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Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Trailer: Do the sets work?

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by Alison Hodd

As a reader of Fifty Shades of Grey I know what the sets are to look like. Exactly.

This is because I designed and decorated them already in my mind’s eye. Do you do that when reading a book? I picture the characters, of course, but where I have the most fun is imagining the spaces they occupy.  And in the case after EL James’ three erotic romance novels later the picture is clear.  Read on to see what I thought of the set decoration via the movie trailer. The Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Trailer is here.

1. The Front Desk at Grey Enterprises is Morgue-like

Concrete, glass, steel and florescent lighting reflecting off the back-painted glass. Hmmm. This is far more clinical and institutional than I imagined. I thought it would have had more warmer masculine touches. I imagine the vibe is frosty cold but the concrete slab and the hospital garb-coloured letters seem a little too medical cold. Surgery anyone? (Is is just me or does Anastasia remind you of Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada” here. Kinda disheveled in a blue sweater. No? Never mind.)  
Anastasia approaches desk to Interview Christian

Anastasia approaches desk to Interview Christian (is he her soul mate?)


2. Christian’s Office is Awesomely Mammoth and Surprisingly Eclectic

The spotless shiny marble floor, massive expanse of unadorned windows and touches of wood were expected. The combination of money tree, Cubist wood sculpture and oversized wooden spool (or are they Lincoln Logs?) seem at odds with each other. Perhaps they are intended to demonstrate his diverse appetite for …ahem…art. The ivory leather furniture with glass tables is predictable. Snore. I do wish there was more colour like they use in “The Good Wife”. Side Note: In real life, the acoustic quality of this room would be unbearable. Without fabric, rugs or window treatments to absorb sound you would need to shout at the person across from you to be heard.  Of course on set they are work around this with mics and acoustical panels to prevent echoing.  
Anastasia Interviewing Christian Grey

Anastasia Interviewing Christian Grey


3. Christian’s Guest Bedroom Surprises

Question. Was his guest room this feminine in the book? The pretty lines on the bed frame combined with the deep tufting on the velvet and the floral De Gournay wallpaper behind are distinctly girly.  What is up with the vanity in the corner? More pretty please? And did the room need to be grey?  
Anastasia wakes up in Christian's Guest Bedroom

Anastasia wakes up in Christian’s Guest Bedroom


4. Christian’s Parents Dining Room Looks Dated

I imagined his parents home feeling more up-to-date. This disappointed me. I know, I know, it’ supposed to be so boring that Christian has nothing else to do but put his hand up her skirt. Yah, yah. I crave interior design porn folks! Satisfy me Set Decorators! One of them is Sandy Walker from Vancouver, B.C. (a Canadian – yeah!) and the other is Sandy Reynolds, Multiple award winner in Set Design including a favourite of mine – The Royal Tennenbaums. Let’s talk Window Treatments: Roman shades layered over inset mount sheers. Is this a thing? Never seen it before.  If you have please fill me in on it’s functional and/or aesthetic value. #lovetolearn  
Anastasia and Christian at Dinner at his parents' home

Anastasia and Christian at Dinner at his parents’ home


5. Christian’s Hallway Delights

This is what I’m looking for! Thank you Sandys! Clean, modern interiors with delicate reveals, soft wall wash lighting, back lighting and a combination of pale colours and warm woods. This closer to how I imagined his loft.  
Christian Grey's Hallway

Christian Grey’s Hallway

                        From a literary viewpoint, it’s a super-trashy highly addictive page-turner. And Christian is a creepy stalker, austere man-child. But don’t let that stop you from letting it take you away. Will you see the movie? Did you read the book? Please leave a comment!   Alison-Hodd-signature                  

Coming Up….The Oakville Maycourt Designer Table Top Display!

