It’s the time of year when many of us start preparing to host family and friends for holiday festivities. From Chanukah and Christmas to Kwanza and New Year’s, there’s lots to celebrate!
Sometimes we just don’t know where to begin — and that’s what makes the entryway the best place to start.
First impressions are made when people step into your home, so here are our top three ways to make your home welcoming:
(Artage entryway table pictured above.)
Entryways can be both welcoming and functional. They are also high traffic areas that are highly visible and set the tone for the rest of your home.
From having a functional place to hang your coat or place your purse, to a place where you can showcase seasonal decor, the entryway is an important space in your home. It’s an ideal space for form to meet function.
Depending on your space, we suggest adding:
(Bermex BE54-1201 bench pictured above.)
A stylish bench.
This will not only look fantastic, but will provide a place for guests to sit when putting on and taking off their boots.
A sleek console table.
These slim tables are great for entryways, offering a place to drop your keys or display seasonal decor.
A helpful coat tree.
Coat trees are not only practical for holding coats and scarves, they are also an on-trend focal point in your entryway.
Mirrors are a great way to bring light and sparkle into a space, and an entryway is an ideal place for a mirror, as people tend to check their appearance when entering or leaving a house.
Mirrors come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. You can mix and match them on a wall, or even lean them up against one another on a shelf or on the floor. The options are virtually endless.
Depending on your space, you can add a single large mirror, or multiple smaller mirrors. Alternating design and shape is on-trend and will bring visual interest to your entryway. Mirrors can also be hung or placed on a shelf or table.
Try mixing and matching glass mirrors with chrome and brass mirrors. Combining these three elements will bring a sparkle to your entryway. There are no rules, so play around until you find the perfect arrangement.
Area rugs are often forgotten, but they make up an integral part of your entryway’s aesthetic.
Stepping on the entryway rug is the first thing — and last thing — people will do when they come to your home.It is important to have a rug that can handle some wear and tear, while still looking fabulous.
Kalora rugs offer a stunning array of area rugs to suit any home. From wool, to jute, to synthetic fibres, they have it all.If you’re concerned about stains, consider a patterned rug — patterns are a great way to conceal potential dirt or stains.
Online shopping is ubiquitous. It seems that everyone, everywhere is doing it. We are constantly bombarded with emails telling us about the latest online promos, discounts, and limited-time offers. We can buy pretty much anything we want online — from pants and shoes to vitamins and lamps. The question is, should we buy furniture online?
At Smitty’s, we understand the convenience of online shopping when it comes to smaller items. However, when it comes to making larger purchases that you intend to keep for a long period of time and which can greatly impact your lifestyle and your home, you need to see those pieces in real life.
Here are some key reasons why it is still very important to shop in-store for furniture.
Reasons to Shop for Furniture In-Store, Not Online
It is really important to feel the fabric of your furniture. You need to touch it, sit on it, and assess the level of comfort.
You will want to see the colour of the fabric and the wood stain in person. It’s very difficult to get a sense of sheen and weave from an image online.
Despite listing sizes online, it can be very tricky to accurately assess the size of your furniture without seeing it in person. An online photo of a sofa might make it look too small or too big for your space.
You can ask questions and get answers. If you would like to know more about how the furniture is constructed, about the warranty, or the delivery process, you will be able to get answers in-store more easily.
Getting professional advice is priceless. At Smitty’s, our in-store interior decorating team can provide you with expert advice and guide you through the process of customizing furniture to suit your home.
Everyone wants their home to look its best when entertaining family and friends over the holidays.
At Smitty’s, we often get asked for our top tips when it comes to decorating homes for the holidays. To help you with this annual preparation, our interior decorating experts have put together a few of their top decorating tips:
#1. Add A Focal Piece of Furniture
Adding a new focal piece of furniture to your living room or dining room can make a big impact. You can easily transform the look and feel of a room by updating your sofa, dining table, or coffee table. By adding something new to your home, you will also refresh your space and create a ‘wow’ experience for your guests — even if they’ve been to your home before.
