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How to Design a Small Space Nursery

I have finally finished the unthinkable. The idea of designing the perfect nursery for Baby Bean, sans the help of an interior designer, stressed me out for months. Living in a condo in tight quarters can sometimes pose as a serious design challenge. Although our digs is not as pinched as most Toronto condos, measuring around 1200 sqft, the third room we decided upon for the nursery is far from spacious. What was once a secondary gym housing a commercial size squat rack and all our workout equipment plus accessories, has now been miraculously transformed into what I would like to think is a calming, colour neutral space perfect for our little princess.

I may not have had the help of a pricey interior decorator but I did have one major trick up my sleeve that allowed me get this space finished in record time and for the most part without having to leave the house. MAJOR BONUS!  So here’s the deal, I have been an Aeroplan member for over 15 years. I had accumulated enough miles to give me top tier status for a couple years while working in my previous corporate job. Over the years, I have used my miles to travel to several Caribbean islands, Europe and across the entire United States. But, it wasn’t until now that I started fully utilizing all the benefits of being a member outside of just redeeming for flights. So you may be wondering how a loyalty program could have possibly played a key role in this nursery, so I will let you in on a little secret that turned out to be quite a big lifesaver this past month. The Aeroplan eStore is a magical online portal that connects you to over 120 flagship retailers. You can not only shop from the comfort of your own home but you’ll automatically earn an Aeroplan mile for every $1 spent on online purchases. And, if you pay with your Aeroplan credit card like we did, you can collect miles twice.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

In my personal opinion, this is the best possible scenario for those who love shopping just as much as they love travel. There are tons of shopping options for just about any category – fashion, accessories, beauty, house & home, electronics, baby, books, entertainment, etc. Plus, with every purchase you get closer to your dream getaway. My plan is focused on earning miles while I shop for the nursery so I can fund our first family vacation, as I had missed the window of opportunity for a babymoon (ahem, which I am still chuffed about Réjean!). It’s super simple actually. Just choose a category, search for a retailer, enter your Aeroplan number and last name to start shopping and earning miles right away.

Regardless of the baby’s sex, I always knew that the room’s decor and most of the clothing would be in a gender-neutral colour. Grey is not only beautiful but it’s also a colour palette that can easily grow with Bean as she gets older, but please don’t ask me about all the stars. I have no clue where my obsession with stars came from to be honest.  I was not certain I wanted to create a gallery wall or drill shelves into the walls, so I decided to use wall decals  from Urban Walls to create a symmetrical focal wall. Grey stars are also trickled throughout the room in accents and make many cameo appearances in her wardrobe. Let’s just hope she ends up liking them as much as I do.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design
Bean’s first couple months of sleep will be in her BabyBjörn Cradle in our room

After the torturous task of choosing the perfect white paint, it was time to start sourcing the essentials for the room. I began my search through the Aeroplan eStore at some of my go-to Canadian retailers; Hudson’s Bay and Indigo. Knowing the dimensions of the room, I knew the amount of furniture would have be minimal so no rocking chair unfortunately for feeding time. Instead, I looked for pieces that were compact and could easily take Bean through her first few years of life.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

I love baby furniture that doesn’t look like baby furniture, if you know what I mean. I found this classic South Shore Cuddly Change Table with Removable Changing Station via the Aeroplan eStore at Hudson’s Bay and thought it would be the perfect small space hack. We could easily have the change station left on top like you see above but due to the fact we have limited shelf space and no room for a side table, I opted to put the removable change table and pad within the wall to wall, built-in closet Réjean built. This allowed me to display a few trinkets on top of the dresser, alongside her growing French & English book collection with adorable LED letter bookends and crib side Skip Hop Owl that acts as both a nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling and sound machine. My favourite part about the sophisticated and minimal design of this dresser means it will be around for years to come. I also searched high and low for the perfect convertible crib that would not overwhelm the room but also could eventually transform from toddler bed to single bed as she gets older. With hardwood and marble flooring throughout our home, I felt the urge to warm up the space with an area rug. Also, great to protect her delicate knees when she starts crawling. The rug I found online is plush under the feet and is also completely washable – which is perfect because with a little one and a dog running around, stains are pretty much inevitable.

Small Space Nursery Design
Photos by Elaine Fancy @e_fancy

Besides the mandatory plush toys, endless amounts of cozy blankets/swaddles from my fave Aden & Anaïs and extra storage to accommodate millions of Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes; I also made Dyson’s Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier and our diaper genie “Nursery Necessities”. Living in a condo means the air can get quite dry and with friends and family expected to be visiting non-stop, this humidifier monitors the room’s humidity, temperature and kills 99.9% of bacteria. As for the diaper genie, it really doesn’t need much of an explanation, does it? Ain’t nobody got time for a nursery that smells of soiled nappies.

