Tip Tuesday

Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book

Jun 19, 2018

As designers today, our resource libraries no longer consist of design books and subscriptions to decorating magazines. We have access to a number of great online tools including design sites, blogs and instagram accounts that we turn to for inspiration.

And while we don’t claim to be book critics, we couldn’t resist sharing this amazing find with all of you. Jeannie first found this book at the Costco in Palm Springs. It is a re-release of the original 1960’s decorating classic, which back in the day was considered the “bible” for injecting style in to American homes. We love the mid-century theme of the book, a look that still remains a classic today. And while a few of the tips involve matching patterned wallpaper and fabrics in a living room or quirky naval and cowboy themed wallpaper, most of the decorating rules outlined in this book still hold true today. Some of our favorite tips include:

“What’s your family’s style preference?”

The writers of the book offer you two choices - Traditional or Contemporary. Today there are many more decorating styles to choose from and while we encourage our clients to not get hung up on a particular “style”, we agree that it is important to think about the look or feel you want to incorporate in to your own space. We also love that they make it a question for the whole family – at Sturdy Design, we strongly believe that a home should tell a story about all the people living in it.

“Area rugs define space with colour”

Area rugs can still be used to separate one area from another and are the perfect way to add warmth and colour to a room. We particularly like how the rug in this photo is sized appropriately to allow all the furniture pieces to sit on it.

“When and where to use accessories”

These are three rules we still use when recommending and sourcing accessories for our own clients and particularly like the reference to using accessories to inject personality in to a space and make it “truly yours”!

If you’re a design and decorating enthusiast or just want a fun book for your coffee table, we encourage you to get a copy of your own. We have copies available for sale at our studio – email us to reserve one today!

Our Design Community

Apr 1, 2018

When we’re not busy with client meetings, site visits and working on projects, we love the opportunity to get out and visit with some of our supplier partners.
Interiors to Inspire

Jennifer & Melissa – the perfect example of when a friendship becomes a thriving and successful business! Both artists, they came up with the idea for ITI after spending time working alongside Jennifer’s mom in Spokane where she ran a studio and hosted classes. Their plan was do the same here in Calgary, but once their work became known they were called upon to create finishes for designers, restaurants and retail spaces in the city.

The process by which these beautiful treatments are created is particularly awe-inspiring. Typically clients will bring pictures or samples of wallpaper of a look that they like and from there a finish is created. Sample boards are done up for clients– but its once the material starts going up on the wall that’s when the magic happens. It never ends up looking like that original wallpaper swatch – the finished product is a one of a kind stunning piece of art.

At SDC we feel that every home should tell the story of the people living in it. And what better way to customize your space and inject some of your own personality then with a beautiful finish from the talented team at ITI.

Check them out @interiorstoinspire or www.interiorstoinspire.com

Jun 6, 2017

Area Rugs 101

Area rugs can be one of the most difficult items to select when designing a space. The right one can be the perfect finishing touch to a room while the wrong one can make that same room feel awkward or incomplete. Through the years we've learned a great deal about selecting the perfect rug and have narrowed it down to three key elements.


Before thinking about size and material, colour has to be the starting point. If you already have a lot of colour and pattern going on in the furniture and fabrics in the room, it is best to stick with a single colour rug, whether neutral or in a shade that complements your existing furnishings. If you are set on a patterned rug with lots of colour, we advise you to choose it first and then add furniture and accessories afterwards.


This is an often overlooked yet important aspect when choosing a rug! A combination of textures adds warmth and richness to a room and the easiest way to achieve that is by paying attention to the rug. If your seating is in a soft fabric like velvet or microfibre, a rug with a very low pile like sisal is a great complement. In contrast, a sleek leather sofa looks best paired with something with a lush deep pile.


This is the part in the rug-choosing game where there are rules and it is best to follow them.

A rug should fit the size of your seating area and be as large as possible within it. While we like seeing all the furniture on the rug in a living or family room, front legs only is a good compromise. In a dining room, size is particularly important as you want to be able to pull the chairs back and still have them sitting on the rug, otherwise you'll always be struggling to lift the chairs on and off. We also love rugs in bedrooms, particularly those with hard flooring surfaces. This is a great way to warm up a room and feels cozy under foot. A rug pulled halfway under the bed as shown here is the ideal installation for a bedroom.

Rug shopping can be challenging especially when you are looking for something specific for your space. Our go-to retailers for area rugs include CDL Flooring and Boft Fine Rugs. CDL carries a beautiful selection of designer rugs including Kate Spade and can do custom rugs for those hard to size rooms. For a more luxurious option, Boft specializes in Persian and Oriental rugs and has a number of options from traditional to modern.

Happy shopping!

The Sturdy Design Co. team

Mar 20, 2017

Hello Spring!

