The theme overwhelmingly at the Home + Garden Show this year was embracing the “outdoor living room,” and greening up the condo owner’s concrete balcony is an essential part of that, said Mark Bolton, horticulturalist and landscaper at Houston Landscapes. In this photo you can see a blend of green shrubs, hugely popular this year due to the evergreen factor. This way the majority of the pot is beautiful and lush all year round and accents of coloured flowers can be switched in and out depending on when they’re in season.
During his presentation, Minter showed photo after photo of the garden as a work of art. Demonstrating this trend and using plants in artistic ways were garden experts, By Nature. Upside-down hanging planters, magnetized mini pots for the fridge and colourful wallflower living frames were all the rage, attracting visitor after visitor to the By Nature booth.
Sitting just outside the By Nature booth and molting slightly was this fun entry, a moss-wood-leather hybrid that takes outdoor living to the next level (and then the next level after that).
Garden Guru Demands Extraordinary Plants
In the words of Brian Minter of Minter Country Garden, “The single-purpose plant is done.”
Speaking to a packed audience, the green guru presented this year’s garden trends in rapid succession – one of the biggest being an emergence of extraordinary plants. Flowering once isn’t good enough; newer, better varieties are flowering twice a year. Don’t waste your time on a wimpy clematis, plant the Stolwijk Gold variety that’s riddled with blooms instead.
One should also make their garden “sensory, not ordinary” said Minter. Seen in the photo above holding up a delicious smelling Himalayan sweet box, Minter said that fragrance is key this season. Plants should be fragrant and beautiful, or serve as a condo dweller’s privacy partition and additionally bare fruit (like an espalier cherry tree).
A Good Chick To Know
The Power of Crystals
Natural elements pulled throughout the home is still a strong trend in 2014, said Jennifer Scott of design firm A Good Chick To Know, yet this year the inspiration digs a bit deeper – to the Earth’s core. Heavier rocks and crystals, either in their organic palette or fantastically dyed, are the new frontier of natural décor. One of the hottest crystals of the year is stark white Selenite (pictured), also known as the ‘peaceful stone,’ said to remove negative energy and create a calm space.
Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle
Repurposing and upcycling was a trend hugely championed by Jef Hancock of Parker Barrow who urged audiences to keep things out of landfills, give pieces new life and reimagine something for another use.
Hancock’s example was a morgue gurney he turned into a one-of-a-kind coffee table, but at the show the local and newly formed Lumin Concepts and Design put forth equally fashionable industrial lights made from old pipes and ropes. Another exhibitor, Christina J. Morgan of the Touchwood Gallery, showed off the repurpose trend with her crane sculptures handcrafted from driftwood.
Just Add Zebra
A highlight of the show was hearing Janette Ewen’s impassioned retelling of home décor’s arrested development in the 1990s. As part of her presentation with Jef Hancock of Parker Barrow, Ewen spoke of the unfortunate “design dictatorship” era where designer magazines dictated style and it was beige walls, beige sofas and “almost like a war.” “Break away!” she urged, “we need to have fun with our interiors!”
And so Ewen and Hancock called for the return of opulence, colour, quality investment pieces you can hand down to your children – and zebra. “We love zebra,” said Ewen. On the walls, on throw pillows – “it brings a bit of magic,” she said.
A Home that Hugs
Beware the boxy room, warned design partners Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock from the HGTV main stage. In their presentation: ‘Design A to Z,’ H was for hug. “Round out rooms like they’re giving you a big hug,” said Ewen. Hang a birdcage in the corner, pull furniture away from the square-roomed walls – even taking an area rug and shifting it on an angle can round out a room in a flash and make it more inviting.
Approach Love and Bathroom Design with Reckless Abandon
During Parker Barrow’s presentation, Janette Ewen described the powder room as the perfect spot for creative experimentation. It’s that little jewel, like “the inside lining of a jacket” where you can go big, as in “more is more.” This same spirit can be seen in the Power Smart bathroom where Christine Friend incorporated a backsplash on the floor below a floating counter, lit from underneath like the undercarriage of a supercar – it was a crowd-pleaser.
The Power Smart bathroom’s shower had a blue linear drain that incorporated the popular flash of colour with a blue-accented sink to match. Theses pieces are part of the Colour Me series from Valley, Canadian made and based in Mission, B.C.
A New Generation Of Kitchen
For the cabinetry in the Power Smart home, designer Christine Friend combined several of the year’s big trends. With the popularity of open concept, people are pulling away from the cold stainless steel look and want more naturally integrated appliances, said Friend. That’s why in the kitchen, the fridge, cabinetry and drawers are all surfaced in wood materials. Until you open it up, onlookers can’t discern between fridge and closet.
