Barstools, Baskets and Getting Creative

No Need to Suffer

What is a good bar stool that looks modern but is also practical? I don’t want to compromise comfort for style.

Becky, Calgary

Personally, I have a hard time with backless bar stools. I love the way they look, but from a practicality standpoint, they hurt my back and I can’t sit for long. This is a common issue and quite frankly, not very inviting for your guests! But you don’t have to compromise on style to get comfort.

Look at a mid-height back that will give you enough support for sitting but still have a slim modern look. Stay away from legs that flare out too far. These are toe stubbers and take up too much space under the counter. Try the Nerd barstool from Design Within Reach in their fabulous red/orange. It has a classic style but delivers on comfort and still looks contemporary. The back is lower so they won’t look bulky lined up along the countertop. 


The other side of practical is clean-ability, especially in a household with children where things get dropped and not necessarily tended to immediately. Wood or leather are better choices than upholstery. They can be wiped clean and age well. Here is another stool from Design Within Reach with a leather seat, a footrest and a solid base. Both choices are modern, cleanable and comfortable too.



New Home Hacks

We just moved into our new home and although we have all of our furniture in place, it still feels empty. How can I warm up my space (it looks like a showroom)?

Leslie, Calgary

If you’ve just moved into a new home, you’ve likely purchased some (or all) new furniture. Albeit a great start, the result can feel like a display area despite the volume of items you feel you’ve purchased. To eliminate that showroom aesthetic, you need some decorative items. Not clutter, but warmth.

Some ideas: Try large pillar candles in glass holders, a tall tree in an oversized basket (a ficus or a money tree), a cashmere throw and some coffee table books. Focus on a selection of larger items rather than smaller trinkets.

Other than physical items you need to add lighting. A ceiling fixture or pot lights are important to light a room, but low level lighting is also important for setting the stage in the evening. Use modern standing lamps behind a sofa and a larger scale lamp on a console table. Make sure you can either dim the lights or the bulbs are the proper wattage. Consider this the background music.

Don’t forget about your walls! A large empty wall can become a key focal point. Invest or DIY, don’t go mid-range. Buy something that you will have for life, an important piece that you love. It’s worth it. And if that’s not in the cards, do-it-yourself. Blow up an amazing photo or get out the paint, but create something unique and frame it… (no one will know it’s a DIY!)



For help with your next home project, send a question to You can also address your queries on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ASKsteph. Please include first name and city/town of residence.

ABOUT STEPHANIE began her residential design career in 1999 following a BA in Art History from McGill University in Montreal and studies at The International Academy of Design in Toronto. Her aesthetic is ‘natural contemporary’, blending organic materials with sleek, clean edge design. With 15 years experience in residential design, Stephanie is comfortable in both construction boots and stilettos. Her projects include new builds and renovations in Toronto, Creemore, Georgian Bay & Kenora. She has a keen interest in the real estate market, has flipped several homes and is always working on the next project. She has two children and resides in Toronto but secretly considers her home 2 hours North in a town abutting Georgian Bay.