Adding statement furniture like a hutch, a sectional, or an oversized coffee table can make a big impact. Adding a console table or coffee table with a bold design is also an effective way to update your space in time for the holidays.
#2. Add Some Sparkle and Shine
Adding decorative items in glass, chrome, and bronze will give your home some gorgeous sparkle — the perfect elements to make your home shine over the holidays and throughout the winter season.
Try placing wall art, mirrors, vases, candle holders, and other shiny decorations throughout your home. These items can be used on coffee tables, side tables, dining tables, in hutches, or even on bathroom counters.
#3. Add Some Warmth
This is the perfect time to bring some warmth and coziness into your home — and this doesn’t mean adding a fireplace. There are many effective ways create warmth in your space.
Try adding throw cushions, throw blankets, or a new area rug. These changes can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your living room, dining room, or bedroom. Choosing leather furniture is also a great way to bring warmth and luxury into your home.
It’s a wonderful time of year to share delicious treats with those we care about. Whether you’re treating your co-workers, your neighbours, your family, or your friends, we have some delicious recipes that we hope you will enjoy!
No-Fail Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake
If you are looking for an easy-to-make cake that tastes delicious and can be adjusted to suit gluten-free and dairy-free guests, then this is the cake for you!
2 ¼ cups flour (white or gluten-free)
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ cup shortening (or sunflower oil/canola oil)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks
1 ⅓ cup cold water
3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
Preheat your oven to 350℉.
Mix dry ingredients together.
In your mixer, beat shortening, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks.
Alternate adding dry ingredients and cold water to your mixer.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and add ¾ cup of sugar to whites as you beat to form stiff peaks.
Fold egg whites into batter.
Pour into greased cake pans. Bake for approximately 25-30 min, or until your cake tester comes out clean.
Once cooled, fill and top with your favourite buttercream icing. Or, add strawberry jam in the centre for extra flavour.
Basic Buttercream Icing
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Cream room temperature butter with a hand mixer, until smooth and fluffy.
Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until fully incorporated.
Beat in vanilla extract.
Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Chocolate Cranberry Nuggets
You can’t have just one!
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ cup dried, sweetened cranberries
¾ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup of sunflower oil (or canola oil)
Preheat your oven to 350℉.
Combine all dry ingredients in your mixer.
Gradually add vanilla, eggs, and oil. Mix until integrated.
Shape batter into 1.5” balls and roll in white, granulated sugar.
Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Bubbie’s Potato Latkes
A classic Chanukah favourite that will make everyone smile.
6 medium Russet potatoes
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 small onion
Grate potatoes in two sizes of grating (thick and tiny).
Mix grated potatoes together in a bowl.
Let sit for an hour or so to let the water escape. You can squeeze additional water out by hand. You want the potatoes to be as dry as possible.
Add grated onion.
Scoop mixture into very hot pan filled with sunflower oil (or vegetable oil) to fry. Press down potato mixture into flat circles as best you can. Aim for 3” pancakes. Flip when they turn brown and start to crisp.
Once cooked, remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool.
Everyone wants to have a carefree holiday and enjoy some fun times while hosting family and friends. No one wants to spend their holidays cleaning up broken glass or trying to remove stains.
While we understand that no one can guarantee that accidents won’t happen, the team at Smitty’s has a few helpful tips to help you get through the holidays without any “oops!” moments.
Move or Replace Breakable Decorative Items
If you are hosting children, people with pets, or guests who use assistive devices like canes or walkers, you will want to move your breakable decorative items to safe locations. Moving items to different locations will also help to refresh your space and create new visual interest.
Moving breakables from your coffee table, side tables, bathroom counters, and kitchen counters to safer locations like hutches, bedrooms, display cabinets, and bookshelves.
Replacing delicate glass vases with heavier glass vases to keep your florals on display, but with less risk for damage.
Switching tall candle holders with shorter versions, to reduce the chances of them being knocked over.
