SHOP MY NEIGHBOURHOOD [part one]

Anyone who knows me, knows that I move fairly often. And by fairly often, I mean a LOT. Not necessarily intentionally, but somehow the opportunity for change always comes knocking on my door with the lure of a fresh new experience that I just can’t seem to resist. While I have spent many years living in and around the Main Street strip as well as throughout Strathcona and Chinatown, about a year ago I transitioned into a neighbourhood I had never spent much time exploring: South Granville.

I had previously been over to the Granville hub between Broadway and 16th for work (I’m always in and out of shops like West Elm and EQ3 for my interiors clients), but had never taken the time to properly explore what the area has to offer. After settling in and finding my new go-to’s for all things daily life, I’ve discovered that this neighbourhood has so many hidden little gems that give it a unique charm reserved for those who venture out to find it.

From food to fashion to decor, the shopping along South Granville is diverse, both in style as well as budget. Whether you’re after a high-end statement piece or a daily special, the range of boutiques have something to suit your needs. I hit the streets with my style-savvy bestie, Rachel (who always seems to achieve the impossible feat of looking effortlessly chic - the perfect shopping partner!) to highlight a few of my go-to spots for finding my favourite things.

Whether it be for decor or fashion, I innately gravitate towards consignment and preloved pieces first to create my personal style. Fact: my entire look this shopping day was found at various consignment stores throughout Vancouver - from designer to daywear, outerwear to footwear (and everything in between) - each piece was bought second hand. Not only do consigned finds offer a more individualized look (they won’t likely be the same pieces found in mass production at traditional retailers, but rather key pieces from previous seasons that you can incorporate into your look in a more timeless way), but these items also allow the opportunity to score high end pieces at a reduced price.

Turnabout is one of the city’s largest consignment boutiques, and they have both fashion and home decor locations side-by-side along South Granville. When I’m on the hunt in my neighbourhood for a special piece, I always start here. My fashion weaknesses are designer shoes and handbags, so that’s the first section you’ll find me scouring in the shop; if you are looking at adding to your clothing wardrobe with consigned finds, I’d advise searching for designer label classics that won’t go out of style… it’s all about creating a well-rounded wardrobe, not collecting copious amounts of replaceable pieces.

When I’m not hunting consignment finds, my favourite place in the area to check out is Anthropologie. A power player in the retail game for everything from eclectic fashions to small batch beauty picks to intricate housewares, Anthro literally exudes its own style. While it’s easy to become beautifully distracted by the main floor finds here, I always make my way to the sale section first - I swear it’s often the best in the city! The store often has an additional sale on already reduced items, and over the years I have managed to score some of my favourite garments and decor finds at a fraction of what I originally spotted them for.

I admittedly have a soft spot for pretty stemware, and this shop is one of the few places in Vancouver that can rival the selection of Yaletown’s The Cross… you earn instant ‘hostess-with-the-mostess’ points when you add servingware as pretty as Anthro’s options into your party mix! I feel like the entire store is a complete experience in what beautiful living can be - from your home to your wardrobe to your lifestyle, this is the place to amp up your personal style (or find the perfect gift for even the hardest to shop for friend in your life).

When I’m shopping for decor - whether for my own ever-changing abode or for those of my clients, I have a few must-see shops that I frequent; one sure stop on my list is always West Elm. With an approachable, modern-comfort aesthetic, the store carries almost every item you need to set up a stylish space. In the main store, the lineup includes stellar basics with a twist for dishes & stemware, soft furnishings, lighting and all the textiles and accessories you could hope for; the secondary shop (just two doors down) specializes in affordable luxury for the bedroom and bathroom - think linen sheets, faux furs and chic bathroom accessories you didn’t even know you needed, but definitely do.

I like to shop with West Elm for beautiful staple pieces when designing a space (they have nailed their subtly stunning neutrals for the larger finds) , and then I hit up smaller independent and consignment shops for the finishing details - this way every room has it’s own personality and remains authentic to the people who will enjoy it. One of my favourite finds with West Elm is seating: my current obsessions are the velvet dining chairs in a feminine palette and camel toned leather sofas (full disclosure: I often pop into the store just to sit and enjoy this couch!).

When you move into a new neighbourhood, one of the first places you need to discover is your local grocer. Joining the South Granville community has introduced me to the luxury of having a fine foods shop just a stone’s throw away from home; Meindhardt has been a neighbourhood staple for over two decades, offering it’s customers exclusive finds for probably the best olive oil selection in Vancouver and a variety of gourmet food items. While I admittedly still trek to larger grocery stores with a little less-luxury pricepoints for my major shops and the basic items for home, I head to Meinhardt when I’m after a special item or gourmet dessert when entertaining (I love to host, and including some of the finer finds from this shop into your menu definitely adds an elevated element to a dinner party). It’s also a great spot to find ultra fresh produce and herbs, and offers a beautiful selection of floral arrangements - one of my personal splurges is to treat myself to a bouquet of flowers once a week!

