Home Decor

How to Turn A Tiny Closet Into A Cute Home Office

Decor expert Alexandra Gater shares her tips on how to create a budget-friendly WFH set-up, no matter how much space you've got.

(Photo: Carmen Cheung)

You don’t need a sprawling spare room to design a functional—and stylish!—home office. Just ask decor YouTuber and former Chatelaine home editor Alexandra Gater, who transformed an underused closet in her one-bedroom apartment into a cozy workspace with just a fresh coat of paint, a wall-mounted desk and a few clever storage solutions.

(Photo: Carmen Cheung)

If your work-life balance is taking a hit at home, a dedicated workspace can help create boundaries. “If you stare at your work stuff all night, you feel like you should be working,” says Gater. Below, the decor expert shares her tips on how to turn any underused corner in your home into a productive WFH set-up.

1. Define your space

From a vanity table to a wall-mounted shelf, anything can stand in for a desk. If you work in an open space, paint the surrounding wall a different colour to make it feel like its own room.

(Photo: Carmen Cheung)

2. Create a plan

“Before you start, take stock of what you need to keep in your office and find storage solutions that work for you,” suggests Gater, who installed a wide shelf above her desk to fit her printer.

3. Shop your home

A quick inventory of what you already own will almost always yield a few gems, from leftover paint to furniture. To brighten things up, don’t be afraid to borrow accessories from other rooms.

A brown pegboard hanging on a wall holds various stationary items such as scissors, pens, notebooks and tape.

(Photo: Carmen Cheung)

4. Use vertical space

When every square inch counts, make the most of your blank walls with space-saving hacks. Layer a few of your favourite things on a floating shelf to add personality without sacrificing precious desk space, or install pegboard with a mix of hooks and trays keeps everyday items—like pens, notebooks and tape—handy.

5. Make it cozy

Take advantage of the relaxed setting to light a scented candle or listen to your favourite podcast while you work. “Lean into the fact that you’re working from home,” says Gater, who likes to get an essential oil diffuser going to set the mood in the morning.

Home Decor

The Easy, Overlooked Decluttering Hack That Works In Every Room Of Your House

When every square inch counts in your quest to quash clutter, don't discount door space.

Ikea Skadis Pegboard, $16 each, ikea.com

When space is at a premium, every inch of potential storage counts. Here’s how to put door space to work in every room of your house.

1. Bedroom door storage hacks

  • Add a series of small hooks down the centre of the door to hang purses.
  • Install a towel rack for scarves, ties and belts.
  • Affix a small pegboard for necklaces.

Ikea Knallbage Hanging Organizer, $10, ikea.com

2. Front hall door storage hacks

  • Store gloves, hats and shoes in an over-the-door pocket organizer.
  • Screw in a small hook to hang a dog leash.
  • Install a mail organizer to sort letters and bills in one easy-to-find place.

iDesign Classico Kitchen Cabinet Storage Rack for Pot Lids, $25, amazon.ca

3. Kitchen cupboard door storage hacks

  • Use a magnetic whiteboard to keep track of pantry essentials.
  • Install a rail to hold pot lids.
  • Attach a magazine holder to store boxes of foil and parchment paper.

Rebrilliant Durso Towel Bar and Basket Cabinet Door Organizer, $41, wayfair.ca

4. Broom closet door storage hacks

  • Add a rack to store cleaning supplies.
  • Hang a mesh trash can to stash your rolls of wrapping paper (keep it in place by tacking elasticized ribbon to the door).

Home Decor

5 Cleaning Tips From The Company That’s All Over Instagram

Calgary’s viral Instagrammer shares her *extremely thorough* hacks.

Sarah McAllister, founder of Calgary's Co Clean co

“My level of clean is a little bit… different,” says Sarah McAllister, laughing into the phone. That is to say it’s spotless, thorough and—as the Go Clean Co founder’s 1.5 million Instagram followers would attest—totally enthralling.

Though McAllister’s Calgary-based residential cleaning business is only two years old, she’s quickly amassed an online #cleaningarmy of fans that spans Canada and the U.S. Much of that growth came when we all suddenly found ourselves locked down at home with little to do and a newfound appreciation for bleach. McAllister’s deep-cleaning tutorials and tips offer a way to keep busy (or, at the very least, soothed by the seeming ease with which she can transform the crustiest sink or grungiest floor).

Best of all, her hacks actually work, as proven by her followers who regularly share their own transformations. And you don’t need pricey professional supplies—so, if your local store is sold out of powdered Tide, you can blame McAllister (more on that in a second).

With a long winter ahead, we asked McAllister for her very best cleaning tips (spoiler alert: I tried them out and I’m completely hooked.) From how to tackle the (surprising) filthiest spot in most homes to her trick for way easier toilet-cleaning, she spilled all of her not-so-dirty secrets.

1. Powdered Tide is your best friend

Of all the cleaning products that McAllister has tried, she keeps returning to the same thing both her mom and grandmother swore by: a box of classic Tide Powder Laundry Detergent. “It works great on floors, walls, baseboards, even bathtubs—you can scrub it into a paste and it takes soap scum off,” she explains. “It’s so versatile; it’s really just magic.”

The combination of surfactants (the sudsy stuff that helps release dirt), enzymes (proteins that break down stains) and the gritty texture make for a powerful cleaner for almost any hard surface (and of course, your laundry itself). Whether you’re scrubbing out the inside of your fridge or mopping your hardwood, McAllister recommends filling your sink or a bucket with hot water and adding one teaspoon of powdered Tide.

2. Get over your bleach aversion

If you want to kick your Tide and hot water up a notch, mix in McAllister’s other trusty staple: bleach. She concedes that many of her followers feel uneasy using bleach but swears by it for disinfecting areas that get especially germy: bathrooms, doorknobs, garbage cans. “After you use it once, you’ll say, ‘Okay, this isn’t so bad,’” she promises.

McAllister dilutes the bleach with her trademark recipe (do not mix bleach with anything else, she urges—bleach can form a dangerous gas if mixed with other products, particularly those containing ammonia):

  • 1 gallon of hot water
  • 1 teaspoon of Tide Powder Laundry Detergent
  • 1/3 cup of liquid bleach

Wear old clothes, rubber gloves and open the windows as you work.

3. Don’t forget the (ironic) dirtiest spot in your house

“Laundry machines are generally the worst,” says McAllister. “It’s always the places that we put things to get clean that we don’t think about cleaning.” She adds that the always-wet environment sets the stage for bacteria, mold and bad smells.

Most people with front-loading washing machines are unaware that there’s a filter they’re supposed to clean monthly, says McAllister. “The filter usually has about $40 in change, baby socks, slime and mould.” Google your serial number for specifics, but typically, there’s a small trap door on the front of the washer (or if you have a top loader, there’s likely a filter in the agitator that you can access). Inside, you’ll find a black hose that you can unplug over a large bowl to drain the (stinky!) water. Then, unscrew the filter and wash it with bleach and water—skip the Tide here so things don’t get foamy. Once you’re done, put everything back very tightly to avoid leaks.

McAllister also recommends scrubbing the seals of your machine with straight bleach, running an empty cycle on hot and always leaving the door ajar between loads. “When there’s no air circulating and it doesn’t dry out, that’s when you have that smell.”

4. Vacuum (the outside of) your toilet

“If you go crazy spraying the back, top and u-bend of the toilet, you spray down hair and dust, which turns it into mud and creates way more work for yourself,” says McAllister. Instead, she goes in first with a horsehair brush attachment on her vacuum to suck everything up—all dry parts of her toilet, as well as her bathtub, baseboards, counters—so that she then just has to disinfect and remove stains afterwards.

She’s tested the method and found that it saves about 30 minutes of bathroom-cleaning each time. “It blows people’s minds,” she says. As for the vacuum brush itself, just dunk it in water and bleach afterwards then pop it on a vent to dry out.

5. Start laundry stripping

Got time to kill at home? Tackle a deeply satisfying task with McAllister’s laundry stripping technique—one of her most-viral hacks ever. “When you think about how your shower and faucets get water spots and calcium and mineral buildup, that also happens with your clothing,” says McAllister, adding that fabric softener and laundry detergent are also culprits for residue.

It all translates to a loss of softness and absorbency. “I like to strip high-performance fabrics like towels, bedding and workout clothes,” says McAllister. “Workout clothes are always the grossest.” (She warns against stripping anything with a decal though, as it may come off.)

First, you’ll need to fill your bathtub about halfway with the hottest water you can and the items you want to strip. Then, mix in McAllister’s laundry-stripping recipe, which she shared from her The Cleaning Army Handbook: Laundry Guide ($19, bleachpraylove.com):

  • 2 cups of Tide Powder Laundry Detergent
  • 1/4 cup Borax Laundry Detergent and Booster
  • 1/4 cup washing soda (try Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
  • 1/4 cup Calgon Liquid Water Softener (this can be hard to find in Canada, but McAllister says you can skip it and still get great results)

Let it soak for four hours, stirring every hour, and brace yourself for murky water. Once you’re done, use a bucket to move everything over to your washing machine and run a full cycle (without adding detergent) to rinse it all away.