Here’s 7 Tips for Designing the Perfect Nursery in a Small Space

  1. Go Neutral. By choosing a neutral colour palette, you immediately make the nursery look more open and airy. I found that the white walls, that have a slight grey undertone, reflects light and miraculously makes the space look larger.
  2. Maximize Storage. Fit more storage options into the nursery by utilizing the space wisely. Picking furniture that has additional drawers to store essentials.
  3. Essential Zones. When planning the room layout, think about essential zones – diapering, sleeping and playing. The key to designing a nursery in a small space is to focus on a need based space plan first and then pull together the remaining details.
  4. Double Duty. Invest in furniture that is multi-functional. The additional bench on one side of the wall closet works well as a folding station for clothes or a diaper change station while the change table quickly becomes a chic dresser when the detachable change station is removed.
  5. Accent Walls. This is both fool proof and brilliant. Accent walls draw eyes to the back of the space adding a bit of drama to a small room.
  6. Avoid Bulky Furniture. Scaled down furniture is always best. Choosing smaller pieces with sleek lines will always make a room look larger.
  7. Use Rugs. Try using a pattern rug in a light or bright colour to anchor the nursery and introduce some personality into the space.

Just like life, this nursery is a work in progress still and I suspect after lé bebe arrives we will add a few things here and there but what I have accomplished so far could not have been possible without the help of Aeroplan and their amazing eStore. Not yet an Aeroplan member, head to www.Aeroplan.com to register now and start earning miles today! Stay tuned for a live IG stories room tour and shop Baby Bean’s nursery items below:

SHOP OUR FAVOURITE NURSERY ITEMS

 

*This post has been sponsored by Aeroplan, however all views and opinions are my own!

BabyBjörn Cradle of Comfort & Style

29 weeks and counting. I can honestly say that I feel like a duck – calm up top but paddling like heck under water. We are not even close to being properly prepared for this baby’s arrival. We are still in the midst of determining which products we absolutely need and which ones will just end up getting stashed away in our storage. Friends who have been down the motherhood path before have sworn about this product and that, which has just added to our ever growing list of baby must-haves. After some careful consideration on the topic of sleep once Baby Bean arrives, we decided that a bassinet would be a convenient solution. Why?

Our plan is to keep Baby Bean in our bedroom for the first four months at least, but we don’t necessarily have enough room for a crib in there. After hearing how difficult it can be to get things done around the house, or even shower for that matter, I also wanted an option that was portable and compact so that I can easily move it from room to room to keep a close eye on the baby. Plus, we live in a open concept condo. Although quite spacious at 1,250 sqft, it’s not laid out like a house which means most of our living space is in plain view of our guests. It’s kinda nice to not have to compromise our design aesthetic because we have a new addition to the family. Our BabyBjörn Cradle just came in this week and I am dying over how chic it is. It has a beautiful, sleek and minimal design, plus comes with the most adorable canopy attachment.

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn

If you’re expecting and thinking about a cradle, figuring out how you would use it should be the first step in narrowing down the right one for you. I investigated the many options that are out there and used the following pillars that lead me to choosing the BabyBjörn Cradle.

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn Canada

    1. Safety: The safest cradles are designed with mesh walls making sure there is adequate air flow for your bub.  When it comes to the mattress, most assume thicker is better for comfort but that shouldn’t be what you focus on. The bassinet mattress myst be less than an inch thick and firm to help reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). You should also pay close attention to the materials used. Your baby may not sleep for long periods of time but he/she will definitely be sleeping often. You want to make sure your cradle is made with clean, eco-healthy materials. The BabyBjörn Cradle actually ranks #1 in this category, certified by the renown Oeko-Tex Standard, Class 100.
    2. Size and Weight: Us condo dwellers are lucky we don’t have to worry about going up and down flights of stairs but we do have to consider more narrow hallways. Depending on where you live, you must consider the layout of your home in your cradle choice. The weight and size will matter if you want to relocate your baby while it sleeps and at a mere 13 lbs, I find this one super easy to maneuver.
    3. Cleaning: So yes, here’s where the baby will sleep for it’s first few months and I have no doubt there will be a few accidents and messes alone the way. I don’t know about you but I’m no treacly trying to add more cleaning chores to my to-list list, so having a removable lining for practical and simply clean-ups is key.
    4. Movement & Rocking: My mommy friends have all given high praises about cradle movement to help get babies to sleep. LOVE the innovative engineering of this one that creates a soothing vibration that responds to either your touch or baby’s movement.

 

Now that our cradle is here, we can move on to the rest of our daunting list of baby products to acquire. If you’re expecting this summer and interested in this bassinet, you will be happy to know that its available and discounted on Amazon until Sunday, June 4th, 2017. American friends, the cradle is on CRAZY sale – originally $349.95 but is now on sale for $279.00. Shop the cradle here and use the discount code 15OFFCRADLE and your total will be $257.03. Not to worry my fellow Canadians, you aren’t left out of the mix. Originally $461.00 CDN, the cradle can be shopped here for only $299.99.

A Peek into the Future of Cadillac

If you’re between the ages of 29-44 and in the market for a new vehicle, chances are the criterial for your next set of wheels is a far cry from what buyers  would be looking for two decades ago. Sure, back then there were those who looked for performance or prestige in a vehicle but one would never have expected to find  both at the same time in one car. The number one purchase decision isn’t just finding a car that can get you from point A to B. Although we are still concerned with reliability and comfort, seeing as though the average commute time for drivers have quadrupled in recent years, we now also look at what we drive as an extension of our personal style and must reflect our lifestyle.