Another major factor in feeling at home in your neighbourhood is finding your local drug store; having a go-to close to home for those last minute TP outages is essential! Not just your traditional pharmacy (although it does have an extended pharmaceutical section), Shoppers Drug Mart has always been my top choice for the home essentials: from cleaning products (including some enviro-friendly options!) to vitamins & medicine to toiletries, this is literally my one-stop-shop for the basics.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of having a Shoppers so close to home is the lineup of luxury brand cosmetics they offer within the Beauty Boutique; while I love the entire experience of shopping for my makeup at Sephora, I absolutely appreciate the convenience of being able to find my favourite brands so close to home with Shoppers Drug Mart. I’m a major advocate for cruelty-free products, and almost my entire makeup kit is comprised of Benefit Cosmetics; while I was drawn to the brand based on its animal-friendly approach, I’ve come to discover that their products ultimately provide the best results for my needs. I’m not one for wearing elaborate makeup trends, but nailing the basics for my everyday look is essential. My makeup bag must-have’s include the Hoola Quickie Contour Stick (it goes on like a cream stick, but has a powder finish that I’m obsessed with!), the Watt’s Up highlighting stick which makes soft-focus highlighting foolproof, and the Galifornina blush that gives the perfect sun-kissed flush to my cheeks that lets me pretend I just basked in a little of that Cali sunshine. Also, can I just add how much I love that Benefit has partnered with local beauty blogger Allana Davidson for their latest campain?! Love seeing Canadian boss babes killing it!

South Granville has so many fantastic spots to shop, dine and explore… too may for just one post! Stay tuned for Shop My Neighbourhood part two, where I’ll share the rest of my favourite spots for daily living, dining and - of course - Happy Hour-ing!

THE ART OF DISTRESSING: A DENIM DIY WITH CTV MORNING LIVE

I  don't know about you, but my go-to picks when choosing what to put on in the morning always seem to fall back on the pieces that look I've loved them and lived in them for years. (Actually, I tend to keep my wardrobe faves for a long time, so chances are I actually have been loving them for years, but that's besides the point). I like to feel at home in my clothes, to wear pieces that look effortless, so the distressed denim look is well aligned with my personal style. 

Earlier this week I joined my favourite crew over at CTV Morning Live to chat about my top tips for recreating the trend at home; in preparation for the segment, I tried and tested a few researched methods as well as a few different garment options to see what works best for me. I realized quickly that working on my super stretchy skinny jeans  was more of a challenge than I was looking for - the white 'weft' threads with stretch are much more prone to breakage from rubbing than with traditional denim - so I opted to work on a heavier fabric. My standard denim Talula jacket from Aritzia - which in truth has lived in my closet for a few years now without ever seeing the action it deserves because I felt it was missing a little authenticity - became the perfect subject for my DIY distressing adventures.

Once I had my project piece in hand, I had to decide what type of distressed look(s) I wanted to  create and thus, which tools I would need to get going. After some serious Pinterest-ing, I gathered up the top-rated tricks of the trade - some I expected, like a pair of sewing scissors, a stitch ripper and a mat to cut on; however, some of the recommended items took me by surprise: namely tweezers, a lemon zester and a foot loofah (seriously?!). Other suggested tools were tailors chalk, a measuring tape and a sharp blade (which I ended up preferring over the scissors).

With your tools in order, the first step to a successful distress is to decide placement and style of 'wear' you're looking to achieve. To really figure where I wanted to distress my jacket, I borrowed a coveted one from my bestie and observed the aesthetic of it's natural wear marks to copy on my own garment. Just to be extra sure (as the saying goes: measure twice, cut once) I tried on my jacket and used the tailors chalk to mark out exact placement.

I started with the elbows, as it's the easiest place to achieve the worn-to-death look I was after. Also, it's the area requiring the largest amount of wear and tear, which meant it would be the base of the overall look, with the rest being detail work. Once I marked out where I wanted to start, I opted for the blade to make my initial cuts; I could have also used the scissors, but I found that I had more control over the size and delicacy of the slices using a handheld blade. For the cutting stage, it was suggested to insert a rolled up magazine into the sleeve (or pant leg, should you be distressing the knees of jeans) to avoid slicing through to the other side of the garment. I chose not to use the magazine because while it was smart in theory, I found that it made cutting with precision a little tricky.

Once all my major cuts were in place (note: I cut across the fabric, not down the length of it) it was time to employ the two most curious of the tools - the zester and the loofah. At the opening of the cut edges, I used these two tools to fray the threads apart and create some roughness around the clean slices; this not only created a little authenticity to the cuts, but also freed up the thread edges for the next step.

