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Canada 150: ‘The Canadian Look’ of the first hundred years

June 30

When I spotted this vintage, 1965 book at a church rummage sale I knew it would be interesting reading. While some of the text sheds light on this still less-than-politically-correct time in Canada’s history, it is an interesting retro look at Canadian style through its first 100 years. Coined as ‘a portable gallery of those peculiar views and objects that identify Canada to us, and stand for Canada in the eyes of outlanders everywhere’, many of these  symbols and styles still define us Canadians today, 50 plus years on, at home and abroad.

And a thrifty find it was, as I paid a dollar for it, the same price it originally retailed at Coles (a great Canadian retail establishment)!

(Click on any of the images to see it in greater detail.)

The Canadian Look Book - saf affect

Such a retro, Canadian scene – the ice huts, the massive car, the colours!

The oh so Canadian and recognizable Hudson’s Bay stripes.

Dominion Day, before July 1st became known as Canada Day.

Oh how I would look forward to combing the Eaton’s store catalogue each season. And of course Hockey Night in Canada is well, so Canadian.

I can’t say I had even heard of the Quebec heater before reading this and how it was such a commonly known Canadian shape.

Where’s the toque? 😀

While some of these Canadian brands are gone, some live on with similar or revamped insignias and logos.

And sadly, or rather humorously, many of these sights of ‘An American view of Canada’ (dimly seen through the mists of Niagara Falls, no less!) have not really changed. Sigh.

Happy Canada Day! #Canada150





















retro spotted: vintage gardening graphic design

March 22

I am enchanted by vintage and retro fonts and graphic design, so I just had to snap some photos of these wonderful, of-another-era nursery and garden catalogue / magazine covers on display at Canada Blooms last week. So charming!



home & garden inspiration at the 2017 National Home Show

March 17

While Toronto’s weather is struggling to let go of winter, why not stay indoors and ready for the warm weather when it hits, and the updates you’re planning for your home and garden in 2017? The National Home Show and Canada Blooms run until Sunday March 19th at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place.

I did just that earlier in the week, and enjoyed touring the dream home, as I always did when visiting as a kid, with aspirations of working in design even back then.

This art piece created from a collection of composite material blocks and dramatic white piano are intriguing set against a dark painted wall.

Clean-up would be a breeze (and stylish) with this modern kitchen sink and drain boards formed from a single sheet of stainless steel.

The dream home’s back garden includes this textural, contemporary-take on an outdoor fire-pit and seating lounge.

There are plenty of ideas for creating a stunning home garden at the shows, whether large enough to accommodate a pond or pool, or even if size limitations lead the vegetative creativity up the wall!

And be sure to take in the whimsically colourful Canada 150 floral displays.







nature, texture, hygge & IDS 2017

January 20

It’s been a whirlwind week of TV appearances, presenting about trends in home decor, colours and new Dulux paints products.

After a couple of spots on local Calgary TV stations to start the week, Thursday was a day packed with recording seven segments for Edmonton’s CITY TV’s Dinner TV at a local Dulux paints store, talking about what’s buzzing in decor for the new year (airing Sunday January 22, 2017 at 5pm MT). My lead segment was about the ancient Danish way of life called hygge (pronounced hoo-ga, with a slight Muppet’s Swedish chef lilt) that is catching on here. Hygge is essentially about living a cozy way of life, which we in Canada call ‘hominess’. And as I prepared for the segment, gathering elements from my own home from the list of 10 things that will make your home more hygellig (as found in the newly released The Little Book of Hygge), I realized that I’m already doing a pretty good job at this way of living – warm and cozy blankets and pillows, vintage Scandinavian pieces that I’ve collected on my thrifting outings, lots of candles, tactile textures and elements from nature.


Not 12 hours after flying home, I hustled off to the trade day for the 2017 instalment of the Interior Design Show in Toronto. And it isn’t surprising that elements of hygge, especially textures and nature, caught my eye on the show floor, including larch wood end patterns, a hammered metal tub, a simply designed marble and rose metal umbrella stand, and a warming beach pebble outdoor concrete fire bowl.

Visit IDS17 this weekend, January 21 & 22, to explore the people, products and places that make the design world so exciting and inspiring.







where to catch saf: 2016 in review

December 30

As 2016 draws to a close, it is only natural to look back and recap a year that was. And you might just be wondering where I was in 2016. While my blog has long been an outlet for sharing the good word of interior design, thrifting, architecture, food, drink, lifestyle, travel and more whenever a valuable thought or idea presents itself, of late I’ve been sharing more of my happenings on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

So here are some of my 2016 highlight happenings, thoughts and experiences that I shared on these other platforms.