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by Alison Hodd
Table Top Maycourt Friday is a big day. My team and I (i.e. My assistant Megan, my dear Mom and my Mom’s dear friend Marilyn) are setting up the Catherine Alison Interiors Table Top display at Appleby College. The theme we’ve come up with is Traditional English Outdoor Wedding. Think Four Weddings and a Funeral meets The Proposal. You are going to see how old and new can mix well when carefully thought out.  Right now I have a garage filled with items like structural greens, planters, table linens, flatware, crystal, and flooring. Tomorrow night I’m off to my cousins place to pick out the custom obelisk he’s made me. It needs to be primed, sanded and then have 2 coats of paint applied. Lots still to do and very worth the effort! What I love about this Maycourt event is that it is benefiting the Halton-based mental-health wellness centre – Reach Other Centre for Kids (ROCK).  “ROCK is the largest accredited children’s mental health centre in the Region of Halton. We provide a multi-disciplinary approach to prevention, assessment and treatment of infants, children, youth and their families. Clients must be experiencing emotional, behavioural, developmental or social difficulties that put them at risk for serious mental health problems to qualify for clinical services. Our services are available to infants, children, youth and their families aged birth to 18 and up to 21 in the case of homelessness. Clients must reside in the Region of Halton. Our treatment residence is licensed annually by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.” – from ROCK’s website. This means kids and families in Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Georgetown are going to be better served.  Bryan Baeumler is participating in the event and is a big sponsor of ROCK. His Byan Baeumler Foundation (BFF) is planning a 16,000 sq foot renovation to service more families in need. You can learn more about his involvement here. He suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in his 20s and is now  a spokesperson for ROCK. To get your tickets to this worthwhile event go to  And here’s a complete listing of the showcase. Interior Designer Showcase Oakville      

The Real Reasons this Mississauga Mansion Sold for Only 56% of List

Posted on: January 28th, 2014 by Alison Hodd
Mississauga Mansion Real EstateA Mississauga Mansion once listed for $11M, sold last Sunday at auction for $6.2M. Why did this 23-room, 18,000-square-foot mansion go for only 56% of it’s original listing price? Apparently leaving the owner-Ambassador Fine Homes- unable to cover $1M worth of building materials. Despite it’s 8-car garage, The Huffington Post reports that neighbours say the house was too expensive for the neighbourhood and too large for the lot. Here are the real reasons this Mississauga Mansion failed to recoup costs.

Reason #1:  This Mississauga Mansion looks ridiculous next to it’s courtside neighbours

Mississauga Mansion SaxonyIt is too big for its lot-outrageously so. But the bigger reason is context. Next to the other homes on this small court it is too wide, too tall, too colossal, with far too many architectural grand gestures. Nothing about the mansion relates in any way to any other dwelling nearby. The bright white limestone, wrought iron, chateau-style chimneys, Greco-Roman columns and balustrades are in keeping with no architectural elements anywhere nearby. By itself on Lakeshore Rd it would hold court – true.  And if all the homes on Saxony were too big for their lots it would fit in better.  Lesson:  Homes with a sense of belonging sell for more.

Reason #2:  The trouble with marble

Marble Mansion Mississauga Natural stone can add warmth and movement to a space.  Done poorly and it looks overdone, cold, and dated. Be careful with natural stone as it bounces around sound and light. As a result we can get too much echo and the harsh glare straining our eyes. In the ensuite bathroom the same heavily patterned blue-grey marble is carried up the wall and onto the ceiling. In the rest of the mansion we see a pink/peach marble (likely crema marfil). Pinky-peach is a difficult colour to decorate around as many colours – like soft blues and greens-only intensity the pinky-peach tones. Large slab polished marble is also slippery when wet. For that reason I don’t recommend it in any room where water could accumulate. For me, that’s front entryways, bathrooms, kitchens and dining rooms.  Also, it has no give so it is hard on our bodies for cooking/preparing meals. For that reason it is a poor choice for a kitchen. Lesson: Use natural stone wisely to avoid the office tower lobby vibe.

