Browsing Tag



Circle Time Mats and Tiptoe Rugs

circle time mats

Tiptoe Rugs is a brand new collection of children’s rugs and custom rug possibilities from Alyssa McMurter, the woman behind AliStar. McMurter created a line of awesome 100% Merino wool felt rugs for children.

I love her Circle Time mats, which comes as circle and square mats. The Circle Time mats are obviously perfect for day cares or large playrooms. Tiptoe Rugs will be one of the 8 Modern Kid exhibits at the Interior Design Show that will be presented from January 24th to January 27th, 2013 in Toronto.

+ photo credits: Tiptoe Rugs


I Embrace Stylish Living and Friendly Luxury. Do You?

the loft project in london

the loft project in london

At Home with Kim Vallee reached its fifth anniversary when I went to the Toronto Interior Design Show. When I pressed the Publish button on January 27th, 2007, I didn’t know that I started a new chapter of my life. So much has happened in my personal life and my professional life. The fifth anniversary also coincides with the end of maternity leave.

For a while, I felt the need to update what At Home with Kim Vallee stands for. I blogged less over the last months because I needed time to absorb and enjoy motherhood. I also took the time to explore how I want to spend my time and to update my business plan. Attending Conversations in Design, the launch of Kimberly Seldom’s Business of design online courses, BlogPodium and the Canadian Design Bloggers meetup enabled me to be immersed in the design world again.

Authenticity, be true to yourself, great storytelling, innovation, and creativity have been a recurring themes at these events. When I came back from Toronto, I formulated my unique selling proposition. I put in words what distinguishes my blog from other design/lifestyle blogs.

Embracing stylish living and friendly luxury summarizes what readers can expect from At Home with Kim Vallee.  “Stylish living” has been my trademark for years and it will continue to the heart of what I do. I added “Embracing” to bring the sense that we are in it together.  I tell you in a minute why “friendly luxury” is so important to me. I owed that piece of the puzzle to Claus Sendlinger of Design Hotels that spoke at Conversations in Design.

Claus Sendlinger introduced me to the Luxury Matrix. Although I always talked of a certain type of luxury, I never include the actual word when I presented At Home with Kim Vallee. I was afraid that people would misinterpret it as flashy opulence. Hearing Sendlinger explained the 5 stages of luxury gave me a new perspective of the word.

What are the 5 stages of luxury?

Stage One: Acquisition and value (that is the flashy opulence)

  • At this stage luxury is used to demonstrate wealth, define social position and to visibly separate the buyer from the mass market. They show off what they are spending and wearing.

Stage Two: Discernment and worth

  • At Stage Two, the customer uses his or her wealth to buy brands, products and services that allow them to articulate higher levels of taste, discernment and discrimination. Tradition, values, heritage, craftsmanship, and true quality are key factors.

Stage Three: Emotion and experience

  • At this stage customers are less concerned with brand and value, and more with the uniqueness of the experience on offer and the emotional impact that this can deliver. Stage 3 luxurians desire a hushed and pared-down sense of luxury, and want to feel that this is shared by like-minded people.

Stage Four: Responsible and aware

  • Customers are concerned with a brand’s values as well as its financial or experiential value. Sustainability is a concern, while a dominant consideration is how resources need to be nurtured and controlled.
  • Luxurians at this stage seek brands that they can trust, with which they can have a dialogue, and develop and enjoy a relationship that is meaningful, intimate and increasingly altruistic.

Stage Five: Intellectual and poetic

  • This is a stage of passions, journeys, adventures and deep-rooted and meaningful experiences. It is not about brands, seldom about products, and less about service. It is about challenge, isolation, learning and the need to be changed spiritually and emotionally.

What Does it Means for my Blog?

I connect to the last 3 stages of luxury. Stages 3 to 5 lead to my Friendly luxury philosophy. Time is the ultimate limited resource. What you do with your free time can be seen as a luxury. From urban beehives, to city chicken, terrace vegetable gardening and the local food movement, these activities are all part of the new definitions of luxury. They are examples of unique experiences and values, just as staying at an eco-resort in the middle of the Rainforest.

