Why is the world so beautiful?

Come with me into the field…to the bright chrome yellow of goldenrod and the deep purple of the aster – together radiant in alpine meadows. 
Why do asters and goldenrod grow and look so beautiful together?
They have you right at hello.
 It turns out that not only is this pairing a matter of aesthetics, but also because of ecology.Purple and gold are complementary colours and opposites on the colour wheel, and because they are so vivid together, they grow together in order to attract more pollinators.Beauty and Reciprocity.
Beauty has a purpose.Beauty is our opportunity to relish life.  Nothing else in our lives can do that. 

How often do you stop to appreciate beauty?

Attention, says Mary Oliver, is the rarest form of generousity.If we are at all paying attention to the living world, we cannot help falling in love with it over and over again.
(Although I keep thinking about Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias saying,“There is no such thing as natural beauty.”)


There is also beauty in imperfection; of things that show their age and use.

Scratches, chips, cracks.

Bowls. Chairs. Us.


Reciprocity broadens the notion of what it is to be human, not just a consumer.

Now, and more than ever, this is what we need to put our attention on.

The kind of deep attention that we pay as children is something that I cherish, that I think we all can cherish and reclaim — because attention is the doorway to gratitude, the doorway to wonder, the doorway to reciprocity. 

It worries me greatly that today’s children can recognize 100 corporate logos and fewer than ten plants.

It means they’re not paying attention.
                                                                                         –  Dr. Robin Walls Kinnerer

Reciprocity is different than sustainability.We can no longer think regarding this planet that we live on only in terms of sustainability. We can no longer think we have ownership over what we call resources, continuing to take and consume without returning anything back.

We need to recognize that we humans have gifts that we can give in return for all that has been given to us. It is a way to exhibit our humanity.

It is such joy, and our ultimate responsibility to have this mutual flourishing, instead of being satisfied with the narrow definition of sustainability. 

Pathological consumption has become so normalized that we scarcely notice it.                                                                        – George Monbiot 
We continue to trash our living world through pointless consumption and commodification. While researching her film, The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% of it remains in use six months after purchasing. Even goods expected to be held onto are condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable). http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/

So much now is comparatively inexpensive and easily accessible, that we almost condemn anything that is a bit worn. We see something that we want and instantly put it on our credit card, go in debt for it, dissing the idea of living without it. 

Instead of purchasing a sofa that should last decades, we buy one at a big box store, where not only are the materials substandard, but it is often uncomfortable, poorly designed, soon to be replaced and sent to the landfill.

Instead of purchasing quality bedding and towels, we buy the cheapest of materials, piling the multitudes in our closet.

Instead of buying art from a local artist, we purchase cheaply framed posters.

Instead of growing our own flowers and plants, we buy plastic or silk. 

Instead of using our special things everyday, we save them for special occasions, without realizing that being alive is a special occasion.

So many of us spend the first two-thirds of our lives accumulating stuff, only to spend the last one-third of our life trying to get rid of it.
So just how many towels per bathroom, bedsheets per bedroom, bathrobes, slippers, sets of dishes and placemats…does one need to successfully run a household?For the most part, the answer is two.

And two corkscrews. In case one ever breaks.


In our consumer-driven age, we have lost our sense of value, and I surmise, many more values that in the past, have served us well.

Humility, generosity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, and kindness.

Once appreciating beauty and it’s nurturing abundance, we have a deep responsibility to share this with others and to treat it with reverence and reciprocity.Vanity is the bane of us humans. Humility is the prize.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
We don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It all matters.
Everything belongs.
What I guessed when I loafed on the grass,
What I guessed while I lay alone in my bed…
        and again as I walked the beach under the
        paling stars of the morning.

                                                                 (p.59) Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

And we fly out, into the rest of our lives.

Bali-it or Not

Spring is the season for making summer travel plans. 

Except for Calgarians. We make them all year ’round. Basically because Calgary only has two seasons. Winter and Construction.

Travel is one of the few things that break us out of our potentially mundane routines and awaken us to the substance of happiness. Or at the very least force us out of our routine.
The mystic Thomas a Kempis said that when you go out into the world, you return having lost some of yourself.