Exchanging real candles with battery-operated, flickering candles for additional safety precautions.
You can’t always be sure what people are allergic to — there are so many different kinds of allergies these days. To be safe, we recommend the following:
Do not have bowls of nuts on display for eating or decoration.
Replace nuts with dried fruits or other snackable options that can be left out.
Showcase flower arrangements that do not have strong scents.
Avoid lilies whenever possible, as they produce a very strong smell.
Replace scented candles with unscented beeswax or soy candles.
As with florals, scented candles can activate a guest’s allergies.
Reduce Staining Potential
They say that you know it’s a real party when something has been broken or spilled. At Smitty’s, we don’t necessarily agree.
However, if you do have a spill, we recommend reducing the damage caused by a spill by using Zucora to remove stains in an effective, natural way. Zucora’s plant-based products are safe to use in any part of your home, from your child’s bed to your dining room chair — it’s even safe to use on your dog bed!
We hope these tips will help you enjoy your celebrations this season. The team at Smitty’s wishes you healthy and happy holidays and a joyous new year!
A dining room is a special place. It’s more than just a place to eat. A dining room is where celebrations are held, friends and family share stories and laughter, and memories are made.
Your Dining Room, Your Space
Your dining room is a reflection of your style and can be anything you want it to be — from formal and fancy to eclectic and casual. There are no rules anymore.
Renowned designer, Nate Berkus, once said, “I hate sets. I’ve always hated sets. I think that if you have a dining room, break it up!”
Gone are the days of matching table and chairs. No more concerns about contrasting colours or patterns. Tables don’t just come in one shape, colour, or size. Chairs don’t all have to look the same. Everything can be customized to suit your needs, wants, and desires.
Custom-Made Dining Tables
(The Table Factory Reclaimed Hemlock table pictured above.)
Our customers always tell us how much they love being able to customize their furniture, and this is especially true of dining room furniture. The ability to create your own table means that you can have a unique-to-you piece in your home, which will work perfectly in your space and for your lifestyle.
Custom dining tables generally allow you to select the following:
Size: This includes square, round, and rectangular-shaped tables. It can also include selecting the number of table leaves to extend your table for guests.
Tabletop material: This typically includes wood and glass.
Table base: This includes wood, metal, and steel.
Tabletop Thickness: For wood tables, this allows you to select how thick your tabletop will be.
Finish: For wood tables, this allows you to select the colour of your finishing stain and gloss.
The Table Factory offers an enormous range of options when customizing your table. Their selection of wood ranges from cherry to reclaimed hemlock barn flooring and their custom bases are offered in a variety of designs. This level of flexibility allows you to fully customize your table.
Bermex offers an absolutely staggering selection of table sizes to choose from. Their website provides customers with an online Design It tool to assist you in building your custom table online. You can select the height, shape, dimensions, legs, profile, finish, and ring with ease.
Live Edge Dining Tables
(The Table Factory Live Edge Steel T-Base table pictured above.)
An increasingly popular choice for custom-made tables is to have a tabletop with a live edge.
What is a live edge table?
A live edge table is a table where the craftsperson has incorporated the natural edge of the wood into the design of the table. In some cases, this will illuminate the wood grain (as shown in The Table Factory image above), while still providing a perfectly straight edge. In other cases, you may have a table with an organically-shaped edge that follows the natural line of the wood.
Live edge tables are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, as each piece will vary depending on the type of wood from which it was cut. These tables are unique pieces of furniture that are more than just conversation pieces — they are works of art in your dining room.
Custom-Made Dining Seating
(Hooker dining set pictured above.)
In the same way that you can customize your dining table, you can also customize your dining chairs. Remember, there are no rules. You don’t need matching chairs, you don’t need arms, you don’t even need seat cushions — you can do anything.