As you can notice, friendly luxury was already a part of this blog. I simply put it into a statement. I will continue to inspire you with beautiful things and good design for your home and for entertaining at home. But you will read more often about what makes our life feels richer/fuller as individuals, parents and entrepreneurs. In short, I want At Home with Kim Vallee to be about what meaningfully makes us happy and stylish.

I’m still figuring out how to package the series. It will be in line with what I told you last October. I hope that you will follow me and embrace this updated direction.

+ The Future Laboratory report on Luxury Leisure for Design Hotels
+ photo: The Loft Project


Best of Conversations in Design (Part 2): Michele Caniato Talked about Opportunities for Innovative Designers

Michele Caniato

Michele Caniato

After listening to Michele Caniato at Conversations in Design, I see him as some kind of agent for designers and inventors. Many designers have a hard time to sell themselves. Other do not take the time or have the connections to make deals with retail brands. He saw a niche in the market when he founded Culture & Commerce, a strategic design consultancy that develops high potential design opportunities for global brands and international designers.

Brands and retailers would gain from challenging designers to come up with new concepts for products and packaging. What he looks for are people with vision. Then, he looks for the right fit. As he said at his Conversations in Design talk, vision, not spreadsheets, leads company forward.

Behind the Scene of the PUMA’S Clever Little Bag

puma clever little bag

To prove his points, Caniato chronicled the development of the Clever Little Bag by PUMA. The collaboration between a designer and PUMA led to important savings both in production and distribution costs. The solution enabled PUMA to run a more sustainable business while delivering form and function.

When Yves Béhar, of San Francisco based fuseproject, got the job to create a game changing packaging system that will reduce the shoe box footprint, insiders told him that they couldn’t change the shoe box. For 21 months, Yves Béhar with his team studied and deconstructed the shoe box. The solution came when they got rid of the box all together. Instead, the Clever Little Bag acts as a minimalist shoe box until the cashier grabs the handle to turn it into your shopping bag. All that was done with a reusable shopping bag that carries a strong brand identity.

Watch this video to know more about the birth of the Clever Little Bag by PUMA and Yves Béhar.

Mushroom Packaging

Caniato’s quest towards innovation carries to materials and techniques. He founded Material ConneXion which operates materials libraries across the globe. His materials libraries is the leading resource for innovative and sustainable materials and processes. He presented a cool material called EcoCradle made by Evocative Design.


This revolutionary material is the brain child of by two Rensselaer Graduates, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre who became fascinated by how mushrooms grow on wood chips. A few years later, the launch a mushroom packaging material aimed to replace plastic foam packaging. They now have a partnership with 3M.

Thinking Outside the Box

The lesson I took home from Michele Caniato’s talk was that if you are willing to look at things differently there are a world of opportunities that could open to you. He mentioned that  But whatever you do, you must always be true and be fair to ourselves.

By the way, you do not have to be a renowned designer to be represented by his firm. What you need are remarkable design ideas that solve real problems, to have a story and to be passionate about it.

Culture & Commerce
PUMA’s Clever Little Bag by Yves Béhar of fuseproject
EcoCradle by Evocative Design
+ Conversations in Design – IDS Toronto 2012

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Best of Conversations in Design 2012 (part 1): Swedish Design by Eero Koivisto

orsta gallery on a farm

orsta gallery exterior view in the day

It is not everyday that a private client sought an architect to design his own private museum. This is exactly what Anders Fasth, an avid art collector who lives on a farm with his wife Birgitta, asked Claesson Koivisto Rune to do. The result is a stunning building.

orsta gallery on a farm

The modern gallery is located next to a traditional farm home. The grandchildren of the couple can admire the brilliant structure when they play on the sand box. I like how Claesson Koivisto Rune added remarkable details to transform what could have been a standard rectangular building.