Me, I just seem to get lost. Period.

For example. While following imprecise and incoherent directions for a post office in Ubud, I got (surprise) lost, and stumbled into a cultural dance performance. Wandering in, I found that the only place to sit was under a ficus religiousa tree. 

But I felt extremely enlightened sitting there, to say the least. (A Bodhi tree, to those of you less enlightened.)

Actually it was a jackfruit tree. But you weren’t there, so I can say anything I want to. 

Then again, Walter Benjamin said that to be lost is to be fully present, calling it, the “art of straying”. 
Although ‘straying’, I have historically discovered, can also lead to physical dysfunctions, impoverishment, a loss of a sense of humour, increasing irritability and facial tics.

At least that what happened to me while tangentially driving a weather-beaten and mis-managed scooter through an obscure Indonesian island with no headlights or helmet, one working brake, and with various mechanical parts periodically dropping off like Hansel and Gretel’s crumbs in the forest.

...travel has never really been about where you go. It’s about the person you’ve become when you return.     Brian Chesky – Airbnb CEO
Travel also gives us the opportunity to “see”. Maybe differently. Maybe better.

Hey, we might even act better. 

It may be an obvious point, but the places where most of us live are also someone else’s travel destinations, and there’s a huge difference between the way that we look at where we live and how other people see it.

If we only pay attention.

Travel means nothing unless you’re prepared to open your mind, as well as your eyes, to notice what you have already seen.

And to wonder why you really went in the first place.


Orchids. Heat. Sun. Beach. Ocean. Greenery. Humidity. 

To look at something familiar and see it anew; this is the defining characteristic of a curious mind –  the tricky and desirable feat of finding everything both familiar and surprising.
Along with a lifetime aspiration to cross off all twelve interesting places on the 1000 Places to See before you Die App, which incidentally does not add up to 1000, I also am aspiring to be a chronically afflicted biophiliac. 
This translates as “ the love of life”. (Wait while I luxuriate in the afflictions of my wanton emotions.)

Mary Oliver, the patron saint of hospice, as so many of her poems deal with the beauty of life, called this feeling, “the sudden awareness of the citizenry of all things within one world.” 

Travel is one of the things that seems to bring this on. While travelling, one finds oneself noticing all sorts of things afresh:

people in the street,
on the beach,

…beautiful fabrics, baskets.
…restaurant art.
….and other art.
Slow down. You’ll get there faster.


So walk slow, and listen.The only way to get to the places that matter is to slow down.
But maybe the real art of travel is in the art of letting go.

Letting go of expectations…agendas….maps…heavy clothes…your I-phone…

In your own self-deprecating way, of course.

Which brings us home. 

(Bet you never thought I was going to get there.)

To spaces that are maybe not as large as we would have hoped, or could afford, or have selected.

Like our chosen travel destinations, small-space living asks us to be a bit more demanding about what we need to get out of it.

We need to think beyond the single, conventional purpose and ask ourselves, “Am I using everything to advantage?” 

Just because an item was designed for one purpose, doesn’t mean that’s all it can be used for. If each room or piece of furniture or room only fulfills one purpose, it’s not working hard enough.

Photos courtesy of IKEA
 Now if you have lived on this planet as an adult for more than two decades, then it is highly probable that you have quite the accumulation. Nowadays people are a bit more aware of how much stuff they have because it is beginning to be a bit of a social stigma.

There is a name for these people. Hoarders. Back in the day, they were just called grandmas.

There are probably items that need to go — chairs, sofas, tables, lamps, umbrellas, shoes, your Grade Six photo— heroic for having lived life in happy or unhappy homes.
The best way to get rid of things you don’t need is to get rid of things you don’t need.

I don’t blame you if you need a minute to process this information.

Till next page…


Stay in your Lane

The meme, “Stay in your lane”, started with a controversial post by Luis Rosias, which basically meant, “You are beneath me, and I would prefer that you do not trouble me with your inferior life and petty problems, thank you very kindly.”

In other words, don’t challenge people who are better than you – you are wasting their time.

