3 ways to set your thanksgiving table

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are rolling in and it kicks off with Thanksgiving here in Canada. One of the things I love is holiday entertaining, bringing family and friends together around a table of good food is one of my favourite things to do, not to mention the fun of setting the table. We prepared a few ideas for you to get the creative juices flowing and inspire you for the weekend festivities. Enjoy!

Nyla Free Designs, Thanksgiving table settings

A casual approach with textures and warmth.

1. The Saturday Brunch – mix natural materials with a neutral palette and you’ve got a stylish setting perfect for a casual get together.

Nyla Free Designs, Thanksgiving table settings

A traditional and formal setting.

2. The Sunday Dinner – a more formal setting mixing texture and festive pattern alongside brass accents is sure to impress your Sunday guests.

Nyla Free Designs, Thanksgiving table settings

A bold and graphic setting of black, white and brass.

3. The Monday Feast – get bold and graphic with the formality of black and white, mixed with pretty glass and brass. Yes please!

{insert Turkey coma here}


how to layer carpets

One of my favourite ways to add texture and interest to a room is to layer area carpets. It’s an unexpected addition and one that seems to surprise most as I learned on the set of Breakfast Television. Here are a few great tips:

1. Start big: Fill your room with the largest possible base layer.

2. Go flat: The bottom layer should be a flat or tight weave. You’ll be adding at least one other layer so starting thin ensures the thickness doesn’t reach trip-able proportions.

3. Texturize: Texture on texture is a great approach. Contrast shag with a woven jute to add warmth and visual interest.

4. Add impact: With the base layer neutral and natural, take your next layer up a notch by adding colour and pattern, or both!

5. Go bold: Layer pattern on pattern for a “collector’s” feel to your space. Combine similar style area carpets with complimentary colour schemes for high level interest and impact.

Overall, have fun and take risks. If you’ve found the perfect area carpet or a small work of art, but the overall size is too small or it’s the size you can afford, layering is a great way to work it into your space.

Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,



6 ways to update your bedroom

Updating a space from top to bottom is not always an option. Perfectly good furniture is hard to justify changing it even if it is a little outdated or no longer the look you’re after. Look passed the larger pieces and into changing smaller areas for BIG impact. Here are six ways to update your bedroom without breaking the bank: ways to change your bedroom

1. Add visual interest with a graphic duvet.

2. Coloured or patterned sheets are a subtle way of bringing new life to a room.

3. If a ceiling fixture exists, replace with a fabric shade or a light with an interesting shape. Bedside tables lamps are also worth replacing.

4. A statement pillow is always worth the investment.

5. Drapery, although likely the most expensive, is a game changer and ultimately one with the largest impact.

6. If space (and budget) permit, adding an upholstered piece of furniture such as a bench, chair or chaise to a bedroom is a wonderful way to personalize and warm up the room.

Source guide: duvet I sheets I lighting I pillow I drapery I chair

Nyla Free Designs Inc. is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs Inc. also offers an online design service to Canadian clients through Design in a Box.


diy: chalkboard mini fridge

I used to be far more into “DIY’s” (insert *before kids* here), and now it is far more limited as the perceived time and energy crushes my motivation. While the thought of it is great and always inspiring, the getting it done part is where I struggle for success. I do love making things and the feeling of accomplishment is truly so great.

When I moved into my new office space I quickly realized I would need a little fridge. I had left a space open for such a purchase however I was not keen on having a typical stainless front appliance in my school house style office.

I decided to take on the DIY of painting the front of it with chalkboard paint. After procrastinating for weeks, I received a call about photographing my office which of course lit a fire under my butt to get it done.

The longest part was waiting for the paint to dry so to speak, and all in all it was so simple, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. Isn’t that always how it goes?

Here’s the before: chalkboard fridge before diy

Sandpaper, painters tape, metal primer, paint brushes, rollers and trays. I purchased all of mine at Canadian Tire. chalkboard fridge supplies diy chalkboard fridge in progress diy Step 1: Ensure the surface is clean
Step 2: Prepare the surface for the primer by sanding all areas with a medium grit sandpaper.
Step 3: Mask off any areas you do not wish to cover with chalkboard paint.
Step 4: Apply 2 coats of primer with a brush, allowing to dry for approximately 12 hours between each coat. Apply as even as possible and ensure all areas have been covered. Note: the primer is much runnier than expected and goes on quite thin. chalkboard fridge primed diy Step 5: Apply chalkboard paint with a small roller brush for even application. After the first coat it may look messy and uneven. Not to worry, each coat you apply will offer more coverage and eventually be a solid chalkboard surface.
Step 6: Allow 24hrs between coats. Apply as many coats as necessary to achieve a smooth finish.
Step 7: Once completely dry, prime the surface with a thin layer of chalk by rubbing a lightly chalk dusted brush all over the surface. This will make erasing and re-creating on your board easier.
Step 8: Let your creative juices flow with drawings, text or both! chalkboard fridge after diy Ta-da! It turned out great. So pleased with the results.