The museum sits on top of an artificial hill that was created to protect the art collection against nature. The walls at the bottom follow the curves of the hill and the roofline exhibited the inverted curve. These curves create the illusion of concave walls and add panache to what would have been otherwise a straightforward building.

orsta gallery glass beads exterior walls

Another striking element is the reflective nature of the exterior walls. Glass beads were scattered across the white painted structure using a technique developed by Swedish artist Mikael Pauli. The reflective effect can be fully experienced when the sun is at a proper angle, or at night, if you direct light beams towards the walls.

orsta gallery :: exterior walls at night with red and blue lights

You can see here the effect at night when they projected a red and a blue beam to the facade.

orsta gallery interior views

Inside, the floor plan is divided into 4 exposition rooms. The architects played again with the visitors. The two walls that you see when you enter the space are at a slight angle. It will take you a few minutes to notice. The owner wanted a fireplace. Look at the clever nook designed for the fire logs. I love the entire project.

orsta gallery plan

If you plan to pass one day by Kumla, Sweden, you could ask the Fasth for a visit. This rich man opens his private museum to visitors upon request.

Claesson Koivisto Rune is a Swedish multi-disciplinary studio that puts architecture and design on the same level. They created everyday products up to impressive buildings.

+ Conversations in Design
Claesson Koivisto Rune


Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak is a prototype that Ayu Larasati created as her graduate thesis project. She analyzed what is going in a kindergarten classroom with the aim to improve the tidy-up task by making it a more fun experience for the kids.

Her solution integrates play and chores into one activity that goes hand-in-hand. Choochoo-stak functions as a free-standing shelf, a table, a seating area and a ride on toy and during tidy-up time, all the carts can be connected for ease of collecting play materials. For its multi-function capabilities, I believe that many urban parents would welcome a Choochoo-stak in their home.

Ayu Larasati will present one of her project at the Prototype exhibit of IDS 12.

+  Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati


IDS 12 Preview: What I Plan to See/Do?

ids 12 conversations in design

ids 12 conversations in design

We are just a few days before the opening of IDS 12 and I can’t wait for my annual visit. I will fly the night before to be right on time for Conversations in Design. I hope to grab new ideas from the 12 internationally renowned speakers that will talk at Conversations in Design. It should be a good introduction before heading to the exhibit floor since the Conversations in Design’s theme is Trailblazers and Trendspotters.

I will start the next day with a blog and traditional media panel conversation hosted by BlogPodium. Then, it will be time to explore what is at the trade show. One exhibit that I will not miss is Studio North and Prototype, that will celebrate the 10th anniversary at IDS.

I will stay Saturday in order to attend a second design blogger event: the Canadian Design Bloggers Meetup that will be held at Brassaii. Between meeting some friends, bloggers, and business partners, I would need to find the time to shop at the first CB2 store in Canada (@CB2queenwest). I’m so sorry that I couldn’t attend their opening party. It is a short drive (5 minutes by car, 25 minutes by foot) from the IDS since CB2 is located at 651 Queen Street West. Do not be surprised if you see at the airport a girl with CB2 bags.

I look forward to this short design trip. If you see me in Toronto, come to say hello. I would love to chat design and blogging with you.


Butterfly Bag Chair and Stool by Bev Hisey

details of butterfly bag chair by bev hisey

details of butterfly bag chair by bev hisey

I met Bev Hisey at the IDS last January. She is a talented home decor designer. I was in awe with her latest creation before I sat in her bag chair made of 3mm 100% wool felt. I went to heaven when I sat down.

bev hisey sitting in her butterfly bag chair

It is truly one of most comfortable chairs I had the chance to sit on. If you sat on the Sumo bean bag chairs, forget about it. The experience is miles miles away. Bev Hisey is taking luxury to the next level. She filled her bag chair with chip foam that are produced by recycling foam off-cuts from upholstery manufacturers. The seating is firm, and there is no sinking down to the floor.

bev hisey\'s butterfly bag chair and triangular stool in his dressing room

Her Butterfly Bag Chair makes a top-notch reading chair with or without the smaller triangular butterfly bag as a foot stool. If you have kids, know that kids love to play with the triangular butterfly bag. When comes the time to romance, you will be happy that the chair is big enough for 2 persons.