Ever the contrarian, I prefer to think of the meme this way.

ONE. Do what you do best. Play to your particular skills and experience.

And TWO. Slow down. There is no immediate need to pass that particular person at that particular time.

Unless of course, someone in your car is having a baby or you are out of red liquorice twists.

But the high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy – Hermann Hesse

Now what I know next, I know mostly from various unreliable sources.

1. Pick a lane.

These days we seem to be living by the motto, “As much as possible, as fast as possible.” We seek to be entertained, rather than entertain ourselves – or others. We then wonder why we continually feel dissatisfied, are left yearning, feeling less and less joy.

Know that if you are not content, there is nothing to buy this weekend that can change that.

We are barraged (and addicted) to social media that is constantly imparting the message that everyone is living an exceptionally exciting life, while ours is downright mediocre at best.

Knowing this not to be entirely true, (Yes, your best friend is now just jetting off to stay in a butler-attended overwater bungalow in the Maldives), is alone significant and consoling.

According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003.

That’s about five exobytes of data a day for those of you keeping score.

You might need a minute to process this information.

One reason that you may now be feeling a disquieting desire to move to a remote village in Latvia may be that questionable paint colour on your bedroom wall.

Or the fact that you can’t confidently entertain in your living room.

Or truly relax with a good book in a superb chair.

Or have run out of names for all your dust bunnies.

2. Get help if you’re lost.

Now if you have read any of my prior diatribes on my inability to find my car, my way home, or The Road to Ithaca, you may choose to skip past this section.

I think what overwhelms most people is that it’s hard to pick a lane to get started in.

Is it your overstuffed and unorganized closets, your old living room furniture, no space to do crafts, or the lack of storage in your home office?

Or have realized that your living space is not a storage space, and that 25 pairs of jeans is 20 pairs too many.

So get help. The best quality help you can find. They can help you drive in your desired lane, as well as avoid wrong turns, dead ends, fines, and potholes.

I know it all started the moment I entered your life…but you just have to stop living on the cutting edge of ecstasy.

‘Nough said.

Your home should be a place where you can live the life you want.

3. Research the Roadway

It’s kinda like a dry run before you have to show up to give your first Toastmasters speech.

This means thinking about how you want to live and feel in your home.

It’s thinking about what you want to do in your home and how to accomplish it.

You don’t need your home to be camera ready for Architectural Digest, have it look like a luxury hotel room, or decorate it for the gala event of the century.

Design success comes down to being confident in your choices.

Some people decorate for resale. Others try to reproduce what they saw on HGTV, their neighbours home, or reproduce the look they saw on the showroom floor.

What you need to do is make room for what really matters, to identify what is and what is not working, while wondering whether white shoes are ever really a tasteful choice.

4. Pick an estimated time of arrival.

This will help ensure you don’t get disillusioned because your plan is taking too long to yield results. If you’ve done your research/budget, you now have good information about how long it might take to get where you’re going.

Make your plans to match something reasonable and rhythmic.

Commit to your plan and stick with it for the duration or until you’ve reach your destination.
5. Enjoy the ride.

Don’t be distracted by other crazy drivers that seem to be outstripping you on the roadway. They all too often get caught in a traffic jam or get in an accident by rushing.

Besides, you might be right behind the car that when it turns off, you’ll go miles ahead in your journey – faster than you imagined.

’til next page.
P.S. This blog would’ve been shorter if I had more time.

Estate Sale – Before and After

Living “Danish-ly”

Today is either going to be a high or a low depending on your current outlook and station in life.

I realize we are living in times that are fraught with controversy and I certainly don’t mean to cause anymore strife amongst us, but sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and talk about what really matters.

And, today, that is the return of sweatpants.


Now what in the name of heaven, you ask, do sweatpants have to do with staging a home?

Not to be accused of trying to rescue sweatpants from sartorial disrepute, it is merely a launching point for how a home should feel when buyers enter it.

Comfortable and cozy.
But at the same time, sweatpants will never be chic.

Just listen to the name. SWEAT-pants. They are designed to sweat in. Not cool. They are casual and sloppy, baggy at the knees, fraying and dragging at the heels.

