Statement Walls

To say life has been chaotic for the past month or so for both Kelly and I would be an understatement. Bear with us as we try to keep on top of our jobs, our obligations, our scrambled routines and continue to search for awesomeness to share with you on the regular. Part of what is keeping me busy these days is my big impending move  to a new home! The good news for you is that this will bring many future posts to the blog about budget decorating and BBQ’ing and gardening and all the fun things I can’t wait to do with my new space.

Before I move in a few weeks, first thing is first: painting. I’ve decided to leave this task to trusty professionals and have been asked to pick out colours for each room as soon as possible. I’m a big fan of keeping spaces light, airy and bright in order to make the most of whatever natural light you have coming into your home. One great way of adding pops of colour without overwhelming your eyes are statement walls.

Be careful in choosing which wall you want to make pop. Selecting a wall with interesting architectural lines or one which you have a feature or piece of furniture you want to accentuate, such as a fireplace, bed or great couch is a safe bet.

Make sure you pick a colour scheme that will complement the rest of your space. A bold colour is great if your furniture is neutral and matches. Choosing contrasting colours can look amazing, just make sure it isn’t a colour palette that you’ll tire of quickly or one that will have you feeling overwhelmed when you’re in the room.

The following are some inspiring pictures from my lookbook, a couple ideas which I have planned for my new home. Think about how the patterns can help manipulate the eye to make a room appear taller than it is with vertical stripes or wider than it is with horizontal stripes.stripes collage

Wallpaper is a great choice for a statement wall, too. There are so many options out there with any print you can dream up. New removable wallpapers also make the choice less daunting since it doesn’t have to be permanent. Check out websites like Spoonflower and TemPaper for thousands of patterns to help you make your statement wall. Heck, even Urban Outfitters carries removable wallpaper now! This is an especially great idea for rental units when you don’t want to have to paint your walls back to a neutral colour before you move out.

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Custom Bikes

I’m a sucker for a funky, retro looking bike, but not such a sucker that I’m willing to drop a grand on a cruiser just because it looks pretty.  Lucky for me, Republic Bike is a thing that exists in the world.   The team at Republic appreciates that just because bikes serve a utilitarian purpose doesn’t mean they can’t also make a statement.  Even better – that statement is yours to make.   Chose from one of 5 basic bike frames – from a fixed speed Dutch style step through to the sportier 3-speed Artistotle and then let your imagination run wild.  Republic offers more than 100,000 component and colour combinations for your designing pleasure.  You customize until your heart’s content, then Republic will build it, box it and ship it directly to you (and yes – they do ship to Canada!)

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Even better, the 3D Bike Shop™ allows you to visualize your design in 3D so you know exactly what you’ll be getting.  Customize everything from the colour of your tires to the gear housing.  Although the step-through Dutchie style only comes in one standard size, the Aristotle comes in a range of sizes to accommodate riders of all heights.  Prices range from $399 to $699 (for the corporate minded Socrates Cargo) and bikes ship in about a week.

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Toronto Patio Guide

I’m only half kidding when I emphasize that patio season is an official season of Torontonians (and all Canadians, for that matter). There are only a few precious months of the year when we get to indulge in the sun, booze and comraderie all at the same time. It takes a special talent to be able remember all of the hidden gems found around the city, since some of the best patios are hidden on the roofs of buildings away from plain sight and others are secretly nestled in the back of your favorite bars and restaurants.

Below is a list of my favorite patios in Toronto, but first a BIG thank you to BlogTO for creating the most useful app of the summer: Toronto’s Patio Guide.

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The app is quite impressive! The searchable fields pick up on all of the elements you may really care about: neighbourhood, capacity, accepted reservations, heating, coverage, open hours and patio type.  What I especially like is that the types of beer on tap are listed for each establishment. Heaven forbid you get a coveted spot on a patio only to find out they no longer serve Blanche de Chambly!

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Music to your Ears

This past long weekend felt like the beginning of the summer and I had time to lay out in the sun and listen to some new tunes.