I will never be shy to admit my love affair with German vehicles (Porsche will always have my heart!) but my fondness for American cars have grown over the years after getting behind the wheel of several cars within General Motor family. There has been a lot of change going on in their portfolio of brands but the most impressive to date has been the $12 billion investment from General Motors to re-establish everything about Cadillac – from brand image and messaging, dealer experience, to even it’s vehicle naming system and product portfolio, which consists of plans to release 9 (yes, 9) brand new vehicles by the year 2021.

The future of Cadillac design and technology – The Escala

There has been much talk about what these 9 cars may be but they are rumoured to consist of the following; a sub sedan (CT2 or CT1)  to compete with the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA-Class, a reimagined version of the ATS (CT3) to rival the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, an ultra luxury full size flagship sedan, a fifth generation Escalade, a B segment sub compact crossover to compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, a C segment compact crossover to rival the X3, Porsche Macan and Mercedes GLC-Class, an entry full size crossover to tackle the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and last but certainly not least, a full size flagship crossover , the Pièce de Résistance of the brand’s crossover lineup which will be a high end full size, three row CUV to rival the current Mercedes GLS-Class and upcoming BMW X7 and Audi Q9.

I got recently got acquainted with the new XT5 for a week, interested…knowing it’s job was to replace the brand’s first CUV, the SRX; with it’s sleeker exterior and sophisticated, contemporary interior. But mainly because I know the vehicle will foreshadow the future of Cadillac SUV’s to come. Inside, the cabin was surprisingly roomy, seats even proved comfy to my boyfriend during our drive to Prince Edward County, who often gets irritable during road trips. For those looking for extra cargo space for urban or out-of-town adventures, this XT5 will definitely surprise you. It seats five however when more space is needed, the adjustable rear sliding seats also fold into a 40-20-40 split for extra storage space, with a metal divider in the back that slides and locks in place to keep cargo from moving about There’s even a brilliant hidden storage compartment under the floor that is sure to please those meticulous, Type A personalities that love to keep things super organized.

The XT5′s V6 engine includes an active fuel management system that cuts down to four cylinders under light loads which is brilliant, but a less attractive feature is the “stop/start” that puts the engine in idle when you’re at a traffic light. Unlike other vehicles that also offer this feature, the XT5 does not allow you to disengage this feature, that could become a bit of an annoyance if you are not into the abrupt start every time the light turns green in rush hour traffic.

Although comfortable than most behind the wheel, winter driving can still prove to be nerving for me at times, but I felt super comfortable in my AWD model, which has three settings; front wheel drive only, sport (needed for extra handling and traction control) and AWD tasked to maintain continuous all wheel power for even the most slippery roads. For those young families concerned about safety, the Platinum edition is packed with amazing technology features within the Driver Awareness Package that also includes the most talked about tech piece, the rearview mirror camera, unique to the Platinum version. It works as a regular rear view mirror but with one simple switch, it converts into a video screen using a feed from, wait for it…a self cleaning camera in the lift gate. And the best way to give your loved ones the best passenger experience – Cadillac CUE Infotainment System with Apple Car Play capability and 4G LTE wifi hotspot.

But you’re probably thinking, “what’s up with that Escala? And when’s that coming out?” Beautiful vehicle I know, but for now just the brand’s latest concept car that has been making the rounds on the auto show circuit with it’s very own handler. Sounds a bit high maintenance, but if you’ve seen this beast in person, you would probably be more understanding of it having a babysitter.

I sat in an exclusive panel discussion put on by Cadillac during Toronto Auto Show week, moderated by Design Exchange President Shauna Levy who spoke with two of brand’s design team members, who dished the design details behind the Escala. Based on what I’ve been hearing and reading since the concept car’s debut at Pebble Beach, the goal of the Escala is to point in the direction Cadillac’s heading in and some of the features could very well be things the automotive company will debut on product models in the very near future. Could this be a prototype for the next CT8 flagship sedan model? Possibly! But what I do know is Cadillac’s design process starts three to four years in advance and inspiration is pulled globally from fashion, architecture, interior design to even accessories, to put them ahead of the game in producing colour and fabrication options. Assuming something close to this comes to market, it’s safe to say interested buyers who desire large, opulent transportation would shell out a lot of money for a car like this, so the designers have spared no expense with every single detail.