bev hisey press kit envelop

I wish I did not mind spending over $3000 for a Valentine’s Day gift because I still dreaming about it. In the meantime, you could be happy with one of her superb butterfly cushions.

bev hisey\'s cushions

+ Butterfly Bag Chair by Bev Hisey
+ Canary Yellow Butterfly Cushion $144 for 11×18 inch
+ Pebble Grey Butterfly Cushion $156 CAD for 18×18 inch


Best of IDS09 from the eyes of Ready2Spark

best of ids 2009 - video by Lara McCulloch-Carter of Ready2Spark

best of ids 2009 - video by Lara McCulloch-Carter of Ready2Spark

I spoke last weekend at my PodCamp Toronto session about the lack of videos in the women design blog. Tonight, I noticed that my friend Lara McCulloch-Carter of Ready2Spark did her first video blog while attending the Toronto Interior Design Show.

We met at the show and sit together at the Design Blogger Panels with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy, Harry Wakefield of MoCo Loco and Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge.

Her video is great! I am to warm you Lara, I will borrow some of your video techniques. You will see that Lara was also impressed by Luminoso, that I introduced two posts ago. You will probably grasp a better understanding of this innovative product by watching the video.

+ Via Ready2Spark


Luminoso Let The Light Go Out of the Wood

luminous wood panel by luminoso

I continue my coverage of the Toronto Interior Design Show 2009. Luminoso won my top 3 discoveries of IDS 09. This material is really cool.

Small wood columns are glued side by side with fiber optic (forming dots) in between to form an entire panel. Light can pass through the dots. A silhouette drawing is laser cut on a black paper to reveal the design.

When you wish to update your décor, you simply change the black and white drawing. The main structure of Luminoso can be used over and over. For this reason, they can become a favorite choice for event designers when making a party decor. They can replace printed banners on trade show booths with more panache.

It can be used in home décor, to display a logo or as signage panel. If I am not mistaken, depending on the wood type, the wood panels cost between $40 and $100 for a small sheet.

+ Luminoso


Another Report on IDS 09

tablescape at house and home booth ids09

+ Many of you are a fan of Canadian House and Home magazine. Linda Reeves started two housewares lines a few years ago. House & Home Style for Living brand products sold at The Bay, Home Outfitters and NEST brand products sold at Zellers. Their booth features a classic tablescape theme for this spring.

glass retrofit bowls by brad turner

+ I felt transformed in the Jetson’s years when I look at the Retrofit Bowls by Brad Turner. It feels like a bowl inside a footed bowl. I like their shape and color of these glass bowls. The Retrofit bowls are prototype.

orange and roses centerpieces by lucid interior design

+ It is simple to recreate this centerpiece. Simply gather 4 glass plates or tray filled with oranges and red roses. The key is symmetry. Group 2 by 2 or 3 by 3 identical square plates and trays. This centerpiece arrangement is ideal when placed on a long buffet table to split the food areas. These were displayed in the Grand Marnier Lounge. Lucid Interior Design created this lounge space.


Magisso Kitchen Cloth Holder | My Best Find at ISD 09


Storing our kitchen cloth under the sink is not very practical. When we are cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, we need to keep the kitchen cloth at reach. This cool Finnish product enables us to keep the cloth at reach while hiding it from sight.

Miika Mansikkamaa designed the magnetic kitchen cloth holder. It is sold in Finland since 2006. I had the chance to chat with Miika at the IDS about his invention.

 Miika Mansikkamaa and Kim Vallee

How it works

It installs anywhere on the side of any kitchen sink within seconds. The holder is held in place with magnets; no tools or fixed fixtures are necessary. The handle goes on the side that suits you.

I installed mine and I love it. It takes less than 10 seconds to install. In fact, it is longer to watch the installation video. The magnet is so strong that there is no need to remove the 3M sticky cap. This way, you can change where the position at will.

The handle comes in two finishes: a plastic handle or the chic stainless steel handle. Magisso is looking for retailers and distributor in Canada. With the strong positive reaction they receive from IDS visitors, it should not take long.

I suspect this will become one of the hottest housewarming and hostess gifts pretty soon.

+ Magisso