Food

Why The Humble Frittata Is Your Pandemic Cooking Hero

Plus, 9 easy frittata recipes to help you use up those leftovers.

Frittatas were one of the first things I tried to make when I started cooking for myself, in part because the name sounded fancier than other teen staples like Kraft Dinner or grilled cheese. And because for so little effort, they seemed fancier, too: just throw some leftovers or cut vegetables into a pan, pour a few beaten eggs overtop, let it cook, and you have something that more closely resembles a meal than a snack that comes out of a box.

Valuing a dish, or the idea of one, for aesthetics alone pretty much guaranteed that the first ones I made were awful. I never thought to cook the vegetables beforehand—or better yet, use cooked leftovers from the night before—or to pop the pan in the oven. I never mixed the eggs with cheese, milk, or cream. Those first few frittatas turned out as spongy egg pancakes with wet, crunchy lumps of undercooked vegetables settled at the bottom; I hated them so much I swore off frittatas till my late twenties. For the rest of ninth grade I just popped a frozen lasagna in the oven when I got home from school.

It turns out, so many of the things I got wrong about frittatas back then were so simple to fix—and if you’re cooking under quarantine, the dish can be a godsend. Frittatas make great use of leftovers, cook up in 15 minutes, and are mealtime-agnostic: they don’t feel out of place at breakfast, lunch, dinner—or any snack time in between. Plus, if you have leftovers, frittatas reheat quite well, making them a double leftover combo. Here’s what you need to know about making a great frittata.

Ratios matter

While you can make a frittata in anything that’s oven-safe—skillet, cast-iron pan, frying pan, even a casserole dish with a lid—its size and depth will determine how many eggs you need, or the other way around. Using fewer eggs for a wider pan means a shallower frittata, which means a lower cooking time or a dried-out pancake. Too many, and you’ll end up with a dense brick. A standard 12-inch skillet takes about 12 eggs; an eight-inch, about six.

This also applies to the eggs-and-dairy ratio. Most recipes call for half a cup of dairy for every dozen eggs. Feel free to use cream, yogurt, whole milk, 2 percent, even evaporated milk—but the higher fat content, the better.

Leftovers? Fresh veggies? Make sure they’re fully cooked

With the exception of maybe fresh herbs, cheese, and some pre-cooked meats, most frittata fillings should be cooked through so that they have a nice texture when the dish is done—and more importantly, so that they don’t release extra water into the egg mixture while cooking.

That said, there are so many types of pre-cooked leftovers are perfect for frittatas beyond potatoes and grilled vegetables. Leftover pasta? Throw the noodles in there. Cooked rice? Ditto. Cooked lentils, grains, beans (we know you’ve been cooking with them), leftover stew, the dregs of frozen vegetables that didn’t quite make it out of the bag: use them all.

Oven, or stovetop?

Some cooking methods have you cooking entirely on stovetop, flipping the frittata once the eggs are mostly cooked to crisp up both sides; others are an entirely oven-baked scenario. Both work fine, but my favourite is the traditional combination of the two, cooking the frittata partway on the stove until the edges have thickened, then popping it in the oven. In all honesty, the best method here is what works best for you, whether the idea of preheating an oven feels like a step too far on a difficult evening or flipping an egg dish in a massive pan sounds like a nightmare.

Better to err on the side of undercooking

Whether you’re cooking the frittata by stovetop or oven, take it off the heat as soon as it seems set. If the pan you’re using holds heat well the eggs will continue to cook—and you can always put it back on the stove if you’ve really undershot it. The same can’t be said for an overcooked one.

Here are 9 frittata recipes to try for quarantine cooking (and beyond):

Kitchen Tips

How To Make Good Use Of Your Kitchen Scraps

From cheese rinds to carrot tops, a lot of what you’ve been throwing away may have a second life in another meal.

Should these potato peels go in the compost? What can I do with cooked, day-old spaghetti? If the two-in-one COVID-19 combo of increased home cooking and decreased frequency in trips to the store has you playing mental Tetris with how to make what’s in your fridge last longer, we’re here to help.

From cheese rinds to carrot tops, a lot of the kitchen scraps you’ve regularly been throwing away may actually have a second life as a flavouring agent, condiment, or base for an entirely new dish, helping you to stretch the life of your last grocery trip (not to mention food budget) a little longer. Call it reducing kitchen waste, call it frugal living: this kitchen scrap knowledge will serve you while cooking under quarantine and well beyond. 

Note: some plant parts have varying levels of toxicity and should never be ingested, including rhubarb leaves, apple seeds, cherry, apricot, peach and plum pits.

Lemon Zest, Violet Bakery cookbook by Claire Ptak

Photo, Claire Ptak.

Citrus Peels

Whether you’re making lemonade or snacking on an orange, grate your citrus before you peel or juice it and save the grated zest for a future dish. You can store citrus zest by freezing or dehydrating it on a sheet pan before storing it in a container or Ziploc bag.
Chatelaine recipes: Easy Lemon Pasta, Candied Lemon Peel, Lemon Sugar Cookies, Sheet Pan Orange Chicken with Sweet Potato  

Eggshells

Discarded eggshells don’t have a purpose in cooking (except for maybe the strong coffee trick), but they’re useful in gardening as compost fuel and in crafts.
Chatelaine crafts: Eggshell planters, Easter egg candles, dyed Easter eggs 

Pickle Juice

Whether it’s from a store-bought or homemade jar, pickle brine is a kitchen scrap workhorse. You can re-use it to make a new batch of pickles (though ideally not more than once), to marinate meat, make a vinaigrette, poach fish, or add a tart zing to boiled potatoes—especially if they’re going into a potato salad. Fancy a cocktail? It makes a great addition to caesars.
Chatelaine recipes:  Savoury Whiskey Cocktail, Savoury Sake Cocktail, Savoury Vodka Cocktail, Ultimate Macaroni Salad  

Stale Sandwich Bread

French toast and bread pudding are go-to standards for partially stale sandwich slices, but it’s got savoury applications, too. Tear up slices by hand to use wherever bread crumbs are used as a binder—as in meatballs or meatloaf.
Chatelaine recipes: Bread and Butter Pudding, Bread Pudding For One, Baked French Toast, Five Modern Meatloaf Recipes, Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs 

loaf od instant pot no-knead bread on a serving plate with three slices cut off

Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Stale Crusty Loaf

Did you lean into your new sourdough hobby a little too hard? If you’ve made more loaves than you can reasonably eat in a week, make them last longer by cutting them into cubes that can be used to make croutons, or as the base of soups and stews. Day-old loaves can also be revived by a sprinkle of water followed by a few minutes in a 350F oven.
Chatelaine recipes: Tuna Panzanella Salad, Grilled Panzanella Salad, Fattoush Salad, French Onion Soup, Tomato-Almond Gazpacho

Cold Rice

Day-old rice is essential for perfect fried rice, and can also be used for soupy hot congees. If you’ve made way too much, freeze it into ½-cup portions for each serving, then simmer the frozen rice in 2 cups of water or broth until you reach the desired consistency. Want to turn it into rice pudding? Just be sure to modify the cooking time.
Chatelaine recipes: Sesame Chicken Congee, Sinigag (Filipino garlic rice), Chicken Fried Rice,   

Cold Pasta

Pasta bakes are a popular way to give plain, leftover noodles a second life—but you can also swap leftover pasta into frittatas and stir-fries. Depending on the type, it’s also good the next day in cold pasta salads.
Chatelaine recipes: Skillet Potato and Broccoli Frittata, 18 Extra Cheesy Baked Pastas, Eggplant and Fennel Pasta Bake, 10 Quick and Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Pasta Water

A dash of that starch-rich water left over from boiling a pot of bucatini adds body to sauces, and can even be used to improve the rise and texture of homemade bread.
Chatelaine recipes: Best-Ever Spaghetti Sauce, Classic Arabbiata

White dish filled with slow cooker bone broth.

Photo, Erik Putz.

Chicken and Beef Bones

With a few leek tops, onion caps and vegetable ends, the leftover bones from a roast chicken can be turned into a simple broth in under an hour. Got beef bones? Try a more ambitious long-simmer soup stock.
Chatelaine recipes: Slow Cooker Bone Broth, Beef Pho, Easy Soup Stock, Classic Turkey Broth, Homemade Chicken Broth

Hard Cheese Rinds

We’re begging you, do not throw your parmesan rinds into the garbage. Packed with plenty of umami-rich flavour, that little hard slice is ready to be steeped into soups and stews, just like a bouillon cube—just be sure to fish it out after you’re done cooking.
Chatelaine recipes: Farro Soup with Kale, Cheese Soup, Easy Minestrone, Italian-Style Lentil Soup

Tops and Stems

Swap fresh, thoroughly washed carrot tops or parsley and cilantro stems for whatever green you’d typically use in a pesto recipe. Chopped chard stems add crunch to frittatas and soups. Leek and green onion tops should be tossed into a scrap bag for your next pot of broth.
Chatelaine recipes: Classic Pesto, Pesto Green Beans, Pesto Salad 

Buy locally-grown beets from Canada's bounty

Photo, Tara Miller.

