Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!


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White, no. Pink, yes. 

I'm having kind of a bananas week involving styling for Harlequin romance novels, photographing weathered barnboard, sourcing vinyl banners, walking the One of A Kind show and having a slew of furniture sprayed at Beresford's - the fantastic spray shop I use. So, I've been snapping away with my phone to capture a couple of cool things as I run around. In that first pic below you can see the in-between of the two vintage chairs I'm getting re-done (here is the before) at Beresford's. I've picked a lovely dark smoky grey for them, the white is just the primer, and can't wait to see the results. Well, lovely after Tim has kindly pried off the fiddly applied carving that sits on the frame at the head and below the seat. Don't they look better already?

The other snap I took on the fly after admiring the fantastic job my friend Bev Hisey has done on her place. This is her fab looking front porch (with a bit of unseasonable snow still hanging around) that has been painted in a charcoal and gussied up with a new door - that's one of Bev's die-cut wool Botanical table runners hanging behind the glass for privacy - new numbers (from Lowe's), a new light and vintage shell chairs that were transformed from old rust buckets with a quick sandblast and a powder coat in ultra-bright bubblegum pink. Brilliant.


Guest blog / Jenn Hannotte: Feeling scrappy?

Jenn Hannotte: In our last house, we got a little creative and made a scrap-wood wall in our upstairs-kitchen-cum-nursery (take a look at the first snap below). We found all the wood in the rafters of our garage and cut them down into different sizes and just screwed them into the plaster. The result was a little unusual for a nursery (or a kitchen!) but it really gave the whole room a really warm, rustic vibe. We toyed with the same idea in our current house - in our actual kitchen - but fancied more of a cleaner Scandinavian cottage kinda feel (more on that soon...).Needless to say, I'm a big fan of the whole raw-wood look, so when I saw this wallpaper by Piet Hein Eek I got a little flustered. 

Scrapwood is a series of paper's that give the illusion of...well, duh...a scrap wood wall.. but without all the hassle of the cutting and screwing AND in perfectly complementary hued woods. So while I think of some where to hang my latest obsession, take a look at these images and figure out where you'll want to use it, too.'Cause you will - Obviously.

For more of Jenn's take on style click here.


{that one great thing} Michael's Blue Willow dishes

I totally get people who are kind of nuts about collecting, and Michael Penney from House & Home is just one of those kind of nuts. I bet you've seen his stories in the mag, or on the H&H blog, as well as on Design*Sponge. In fact, you'll see his new house featured in H&H's upcoming June issue, where I'm sure you'll catch a glimpse of a wall filled with his that one great thing pick - Blue Willow china.

Michael Penney: My one great thing is my growing collection of Blue Willow china. It started as a love of all things British and cottage-y in style, but I've since decided I like it with almost anything. I love the story behind the pattern (of two young people in love escaping a disapproving father, their souls flying off into the distance represented by two birds) and how the narrative is told on the plates and platters themselves. The clear blue glaze mixed with the time-worn creams and whites is perfection, as are any chips or blemishes that occur over time. This makes the piece look all the better to me!   

I bought a whole lot of dinner plates this past summer at Antiques USA in Kennebunk Maine for very little and have continued collecting everywhere from thrift shops to Cynthia Findlay Antiques (where I got this gorgeous platter). I've since hung the plates on my dining room wall in a symmetrical, geometric pattern radiating out from this central platter. I love the way they look en masse and they really have a big impact that way too. 

I also pick up blue and white ginger jars and vases when I can, and even small bowls and things in Chinatown. I guess I just can't get enough of this English, WASPY staple!


Don't try this at home

Getting a custom sofa made is normally a looong process, landing somewhere between 8-12 weeks is pretty standard, and hey, good things are worth waiting for right? Well sometimes I get thrown a curve ball and have to get things done in rather more of a crunched timeline. Take the set I did for the recent revival of RapCity on MuchMusic, where we decided to go with kind of a messed up but cool 'gentleman's club' feel. I'd found the perfect chair at UpCountry - the diamond tufted Kensington armchair in Vintage Cigar leather - and they happened to have two that I could snag, but the sofa was another matter. The one I fancied was the same style, the Kensington, but wasn't ready to go in the colour I needed (a slightly aged red) so, ummm, I had to get it custom made - in 10 days - to meet the show's launch date.  

After a bit of convincing the lovely team at Silva – who make the fabric version of the Kensington for UpCountry - said it could be done, and I have to say they did a stellar job. No surprise really, since over their 30 years in business they've worked on projects for the likes of Brian Gluckstein and Sarah Richardson (as well as a gazillion other great designers). So, without further ado, here are the results. And yes - major PHEW - everything was delivered in time. Devon at Silva kindly snapped a few shots for me of the sofa in progress, just to give you a bit of an idea of what’s under all that fabric (all those strings in the shot of the back show just how tedious and time consuming it is to pull and tie each button into place), and then the final screen grab shows the sofa and chairs on set with RapCity host T-RexXx, interviewing Cory Gunz.

Big thanks again to everyone at Silva and the crew at UpCountry for making it all happen!


For Japan With Love

Hey peeps, let's keep this brief, since I'm joining in with a blogger's day of silence that's helping raise funds for Japanese disaster relief. Click here to donate to ShelterBox. C'mon, do it now!