I found this next step to be the most finicky of all the stages of distressing; using the tweezers on the now-frayed cut edges, the trick is to carefully pull the blue 'warp' threads out from their weave within the white cross-threads - this part was easiest between two cuts as both thread ends are now already cut free from the garment. The result of this stage is the probably the most common of the distressed looks - a worn out opening left slightly covered by the white fabric threads.

With the elbow patches now complete, it was time to master the details that finish off the overall effect. While the elbows are a natural choice for distressing, choosing the more intricate areas to break down becomes a little more specific. After re-scrutininzing by BFF's jacket that I love so much (and a lifetime of thrifting on the hunt for the perfect lived-in denim jacket), I chose a few key areas that reflect the natural distress of a well-loved piece. 

Using a stitch ripper to create the tears rather than the blade (in smaller areas I wasn't looking to create full fledged holes, but rather broken threads to show the 'wear'. I worked on the cuffs of the sleeves, the edges of the pockets and a few buttonholes, the lapels and collar points and, finally, the back of the neck at the collar scruff. Once I tore the threads, I once again reached for the zester to soften the rips and create an aged effect to the surrounding areas. 

After I was done with the ripping and softening of the sliced edges, the final distressing step was to pick a few areas to just lightly rub... not to make holes, but rather just to give the effect of the area being a little worn in. I targeted under the arms, along the body sides and just before the side pocket inserts as what I thought to be most likely to get natural wear and tear. The loofah was the most effective at rubbing the fibres without tearing them, although the interior designer in me could see a rough sandpaper working beautifully as well. 

After a quick cycle in the wash to remove the excess fibre fluff from the zester/ loofah action and to soften the tips of the torn threads -voila! I had successfully recreated the jacket I had spent years hunting down - the most perfectly worn-in, looks like it's been loved forever, distressed denim jacket. Happy dances all around. 

 

 

THE BEAUTY OF DESIGNING INTERIORS WITH HIGH END FASHION HOUSES

Interior design and fashion trends have always been intertwined, from colour schemes to prints and patterns, to overall style; many decor musts-have’s have been inspired by high end runway looks, and it continues to be a stellar way to transition personal style to the home. 

Recently, some big names in the fashion world have become not only influencers, but destinations, for Vancouver’s interior design scene - and we are seeing everything from polished classics to the bold & brazen take over our city’s hottest looks for the home. In 2014 the highly publicized opening of the Verace Home store took to the streets of Gastown, bringing us some of the most lavish and fashion-forward decor that we’ve seen in the city. The brand, best known for over the top elaborate fashions, offers everything one might need to create an opulent home: from exquisite furnishings to tableware & decor accessories to lighting and even wallpaper. While some have observed that the neighbourhood was an unexpected choice for the brands first home retail boutique (the location previously housed deLuxe Junk consignment for over three decades), Versace Home has continued to thrive within our high end decor market.

Continuing the trend of luxury brands branching into beautiful interiors, one of my  personal favourite labels has just debuted their home collection… and it’s not surprisingly, stunning. In November, Tiffany & Co. announced the launch of their home and accessories line, which includes lifestyle accessories and decorative pieces for the polished home. With a fashion-focused influence, the Tiffany Home & Accessories Collection brings bold colour blocking and geometric patterns to the line, finished with the classic Tiffany & Co. elegance that brings an element of luxury, home. The inspiration behind the collection was the notion that beautiful things should not be limited to special occasions; “I think what makes the collection unique is that it incorporates the best quality, craftsmanship and design with a level of functionality that allows you to use these things every day,” says Reed Krakoff, chief artistic officer at Tiffany & Co.. 

Vancouver’s decor scene is not a surprising choice for these labels to join; with longstanding luxury interior retailers like Atkinson’s Home and Provide Home offering exquisite furnishings and home accessories to our market for years, the city has shown not only the interest but the affluence to support high end retail for the home. 

Atkinson's, a South Granville luxury destination for 35 years, offers high-end European decor, tableware, bed linens, and gifts for discerning Vancouverites. Known not only for their luxury goods, but equally for their top tier customer service, the second generation family business continues to evolve with our city, bringing both modern design and old-world global brands to our interiors.

Provide Home, which recently relocated to Vancouver’s Armoury district, is a go-to for both designers and a design-savvy clientele for a curated collection of high end decor lines. With each object of distinct elegance, the boutique brings our city the best of decor from around the globe, as well as our very own streets - it notably the best destination for local luxury designers, including Martha Sturdy. and Barter.

It appears that we are set to see more fashion influence on the Vancouver decor scene - signage is up on the corner of Pender and Hamilton indicating that Fendi Casa (the furniture and decor arm of high end fashion house, Fendi) and Bentley Home is soon to open in the heritage building where the two streets intersect. With Fendi owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Bentley renowned for its luxury vehicles, it will be a sight to see what the boutique brings to our city.