A little like we feel by Friday afternoon.

Craft Boner Home is where the sweatpants are Art Print

(You know I’m about to give a lecture on everything I know about staging, which takes about 37 minutes, but mostly centres on how I am doing at any given moment.)
Many of the homes I go in to stage look and feel like droopy sweatpants, instead of comfortable and cozy.

The furniture is leaning around the edges of the room like wallflowers, little pieces of art are hung haphazardly on the wall, and closets are cluttered with, you guessed it, too many pairs of sweatpants.

So what is a stager to do?

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of HYGGE

One of the most important thing in staging a home for sale is setting out scenes of comfort.

The Danes know a thing or two about this, and it starts with one small word, HYGGE: roughly translated to ‘cosiness’.

For the Danes, it’s all about creating an ambient atmosphere and enjoying the good things of life: some material, some more important.

It’s the feeling of hands cupping a warm mug of tea; sheepskin rugs thrown over chairs; glowing candles and lamps; conversation around the fireplace and cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven.

Although imperative in staging a home for sale, hygge is hard to pronounce, especially if you’re eating a cinnamon bun.

Winter is the most hygge time of year. Yes, it’s STILL winter.

So now is the opportune time.
So how can you create hygge in your listings?


“Hygge” Ideas:
fluffy towels hanging in the bathroom
a thick down duvet on the bed with a cashmere blanket folded at the end
candles on the fireplace mantle
a stack of books on the night table
a tray of gourmet hot chocolates, coffees or teas, and sweet cardamon jam set on the kitchen counter
a bowl of popcorn in the family room
soft music playing in the background
a floor lamp beside a comfy reading chair draped with a nubby throw
fresh flowers on the dresser
a pair of sheepskin slippers set by the bed

Could all of this be any more hygge?

And by the way, no, you can’t use showhome pictures on MLS for your listings.
You might need a minute to process this information.
I don’t know when in Exodus, Moses says, “We’re out of here.” But I’m just so hoping it was on a Monday.

To Victoria, with Love

Victoria, B.C.


It was a day of mismanaged expectations and mysterious chocolates.
In other words, if you ever see me at Bernard Callebaut and I’m about to put five packages of ganache cream chocolates in my cart, please stage an intervention right there in the aisle. Thank you in advance.
I was there to style, source materials, and all be an all around design genius for my client’s newly purchased condo. Looking like forty miles of rough road, in that I had to be up at 5 am to catch the first bird out, I was greeted graciously and soon whisked away for nourishment.


Victoria is a city of gourmand and visual delights set against a background of sea and sky, peppered with shops to engross the most skeptical and reticent shoppers.

Sprigs of new growth shoot up intermittently through damp soil, paired with tentative, brave blooms, the rest waiting, timorous of another hit of snow.

The textures and nuances of green overwhelms! Mosses, evergreens, foliage. They revive, restore and renew – nature’s neutrals.

Any Canadian who drops in at this time of the year elegiacally resists perusing the real estate section of the local paper.

Given I had a multitude of days to complete my assignment, we decided that our sole purpose that day would be to purchase a few scant provisions to augment upcoming meals.

But true to form, we soon got on a tangential course sidetracked by the usual.

…a clothing store filled with a cornucopia of jackets and shoes. (You all know how I feel about shoes.) Yup, bought a pair…and a pair of vintage gold earrings and almost a jacket.

Next door a bookstore, which took another hour, and then – how is it possible to walk by the storybook wonder of Murchie’s Tea without buying a package and imbibing in a piece of passion fruit chocolate cake?

We then came to the most fabulous Good Will store in the world and fell in love with two chairs that were aching for a bold upholstery fabric. We hauled them down the street to an upholstery shop and pursued books of fabric samples until we found the perfect one.

They’ll be ready in four weeks.
And the masses and abundance of fresh flowers!

Between you and me, I think there should be a law against plastic flowers in Victoria. It’s scandalous.

One only needs a bit of patience or a few pennies.