‘After’ photo taken by Lori Andrews.

Nyla Free Designs Inc. is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs Inc. also offers an online design service to Canadian clients through Design in a Box.



how to: accessorize a coffee table

At one point the only accessory we had on our coffee table was a bumper pad around it to keep little ones safe from bumping their head on the glass. Coffee tables are a multi-purpose piece of furniture offering a surface for beverages, feet and at the same time a display for special books, ornaments and occasionally flowers. I was recently called in to work my magic with the finishing touches in several areas of a clients home. I snapped some quick shots (not styled to perfection) but with them wanted to offer some tips when selecting and placing accessories on your coffee table.

We started with a clean slate of a massive coffee table, 66″ square to be exact. Many accessories are required to not only fill, but play around with in order to achieve the best look. We wanted to keep a good amount of open space on the perimeter of the table because of wandering hands from the little ones in the family. There’s no need to keep your table bare when kids are present. Wise choices and careful selections will keep everyone in the house happy.

Because it’s a dark table, I started with lighter accessories on the bottom, layering white and coloured items together. I mixed shapes and textures, colour and pattern in a subtle and cohesive way. Notice the five white items (tray, box, large vessel, striped vase and shell), all different, yet work in harmony together. Boxes and canisters add ‘secret’ storage, while trays are both functional and beautiful.

Depending on the size of your table, books are a great source of conversation and a subtle way to share your family’s interests. Vases, also a functional and beautiful item, should look nice with and without flowers. Empty, clear glass vases are not the ideal accessory for your table. Choose ceramic, porcelain or coloured glass so the beauty of them stands alone.

Coffee table accessories will change often according to season, holidays and your stage of life so don’t take it too seriously and have fun with it!

Nyla Free Designs is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs also offers an online design service through Design in a Box.


how to: solve a pillow problem

This may be a touchy subject for some of you. I get it. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s almost like therapy. People are unhappy with a certain room so what do they go out and buy? You guessed it, PILLOWS. Pillows are expected to work some kind of miracle and bring peace and harmony to a room. They can, and they will, but not before approaching other issues and areas.

If you’re room is in need of a pick-me-up, pillows are probably not the best place to start your purchasing. Like all the ‘P’s’? PLEASE. Save yourself a pile of money and do not purchase pillows until plans are in place.

Pillow points to ponder:

1. Resist the urge to purchase pillows in an effort to fix a tired room. If you are happy with the entire room and would like to change up the pillows. Go for it. You have my permission, and you can ignore points two through five.

2. Get a game plan. A designer will help you put this together from the space planing and organizing the furniture layout, right through to final touches like accessories which include, you guessed it, pillows! Gathering your larger items first will give you the basis for selecting the most beautiful pillows for your space.

3. The styling stage is one of the very last items on the list of to-do’s during the process of working with a designer. That’s when the pillows come into play. Even if you are not working with a designer, may I suggest you use this same approach?

4. Think of pillows as jewels for furniture. They are the finishing touches. (See point #3). Using a pillow as a jumping off point and inspiration for a room can be done, but do approach with caution. Best results yielded by deferring to a professional designer.

5. Pillows are often expensive, and I mean a few hundred dollars expensive. Each. Yes, that’s right, each. So please protect your pennies and purchase pillows towards the end of your project to save excess pillows from piling up :)

Nyla Free Designs is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs also offers an online design service through Design in a Box.






how to: arranging pillows

After receiving a comment on my May/June Dabble Mag Reality Check column on bedding about how best to organize the pillows on a bed, I thought I would post a blog about it in order to answer the question and provide some images for inspiration.

Pillows are not only functional but also decorative and regardless of your style they are an important part of ones bed. Some like many pillows, others only a few. Whatever your preference, here are some ideas and tips to get you on your way to putting the finishing touches on your bedroom.

Symmetry is the most popular way to organize pillows and also the one that makes the most sense. To me, including your pillow cases with your ensemble is really important. They would typically match your sheets and compliment the scheme and besides, who wants to put these away everyday?

Tuck your pillow cases at the back of the pile so that they’re there, but don’t take center stage. Next, layer your shams, which may or may not match your duvet cover. Most bedding is sold as separates nowadays which gives you the option of mixing and matching. Front and center is a pair of accent pillows that complete the look. This is an easy and simple way to dress a king size bed. For a queen, use queen or standard pillow cases and shames, and slightly smaller accent pillows.

