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Let's Talk about... Mantles

Vogue

Historically a fireplace was a necessity in a home. Families gathered to warm themselves as the fire crackled into the night, when the scent of dried cedar branches wafted through the home. Today mantles serve as decorative focal points in a space. Styles range from streamline to ornate, brick, moulded wood and marble.... We love them all.

Whenever we enter a new space and spot a mantle we know it is going to be a great opportunity to create an impact. Typically located centrally, it is a great jump off point for the rest of the space. The direction of the fireplace styling usually dictates the pace of the design. 

Depending on the aesthetic you would like to inspire throughout the space you may dress a mantle up or down. Contrasting a traditional design with a modern mirror or modern art may transform a classic space into something more unexpected.

We are experiencing an exciting time in design where all the rules we have come to know have been thrown. Eclectic design is making a comeback, and people are excited to pair old and new again. Traditional is evolving into something more polished and relatable, while modern is warming, and start spaces are injected with more thoughtfulness and character than we have seen in the past. 

Here are some inspirational spaces that are doing it right, layered or stripped down- we are all in.... To view more scroll below or check out our Pinterest page here.

Amber Interiors

Laura xo

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Design Books

Laura and I love books - and this year we're both trying to spend more time actually reading them versus the standard flipping through and styling with them. We don't tend to discriminate between types of books; fiction, biographies and coffee table books - we love them all yet recently we've been talking about soaking up some of our favourite design books. Some written by designers, while other are a curated kind, below are our current top six:

xx,

Kelly Lynn 

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Let's Talk about... Pink

Happy New Year! We are kicking off the year with a new series called "Let's talk about...." In this series we will share some of the latest trends we are excited about and some of the best inspiration we have come across.

Much like Steven Tyler sang all those years ago "Pink is my new obsession", over at Elsie & Kel we have really taken to it, and hope one of our clients this year is brave enough to let it bare their walls!! 

Through the years pink has become synonymous with nursery decor and overly feminine spaces, but we are here to set the record straight. Pink is no longer just for the kiddos, it has the ability to transform a space to feel both sophisticated and fun, a very hard act to balance. 

If done well it should act as a neutral backdrop. That is one of the most important things to remember if you are trying to execute a statement colour in your space. You never want the wall colour to compete with the rest of the furnishings etc., it should flow seamlessly. Although we truly love every shade, we encourage selecting a more subtle hue that won't clash with the rest of the palette For example:

1. Farrow and Ball #278. This shade has a lot of warmth behind it, and would look beautiful paired with wood, metals, and all other materials. You can use this in a traditional or modern space, it will definitely make a statement. There is a coral undertone when compared to the others below, it feels fresh and current.

2. Farrow and Ball #245 there is a really beautiful softness to this. It would be really lovely in a nursery, however this colour would work well in a living room. We would like to see it used juxtaposed to edgier design, otherwise it could fall flat and end up feeling a little too "precious" 

3. Benjamin Moore Bubble Bath #1326 some may fear how "pink" this is, but we feel like why not! Most recently Emma Stone's bedroom in Lala Land featured a deep pink like this. Paired with cerulean blue, it is super on trend right now.

4. Benjamin Moore Misted Rose #1339 has a bluer undertone. It is a sophisticated approach to the fun hue, and while being the more feminine of the bunch has a very traditional feeling. We would love to see this in a bathroom, or library. It could also be stunning in a bedroom accompanied by modern florals.

Of course the list could go on and on, these were our current favourites. 

Here are some of the most fab pink spaces we couldn't stop thinking about.

Sketch London

Traditional pink room

Paint your mantle pink

Paint your mantle pink

Salmon pink, paired with pink furnishings

Fresh 

Layered pink

Pink/Lilac

Blush Pink

Pink Bathroom

Pink Everywhere

Pink Floor

Pink on Pink

Details all in Pink

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Elsie & Kel Travel: Langdon Hall

An hour and a half outside of Toronto lies a retreat in a small town called Cambridge. A treasure out of one of Jane Austen's novels, Langdon Hall boasts some of the finest culinary and lodging experiences alike. A sublime escape for city dwellers, this 19th century inn has captivated our hearts. A beautiful escape Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall......Naturally we had to share with you.

Entering through a windy road, you are immediately ensconced by a majestic forest on either side. One feels as if they are being transported back in time to the days of Downton Abbey, it is a truly regal scene. 

Each room is delightfully decorated in plaids, crisp linens, and beautiful art scenes depicting botanicals & English hunting landscapes. Light a fire and curl up with a drink to catch up on some reading or relax with a warm bath, if you are looking to achieve tranquility you have come to the right place!

Make sure to make a dinner reservation. The servers are well educated on each menu items, and have carefully mapped out wine parings for each dish, making it a unique experience. Later in the evening enjoy a game of billiards or retire by the fire. This time of year the Christmas decor is in full swing, the backdrop resembles a scene from the Nutcracker. 

