can't commit to a pet. This photo from Pinterest illustrates how they can be worked into a decor scheme:

Original source unknown

6. Good Quality Bedding/Sheets

Tommy advises to have two sets and replace them every two years. Choose a 400-thread count and go with a simple white sheet set. Crane & Canopy has some high-quality, affordable bedding options available. The Linden set is one of my favourites and is on my wish list:

7. Kitchen 

Tommy talked about several kitchen items to invest in, and for this point I'm going to share the items he showed on the segment instead of showcasing my own suggestions.

Cookware - buy a matching set of pots and pans. If you can't afford to buy them all at once, buy them piece by piece and invest slowly over time. (Tommy featured a copper set by Williams Sonoma.)

Dinnerware - a set of 12 (or a baker's dozen since, let's face it, dishes will break) is ideal. Start with a good set of white plates that can act as a workhorse but that also look really nice. (Tommy recommends Sophie Conran dinnerware, available at HBC.)

Table Linens and Flatware - a set of 12 for each. How lovely is this Kate Spade pink gold flatware set?! 

Knife Set - get a beautiful knife block that can be left out on the counter. Even better - this version that has an integrated cookbook or tablet holder for easy recipe viewing. 

8. Matching Hangers

Disorganization in the closet is disorganization in life. Have an all matching set, whether it's all wood, all plastic, all velvet, etc. HomeSense (and therefore probably also HomeGoods) has inexpensive packs of 10-25 hangers. I recently bought a couple of packages for my own closet but regret to tell you that I haven't purged the old and invited the new in yet!!! So for now, I'd like to share this photo from my friend and fellow blogger Tiffany Leigh's walk-in closet makeover

9. Good Books

Having good books on display shows that you have a level of interest and scholarship in your life and in your home, says Tommy. Books are a symbol of hospitality, and guests are invited to pick them up and read. I've worked for a book company most all of my professional life, allowing me the opportunity to accumulate a vast amount of books in the last 15 years. I've since donated a lot of them and I wish I had a photo of the wall-to-wall bookshelves I used to have that housed over 800 tomes but that photo is trapped on a broken phone. Instead, here is a more recent picture of some of the books I just couldn't part with: 

10. Cleaning Person

When investing in great stuff, you've got to take care of it. Investing in hired help to keep your house clean is the best gift you can give yourself. It took me a long time to learn the value of this, but about a year and a half ago I hired someone to clean my house every other week and now that I've done that, I will never go back. Not only does Adora clean my house better than I ever could, she keeps my sanity in check by keeping my house in order. J'adore Adora. (P.S. If you live in Toronto and would like her number, please contact me. She is THE BEST.) 

Trip to IKEA

IKEA isn't just for dorm rooms and first apartments anymore.  It's now common to see an inexpensive IKEA piece holding its own in a room with higher-end furniture. Their new Stockholm line was recently released and I went to check it out with a friend this week. I just love the IKEA experience - the maze-like layout, the room vignettes, the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce. Here are some pics from my trip earlier this week.  

Greens were a very popular, lots of emerald green items in furniture and fabrics (no surprise there since it's Pantone's Colour of the Year for 2013), and lots of sea glass green accessories.  This new sofa from the Stockholm collection (left) was really comfortable.  The chair wasn't so comfortable, but I think it would have been if I were about 6" shorter.  The headrest is sewn in, and in order for it to fit comfortably behind my head/neck, I had to slouch down to the point where it was uncomfortable for my back.  My advice - only buy this chair if you are around 5'2"!

More green.  This product is marketed as a bed canopy for a kid's room, but how amazing would it be if used outdoors on a patio?!  It is just too cute!

These new chairs from the Stockholm collection (left) were stunning and stylish, but were shockingly uncomfortable.  This acrylic chair (or as I like to call it, IKEA's affordable re-imagining of the ghost chair) was surprisingly comfortable, except that it lacks the sophistication of a ghost chair.  

I love how IKEA doesn't just have a chair on display for the customer to sit in it and try it out before purchasing it - IKEA puts an entire apartment on display so that you can sit in the chair while seeing it as part of the bigger picture.