Beet Greens

The leafy tops of beet bunches aren’t for the compost—use them like  you would fresh chard. Cut them off the root vegetable right after purchase, as they draw moisture away from the beet.
Chatelaine recipes: Beets and Greens Salad, Swiss Chard With Lemon and Almonds, Swiss Chard with Capers, Sesame Ginger Beet Bowl

Potato Peels

The peels of thoroughly scrubbed and clean potatoes can be salted and roasted for a chip-like snack.
Chatelaine recipes: Creamy Scalloped Potatoes With Crispy Potato Skins

Potato Water

Much like pasta, potatoes release starch into the water they’re cooked in when boiled—Nigella Lawson swears by the stuff as a base for making vegetable soups and stews.
Chatelaine recipes: Quick And Easy Veggie Soup, Grilled Vegetable Soup

Corn Cobs

De-kerneled corn cobs can be thrown into a simmering pot of soup stock, or simmered into hot milk or cream to impart a sweet flavour. 

Vegetable Pulp

Leftover pulp from juicing still has plenty of flavour—and more importantly, fibre. Try adding carrot, zucchini, beet or ginger pulp to muffins for a nutritious boost, or cucumber pulp to a veggie dip. You can even toss frozen pulp into soups and stews.

Living

Inside A Pretty, Pastel-Filled Condo Reno Designed By One Sister For Another

A veteran design expert takes on a very personal assignment: turning an 800-square-foot condo into a sweet home for her beloved sister and niece

Two women sitting on a stoop in a child's bedroom.

The author (left) with her sister Lindsay, sitting on a stoop in her niece Ellie’s room, which leads to an outdoor terrace. (Photo: Erik Putz)

The view from the terrace was stunning. Facing south, the condo had a sweeping vista of Toronto’s skyline and Lake Ontario. I turned to Lindsay, my younger sister, and said, “This is it! We’ve found your condo!” She didn’t look convinced. But where she saw a warren of small rooms, a dated kitchen and a tiny bathroom, I saw opportunity.

Lindsay, a lifestyle blogger and sales executive, and I had spent months searching for a bright and cheerful place where she could raise her toddler, Ellie. Our weekends had been spent visiting open houses and crunching numbers to see what she could afford. There was the overpriced shoebox in a chic loft conversion: “It’s perfect!” said Lindsay. “I don’t think toddlers are welcome here,” I replied, gesturing to the polished marble floors and pale wool carpeting. There was also the ’50s-era condo with parquet flooring and a rambling floor plan. “It’s huge!” said Lindsay. “It’s a bunker,” I replied, looking at the postage-stamp-sized windows and tiny concrete balcony.

But this condo was unlike anything else we had seen. It was a corner unit with a wraparound balcony that connected to an oversized terrace. The windows were large, with a glass door on the west side that brought in even more natural light. At 800 square feet, it was slightly smaller than Lindsay had been hoping for, but I knew that by tweaking the floor plan, remodelling the kitchen and splurging on new trims and finishes, the space would become the perfect home for Lindsay and Ellie.

This project was personal for many reasons. Lindsay and I lost our mom when we were kids—she was four, I was 11 and our older sister, Alexis, was 14—and the three of us have always been incredibly close. Alexis now resides in Montreal, but Lindsay and I have always lived near each other in Toronto. When she separated from her ex-husband two years ago, I stepped in to help with the transition. I wanted to create a peaceful and pretty home for Lindsay and Ellie that would reflect my sister’s new single-girl life.

Design and style have always been a big part of my life. My father was an architect, and I ended up spending my career in design. I’ve decorated countless spaces, from condos to historic houses—including renovations for Alexis’ current home and Lindsay’s previous one. Years spent working as editor-in-chief of interior design and lifestyle magazines gave me the opportunity to collaborate with Canada’s top designers. You could say that I learned how to decorate from them.

A condo living room with a beige couch and a wall of windows.

To make the space look larger, I replaced the high-gloss dark floors with natural oak in a satin finish. The couch and a pair of Lucite side tables were once mine; Lindsay chose the pink swivel chair. The colours in the Moroccan carpet echo the main scheme of pink, turquoise and grey. (Carpet, mellah.ca. Roller blinds, selectblinds.ca. Moulding and doors throughout, metrie.ca. Paint throughout, Beauti-Tone, homehardware.ca.)

As soon as the closing papers were signed, I sketched out my idea for the new floor plan, which involved closing off a poky hallway that led from the main bedroom to the bathroom to create more closet space and a larger bathroom. I walked Lindsay through my plan and was met with a blank look, which is the precise moment I realized that she had quickly become one of my best clients. She didn’t care what I did as long as the renovation didn’t go over budget (it did, by a smidge, but we made it work) and the result would be exactly what she wanted. (It was.) Her only concern? What paint colours we’d choose.

Anyone who has ever undertaken a reno knows that nothing ever goes to plan, and this one was no exception. As soon as the demolition started, we ran into issues. Our plans to put a soaker tub in the bathroom—Ellie loves bathtime—were scuppered when we pulled up the shower floor and saw how the original drain had been configured. The lighting plan in Lindsay’s room had to change—from wired sconces to plug-ins—when my electrician saw where some of the wires were routed. But our biggest challenge was the kitchen. I had hoped to save Lindsay some money by keeping the original cabinets and simply replacing the doors, but once I realized how truly impractical the kitchen configuration was, there was only one thing to do: Demo the whole thing.

I worked with my contractor to maximize every square inch—even cutting down an Ikea cabinet to fill an awkward space next to the fridge. (Faucet, deltafaucet.ca. Countertop, hanstone.ca.)

I worked with my contractor to maximize every square inch—even cutting down an Ikea cabinet to fill an awkward space next to the fridge. (Faucet, deltafaucet.ca. Countertop, hanstone.ca.)

I know from experience that some of the most creative ideas can come from having to pivot in the middle of a reno. In this case, building the kitchen from scratch meant that I could make much better use of the space. I kept the design simple, using dead space next to the door to Ellie’s room to extend the lower cabinets to add more storage, and a marble-look HanStone countertop to make the kitchen feel sleek. I used high-gloss white doors for the uppers to help bounce more light into the room. The base cabinets—drawers with antique gold pulls—were sprayed a soft grey, and looked more like furniture than traditional kitchen cabinetry.

The bathroom required the most planning. I researched custom vanities for its awkward L-shaped specifications, but the prices I was quoted were prohibitive—one of the estimates was $9,000! And then I had a thought: What if I could use kitchen cabinetry instead?

A white bathroom vanity with gold hardware accents and a round mirror on turquoise-patterned wallpaper.

In the bathroom, wallpaper camouflages awkward bulkheads, and faucets in a champagne-bronze finish add a touch of glamour. (Cabinets, ikea.ca. Countertop, caesarstone.ca. Faucets and shower system, deltafaucet.ca. Coordonné Auguste Aqua wallpaper, newwall.com.) 

My go-to source for cupboards has always been Ikea. My contractor, Peg Corporation, and I were able to modify stock cabinetry to fit the bathroom, and we used several space-saving organizers in innovative ways. Lindsay’s beauty products were stored in a corner carousel; we used a spice drawer insert to corral her nail polish collection. The final cost? Less than $1,000.

Combining form and function in the tight space was a challenge. Utilitarian kitchen cabinets hide laundry and create storage.

Next were the bedroom closets, which had been a concern for Lindsay, as her much-loved shoes and handbags needed a “room of their own.” I knew from previous renos that the Pax wardrobe system (also from Ikea) is the perfect solution for small spaces. In Lindsay’s room, we raised the units by building a platform, added a baseboard and then put a spacer at the top to create the illusion of built-in cabinetry.

A white IKEA wardrobe filled with children's clothing

Ellie’s closet is small but smartly organized.

For Ellie’s (smaller) room, we used a shallow—but deceptively roomy—unit with space to hang her pretty dresses, store her shoes and keep her clothes folded in drawers.

A queen bed with a dove grey fabric headboard against a wall with a grey and white removable mural.

A tropical-inspired custom mural adds character to the small bedroom but is easily removable. Lindsay splurged on remote-controlled blackout roller shades for rare weekend sleep-ins. (Mural, uwdecals.com. Bedding, aulitfinelinens.com. Roller blinds, selectblinds.ca. Moroccan rug, mellah.ca. Upholstered side table, tonicliving.ca.)