We then purchased tickets for a play for that night, took photos of totem poles, slipped into a delightful coffee shop to sip a cappuccino and share an almond croissant, unearthed an antique train set for a son-in-law, and finally an art gallery where we settled on a small oil and a felted rooster for the fireplace mantle.

We were back home when we remembered that we forgot to buy the food.


Usually I’m so organized, sometimes I think I should just be put in charge of the world.

So I called my five days in Victoria, The Art of Carefree Timelessness (time spent together without an agenda).
Any relationship thrives when this is done on a regular basis. Nothing is to be gained by hurrying, the sure mark of an amateur. And most everything is to be gained by its converse.

There are so many trying to get somewhere, to get something done. They have longer to-do lists that time for the people that mean the most to them.

And the time passes, the day never to come again.

The Danes know a thing or two about living life well and it starts with one small word: hygge, which roughly translates to ‘cosiness’. It just might be the recipe for a better lived life.

Hygge is more than just a decorating philosophy, it is about creating an ambient atmosphere and enjoying the good things of life; some material, some more important.

It is a philosophy for the Danes that enables them to also understand the importance of simplicity. It’s prioritizing their lives with time to unwind and slow down with good people, camaraderie, and general well-being.

A glowing fireplace or candlelight can be hygge. A comfortable reading chair with soft music playing in the background. A down comforter.

And a great pair of shoes is definitely hygge.

Love brings us HOME


Well, Valentines’ Day is upon us. I knew it was coming. It happens every year around this time.

This once-a-year event where LOVE is acclaimed in Hallmark cards, chocolates, red roses, boxes wrapped in string, and an 8 p.m. dinner reservation.

On this one day, we wax lyrical, honouring this most powerful of emotions, but what of the other 364 days of the year?

Now more so than ever, there is so much need for love. Attention and presence.

When we let ourselves get pulled apart — then we can be broken apart. Love is the most radical activism of all.

“Imagine all the people sharing all the world…”

Imagine if we all just loved ourselves for who we are.
Imagine if we honoured our heart’s desires and told ourselves the truth.

Imagine if we stopped thinking about our little problems and other’s past regressions and lived hopefully in the present.

Imagine if we were just kind – to others and ourselves.
Wouldn’t that be so absolutely astonishingly LOVE-ly?












It is only kindness that makes sense anymore.

It is only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and buy bread.

It is only kindness that allows you to be there for another’s grieving.

It is only kindness that offers a helping hand to someone you do not even know.

It is only kindness that raises its head from the crowd to say, it is I you have been looking for, and then stays in your path like a shadow.
Kindness is grace. A charism.


“Be not solitary, and be not proud. See others, and allow yourself to be seen. Help others, and allow yourself to be helped. Make contact, and be open to kindness.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Self-love at its very core is self-acceptance; the commendable and the not-so-commendable parts of yourself, and to know that you are enough as you are.

You have nothing to prove. All you need to do is be the very best version of yourself and to give of yourself to others.

It is about understanding that you, and everyone around you, matters.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

We need to live:

With Hearts Before Agendas.

With Lives Ahead of Schedules.





“Life was never meant to be safe. It was meant to be lived right to the end.” – Caroline Myss

There is a fire burning inside you. It’s your job to find it and keep it lit.

It could be about rekindling a past flame

or igniting a new one

or shifting from a dreamer into a doer

or savoring the caress of a love long gone.

it’s about knowing…

that there’s no such thing as coincidence and that it’s never too late to pick up

a guitar

or a paintbrush

or to forgive

or to make a new friend

or to invite someone to break bread with you

or to remember that only amateurs hurry
or to write a love letter. If only to yourself.

“Eat what you want, exercise your prerogative, and find a good plastic surgeon who gives frequent-flyer miles. – Miss Piggy

So go ahead and sing out loud in the car with the windows down, dance in your living room, paint your walls any colour you want (almost).

Drink port and eat chocolate cake.
Fall asleep with a love poem.

Throw parties. Maybe just for yourself.

Scribble, draw and write poetry.
Fill you bedroom with vases of flowers.

Read such good books you lose track of time.

And go ahead and sleep on crisp white sheets.

…discover and recover and uncover.