Reason #3: Lack of cozy corners

Mississauga Mansion Living RoomLight and bright is how most of us want our homes to feel. But where do we go when we want shelter and privacy? From what I can see from the images on-line this home lacks cozy corners. There is nowhere to curl up and read a good book without feeling exposed. Every room is bigger than the previous room, every fireplace more elaborate than the last. How does one create a sense of intimacy and connection in oversized greenhouse? Famed architect/author Sarah Susankah believes that tailoring your home to how to really live is how your home can make a big impact. Her book Not So Big Remodelling, shows readers “how to think like an architect.” If you are undertaking a remodel or new build learn about Sarah’s philosophy for working with the space you have. If you’d like a home that feels tailored to how you really live, book a time to chat with me here. Alison-Hodd-signature    

Decor Trends of 2014 with Staying Power – Part One

Posted on: January 18th, 2014 by Alison Hodd
Top Decor Trends of 2014 with Staying Power Decor trends can be like a toddler’s love of cream cheese.  The passion for the white creamy stuff emerges overnight, remains feverishly strong for weeks, until one day you hear “I don’t like cream cheese any more!” “No more cream cheese for me!”  In the world of design and décor in 2013 chevron was that toddlers’ cream cheese.  That graphic V-shaped pattern ended up on art, rugs and mugs.  And as long as is a full day with young kids, we grew weary.

How to Invest Wisely in Your Home

We’ve all spent our hard-earned money on pieces for our home that quickly didn’t work.  We try relocating, reselling, and or rationalizing.  It’s no picnic.  Choosing furniture, wall colours and fabric for our home is a big investment.  And the last thing we want to do is jump on a bandwagon and pick something exciting that’s going to quickly look out-of-style.  Or worse not be durable for life’s shenanigans.
Here are the two ways to invest in your home today if you want to be current now AND want your investment to look great in five to ten years.  These are NOT fads, flash-in-the-pan leanings, or fiction.  They are the looks I’ve curated from listening to our clients, keeping up with design publications and conferences and listening to other experts in the world of colour, renovation and home décor.

1) Cover Your Couch in Soft Velvet and or Corduroy

Velvet looks luscious and corduroy is a casual classic.  Both fabrics are soft to the touch and if you choose the right one it will last for years or even decades.  I love how soft and warm they feel.  Unlike a leather couch, they hold the temperature of the room and keep you firmly in place.  Kinda like a warm hug.  Hey – science says we need 8 a day – we may as well get one from our from our furniture. Recently seen on the fashion runways, the texture of velvets and corduroys are making their way back into our homes.  The secret way to making them feel fresh is to choose less obvious colour.  Some examples are solid lighter, brighter colour like pale yellow, celery green, or robin’s egg blue.  In the past velvet and corduroy was associated with only dark colours like navy, and burgundy.  This is changing.  If you’re nervous about your kids (and/or pets) playing nicely together, consider getting furniture protection.  It’s like a condom for your couch.  Either in-factory or in your home you can have eco-friendly, non-toxic barrier applied to prevent mishaps from becoming big issues. And how do you decide between corduroy and velvet?  Think of the space you’re creating.  If either your style or the function of the space is laid-back, choose corduroy.  Like the bear with the missing button, it feels wholesome and casual. Casual Corduroy for Family Living Conversely, if you want a more refined, elegant feeling for entertaining, nothing beats the appeal of luxurious velvet.

Luxe Velvet for the Long Haul

Commitment phobic?  Try test-driving these fabrics by picking up decorative cushion or two from herehere or here.

 2) Do Dark Walls

Dark walls can be great choice for many rooms. And it’s a myth that dark walls are best is a bright room or a dark room.  It really doesn’t matter how much light you get or the size of your room.  Whether you’re throwing an intimate dinner party creating a cozy spot place to sleep, dark walls might be just the ticket.  I also think they can work in offices, bathrooms, family rooms, hallways and kitchens.