Despite all the big changes to the space, it was the finishing touches that Lindsay was most excited about; “the jewellery,” as she called them. Inexpensive builder doors were replaced with Shaker-style solid-core ones, and I added an elegant Metrie architrave, a form of decorative trim, to the top of the door frames to create the illusion of more ceiling height. Gold-toned accents— from brass Schlage door handles to faucets to the trim on the ceiling-mount fixtures—were peppered throughout. And the paint colours that Lindsay was so curious about? The final palette was a series of muted white and pale grey tones that changed subtly from room to room; the perfect backdrop to Lindsay’s beloved pastels, as well as the more vibrant tones of aqua, pink and green that I had chosen for the furniture and accessories in Ellie’s room.

The text from my best client came in late on a Monday night: “You were right. I love my condo. Thank you.”

Books take centre stage in Ellie’s bedroom—she has even learned to organize them “into a rainbow.” We applied colourful sprinkle decals to two of her walls. (Wall decals, newwall.com. Bed, bookcase, floor mat and closet system, ikea.ca.)

 

Home Decor

5 Must-Try Home Decor Trends For 2021

From cozy to colourful, these are the decorating ideas you'll see everywhere this year.

After spending more time at home than ever this past year, you’re likely itching for a change of scenery. Good news: A few easy swaps can make any room feel brand new. From plush fabrics and warm hues to energizing bursts of colour, this year’s decor trends are all about creating a happy, cozy space you’ll be excited to spend (even more) time in.

Home Decor

17 Cute Accessories To Spruce Up Your Bar Cart

Say goodbye to mismatched glassware.

Whether you have a well-stocked bar cart or keep just a few of your favourite bottles on hand, accessories can take your mixology game to the next level and double as decor. From shaker sets and cocktail picks to glassware, we’ve rounded stylish bar accessories you’ll want to show off.

Home Decor

6 Cute And Eco-friendly Alternatives To Wrapping Paper

There are plenty of ways to wrap presents without creating a mountain of waste.

Christmas sustainable gifts wrapped in grey textile on red background. Japanese Furoshiki style. For a piece on eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives

(Photo: IStock)

Every December, when the radio starts playing “All I Want is You,” I’m overcome by the urge to craft, bake, plan the perfect holiday meal, and decorate the house just so. And despite Mariah Carey’s insistence that she doesn’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree, it seems imperative to wrap beautiful, Insta-worthy gifts. I know I’m not alone.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fantasy of a perfect, magical Christmas and lose sight of the impact the holidays have on the planet. And it’s not just the gifts themselves, but what we wrap them in. Stanford University estimates that the average household in the U.S. produces 25 percent more waste during the holiday period than any other time of year. According to Zero Waste Canada, Canadians throw out 545,000 tonnes of gift wrapping and shopping bags each year.

“The idea of buying single-use wrap just to have it ripped and thrown in the garbage on Christmas day is really sad,” says Shellee Ritzman. A policy coordinator with Metro Vancouver, Ritzman leads the Create Memories Not Garbage campaign, which encourages people to reduce their waste over the holiday season.

Ritzman says not all wrapping paper can be recycled, either. The “shiny, slippery stuff” that is hard to wrap with? It can’t go in the paper recycling, because it’s made with plastic.

“Even wrapping paper that you think would be safe for your curbside recycling might not be,” she says, “because anything that has glitter, texture or shine can’t go in your recycling. That’s garbage.” She says that sparkle and shine isn’t compatible with paper recycling because it can affect the machines. Wrapping paper needs to have a smooth, matte finish to go in the blue bin.

Even if a product can be recycled, it might not be. Emily Alfred, waste campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, says it’s up to your municipality what goes in the blue bin. And if you live in a condo or apartment, a private waste collection company determines what gets recycled.

“One thing that makes recycling really complicated,” says Alfred, “is that recycling rules are different everywhere in the country.”

Recycling is only part of the picture, though. A lot of resources go into making a product that is meant to be ripped apart and thrown away.

“The trees that were cut down and the energy used to process that into paper and to transport it to your house has a much bigger environmental impact than whether you recycle it or not.”

The good news is there are lots of ways to make your gifts pretty without creating waste.

“The easiest choice and the most affordable choice,” says Alfred, “is to avoid wrapping paper and look for other creative alternatives.”

The most creative—and greenest—way to wrap presents is to reuse what you already have, or find something second-hand. So while we’ve included some new and reusable options you can buy, see if you can use what you have lying around the house.

Reusable fabric gift wrapping, furoshiki

(Photo: Etsy/OlsenolsenDesign)

Furoshiki

If you enjoy wrapping gifts, try furoshiki—the art of Japanese fabric wrapping. Furoshiki also refers to the squares of fabric used, which usually range in size from 50-70 cm. Furoshiki has been used in Japan for centuries as a way to carry and protect goods. It’s even easier than wrapping with paper. Simply place your gift in the centre of the fabric, fold it around the object, and tie it in a knot. No tape or scissors required! Best of all, the fabric can then be reused by the recipient. Check out this furoshiki gift wrapping tutorial. The most sustainable option is to make furoshiki from fabric you already have, like pillow cases, blankets, or towels. If you don’t have any, try your local thrift shop. Or use a pretty scarf, handkerchief or tea towel, and make it part of the gift. For large gifts, you can even use a tablecloth or bedding. (My girls are getting a wooden balance board this year, wrapped in a festive tablecloth.)

Furoshiki Gift Cloth, $15.59, spoonflower.com
Furoshiki Wrap, $11-$18, Olsen+Olsen
Reversible Furoshiki, $15.00, Etsy

Gold thread check decorative bag from Simons

(Photo: Simons)

Fabric gift bags

Gift wrapping doesn’t get any easier than this. Unlike plastic reusable bags, fabric gift bags can be reused indefinitely. They come in lots of beautiful colours and patterns, and they cinch up nicely—no tissue paper required. If you’re crafty, you can even sew some of your own out of leftover fabric.

Gold thread check decorative bag, $9.50, simons.ca
Reusable Drawstring Fabric Gift Bag, $12.80, Etsy
Reusable Christmas Gift Bags (Set of 5), $136.35, Etsy

Ikea FLÅDIS Basket, seagrass

(Photo: Ikea)

Baskets

Not only is a basket a beautiful way to wrap a gift, it becomes part of the present. Woven from natural materials like bamboo, rattan, and seagrass, baskets are both eco-friendly and look great as home decor all year long. To hide the present, simply cover it with some cloth or tissue paper you’ve saved from other occasions.

Flådis Basket, $14.99, Ikea
Lustigkurre Basket, $24.99, Ikea
Macramé fringe and jute basket, $29.95, Simons
Cotton and cork bread basket, $15.00, Simons
CANVAS Tess Curved Storage Basket, $24.99, Canadian Tire
CANVAS Kelly Rectangular Storage Basket, $19.99, Canadian Tire

Ikea VINTER 2020 Tin with lid, gingerbread pattern white/brown

(Photo: Ikea)

Tins

Tins don’t just have to be for baked goods—you can use them to wrap all sorts of small items! If you don’t have any left over from holidays past, here are some cute and inexpensive ones.

Vinter 2020 tin with lid, $6.99, Ikea
Vintner 2020 tin with lid (set of 3), $7.99, Ikea
Gingerbread Square Tin, $7.99, Michaels
Holiday Time Window Square Tin (set of 3), $9.41, Walmart

DIY gifts mason jar feature image

 

Glass jars

Next time you’re about to put a glass jar in the recycling bin, wash it instead. A jar is great for gifting treats or other small items. Just put a bow on it!

Presents wrapped in twine and Kraft paper

(Photo: iStock)

Reuse items you have around the house

If you really enjoy wrapping gifts with paper, see what you have lying around the house. You can use newspaper, magazine pages, old maps, and calendars. If you have kids, don’t throw out their extra artwork—wrap with it instead! Kraft paper (if you have it) is fun to decorate and wrap with, and it can be recycled. Or save up those brown paper takeout bags and packing materials.

Instead of using plastic tape, you can use washi tape—a biodegradable alternative that comes in all sorts of fun colours and patterns. If you want to spruce up your gifts, decorate them with natural materials like pine cones, berries, and evergreen sprigs. And instead of buying plastic ribbon, use hemp or twine—or cut strips of leftover fabric.

Home Decor

How To Put Together A Stylish Bar Cart

They’re all over Instagram—here’s how to style your own.

Whether you’re hosting a soiree or mixing yourself a virtual-happy-hour cocktail, a well-stocked drink station makes for a more relaxed holiday season. Here’s how to curate a bar cart that puts the fun in functional.

(Photo: Erik Putz. Styling: Krystin Leigh Smith)

1. Show off your local spirit

You don’t have to go far to stock up on top-shelf bottles, syrups and bitters. From unique flavours to splashy labels designed by indie artists, homegrown craft distilleries are overflowing with refreshing options.

2. Get the prettiest accessories for the job

Barware essentials like shaker sets, cloth napkins and coasters double as decor. Let your personality shine by pairing bold patterns with unexpected textures.

3. Grow your own ingredients

Potted herbs like mint, rosemary and basil add a fragrant touch and a lush pop of colour to your cart and your cocktails; garnish your concoctions with a sprig or two before serving.