Fall asleep to the crackle of the fire, as you dream of sugar plum fairies and other delights. Not only will you want to revisit this charming getaway in the near future but you will have memories for years to come, and will be ready to conquer the hustle and bustle of the city like the #bossbabe you are.

Click here to book the perfect spa weekend getaway to decompress or delight your loved one.

Bonus note- it is fur babe friendly, dogs allowed! 🐶

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Client Napa Valley

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Over the past 4 months we have been working on a project that we have affectionately named #clientnapavalley. A classic American Colonial that backs on to a ravine, our objective was to bring the space back to its roots and refresh the palette throughout. We are thrilled by the transformation. 

Our initial instincts directed us to the neutral palettes and layered spaces that Nancy Meyers has done so well in so many of her films. Its Complicated and Something's Gotta Give gave us a great foundation to work off of, and once we had a few key pieces, we let the space do the talking.

When we began the project the walls were all a butter cream that were in desperate need of a refresh. While our client's tastes are more traditional they wanted to bring a more sophisticated, elegant palette to the space. Here is a look at some of the rooms we have been working on. The living space, and the nook. We revitalized them by going with a richer hue.

One of the first pieces to arrive to the space was this fabulous area rug from E Carpet Gallery. We knew we were working with a cream colored sofa so we wanted to pair it with something that would lend itself to lighter accents throughout the space, as well as warmer wood tones, marbles, leathers etc. We were so happy with it when it came that we proceeded to order several subsequent pieces from them including many that now adorn our own homes!

When putting together a "lived in" space, you want to select furnishings thoughtfully. Our philosophy is to create spaces that tell a story, whether your budget is high or low. We want each room to feel curated carefully as each element of the design should serve a purpose. Throughout our extensive adventures to many consignment shops, thrift stores and high-end retailers we were able to pull together a cohesive mix of old and new world pieces which created a refreshing balance.

Things were beginning to come together. We found a fab chair from Elte Market that really rounded out the seating area, a brilliant leather chest from Of Things Past, as well as a cabinet from Elle and Eve that we have used as a bar. 

You will be happy know we brought that horse head, also note that we did not keep that marble based lamp in the shot with the wooden bar table. This is where we should talk about the importance of our role as designers. Sometimes when you are conceptualizing pieces you may think that the outcome or vision will be one way, when in reality it doesn't pan out. This can be due to a variety of things, in this case it was quality. We wanted to make the lamp work, but in the end we held out only to find another lamp that was perfectly suited to the space, and literally a 10th of the cost..... Our role is to think fast, be creative and be resourceful. Resilience is a very important part of the job, adapting to the space you are creating, and always keeping an eye out for that special piece. From one day to the next the job can change, and there is really no explanation other than as people there are certain things that we unexplainably love. When we find them, we must have them! Therefore projects are constantly getting tweaked. Isn't that what makes design so interesting though! Rules are so boring..... we love breaking them, and redefining them!

Never a dull moment in our design brains, we are always looking for inspiration! We found this in one of the most recent issues of House and Home Magazine. This next image gave us inspiration for the front window (also from House and Home).

As we were going for a transitional vibe throughout the home we did a lot of consignment shopping. Consignment is a great way to find antique, unique pieces without breaking the bank. A lot of the key room pieces in the living space as well as the nook are consignment. There were several moments where we felt like we hit the jackpot and tried to conceal our excitement as we were at the register. Which brings us to the importance of knowing where to spend vs save. 

One of the most recent purchases the client made at their previous home was a big cozy Natuzzi sectional. As we didn't have to account for much more additional seating in the budget, we were able to allocate more towards accent tables, and cabinetry. As it turned out we ended up saving a lot via consignment purchases, which in turn allowed for a larger investment on the coffee table. The coffee table is one of the most important functions in the space and was proving difficult to find. In the age we live in the resources online are quite vast, but that doesn't mean there aren't tons of limitations, especially due to our location. Even though Toronto is a large design centre we are still behind in terms of international shipping and availability. A lot of the pieces we suggested were online due to aesthetics, cost, shipping time. As professionals we are comfortable making these decisions, but it can be a difficult pill to swallow for clients as they typically like to physically see large ticket items. We understand it can be incredibly frustrating to have limited access to pieces online, especially when there is a large investment expected on the clients side. At this point there is nothing we can do to control this, unless in some cases we have someone on the other end who will graciously send us real life images, but that only happens occasionally. Hopefully in the near future all companies will offer more access to their online inventory and have real brick-and-mortar locations available to the public. As fate would have it the couple came across a table they absolutely loved at a local retailer, and it really added an unexpected contemporary element. Another area we generally like to leave flexible  is in the decor. While the couple had a lot of really interesting collected pieces, they were moving from a smaller more modern space. We acquired pieces that were complimentary to their preexisting collection, and always encourage adding to it over time- as the more collected the better (without going overboard of course). In one example we found a faux horn as seen below. It worked in the space, but when we went shopping with the client to William Sonoma Home, simply put, the other one BLEW it out of the water. It was just BEYOND. So we splurged, and knew we had a serious moment awaiting us.