> A fabulous trip to my beautiful ancestral homeland of Slovakia for a dear cousin’s wedding


….with an enjoyable stop in Barcelona en route to take in the delicious architecture, gastronomy and wine.



> My boyfriend moving in and me learning to share a living space after almost a dozen years of having it all to myself.

And tolerating large speakers that accompany a better sound system…


… along with throw cushions being thrown on the floor. His making of the bed on the left, mine on the right – I do appreciate when he tries. This side-by-side comparison of techniques was a top performer on social media, with most support weighing towards him! 🙂 All worth the trade of having him in my life.


> Sailboat time with said boyfriend and good friends, taking advantage of one of the best Toronto summers in recent memory and a productive work environment on The National Yacht Club patio.


> The discovery of the art and joy of making tonic syrup from scratch, thanks to this time-consuming but oh-so-worth-it recipe by Pinch & Swirl. I learned that gin and tonics are hugely popular in Spain – served in red wine glasses. While I didn’t indulge in one on my trip, I have since declared this the only type of glass from which to enjoy a G&T.


> Cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays to another ALDS victory from some amazingly close seats at The Dome, thanks to an amazing friend.


> Continuing to have a tonne of fun in my marketing, communications and design consulting business, including answering customer colour and decor questions and doing live presentations and appearances for CIL paint



…and doing TV media spots (that will continue into the new year) with Dulux Paints about a fabulous new product line called Dulux Effects finishes, that just have to be seen to be fully wowed-by.


Reading my year in review, I am supremely grateful for all that I have experienced and learned, and for all of the wonderful people in my life, near and far, those that play a large role and the supporting players as well.

What is on your 2016 round-up list?

Here’s to an amazing 2017 for one and all!
























where to donate your used stuff now that Toronto area Goodwill stores are bankrupt

February 29


Since the sudden closing of the Toronto, Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario Goodwill thrift stores back in January, I’ve heard many a friend and acquaintance wonder where now can we donate our previously loved but still-in-good-shape clothing, household goods, furniture and more. This afternoon’s announcement that informed, sadly, it has been deemed there is no viable option to allow this Goodwill organization to reemerge from bankruptcy, spurred me to write this list of my top places to donate used goods to (and shop at as well!) in the Greater Toronto Area and further afield along the shores of Lake Ontario and beyond, keeping the recycling cycle going and feeding us thrifters who have a love for the thrill of the hunt and find.


beyond the blue box logo

Beyond the Blue Box

  • Cobourg, ON
  • One of Canada’s longest-standing and most successful community-based waste-reduction and reuse centres, has been accepting donations of reusable clothing, furniture, household goods and more from the community and diverting them from landfill sites for over two decades.
  • Read my blog post about this and other thrift shops in Cobourg.


Bibles for Missions Logo

Bibles for Missions

  • Locations across Canada, but outside of the Greater Toronto Area, throughout Southern and South-Western, ON.
  • Convert donated used goods into cash so that BFM Foundation (Canada) may, through a Joint Ministry with Bible League Canada, transform peoples’ lives.
  • Read all about my lucky thrifty find of a vintage mid-century modern Finnish silver ring at the Hamilton, ON location.
  • (I personally hope that BFM moves into Toronto, maybe into the abandoned Goodwill stores!)


rummage sale - saf

Church Rummage Sales

  • A vast number of churches hold rummage sales as a large fundraiser for their organizations and in support of the community and other non-profit groups.
  • Read my blog post from last spring on a few of my favourite sales in Toronto’s west-end.


DoubleTake Logo

Double Take

  • Toronto, ON
  • An employment initiative of Yonge Street Mission where gently used, high quality clothing, furniture and housewares can be purchased at very affordable prices.
  • Provides first-time employment and training for community members who have obstacles to regular employment.
  • Read my blog post about this thrift shop.


goodwill industries logo

Goodwill Industries

  • Guelph, London, ON regions.
  • Unrelated to the Goodwill organization in bankruptcy.
  • A non-profit social enterprise that provides work opportunities, skills development and employee and family strengthening for those who face barriers such as disability or social disadvantage.


goodwill-shop Amity

Goodwill, The Amity Group

  • Burlington, Oakville and Milton, ON.
  • Unrelated to the Goodwill organization in bankruptcy.
  • Sales fund their programs that help people find work.


HFHReStore Logo

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

  • Across Canada with nine stores in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Accepts donations of overstocked, seconds, used, discontinued items and salvageable building materials donated by manufacturers, stores, contractors and individuals.
  • Provides income tax receipts for donated goods.



