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The Armchair Traveller: Add a little French market style to the kitchen

Williams Ceramic Pendant via Wills & Prior / Printable vintage seascape painting via Heirloom Print Shop / Woven blue stripe tea towel and brass towel bar via June Home Supply / Porcelain absinthe dish via Home Smith / Duralex Provence tumbler via Cookery / Savon de Marseille soap via Pretty Clean Shop / Le Parfair Canning Jar via The Gourmet Warehouse / Pot brush via Cookery / French Butter Croissants via Nadege Patisserie / Acacia Cutting board via Rug & Weave / The Cook's Atelier via Indigo / French Market Bag via Wills & Prior / No. 14 Chair via Ton Canada / French kitchen Marble mortar and pestle via Crate & Barrel Canada / Dried Lavender Bouquet via Lemon and Lavender

Do you miss travelling?  I do. Although we didn't have any big trips planned this summer, we were hoping to head east to Prince Edward Island. That will have to wait for next summer. But that doesn't mean I'm not dreaming of our next trip.

Sometimes adding a few special touches to our homes can help transport us somewhere we've been daydreaming about visiting. So, I thought it would be fun to start a new series on the blog that I'm calling The Armchair Traveller - featuring ideas for imbuing a little style from the places we'd like to visit.

I'm starting in the kitchen - a French kitchen to be precise.

The style is a mix of French cafe + a wander through a French market. Maybe the only market you'll be visiting this summer is a local antique market - but you can stash your face mask and hand sanitizer in a pretty market bag so you're ready to scout the stalls for fabulous French inspired finds. Keep an eye out for marble pastry boards, vintage Duralex tumblers, baskets, cafe au lait bowls, as well as old paintings or prints you can frame.

If you prefer to shop online, you can take a virtual shopping trip to France by way of Etsy, which features lots of French-based shops that ship to Canada.  There are lots of great local Instagram shops that sell vintage finds too. Lately, I've spotted lots of great finds including marble, stoneware crocks and bottles, linens, and art. I recently bought some vintage Le Parfait canning jars from Instagram seller @jolie.tte . Another favourite to browse is ( @Shop.Beazley ) or real brick and mortar shops that also sell online like Wills & Prior, Home Smith, Cookery (which is opening another location in my neighbourhood, Bloor West Village), to name a few.

Adding a little French style doesn't have to cost a lot. Duralex Provence Tumblers and Picardie glasses start at around $4 at Cookery and can sometimes be found at antique markets or thrift shops, a block of Savon de Marseille soap set in a vintage dish on your counter looks great and is a French kitchen staple for about $15 at Pretty Clean Shop. Spruce up a room with a bouquet of dried lavender or download some printable landscape art from Etsy shop Heirloom Print Shop for about $8.

Eat and drink French. Pick up some fresh croissants from a local bakery, make yourself a latte and sit back and dream of your next French getaway. Treat yourself to a new cookbook and travel to France  - bake some Madeleines, mix yourself a cocktail - David Lebovitz's Drinking French should inspire, or transport yourself to the village of Beaune, France via mother-daughter duo Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini's beautiful book The Cook's Atelier.

There are lots of great apps and websites that let you explore a place virtually and even visit museums. The Google Arts and Culture Project lets you explore collections at Museums and other cultural spots around the world including the Musee d'Orsay and The Eiffel Tower. Now, if only someone would develop a virtual tour of some of the well-known Marché aux Puces (French antique markets).

An urban backyard getaway + smart security for the Garage with Schlage Encode

Jim and Tonya added vibrant art and colour to the garage. Door painted Electron Blue AE-44 Semi-gloss enamel by Behr. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

After Jim and Tonya Norton (my brother and sister-in-law) finished renovating their Toronto home they embarked on a large scale backyard transformation that also included tearing down an old garage to build something that would fit with the modern aesthetic of their home.

"Our backyard is our escape from the city," says Jim and Tonya who live in Toronto's leafy Christie Pits neighbourhood. "It’s quiet, comfy and secluded, in an area where space can be a real premium. The garage is an extension of our backyard. It’s functional for vehicle storage, but also for winter storage of outdoor furniture etc."

The couple hired Earth Inc. to transform their backyard which includes multiple levels and construction of a new garage.  Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Artist Monica Wickeler ( @monicaonthemoon on Instagram) was commissioned to paint the garage door and now it's the perfect backdrop for this urban space. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Although Jim and Tonya enjoy gardening, with their two dogs running around (including Falki shown here and Jiggs) grass can take a beating, so they chose to go with a synthetic lawn. Now all they have to do is hose it down and give it a rake to keep it looking sharp.

