Archive for May 2013

My Decorating Hints Part 1

I put together the following list in the hope that it would assist you in creating the designer finish you may be looking for. They are the basics/tools that we decorators/designers find help us a lot on a project. I hope that you too will find them useful.


Test drive a prospective new sofa. Sit, lie down, put your feet up. Testing before buying can avoid costly mistakes.

Make sure to measure doorways, staircases, hallways and elevators. You want to avoid being unable to get the sofa into your home!


Prices can vary greatly. It’s a good idea and can be veryworthwhile to get at least three different quotes. Understand that the lowest quote isn’t necessarily the best deal and they may not be quoting on exactly the same level of scope of work.

Plumbing and electrical fixtures should be CSA approved to ensure you get approval from the inspector.

Make regular visits and be available to make quick decisions and/or to deal with unforeseen changes. You also want to ensure that the work is progressing according to plan.

Check references and listen to your gut instincts.

Make sure you order things early. You will be surprised at the lead time required. To keep delays to a minimum, place orders two to three months before work is set to start.

A good thing: make sure you and your partner look at magazines & catalogues to determine your decorating style. You will be very glad you did this!


Colour is one of the best tools for a small space. Avoiding high contrast between walls and furniture will visually increase your space.

Furnishings in small spaces should be dual purpose, portable, functional, wall-hung, modular or built-in. Examples such as sofa beds or day-beds, tables with drop leaves or that fold, nesting tables, stacking or folding chairs, slipper-chairs, storage ottomans that allow for both extra seating and storage. A Parsons style table that can be used both for a dining table and a desk.

Using the wall space (think vertical), for built-in cabinets and shelves for storage and/or display. Furniture with legs instead of skirted, will increase the space visually and give a light and airy feeling.

Consider a custom built closet. It is a good way to use every bit of space you have available.

Consider using adjustable rods and shelves that will allow you to rearrange your closet according to your changing needs.

Sliding doors/pocket doors are a great option to regular doors; such as closet doors, bathroom doors, powder room doors.

Don’t select paint colours, fabrics or anything until you have taken them home and viewed them there at different times during the day. The fluorescent lighting in stores is generally not the lighting you have in your home and therefore the colours and textures will look totally different there. Take paint samples home and ask for fabric swatches. You will be glad you took the extra time to do so.

Hang you chandelier 30” above your dining table if you ceilings are 8’ high. For a higher ceiling, hang the fixture 3” higher for every additional foot.

Dining room lighting. Secondary lighting is a good idea. For instance, wall sconces and either lamps or candles on top of a buffet would look great. Don’t forget to use a dimmer switch for the chandelier and adding candlelight to the table provides a wonderful atmosphere.

A “baseboard” tip. To add height to existing baseboards, install a small 2” piece of moulding 1-2” above existing baseboard (thick end up, thin end down). Paint both mouldings and the wall space between them your chosen trim colour (a warm white would work well). This trick will give the impression of higher baseboards.

That garage sale find such as a side table can be renewed with spray paint and new hardware such as sexy crystal knobs for a bedroom or guest room.

Stay with your chosen colour scheme and decorating style throughout your home. By doing this you will create a home that is harmonious and has a sense of flow and rhythm.

Take your swatches and colour chips with you when you go out shopping. This will be of great help in keeping to both your colour scheme and decorating style.  Carrying a small retractable measure tape is a good thing, it will ensure what you are considering purchasing will fit.

Choose your flooring first and work up from there. It will make things much easier when choosing the rest of your furnishings. Trust me on this one.

Oracibo Update


Welcome to the latest version of my blog!

We have changed things up a bit and now when you visit the site you will “land” on the blog page where all my blogs appear. When you click on the recipe button it will take you to the “latest recipes and recipe archive”. This change will make it much easier for you to navigate my blog.

Enjoy your visits and don’t forget to sign up for the RSS Feed and Subscribe so you can receive notifications when a new post or recipe goes up.

Lighting And More

It is always a challenge to find lighting fixtures that you really love. Trust me, when I was studying and doing research for the lighting course for my Interior Decorating Diploma, I came to the conclusion that there were a lot of really bad/ugly lighting fixtures out there!