For the urban condo dweller, vertical-opening cabinets are also a prudent way to make use of superfluous space. Also visible in the Power Smart kitchen are the much-fussed-about pops of colour that are so crucial this season, said the designer. In the neutral landscape of the Vancouver palette, colourful accents such as this blue top drawer and painted backsplash are strongly encouraged for adding visual impact.
One of the best points from Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock’s presentation on the nearby HGTV main stage was about decorating your home for the now and this idea hits home here. People often hold back when choosing colours – going with greys and beiges because they’re less personalized. Don’t decorate your home like you’re going to sell it in five years, imparted Ewen. Live for the now and create a space you’re happy with today.
Natural, Reclaimed Materials
Wood products were seen throughout the show (particularly reclaimed varieties), including the West Coast Power Smart Home. Trevor Sowa of Ritchie Builders Vancouver said the green building aspect is still a major trend. Customers are after efficient heating and lighting, high-grade insulation and recycled materials in beams, flooring and furniture.
The rich wood flooring in the living room and dining area of this year’s Power Smart home, designed by the Friendly Decorator herself, Christine Friend, was originally slated for bridge timber, but didn’t make the cut. Canadian Heritage Timber Company insetad dried and repurposed the otherwise unusable beams, not unlike the black walnut fireplace mantel that came from the Lower Mainland’s urban forest salvage program.
Design City to Watch
Designer duo Parker Barrow (Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock) hit the HGTV main stage with their design tips ‘A to Z’ and surprised audiences with an unexpected source of inspiration: Detroit. Hancock was particularly smitten with this city once “left for dead” in the midst of what he called a “beautiful breakdown.” The loft living, live-work, industrial, exposed-wire and pipe aesthetic is coming from Detroit, so be sure to look to the Motor City for designers and design inspiration.
Ritchie Builders Vancouver
The Forever Home
Showers without thresholds (pictured above), as well as wider doorways, one-storey construction, ramps and elevators are all characteristics of the ‘forever home’ trend becoming increasingly popular in residential building, said contractor Trevor Sowa of Ritchie Builders Vancouver. Homeowners are investing in places that will work with them into retirement – and accessibility is an important consideration.
After working all day, or taking care of the kids, having that great escape within the often multi-generational home is in high demand, said Gallop. These are separate spaces where you’ve got everything you need, like a larger than usual master suite with built-in coffee bar, or a hotel-esque luxury spa bathroom outfitted with double sinks, steam shower and soaker tub. It’s treating yourself to at least one private room in the house where you have everything you need, the designer said.
“Fire tables are hot right now,” said Mark Bolton from behind a table at the 'Ask an Expert' series, without any acknowledgment of his spectacular pun. The landscaper/horticulturalist said it’s the nature of the West Coaster to want to sit around a campfire, and if you’ve got the space, there are plenty of fire tables, pots and pits that will suffice.
Everything Al Fresco
The ‘great room’ that’s so popular inside, consisting of the open-concept kitchen, dining room and family room all in one is taking hold outside, said Gallop. A concept echoed by many of her home and garden show cohorts: outdoor kitchens, bars, dining areas and even pizza ovens were popular features at the BC Home + Garden Show this year.
Let Your Inner Gold Digger Shine
In the BCLiving lounge, hints of the season’s heavy metal were all around, thanks to the space’s stylist, interior design firm A Good Chick To Know.
Gold has been a lustrous favourite in textiles as of late, but for 2014 we’re seeing it more in its natural, solid state, said A Good Chick To Know founder Jennifer Scott. A potent accoutrement, gold adds mad glamour, particularly when paired with sapphire hues and the year’s sought-after gem tones. A chic and cheap way to add a hit of gold into your home is with spray paint, said Scott. A couple gold coats on old frames or even rocks translate to instant glitz.
To make the most of outdoor living, Sarah Gallop of Sarah Gallop Design Inc. said eclipse walls, moving walls and folding partitions are where it's at. Since open concept is still a huge trend, expanding that ‘great room’ into your outdoor space takes it to the next level. “When the weather is nice, you have doubled your living space just by utilizing the connection between your patio and great room.”
Home Sweet Home
Home enthusiasts of all ages descended upon the BC Home and Garden Show this past weekend in search of the latest trends and products, and the 425-plus retailers dutifully delivered. While creative booths and demonstrations titillated crowds, some of the show's most powerful attributes were its stacked list of expert guests and presenters. From stage talks to the 'Ask an Expert' feature, industries' finest landscapers, contractors, horticulturalists and designers dished on what heavy-hitting trends were to be embraced in 2014.