Istanbul Archive


Clearly it’s Fabulous

Clearly it's Fabulous Image

There are a few stand out trends in the design world that we should take a look at-one of them is clearly a great idea and one is a tried and true idea. I bought my first piece of Lucite almost twenty years ago-yikes really twenty years ago how can that be? I bought a couple of end tables, an ice bucket and a pair of lamps while attending the North Carolina International Furniture show. I still have them; they are timeless collector pieces that work in just about every decor.
Today top designers from New York to Istanbul to Paris are seeking our fabulous Lucite pieces to work into their clients rooms. Looking at the popularity of the ‘ghost chair’ and now all the knock off and similar versions of this piece that are available to us. Sam and I were working on a new restaurant design yesterday and she showed me a vintage suitcase encased in a Lucite box to use as a coffee table in the lounge-love love love it. Clear acrylic or Lucite is trendy, timeless and certainly fabulous- how can you bring it home?
Clearly it's FabulousI’m on the hunt for some Lucite easels to use in a living room to hold art as opposed to hanging it on the walls and am always seeking fabulous coffee tables that are ‘clearly’ well designed and visually demand less space because they are see-through. As with most design elements tread lighting one or two pieces of Lucite in a room is more than enough- too much of a good thing is simply too much. Hot with Lucite right now is a mixed marriage of Lucite and texture. Look for stools and benches that have a fabric or fur seat with Lucite legs.
You guys know that I love to travel and some of my favorite destinations are in the Middle East. I enjoy that Arabic hospitality and I love the architecture, especially the Arabic patterns and motifs. How exciting it is that these motifs are providing the inspiration for some of the best designers and this year’s trendiest pieces. Look for Arabic inspired patterns and details to begin appearing on wallpaper, serving ware, lamp bases, textiles and even wall and floor tiles. Where to use it at home? Try wallpapering a powder room in a graphic print inspired by Arabic patterns or simply toss a couple of throw cushions with an Arabic motif on the sofa. Use a tray with a Arabic pattern on top of the bar. In the design year to follow you’ll have no trouble finding great pieces inspired by the Middle East. If you’re looking for a travel destination this fall consider a trip to Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman orQatar for research and bring home some authentic pieces that are spot on trend and besides you’ll have a fabulous holiday.
Great design is constantly evolving and are rooms should be designed to ‘roll’ with us and our lifestyles and personalities. Now that’s fabulous living!
Searching for great coffee table books? When I travel I always look forward to museums and art galleries. Not only do we enjoy the artifacts and art but we love to shop the museum stores. These stores are great places to find amazing coffee table and library books that just aren’t available any where else. You can also find some one of a kind glasses and even jewelry- never avoid the ‘store’.

Shopping for treasures at an Antique store in Istanbul

Istanbul imagePacked to Design

Whether you are packing for a late spring holiday cruise, a business conference in Las Vegas, a family vacation, or a road trip to visit family and friends, be sure to pack wisely so that you are ready to take advantage of all the fabulous treasures that you will find on your trip. Travel is one of the best opportunities to shop for unique and fabulous home fashion items. Most of my favorite treasures at home where acquired abroad and remind me of fond memories of distant places.

Sam and I are leaving this morning for Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit to shoot another fabulous television episode of Let’s Shop and in our suitcases, along side flip flops, bikinis and white cotton dresses, are our fundamental design tools. Before we embark on any trip, we do a lot of pre-travel design research. Online, destination guides, and friends whom have traveled to the destination before are great resources and offer invaluable insight into some of the treasures that you should be on the look out for. Ask, read and google local art galleries, antique stores, indigenous crafts, local newspapers for weekend estate sales and resources found in the area.

Having a good idea of what’s available and spending a little time day dreaming about what you may find and want to bring home (literally) can really help you with decision making during your travels. Travel purchases can be difficult and you don’t want to waste money buying items that you will only shake your head at and sell in a yard sale next summer so planning for those spontaneous purchases can really be beneficial when you are under the gun to buy on the spot. Do you still look back on past travel experiences and wish you had bought a piece of sculpture from a local artisan or an antique dresser at an estate sale. Regrets won’t happen if you have foresight and forethought for your purchases.

