A family trades in a wasted space for a comfortable room to read, play and hang out in Becky Harris November 29, 2016 “So many of my clients and even my own family are not using their formal dining rooms these days,” says interior designer Cynthia Soda. “A lot of us eat more casually, and unless you entertain a lot, the space can be a big waste.” In this home, the family didn’t even have a formal dining set, and the room had become a catchall for toys. They wanted a comfortable space where they could hang out, play with their kids and read instead of prepping for a formal dinner party that was never going to happen. Soda Pop Design Inc. Photos by Stephani Buchman Photography Room at a Glance What happens here: Reading, visiting, board games and Lego play Location: Toronto Size: 120 square feet (11 square meters) Designer: Cynthia Soda of Soda Pop Design The room is right off the entry, which Soda also refreshed. “I used a round rug because it invites you into the space more than sharp corners would have,” she says. “It also meant that we could push the seating area out toward the entry just a little bit to invite people in.” Her clients knew they wanted two comfy chairs, a big ottoman, and shelves and cabinets for lots of storage. They also loved the idea of a statement chandelier. “I like to play with scale, and this chandelier is great because it’s bigger than anyone would expect,” she says. “Even though attaching all of the little crystals was painstaking, it was worth it.” Chandelier: Niche Decor; chairs: DwellStudio; rug and pillows: Loloi Rugs; ottoman: Elte Soda Pop Design Inc. Soda wanted to make the most of every inch in the 12-by-10-foot room. The shelves line two sides, and a built-in bench wraps the wall between them. She recommends taking inventory of everything you want to store and display before planning your shelves, paying particular attention to what you want to conceal. In this case, board games, toys and lots of Lego sets are hiding behind closed doors and drawers beneath the built-in shelving and bench seat. She also knew it was crucial to find a good woodworker who could make her vision come to life. Brent Colclough of Colclo Custom Woodworking installed everything she’d drawn with only a few small revisions. Soda Pop Design Inc. Soda also advises planning for the outlets, light switches and thermostats. In this case, she was able to place a Nest thermostat (not visible) just below one of the shelves, in a spot where it...

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We show you how to create cute and clever Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, ornaments, wreaths and more Laura Gaskill November 28, 2016 Getting the crafting bug? Embrace your creative side by choosing a few doable projects to make and give. From gift wrap and advent calendars to decor and gifts, here are 25 easy and creative ideas to try this holiday season. Creative Ways to Count Down the Days Mini advent village. A tiny town of boxes filled with little treasures will enchant children and adults alike as you count down the days till Christmas. Get the project instructions here Hanging Hanukkah calendar. Celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah with a small gift to open after lighting the menorah. This wall hanging uses boxes wrapped in paper stamped with an olive branch motif (symbolizing peace) using an easy potato-print stamping technique. Get the project instructions here Paper advent garland. You can whip up this advent calendar in a matter of minutes: Simply tie small paper gift bags with ribbon of varying lengths to a branch, and label each bag with a numbered tag. Embellish the branch with colorful string or paint if you wish, and hang it from the mantle or on the wall. m the mantle or on the wall. Rustic advent wall hanging. If you have a sewing machine, consider stitching up an advent calendar that can be reused from year to year. The one shown here uses nubby linen for a rustic look, with numbers stenciled onto the pockets with fabric paint. Rustic advent wall hanging. If you have a sewing machine, consider stitching up an advent calendar that can be reused from year to year. The one shown here uses nubby linen for a rustic look, with numbers stenciled onto the pockets with fabric paint. DIY Gifts to Make in Multiples Teacup candles. Vintage mismatched teacups, pretty little bowls, ramekins — you can use just about any sort of container you want for this project. You’ll need a few simple ingredients that can be ordered online (soy wax flakes, wicks, essential oils) or found in a well-stocked crafts store, and in an afternoon you can create enough lovely scented candles to give to everyone on your list. Get the project instructions here Winter bulb gifts. Keep supplies for these cute paper-wrapped bulbs on hand and you’ll never have to scramble for a hostess gift again. These also make a thoughtful small gift for neighbors, teachers and anyone else you’d like to thank. Get the project instructions here Dip-dyed baskets. Take a plain store-bought basket for a swim in paint and transform it into a piece...

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By Kimberly Dawn Neumann | Nov 30, 2016 The holidays are fun for sure, but they’re also a huge drain of cash—so if buying gifts has depleted your bank account, there may not be much left over for a huge Christmas tree or major light show out front. But hey, no one said holiday decorations need to cost an arm and a kidney.The holidays are fun for sure, but they’re also a huge drain of cash—so if buying gifts has depleted your bank account, there may not be much left over for a huge Christmas tree or major light show out front. But hey, no one said holiday decorations need to cost an arm and a kidney. Just check out these cheap Christmas decorations for the home that cost under $5—or, better yet, nothing at all! Bonus: They’re not only easy on your wallet but on your time, too, so you aren’t running around like mad trying to pretty your place up. “When the holidays sneak up on you, decorating can seem overwhelming—like another expense and mandatory project instead of fun,” says Angela DeYoung, founder of Designs by DeYoung. “The good news is that there are lots of ways you can repurpose or ‘dress up’ things you already own to make your home seem seasonal without spending a fortune. A little creativity goes a long way!” With that in mind, here are some budget-but-still-beautiful tips from top designers to bring some holiday cheer to your house. Frame a festive card Holiday cards can be stunning, so why not use them? “When you receive a card that has special meaning to you, or an especially beautiful image, trim it to fit inside a standard-size frame and use it as tabletop decor,” suggests Jill Hosking-Cartland, owner and principal designer for Hosking Interiors. “Shop the existing frames in your home before purchasing a new one. Changing out photography or art in existing frames is a great way to get a fresh look without spending a thing.” Borrow from your yard For holiday decor, “don’t overlook the most budget-friendly decor source there is: your backyard,” says Hosking-Cartland. “Clip green branches from a tree or large bush, place in a pretty vase or garden urn you already own, and add color and texture with faux or real berries or other natural material.” Also, DeYoung suggests a bowl or arrangement of pine cones. For a little more flair, top it off with an ornament. Dress things up with your costume jewelry Nothing says “the holidays” like a bit of sparkle, and what better way to use your glittery jewelry collection than to deck out your home? “Up-cycle vintage jewelry for some added bling to...

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