Spring has always been the perfect time to de-clutter your home and get rid of all those unwanted and unused items. At Sturdy Design Co. we think the arrival of a new season, sunshine and the hopes of seeing green is also the right time to refresh your home. De-cluttering and décor go hand in hand and we’re here to give you some helpful tips on how to edit your spaces and give them a fresh new look!


Bathrooms are one space that can get cluttered quickly and easily. All the bottles, potions, electric toothbrushes and tissues can pile up and make your countertop look like an aisle in the drugstore. One tip to limit the countertop clutter is to remove any items that aren’t used daily and stash them away in a drawer or cupboard.

We love using trays as a way to group stray items and to add visual interest to a table, vanity or dresser. A beautiful wood, mirrored or marble tray with some glass jars on your vanity can hold jewelry, watches, perfume bottles and small beauty items. The addition of a pretty candle or a tiny bouquet of fresh flowers takes it from a catch-all to a pretty bathroom vignette.


This is the room where we tend to gather all those items that have sentimental value but may not work in main living areas. Those special items can quickly accumulate and next thing you know your dresser or nightstand is piled high with Polaroid photos and holiday trinkets. It can be hard to edit personal items, but try to remove anything that has lost its meaning or edit it down to small collection of items and put the others away in a drawer or box.

We used these wheeled baskets from Pottery Barn in a clients master bedroom to store photos, albums and family treasures. Not only are they a beautiful accessory to any room, they are the perfect place to store those special items that you want easy access to.


Through the winter, our beds and sofas are piled high with cozy faux fur or velvet pillows and chenille and heavy knit throw blankets. The arrival of spring is time to put those heavy linens away and bring in some fresh new pieces.

Light cotton or acrylic knit throws in fresh brights or soft pastels together with decorative pillows in a fun floral or botanical pattern will work to brighten up the space and bring the beauty of spring in to your home! We’re loving the new floral textiles trending right now.

Add some green!

The easiest way to incorporate this years “Pantone Colour of the Year” is with a plant! Not only do they add a perfect pop of colour to any space, they also increase oxygen levels in a room and help to reduce stress. And while we anxiously wait to see green outside, we can enjoy the beauty of something natural inside right now.

The fiddleleaf fig was the “it” plant of 2016 and continues to be a stylish and popular option. We like it because it makes a statement in a room and can work with any style of décor. We also love seeing the resurgence of ferns placed in a wood or metal plant stands as well as tropical plants like Birds of Paradise and Banana Trees in large concrete or sleek black pots.

Even if you're not yet motivated to purge your house or overhaul your decor, applying just a couple of these decorating tips will help to bring some freshness to your space and get you prepared for the season ahead!

Happy Spring,

The Sturdy Design Co. Team

Our favourite holiday treats!

Dec 12, 2016

Sharing your favourite Christmas baking with friends, co-workers and neighbours is a wonderful way to say Happy Holidays! We’re excited to

share some recipes of our own favourite holiday goodies!

Jeannie’s Family Sugar Cookies

This recipe is Jeannie’s Moms own and their family has been baking and decorating them for years!

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla.

Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Combine in to a ball and roll out in to thickness of a pie crust on lightly floured surface. Cut in to 3” rounds or with shaped cookie cutters.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.


  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp water or milk
  • Food colouring

Beat all ingredients together in a bowl, adding more icing sugar or water to achieve proper consistency. Tint desired colours and pipe designs on cookies.

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies

Carrie is our resident baker and is always trying different recipes to find the perfect holiday treat! Lucky for us, she always brings some in to the office to share.

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 20 chocolate covered caramels (Rolo or Milk Duds)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Stir flour with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter with brown sugar and fresh ginger in a large bowl using electric mixer until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in molasses.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Stir in chopped dark chocolate. Form dough in to a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or overnight. Roll chilled dough into 1 1/2" diameter balls. Push one caramel in to centre of each ball, seal and reshape. Roll in granulated sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate 20 more minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange dough balls on parchment about 1" apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry Jam Strips

These aren’t your typical Christmas cookie, but they are a favourite in Allison’s family so she wanted to share the recipe.

  • 1 cup margarine or butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup raspberry jam

Mix margarine, sugars, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking powder. (If dough is soft, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in to 8 equal parts. Shape each part into strip, 8 x 1 ½ inches, on ungreased cookie sheet. Make slight indentation down centre of each with handle of wooden spoon; fill with about 1 ½ teaspoons jam. Bake until edges are light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly. Drizzle with almond glaze. Cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces.


Beat 1 cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon almond extract and 2 to 3 teaspoons water until smooth and of desired consistency.

Pack your goodies in Chinese take out containers, festive tins or boxes, tie with ribbon and finish with some fresh winter greenery.

Happy baking,

Sturdy Design Co.