Do You Really Get What You Pay For: Box-Store vs Custom Ordering

Have you been wandering the shopping aisles lately, wondering what to buy? When it comes time to replace items or fixtures in our home we can easily become overwhelmed by the choices we are faced with. One of the questions we are often asked is the difference between the products we offer and those found in your local box store.

If you’re not sure if you should choose a box store versus custom made pieces, a professional designer can help – we know that quality goes a long way. We can show you where to invest your home decor dollars, and how you can mix and match less expensive items to complement your theme. You want your home to be a unique reflection of your style, family and special memories. If you buy everything from a big box store your home might lack personality. Cheaper items can often mean lower quality, mass produced stuff can also damage easily. If you have pets or kids, you might want to consider more durable, high quality items that will withstand spills, handprints, messes, paws and fur. A winning combination is a mix of custom made pieces, family treasures, a few seasonal accents and great design.

Let’s be honest, I have priced out custom made blinds for clients and I know the price difference – the cost is never comparable to box or department store pricing and neither is the quality. Even when the company is the same, the products will differ greatly – the density of the slats relate directly not only to the blinds durability but also its cleanability. The operating systems including ladders are also quite different so the ease of use is more than noticeable.  Does all of this mean that you have to spend a larger portion of your design budget on custom made blinds as opposed to the box store variety? Not necessarily, however you should be taking into account where and how your new blinds are to be used. The more you plan on using them, the more you should invest. If you have a window that is not used often you can save some dollars, just be prepared to cut them to fit your window.

Do you have any box-store nightmares to share? Have you ever wondered why your parents sofa lasted over 25 years and yours is shot after 3?  Learning where and when to spend your money on quality pieces will save you money and aggrevation in the long term. 

For more design ideas and inspiration visit our website Tall Pines Interiors, you can also visit our Facebook page.


Savvy Home Renovation Investments

With spring around the corner which means the real estate market is about to kick into high gear. Are you planning on listing your home? Have you been wondering how to spend your money wisely to maximize your home’s price for resale? Without a doubt, hiring a professional designer that will guide you through the process is always best, however if you prefer to try it out on your own here are a couple of suggestions for your consideration.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the smartest way to update your home. It is wise to update these key rooms every decade.  If it’s been many years since you’ve had a remodel, these would be ideal places to begin. Modern home buyers are looking for open concept, efficient and organized kitchens to entertain in. They are also looking for sap bathrooms and ensuites which invite you to relax and unwind in style.

Master Ensuite - Before
Master Ensuite – Before
Master Ensuite - After
Master Ensuite – After

If a kitchen or bathroom renovation is not in this year’s budget, there are other ways to improve your home for resale. One of the easiest ways to protect your investment is to maintain your property. Fix anything that’s broken as soon as it needs a repair or update. A little TLC goes a long way. Paint every few years to keep your home fresh and on trend with a modern colour palette. Pay attention to doors, windows and light fixtures.

Another great design tip is to remove clutter regularly so that your home is a haven for special memories and treasures, not junk. Let your front entrance welcome friends, guests and potential buyers to your beautiful, organized home.

A professional designer (that’s me) can show you how to add storage solutions to your home, decorate tastefully and create a consistent decor scheme. I can show you how fresh cushions can update the look of your couch, and new window coverings can add life to a dated room. Always ensure that your home’s decorations match the current season. Homes that are clean, organized and beautifully decorated sell quickly.

You Win Some and You Lose Some

Well, you just cant win them all. We received word yesterday that we lost the bid that I wrote about in my last blog post. It was months of preparations, tweaks and changes and an incredible learning experience for me.

Submitting a bid for large commercial projects will always run a risk of not winning the job and when that happens we need to stop for  moment and take stock of what is really important. It would be very easy to wallow in self-pity or play the victim card. With any creative project, you put your all into your work and once you put it out there, you have to leave it out there. I think that is the hardest part of it all. At the end of the day, be proud of the work presented, know you brought your best to the table and hope for a better outcome the next time around.