The exterior colour, called Gaia, is made up of nine layers of paint and changes colour in different lighting conditions. The spacious interior – surprisingly uses fabric, reminiscent of what you may find in bespoke suit, evoking fine tailoring and actually turns out to be more inviting and interesting than leather. A complex and labour intensive stitch pattern was created using special thread that brings the fabric to live where it meets the luxurious leather.  As for technology, the features are a marriage of understated sophistication with two curved OLED screens layered into the dash but controlled via what designers call the “Goddess Dial” located in the arm rest. Not to be outdone by the cockpit, mix modality plays throughout the rear seat entertainment system as well. Oversized screens are nestled in the two front seats and retract into the headrests, leaving only a sliver of the bottom display in view to reveal a more streamlined finish. In this mode, the passenger only sees the basic necessities – time, weather, estimated time of arrival, etc. And if that’s not enough for you, the Escala design team employed famed American designer Jason Wu to create a custom set of travel sized bags and totes specifically to appeal to what we imagine the Escala driver to be…a purveyor of luxury lifestyle who needs chic luggage for their private G5 flight.Photos by JessBaumung.com and GM Authority

Stay up to date on all things Cadillac and view vehicle portfolio and pricing at CadillacCanada.ca

Home for the Holidays inside Shangri-La Toronto’s Winter Wonderland Suite

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

There is something very special about Shangri-La hotels. The Toronto property is one I frequent quite often whether it be for drinks in the lobby bar with friends, a meal at their signature restaurant Bosk, a leisure afternoon enjoying their famed high tea service or for a quick staycation when I’m in need of some R&R. All the guest rooms and suites are roomy and well appointed here but there is one suite that has a special place in my heart. The Garden Suite, which you may have seen covered here earlier this year, has become my “home away from home”. For the very first time, the suite has been transformed into a luxurious Winter Wonderland by the renowned design team at House & Home magazine and is the perfect oasis for visiting family members from out of town or the perfect gift to yourself, if you’re looking for our own personal retreat during this busy time of the year.

Winter Wonderland Suite Living Room

Close up of living room Winter Wonderland Suite

After an intense travel schedule over the last couple of months, my little family and I checked into the Shangri-La for some quality time and relaxation. Even with so much going on around the city during this time of year, we enjoyed just lazing around in our robes, watching Netflix, and using the properties amazing amenities and facilities. As per usual, there was nothing overlooked during our stay. The Shang staff pays extremely high attention to detail and never fails to surprise me when they go the extra distance during my stays. Even our pup was set up with an oversized plush dog bed, beautiful feeding bowls and bottled water to ensure she had the comforts of home.

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Close up of master Bed in Winter Wonderland Suite

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

ShangriLa Toronto

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

Private Patio Winter Wonderland Suite

Decorated in just the around amount of holiday accents; including a collection of books and decor from Indigo’s holiday collection, classic wreaths, pine cones, icy hues, faux fur with hints of inspo from the Great White North, makes this the perfect space to get into the holiday spirit. Every square inch of this Winter Wonderland suite oozes comfort and style and designed to make you forget that you are not a home. With an oversized walk-in wardrobe, four poster bed, chevron wood floors – usually a favourite of guests staying here, a master bathroom that drips in natural sunlight with floor to ceiling cararra marble and a secondary full sized washroom; I can guarantee that this suite is nicer than most condos in Toronto.  And if 800 Sqft of living space inside wasn’t enough, the re-styled accommodations also boasts a large private patio overlooking central downtown and features hints of festive magic. With this mild winter weather, one could easily host their own mini holiday cocktail party under the stars or enjoy a hot-toddy alone with their special person:

We are thrilled to be partnering with House and Home and Indigo to decorate the hotel’s first ever Winter Wonderland suite” says Shangri-La Toronto General Manager Richard Cooke. “We see this collaboration as an opportunity to delight our guests with a one of a kind experience whilst providing the unique Asian hospitality we are known for throughout the world.”

Check out the video below to get some behind the scenes access into the creation of the Winter Wonderland suite by House & Home’s Joel Bray (Editorial Design Team) and Reiko Caron (Stylist for House & Home Online TV)…

One of my favourite things to enjoy when I’m home and have a day off is high tea at Shangri-La. From now until January 3rd, their tea service is extra special  with a “Nutcracker” themed menu where each delicious item reflects a different a part of the famed ballet production. You can expect all the usual high tea extravagances such as clotted cream, house-made berry jam and honey, to go with classic and warm candied ginger scones. The selection of finger sandwiches is just incredible with my personal faves being the roasted turkey with cranberry preserve on herb country bread, truffle poached egg salad on granary bread and the lobster with herb mayonnaise on brioche buns. All followed by delish Nutcracker inspired pastries. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this afternoon treat and it’s the perfect add-on to a day of holiday shopping or after taking in the Nutcracker ballet across the street at the Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre.

Winter Wonderland Shangri La

Winter Wonderland Shangri-La TorontoPhotography by Teddy Chau and Nathalia Allen

Want a chance to experience a night in this heavenly oasis for yourself? Throughout the month of December, to celebrate the launch of the newly re-designed Winter Wonderland suite, The Shangri-La Toronto has created the “Wish Me A Winter Wonderland Stay” contest on Instagram for a chance to win a luxurious weekend stay in this signature suite, that also includes dinner for two at Bosk. To enter all you will need to is:

1) Follow @ShangriLaTo on Instagram

2) Post a photo of your “Winter must-haves” and tag @ShangriLaTO and use the hashtag #OasisAtShangriLa

*Contest ends December 21st, 2015. Click here for additional contest details and best of luck!