Great Finds – Stonegate Ministry

  • Etobicoke, ON
  • Offers high-quality, gently-used items for the entire family, reasonably-priced for all budgets.
  • Stonegate Ministry helps to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs evidenced in the community.


MCC Thrift Shops Logo

MCC Thrift Shops

  • Southern, ON (and beyond).
  • A network of not-for-profit shops supporting local and global relief, development and peace projects of Mennonite Central Committee.
  • Read my blog post about the St. Catharines’, ON location. (Note: it appears their Etsy online shop is no longer in operation.)


SA Logo

Salvation Army Thrift Store

  • Across Canada and throughout Toronto and Central, ON.
  • Began in the 19th century as a response to the need for jobs and affordable merchandise, coupled with the fear of disease and a desire to preserve the land, and led to the creation of the Household Salvage Brigade composed of a group of men and women, responsible for collecting unwanted household items.
  • Operating viable thrift stores as a vehicle and a means for refreshing and regenerating the marginalized and excluded of society by meeting their practical needs.


StJ thrift-store Sign

St John’s Thrift Store

  • Toronto, ON
  • Supports the St. John the Compassionate Mission which, in co-operation with local neighbourhood groups and Social Services in Toronto, has been serving those in need in the community since 1986.
  • Also a place of community where local neighbours meet to exchange news or receive comfort.


St VdP Logo

St Vincent de Paul Stores

  • Toronto, ON and across the province.
  • Donated used clothing, furniture and household items are both sold to the general public and provided to the poor at no cost.
  • Any profits also go to benefit those who are in need in the communities which they serve.


Talize Logo


  • Toronto, Southern and South-Western, ON.
  • Canadian owned and operated for profit chain that is a leader in the second-hand clothing industry.
  • Platinum Partner of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, through which it has contributed over $1.3 Million to date since its inception in 2005.


VV logo

Value Village

  • Across Canada with dozens of stores in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • A for-profit, global thrift retailer offering great quality, gently used clothing, accessories and household goods.
  • Helps 120 nonprofit organizations by paying them for donated goods, which supports their vital community programs and services.



Furniture Bank Logo

Furniture Bank

Or, drop your used furniture off at the Furniture Bank – not a shop for the masses, but rather for the disadvantaged who have little or no means to purchase furniture for themselves.

  • Across Canada and in Toronto, ON.
  • A socially responsible organization that provides comfort, dignity and stability that comes from a furnished home, creating opportunities through the transfer of furniture from donors to their clients.
  • Provides income tax receipts for donated goods.


maxsold logo


Alternatively, if you have enough goods to get rid of, you could also consider holding a MaxSold online auction – let people pay you to haul your stuff away!

If you’re doing some thrifty shopping, their online auctions are truly addictive, without even leaving the comfort of your couch. 🙂



Do you have  any others to recommend? Please do share in the comments below!


how i work NOW & IDS 2016

January 19

A few years ago, spurred on by a feature at the Interior Design Show in Toronto, I wrote a post about how I work and my home office. At the time I was in a corporate job and used my desk at home for personal business only.

A lot has changed in almost three years. After the (now fortuitous) circumstance of being downsized from my job, I’ve become a full-time independent consultant, now using my home workspace for actual work.

home office - saf affect

Previously tucked into a niche between my fireplace and kitchen, facing a wall and away from any natural light, that was fine for now and then tasks. But working from home full-time, spending most of my time in my condo at my desk now, my office deserves the best spot for creativity and productivity. The occasion of getting new floors made it easy to try a new locale – one that I absolutely love.

BEFORE office - saf affect

Before the holidays, as I was putting my place back together after my new floors were complete, I swapped out my sofa in the window for this reconfigured desk set-up, also pulling my bookcases out from behind curtains as part of the arrangement, quickly plopping everything in place. I previously wanted to hide all my sins and storage away, but this new layout is far more functional, with everything at hand, even if it means being extra good at being extra tidy. The natural light is fabulous, especially when making paint recommendations as the resident CIL decor and colour expert.

NEW office mini rug - saf affect

Once I set up the new office space, I knew I needed a better solution than the temporary placement of a tiny rug to roll about on my vintage Knoll Pollock executive armchair. While I like how this vintage looking 5′ x 8′ wool and cotton, woven rug from Homesense fits the space, I’m not yet convinced it’s ‘the one’. And that makeshift adaptation of my DIY desk needs an updating.