The queen bed above, again shows pillow cases at the back with euro shams and accent pillows in front. Another very simple approach to dressing a bed. Colour, pattern and texture will add the interest. For a king bed use king pillow cases, three euro shams and three accent cushions.

If you’re not a fan of too many pillows whether it be for the look or maintenance, this option is for you. A set of pillow cases, a set of shams and your done. This works the same way if you have a king size bed.

Like to pile them on? Or perhaps you sleep with several pillows. Start with the euro pillows at the back. Next layer your sleeping pillows one in front of the other. If you only sleep with one set of pillows then add another set of shams. Finally the accent cushions offset in front. For a king bed you’ll require 3 euro pillows, king pillow cases and 2 accent pillows.

Another simple approach, and one that I’m quite fond of is stacking pillows. Sleeping pillows and shams stacked on top of each other with an accent layered in front for a contrast in colour or texture as well as dimension is quick to put together as you’re rushing out the door.

Lastly, if you want to go against structure and have a little fun. Mix up the colours, patterns, textures and sizes of complimentary pillows. You can see symmetry is still present without the formal approach. It’s casual, relaxed and has an ere of confidence that says anything goes. Perhaps the most daring of the options yet one that I think offers a fabulous result.

There are no hard and fast rules for organizing pillows, so have fun with it. Mix it up or keep it simple. Most importantly consider the look you want as well as the maintenance of putting it all together. Having a completed space includes a bed that is made and I can guarantee that making your bed, fitted with your beautiful bedding and pillows will have a positive impact on your day :)

Images sources: 1 & 2 House and Home, 3  4 & 5 House Beautiful 6 The Marion House Book


how to: shop at homesense

When it comes to your home, everyone loves a good deal and you can find some great ones at Homesense. The problem is it can be overwhelming and a bit of pressure with that lurking thought that if you don’t grab that fabulous item now… it may be gone. So you throw it in your cart because you love it! You’re not exactly sure where it will go in your home, but who cares! If you don’t take it now someone else will, and you just can’t imagine your life without it.

Believe me, I’ve fallen into this trap a time or two. It’s not only a waste of time and money, it can lead to decorating frustration. And who wants that? So with this in mind, I have put together a few tips to help you scout through the aisles of temptation and make smarter purchases.


Just like when we grocery shop, this rule applies in other areas as well. We always spend more when we don’t have a list to keep us focused. List the areas you’re looking for according to room and this will help keep you organized while you shop.


Whether you’re shopping for accessories or an area rug, measure the space before you leave the house. Take a good sized tape measure with you so you can properly measure furniture, art work etc. That way you’re not guessing, only to bring it home and find that it doesn’t fit.


Find the perfect item but can’t take it home that day? Pay for it! If you put it on hold, a tag will go on the piece that is easily removed by someone else who falls in love with your treasure. Paying for it in full means they will set it aside so no one else can snatch it up. People can be ruthless when they find something they have to have, so take this advice from someone who lost a beautiful chair because I put it on hold.


With time on your side you will be able to re-visit every aisle. There’s always lots to see and you may have missed something the first time around. We also tend to make impulse purchases when we’re pressed for time rather than thinking things through.


Talk to the staff and find out when they receive their shipments. If stock arrives Thursday to be on the floor for Friday and you go on Monday, chances are you’ve missed out on some great finds. Also, there are certain Homesense stores that are classified as ‘premium’ stores and they receive better product than other stores. Find out if you have that special store in your city and make an effort to visit that one in particular. (for Calgary shoppers, our premium store is the Homesense at Market Mall)


Magazines are an essential resource for finding great items. Based on the stock coming and going so fast at Homesense, don’t count on anything you’ve seen in a magazine actually being there. Use it as a guide and proof that you can find some fabulous pieces. Magazines print so far in advance that it’s not worth getting your hopes up!


If you do see something that you absolutely love but are not sure where it will go, buy it. You never know until you try and you might just find the perfect spot for it. If it doesn’t work, be ruthless and make sure you return it. Your wallet and storage room will thank you.

Below are a few images I grabbed off the Homesense website showing some of the many wonderful items you can find in store.

I hope these ideas and suggestions will help you the next time you head to Homesense. (Many of these same rules can apply while shopping elsewhere.) It really is a great store with lots to offer. If you find the idea of this overwhelming, hire a designer or online service to help you pull it all together. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the process. You can reach me here.

Above all ~ have fun! Part of the excitement is the thrill of finding great things!