You can never please everyone so start with yourself and never beat yourself up over something that is out of your control.

And its on to the next one…

(if you just started singing Swizz Beats you just won some major points in my book)

Where I’ve been…


A few weeks back, I made a commitment to blog, and to do so regularly during my work week. While I may have already slagged on that last part of the commitment, I have a fantastic excuse! I completed a MAJOR presentation a little over a week ago for a full refurbishment of a 12 storey condominium in downtown Kingston. The scope of work surrounding this project is the largest I have ever tackled and the preparation for the final presentation took a lot of time and energy. I am ever grateful that I work with/for an experienced designer and business man who has been able to assist me through this entire process. With voting now open to the owners, I have nothing left to do but wait for the results…. this may just drive me batty!

Let me share with you, my concept;


The corridors: new carpet from the second floor up to and including the 12th. Remove existing wallpaper and wall sconces, paint all doors and trim.  The colour concept needed to flow with the Lobby that was renovated a couple of years ago so I pulled the choices directly from the existing furniture fabric. The new sconces will double the light output in the corridors without doubling electricity costs. The corridors are 6ft wide and there is not a lot of room for artwork so we will update the directional signage at the elevators while adding some black and white photography of local landmarks – a different one for each floor. The directional signage is mounted on aluminum which transports the viewer inside the photograph in a way that can only be accomplished with this mounting process.


The changerooms off of the Gym and Multi-purpose rooms also need a face lift. For budgetary restraints we choose a durable vinyl floor with a floating laminate countertop. New plumbing and light fixtures throughout will update the space and make the rooms more efficient with low-flow toilets and urinals. The Gym and Multi-purpose rooms will have a carpet tile border with proper rubber flooring for the equipment in the centre of the rooms. The same carpet tile will also be used in the Library and will use a 1/4 turn installation for added interest. 

So what do you think? Would you vote for this concept?

Great Spaces for Kids

Kids and parents alike will be happy to hear that there are NO rules when designing and decorating a child’s bedroom. A child’s bedroom will change its look over the years as the child grows and their tastes and needs change. So, get creative! This is your perfect opportunity to use your imagination when choosing colours, patterns and themes.

Make it a family project!

Get your kids involved by letting them provide input – it is their personal space and should be a reflection of their character. Allowing your child to help in the process gives them the ability to make their room a place they will love to sleep AND play in.

Have fun!

Does your child love baseball, monkeys or One Direction? Incorporate their interests and hobbies to help make their space personal and a place they love to hang out in.

Play with paint colours and don’t be afraid to take risks. Paint colour is easy and relatively inexpensive to change and your child’s room may see several transformations as they grow. Glow in the dark or chalkboard paint add an element of fun to any kid’s room, you might also consider hanging a piece of galvanized metal for an instant magnetic wall (you can also paint that metal with chalkboard paint to get the best of both worlds!). Inject fun pieces into your child’s room such as a beanbag chair or swing, hang a funky chandelier from the ceiling or use an animal print for your window treatment. You can incorporate big fluffy pillows or a race car desk lamp. Keep in mind, items such as a brightly coloured area rug is easy to replace as your child’s temperament and interests change.

Keep it versatile

Look for furniture pieces that will grow with your child. Invest in a bed that will accommodate your child from a young age to their teenage years or furniture that can be converted from one style or purpose to another. A sturdy desk and chair is a must have for homework and study time.

Keep it practical

Efficient and practical use of storage and closet space will keep your child’s room clean and organized. Use benches, book shelves with baskets, storage cans or sleeves hung of the wall or back of a door to help reduce clutter. Be sure to hang items at a child-friendly height for easier access. Bookshelves are a great place to highlight your child’s Harry Potter collection as well as framed art work made by them or their favourite doll or car collections. Using baskets on the shelves provide a place for smaller items that could clutter up the space.


These adorable chenille baskets from Capel Rugs are perfect for your child’s room regardless of their age. Available in a variety of colours and sizes they are a great storage option that will grow with your child.

