Browsing Tag



Why I Expose my Toddler to Design

toutes les maisons sont dans la nature

In six words: to prepare him for the world. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a visual person or the fact that design is in my bones. I found my style at 6 years old. I recalled our Sunday car rides where my parents went to see upscale houses across the province. My parents were looking at traditional houses while I was admiring the few modern architecture houses that we encountered. They knew about my preference. Continue Reading


Chickadee Smoke Detector

chickadee smoke detector alarm safety design

Yesterday we shared a super-stylish alternative to a utilitarian object (the humidifier) – and here’s another we couldn’t help but chirp about.

Smoke detectors are a necessity for living safely in your home, which makes it all the more surprising that designers haven’t leant their creative eye to this uninspired essential.

The Chickadee Smoke Detector, designed by Louise van de Vald, won a fire prevention solution design competition held by the Dutch Association of Insurers back in 2006. Inspired by birds known ability to warn each other of danger, the smoke detector is easily moved to various areas of the home and features a lifelike chickadee chirp when smoke is detected.

It’s unclear whether this version meets Canadian smoke alarm standards, but we’d like to see other designers and brands spread their wings to take on this design challenge.

+ Chickadee Smoke Detector, €50, Charles & Marie


Tools at Schools Taught Eight Graders about Good Design

tools for school desk chair locker

tools for school desk chair locker

I believe that design should be a part of every step of our daily life. Therefore, I can only applaud this initiative by Design studio aruliden and Bernhardt Design. They conceived Tools at Schools to teach the eighth graders at The School at Columbia University the value of design as a problem-solving tool.

tools for school study desk

The project involved designing a student locker, chair and desk. I think that they did a brilliant job. They addressed the needs of the different classes through a set of accessories. This is a cost-effective and practical solution since the core of the desk stays the same for all classes.

tools for school art desk

Each locker is identified with the kid’s name. The inside of the locker contains multiple storage units for books and school supplies, a message board, hooks for clothes and a large bottom drawer.

tools for school lockers

The students have been taught what is design but most importantly, they experienced the process on a concrete manner. Good design enhances our life at many levels. It provides comfort since it is fitted for a task and it should be aesthetically pleasing. We are never too young to appreciate good design.

If you wish to learn more about this fabulously inspiring project, watch the 6 videos that cover the processes.

+ Tools for School


What to Look For in a Small Home Office Desk?

my home office

my home office

I always had a long rectangular office desk before. I decided when I planned our renovation that, as a new mom, it would be more practical to have my office on our open space main floor. This way, the kitchen will be nearby to cook dinner and the baby would have plenty of space to play, bounce or sleep close to me. Even without the kid, I adore my new office space. It is really more practical.

Key Features to Look For

The challenge was to find a stylish desk that would fit in a 47-inch wall. And it needed to look great since it is located on an open area, juts next to the living room.

I was delightful when my husband told me that he was given me as a pregnancy gift a mid-century icon desk. He knew that I admire the design of Nelson Swag Leg Desk. This desk is not just a pretty face. I am still surprised by its well-thought storage spaces.  Even with its minimal storage compartment, I am able to keep everything that I need on a daily basis. I connect my laptop to a 23-inch monitor. Therefore, a raised shelf is a must for me. I found out that since the Swag Leg desk is more deep (28.5 inches) than many home office desks, my laptop screen does not block the monitor like my old rectangular desk used to do.

Getting Rid of Cable Cluster

studiodesk by bluelounge

I partially solved the typical cable by buying the Compact Surge Protector from Belkin. It is not perfect but it is way better than with an ordinary surge protector. Does the solution can come from the desk itself? BlueLounge thinks so. They designed a desk that provides a clutter free working environment while you stay connected to all your peripherals.

studiodesk cable storage compartment

StudioDesk by BlueLounge has a sliding storage compartment where you can hide and plug surge protector bars, AC adapters, USB hubs, external hard drives, routers, chargers, and even a MacMini server along with the many accompanying cables. This way,a single cable will exit your desk to reach the wall power socket. An elongated slot across the width of the desktop allows the necessary peripheral & power cables to enter/exit at any point, thereby keeping the desktop clear of clutter. I think this is a brilliant concept.

studiodesk elongated slot for cables

I still prefer my Swag Leg desk, especially since the StudioDesk does not have a raised shelf. But if you are looking for an office desk with a more affordable price tag, you can take look at the StudioDesk to see if it is for you.

+ Nelson Swag Leg Desk for Herman Miller $1849 USD at Desgin Within Reach
+ StudioDesk by BlueLounge $599 USD


The Making Of the Store Window of Lorena Rossi

christmas window of lorena rossi store

christmas window of lorena rossi store

Two weeks ago, I passed a few hours with Lorena Rossi making her store front window of her nice gift store. This was the first time I designed a store front window. It was fun to display products in an unusual way to create something that, hopefully will catch the eye of pedestrians. For example, I used body spray boxes, bracelets, bows and gift tags as Christmas ornaments.

making a christmas store front window

The color palette emerged from the first product I selected: the beautiful Holiday cup and saucer set. It’s a funny thing that I created a red and green scheme since I am not a fan of the traditional Christmas palette. So, we can never say never since I pleased of the results. I feel that the lighter green gives it a modern twist.

making a christmas store window

It was a lot a fun to work with Lorena Rossi. She is an inspiring woman. I needed her help with my growing belly. In fact, I took this opportunity to share pictures where you see me pregnant.

lorena rossi (right ) with kim vallee

If you live in Montreal, I encourage you to stop by Lorena Rossi boutique in Little Italy. She carries a nice selection of gifts for kids and adults. Plus if you host a kid birthday or a baby shower, know that she sells the cute and so practical Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits.

