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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A coat conundrum

'Tis the time of year for puffy coats and woolen scarves, at least in our neck of the woods. And, if you're like us, you've got a petite hall closet that's already crammed to the gills. So heaven forbid anyone pops over for a cup of hot cocoa - Where on earth are we gonna put all their bleedin' coats?

I've spotted a few solutions around town and thought I'd share: Urban Outfitters offers a bit of a retro classic with their Coming and Going coat rack that's available in a veritable rainbow of 7 colours. West Elm gives it with a natural, branchy feel for their sculptural Tree coat rack. DWR goes modern classic and wall-mount with the slightly Sputnik looking Eames Hang-It-All. And finally, for a trad touch check out Home Depot's Pewter Wall Hooks by Nystrom, all for the princely sum of $17.97 for the set of 4.

Now you've no excuse for hanging coats on the floor...



The beams, the beams

This was a big week for the reno; the steel beams arrived, a mondo 700lb one and two smaller ones. Why? You might ask. Well, we had the madcap idea to remove all the walls on the main floor, to open the space up, and need the beams to support the upper level of the house.

Getting that main beam in was no mean feat, it took 8 guys to heft it through the front door and then winch it into place. And, since it has to be such a tight fit, they had to punch through the exterior wall to finally set it in place. Phew. It was a total step-by-step process that took time and patience - As walls were removed temporary supports were installed and will stay up until everything is complete. Thank the lawd for our on-the-ball contractors, Cera Stone. And, to catch up with the story so far on the renovation click here.




Local sparkle

Yesterday afternoon I arrived waaay too early for an appointment at Farrow & Ball on Yonge Street so had to tool around a bit and, after stopping in at Putti (jammed with glam and sparkly gear) and Constantine (gorgeous and eclectic as per usual) I ended up in French Country, where I fell in love with a moose. Glitter covered deer and reindeer yes (I even own 3 or 4), but moose, um, huh? It was such an oddly endearing find, and so Canadian, that I had to share.

Oh, and the swanky new wallpaper I got a sneak peek of at F&B will be debuting in March /09, so you'll have to hold your horses on that!


Honey, my key won't work

I've featured some pretty amazing interiors in Flare Magazine, but the one below is a total favourite. In fact, when I first scouted it, I accidentally let slip that I might move in and change the locks, lol. This gem of a house, hidden away in a Toronto suburb, is owned by photographer John Cullen and his talented wife, Martine Blackhurst, who's a stylist and vintage shopper extraordinaire.

Of course John shot the place, capturing beautifully all the light and colour that fills each room. Martine is responsible for the wit and style of the interiors; she snagged much of the furniture and accessories from thrift stores, eBay and antique markets, lugging stuff home from as far afield as Mexico. The house has great architectural bones, and luckily most of the bells and whistles hadn't been ripped out or mucked up over the years - like that skylight-topped teak coffered ceiling in the living room, and the old-school glam mirror tiled wall in the dining room (there's another skylight in there too, sigh...).

Click here to take a look at the rest of John's portfolio - his shots of India are mah-vellous. And y'know what? I still might move in...


5 quick questions - India Hicks

Heads up people. Get ready to set your VCRs - Top Design debuts on HGTV Canada on January 3rd at 8pm. This season the show is hosted by India Hicks, who I've waxed lyrical about in the past (see here - she's the talented and stylish daughter of designer David Hicks). An oppurtunity came up to interview her, which I jumped at, so here's the result.

Take a boo below to get a taste of India's personal style; a relaxed and inspiring slipcovered-and-sandy take on Colonial as seen in her book Island Life (photography by David Loftus). I love all the tones of white, the worn bleached finishes and dark antiqued wood and, that unexpected sorbet-y colour in the outdoor dining room... sigh... is just smashing. The continuing collection she's worked on with Crabtree & Evelyn - India Hicks Island Living- was recently updated with Island Night; scented from memories of a moonlit tropical garden (the eau de toilette and fragrance diffuser are shown below). Click here to check out more 5 Quick Questions interviews.

Arren Williams: What's inspiring you right now?

India Hicks: Everything I learnt from Top Design - How important it is to keep your manners despite appalling stresses and strains. How you can create something from nothing. How a sense of colour and pattern can enrich the world around us, influencing even in a small way everyone's environment.

AW: Is there anything that can make you shudder when you walk into a room?

IH: Bad lighting.

AW: What's the next thing you have your eye on for your own place?

IH: Irish linen tablecloths for Christmas entertaining.

AW: How do you define your personal style?

IH: Modern classic, in all aspects of my life: childrearing, interiors, fashion, and beauty. You can see real aspects of this in the two collections I have with Crabtree & Evelyn, Island Living and Island Night. Both are on trend but not at all trendy and offer women naturally based body care and classic fragrances with a modern twist.

AW: What's next?

IH: I just returned from fashion week in Brazil and now am off to London to launch my newest collection with Crabtree & Evelyn, India Hicks Island Night, to European press. After that, I'll be happy to have my entire family together for the holidays.