A child’s room should be as uniques as they are. Don’t be afraid to take risks, get creative and be playful in helping them design a space that they will love to spend time in. Visit Tall Pines Interiors today to schedule a consultation.

Finding your Inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration for your rooms? Every good designer, regardless of experience levels, starts with an inspiration piece as their foundation on which to build a successfully designed room.

Before I meet with a client I ask them to collect pictures of rooms that have the same look and feel that they are hoping to create. These pictures can be from magazines, television shows, websites or even from their travels.  Though it doesn’t have to stop there, if you love the colour of hydrangea’s, consider painting the walls light and add variations of blues, creams and soft purples for your fabric selections. Maybe you have found the perfect piece of fabric or toss cushions to start from. You might even use a favourite piece of jewellery or art work. Inspiration comes from everywhere!


The stripe is the “jumping off point” and from there complimentary fabrics are selected.

For designers, the arrival of new sample books sometimes feels like Christmas morning as the pages are flipped through to see the newest collections. Wallpaper is typically my soft spot, like this new book full of Moroccan inspired patterns and sparkle:


This wallpaper is so beautiful, fingers crossed I get to use it soon!

Are you looking for inspiration? Talk a walk, flip through a magazine, look in your closet for your favourite piece of clothing or surf the web. Try not to limit yourself when searching for inspiration. Here are a couple of places you can start:

  • HGTV
  • Home and Garden Magazine
  • Interiors Magazine
  • DIY Network
  • Blogs
  • Instagram
  • Pintrest
  • Architectural Digest
  • Living Magazine
  • Better Homes Magazine
  • and more magazines targeted to specific design styles

Bringing Work Home: Tips on Creating a Home Office


Modern technology has enabled us to work from home more than ever before. Emails, tablets, smartphones and computer networking keep us connected no matter where we are, even in the comfort of our own home. This saves us time and money as well as frustrating commutes.

Before deciding where your office space should be, consider what tasks will be performed in your home office. Will you need privacy to make important phone calls or receive potential clients or guests? Maybe you plan on using your office space to keep track of household expenditures and pay bills. Depending on your needs, your office can be as simple as a nook in your kitchen or it may require a separate room. Here are some tips for creating a space that will be functional and attractive:

  • If possible, find a room with a door, this will keep your business separate from the rest of your living space and minimize unwanted interruptions and distractions.
  • Lighting should be functional. Natural light by a window is always best and task lighting such as a desk lamp or overhead light will reduce eyestrain.
  • Plan for twice as much storage as you think you will need. A filling cabinet, shelving with baskets and trays help keep your files and paperwork neat and organized and minimizes clutter on your workspace.
  • If you plan on inviting clients to your home, consider a small sofa or chairs with a table to provide a comfortable and professional seating area.

Working from home is a wonderful option that offers freedom from the stresses of commuting giving you extra time to spend with your loved ones. Whether you are looking for a designated space to pay bills and conduct your household accounting or to welcome clients for business meetings, your home office should be functional and reflect your style and taste.  For more design ideas visit Tall Pines Interiors today!


Many home offices double as a guest room. The use of Murphy Beds and Day Beds help ensure valuable space is not wasted and create a welcoming atmosphere.


Space Saving Furniture

Extra living space can at times be a rare commodity in a home. Space saving furniture will help create a less cluttered, cleaner look to your home and reduce stress when unexpected guests come to visit!

Create  Closets

If your closet space is limited, get creative when looking for alternative storage space. The right closet organizer will add 25% or more of usable space for your clothing. Consider adding a storage drawer under   your bed that can house your shoes or toy collection. Storage ottomans are a perfect place to store your blankets and can double as a linen closet if your closed storage space is limited.

closet organizer systems-kxhU


Sleep  On  It

Your guest room shouldn’t only be used when guests arrive. Consider using a sofa bed that can be used as a quiet place to sit and relax or read. The sofa bed frees up valuable floor space and opens the guest room up for the possibility of a multi-­‐functioning room. Multi-purpose furniture such as a Murphy Bed is an excellent option for guest rooms that double as a home office space. The bed folds up into the wall and disappears until it is needed. What is left is wall-to-wall built in storage and clear and open floor space for your office needs. In a matter of minutes you go from an office space to a guest room with little effort.