Current rate for the Winter Wonderland suite is $3,030 CDN and includes breakfast for two and valet. For additional information on the Shangri-La Toronto property, pricing, and availability, head to Shangri-La.com/Toronto or call 647-788-8888.

Sentaler | Canada’s New Leading Luxury Outerwear

Sentaler

If you live in a city that has sub arctic temperatures between the months of November and April, chances are you take your outerwear very seriously.  I used to believe I had to sacrifice fashion for function to keep warm during the winter, until I was introduced to Canada’s luxury outerwear brand, Sentaler. Over the past few years I have seen Sentaler’s beautiful coats made from Peruvian Alpaca, on women all over the city and started to become intrigued about this little Canadian brand that has started to make a splash internationally.

Sentaler

Sentaler

Sentaler

Fast forward a couple year’s and I had a chance encounter with the beauty and brains behind the brand, Bojana Sentaler, this past summer. Funny enough, our paths did not cross at a fashion event, but rather on a track day at Mosport Racetrack with Cadillac, where I was learning to race cars and Bojana was filming a video feature for the luxury automotive company’s Dare Greatly campaign. Not too long after the event, we connected back in the city at the designer’s minimalist office. Here we chatted all things Sentaler and discovered our joint love for fashion and cars. It’s not often do I meet another young lady who admires cars as much as they do clothes. Or better yet, prefers to drive a manual stick shift over automatic transmission vehicle. Similar to myself, Bojanna finds parallels in vehicle design as she does with clothing, part of why she agreed to collaborate with Cadillac on Dare Greatly. The Dare Greatly campaign  sought out Canadian leaders in their field who dare to drive the world in their field and naturally she made the cut as a hot, emerging designer. Here’s a sneak peek at the designer’s story shot earlier this summer courtesy of Cadillac.

As part of a way to get out of the office and get better acquainted, I took the beautiful Toronto designer for a spin in the new Cadillac ATS V Coupe, the same vehicle we both had on the track back in June. Finding similarities in different areas of design has always intrigued me. It’s interesting that the same level of care Bojana takes creating her designs, is very similar to what Cadillac’s design team does with the vehicle’s interior. The cut and sew treatment of the interior’s leather is an element the team borrowed directly from the fashion industry.

Sentaler

Sentaler

Sentaler

Cadillac ATS V Coupe

SentalerAbove in Sentaler’s long coat with baby alpaca fur collar (limited edition) 

In 2009 Sentaler was born. But not from the fashion educated roots of most designers. Pre Sentaler, Bojana was worlds away in Dubai working on economic investment reports (yep you read that correctly). While living way out in the luxurious desert region, she had an opportunity to meet and chat with Karl Lagerfeld and this conversation left her so inspired that she had decided that she wanted to finally pursue her passion within fashion. After leaving Dubai, Sentaler then headed to South America where she came across the alpaca fibre and spent time in Peru learning all about the alpaca fabrics amazing qualities and how to design with it. “When I launched my first collection six years ago, I loved my product and truly believed in it. I wasn’t considering failure as an option because I was so passionate about what I was doing”.

SentalerSentaler’s Shawl Collar Poncho Wrap 

So why has Sentaler’s outerwear been gaining so much notoriety as of late? Personally, I think consumers have dabbled in quick and fast fashion for such a long time and have so much access to trendy fashion at high street stores but are coming to understand again the importance of a proper investment when it comes to classic and chic outerwear. These coats are far from a seasonal fad and one can last you a lifetime. However, if you ask the likes of “Suits” actress Meghan Markle, “Sex and the City’s” Kim Cattral, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and yours truly, one Sentaler coat is just not enough. I am already plotting on what I am going to acquire next after getting the label’s uber functional hooded wrap coat in grey. Sentaler’s full collection is ultra versatile and there is literally a style that suits any body type and style preference. The thing I love the most is that each piece can also be toned down into a more casual look depending on what you pair with it. On another note, alpaca seems to be trending as of late. On a recent trip to Quebec City I visited an Alpaca farm and learned a bit more about these cute animals that produce such excess soft fur that is now being used for everything from socks, sweaters, gloves and jackets. Like most, I always thought wool was the warmest fabric but surprisingly alpaca is much warmer but lighter in weight, making it an easier fabric to wear during transitional seasons. Bojana uses only baby alpaca for her Sentaler jackets which comes from the first shearing of a young alpaca.  This is the softest and most desired fibre – which makes Sentaler coats so silky and soft to the touch.

SentalerSentaler’s Hooded Wrap Coat

The future is bright for Bojana and I am excited to see what 2016 has in store for this young and super talented woman that I am now lucky to call a friend. Busy filling stock and custom orders for the current season, Sentaler is also keeping herself busy designing her next collection citing that she draws most of her inspiration from her travels, “Inspiration comes from everything around me. And when I step away from my everyday work, my mind is free and my creative thoughts arise.”

SentalerPhotography by Danielle Reynolds

Sentaler’s fabulous collection can be found at Holt Renfrew locations across Canada, the team’s Toronto showroom and online, where she ships internationally – thank God! For more information on Sentaler, to view the entire collection and to purchase online head to Sentaler.com.

