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 Paris (5)


{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.


Staying with the snow

We spent a fair bit of time shovelling out this morning after yet another wintery dump. Lovely. And today is a busy one, since I'm prepping for a shoot tomorrow that will not only be outdoors (in all this snow), it also involves adorably cute chocolate labrador puppies. Meanwhile I'm being tempted by an e-mail asking me to come for a cocktail to meet some fave design heroes of mine Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, to check out their latest collaboration with Spanish carpet firm Nanimarquina. Only trouble is it's in Paris and I'm - errr - not!

The Bouroullec brother's new floorcovering design is called Losanges and is their modern take on a hand-woven kilim and well, it's pretty darned gorgeous, so here we go with a quick peek. Click here to find a listing of Nanimarquina retailers. [via Dezeen]


On the floor, in Paris

Sadly I'm not actually in Paris, instead I'm researching the chic old City of Lights for a project I'm working on. Derrière is one of the restaurants I've been reading up on that's now firmly on my must-see list, and not just because it's all a bit odd - It's a semi-secret place, entered through an unmarked door between busy and buzzy 404 and Andy Wahloo, once inside, the place has the look of a fairly messy apartment filled with flea-market finds (you might sit on a bed, near to a ping-pong table, or you might wander upstairs and head through a wardrobe - very Narnia - to the hidden smoking room). The interiors are by American-in-Paris designer Barbi Sloan, who also did the rather eccentric Jura Lodge on the Isle of Jura in Scotland, but - strangely - it's the snap I discovered of Derrière's bathroom floor that really made me go oooh! They're encaustic cement tiles, and I just love the mismatched effect all done in a single pale grey, cream and charcoal colourway. Smashing! Oh, and that second shot just gives you a taste of where you might be sitting if - and when - you end up for dinner at Derrière. On this side of the pond, if you fancy looking into encaustic cement tiles check out Villa Lagoon Tile. [Images: JasonW for HPRG Blog]


Thieving from family

I've had a boffo couple of days, bombing around town in a truck filled with Thonet chairs, cafe tables, wedding bouquets, picnic blankets, apples and coffee cups for a shoot with Michael Alberstat, as well as shooting the reveal on a fantabulous (if I say so myself) condo makeover for CityLine. It has definitely been busy.

In the meantime, a few thousand miles away, my sister has been hanging out in Paris. It's work for her, but she still gets to head out to all the stylish places, including Merci, which she thinks is definitely worth a visit. This lovely must-see store has four floors, one for fashion and three for home (yay, I love it when home trumps fashion!), including a rather smashing courtyard with a dinky red Fiat, a cafe, bookstore and florist. Take a boo below at the shots to get a taste of the place. Yup, whenever I'm next in Paris (sadly, not anytime soon) I'll definitely be stopping in. Oh, and check out my sister's blog for Blink London - her fashion reporting service - here.



High heels and dining tables

I really think you should be able to walk into a space and get a sense of who lives there, almost a peek into their style and their personailty. And the best interiors that have that kind of feel don't get put together in a weekend, nope, they take time and are carefully filled with pieces that each have their own history. Take a look at the dining room below, and take a wild guess at who might own it. The title of this post is a gi-normous clue, and the fact that it's taken from a glossy design book from Taschen - New Paris Interiors Volume 2 - should go a long way to helping you too. Okay, I'm letting the cat (or le chat, lol) out of the bag. This snap is from the home of Christian Louboutin, shoeware designer extraordinaire. If that doesn't ring any bells, then he's the guy who's trademark red soled heels make some folks go weak at the knees (watch Sex and The City and you'll definitely spy a pair or two). Anyhoo, I love the space, and while that buttery yellow isn't quite my cup of tea I think it really works with all the vintage furnishings (I'll bet he stops in regularly at my fave flea market; Porte de Vanves).