This week’s Fall Home Show in Toronto has an amazing roster of workshops featuring TV celebs like Bryan Baeumler, Janette Ewan, Scott McGillivray and Cheryl Torrenueva, above. When I saw the title of Cheryl’s talk, Luxe Living For Less, I knew I had to get her on the blog to share some of the secrets she’s used to such great effect on Colin & Justin’s Home Heist and before that on HGTV’s Rooms That Rock.
When Cheryl suggested we meet at HomeSense I was thrilled. I’ve been wanting to cover this national, discount decor emporium since I started styleNorth but frankly, every time I go to one of their stores I feel like the prices are cheap but so is the quality.
“You have to know what to look for,” advises Cheryl, who’s just as pretty and effervescent in person as she is on TV. She’s also refreshingly down-to-earth: “I grew up in Scarborough [a not-so-fashionable Toronto suburb],” she says, “so I know where I came from.”
Short of the store managers, nobody knows HomeSense better than my tour guide. Cheryl says she’s there at least once a week, two or three times if she’s shooting a season. “When we’re trying to finish off a space and we’ve blown the budget on all the big stuff, HomeSense is my go-to source because I don’t have $400 to spend on a lamp but I can manage $60, which is what this one costs. And a lot of my clients have kids and pets — if a HomeSense lamp gets knocked over and breaks, well, it’s not the end of the world.”
Cheryl says her overriding mandate is to find items that look expensive. Lacquer, crystal, great shapes, current patterns and colours, things that feel handmade as opposed to mass produced. And HomeSense stocks some serious name brands: “I’ve seen Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, even Missoni,” says the designer.
As we tour the Etobicoke outlet (one of Cheryl’s favorites along with Toronto’s Warden and Eglinton location) we spot luxurious Mongolian lamb cushions for $30 — “I’ve seen them elsewhere for $150″ — and a king-size Ralph Lauren duvet cover for $90, originally priced at $470.
Cheryl’s best advice? “Whenever you come to a place like this, always bring a plan. The prices are low so it’s easy to make impulse purchases then get home with a case of buyer’s remorse. Write down dimensions of pieces you’re looking for and try to stay focused on what it is you need.”
Of her five home senses, Cheryl relies most on her sight and touch — if the fabric feels cheap, forget about it. “I only buy down-filled pillows,” she says, “and I prefer natural fibers like cotton, linen and wool.”
She scoops up a fun, felt cushion ($40), below, that she’ll use in a Home Show booth she’s designing and working in for Future Shop. She also snags an architectural Brian Gluckstein vase that’s a bit scuffed up so we negotiate an additional 10 per cent off the sale price. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If you want to attend Cheryl’s Home Show workshops sign-up soon — one of her sessions is already at capacity. My sessions about buying and displaying vintage furnishings are slated for October 2 at 5 pm and October 3 at 11 am.
To win a pair of Home Show passes be one of the first 10 people to leave a comment below (I’ll email you for your mailing address and post the tickets today). The Fall Home Show runs October 1 – 4 at Toronto’s Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place.