Multi functional furniture can help resolve the lack of space in our homes without compromising style. Space saving furniture is a practical and inexpensive option that can look great too! The design experts at  Tall  Pines  Interiors can help you solve your storage and space dilemmas. Visit our website to arrange for a consultation or for more inspiration on furniture options and products available.

Window Coverings Make a Statement in Your Home

Windows are the ‘eye of the home that frames the view of the outside world’ and your options for covering those windows are endless, limited only by your personal style, budget and needs. Window coverings can be the focal point of any room while also serving a functional purpose. Window treatments of any type help control how much light enters your room and enhancing privacy. The right window treatment can also help improve your energy efficiency by minimizing drafts. Add to that, fully automated blinds or shades that raise or lower at the suns highest (depending on the season) and it is easy to see how helpful today’s window treatments can be in improving the efficiency of our homes.

So what kind of window treatment is right for you? Here is a quick run-down of available window treatments available to you.


Blinds are considered a “hard” window treatment and help create a clean and uncluttered look on any type or size of window or door. Blinds can be made from metal, bamboo, plastic, wood or fabric and are extremely easy to clean.

Vertical blinds can add drama, strong lines and enhance the height of a room so they are particularly effective in rooms with lower ceilings. They allow for good air circulation while protecting your home from harmful UV rays.

Visionelle Sheer Vertical Wrap 1

A recent addition to the vertical blind family is the Sheer Vertical Wrap that uses the versatility and function of a vertical blind with the soft lines of a sheer.

Horizontal blinds made from wood or faux-wood are more expensive than metal or plastic but are quite popular and versatile. They can be used to create a modern and contemporary look or traditional and rustic depending on your home decor and style.

Faux Wood 5


Shades are considered a “soft” window treatment that ranges from elegant and formal to casual and simple. Cellular, honeycomb and pleated shades are normally made from fabric and add warmth and comfort to any window and room. These shades are typically available in horizontal and vertical styles with a variety of room darkening or light filtering features.

Roman Shade 8

Roller or roman shades offer simple, no frills window coverage that give any room a homey and casual feel.

Drapes, Curtains and Sheers

Curtains, drapes and sheers are available in countless colours, fabrics and pattern designs and suit any budget. Curtains can cover the entire window or hung as side panels for a layered look. Hanging draperies floor to ceiling add a “perceived” height to any room.

Pleated Shades 6

Layering your window coverings with panels or curtains creates a dramatic effect, adding dimension to any space.

For more information on window covering options or to schedule a consultation visit Tall Pines Interiors today!

Covering Up

Living in the Limestone City means there is an abundance of older homes. While these homes are chocked full of character, they also bring challenges to the owners when it comes time to update. Radiators in particular can be problematic as they are expensive to replace and not all homes are capable of being retrofitted with new duct work for furnaces. So what can you do? Aside from replacing your existing rads with a lower profile wall mount which still comes at a higher cost, you can cover them. Radiators covers will not only take any emphasis away from those unsightly rads by creating an architectural detail, they can also act double duty as a window bench or much needed shelf in an entrance way. The best part of building radiator covers for your new space? The covers are built for your taste and style to enhance the space to your liking. As an example, if your furniture is Shaker style then your rad cover can reflect that:


If you are keeping with a more traditional feel to your home, perhaps this is more suited to your tastes:


Even in small spaces like this bathroom, the radiator cover offers clean lines and a much needed shelf while not taking up too much space:


Radiator covers are a versatile and effective way to hide your rads without loosing their function and can add the finishing touch to any space. For more design ideas or if you are planning on renovating your older home, visit and schedule a consultation today!