Divine Dark Walls

They work because they are a great foil for metallic accessories and fixtures.  Framed and matted art begs to take centre stage, as the dark background colour forces that art into the spotlight. Do map out a great layered lighting plan and consider the wall colour of your adjoining spaces.  If you add dark walls to your bathroom keep your hallway and bedroom a pale colour.  This way the drama you crave is satiated by the unexpected change.   Also, to amp up the WOW factor further, consider wallpaper in a dark colour.  With added texture or shine you can make an even stronger statement.  To see paint colour I think work best go here:

Three unusual ways to use dark paint:

  • Paint the upper third of a high room a dark colour.  This is a great way to break up the expansive height and provide visual balance with the top and bottom of a room
  • Paint a feature wall behind a fireplace dark and leave the bookcases or wall on either side light-coloured
  • Paint the ceiling in your powder room dark and keep the walls light

Will you try velvet, corduroy or dark walls this year?  On what?  

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Five Ways to NOT Buy Storage

Posted on: January 1st, 2014 by Alison Hodd
January is storage and organization month.  Every magazine at the checkout line has a headline telling us how to Control Our Clutter! and Get Organized!.  We’re been given “How to Safely Pack Up Your Decor!” solutions.  I was convinced I’d have to stock up on Rubbermaid containers until I did these 5 things.

1. Go through containers I already have.

Pitch, give away or find a better home for any contents not worth that vessel.  I uncovered 4 containers (2 large, 2 small) this way. Savings $28.

2.  Stow away everything in garbage bags my kids haven’t played with or read in a month.

It’s ruthless, I know.  But have you ever spent a day at IKEA figuring out the right set of storage bins for all the new stuff your kids got for Christmas.  I have.  Learn from me.  I beg you.  Once you’ve chosen the right type of storage solution, waited in line, unpacked it, built it, labelled the bins, and sorted the toys only to have your dear ones only play with 1/4 of the things in those fin bins – you’ll see this wisdom.  I’m through with buying more storage for my kid’s stuff.  If they ask for something stowed in the garbage bags in the next week, I’ll haul it back out.  Otherwise, it’s being given away or thrown out.  This includes dolls, doll accessories, books and games. Side Note 1: I have a friend who’s Mom saved EVERYTHING from her childhood.  Her and her siblings are now adults with kids.  The grandparents can’t renovate the basement because there is TOO much of their kid’s childhood belongings down there. Side Note 2:  Did you know that you can’t donate anything with any stuffing in it?  To find a new home of love for our “stuffies” I hosted a carnival party.  The “prizes” for winning midway games were my kids once-loved and now well-washed but “unwanted” stuffies.  (Aaaaaand we celebrated by husband’s 40th.  A side effect.) Savings: IKEA Storage $125 (at least!)

3. Pack wrapping supplies in your largest gift bag.

Most of us reuse or have leftover wrapping supplies.  I smooth out, fold and stack tissue paper, keep wrapping paper, and flatten bags.  I tuck everything in the largest gift bag and stick it all in a closet or under a bed.  Done.  No need to line up at Storage Solutions for “the perfect” clear tote. Now you have time to download Songza and find crazy playlists.

4. Use What You Already Have in New Ways.

Now that we shop on-line we have lots of cardboard boxes to store Christmas decorations.  I don’t use fancy wrapping or boxes.  I just  use newspaper to wrap delicate ornaments and put everything in a cardboard box.   Grocery Gateway boxes are my favourite.  Shhhh….. Savings: $30-100

5. Save some gifts for Summertime.

My kids have winter birthdays so they get the things they want now.  I have a high shelf where I keep items that I think they’ll enjoy more in 6 months.  This way I don’t have to find a way to store everything right now.  When we pull it out 6 months from now we can figure that out. Side note:  I have forgotten about these gifts before because I put them on a very high shelf.  I’m 5’10 1/4″  – so I have no excuse.  Today my husband (6’2″ found them) Ooops!  Send yourself a reminder so that it’s a nice surprise. Savings:  Hard to estimate, but it would be nice to have an “End of School Year” surprise gift on hand.
Do you avoid buying more storage?  Or is a trip to a Big Box Home Improvement Store on your list?  I’d love to know!

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