“I have sent you my invitation, the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living. Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Lets do it!” Just stand up quietly and dance with me…” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance


Bein’s’ beleivin’.

Laugh that you lived and dance that you dared.

Galentines’ Day

For those who are not yet aware of this most speculator day…

this is a day where we celebrate with our BFFs, giving each other compliments and talking about our accomplishments and shoes.

You always have to talk about shoes.

Preferably in song.



It’s bloody briillant. A truly beautiful occasion.

Way better than Valentines’ Day.

Better than wondering how many times is too many to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, why our parents thought white Wonder bread slathered in Miracle Whip was a good idea, or listening to your favourite boy bands on repeat.

I think it should be mandatory. A national holiday. A flag designed.

Romantic partners come and go, but girlfriends outstay all of them. Girlfriends are our support system, a bond untainted by sex and wilted roses bought in a rush.

You know…



…uteruses before duderuses. Fries before guys. Holy mantras for this day.

Although Ryan Gosling is really nice to look at.

Galentines’ Day is “…like Lilith Fair, minus the angst.”
– Leslie Knope, the patron saint of everything lady-powered

Galentines’ Day is not only for those without romantic attachments, but for all gals.

Girl-ships are EVERYTHING. Our women friends are our life blood, our support. They don’t care how weird you look in hats, and never, ever, take the wine glass away.

After all, no good story started with someone eating a salad.
And all life’s potential is unlocked when you are dancing with your Galentine.

Cause at my age, one can’t be too careless.

Fifty Shades Darker

In honour of this day, I like to pay ode to libertines, my favourite brand of ladies.

So, who are libertines?

Libertines live according to their own rules with complete abandonment, but ever with great style.

Some of my favourite female libertines:
Jane Digby
Elizabeth Smart
Sarah Bernhardt
George Sand
Isak Dinesen
Beryl Markham
Victoria Woodhill
Josephine Baker
Isadora Duncan
Ninon de Lenclos

 – never give up a room with a view
– are often called a gutsy broad
– are invited everywhere but rarely go out, which always makes their presence an event
– have a body/mind/spirit approach to nutrition, which consists of red seedless grapes, chocolate truffles, and champagne
– give great gifts
– consider not being told she looks beautiful, the real sexual harassment
– worry that they aren’t whispering behind her back

Good galfriends, at least your very best ones, express some interest in you. They really don’t need much to go on. In fact, almost anything will do.

I feel that this is now an opportune time to thank you for letting me do things which I should never have done, drink wines I did not like, and enduring some of my more deplorable faults, of which I have narrowed down to the top five. Okay, six.

Number One: I think very highly of my own opinion.

Number Two: I require an amount of devotional attention that would make Marie Antionette blush, while wondering why there are so many yellow Skittles compared to the other flavours in a pack.

Number Three: I routinely take on more than I can handle which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic overtures.

Number Four: I am at various times, unbelievably tedious. Of which I whole-heartedly apologize for. Even though I can’t remember which times those were.

Number Five: I have been//maybe still am, a master arcturologist. I’ll let you look that up. Although I don’t think it’s a real word.

Number Six: And the most deplorable of all? It takes me a long while to get to this point…I rest in the paradoxical position of feeling nostalgia for a situation, which in fact, has not yet happened.
(This isn’t going exactly the way I acted it out in the shower.)

So, today, and everyday, is OUR day.

Cause as Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marching across your face.”

Have a happy, happy Galentines’ Day with any or all of your irreplaceable galentines.


P.S. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to make this shorter.

8 Reasons Your Home May Not Bet Working

It feels like home to me.

Living beautifully in a home is like dropped stitches in a sweater. The piece starts out with a distinct pattern to follow, but then something goes amiss.

The yarn gets twisted, a knot forms, an extra stitch is knit, or a different stitch is inadvertently made.

But this is what can make the sweater all the more complex and interesting. Or just a plain mess.

But like a sweater altered with intention, a beautiful home also can be made when the pattern is altered to suit how you want to live everyday and how you want your home to look.

When you walk into a well-designed home you just know is it good.

Like a good story.

You just know the story is good without necessarily knowing why it is good.