The backyard is ideal for entertaining and the garage is a great multi-purpose space. Not only a practical utility space - housing garden tools and a maintenance panel for the irrigation system, but also additional indoor/outdoor entertaining space to set up a bar or food area when having friends over.

"It ended up being a great covered indoor space for food/bar, since we have a garage door opening up into the backyard space - which really worked out when we hosted a backyard concert a few years ago."

The couple came up with the idea of installing a smart lock on the garage door so that they could have easy, key-less access to the garage.

"Obviously for security we keep the door locked, but it's nice to not always have to carry the keys around," says Jim, a Toronto based photographer and director.

So, they installed Schlage's Encode - a smart, WiFi deadbolt with Century trim and the Latitude lever in matte black finish  - and they say that the clean, minimalist style is a perfect fit and was easy to install.  "It only took about 30 minutes. It would have been even less time to install but I had to drill the existing hole which was a little bit tight, but other than that the only other tool I needed was a screwdriver."

Installing the Encode lock has made access simpler and more secure. "We don't need to carry a key for access anymore, and the beefed up deadbolt definitely makes it more secure," says Norton.  "If I've mindlessly left the garage unlocked (which I did a lot before) then the app tells me it's still unlocked. So, I can either lock it remotely or if the door has been left open, I know I should go close it  - so the raccoons don't move in. Another nice feature is that I can remotely unlock the door if required ... like if a neighbour needs to borrow something and if the door gets unlocked, I know.. it's nice to have that added level of security."

Here's how to install the Schlage Encode...

Step 1: Remove old lever and lock. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 2: Install the bolt and strike reinforcement plate. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 3: Install Encode deadbolt touchscreen, backplate and follow directions to connect the cable. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

That's pretty much it. Schlage Canada has easy-to-follow instructions online. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Now that the lock is installed Jim and Tonya can use an app on their phones to lock and unlock the door from anywhere and add user codes for anyone who might need access to the garage. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Inspired by Jim and Tonya's backyard, I've created a moodboard with ideas about how to create a backyard getaway to enjoy all summer and well into autumn - because let's face it, we'll be living and entertaining alfresco for as long as we can.

Kawartha Umbrella via Hauser / Quadra Privacy Screen via Hauser / Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt and Schlage Custom Latitude lever with Century Trim in Matte Black via Schlage Canada / Faux plant via Homesense Canada / Permasteel Patio Cooler via Home Depot Canada / Rattan lantern via Homesense Canada / Ooni Karu Pizza Oven via Spruce Toronto / Gloster Dansk End Table via Hauser / Professor's Negroni via Dillon's / Acrylic glass via West Elm / Glucksteinhome Fringed Turkish Hammam Towel via Hudson's BayTosca Chaise Lounge via InsideOut Patio Furniture / Zanzibar Outdoor Pillow via Tonic Living

  • Make eating alfresco fun and easy with a pizza oven and a cooler filled with your favourite bevvies. I can attest to the delicious pizza that comes out of this oven by Ooni. It's on my wishlist!
  • Have throw blankets at hand for when evenings get cooler. 
  • If privacy is an issue, think about adding a privacy screen. I like how these ones from Hauser can be moved around.
  • String patio lights and set out lanterns to add light and instant ambiance once the sun sets.
  • Comfy, easy care seating means you won't have to store bulky cushions - just add a few outdoor throw pillows to soften things up.
  • Smart locks aren't just for the front door - the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt makes sense on a garage or shed door, and means no more keys!

Disclosure: I've partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own or that of the featured homeowners.

Photos courtesy of Jim Norton Photography

The Utility Room can be a stylish and functional space.

Carson Light Fixture via Rejuvenation / Ferns Poster by Cavallini via The Paper Place / Custom Bowery Knob with Collins Trim in matte black via Schlage Canada Melia wastecan via V de V / Galvanized laundry rack via Pottery Barn Canada / Klunka laundry basket via Ikea Canada / Pizzara Black tile via Stone Tile / Mediterranean Vinyl Rug via Home Smith House / Alape Bucket Sink via Rejuvanation / Connor Cross Handle Wall Mount Faucet via Rejuvenation / Ivy plant via V de V / Duck Green Paint via Farrow & BallPeg rail via Mjolk /