Some of our favourite dining seating options include:
Captain’s Chairs: Sometimes called Guest Chairs, these large, ornate chairs have arms and can be placed at the head and foot of your table to frame your dining table space and add some drama. Pairing captains chairs with more simple chairs along the sides of your table adds nice contrast to your dining area.
Dining Benches: Typically made from wood, either straight edge or live edge, these benches pair nicely with dining chairs. You can choose to have one bench on a single side of your table, or go for a symmetrical look and have a bench on either side. Benches are great, flexible seating options.
Bermex offers a wide selection of benches featuring wood and cushioned options. They also have the latest brass and bronze-coloured options.
Mix and Match: Your dining chairs do not have to match. You can have some with arms and some without, some with cushions and some without, or even chairs in different fabrics, patterns, and colours. This fun look will bring character to your dining space and a more casual feel.
Hooker Fine Furniture makes gorgeous dining chairs in all shapes and sizes that are perfect for mixing and matching.
Let’s start with some inspiration from well-known designer Candice Olson:
“A common mistake people make regarding dining rooms is to buy a matching set of table and chairs, which can be monotonous. I like to mix guest chairs in one style and head chairs in another for a more interesting, dynamic look.”
At Smitty’s, we tend to agree. Variety is the spice of life and having even different styles of chairs as a part of your dining room set can really create a wow factor for your guests.
On the other hand, if symmetry and coordination are more your speed, never fear — there are plenty of table and chair sets that still offer variation, but within the same style and colour palate.
Our showrooms are filled with gorgeous chairs from Bermex, Future Fine Furniture, Amisco, and many other Canadian manufacturers —but before we get too excited, let’s start with the basics.
Start with the Basics
(Bermex Chair C-1450 pictured above.)
First things first, how do you know what sort of dining chairs to purchase?
Here are a few expert tips to help you decide on the perfect dining chairs for your home:
1. Decide how many chairs you will need.
Ensure that you take into account whether you are looking for chairs for your existing dining table, or if you will be purchasing a new table. You don’t want to purchase only four chairs if you are upgrading to a larger dining room table, where six chairs would be more appropriate, or if you regularly require additional chairs for entertaining.
Expert Tip: If you’re unsure about how many chairs will fit comfortably around your table, aim to have a minimum of six inches between each chair, so that your guests will have some personal space while seated.
2. Decide if you are looking for wooden, steel, or cushioned chairs.
Consider who will be regularly sitting in your new chairs. If you have children, you may want to have a surface that can easily be wiped clean. If you appreciate comfort while dining, you may be more interested in getting upholstered seating.
3. Decide if you want your chairs to match your table, or stand on their own.
You aren’t committed to purchasing the chairs that match your dining table. All the rules that once applied have been broken. You are free to select any style that suits your taste, your budget, and your home. Feel free to mix and match fabrics, materials, and colours.
4. Decide if you will want to use your dining chairs in other rooms of your home.
If you would like to be able to use your dining chairs as additional seating in your living room, home office, or other area of your home, then make sure that you consider whether you will be able to easily move them from one space to another.
As we approach the holiday season, our thoughts turn to hosting, entertaining, and offering guests a lovely experience when dining at our homes.
Aside from providing delicious food and drink, the number one thing we all need is a dining room that can accommodate our needs and showcase our style — an elegant dining room never goes out of style.
While it’s true that elegance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, there are many components that will help you achieve an elegant result.
Here are a few key elements to achieve an elegant dining room:
Dining Room Sideboard
A sideboard, sometimes called a buffet, is an extremely useful piece of furniture. Available in a broad range of styles, a sideboard is a key addition to an elegant dining room.
Sideboards serve many helpful purposes, including:
Offering additional food serving space.
Acting as a bar cart.
Providing a display area for flowers, decor, and photos.
Storing items such as candles, serving utensils, extra plates, and more.
Hooker Furniture crafts gorgeous sideboards ranging from classic elegance in wood to more modern styles featuring chrome and brass, as with the Curata Wine Server (pictured above).
Dining Room Hutch
A hutch is certain to bring elements of formality and elegance into your dining room.