(Photo: Erik Putz. Styling: Krystin Leigh Smith)

4. Pick statement glassware

Keep everything on display to create an inviting, laid-back vibe. Shapely coupes, dainty flutes and gold-rimmed tumblers lend an eclectic look to the arrangement.

5. Shake things up with a mocktail

Swap your go-to beverages for something a little lighter—non-alcoholic spirits are buzzier than ever, with full-bodied flavour profiles meant to mimic everything from gin to whisky.

6. Hit the books

For those nights when you want to go beyond an old-fashioned, keep a mixology guide (or two) on hand for inspiration.

Holiday

17 DIY Holiday Gifts You Can Make At Home

From personalized gift sets to delicious homemade baked goods, we've rounded up a few festive ideas that will save you time and money.

Whether you’re an expert crafter or you’ve run out of time to find the perfect present for that special someone (hey, it happens!), we’ve got you covered this holiday season. Here, we’ve compiled a list of ideas that range from personalized gift sets that can be thrown together with items you’ve got at home to DIY decorations and delicious homemade baked goods.

Holiday

How To Make A DIY Paper Wreath From Old Holiday Cards

Deck the halls with this sentimental—and sustainable!—twist on traditional decor.

Wreath Craft, Kalpna Patel. Photo, Erik Putz.

Put your holiday notes to good use with an easy craft project that’s a sentimental—and sustainable—twist on the traditional wreath. Hung on a door or over the mantle, a paper alternative made from used greeting cards keeps wishes from your nearest and dearest close throughout the season. Here, a step-by-step guide to making your own.

Supplies:

  • Old greeting cards (about 12)
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors, craft knife
  • Hot glue, glue dots or tape
  • Pencil or marker
  • String, twine, ribbon or yarn

Step 1: Make a leaf template.

Cut a simple leaf shape out of the back of a greeting card. Use it as a template to trace and cut leaves (about 40), taking care to save special design elements and handwritten notes to add a personal touch to your wreath.

Step 2: Add dimension.

Gently score the back of each leaf down the centre with a craft knife, making sure not to cut all the way through the card. Fold the leaves along the cut.

Step 3: Experiment with leaf placement.

Spread the leaves out in a circle to decide how you want the final arrangement to look. Try grouping similar colours together, or contrasting dark and light designs.

Step 4: Cut out the base.

Using plates as guides, trace a large circle (at least 12 inches in diameter) on a piece of cardboard and a second circle within the first one (about an inch smaller).

Step 5: Attach a string for hanging.

Poke holes at the top of your base and thread a piece of string, twine, ribbon or yarn through to hang your wreath.

Step 6: Glue the leaves. 

Starting at the top of your base, glue the leaves, working counterclockwise so they overlap.

Step 7: Hang your wreath.

Find the perfect spot for your wreath and reuse year after year to keep wishes from your friends and family close throughout the season.

Home Decor

A Bright And Budget-Friendly Approach To Holiday Decor

For design blogger Wendy Lau, decking the halls—and shelves and railings and mantle—comes naturally.

“I wait all year to decorate for Christmas,” says Wendy Lau, design blogger and Instagram sensation. “But that doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel.” For Wendy, who shares her Thornhill, Ont., home with husband Kwan, getting holiday-ready involves foraging greenery for simple, twine-tied garlands and pulling out the same DIY orange-slice ornaments year after year. “I was addicted to drying oranges at one point,” jokes Wendy. “I like that they’re natural and sustainable, and eventually I can compost them.” (Want to make your own? Slice a few oranges, poke a hole in each slice and bake for two to three hours—flipping once—in a 250F oven. The slices will transform into stained-glass-like ornaments that last for years.) This winter, Wendy plans on reaching out of a second-floor window to trim extra greenery from the top of her cedar hedge, as the bottom is a little sparse from Christmases past. The handmade vibe of the resulting garlands is charming—and the price tag can’t be beat.

Frugality runs in the Lau family. “My parents immigrated from Hong Kong, where it’s hot all year and decorating for Christmas isn’t as big of a thing,” says Wendy. Instead of splurging on fancy baubles, she grew up thrifting for ornaments with her folks and waiting for Boxing Week sales—two traditions she carries on today. “The holiday spirit is infectious and you can’t help but want to take part, but I never want my Instagram followers to feel like creating a welcoming home has to cost a lot of money,” Wendy says. As a kid, she remembers waking up every few months to see her whole house had been redesigned, without costing a dime. “My mom would rearrange the furniture, pillows, art, you name it. It made me understand that decor is fluid, and you can move things around and make it feel like a different space without buying anything new.”

Seeing decor as an extension of her hospitality is something Wendy prides herself on. As any of her holiday visitors can attest—this year it will only be her tight-knit family, but other years it’s been upwards of 100 people throughout the month of December, culminating in a holiday dinner for 40—she knows how to make guests feel at ease. “Your home is to be enjoyed by the people you love,” says Wendy, who attributes that feel-good mentality to her late aunt Brenda. “I get excited and emotional talking about her. Since we were an immigrant family, my aunt knew we didn’t have a fresh-cut tree, so she’d put one up for us and we’d decorate gingerbread houses. Now Wendy and Kwan carry on Brenda’s legacy with their young cousins: The gingerbread house competition takes place in the basement and carols are sung in the string-light-lit sunroom (which is also home to many of the couple’s 75-plus houseplants). “I know there’s going to be a big cleanup at the end, but I want my cousins to have the same fond holiday memories that I do,” Wendy says. “I want it to be magical.”

Style

The Best 2020 Black Friday Sales You Can Shop From Your Couch

A phone in a shopping cart for a piece on Black Friday sales in canada 2020

(Photo: Getty Images)

While it’s hard to believe it’s already November (wasn’t it June, like, yesterday?), it’s time for the annual shop-a-thon that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’ve been eyeing a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for yourself or want to get a head start on your holiday shopping, now is the time! And don’t fret—since we’re still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands have made shopping from your couch even easier this year with amazing online deals. All your fave labels—from Sephora to COS—plus some local Canadian gems are offering up discounts so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best Black Friday 2020 deals below to help you indulge in some much-deserved retail therapy.

Céla

When: November 27
The Deal: Receive 10% off for each product purchased up to 30% (10% off one product, 20% off two, 30% off three or more).

Hammam Spa
When: November 27
The Deal: 15% off online and in store (includes gift cards) using the code Blackfriday2020.

RW & Co.
When:
November 27 to November 30
The Deal: On November 27, the brand is offering 50% off everything (excluding men’s footwear) and an additional 50% off clearance items. For November 28 to 30, take 50% off regular price and 30% off clearance items. There are also additional deals with the brand leading up to Black Friday.

Satya Organic Skincare
When:
November 27 to November 29
The Deal: Instead of having another Black Friday sale, this year the brand is paying it forward. 20% from every purchase online will go toward building an Indigenous-led matrilineal healing and education centre—the first of its kind in Canada—by Clan Mothers Healing Village, a Manitoba-based non-profit.

Zvelle
When:
Now until November 28 at midnight
The Deal: All sale styles have already been reduced by an additional $25. You can also enjoy $75 off full price styles (excludes V and Firenze) including handbags (this is automatically applied at checkout).

Amazon
When:
November 20 at 3AM EST to November 27
The Deal: The online retailer will be offering 20% to 65% off select items from Shop Local along with up to 40% off select products on amazon.ca. This includes up to $110 off select Amazon devices.

Brunette the Label

When: November 27 to 30
The Deal: 30% to 50% off select items.

Kat Maconie

When: From now until November 30
The Deal: 35% off select product when you enter KMBF35 at checkout.

MikaylaJ Jewelry

When: November 24 to December 1
The Deal: 10% when you buy two items, 20% for four and 30% off for six while using the codes blackfriday10, blackfriday20 or blackfriday30.

L’Occitane
When: Black Friday offers run from November 25 to 28 (online) and November 25 to 29 (in stores), while Cyber Monday is on from November 29 to December 9
The Deal: Enjoy L’Occitane’s $25 Black Friday Doorbusters including options from the Cherry Blossom, Almond and Shea Doorbuster ranges (while supplies last). The brand is also offering some of L’Occitane’s most beloved scents as a special gift with purchase on orders over $100 and $210. For Cyber Monday, receive an additional 20% off applicable items when you place an order on loccitane.com.

Chatters
When:
November 20 to December 1
The Deal: Up to 50% off online and in store purchases. (
Discount excludes gift cards, hair services. clearance items, gift packs, door crashers, litre & travel sizes, Moroccanoil, Brunette the Label, Virtue, Dry Bar and Dermalogica products; other exclusions may apply. Discount must be applied at time of purchase, cannot be applied to previous orders or combined with any other offer.)

