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August, 2011

  1. Sarah Richardson, Here I Come!

    August 30, 2011 by admin

    Well everybody, the secret’s out – I am joining the team at Sarah Richardson Design!

    Design by Sarah Richardson Design,

    I’m taking a few days to get ready and sort out some details, but after Labour Day weekend, I officially begin!  I’ll be working with Tommy, Sarah and the rest of the design team and production company to create season two of Sarah 101 on HGTV!  Filming begins soon and I’m told its going to be one exciting, drama-packed makeover after another!

    Design by Sarah Richardson Design;

    Known for her impeccable style, warmth, and charisma, Sarah heads up the Toronto-based firm Sarah Richardson Design.  She is the co-creator and host of many, many decorating and lifestyle shows stretching back to Room Service, Design Inc, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage and now Sarah 101.  Her signature style moves easily between cool, classic and contemporary as well as romantic, rustic and country.  Right up my alley! 

    Design by Sarah Richardson Design;

    It’s actually a beautiful full-circle moment for me, heading over to SRD.  Way back when I was a student in university and decided to throw caution to the wind and make design the focus of my career (ahem, how could I not?!), I researched designers who inspired me and their own career paths.  Sarah Richardson was a beacon of all I wanted to be as a designer/decorator and I learned that her education was similar to mine in Art History.  I sent off a portfolio of images taken in my modest student apartment (some of those images still make me laugh hysterically) and to my surprise was granted an interview with the Design Inc producer, Michael Prini!

    Design by Sarah Richardson Design;

    Now even though this initial plan didn’t work out at the time, Tommy Smythe was kind enough to recommend me to work in a Rosedale shop called, L’Atelier where I learned a lot and honed my skills.  Eventually I became friendly with some editors at House & Home and the rest is history!

    Since then Sarah, Tommy and I have kept in touch now and again and now looking back, it seems like we’ve been edging towards working together for years!  I can’t wait for the fruition of this long and exciting journey to begin on Tuesday morning (bright and earrrrly!).  I’ve learned so much from Sarah over the years as a fan, viewer and colleague in the industry.  I think my tutorial is about to get kicked up a notch!  With all of her talent, personality and creative drive, the sky is the limit for Sarah Richardson Design and I am so thrilled and honoured to take a supporting role.

    Design by Sarah Richardson Design;

    So now you know!

  2. Thank You All

    August 29, 2011 by admin

    Happy Monday everyone!  I just wanted to say a big thank you to you all for your kind thoughts and words.

    This new change in career is one of the biggest changes of my life so far, and to be sure, it’s bitter sweet.  Everyone at House & Home was very good to me last week and made sure I knew just how they felt!  There were some hilarious (and very touching) cards made (yes made, this is H&H) and everyone from the copy, edit and art departments was hauled in to create two beautiful H&H-perfect cards.

    And now to each of you who has taken a moment to lend your support, to leave a message and to send your encouragement – it has meant so much.  Starting this blog only a few months ago was something I did as a creative outlet for myself, but it’s clear that it’s made a connection with you.  I’m so happy to provide inspiration and ideas and maybe even to point out what’s special about some everyday moment.  I’m so happy to connect with you all and although change is afoot, I hope to continue – meeting you here, sharing each day.


    Michael – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Decorator


    Big announcement to come!

  3. The One That Got Away

    August 25, 2011 by admin

    While I’m still sad getting through this last week at House & Home, I can never get over the sadness over not getting these dishes!

    Here’s a shot of some absolutely beautiful dishes I saw online last week at an estate sale set for the weekend.  But I could go and I missed them.  ROYAL COPENHAGEN!!!  Humongous sigh…

  4. End Of An Era: Leaving My House & Home

    August 23, 2011 by admin

    In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t been posting too much lately.  There’s a reason – my life has felt  a little upside down lately.  After four wonderful years, I am leaving my position as Style Editor at Canadian House & Home Magazine.

    This is my last week – in fact today is my last photo shoot and last week was my last H&H episode shoot.  It’s with a heavy heart that I will say good bye to all that I’ve known at this amazing hub of creativity and exploration.  House & Home was my very first job outside of university – I started as an intern and decorated my little hallway office with a fern, lucite side table and vintage wallpaper-covered inspiration board.  I was telling H&H I was here to stay.  And I did.

    Within two months of starting as the editorial intern I was producing my first story and was published for the very first time.  I’ll always remember this story and shoot with fondness.  People still tease me about my little title, “Neoclassical Now” a big trend for 2008!

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography Michael Graydon; H&H January 2008


    From then on, I hit the ground running, attempting to make my mark in the editorial landscape with sunny, optimistic designs and a can-do approach.  Since my own decorating budget was tiny, I often improvised with DIY projects and this became part of my niche at H&H and allowed me to take on some exciting stories.  By June of 2009, my own little apartment – my first place with my new wife Sara (I got married as an intern!) was published and featured many of my make-do and DIY techniques.  It was my first cover!

    Over the next few years I spread my creative wings and had some fun injecting some colour and budget finds into the magazine, making the most of each story and hoping to inspire our readers.  In fact, I was pretty inspired myself by working with such a dedicated and talented team.  The small group that makes up the editorial team at House & Home is full of warm, stylish, creative and hilarious people who I’m proud to call my friends.  It was the first place I’d ever been where I was surrounded by people who really got me and where I was coming from.  I didn’t have to explain why a vintage find got me so fired up, nor restrain my enthusiasm for a certain paint colour.  They were just as excited and joined me in gushing about style, decorating, DIY and the latest mags on the new stands.  Below are some of my favourite stories and rooms created for House & Home. (Check out the portfolio tab above for more.)