An Insider’s Experience to Montreal with the W Montreal

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Being so close to Toronto, Montreal is a city I’ve spent a lot of time in over the last decade but my most recent visit has probably been my most memorable to date. The W Hotel’s only Canadian property turns 10 this year and to celebrate it’s decade milestone, it’s 152 guest rooms and suites got a sleek new re-design by Martin Ablaza, Associate Design Director of Global Brand Design. To show off their newly designed digs, the W Montreal invited a group of North American media to La Belle Province to an exclusive weekend of design, fashion, art and music – which ironically are all elements that influence the W Hotel properties.

W Montreal

W Montreal

WDoubleTake

Having stayed with W Hotel’s in the past, I have an appreciation with the thought that the brand put’s into their hotels. They each take inspiration from their surroundings and you can find nods to their respective cities in even the smallest design details. Situated between Montreal’s financial district and historic Old Montreal, the new renovation is a direct reflection of the duality of both old and new. The city’s European influence is apparent with the French classical elements such as; the chevron patters which can be found in both the carpets and in subdued patterns in brass and walnut tables – however the city’s new wave culture is a also a thread throughout the property. When you enter any of the guest rooms, the first thing you notice is the beautiful mural that occupy’s an entire wall and closely resembles the architecture of buildings found in the Old Port. Huge windows allows for all of the rooms to be drenched in sunlight. What is normally an oversight by most of the W Hotel’s competitors, even the smallest of guest rooms creates an environment that promotes in-room entertaining equipped with a chic bar cart in the “cocktail corner” just perfect for any savvy traveler that wants to pre-drink with friends before a night out on the town. My personal faves from my suite are the modern elements – the open concept bathroom (quite large for hotel standards), the oversized work station and the mirrored wardrobe doors that open up to become a tri-fold dressing mirror.

W Double Take

W Montreal

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All of the W Hotel properties worldwide employs a “W Insider” whose sole purpose is connect guests to the latest and most exclusive experiences, both in and outside of the hotel. This unique “Whatever/Whenever” service is not to be mistaken for a personal concierge – it’s much more than that. Whether you want a last minute reservation to a Michelin star restaurant at 10pm or tickets to a sold out concert, the “W Insider” on site can make that happen. Sticking to the W brand’s ethos of  design, fashion, art and music, Caroline Khangi, the W Montreal’s Insider, curated an exclusive tour for us combining these elements and all within walking distance from the hotel.

W Montreal
W Montreal

W Montreal

W Montreal

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I am not kidding when I say I can live off fashion. Like I am serious, I would feel more satisfied buying an outfit than groceries. Montreal has some amazing designers that I adore so I was thrilled to find out that Caroline had planned a very special atelier tour to visit Denis Gagnon, Rad Hourani, and Travis Taddeo. I fell head over heels in love with a black gown from Gagnon’s FW15 Collection and a coat designed by famed unisex designer Hourani, whose designs can be worn by either a guy or a girl. Stepping into Travis’ studio blew everyone away. Drenched in sunlight and with every square inch of the showroom covered in green plants, it just radiated good energy. Plus, he’s basically every cool Canadian girl’s favourite designer. It was also surprising to discover that all of these designers produce their clothing here in Canada.

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

We stopped into Tommy Cafe + Apero to recharge our bodies and iPhones over a much welcomed lunch break. The food, coffee, and vibes were just the thing we needed before pressing on to check out Phillippe Dubuc and the carefully curated Espace Pepin Home. Filled with the most amazing furniture, household accessories, art and even a tiny vegan cafe in the back, Espace Pepin took me by surprise. Unique in it’s design and layout, Dubuc’s store was filled with the most amazing murals created by famous street artist Zilon. Every single corner of the boutique had something completely different to observe and take in.

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

Entertaining is one thing W Hotels knows how to do well. On our last night in the city, we were invited to the hotel’s ultra exclusive VIP reception and after party to kick off the official re-design launch.  The entire 10th floor was shut down to host the ultimate hallway party with each guest room having a different theme, which you may have caught on my snapchat. There were girls having slumber parties and models dressed in designs from Montreal’s top designers. Everyone in the fashion and art scene in Montreal was in attendance and I even spotted some of the guys from Highsnobiety there shooting images and video. The after party was held downstairs on the second floor bar, Plateau, where we danced the evening away to tracks by Diplo and watched a live performance by the hottest group in Montreal right now, Milk & Bone.

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTake

I recovered (just barely) the morning after the party with a quick brekkie with the team before heading out with Caroline and Montreal radio personality Phillippe Fehmiu, to check out the city’s street art that has become so popular on St. Laurent. We also paid a visit to Station 16 Gallerie D’Art Urbaine, which is a must see if you are into art and conveniently located in the art MURAL district. The gallery exhibits work by international artists who are influenced by design, illustration, pop culture, graffiti and street art.