Part of my job at a design firm was sourcing items specified for a project, sales centre/show suite. Luckily, I had spent the better part of 5 years doing homework projects for my Interior Decorating Diploma and love researching or searching for just the right thing!

A few years ago, the art glass shade on our bridge lamp got broken. It was really lovely, yellow with a “gasoline” effect. We had purchased both the 1920’s era bridge lamp and shade some time ago from a vintage lighting store in New Westminster that, unfortunately, no longer exists. The man who ran the store was an avid collector of vintage lighting and would travel to the east coast of the U.S. every year searching for interesting pieces.

Now comes the challenging bit; how to find a replacement shade. There was always Architectural Lighting on Main St. but they have retired.

Thank goodness for the Internet. After much searching on Canadian sites for something that would work, I came across a website for a company called “Rejuvenation”. They not only have stores in Portland, they have an online business too! They sell lighting fixtures, shades, hardware and house parts as well and you can request their catalog.

After scanning through their on-line catalogue I found an “etched glass” shade that I thought would look pretty darned good. I actually think it looks a lot better than the one that got broken! It gave the vintage bridge lamp a more modern vibe that suits our eclectic style. Whew, the search is over, mission accomplished.

 Rejuvenation would be a great resource if you are renovating or re-decorating or you are looking for interesting items or replica pieces from period basics to mid-century modern. They’ve got it all. I am planning on ordering some of their crystal pulls.


More Italian Stories


When planning our 3rd trip to Europe, I busily made loads of notes about sites to see, restaurants to try, etc. In most cases I omitted looking up the addresses for restaurants thinking they would be easy to find!

One day we wanted to go to Da Gino. It was a restaurant recommended in an article I had read. The location was given as “near the Spanish Steps”. So, never having been there before, thought no problem! Well, we found the Spanish Steps all right and searched around for Da Gino to no avail. Oh, we were there without a GPS, address of any kind and never even thought of Googling it. Boy….

We really wanted to go to Da Gino to try their “rabbit in white wine”.**

Before this trip I had attempted to make Cacio e Pepe. Not wonderful. In Roma it’s almost the national dish. We had lunch at Maccheroni, a place that was recommended in a book I read, and it was on their menu. Wow….we ordered a first course, or primi, to share. What can I say? Absolutely fabulously cheesy, creamy with pecorino and cacio (a local cheese) and generously seasoned with coarsely ground black pepper. They use a long pasta that is very common in Rome called Tonnarelli, a thick spaghetti. Should have ordered a plate each and forgotten about the secondo!

My Husband threw down the gauntlet when we came home and asked that I come up with something similar. Not an easy task as I think Maccheroni’s method is unlike anything I have tried or seen. The closest I have come so far is a recipe that uses a combination of Pecorino and Grana Padano, some butter and lots of pepper, probably more than one would think would be good. But…the good news is that it is!


**If you would like to make the rabbit or chicken in white wine and the cacio e pepe, please go to  Braised Rabbit With Rosemary & Cacio e Pepe.

Where’s The Pizza?

Raise your hand if you don’t like a good pizza. There are pizza wars going on in Vancouver lately. Who has the best crust? Who has the best toppings?

Ask anyone and they will tell you it is all about the crust. We agree!  I think the best pizza I have had the good fortune to eat, was in Gubbio, Italy; simple, with a bit of Italian sausage, onion & best of all, fresh porcini mushrooms.  Loved, loved, loved it!

Unfortunately, we don’t (sigh), have an outdoor wood burning oven. It’s on our wish list once we win the lottery! So, the pizza dough I make is baked on a pizza stone in a 550 F oven and makes a crispy, yeasty crust. I also like to follow the Italian way and put small amounts of just a few toppings on my pizza. It bakes faster; doesn’t get soggy and after all, it’s about the crust! Sometimes I do a pizza bianco (no tomato sauce) and sometimes one with a tomato sauce, it just depends on my mood. We like them either way!

If you are a pizzaiolo (pizza maker) you are always on the lookout for the perfect crust and I am no exception.  Recently, I tested a new pizza dough.  It’s Jim Lahey’s No Knead 18 hour rise dough.  The dough has a great flavour & his method for baking works great!


*If you would like to see my recipe for pizza dough, please go to How To Make Pizza Dough, there you will also see my comments on the No Knead method.