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June, 2011

  1. Deborah Needleman – The Perfectly Imperfect Home

    June 30, 2011 by admin

    Have you heard?  Beloved founding editor of Domino Magazine, Deborah Needleman is coming out with a new book?  Just heard about it on Habitually Chic and apparently the book promises to be “The must-have guide describing 80 items that are all one needs for a livable, comfortable, and undeniably stylish home.”

    You’ll remember Needleman’s super-famous Domino – The book of Decorating right?  It was and is such a fun, fresh approach to approaching and demystifying the process.

    It was full of beautiful rooms and building blocks like this…

    One more exciting tidbit is that the new Needleman book is illustrated by none other than our very own Canadian Virginia Johnson.  Famed for her amazing collection of breezy and artisanal textiles and the charming watercolours made famous by Kate Spade.  Works like these (below).  This book is going to be a must-read for sure!

  2. Table Top Heaven – Michael C Fina

    June 29, 2011 by admin

    Do you have a thing for tabletop? You know, that wonderful category of decorative objects that are beautiful and useful? Well I’ve always had a thing for special dishes, fanciful patterns and modern reinterpretations of old motifs, so this is definitely my cup of tea

    Michael C. Fina, the American tabletop Mecca has everything you could want dishes-wise and here is a selection of what’s catching my eye at the moment. There’s more than enough inspiration for a hundred dinner parties!

  3. Wing Chair High/Low

    June 28, 2011 by admin

    So I’ve seen this lovely modernized wing chair by Hickory Chair around in magazines and online lots lately.  Pretty spiffy right?

    I could see this handsome chair in many different spaces and working with lots and lots of colour schemes.  Hickory Chair furniture is sold at stores like Elte in Toronto, but if that’s too rich for your blood check this out!

    I saw this chair look-alike at HomeSense recently!  My camera tends to wash out the colour in some shots, so trust me when I say that it too was a rich chocolate brown.  The legs are wrapped in plastic here, but you get the idea.  A wonderful modernized wing chair at an equally wonderful and affordable  price point!  Maybe now you can get a pair!

  4. Chelsea Fuss from {frolilc!}

    June 27, 2011 by admin

    I’m sure by now pretty much everyone has heard of Frolic, the Portland Oregon based blog penned by the talented Chelsea Fuss.  It’s really the perfect daily update on all things beautiful, inspirational, charming and fresh.  So often I’m totally inspired by Chelsea’s posts and I feel like we’ve got a similar point of view so I just had to get in touch and ask her a few nosy questions.

    I think you’ll find this interview with Chelsea Fuss as inspirational as I do.

    Michael Penney Style:  How did you become so dang stylish?  What were your influences growing up?

    Haha! I don’t think of myself as very stylish. I think I am more of a behind the scenes girl and a collector of pretty things. I love to work hard at making photos, flower arrangements, events, etc but I usually look pretty ragamuffin.
    I was always very shy growing up. I read a lot of books and magazines (The original Victoria was my Bible!) and I was a big observer. I liked to study what people wore, how they decorated their houses, etc. I also had a big imagination yearned to live in a sort of dream world. I wore dresses, had tea parties, read poetry, planted a garden. Poetry readings were much more exciting to me than Friday night football games.
    My mom was a big influence. She’s very creative and she created this very beautiful life for us with homemade food, beautiful handmade clothing, rooms decorated with homemade curtains and pretty wallpaper, and always a garden. I had a very idyllic childhood, especially during the time that we lived in the countryside of New Hampshire. My grandmother is originally from England and is a big gardener and an artist. I think all of this has really shaped my outlook on life.

    Chelsea Fuss;

    MPS: Styling above by Chelsea Fuss.  Dreamy isn’t it?

    Michael Penney Style:  Clearly, you believe in the link between fashion and design – how do you see them influencing one another?

    All design seems to be influenced by what’s going on in the world and there’s usually a thread connecting every genre. When looking at art history and humanities we see certain trends and movements in art, music, fashion, and literature. It’s no different today. Even if, like me, you say you are not influenced by trends. You are influenced by your own economic climate and life events and those are what tie everything together.
    I like to see how a particular style can be interpreted through various genres whether it’s fashion, interiors, music, art work, or food. I get bored only looking at one of those!

    MPS:  Fashion images above are by John Allen for Anna Allen Clothing .

    Michael Penney Style:  Your style seems to be rooted in the beauty of reality – how or why do you stay away from overly considered spaces?

    It’s exciting to make the everyday beautiful.The world is lovely as is. Old houses are pretty, flowers are breathtaking. They really don’t need much help. Just a little editing and placing things in an interesting context. Plus, I just really don’t respond to anyone or anything that appears to be trying too hard or anything very pretentious. I love effortlessness and spaces, fashion (and people!) who don’t take themselves too seriously. I am always aspiring to effortlessness. It’s so hard to achieve though! It’s harder to create designs that don’t look designed at all but rather that they just happened.
    Another note: I like design to feel accessible. When I look at a photo of a room, I’d love to be able to imagine myself there, even if it’s in my little dream world!

