Friday, October 15, 2010


What do I want to accomplish with this blog? To provide a source of interesting information that’s of value to homeowners, based on experience and expertise acquired over the years as an accredited Interior Decorator.

Ideally, this blog will be a two-way form of communication as I invite each of you to ask questions and give feedback and suggestions.

So let’s get started – please bookmark this page or even better, subscribe and receive my updates by email.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wool Rug Facts

When recommending an area rug, my preference is towards 100% wool, especially for families with children. Here are the reasons why:

Wool resists dirt, retains its appearance and stays cleaner longer. Its natural lanolin helps to repel grime. Its ability to absorb moisture prevents a build-up of static electricity, which means that wool does not attract dust from the air.

Wool is water repellent. The scales on the outside of the fibre cause liquid to roll of the surface, thereby repelling the liquid.

Wool is naturally elastic. Wool can be twisted and stretched and then return to its natural shape. That's why wool carpets retain their springy pile for many years.

Wool insulates against noise. It absorbs sound and reduces noise level considerably.

A high-quality wool rug should last a lifetime so cost should be considered as a long term investment, much like well made furniture. In a future blog, I'll explain how to recognize a high-quality rug.

Living Room Transformation

There's a fascination for "before" and "after" pictures and this sure holds true for design makeovers. I've had the pleasure of transforming the living space for a wonderful family and thought I'd share it with you.

The "before" is actually an empty room. Our clients moved into a large condo in the St. Clair and Avenue Road area, and while there was some furniture that had to be incorporated into the new space, we designed most of the living room from scratch.

The "after" shot shows the cold stark space transformed into a comfortable, elegant room.
Using a colour palette of grays and creams, with contrasting dark wood, we achieved our clients' desire for serenity while the uniquely designed furniture, including the Art Deco piano, reflects the taste and personality of our clients.

For more photos, check out the newest sample in our Portfolio.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clients' Finds

Every once in a while my clients tell me about something they've found that they think I'd like to share with others. Here are a few:

Margaret loves to bake but the hard slate kitchen floor in her condo (which she decided to live with for the time being) was causing discomfort especially in her knees. She purchased a gel-filled anti-fatigue floor mat from GelPro. These mats come in assorted colours and sizes and Margaret says it's made a huge difference when she's on her feet baking.

Amanda wanted to create a princess bed for her three-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She went on-line and found a US site that sells a crown that mounts on the wall. She added the fabric to it. Princess Charlotte loves it!

This crown can be found at Horchow. Amanda couldn't order it on-line to ship to Canada but she says ordering it by phone was very efficient.

Helen found a fabulous website that provides lettering for walls. There is a bulkhead facing her bed in the bedroom that can't be seen anywhere else in her condo. She is planning to put up an inspirational saying on the bulkhead to inspire her as she wakes each morning. I've checked it out and have ordered my designers' sample kit. I intend on adding this to my repertoire. For more information, look at Wonderful Graffiti.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Shutters vs. Window Treatments

While I'm a fan of California shutters for family rooms and bathrooms, I feel that there are so many other options available for bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms: beautiful fabrics provide colour and texture while blinds provide privacy and black-out when needed. Sheers are also a great way to ensure privacy while creating a romantic or elegant ambiance.

However, many of my clients install California shutters before they hire an interior designer and are reluctant to remove them. It's a leap of faith when they agree to my recommendation to add a window treatment to the shutters in order to bring warmth into a room. Once they're installed, though, they see the effect immediately. I have some before and after photos of the most recent example of this situation.

Here is the my client's office where we wanted to add some femininity as well as fabric to soften the dark built-in desk, leather chair and panelled walls.

Here is their bedroom with a lovely bay window. By adding the drapery panels as well as replacing the leather love seat with a fabric chaise lounge, the space is so much more warm and serene.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Makeover of the Month

I've just found out that several visitors to our Tobi Brockway Interiors website have linked in from Turns out that our Makeover of the Month featured on has been picked up by Sweetspot. Kind of weird to see comments about my work posted by complete strangers but at least it's all positive!

This client's makeover is not shown in our website portfolio, but it's a perfect example of how to rejuvenate and update a room by adding new wall colours, window treatments, rugs and artwork. To keep within the budget, we repurposed whatever we could.

Here's a "before" photo of our client's kitchen.

The kitchen was transformed with a new and unique triangle-shaped table which becomes the focal point, new wall colours, light fixture and window treatments. The chairs and accessories are all the originals.

We painted the 80's fireplace in their new "music room", creating a more contemporary look. We also painted their slate fireplace in the living room a beautiful espresso brown. This is an inexpensive alternative to ripping out and replacing a brick fireplace surround. Just make sure to ask your paint supplier to recommend the right primer to ensure that the paint adheres properly.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Furniture Fitness

You can extend the life of your furniture cushions by following these tips:
1. Vacuum once a week with particular attention to cracks and crevices.
2. Always have upholstered furniture professionally cleaned.
3. If your upholstered furniture has reversible cushions, turn and rotate them once a week for longer wear.

NORWALK Furniture has put together this "Furniture Fitness" to restore your cushions and pillows:

NORWALK Furniture closed its retail stores but their US-manufactured product line has recently become available in Ontario through my preferred trade-only supplier, The Decorating Centre. Please contact Tobi Brockway Interiors Inc. for more information.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Safety Information Updated

Further to my post about the U.S. recall of window blinds, Ikea Canada has announced a recall of 1,767,000 blinds sold from 1998 to 2009. These are blinds without a tension device which means the looped cords are left loose causing a potential risk of strangulation. For more information, please check out the Toronto Star. Ikea is providing a full refund for blinds that are returned.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Unwanted furniture?

Before a renovation or new room design takes place, my clients are often faced with the challenge of disposing of their old furniture. This can be emotionally difficult when the furniture has sentimental value and there are no family members who want to take it. Or there are situations where there are no offers to buy from craigslist or kijiji and you're stymied how to get rid of it.

I refer my clients and friends to one of my favourite charities, Furniture Bank - which furnishes homes in the Greater Toronto Area for women and children escaping violence, refugees and the homeless. Recycling the furniture that you don't need by donating to Furniture Bank helps in two ways: Firstly, this not-for-proft organization will place your "cast-offs" in the home of a family in need. In 2010, approximately 2,400 homes will be furnished.

Secondly, in 2009, Furniture Bank helped to divert 1100 metric tons of waste from landfills. What does just one metric ton look like? Fourteen sofas - imagine that multiplied by 1100.

So make your life and heart much lighter and help reduce landfill waste at the same time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Important Safety Information

For any of you with small children or those who have small children visiting your homes, you should be aware that there has been a recent recall of millions of roman shades and roll-up blinds in the US due to potential strangulation. In response, Health Canada has issued a Safety Advisory. More information can be obtained on the Health Canada website.

For safety tips on how to prevent accidents, visit

Clients of Tobi Brockway Interiors, who have had roman shades or window blinds installed, will notice that there is a cleat to tie the cords around which is a safety feature for keeping cords out of the reach of children. Please ensure that the cord is wrapped around the cleat at all times. Our workroom keeps us informed of the latest developments in order to ensure that our products meet Health Canada standards.