W Double Take

WDoubleTake

WDoubleTakePhotography by Melissa Gariepy, W Montreal and my personal Instagram

There was only so much I could cover in under 72 hours in Montreal but I made sure to squeeze in a massage in the hotel’s AWAY Spa before heading back to Toronto. Thank you W Montreal, Starwood Group, Nathalie Marchand and Caroline Khangi for an unbelievable experience that I will not soon forget. I left your Montreal with new friendships and a new appreciation for the city you call home! Want to learn more about the W Insider program and more of Caroline’s fave spots in the city? Check out the video below. Click here for more information on the W Montreal

Alexander Wang Debut’s Limited Edition Furniture Collection

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau

Taking over the creative direction at Balenciaga, managing the design of his namesake label, while also collaborating last year with H&M on arguably their most successful designer capsule collection to date, it is shocking that Alexander Wang has time to do anything else. When I heard rumours late last year that he was planning on getting into furniture design I immediately imagined it to resemble his personal aesthetic; comfortable, cool and black.

Alexander Wang Poltrona FrauTurns out, I was not far off at all. Intelligently partnering with the 101 year old Italian label Poltrona Frau, the three piece collection is quintessential Wang and is a minimalist dream. “Poltrona Frau is very classic and traditional” Wang says. “It’s all about the quality and the precision, and I really wanted to bring some friction to it, and I think about how to challenge this idea working within their structure and with what they’re used to doing.”

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau Leather Bean Bag

Alexander Wang Bean Bag Chair

Alexander Wang Shearling Bean Bag Chair

The ultra luxe bean bag chair comes in two variations; one with sports car-esque leather  upholstery and the other featuring shearling upholstery – both with chic brass footing. The trunk bar is the epitome of a piece de resistance. With a pebbled finish and gold accents in it’s interior, it’s the perfect spot to store prestigious liquors.

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau Trunk Case

Alexander Wang Trunk Bar

Although designed with simplicity in mind, these pieces are definitely not for the novice furniture collector. The highly covetable bean bag chair is priced at $8,800, with the the trunk coming in at a mere $18,500. I am secretly hoping Wang considers creating a more moderately priced collection for the masses to acquire…but I’m not holding my breath.

Inspiring Interiors: i29’s Invisible Minimalist Kitchen

Invisible Kitchen i29_1

During my spare time, which these days has been few and far between, I enjoy reading Architectural Digest or trolling interior design sites online. As I’ve gotten older my interior design preferences have grown more towards a minimalist and modern vibe, which can sometimes be difficult to execute in a kitchen due to appliances. This week I stumbled on a kitchen designed by i29 that brilliantly conceals appliances and necessities resulting in a system that helps blend the living space with the kitchen.

Invisible Kitchen i29_2

Striping down and removing any superfluous elements, the design team expertly incorporated the cooling, water and electrical connections within the ultra thin island, which is only a couple centimetres thick.

Invisible Kitchen i29_3

Invisible Kitchen i29_4

Using decorative wainscotting elements of the Parisian apartment’s original walls as inspiration, the design team created sliding panels that hide all components of the kitchen and also acts as storage. When the panels are shut, the space appears clean and organized.

Invisible Kitchen i29_5

Invisible Kitchen i29_6Images via i29 Design

To see more of my “Inspiring Interiors” I suggest you check out these posts…

The House of Patrick Gilles and Dorothee Boissier

Oscar PR Girl, Erika Bearman’s Dreamy Southampton Home

2014 Nike Women Innovation Summit in NYC

Nike Women Summit

It’s official…2015 marks the Year of the Woman. Well according to Nike anyways and for the record, I am totally ok with this. In my opinion it should be the Year of the Woman ever year! Two weeks ago I was one of the few lucky women in media from Canada to go attend a two day international summit put on my Nike to give a behind the scenes look at their latest technologies, innovations and a sneak peek at their new women’s SS/15 collection. Thankfully I got to fly straight from San Francisco to New York after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, which gave me a couple days to relax but it also gave me too much time to try and anticipate what I was going to be witnessing later that week. Having not received an itinerary (the Nike team can really be secretive and elusive when they have big things up their sleeves), I did however get a delivery to my hotel room at the Trump Soho the evening before the summit commenced which included a beautiful flower and an accompanying note stating, “Be prepared to move and be moved.” I had considered myself warned!

Nike Women Summit Mark Parker

Taking place at Spring Studios, a select group of women (and a sprinkle of men from publications such as Hypebeast and HighSnobiety) gathered into a room with a runway set up, that no doubt had all in attendance squealing on the inside, knowing we were about to experience something amazing. Although we were grouped by geographical region and media type (print and digital/influencer), I did mange to spy Giovanna Battaglia, Aurielle Sayeh, Susie Bubble and Adrianne Ho before the lights when down. Nike President and CEO Mark Parker opened up the summit bringing us up to date on some startling facts about women in fitness. “Sport and fitness are powering a new lifestyle shift for women around the world,” Parker said. “Our relationship with our digital community of 65 million women, coupled with great product innovation, is driving our momentum, and we expect to add another $2 billion in revenue to reach $7 billion by 2017”. With this in mind, the brand has been inspired by women and has used said inspiration to create their most comprehensive and innovative women’s collection to date. Mark Parker left the audience with one final statement before departing the stage, “I’ve been designing for Nike for over 30 years and I have never been more excited.” And just like that he was gone and we were introduced to 27 of the world’s top female athletes including; pro basketball star Skylar Diggins, two time tennis grand slam winner Li Na, Olympic gold medalists Shelly-Ann Frasher-Pryce, Allyson Felix, Sonya Richards-Ross, Adelina Sotnikova and more, who strutted down the runway in the latest Nike apparel. And if that wasn’t enough, Supermodels Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls made cameo runway appearances to show off the company’s design collabo with Pedro Lourenco…you can check out my Instagram video here.

