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Christmas in Black & White

Christmas in Black & White

When I celebrated Christmas for the first time in my new home, we had just moved in a few days before Christmas and I didn’t have time to think about a specific holiday style or colour scheme. I wanted to live in my new spaces for a while before spending money on creating a fresh new holiday décor style.

Before leaving my previous home (see below), a remodeled century home with a Hampton-style décor, my Christmas décor was more traditional and colourful. Although lovely, it wasn’t a look I had in mind for my shiny new mid-century modern home.

I decided I’d try to reuse what I could from my previous collection of Christmas decorations, which basically came down to my white flocked Christmas tree and a few clear glass bobbles and vases. Not having a specific accent colour in mind for my new home, I opted for a beautiful blingy gray, black, silver and white palette. I was quite pleased with how simple and elegant it looked when it was all done. Everything gleamed sparked b  the rays of natural sunlight streaming through my floor-to-ceiling windows. It was magical!

Here’s how I played with a chic, classic colour palette of black and white to create a modern holiday look for my first Christmas in my new modern home.

Photo, Karen Kirk

Above: Sculptural black, gray, white and clear Christmas balls sparkled on the tree and made a lovely accent for the coffee table arranged in a glass vase. What’s lovely about a neutral black, gray and white theme, any time of year, is the practicality. Add any colour you like to accent this grounding palette and you have a winner! Choose a different colour every year and greenery, fresh or faux, always looks amazing with black, charcoal or white.

Photo, Karen Kirk

Above: I adore how my flocked tree looks like I plucked it from the snow-covered woodlands just outside my living room windows. Trimmed only in the new gray, black, silver and white balls I love how well the tree transitioned beautifully from a traditional home to a muted modern space.

Photo, Karen Kirk

Above: With the tree trimmed, it’s time to start wrapping gifts using papers and ribbons in coordinating colours. I tuck in a fresh sprig of evergreen to add a hint of colour and when using a faux tree, it’s a great way to add the intoxicating fragrance of Christmas!

Photo, Karen Kirk      Rug, Imperial Rug Galleries. Leather chair, UpCountry. Hardwood floors, Lauzon Flooring. Cabinet, Parnand Design.

Above: Everyone loves to gather around the tree over the holidays so I park my bar cart next to the tree where guests can help themselves to a little Christmas cheer without leaving the party!

Photo, Karen Kirk   Hardwood floors, Lauzon Flooring. White chairs, Gresham House Furniture. Amantii Electric Fireplace, Vaughan Electric. Fireplace wall, Dekton by Cosentino in Sirius. Rug, Imperial Rug Galleries. Cabinet, Parand Design.

Above: I created separate seating areas in my living room. Two facing comfy chairs from Gresham House Furniture offer the perfect quiet spot to relax, have a private chat or read a good book by the fire. An electric fireplace, this one is an Amantii electric fireplace from Vaughan Electric, simply makes good sense in any room. You have the option of turning it on with or without the heater fan and changing the temperature and colour of the embers. I love how my fireplace looks just as pretty turned off, reflecting the wintery scenery in the glass.

Photo, Karen Kirk

Above: Silver glass trees that light up sit in an acrylic tray on the kitchen island. They look amazing in the evening giving the kitchen a warm holiday ambiance.

Photo, Karen Kirk  Hall table, Cocoon Furnishings. Flooring, Dekton by Cosentino in Kairos. Walls, Benjamin Moore Stone 2112-40. Heron print, Celadon Art

Above: I set the tone of my holiday décor in the foyer by using the colour palette inspired by my tree décor. Carry your holiday style and colour palette throughout the house to create an harmonious flow. The large white blooms of amaryllis look so festive with holiday greens including magnolia leaves and cedar boughs.