    Design by Chelsea Fuss;

    MPS:  Above, Chelsea’s own charming and understated place.

     Michael Penney Style:  What was your favourite colour growing up? What is it/are they now?

    I’ve always loved a very pale pink and still do!

    Flowers by Chelsea Fuss;

    MPS: Bouquet above by Chelsea Fuss.

    Michael Penney Style:  You create the most beautiful, effortless-looking flower arrangements – describe your process. What goes into these creations and what flowers tug at your heartstrings?

    Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.
    I think flowers are pretty and they don’t really need much help! My process is always a little different. I try to keep my mind open and once I am in the flower market or wandering through a cutting garden, I pick up whatever looks pretty to me and try to put together color combinations there. I don’t have a lot of self-control when it come to flowers so I often buy or cut much more than I need. Once home, I soak the flowers for a few hours after re-cutting their stems. Then, I’ll pick out a container and start playing. Sometimes I get frustrated and start over. Other times, I love it right off the bat.
    Favorite flowers:
    lily of the valley
    David Austen roses
    apple blossom

    Flowers by Chelsea Fuss;

    MPS:  Arrangement by Chelsea Fuss.  Pure perfection by the way…

    A very heart-felt thank you to Chelsea Fuss and a reminder to get over to Frolic and get inspired!

  5. Around The House: The Den

    June 24, 2011 by admin

    Happy Weekend everyone!

    As a parting gift to mark the end of this lovely June week I offer this very last House & Home video of our house makeover.  It features the den or family room where Sara and get our cozy on and relax most evenings.  It’s got the most comfy vintage, feather-filled sofa (the deal of the century) and a fun striped rug (which to be honest is a pain to keep clean!).  My favourite part of the room is the “Theresa’s Green” by Farrow & Ball paint on the walls and the dappled light that streams in through the windows.  Enjoy the tour and enjoy your weekend!

    Click here for the video.

  6. Red and White Decorating

    June 24, 2011 by admin

    Red’s a tricky colour.  When I think of decorating with red it usually makes me think of t00-rich red walls or shiny, lacquer red accents.  Not really my cup of tea.  But I was pleasantly surprised with these images from House Beautiful Magazine.  They’re all about decorating with red and white, but in this case the reds are often washed out so or scuffed up.  The result is fresh and romantic rather than being all Valentine’s Day, you know?  Take a look, what do you think?

    House Beautiful Magazine

    Red and white stripes, toile and geraniums – love ’em all!

    House Beautiful Magazine


    House Beautiful Magazine


    House Beautiful Magazine

    And how cute is that dog?!

  7. Painted Gingham Dining Room

    June 23, 2011 by admin

    One of the decorating stories I’m most proud of is this gingham story from the July  2011 issue of House & Home Magazine.  It took me quite a while to measure, tape and paint that gingham design on that wall!  And guess what – we had to paint over it with gray the very afternoon I’d finished!  That’s a photo shoot for you!  Be sure to check this story out in House & Home for even more gingham ideas.

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Angus Fergusson; House & Home Magazine, July 2011


    This week, my gingham dining room is part of an online gallery of favourite dining rooms from the past 25 years of House & Home.  There’s some stiff competition from the likes of Jeanette Hlinka, Lynda Reeves, Sarah Richardson and Cameron MacNeil, but users are invited to vote on their favourite dining room.  I wonder if there’s a prize…?

    Our own dining room here at our home in Oshawa is part of the gallery too and has gotten a few votes!  It’s nice to see too because it was done on a modest budget and yet it’s holding its own against some fancy, high end projects.  Yay DIY!

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine, June 2011


    To check out the whole gallery (and maybe place a vote or two) click here.

  8. Fresh-Cut Peonies

    June 22, 2011 by admin

    It’s no secret that I love peonies.  In fact of all the flowers out there, Sara and I always say peonies are our favourite.

    This year I’ve even seen some yellow ones at the market and a yellow peony plant on a garden tour.  2011 has been the year of peonies!  My neighbour has abundant peony bushes with more than enough to fill a spare vase or two.  As a result we have peonies in the kitchen, peonies in the living room, peonies, peonies, peonies!  Take a look…




  9. Sarah Richardson Cottage Classic

    June 21, 2011 by admin

    Don’t you just want to be here now?  This is classic Sarah Richardson style – casual, kick-back style, watery colours and layers of vintage and new pieces.  This is the famous cottage from Sarah’s Cottage (the hgtv show) and was inspired by nature’s palette just outside those windows.  Looks pretty perfect to me…

    The dining area combines painted banker’s chairs, a rustic bench and romantically upholstered wing chairs.  And how about that fireplace?

    The tile in the kitchen is at once graphic and organic, seemingly inspired by the granite outside and in the fireplace.  I love the combination of painted wood and natural, washed wood.

    This kitchen just screams big pancake breakfast doesn’t it?  It’s cozy and clean and comfortable.

    Happy first day of summer everyone!

  10. Around The House: Master Bedroom & Bathroom

    June 20, 2011 by admin

    I can’t believe I forgot to post this video!  You may have already seen it over at, but for those who haven’t, click here.