The hype around Daft Punk’s newest and much anticipated album Random Access Memories has been absolutely over the top (some say the highlight of this year’s Coachella was Daft Punk, who didn’t even perform). The first single “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell has my bets for anthem of the summer and this weekend I got to listen to the album in its entirety. It’s different from the Daft Punk sound you’ll remember. Arguably one of the originators of the EDM movement, Daft Punk has taken a step away from the club beats and leaned towards a soul sound. I think it’s going to take me a few more listens to fully form an opinion, but the track featuring Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) was easily my favorite upon first listen. Check out the album’s website for interviews with most of the album’s collaborators.

Am I revisiting my adolescence? The next album I’ve had on heavy rotation (ok, non-stop) is the new Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album “Mosquito”. Sacrilege is the first single, but it’s the title track that is constantly stuck in my head. The whole album is amazing and proves that Karen O. has still got it!

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Best of Canadian Netflix, Pt. 2

With cable tv season rounding up, our (ahem) beloved Toronto Maple Leafs putting an end to hockey season in Toronto, and the Blue Jays simply not living up to the hype, I’m sure we can all use some more Netflix in our lives. I’ve sought out the assistance of my good friend Alanna because, well.. she has fabulous taste and an incredibly discernible eye for arts & culture in many mediums, but particularly in film (and yes Alanna, in fashion, food, music, and art too!).

I’ll follow Kelly’s lead and break these up similarly to her picks in our original Best of Canadian Netflix post. Enjoy Alanna’s commentary here :)

TV Series

With the much anticipated Season 4 of Arrested Development to be released on Netflix on May 26 (all 15 episodes at once), get pumped by watching the first three seasons to remind you how much you love this show. In case you’ve been living in a hole (sorry!), this show features Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett & Michael Cera , a dysfunctional and formerly wealthy family. It’s a hilarious character series that has garnered a cult following.

The award-winning, IFC produced Portlandia should not be missed. The sketch comedy featuring stereotypical hipsters living in Portland, OR, played by Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney). It’s quirky and funny and if you’re anything like Kelly and I, you’ll be not-so-secretly be laughing at the hilarious similarities to your own lives. The epsiodes featuring guest stars and cameos with the likes of The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Tim Robbins, and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder are among my favorites.

Alanna and I agree that House of Cards is BEYOND truly outrageous.  Kevin Spacey as the Majority Whip of the House, Robin Wright as a non-profit CEO and the other half of this bizarre modern high-achieving-at-any-and-all-costs power couple, Kate Mara as the most annoying journalist/blogger/lame girl all star in this DC-political-psycho-drama that frequently breaks the fourth wall and features BBQ.  Sold. This is also Netflix’s first original series, with all 13 episodes of the première season released at once, effectively changing television distribution and consumption forever.

TV

The Inbetweeners is a fantastic, hilarious, cringe-filled British comedy about four regular to below average dudes in high school.  It is uncomfortable to watch, but I can never tear myself away.  This is NOT to be confused with the not worth the price of Simon’s new car U.S. remake, which obviously blows. A similar story with Skins which is the best show for making you yearn for a reckless British coming of age experience and has one of the best soundtracks ever (I would only vouch for Seasons 1-3).

Luther is an AMAZING detective drama starring the hottest of hot Stringer Bell (okay, Idris Elba, but whatever…I don’t care what you call him, he is delicious when he isn’t making terribly cheesy music videos).  It is also an amazing modern London detective show, so obviously great for Anglophiles.  Similarly, Sherlock is a dark, gory, gritty suspense filled detective show with less attractive leads, but whatever.  Still, it is an incredible movie-quality mini-series with each episode running 90 minutes.  It is fantastic.

Honourable Mention: The Riches is a short-lived highly underrated dramedy about Irish con artist/travellers starring Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver, Shannon Woodward and Noel Fisher. I really enjoyed this and it was a casualty of the perfect storm of low ratings and the 2007/8 Writer’s Strike.

Obvious and slightly less obvious choices that are worth your time: Freaks and Geeks (followed by the lesser known Undeclared), Community (until Dan Harmon’s departure), Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter (early seasons), Damages (early seasons), Misfits Season 1- 3 (another BBC outfit).

Documentaries

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