DevaCurl
When: November 23 to December 2
The Deal: From November 23 to the 25, the brand is offering 30% off site wide, plus 40% off DevaFuser in addition to four full-size products for $65. For Cyber Monday, from November 29 to December 2, they are offering 30% off site wide, plus a free full-sized Melt into Moisture on purchases over $65.
When: November 27 to December 3
The Deal: Up to $200 dollars off select Dyson items on DysonCanada.ca, in the Dyson Demo Store located in Yorkdale Shopping Centre and in select retailers that sell Dyson products.

Arc’teryx
When: Month of November and December 1
The Deal: For the month of November, Arc’teryx will reward guests who trade-in their used Arc’teryx gear with a gift card worth 30% of the item’s original retail value. On Giving Tuesday (December 1), Arc’teryx will also donate $10 for every item traded-in in November to Protect our Winters, a climate-focused non-profit.

Victoria Emerson
When: November 20 to 29, November 30 to December 7
The Deal: Buy one, get one free on Black Friday and 50% off site-wide on Cyber Monday (exclusions apply).

Estée Lauder
When: November 27 (one day only)
The Deal: 5pc Pure Color Envy Lipstick Black Friday Set ($210 value) will be $52 instead of $99.

Mejuri
When: November 23 (for email subscribers), November 25 (for the public) to December 1 at 3AM EST
The Deal: Buy more, save more items—buy one item, get 10% off; buy two items, get 15% off; buy three items, get 20% off.

Garage
When: November 23 to November 29
The Deal: Buy one, get one 50% off (selected styles) available both in store, online and on the brand’s app.

Reversa
When: November 20 to November 30
The Deal: Buy three products at regular price and get the fourth for free. The promotion will automatically apply, no promo code needed.

Cover FX
When: November 24 to November 30
The Deal: From November 24 to the 29, there will be 30% off sitewide, as well as free shipping and free hair clips on orders of $50 or more. For Cyber Monday, the brand is offering 30% off sitewide, as well as free shipping and free hair clips on orders of $50 or more, plus a free Power Play Concealer on orders of $100 or more.

Nordstrom
When: November 20 to November 30
The Deal: 12 days of serious savings—new deals will be added on November 20, November 23, November 27 and November 30, featuring up to 50% off hundreds of items in stores and online for women, men, kids and home.

Nordstrom Rack
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: The Rack Friday Clearance Sale will kick off in stores with the best savings of the year. More info to come closer to the date!

The Quarterly
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off select styles site wide.

Club Monaco
When: November 20 to November 30
The Deal: From November 20 to 28, they are offering 30% off your order and from November 29 to 30, it’s 40% off everything with no product exclusions.

Aldo
When: November 13 to December 23
The Deal: 25% to 50% off select styles from now until December 23. From November 5 to November 19, there will be 50% off must-have styles in store and online. From November 5 to December 1, customers can take 25% off regular-priced items in store and online and from November 16 to December 23, they are offering 50% off select sale styles in store and online. (End dates are subject to change.)

EQ3
When: November 10 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off EQ3 regular-priced and sale items (excluding EQ3+ product) as well as free shipping on purchases of $500 or more.

Hunter
When: November 24 to November 30
The Deal: The brand is offering different deals every day, ranging from 25% to 30% off classic styles such as Refined Boots, Chelsea Boots, Kids Boots, Tall Boots and seasonal styles.

Moose Knuckles
When: November 20 to November 25 (VIP presale) and November 25 to November 30
The Deal: Up to 30% off their current winter collection.

SophieGrace
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: The brand is offering a bundle promotion of 25% off four items plus free shipping on Black Friday, and special deals on gift cards for Cyber Monday. They are also donating 10% of all sales on Giving Tuesday (December 1) to women’s shelters across Canada.

Christophe Robin
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 40% off plus flash sales.

Grow Gorgeous
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Buy two, get one free on all single products.

ESPA
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 40% off.

mio Skincare
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 30% off single products and bundles and 15% off supersize and gifts.

Illamasqua
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 50% off plus select a free mini when you spend $50 USD.

Mama Mio
When: November 24 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 30% off single products and bundles, plus 15% off supersize and gifts.

Bite Beauty
When: Starting November 12 with more deals from November 25 to November 30
The Deal: From November 25 to 30, the brand is offering 35% off site wide on bitebeauty.com, and free shipping on all transactions over $35. Plus, all the holiday limited-edition products will be marked down 50% as of November 12 until stocks last, with prices as low at $9. This offer is not only available on bitebeauty.com, but also at Sephora and sephora.ca.

Frank And Oak
When: November 25 to 29
The Deal: 30% off everything online and in-stores

Altitude Sports
When: Starting November 23
The Deal: Up to 30% off brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’terxy and Vallier as well as promotions on local Canadian brands.

Fika Beauty
When: November 20 to November 30
The Deal: When you book a balayage or dip nail service, you’ll receive a complimentary best-selling signature Fika oil. Enter BLACKFRIDAY in the comment box upon booking.

Cake Beauty
When: November 11 to December 12 and November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25% off select cult-favourite products available on Amazon. Additionally, from November 27 to November 30, Cake Beauty will be hosting a site wide 40% off sale at cakebeauty.com (excluding sale items and bundles).

Marc Anthony Hair Care
When: November 11 to December 12
The Deal: 25% off select products available on Amazon.

Province Apothecary
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off their online store.

Folly Fire
When: November 27 to December 4
The Deal: 50% off the online shop including trios and large sets, plus free shipping with purchases over $60.

Preloved
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: An additional 50% off Green Friday Sale and $3 from every purchase will be donated to Friends of The Earth through Canada Helps. For Cyber Monday, and the week afterwards, you’ll receive a free Preloved reusable mask with every purchase over $49.

Dermalogica
When: November 27
The Deal: Free shipping on all orders plus spend $120 and receive a Dermalogica exclusive tote bag + 3 trial sizes ($43 value). Spend $180 and receive an exclusive Dermalogica tote bag + 5 trial sizes ($88 value).

Kiehl’s
When: November 25 to December 3
The Deal: Up to 30% off online and in-store + a surprise offer on certain Kiehl’s favourites online. A special 5-piece gift set on $125 for Kiehl’s Rewards Members.

JB Skin Guru
When: November 20 to December 1
The Deal: 20% off any online order over $100 and free shipping. Join JB Skin Guru’s VIP list for exclusive early access to their Black Friday offer.

COS
When: November 13 to November 29
The Deal: November 13 to 15: 25% off the ‘Winter Essentials’ edit from The Wardrobe Series when you spend $250 (in store). November 20 to 22: 25% off the ‘Holiday Dressing’ edit from The Wardrobe Series when you spend $250 (in store). November 26 to 29: Black Friday Sale of 25% off the entire collection when you spend $250 (in store).

Roots
When: November 27
The Deal: 25% off almost everything and an additional 40% off sale items.

Innisfree
When: November 27 to November 30 at Innisfree Stores in Canada
The Deal: Up to 50% discount on select self-care items. Gift with every purchase and surprise gift with purchase over $50.

Laline
When: November 27 to November 30 at Laline Stores and Laline.ca
The Deal: 50% off all products, 30% off Dead Sea Minerals, 70% off clearance.

Kombi
When: November 27 to November 30 at KombiCanada.com
The Deal: Free shipping and a free hand warmer with every purchase.

Alterna
When: November 26 to November 29 at Sephora
The Deal: 25% off Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture CC Cream (100ml).

Penningtons
When: November 27
The Deal: 40% off store wide and an extra 50% markdowns (excluding private labels).

Amandine Botanicals
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25% off site wide plus a gift with purchase for a limited time on Black Friday.

Shop Hali
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 50% off select products on Black Friday, 25% off select products on Saturday and Sunday, and 35% off select products on Cyber Monday.

Therabody
When: November 20 to December 1
The Deal: Black Friday sale includes discounts on all devices, see website for details.

Pandora
When: Every Friday throughout November
The Deal: Both online and in-store, customers can receive 35% off their total purchase during these deal days (some exclusions may apply).

Zenchies
When: November 27 at 12AM until Sunday at 11:59PM CDT and November 30
The Deal: For Black Friday, buy one, get one 25% off. Buy two, get one 50% off. Buy three get one free, plus free shipping. Discount excludes sets/ bundles, use promo code: BLACKOUTFRIDAY. For Cyber Monday, there will be 20% off site wide and free shipping. Discount excludes sets/bundles, use promo code: CYBERMONDAY20.

Fruits & Passion
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 30% off regular and holiday items plus buy one Get one 50% for holiday gift sets.

Niyama Yoga Wellness
When: November 25 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off all products with code BLACKFRIDAY20.

Bao Laboratory
When: November 25 toNovember30
The Deal: 20% off all products and free international shipping on all orders.

Tissot
When: November 1 to November 30
The Deal: Receive a Tissot notebook with every purchase using the code FALL20.

By Annalay
When: November 27
The Deal: 30% to 50% off select styles.

Vichy Canada
When: November 22 to November 29
The Deal: 25% off site wide (including gift sets) plus an eight-piece gift with purchase (with a value of $85) on orders $75 and over (after discount) with the special code FRIDAY / VENDREDI.