Happy Holidays! xoJ


Create a Welcoming Home for the Holidays with Florals

Create a Welcoming Home for the Holidays with Florals

Every holiday season I look forward to creating and buying fragrant seasonal florals and plants for myself and my clients. Whether it’s a simple hydrangea in a glass vase with a sprig of cedar or an over-the-top, nature-inspired arrangement composed of fresh cut evergreens and roses, I love to have fragrant florals and greenery throughout the house over the Christmas holidays.

This season, I decided to experiment a little and incorporate fabulous faux florals into my holiday décor. Today’s faux florals are truly beautiful and so realistic that they’ve earned a place in home décor. In fact, I’m finding that I’m quite happy to accent with faux plants in areas of the house that aren’t used on a regular basis – guest rooms, basements, out of reach spaces such as the tops of cabinets and bookshelves and spaces that don’t get a lot of light. It’s one less thing I have to worry about! I typically stick with using fresh in the living room, entrance hall and master bedroom where I can enjoy them most.

When Cityline asked to shoot my dining room for their upcoming Christmas decorating shows I wanted to create something special. I contacted floral artist Catherine Oxley, owner of Bouq Paper Flowers to create a paper flower holiday-inspired installation for my modern dining room chandelier. The results were stunning as you can see! Because my bulbs are LED they don’t emit a lot of heat, the blush paper roses and gray/green seeded eucalyptus stems made of European crepe paper, were safe to use. Fresh flowers and greenery would have left sap on the intersecting arms of the light fixture making the paper option a practical choice. Crafted in individual pieces, the arrangement can be dismantled and reused for other special occasions throughout the year. A matching place setting gift is a wonderful way to say, “Thank you for coming!” to my dinner guests.

When I built my house, I designed my foyer to accommodate multiple guests when I entertain. During holiday season, I greet my guests with a welcome glass of bubbly or a signature cocktail and invite them to carry on through to join the party in the living room. It’s a lovely way to get the party started while I greet my guests at the door. This year, I simply set up my foyer table as a mini bar complete with a fresh cut fragrant rose and evergreen arrangement by Andrea Ireland of True Flowers to set the festive tone for the evening and a bucket of chilled rosé bubbly from one of my favourite local wineries, Trius Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s always a big hit with guests and helps break the ice among partiers until everyone has arrived.

Here are three quick tips to keep in mind when creating your own floral arrangements this holiday season and throughout the rest of the year.

  1. Create natural movement.Sprawling arrangements that are styled organically in a vase – on a chandelier – create texture and visual interest. For dining tables, use low arrangements to keep sightlines clear during dinner.
  2. Include contrasting elements.Mix light and dark florals in soft tones and pair intricate flowers such as roses with simple stems like eucalyptus or hypericum berries. This balance will give your arrangement an effortless, natural look.
  3. Add unexpected details.It’s always fun to add an unexpected touch to your arrangements. This year I mixed blush pink roses in with my seeded eucalyptus and evergreens in both my fresh and faux designs. Sculptural branches will instantly elevate any classic holiday arrangement.

Merry Christmas! xoJ

Photos by Karen Kirk

3 Festive Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs to Give & Grow

3 Festive Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs to Give & Grow

With the holiday season in full swing, our days are packed with festive parties and our thoughts filled with creative gift giving ideas. My favourite gifts to get and give over the holiday season – next to wine – are fresh florals and seasonal greenery. This year I’ve discovered the waxed amaryllis bulb from Holland available in local nurseries, big box stores and gift shops. Because they don’t require any maintenance – no planting or watering – and come in a variety of colours, they’re the perfect holiday gift for anyone on your list.

When gifting them, add an extra-festive look and let the winter landscape inspire your designs whether ordering them from a local florist designers or creating them yourself. There’s so much to choose from – from the rich, colorful blooms of cyclamen and poinsettias to the fragrance and textures of fresh cut greens and berry branches.

Here are some simple yet impressive ways, spotted on my favourite online shopping sites, to present and use waxed amaryllis bulbs that I hope will inspire you too!