Small details from online dealers also help personalize things, we loved this box, the burled tiger wood is always a yes, and we rarely turn away a great box, easy to stack and style.

And boy oh boy did it deliver...... Paired with the leather cabinet we found it just lit up. Speaking of which, once we had the horn in place we paired it with a candle stick lamp, but knew we needed to pair it with something else. We then found the perfect tortoiseshell lamp- and it saved the day. In this image we had a smaller mirror on display, which we also ruled out in favour of something more substantial. Occasionally we bypass an item the first time around, in this case we had come across this mirror when we purchased the leather cabinet, after testing out the smaller mirror we knew this one was just what the style doctor ordered. Luckily it was still available and we snapped it up!

As soon as we saw the nook we knew great things were to come. Flanked with windows facing onto the ravine we knew it would be a great opportunity to create a seating area that would be relaxing and we had visions of an English cigar lounge. Salon Drab dresses the walls, it is sexy and masculine and has a decadent old world vibe. We knew we wanted to do a gallery wall in this space, although there was already a lot of visual interest coming from the views outside, this was a fun excuse to create an installation in a common area. We went for pieces that had dimension. Collected mementos as well as items we sourced, it is a grouping that can be added to over time. We like to use 3D pieces to make the wall pop and turn it into a conversation piece. We also incorporated a midcentury modern wall mounted shelf to display books and odds and ends. 

We laid it out in such a way that more items may be added as time goes on, but for the time being has multiple areas of interest due to the decorative accents. Before mounting on the wall we always lay out the gallery on a large surface and shift around until we get the desired shape. We wanted to add more layering with the driftwood piece, a delicate juxtaposition on the antique desk that belonged to one of the client's grandfathers.

Finally here is an overview of the living room, as time goes on we are sure things may be tweaked and added, but we are super happy with the result. The draperies from Restoration Hardware really tied the room together and showcased the windows beautifully. The quality of the ones we selected were unmatched by anything else we looked at, and had we gone the custom route we would have paid much more, for an end product that may not have risen to the occasion. 

The room is beautiful and a perfect space to host guests and sit down with a hot chocolate in the colder months. We look forward to sharing progress as we continue working on the space in the new year. We hope to have the space photographed in the near future so we can share the full space vs. the fragments we have collected- hopefully in the meantime this will spark some excitement! 

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Client Urban Treehouse

I’ve been a bad blogger recently! I hate it when that happens and I have no real excuse because I always feel like I have so much to share but alas, I’m here and happy to be. How was your weekend? Mine was grrrrreat. SUPER low-key but also checked off many things on my weekend list and it’s safe to say that my Spring Cleaning has commenced (and it feels so good). Moving right into the work week, Laura and I are working on a couple of exciting projects and it’s about time that we share some of it with you!

It’s one thing to get a client (it’s actually an awesome thing to get clients!) but it’s another thing to get a client that will listen to your vision and trust in your to execute it. We’re calling this client, Client Urban Treehouse. Why you ask? Well, once we have completed project pictures to sure you, you’ll understand but for now you’ll have to believe me when I say they have the beautiful view of treetops almost as if they were in a tree themselves. We’re using the trees and nature as a source of inspiration for their living and dining rooms and are pretty excited about it. 

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Before and After // Client Sweet Dreams

As I mentioned in my post last week, it had been quite the week in regards to life happenings and that theme only continued into the weekend but with the birth of a new nephew – Henry James Armstrong. I met him last night and am completely smitten. It’s really quite something to see your sibling transform into a new role such as a Dad. I couldn’t get over how my brother seemed like such a natural with the little guy who was just a couple days old. Now, onto their nursery (a.k.a one of my current fave spaces) where a baby will now actually live!

BEFORE //

This was previously their guest room, transformed into office but it mostly worked as an additional storage space for whatever life threw at them. They had been living in the home for roughly 5 years and apart from guests (and the later transition into the office), they didn’t use this room too much. The space hadn’t been painted so it was due for a fresh coat.

The wooden rocking chair was handed down from her mom and we loved it!

AFTER // 

Design by Elsie and Kel

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Client Sweet Dreams

My oldest brother is going to be a Dad! I just can’t wait to see him hold his little babe and watch him be a father. It’s going to be neat for sure. Also – he and his wife (lets be honest here, she’s spearheading this venture) have Laura and I designing their nursery! We couldn’t be more thrilled since it’s our first nursery and nurseries are maybe one of the most fun spaces to do – the possibilities are endless and gives you the opportunity to get really playful. We’ve named this project, Client Sweet Dreams

When first talking about the direction of this space, the first overarching point was that it wasn’t to be cheesy. We totally understood. While nursery’s are fun and have the ability to go in many directions, cheesy was one we never, ever want to go down so immediately, we were all on the same page. Almost like non-baby items, for baby if that makes any sense to you – because it does for us. We also chose a mostly neutral colour way so that with most of the injections of colour could be in the accessories and the space would feel really airy and bright. I can’t wait to keep you posted on our progress with this one!

xx

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