In the bedroom.  I love the rich colour in the new walnut veneer pieces - this 3-door dresser with full-length mirror was especially nice.  That's my friend waving in the mirror!
IKEA's new bedding is so soft and silky, especially this lilac set.  I love those little chandeliers!  Seeing them paired with these purple items is giving me an idea for my purple room that I'm turning into my home office...

Many of today's designers are using IKEA kitchens in their clients' homes, but where they save on cabinetry, they are able to splurge in other areas (like marble countertops, for example).  When done right, mixing high and low can result in a beautiful reno that doesn't break the bank.
I love the way this bathroom vanity floats above the floor - it gives the illusion of more space in a smaller bathroom.  And drawers are so much better than cupboards - you keep your most frequently used items in the top drawer so that you're bending down less when accessing them.

Don't let this picture fool you - it's a rug, not a tablecloth!  It's just draped over a table.  If anyone knows where I can get an 5x8' cowhide rug made up of squares sewn together in light grey, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.  IKEA's are really nice and affordable, but they only come in caramel colour and this really dark brown/black one pictured here.

I can't end this post without talking about IKEA food.  Their staple is my favourite dish - Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes with gravy and lingonberry sauce.  Would you believe that this entire dinner cost LESS than the cost of my lunch earlier that day?  And it's not as if I had a beer at lunch!

I was really hoping to get a look at and sit in the Stockholm swivel easy chair but I must have overlooked it and by the time I remembered it my friend and I were already at the checkout and the store was closing.  Oh well, it's a good excuse for us to go back again soon!  

Weekend Decor Shopping

How is it Thursday already?!  This week went by really fast.  I'm excited that it's almost the weekend again which means more decor shopping.  Last weekend the weather was so beautiful - sunny and hot, it was such a nice change from all the constant rain we've been having.  So I hopped on my bike and rode up and down residential streets in my neighbourhood looking for yard sales, then I biked downtown to walk along Queen Street and pop into some antique shops and home furniture & decor stores.  Here is just a small sampling of things I saw and/or bought:

Drawers filled with drawer hardware at Chatelet

A table setting at Chatelet.  Such beautiful, romantic furniture and decor in this store; very French provincial.

The drawer pulls that I bought at Chatelet - see my blog post about replacing drawer hardware here.

I finally found a new lamp for my living room!  I love the Arco floor lamp (see it here) but it's too wide for my narrow room.  This one is not only more suitable for a smaller space, but I like that there are five different light sources instead of just one.  The marble base is going to be the perfect anchor for my marble-topped bar cabinet on the opposite side of the room.  Each light on the fixture swivels side to side for a customizable look.  This picture is of the floor model (from Urban Barn); I had to order it as it wasn't in stock so I won't have it for another 2-3 weeks.  I can't wait to see it in my space!

Also from Urban Barn - a cute set of plates decorated with chair sillhouettes on an even cuter dresser/cabinet that has a "reverse tromp l'oeil" effect to it of life imitating art.  

This was my one and only yard sale find of the day - scored it for only $2 and it actually works!  I love it because it reminds me of an identical clock that my grandparents had in their house, so this is my nostalgia piece.  

I found this trivet in an antique store.  At the time, I didn't know what the Chinese characters meant but I thought it was a really striking image, especially with the Greek key pattern in the surrounding circle.  There's a brass hoop on the back to allow the trivet to be hung on the wall, which is exactly what I'm going to do with it as soon as I find a place for it (if I had a home office it would definitely be going in there!).  I've since learned from a friend at work that the symbols are pronounced "foo-loo" and it means "prosperity in career."  

I might go back to Structube and buy this lamp - it is so sparkly and would look great next to my bar cabinet.  It's the perfect size, too; I need a slim shade for that corner of the room.

The best price I've seen so far for a replica of the Philippe Starck Louis Ghost Chair - $79 at Structube.  

This weekend I'll be heading to the Junction to check out the plethora of antique shops that are concentrated in that small neighbourhood.  Window shopping only though, unless I see something really inexpensive - that floor lamp I just bought wasn't exactly expensive, but it definitely maxed out the budget for now.