NEW office - saf affect

NEW office rug - saf affect

Good thing IDS 16 is this week/weekend (kicking off with the opening party on Thursday January 21), where there are sure to be inspiring ideas for further updating my home office and for all areas of my and anyone’s home.

IDS16 Toronto - saf affect

all I want for christmas is … new hardwood floors!

November 20

After living for years with original, late ’90s builder’s-basic broadloom in my condo, I finally got what I wanted for many Christmases – new engineered hardwood flooring! While I am still playing with layouts and there’s still lots of unpacking to be done, I thought I’d share how absolutely pleased I am with my new Torlys Everest Elite engineered hardwood American Walnut floors from Speers Flooring in Oakville, ON (and expertly installed by Pro Floor Contractors, a preferred supplier of Speer’s).

Especially since the long-awaited transformation was made even more palatable by a Torlys fall flooring event rebate, that is on until Sunday November 22, 2015. If you’re in the market for a new floor, you’ll want to take a look at Torlys, Speer’s, Pro Floor Contractors – and this rebate!

torlys rebate details - saf affect

torlys everest elite american walnut boxes - saf affect

window area before - saf affect

torlys american walnut - saf affect

Just take a look at these beauties! While putting new floors into an entire, inhabited condo where there is nowhere to store anything away took the effort of moving house, it was all worth it. So was the extra effort and dust created by my request to remove the old, industrial looking patch of tile at the front door. I’m thrilled with the transformation from ‘before’ to ‘after’, the resulting continuous flooring and what it does for the visual flow in the space.

hall flooring befor & after - saf affect

I appreciated the care the installers took to not only protect my boxes and boxes of things and hoards of furniture that make an install like this challenging to work around, they also protected the public corridor leading from my unit to the elevator. Not mandated by my condo, but definitely appreciated by my condo’s management and board as well!

protecting while installing - saf affect

Packing up all of my worldly possessions also allows me to play with the furniture layout that I’d lived with for almost a decade. Now that I work from home full-time, I thought it is time to give priority to my desk placement in the windows, as that is where I spend the majority of my time at home. And look at that – I now have a corner office!

More unpacking to do, but I’ll be all settled in soon. Just in time to decorate for and entertain at Christmas.

desk setup A - saf affect

desk setup B - saf affect

’tis the season for festive & affordable holiday decor

November 15

I think I say this every year, but how is it almost the Christmas season again already? I’ve been busy packing and then unpacking my home for the installation of new engineered hardwood flooring, bidding adieu to 11-year-old broadloom carpet, just in time for holiday entertaining. More on this later, but a good reason why it feels the season has sneaked up on me.

It seems only a short while ago that the weather was still warm and I was previewing the 2015 PC Home holiday decor and entertaining collection, ingeniously set in situ in a historic Toronto home, showing how easily the pieces fit in with one’s own decor and accessories. And now these fabulous items are hitting your local Real Canadian Superstore. As always, the PC Home designers and buyers have curated an offering of beautiful, distinct and affordable items in themes to fit any home and style, many of which can help brighten your decor long after the ringing in of the new year, warming the cold winter months with good design. I can’t wait to explore in-store and pick up a few pieces to supplement my own holiday and winter decor.

We were also treated to some tasty treats created by Loblaw’s executive chef team, with special President’s Choice ready-made food products that make making delicious holiday meals easy. Simple and yummy,  they are on my shopping list as well.

PC Holiday 2015 Decor - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Tree - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Bar - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Dining Room - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Hearth - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Bedding - saf affect

PC Holiday 2015 Culinary - saf affect


toronto, paint & decor, railroads – in miniature

September 24

Sometimes it’s quirky, how quirky yet related things surface at the same time. Such as … life in miniature.

While much of my livelihood depends on being on social media pretty much all day, I come across some interesting posts, and sometimes they relate.

Or it could be the psychology of prejudice that I’m paying more attention to the topics that interest me and / or are relevant to my clients’ business and their customers, and therefore I am  attuned to connections. Or it could just be a fun alignment.

Like this article from Toronto Life I saw posted on their Facebook page this afternoon, about an eccentric millionaire building a tiny version of Toronto:


Which was posted just minutes before one of my clients, CIL paint, launched this sweet, ‘mini’ ad on Facebook for a promotion at Home Depot Canada:

Which then reminded me of my own post a couple of years ago about the Model Railroad Club of Toronto‘s scale rail model that they were moving to their (yet to be opened) new location:

20 MRCT - saf affect

Or maybe it’s just that my childhood fascination with miniatures hasn’t waned. 😉

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