Typically a larger item, a hutch will consist of an upper section offering several shelves for storage or display, with either glass doors or open shelving. It may also provide additional shelving behind closed doors on the bottom section.
Hutches, like the gorgeous Bermex hutch pictured above, can be used to showcase any number of items, including:
While not every room is large enough to incorporate a hutch, if your dining room has the space, then adding a hutch can make for a gorgeous focal point.
Whether you’ve decided to update your entire dining room, or just a single piece of furniture, the one thing every elegant dining room needs is a finishing touch. A finishing touch is any decorative item, functional or not, that adds style and interest to your space.
We recommend the following types of elegant touches to finish your dining room:
Variety is the spice of life, so remember to change up your finishing touches from time to time — this will help to freshen up your space.
There are many ways to take your dining room from blah to wow. You can update your dining room table, add a hutch, or change-up your dining chairs — but one of the most overlooked ways to spruce up your dining room is to add an area rug.
A dining room area rug not only helps to define your dining space, it also adds colour, dimension, and comfort to your room.
(Surya Allegro rug pictured above.)
Here’s how you can determine the perfect size dining room area rug for your home in three easy steps:
Step #1 — Organize Your Furniture
Make sure that all of your furniture is set-up as you like it to be in your dining area. This should include your dining table and chairs, hutches, sideboards, wine carts, cabinets, shelves, floor lamps, etc.
Expert Tip: Don’t tuck away any items or redesign your space at this point in the process. You want to be sure that every element that you need and use in your dining room is accounted for with its own floor space.
Step #2 — Mark Your Floor Space
Pull your dining room chairs out from your table as though you were about to sit down. Then, leaving the chairs pulled out, mark the floor with painter’s tape approximately 6” beyond the back foot of each of the chairs.
This process will provide you with a measure of the space that would allow a person to comfortably get up from their chair and still remain on the carpeted area.
(Kalora Alaska rug pictured above.)
Step #3 — Measure Marked Space
Measure the length and width of your tape marks to establish the approximate size of the area rug for your dining room. If your measurements are an odd number (e.g. not 5’ x 8’, or 8’ x 10’), don’t panic, just ensure that you round up in size. It’s always better to have a slightly larger rug than one that’s too small.
Once you know the size of rug that you are looking for, you can decide on material, colour, and pattern — the fun has just begun!
For expert help choosing the right rug, come and visit us at Smitty’s we have a wide variety of Surya and Kalora rugs to choose from. We’ll help you put some wow in your dining room.
The holidays are just a few weeks away. Do you have beds to accommodate your guests? Is your dining room table large enough? Has your sofa seen been around the block one too many times? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, never fear — you still have time to order new furniture before the holidays!
At Smitty’s, we understand the planning and considerations that go into making your holiday celebrations a success. We can appreciate the effort that goes into making your home sparkle at this time of year, so we’re here to help you find the perfect updates to make your guests ohhh and ahhh — and to make sure you’re comfortable this winter.
We know there are a lot of factors to take into account when trying to decide which pieces of furniture to replace, so our interior decorating experts have put together some helpful tips:
Who is coming to your home, and are they staying for an extended visit?
If you are putting guests up for an overnight stay, or multiple nights, then you will want to ensure that you have clean and comfortable bed options available. Depending on your layout, you will need to decide if that means adding or replacing a bedroom set and mattress or getting a pull-out sofa.
If you have elderly relatives, they may prefer a proper mattress set. If you just need space for your grandchildren or other kids, then a sofa bed ottoman might do the trick.
Do you need extra seating to accommodate all your guests?
If you have lots of people coming to visit over the holidays, then you will want to make them feel comfortable in your home. If there’s one, single upgrade that you need to make to ensure your home looks extra special for the holidays (and beyond), it would be to replace your sofa with a sectional.
Sectionals allow you to have seating for everyone and come in a variety of configurations and fabrics.
Are you looking for smaller ways to make your home sparkle?