There is always one common denominator in a good story. It’s when the change happens – the wild storm at sea, the invasion of an army, the near fatal car crash.

These are the dropped stitches – when things get interesting.

This is when the story truly begins.

girl gazing into bookAM


An interesting home, like an interesting story, is unique, nuanced.

And it needs to be true for you.

Just like characters in a good story are not clichés, nor should your home be a cliche.

A home should be engaging and impressive, but at its core, familiar and safe.

piano cushions


It may be that the home suggests sunny, lazy afternoons spent without having to leave the room…

the comfort of warm winter evenings snuggled in a deep-cushioned sofa…

the inspirational reading hours sunk in an armchair next to the fireplace…

the dinner party camaraderie of conversation and shared meals…

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 4.07.26 PM


Now my last image comes directly from the reign of Queen Victoria.

Because this would mean that I actually attend dinner parties, but I can’t really remember the last time that happened.

Most social events I attend involve some sort of sporting event with stale bags of Cheetos and a paper cups of cold coffee, and I am rarely (never) asked about my knowledge of nineteenth century British royalty or art. Which, frankly, is a shame.

Most people do not see things as they are because they see things as they are! – Fr. Richard Rohr

Nevertheless, the truest lesson I know about designing a beautiful home – and life – is that we must move in the direction of our true calling, not anyone else’s.

Truth or dare.

Our story is just that – our story, not anyone else’s – as is your home.

If you don’t tell your stories as they are meant to be told, you are somehow diminished, living with your eyes wide shut.

If you are open and honest and true, others will benefit, yes. But so will you.

We need our home to remember who we are.

Or who we were. Or even who we want to be.

The oil painting of dry rock fences from the island of Inishmore, the Persian carpet purchased after years of waiting, the vase that was a wedding gift from your childhood friend, the burled walnut sideboard inherited from an aunt, the platter that your Grandfather brought over from his homeland, or the chair from your first apartment.

This collection can only belong to one person: you.

We now ask of our home – what needs to be corrected? And why now?

All things communicate.

We need to rely on a certain kinds of chairs, dinnerware, and bed coverings to straighten and secure us with who we are and who we want to be.

Home is the place where our soul feels that it has found its proper physical container, where, everyday, the objects we live amongst remind us of what we hold most dear.

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The smallest things in our homes can offer encouragement, they can be reminders, consoling thoughts, warnings or correctives, as we go about time in them.
Thomas Moore maintains that if you don’t love things in particular, you cannot love the world, because the world exists in individual things.

But I want to tell you this from the deepest part of my heart and soul…

I forgot what I was going to say.



Then again, some things are better left unsaid, which I generally realize after I’ve said them.


Without a connection to things, we can become bereft, separated from the world, maybe even dismissing the value of people and home.

Like the mission statement of Calgary company, HouseCharming: every home should be a haven that creating feelings of delight and happiness, thus inspiring one to contribute to a higher quality of lifestyle and thus, community.

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As much as we try to replicate the feelings we’ve had in homes we visited and loved, usually there is often something in our home that is disingenuous – just a bit off.

Interior designers make it their business to study these details that make each room work well and look beautiful.

And for a very long time.

Elegiac Inculcations Why A Room May Not Be Working

Well, I can’t really prove it, but generally these problems don’t just arise unless the Rapture happened and it believed in Jesus.

But I know what’s going to happen here.

It’s going to lead to a litany of questions. “Is a bench seat better than two cushions?”, “What colour leather should I buy for a sofa?”, “Is burgundy trendy?”, “Should I buy everything from the same store?”, “Are matching chairs passe?”, “Would you have voted for Trump?” And so on.

Nevertheless, I am just trying to be the best version of myself.

let in



1. Selecting the Wrong Sofa

As far as I’m concerned, there really are two important decisions in a person’s life: choosing a mate and buying a sofa. If that seems like an overstatement, you just haven’t found the right mate.
This can give anybody a case of discouraged.



2. Falling Into the Showroom Look
The two worst qualities imaginable in a writer is being lazy and being a perfectionist. As so with designing a room, these also are the essential ingredients for torpor and misery.