Topan VP6 Pendant Light by Verner Panton via Finnish Design Shop / Doug the Dachshund poster via Finnish Design Shop / Juniper Summer Wallpaper by Kate Golding via WynilThe Custom Bowery Knob with Century Trim via Schlage Canada / Idasen High Cabinet via Ikea Canada / Large Wonky Weave Basket via Crate and Barrel Canada / Truss Laundry Hamper via EQ3 / Agora Tile with concrete look via Ciot / Nido Rug via Adama AldaKohler Gilford Scrub-up Sink via Home Depot Canada  / Triton Double Cross Handle Utility Sink Faucet via Kohler  / Eames Hang It All Rack via EQ3 / Paint, Pointing via Farrow&Ball /

Utility rooms don't need to be boring.  Whether yours is part of a laundry room, mudroom or in a corner of a basement, why not make the most of this multi-use space.

I've partnered with Schlage Canada for part two in a series showing you how you can add a custom look to any space with their line of custom door knobs - simply switch out the trim or knob and mix and match to suit your decor.  I've created two inspiration boards with ideas for creating a stylish and functional utility room - one inspired by pretty gardener's shed, the second geared to creating a fresh and modern multi-use space.

Let's start with how you use the space.

Many utility rooms are multi-use spaces. Maybe it's part of a laundry room, mudroom, bathroom, or workroom.  Maybe it's where the kids or pets run inside with muddy feet, where laundry happens or if you're plant-obsessed like me, it could be an indoor potting space. Add in a worktable and it can become a place to be creative.

Regardless of how you use it, storage is important and this hard-working space needs sturdy, easy to care for cabinets or storage pieces that can be stocked with essentials to suit your needs. Whether it's a simple peg rail to hang a broom tools or a shopping bag, or a cabinet to hold everyday cleaners there are lots of great options to consider.

Let's also make it look good too.


Before you buy something new, think about what you can reuse in this space. Maybe an old cabinet or dresser that can be given new life with a fresh coat of paint? Open shelves can be a simple and inexpensive way to create storage. Plain wood boards can be cut at a hardware store and paired with sturdy brackets. Antique markets and thrift stores are often full of pieces that can be given new purpose. An old table can be used as a laundry folding space or a spot to do crafts or take care of plants if that's how you use the space. Vintage lockers are also a fun storage option. Clean them up with a fresh coat of paint and use them as storage cabinets. Ikea makes several locker-like cabinets including the new Idasen cabinet made of steel.

A place to clean up

A sink to wash dirty hands is a handy thing in a utility room. You may not have the need or the space for a full-size laundry sink, so a smaller wall-mounted utility sink will do the trick. I love the look of the enamel Alape Bucket sink from Rejuvenation. I think it would also look great in a powder room.


Task lighting is important here - bright overhead lighting that isn't too fussy but looks good too. Whether it's an old-school warehouse style pendant or a playful pop of colour with a classic Scandi design, make sure this space is well lit.

Stylish Details

Don't forget the hardware. Hooks, brackets, and door knobs should compliment your overall design aesthetic. Schlage's custom interior door hardware makes it easy to customize the look of interior doors to suit your space, simply by switching out the trim style or finish. See how the Bowery knob looks great in both spaces, just by changing the trim style and finish? In fact, both choices would look great in either space. In the Gardener's Utility room, I included the Custom Bowery knob with  Collins trim in matte black, while in the more modern room I used the same knob with a slightly different trim ( Century Trim ) but in Satin Brass.


In the gardener's inspired room, I envision wainscotted walls painted out in deep, dark green - like Duck from Farrow & Ball. The top half, light and white with vintage art decorating the walls. I love the idea of adding Victorian floral paintings, but a cheap and cheerful option would be to frame some of Cavallini's vintage posters available at The Paper Place and Cartolina. I like Fiona's tip for hanging the posters. She attaches strips of wood to the top and bottom of a poster and adds a piece of string at the top to hang them. Check out her Instagram for inspiration.  If you have the budget and the patience, go for wallpaper. I'm a little obsessed with Kate Golding's wallpaper designs. They are whimsical but fresh and modern.


Practical. Easy to clean. That's what you need here. I love concrete floors in a space like this, or a slate tile. You can also consider one of the gorgeous porcelain options out there. If you opt for a throw rug, make sure it is also easy to clean. All the new vinyl mats on the market make it easy for you. They are great for adding a bit of colour and pattern too.

Smaller storage

Bins and baskets are de rigueur in a utility room, don't you think? Choose sturdy options that can be easily carried like the Klunka laundry basket from Ikea Canada. Don't forget a wastebasket and bins for stashing away things you want at hand, but out of sight.

Disclosure: I've partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own.