About

 
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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Entries in collection (7)

Thursday
Apr212011

Powered by the letter N

For me to get through a looong day, without any awful mishaps at least, I definitely need to set the ball rolling with an espresso. And to keep me really happy (and well caffeinated) it's just gotta be a short shot of the hot stuff from my Nespresso machine. We have their CitiZ hanging out on the counter, but now I'm a wee bit jealous, since they've just launched Pixie, a compact new machine that can brew a hit of espresso within 25 seconds of being switched on. Oh, and if that's not enough to pique your interest, Nespresso hooked up with a Parisian design crew called 5.5 Designers (seen below monkeying around) for a series of Pixie accessories, including insulated cups inspired by the aluminum coffee capsules.

Friday
Apr152011

{that one great thing} Cobi's ashtray collection

Back when she was Editor of Canadian House & Home Cobi Ladner was one of my many bosses (oh, the life of a freelancer). Now, as I'm sure you've seen, she's just launched her very own witty, colourful and happy line of fabrics, furniture and accessories called cobistyle. As you can imagine she's been a little busy, so I've patiently been pursuing her for a *that one great thing* pick, and here it finally is. And seriously, will you ever look at Cobi the same now that you know she's a little light fingered?

Cobi Ladner: I wonder what it says about a person if their 'one great thing' is a collection of stolen hotel ashtrays? Especially if that person has never smoked! I guess I have to admit here, in front of the entire world, that yes, I did personally steal one of these little beauties myself. It's actually my least favourite of the bunch. It's the one from The Plaza hotel in NYC. I was lucky enough to stay at the Plaza for business  (back in the day when Ivana Trump briefly owned it). The crest is only cheaply printed on, probably in China, but I had to have it as a memento. 

I use these little dishes all around the house -  in the bathroom to hold loose jewellery; at the kitchen sink and bedside for my watch; on my desk for business cards (some days I need to remind myself of who I am); on my husband's dresser to hold change. I look for them whenever I'm in junk stores, the Sally Ann and flea markets. It's a total high to find a lovely little dish that originally sat in a beautiful room in Paris, on a dusty shelf in a thrift store in Southern Ontario. Who's suitcase did it travel in and was it a sentimental impulse to bring it home as a memento of a fabulous holiday?   

Although I love to see kitsch in other people's homes - pillows from Niagara Falls, shot glasses from Florida - I'm not into that myself. No, I love the idea of elegance - Paris - London - New York - Darlin', I love ya, but give me Park Avenue.... and the notion that a hotel would have fine bone china from England printed with their fabulous address. 

My favourite little dish isn't here unfortunately. It was from the Hotel Scribe in Paris and was a little fluted square with a fine orange line around it. I loved it so much I tried using it as a soap dish in our powder room and my clumsy 13-year old broke it. So much for the elegance of Paris in our house.  I guess that's what makes it all the more appealing.

Tuesday
Apr122011

It's a mug's game

I've spent the last while researching a couple of feature projects for the likes of House & Home and the National Post and, while I was noodling down an internet back alley, I happened across these rather cool mugs. Okay, while I'm not much for funny mugs, these were inspired by the weird ones that get half forgotten and shoved to the back of the cupboard. They also have a rather nice bit of provenance too, since they were designed by Baptiste Ymonte and Vincent Jousseaume of Atelier Polyhedre and are from a limited edition line called Mug Shot. Now that's a nice way to enjoy your no-foam-half-sweet-lactose-free-vanilla-latte. Baroque and Flash are available online here from Paul Smith.

Thursday
Mar242011

{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!

Monday
Mar142011

{that one great thing} Lynda's clock collection

Check in on Covet Garden's 'About Us' page and you'll see that stylist Lynda Felton - one of the 3 folks who started the online mag - is in charge of Style Stuff. No big grand title for her or, for that matter, her two compadres Jessica and Rhonda, which is refreshingly laid-back and just how these 3 talented women roll. I asked Lynda a while back for that one great thing, and this gorgeous vintage collection showed up in my in-box. No surprise, since ask her to descibe her house and she'll say - "It's all old clocks, wasps nests, framed insects, and beat up furniture over here." Lovely!

Lynda Felton: My first clock belonged to my grandfather (the Westclox Big Ben, third from the left, with the silver ring on top) it is over 100 years old and still works perfectly. I love the sound it makes when it is ticking -  gentle and reliable - like my grandfather. The Lux Claridge (second from the right) is from the 30's and it was my grandmothers. My grandparents collected clocks and it was my job to help wind them  - all 37 of them, no matter how hard I tried I could never get them to go off at the same time. It felt like there was always a clock chiming off somewhere in the house.

When I see the old clocks I can't help but think about who might have owned it. What was that person doing in the 20's, 40's? Did this clock get them up for work? What kind of work? Most people had these clocks by their beds, they touched them everyday. These old timers have seen a lot.

My biggest splurge was my Early Bird clock (first on the left). I couldn't resist this fabulous little gem, the bird bobs up and down, pulling the worm out of it's hole in time with the ticking - come on - you have to admit that is pretty neat. See for yourself here... Other than the Early Bird I've never spent more than $5.00 on one and I'm always on the look out for a good deal.