+ Lorena Rossi gift store
+ Photos by Julia C Vona


Phase 1: My new Like and Post Redesign

new layout with like function

new layout with like function

Today was the day that we installed my new Like feature on At Home with Kim Vallee. This is the red heart that you see on the corner of the picture. The heart is positioned at the top and the bottom of every post. You simply click on it to show that you like the post. It records the number of likes and a cute arrow will indicate that you liked it. For the moment it is not linked to the Facebook Like feature but we plan to support that in the future.

We updated the home page, the category pages, the search results page to put emphasis on the pictures and a streamlined look. We also add a Tweet this! button and a Share on Facebook buttons. We repositioned the Nb. of comments since the old design was confusing. And the Continue reading… moved to the right.

homepage redesign

This marks the Phase 1 of my Web site redesign. We laid down the building blocks on which we will enhance the At Home with Kim Vallee’s site. I planned lots of great add-ons that will be implemented in phases until this fall. Some of the changes were done in the backend. They might be visible to you but it involved a good amount of development work.

Post Redesign

refined bottom of a post with next and previous navigation

We polished the bottom of a post. You can now navigate to the previous post or the next post directly from a post. The rest were cosmetics changes.

Finally, we removed the frame that characterized my pictures since I started blogging. I decided that with the heart it was time to streamline my look. This was a huge job that since it has impacts on posts. I want to thank my technical team, Chris Bavota and Jerome Paradis for making this a reality.

We are still fine-tuning little glitches here and there before we continue our work on phase 2.

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

The Sustainable ISEAMI House by Robles Arquitectos

Iseami House designed by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

eco-friendly home Iseami House designed by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a superb destination. I have been there and recommend it to anyone. Naturally, the Costa Rican climate is well suited for bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out.

Have a look at one of the remarkable modern architecture house designed by Robles Arquitectos. The house is not only beautiful; it is eco-friendly on several levels. ISEAMI stands for sustainability, ecology, art, mind and investigation. I feel that they are on the right track with this project. The space planning is simply breathtaking.

Interior views of Iseami House by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

Eco-Friendly Features

The ISEAMI house doesn’t have any public service supply as electricity or water. This is a practice that I experienced in small eco-lodging complexes built in the middle of the jungle. In the case of the ISEAMI house, the hill house is located 30 km from the closest town, Puerto Jimenez. Therefore, you do not have any other choices than to be self-sufficient for water and electricity.

They went further with their material selection. First, they opted for low maintenance materials that could resist the conditions of the Osa Peninsula. They factored in the humidity level, high percentage of rain, mould, fungi and its flora and fauna. Plus, all materials had to be 100% recyclable at the end of its life cycle. I am impressed! You can read the details on Design Milk.

+ photos: Robles Arquitectos


The Golden Rules Sketchbook by Olivia Lee

golden rules sketchbook by olivia lee

golden rules sketchbook by olivia lee

As a mathematician and designer I could not resist the urge to talk about this product. The Golden Ratio first emerged as a mathematical term. It has fascinated mathematicians for thousands of years since Euclid first defined the concept in 300 BC. The Golden Ratio has many implications in geometry and mathematical properties. The Golden Ratio is an irrational number: 1.6180339887498948482…

Architects, artists and designers often used the golden ratio in their creations because it is believed to create aesthetics pleasing proportions. If you wish to explore the virtues of the Golden Ratio, you can buy a unique sketchbook designed by Olivia Lee. Her Golden Rules sketchbook contains grids that can help you draw objects with the golden proportions.

Refer to the review of Dezeen if you wish to better understand how to utilize the sketchbook.

+ Olivia Lee
+ Golden Rules sketchbook £6.50 at Spunique


Inspired by Ink & Peat

ink and peat :: store view

ink and peat\'s floral arrangements for a modern garden

It has been a while since I visited Housemartin, the blog of the owner of Ink & Peat. I admire Pam’s floral arrangements since her beginning. She caught my heart again with her modern garden arrangement that cleverly mixes a variety of orange and green flowers.

ink & peat :: store view

Not every party requires a theme. But it helps to get plan a fabulous event. When you are not inspired, visit design stores that you love for clues to stimulate my creativity. Take the visual merchandising at Ink & Peat. I love their merchandise and how they display everything in the store. It provides all the clues that you need to create a fabulous table. You get the mood and what style to look for.

When you walk to a store and their displays astonished you, take notes on how the colors are distributed. Building a color scheme is not just about putting the right colors together. It is mostly about how much of each and how do you spread the colors. Then, you can adapt the key elements to get a look that you will be proud to share with your guests.

+ Interior views of Ink & Peat
+ Modern garden on Housemartin


Communicative Coffee Table by Di Wu

communicative coffee table by di wu

communicative coffee table by di wu

This table feels so right for an early morning post. The concept is fun for brainstorming – something we often do my husband and I – or to occupy the kids that come for a visit. Di Wu designed the table with eight slide boards. A duster to clean the chalkboard hides under one board. Simply slide one board and start writing.

One small detail: that coffee has been sitting there too long to please me.

+ Via Yanko design