Nike Women Runway Show

Nike Women Summit Michelle Beadle of ESPN interviewing Kerri Hoyt-Pack and Stefan Olander of Nike

With companies such as Lululemon, Sweaty Betty, Under Armour and others on the rise in fashionable and functional fitness clothing, Nike’s goal is to dominate the female athletic apparel category by expertly combining production innovation, social media strategies and athletic sponsorship. This tactic is clearly working. Some of the brand’s sponsored athletes took to the stage in a panel discussion hosted by sprinter Allyson Felix, who chatted with Skylar, marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, tennis player Li Na, Paralympic triathlete Sarah Reinersteen and pro surfer Carissa Moore, who discussed how the brand has contributed to their success and the growth of women in their individual sports.

Nike World Summit Panel

Nike World Summit Nike is ahead of their competition by always looking for ways to incorporate sustainability with the development of their products. The Roshe Flyknit design team saw unused materials as an opportunity, not only to make an exciting new design but one with a purpose, as strong as the it’s woven make-up. Each these pairs are truly one of a kind and were made available for sale on October 4th, 2014.

Nike’s SS’15 collection features beautiful performance looks and fabulous designer capsule collections with product offerings in Nike training, sportswear and running categories. The highlights being in high performance tights and flyknit footwear technology. The reason the company is so successful in this area is because not only does the design team listen to feedback from athletes at every level, they also travel the globe to get better acquainted with those within the Nike Women community to understand their specific training needs:

“We rely on relentless commitment to design and innovation to create solutions for athletes,” says July Igarashi, VP of Global Design for Nike Women’s Training. “…sport and fitness is a lifestyle shift that is here to stay. And because it is now so ingrained in what women do and who they are, fitness footwear and apparel have become seamless extensions of her everyday wardrobe. To serve her modern lifestyle of movement, we focus on a unique blend of performance and style. We won’t compromise one element for another, which means we equip the athlete for whatever workout she chooses and wherever she chooses to go before or after.”

What can you expect to see from the forthcoming collections? Visually appealing apparel in terms of bright new colour ways, flattering cuts and design technology like in the legendary Lava Tight and in addition to advancements in both Dryfit and Flyknit Zoom technology featured below. Not to be outdone by Pedro Lourenco’s sexy collection and high end technical garments from Johanna Schneider, formerly from  “Acronymn” and Stone Island.

Nike Women Summit

Nike Legendary Lava Tight

Nike Flyknit Zoom Agaility 2015

Nike Women Summit

Nike Women Summit

Nike Women Summit

And really, what would a Nike event be without a workout? On day one of the media extravaganza, we were all invited to have one-on-ones with Nike Master Trainers from across North America to discuss our current fitness regime and preferred type of workouts. By providing that information, the Master Trainers put together a bespoke training program together for each person on an iPad, which was immediately sent to us via email and upon returning back to our hotel rooms that evening, we came home to several looks from the new collection that we could wear to participate in two insane workouts. The first evening 300 women (both media and consumers) arrived at Cipriani’s NYC for the most epic NTC+ Live session ever. It was amazing to see one of the city’s most prestigious restaurant’s transformed into an enormous workout studio. A 16 foot cube stage, which is rumoured to be the same one JayZ and Kanye used on the Watch the Throne tour, 15 Master Trainers and one intense workout, where we were led by my good friend Eva Redpath and fellow MT Traci Copeland.

NTC+ Live Cipriani

On day two, after another busy day of previewing collections, this time a look at the Holiday collection, we rounded out the summit with an exclusive workout with Model Fit Founder Justin Gelband. This was my first time hearing of this new cult fave workout in NYC. I had my reservations at first, as the first few exercises during the class did not seem very difficult, but this 40 minute class that was a mixture of precise and minimal Yoga, pilates, motion, balance stability, and functional training movements, totally kicked my butt. Justin is actually the man behind Karlie Kloss’ tight little bod and has been busy training the Victoria Secret Angels before the big runway show, which will be filmed in just a couple weeks from now. Check out some of my fave moments captured on my iphone during the 2014 Nike Women Summit…

The last several months have been nothing short of gruelling and all my hard work really paid off. Attending the Nike Women Summit got me really excited to immediately set new goals for myself now that I’ve completed my first half marathon. Looking good while working out is half the battle and by the looks of what’s to come in 2015, I will be crushing my newly set goals in style!

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