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

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

    Styling by Michael Penney; Photography by Tracy Schumate; House & Home Magazine

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Michael Graydon; House & Home Magazine

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Angus Fergusson; House & Home Makeovers Issue

    Another special highlight was decorating the condo of an H&H colleague for a special issue.  Using the existing modern shell (and keeping it untouched) but layering it up with vintage and global finds transformed this box in the sky to a real home that reflected the owner and her life.

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Angus Fergusson; House & Home Condos, Lofts & Apartments

    Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Angus Fergusson; House & Home Condos Lofts & Apartments

    This spring was another highlight for my career at H&H – Sara and I had our first house published in the June issue.  Once again filled with affordable tips and tricks (a necessity around our house!) and inspired by the traditional colours and motifs of Maine and the northeastern coast, our house is truly a home and yes, it actually looks like this!  I can count on one hand the fancy props we borrowed for the shoot and trust me, they are minor.  Fancy photography never hurt though…

    Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine

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

    It’s been a wild and wonderful ride.  I’ll never forget the amazing transformations we created – taking a blank studio with concrete floors and turning it into a warm and inspiring living space.  Just like this one…

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

    The transformations alway seemed truly magical!

    And so, with only four days to go, I bid farewell to my home away from home –  my House & Home.  A new chapter begins.


  5. Birthday Dinner

    August 19, 2011 by admin

    I recently had the most wonderful birthday dinner with a few friends at our house. I grilled up some chicken for burgers and Sara baked one of her famous classic birthday cakes and we got to use a bunch of our jadite dishes collected this year for summer salads. The flowers in shades of coral and yellow were cheerful and the company was perfect! Thanks to my friends for a memorable night.

  6. Meg Braff: New York Delight

    August 18, 2011 by admin

    Traditional Home Magazine is presenting this year’s Hampton Designer Showhouse and I’m excited to see Meg Braff’s contribution to the project.

    In the mean time, check out Meg’s work in this New York home.  Sometimes it’s just nice to pour over pictures of a really well-appointed home, isn’t it?

    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Design by Meg Braff


    Check out more of Meg’s work here.

  7. Wallpaper Makeover

    August 17, 2011 by admin

    Sometimes a little old timey pattern is all a tired old room needs to totally transform.  If you’ve got a room with charming old bones like moulding, wood floors and great old windows, why not play up the features and create a special, romantic little hideaway that feels like the attic bedroom in an old farm house?  That’s exactly what I did here…





    Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


    This charming Thibaut wallpaper had just the old fashioned floral motif I was after (plus I’m a sucker for geraniums).  In order to get the aged feeling I wanted, I actually took a small power sander to the walls!  The results were fantastic and had me totally excited!

    Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


    Adding vintage accessories and classic antique furnishings furthered our dramatic makeover from student flophouse to artistic respite.  I’m always on the hunt for old bottles like this; they’re the perfect way to display a sprig of this or that.

    Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


    Note, we didn’t wallpaper the whole room, just a few key walls.  In the end it felt like the wallpaper had always been there with it’s muddy green trim and things had evolved over time.  Just the way I like it.  Hope you do too!

    Room Design by Michael Penney; Photography by Donna Griffith; House & Home Magazine


    Special thank you to my lovely and talented friend, Donna Griffith and her beautiful photography.  Check out her work here.

  8. The Dahlias Are Coming! The Dahlias Are Coming!

    August 16, 2011 by admin

    Planning a trip to the flower markets tomorrow morning…hoping to see lots of beautiful dahlias.  They are just so stinkin’ gorgeous.  Late summer is their time to shine.  Especially in the hands of a master like Amy Merrick.

    Floral Arrangements by Amy Merrick;

  9. Blue Ceramic Art

    August 16, 2011 by admin

    So sorry everybody – it’s been a slow week post-wise!  I really do apologize as things have been rather crazy for me lately.  I’ll tell you all about it soon…but in the mean time…

    Have you ever been stumped about how to decorate the space above your fireplace?  Check out my blog over at here for some colourful and unexpected suggestions.


    How gorgeous is this collection of blue and white plates, saucers and delft tiles?  Such a clever idea!

  10. NEW to Canada: CB2!

    August 10, 2011 by admin

    It seems like everybody and their brother is shouting from the roof tops about CB2 these days…In case you hadn’t heard, they’re coming to Canada – FINALLY!  Owned by parent company Crate & Barrel, CB2 is like the younger, hipper, more downtown version of Crate.  It’s the West Elm to Pottery Barn (in case you didn’t know they were the same big brother little brother company too!).

    While CB2 may not be totally my thing, I can definitely get behind some of these pieces – and the affordable prices.




    I’m not sure exactly when CB2 will open it’s Canadian doors in Toronto but they’ve been making a big stink about it for months now.  There’s a media shin-dig this week, so likely an announcement will be made then…I hope?  In fact part of the hold up may be that they’re converting the old Queen West hub, The Big Bop (corner of Bathurst and Queen) into their flagship store.  What had once been a regal urban facade had become a blue/purple punk haven and will now be power washed of it’s grimy past and become part of the rapidly gentrified stretch of Queen street west in Toronto.

    Future home of CB2 on Queen West in Toronto


    A 1928 photo of the location

    Fortunately it’ll be steps from our offices at H&H so I’ll check it out often!  Check out CB2 here.