Wonderbra
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Entire website will be 40% off.

B.Beautiful
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25% to 50% off select skincare products, 25% off the newly revamped B.Beautiful makeup kit, up to 70% off clothing, 40% off shoes and sandals and 10% off tie dye and accessories.

The Ordinary
When: November 1 to November 30
The Deal: 23% off all products from all brands. The Ordinary will also be publishing daily educational content throughout November for their KNOWvember campaign, offering daily bits of education with the goal of encouraging consumers to learn more about their products before impulse purchasing.

mycoatisblue
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 15% off any single outerwear piece from this Black-owned, Toronto-based brand. Customization and shipping are regular price.

Of Mercer
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: An additional 25% off sale items, up to 75% off.

Sport Chek
When: November 26 to December 2
The Deal: Up to 60% off door-crasher sales. 20% off ticketed prices for women’s, men’s and kids’ winter jackets and pants for four days only (November 26 to 29). Additional deals include between 20% to 40% off select brands, including clothing, equipment and supplements for the whole week.

Mark’s
When: November 26 to December 2
The Deal: Save 70% on men’s and women’s Bench Casualwear and Jackets. Save 50% on select men’s CAT Boots. Save 50% on select men’s and women’s Sketchers shoes. Save 40% on all regular-priced Helly Hansen Work Gloves.

Cocoon Apothecary
When: November 23 to November 29
The Deal: Free Eyewaken and linen travel bag gift with purchase on orders of $100 and over.

Encircled
When: November 23 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off select styles (no code required), plus there will also be daily door-crasher sales on select pieces from November 27 to November 30 with discounts ranging from 15 to 35% off.

Estée Lauder
When: November 27
The Deal: Five Pure Color Envy Lipsticks (full size) set with a value of $210 will be available for $52 (one day only).

Benefit Cosmetics
When: November 24
The Deal: At Sephora, Gimme Brow will be 50% off (one day only).

L’Oréal Professionnel
When: November 16 to December 6
The Deal: On Kérastase.ca, use code STEAMBF20 at checkout to redeem a vegan leather travel pouch. Redeemable with the purchase of a Steampod 3.0 and 2 Steampod products or a Steampod 3.0 and 2 Kérastase travel- size products.

Fable
When: November 25 to November 30
The Deal: 10% off orders over $200, 15% off orders over $300 and 20% off orders over $500.

Reformation
When: November 26 to November 30
The Deal: 30% off in-store and online.

Allbirds
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Exclusive colour drop in the new Tree Dashers on Black Friday. Exclusive colour drop in Wool Runner + Wool Piper on Cyber Monday. In addition, rather than slashing prices (in an effort to counteract the “more is more” mindset around the season), Allbirds will be launching a global initiative called Pay It To The Planet where prices on all products will be raised by $1 CAD on November 27, with the additional proceeds going directly to Fridays For Future, the youth-led international climate movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

NYX Professional Makeup
When: November 24 to November 30
The Deal: 40% off everything online & in-store.

Calyx
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: Buy one, get one 50% off.

Maybelline New York
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Up to 30% off Fit Me, Tattoo Brow, Falsies, Instant Age Rewind Concealer and Super Stay Matte Ink on amazon.ca.

Essie
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Up to 30% off Gel Couture on amazon.ca.

Call it Spring
When: November 1 to November 30
The Deal: Buy one get one 70% off on all the brand’s vegan and sustainable shoes, plus 30% off all vegan handbags.

The Body Shop
When: November 23 to December 2
The Deal: November 23 to December 2: 30% off site wide and storewide, including limited edition seasonal body care (excluding gifts). November 18 to November 30: buy one get one half off on select gifts. November 27 to November 30: Limited-edition pouch which includes travel size body care and skincare with a $40 value is only $15.

Kérastase
When: November 1 to December 31
The Deal: 10% to 20% off select bundles and kits including Blond Mini Trio, 8H Nutritive and Deluxe Double Format Shampoos.

Garnier
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Up to 40% off on select products including Micellar All-in-1 Cleansing Water, Whole Blends Honey Treasures, Skinactive Moisture Bomb Pomegranate Mask and Olia Hair Color on amazon.ca.

Matrix
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: 20% savings on holiday gift sets. On amazon.ca, the brand is offering 15% off select products.

Biolage
When: November 26 to November 30
The Deal: 25% off select best-selling products on amazon.ca.

Valmont
When: November 1 to November 30
The Deal: Purchases $250 and over receive a Moisturizing Booster (4ml). Purchases $800 and over receive the Only for Your Eyes Gift Set. On Black Friday, all orders receive an Eye C Gel (5ml) gift and a Moisturizing Booster (4ml) gift. On Cyber Monday, all orders receive an Eye C Gel (5ml) gift.

AG Hair
When: November 26 to November 30
The Deal: 30% off site wide plus every order will receive a free Coco Nut Milk Conditioning Spray Mini (1.8 oz).

Smash + Tess
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 15% to 40% off select items (while stock lasts), plus special door-crasher items on Friday and Monday (hint: styles in brand new limited edition colour ways).

Swarovski
When: November 20 to December 1
The Deal: 25% off online and in-store with exclusions and 50% off select watches.

BRUNETTE the label
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 30 to 50% off select items online.

MEC
When: Starting November 19
The Deal: Over 1,300 limited-time deals on 70+ outdoor brands, in-store and online.

Sorel
When: November 21 to November 30
The Deal: Starting November 21, the brand will have 25% off select styles online. From November 25 to November 30, there will be new daily deals online with up to 50% off deals.

Lise Watier
When: November 27
The Deal: 20% off site wide or 25% off orders over $200, plus an eight-piece gift with purchase on orders over $100.

Marcelle
When: November 27
The Deal: Buy one get one free (exclusions apply), plus orders of $35 and over receive free shipping and orders over $65 receive a four-piece gift.

Annabelle
When: November 27
The Deal: 40% off site wide, plus receive a gift with orders $35 and over.

CW Beggs and Sons
When: November 27
The Deal: 30% off site wide, plus a gift on orders over $40.

Sephora Canada
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Up to 50% off select products from brands like Kiehl’s, Urban Decay and Tarte.

Olive + Splash
When: November 27t
The Deal: Up to 40$ off select styles site wide.

e.l.f. Cosmetics
When: November 26 and November 27
The Deal: 40% off on loyalty orders and 25% off non-loyalty orders on orders $30 and over site wide.

eBay
When: November 27 and November 30
The Deal: Up to 50% off select items from brands such as Dyson, Bose and Samsung.

Noize
When: November 25 to December 1
The Deal: 30 to 70% off site wide depending on the style.

The Quarterly
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 20% off select styles from Nux and Monrow.

Organika
When: November 20 to December 3
The Deal: 30% off best-sellers including Hyaluronic Acid Capsules, Super C+, Maca Powder and more.

Sappho New Paradigm
When: Starting November 25
The Deal: Receive a free full-size Shimmer with purchases over $150 (shade Medium, value $34). Refillable makeup like eyeshadows and blushes with magnetic compacts at up to 50% off. Contour & highlight set (including brush) at 50% off. Essential Foundation in previous packaging will be back online at deeply reduced prices, with expiry dates indicated, in limited shades.

The Better Skin Co.
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25 to 70% off everything and free shipping at $75, plus a gift with $100 or more.

C’est Moi Beauty
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25% off site wide when using code HOLIDAZE, free shipping on orders $35 and up, plus a gift.

Sterling Forever Jewelry
When: November 27 to November 29
The Deal: 30% off site wide with code BFX30.

Thigh Society
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: 25% off site wide on all products on Black Friday and 40% off Denim Blue Cooling on Cyber Monday.

Lucky Iron Fish
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: Take 20-30% off The Lucky Iron Fish and Leaf.

Lux Second Chance
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: An extra 20% off select items (on top of prices that are already up to 80% off retail).

Sam & Lance
When: November 27 to November 30
The Deal: $20 off all holiday gift boxes. No discount code needed; prices will be automatically marked down.

Birthdate Co.
When: November 24 to December 1
The Deal: For birthdate books, an offer of 35% off list price. For birthdate candles, the brand is offering 15% off list price.

Steele by Amanda Steele
When: November 27 at 9AM to November 29 at 11:59PM and November 30 at 12AM to 11:59PM
The Deal: For Black Friday, the brand is offering 70% off warehouse sale on all items on this page. For Cyber Monday, they are offering 30% off excluding ASOS items.

Shades of Rose by Lauren Burnham Luyendyk
When: November 27 at 12AM to November 30 at 11:59PM
The Deal: 25% off site wide.

Lani The Label by Amanda Stanton
When: November 27 at 9AM to November 30 at 11:59PM and November 30 at 12AM to 11:59PM.
The Deal: For Black Friday, there’s a warehouse sale with up to 25$ off and for Cyber Monday, there will be 25% off site wide.