The waxed bulb holds all the stored energy and water it needs to grow and bloom so there’s no need to worry about water and soil damaging your surfaces. Some waxed bulbs like this one from Jackson & Perkins include a coiled wire embedded at the base to make it freestanding: simply place it on any flat surface, set it in a clear vase, or nestle it among other holiday decorations, and wait for blooms to emerge in four to six weeks. You can expect one or two flower stalks, each with up to four blooms. Because the plant only grows to approx. 18”- 24” tall there’s no need for staking.


Planted up in a cube container filled with a mixture of fresh or faux greens for texture and color,  the amaryllis will eventually burst open into a cluster of stunning blooms for an eye-popping holiday arrangement.

A waxed amaryllis bulb wrapped in Stargazers wire mini led lights is nestled on a bed of sheet moss and lichen-covered twigs in a shallow dish. Keep the moss fresh with a mister every couple days. It’s the perfect little festive touch for place setting gifts, an office desk, teacher’s gift or hostess gift.

TIP: Waxed amaryllis (3.5” dia.) prefer direct sunlight and consistent room temperature; avoid drafts. To slow growth if desired, store in a cool, darkened location.

I love to have several types of amaryllis in my house over the holidays. Here are some general amaryllis care tips from Sheridan Nurseriesso you can enjoy your amaryllis all season long.

Happy Holidays! xoJ

A Tour of My Cottage Trailer

While I renovated my new home, I purchased a new tailer home to live in over the summer during renovations and parked it on site so I could stay on top of the project on a daily basis. I renovated the interior for a fresh, modern look and created a fun patio with the help of Ikea furnishings and accessories. It was well worth it! My home is finished and my trailer, loaded with extras, is for sale! Email me at for more info.

Deck Styles

Talking Deck & Patio material with Tracy Moore on Cityline.

To Bidet or Not To Bidet

Having a little fun on Cityline with my funny friends, Kimberley Seldon and Tiffany Pratt. Talking Bidets!

Pet-Friendly Laundry Room

8 Great ideas for creating a pet-friendly laundry room complete with pet shower your pups will love!

Glam Master Bath

Design elements for creating a glam master ensuite with luxurious spa-like features.

Trailer Home Redesign

Moving to the country. Sounds idyllic, right? It has always been a dream of mine and my dream has come true – but not without a few nightmares along the way! Like any move, particularly one that involves extensive renovations, it’s never easy on the family but with smart planning and a mindset that “what can happen, will happen” the process can be just a little bit easier to live through!

My husband and I had decided that once we had purchased our country home, we would move out of our Hampton-style home in the historical town of Oakville and dig right in to start the renovation of our newly purchased, never-renovated, mid-century bungalow in the heart of Ontario Wine Country at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment. Ambitious right? You got it!! But before we started demolition, we had to make a big decision. Where were we going to live during the renovation? It had to be somewhere close by to so we could regularly check up on the progress of the reno. After a disappointing search for acceptable accommodation, we decided to purchase a new trailer home from that we would park on our 14-acre property just steps from the house. It was a brilliant decision! Living on-site allowed us to manage and monitor the reno on a daily basis and avoid painful and costly surprises that arise during any reno.

Although the trailer decor was quite acceptable and comfortable, naturally, as a Designer, I couldn’t resist adding a little personal touch to brighten the space. Knowing my husband and I would be living in the trailer over the late summer and early winter months, we wanted our temporary accomodation to look and feel like a home that would house the two of us, occasional weekenders (my son, his girlfriend and dog) and my 3 dogs! Sound idyllic now? It was a challenge but somehow we made it work…and keep the family in tact!

I’m happy to report that, thanks to our cozy trailer home, my husband and I survived our home reno in comfort and style through to the start of the winter of 2016 and were able to move out and into our new home – although a far cry from finished! – just one day before the first snowfall in December and just in time for Christmas. Phew!

Here’s how I magically – and inexpensively – transformed our trailer into a welcoming summer/fall home that we’ll always be thankful for and will never forget!