For example, if you are traveling to an area known for its great antiques prethink your purchases, know what you want. Take a picture on your phone of the blank wall where a new “old” armoire will sit. Take dimensions and even have the number for a shipping company from that area that ships back to you in hand. Now when you find the perfect piece and haggle a great price, you will be ready and confident in your purchase. You can make an informed decision to buy even when your husband and the kids are yelling to ‘get back in the car mom’ or ‘we want ice cream’. You can still calmly make your purchase, call the shipping company and be on your way.

Since we are on our way to Mexico, I know that I will probably bring home a copper sink for a powder room I’m working on, some vanilla, some tequila, water glasses and some beaded art work. Sam found some fabulous piece on a gallery website that we will be visiting and even has a certain piece picked out- we’ll see what the price is! We never limit ourselves to what we expect but it sure helps when you are under pressure to make quick buying decisions. We also travel with a snap shot of our colour board and even a couple of paint chips and fabric swatches in our wallets.

We have shipped and carried back home with us treasures from around the world- brass Thai lions to sit flanked at our front door from Thailand, a four hundred year old wooden door from Morocco, a 6 foot Buddha head from Montreal, life size statues from South Africa, art from every where, a seven foot iron Eiffel Tower that once satin from of Harrods in Argentina, bolts of silk fabric from China, amazing coffee from Laos and pepper from Cambodia, leather rugs from Turkey, and antique cosmetic posters from France…to name a few. Large or small, light or heavy these items make your home unique and interesting, while injecting your personality and personal experiences into your home – which is the key to fabulous design- so travel often and Let’s Shop for our homes while we are there!!!


We travel with one suitcase and two duffel bags inside the suitcase- duffel bags are lighter than suitcases so you can gain a few extra pounds of free weight when you pack. We also carry a roll of packing tape, some vacuum bags and a box cutter in our checked bags to help with the packing.


I Love Istanbul!

Sam Shakura - Rock House of Design Inc.

I love Istanbul! Istanbul is one of my favorite cities and Sam and I have just spent a fabulous week shopping, site seeing and gathering inspiration for our next projects during the first annual ISF (Istanbul Shopping Festival). So as I enjoy a glass of Turkish wine (if you haven’t discovered Turkish wines you should, they are wonderful) on the 9 hour flight home (Istanbul direct to Toronto on Turkish Airlines who even have their own chef on board) I thought that I’d share some of my favorite ideas with you.

Honestly, Istanbul is a design hotbed. An amazing destination for apparel and home fashion products, materials and ideas. Its one of the best kept designer secrets and Sam and I love to shop there for textiles, antiques and home décor products in the Cukurcuma District. What did we buy- while we found a carousal house that I am having shipped home for our dining room. I plan to set the top half of the horse on one of my tables and have the bottom half set on the floor-very avant-garde. We also found some amazing wooden signs, old chair frames, stone pots and old capitals and wall stones, great to simply sit on the ground inside or outside of a home. Many of the antique stores also had beautiful antique mirrors that would be fabulous brought home for bathroom mirrors. We feel strongly that it is the diversity, the jux of position with respect to texture, colour contrast, modern and antique that makes a room exciting. It is the diversity that creates the drama that creates the best spaces.

I’m recreating a brilliant idea that haute couture designer Ozlem Suer used in her show room (she’s dressed Jessica Simpson and I can tell you it wasn’t in those high waisted jeans). She filled a pot with old clocks and simply left it on the floor of the show room. I have some great modern and old clocks in my prop room and will fill a metal pot with a collection of them as soon as I step off the plane-love this idea. We also saw at one of the fabulous dinner clubs we went to another brilliant idea using old oil drums. Painted with in street fashion these drums became fabulous bar tables. Loving this idea, we’ll surly employ it at home or in one of our projects perhaps in a man space bathroom as a sink base or on a contemporary patio, oh the possibilities.

Istanbul, being so close to Italy is also filled with great Italian furniture pieces; we fell in love with lots of bright and uniquely upholstered pieces. We have said it before but when you travel keep an eye open for interesting fabrics, textiles and unique items to use in upholstery. For example, you could buy and antique caftan to be used as a chair back, a fur pelt, carpet, harem towels, scarf or even a painting. We often upholster the chair back and seat in different fabrics/materials.

If you are searching for the perfect travel destination, one that combines your quest for culture and shopping than you need to go to Turkey. Its an amazing destination filled with great food, wonderful people, history, and of course some of the worlds best shopping-now that’s a fabulous trip!!!