If you want to have beautiful home and live a contented, creative life, you do not want to cultivate either one of those traits. Trust me.

Instead you need to learn how to become a deeply disciplined 80/20 person.

There is nothing worse than walking into a house that looks like it just backed up to an IKEA store. (Just shopping in IKEA can be a profoundly debilitating experience.)
And if I never see another LACK wall shelf again, then I will consider my life a triumph.


A mistake many make is being taken in with trends. People go to an home show and see a countertop that changes colour when they touch it. Or see brightly coloured kitchen cabinetry.

Yes, it is new and exciting, but will it stand the test of time?

Steer clear of trends and stay on the side of timeless and classic.

The secret is in sticking to a high/low mix and blending the expensive with the budget-friendly in every room.


The Artichoke Lamp by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen Lighting.
3. Poorly Arranged Furniture
Think of your furniture in your room like friends at a party. Some people are animated in intimate clusters and some are alone – strained and stationed against involvement.

These are the wallflowers. Wallflowers don’t have much fun.

They just sit quietly on the couch making everyone feel awkward for having a good time.

4. Buying an incorrectly sized rug
In a more formal room, an area rug can fill the space, leaving 12 inches of bare floor around the edges of the room.

If you do not want such a large rug, you can ground the furniture by having the front legs of the sofa and accent chairs sit on the rug. Or alternatively, have two inches of floor exposed in front of the seating units.
5. Hanging Art Incorrectly

The last thing you’d want is to undermine any art’s beauty is by hanging it poorly.

As Aritha van Herk said, “At my age, one can’t be too careless.”

That being said, the right piece can exponentially elevate a lackluster room. They’ve got the power, indeed.

Beauty (and art) is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t worry about pleasing anyone but yourself.

Collecting art is a personal journey, whether you’re making purchases on a piece-by-piece basis or cultivating a long-term collection. The key is to select pieces that resonate with you so that your collection begins to reflect who you are. You may find that the process of collecting art is a lot less intimidating than you may have assumed.


P. S. This may be my final post reminding you of the perils of hanging art incorrectly. (Please hold your applause).

6. Improper Lighting
You cannot ignore the principles of scale when it comes to choosing ceiling and table top lighting.

Choose lighting proportionately to the size of the room, the height of the ceiling, the table it is on, the table underneath it.etc.

Beyond regular overhead lighting (which should always be on a dimmer), what other places need mood, task or accent lighting.

Is your reading nook dark and gloomy? Do you have adequate bedside lighting? Is your staircase poorly illuminated?

Think of adding lighting at eye level in all rooms with table lamps and sconces to cast a more flattering light, and disperse your light sources around the room—ideally in a triangular shape in each room.


7. Not Mixing Periods and Styles

Drumroll please.

Work with what you already have as much as possible. You really need to take stock of what you have and see if you can work with something that you already own. If you can’t, then you wait until you can actually do it correctly.
In other words, your room ignominiously probably has no outstanding characteristics.

In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

What this means, other than procuring a good whiskey, is that too much of one thing is never a good idea.

Or it may be best said to follow the one or two of the 2 Cardinal Rules of Design: Less is more and contrast is far more interesting.

A study published in Social Psychology Quarterly found that there is a correlation between less traditional, more open-minded people, and higher intelligence.

So if your décor doesn’t fit a traditional mold, it may actually mean you’re smarter than average. If you mix and match periods and styles or go against the grain of classic decorating “rules,” it may be a sign of your great intellect.

Hey, anytime I can help.


8. Insufficient editing
Or as I like to say, punctuation-ally challenged.

How do you decide what souvenirs and tokens of your life to keep and what to give away?

Think of it like having relatives come to stay. You love them, you’re thrilled they are going to be with you for a while, but you’re relieved when they leave.

It’s just as important to continue defining who you are as to continue eliminating who you are not.

Coco Chanel said it best: Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.

The same can probably be said for your rooms – and my lucubrations.

Maybe I’ll just renounce modern life and do good deeds. Or maybe move to Latvia.

Yeah…when pigs fly.

A new client space

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