Above: My trailer home was parked just steps away from my newly-purchased mid-century bungalow. Living on-site saved us time, money and a whole lot of stress! It’s always a good idea to be on site as much as possible during any renovation.

Overlooking the large pond fed by a water fall from the Escarpment on the property, I always felt like I woke up at the cottage and not a construction site.

Check out the next blog to see how I created a deck to die for that extended our living spaces all summer long. We couldn’t have survived without it! 

Let’s take a look inside!

BEFORE- LIVING/DINING ROOM: Nicely decorated in a warm neutral palette the new trailer included stunning features including an electric  fireplace, carpeting and a wood-look vinyl floor in the living room/dining/kitchen area. Two swivel/rocking chairs, a comfy leather sofa with storage and wood dining chairs with upholstered seats and backs, make the space quite comfortable. Check out all the storage cabinetry! Bonus!!!


To brighten the 400 +sq ft space, I repainted the fireplace wall and cabinetry in Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27 with countertops in Onyx 2133-10, all other walls in Silver Satin OC-26, replaced the original rocking/swivel chairs with 2 classic upholstered chairs and added an ottoman reupholstered by Switch Studio with JFFabric’s Coco 67 blue velvet, all from my previous home in Oakville. I had striped pillows made in JFFabrics ‘Oliver’ for the sofa and chairs.

I was so pleased that both my upholstered chairs, ottoman and bench all fit perfectly in my tiny living room to accomodate seating for at least eight! Good thing all my friends and family enjoy each others company! Everyone is happy to cozy up around the fire to watch TV or just chat about how amazing my trailer is!

I painted my dining table in Benjamin Moore Onyx 2133-10 – you’ll see it in the kitchen too – and replaced the original dining chairs with my comfy upholstered dining chairs. Sweet!

BEFORE – KITCHEN: How happy was I to see that the trailer came with a full-size fridge and a good sized oven with ventilation hood (above), both powered by propane. My culinary passions were not challenged in the least!

The original kitchen was warm and inviting but I decided to paint the cabinets and countertop for a more sophisticated look.


I started by replacing the vinyl diamond “backsplash”, with a stone mosaic peel & stick backsplash! Cheap and easy to install and very chic! After installing the backsplash, I primed the cabinets and countertop in Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Paint primer (K790) then painted the countertop in a white Advance and the cabinets in Onyx 2133-10 semi-gloss (Advance comes in all Benjamin Moore colours) for maximum durability and it’s so easy to clean. Available in matte, pearl, semi-gloss and high gloss finishes, it’s specifically designed for cabinets, furniture and work surfaces. I installed a new, more efficient and stylish pull-down faucet for the double sink. I love that there’s a window at the sink to provide a view and fresh air when cleaning up! Under cabinet lighting illuminates the work area.

Above: I discovered this peel & stick tile at Home Depot. If your store doesn’t carry it ask for help to order it. It’s amazing!


The teeny yet efficient bathroom has all the essentials; a shower stall, toilet, vanity and linen closet. I painted the vanity and countertop in the same colours as in the kitchen/living room and added an Ikea vanity mirror (below) complete with shelving and towel bar.


Below: After painting the bathroom walls in Silver Satin OC-26, I added a ladder behind the toilet for towels and magazines.




AFTER: In the bedroom, I removed the headboard and painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65. Custom pillows in JFFabrics Lush (34J7331), a pretty neutral leafy pattern, and pretty dotted sheers (JFFabrics 51334 in Vanilla 552) that diffuse the light, add privacy and a touch of romance to the room. A lovely transformation!

Below: Ikea’s space-saving Norberg wall-mounted drop-leaf table was the perfect addition to this tiny space offering me a surface for my iPad and a place to apply my makeup or blow dry my hair when the bathroom is in use.

Photos by Karen Kirk

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For Sale! Sadly we will be parting ways with our beautiful trailer home this summer (2018). If you’re interested in purchasing my trailer, please contact for more information. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.