Backyard Roses by Tess Christine
When: November 27 from 12AM to 11:59PM
The Deal: Free shipping

With Clarity
When: November 18 to December 9
The Deal: 30% off the New Made For You Lab Diamond collection

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Home Decor

Why Hot Water Bottles Are The *Best* (Plus, 9 Cute Covers)

They're the ultimate in thrifty-yet-thoughtful giving.

Three hot water bottle covers: One from Roots, like a cozy sock, one a plaid and one knit with a fox

One Christmas, fresh from losing my job and worried about money, I knitted my parents and brother cabled hot water bottle covers, and paired each with a store-brand hot water bottle. They remain the cheapest, best gifts I’ve ever given—my parents still use the bottles regularly to ease aches and pains and counter cold winters.

I made one for myself, too, and years later, rely on it as a combination adult-stuffed-animal/security blanket/chill fighter. (Now that our house is dogless, it’s also the next best thing to cuddling with a warm pet.) In other words—a hot water bottle, with a cute cover (the cover is important for not only maximum coziness, but also burn prevention—those things get hot) is the ultimate in thrifty-yet-thoughtful giving.

Home Decor

A Room-By-Room Guide To Buying Rugs

Here's how to find the right size for your space.

Laying down a new rug is an easy way to spruce up a room and add a hit of warmth and colour. Whether you’re looking for a rug for your living room, dining room or bedroom, each space requires a different rug size. Here, we share a few tips to inform your next purchase.

Living room

Generally speaking, the rug should be big enough that the front feet of your couch and main chairs are on the rug. For this reason, 6 x 9 and 8 x 10 are the most common choices.

rug size buying guide illustration of a blue table with four blue chairs on a peach striped rug

Illustration, Corina Lo.

Dining Room

Aim for at least two feet of clearance on all sides—you should be able to comfortably pull out chairs and have all the legs remain on the rug to avoid annoying snags.

Kitchen

Previously a rug-free zone, the kitchen’s now a popular place to try out a fresh pattern and splash of colour. Use a hallway runner beside your longest wall of cabinetry, and choose a busy pattern or an indoor/outdoor fabrication to hide or repel stains. Rag rugs are a washable and durable option.

rug size buying guide illustration of a blue double bed with white pillows on a peach striped rug

Illustration, Corina Lo.

Bedroom

You want a rug that’s wide enough for you to put your feet on it when you get out of bed and long enough to stick out two to three feet from the foot of the bed. The rug doesn’t need to go all the way back to the head of the bed—you can lay it under ¾ of the bed’s length. Rugs that are 6 x 9 and 8 x 10 work best with queen beds, while 9 x 12 are better suited to kings.

Bathroom

Placed in front of a vanity or a freestanding tub, a rug can add major decorative impact in the home’s most used room. Mats that are 2 x 3 or 3 x 5 should do the trick.

Home Decor

Paper Towel Is Selling Out. 7 Sustainable, Budget-Friendly Alternatives

Once you tear yourself away from paper towel, you may never go back.

rolls of paper towel on white background. Tight inventory has fuelled fears of a paper towel shortage

(Photo: iStock)

It may be hard to imagine your kitchen without paper towel. It’s ultra-convenient for cleaning, dusting, sopping up spills, and wiping dirty hands and faces. It’s no surprise that with so many people working from home—and cleaning more—paper towel has been selling out. But don’t rush out and stockpile paper towel just yet.

While it is indeed handy, paper towel isn’t exactly eco-friendly. It’s usually made with virgin lumber—often from Canada’s boreal forest, which plays a crucial role in locking away climate-change fuelling carbon dioxide—and it goes straight into the garbage when you’re done with it. The good news is, there are better and more sustainable products to choose from. They are reusable, take up less space, and don’t have to be constantly restocked—so they’re better for the planet and your wallet. (The U.S.-based non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council recommends reusable cloth towels as the best alternative to paper, with paper towels made of recycled paper coming in second.) So if you can’t find paper towel at the store—or you can’t seem to tear yourself away from it—here are our top picks to help you make the more sustainable swap.

Flannel cloths

 

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Flannel cloths are soft and absorbent, and the more they’re washed the more they absorb. You can use them for just about anything: wiping up messes, washing and drying dishes, or lint-free cleaning and dusting. They’re even soft and pretty enough to double as napkins. Because they cling together, they can easily roll around your paper towel holder. Serged edges keep them from fraying, and they’re easy to care for—just throw them in the washer and dryer. (Or line dry them.)

Marley’s Monsters Cloth Wipes (12-pack), $24.95, koylanaturals.com

Three Huggers Reusable Paper Towels (8 pack), $18, Etsy

Unpaper Towels (8 pack), $16, bare market

Sponge cloths

Universal love sponge cloth from Simons for a piece on alternatives to paper towels during a shortage

(Photo: Simons)

Sponge cloths have been used in Swedish kitchens for more than 60 years. Made of cellulose (wood pulp) and cotton, they are reusable, biodegradable, and even compostable. They can absorb up to twenty times their weight in liquid, and one cloth will replace seventeen rolls of paper towel. They are incredibly durable and can be washed up to 300 times in temperatures up to 190 °F (88 °C) in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Danika Studio Sponge Cloth, $6, kolyanaturals.com

If You Care Natural Sponge Cloths (5-pack), $12.29, Well.ca

Simons Maison Sponge Cloth, $3.75, Simons

Skoy Cleaning Cloths (4-pack), $12, Logan & Finley.

Viola Sponge Cloth (set of 2), $12, modernkomfort.ca

Huck towels

Huck towels, or surgical towels, were originally used to clean surgical instruments. Made of lint-free cotton, they’re popular with professional window cleaners. Highly absorbent, they’re also great for cleaning up spills, drying dishes, or even used as napkins. They can be tossed in the laundry and hung dry.

Reclaimed Huck Towels (10 lb box), $24, The Rag Factory

Recycled Surgical Towels (12-pack), $14, windowcleaner.com

Huck Towel, $5.45, Linen Plus

Microfibre cloths

A stack of microfibre cloths

(Photo: Norwex)

Microfibre cloths are made of polyester and nylon threads up to 200 times finer than a human hair. Because they carry a slight positive charge, they act like magnets to attract dust and dirt instead of just pushing it around. Super soft, they can be used on just about anything, including stainless steel, enamel, ceramic, glass, chrome, granite, marble, wood, tile, and china. They dry quickly, inhibiting bacterial growth.

Envision Home Microfiber Cleaning Cloths (10-pack), $12.79, Well.ca

FRANK All Purpose Microfibre Cloth (12-pack), $19.99, Canadian Tire

Ninja Microfibre Cloth, $7.80, Canada Cleaning Supplies

Norwex EnviroCloth, $19.99, Norwex.biz

Ultrafine Microfibre Cloths

The extra-tight weave makes these microfibre cloths super absorbent and great for polishing mirrors, windows, shower doors, stainless steel, chrome, and even screens. They are totally lint-free and leave zero spots or streaks, eliminating the need for additional cleaning products. I’ve had mine for years, and they have only gotten softer and more effective over time.

FRANK Microfibre Glass Cleaning Cloths (2-pack), $3.99, Canadian Tire

Jude’s Miracle Cloth, $7.99, judesmiraclecloth.com

KD Cloth, $8.80, KDCloth.com

Norwex Window Cloth, $21.99, Norwex.biz

Wipe and Glow, $6.99, potandpantry.ca

Wood Fibre Cloths

Simply Natural Wood Fiber Cloth, 6 Pack Antibacterial Dish Cloths

(Photo: Amazon)

Like synthetic microfibre cloths, these are super soft and absorbent—except they’re made entirely from wood pulp fibre (viscose rayon). Engineered with an eight-layer open weave, they claim to rinse free of dirt and bacteria with tap water, so they don’t get smelly like typical cloths. They are strong, durable, and machine washable.

Mabu Cloth, $4.49, Well.ca

Simply Natural Wood Fiber Cloth (6-pack), $26.59, Amazon.ca

DIY Cleaning Cloths

a knit dish cloth

(Photo: knitpicks.com)

If you’re the crafty kind, try making your own cleaning cloths. Not only can this save you money but it gives you the freedom to choose whatever colours, patterns and fabrics you like.

Some people swear by knitted or crocheted dishcloths. You can get free patterns on Ravelry, an online community for knitters, crocheters and fiber artists. Knit Pix offers lots of free dishcloth patterns, and they also sell yarn, kits, tools, books, and free instructional videos. Try making yours out of linen yarn—it’s absorbent, durable, and gets softer with each wash. Plus linen is one of the more sustainable textiles, as it uses less irrigation, pesticides and energy to produce than most other fibers.

If you like to sew, take a break from making masks and sew your own cleaning cloths. These double-sided cloths are durable, absorbent, and easy to wash. Plus you can make them out of eco-friendly fabric like bamboo, organic cotton or hemp terrycloth. You can even reuse old towels, sheets, or cloth diapers.

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