Pick: Colour In everything, from Nienkamper's hot pink sofa to the delicious candy colours of handmade art glass, both from Murano in Italy and Canadians like Toronto's Jeff Goodman (left). As for your dining room walls, forget the whiter shades of pale, and go for Farrow & Ball's Refectory Red, a rich hue that will make you feel as though you've just moved into a country estate.
Pan: SUVs There can't possibly be a person in this country who is not fully aware of how nasty these bloated polluting road hogs are. Yet manufacturers keep making them bigger, and people keep signing away their paycheques to own them. Why? Seems the latest rationale is self-defence -- if you drive a normal car, you're apt to get the worst of any encounter. Isn't that the argument Americans use for owning handguns?
Pick: Canadian diamonds We know Canadians love diamonds, but now there's more incentive to treat yourself. A rush is going on in our North and mines are churning out ice of the highest grade. No wonder big brands like Birks (see left) and Tiffany & Co. have signed on. And unlike the notorious 'blood diamonds,' our gems are as untainted as the driven snow. What could be better than glamour with a conscience?
Pan: Burberry We were inspired to see the revival of the iconic Burberry plaid back in 2000. Even refreshed to see it refashioned into cheeky bikinis and ponchos in addition to the brand's signature trenchcoat. But this year, the plaid -- and all of its endless copycats -- took on a life of its own. Take note: When your dog gets in on a trend, it's over.
PICK: Canadiana From Manhattan to Milan, the fashion world worshipped this year at the shrine of Canadiana. Michael Kors made mukluks chic. Labels from Marni to Armani declared the tuque the ultimate anti-fashion fashion must-have. And the fur-trimmed parka took the runways by storm. PICK: Glamour Dressing like a woman has returned to vogue. So don that gown for New Year's and break out the fur stole. And illuminate those laugh lines with sparkly jewellery. PICK: Return of the classics The mantra "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" inspired designers both young and established this year. Their focus: the classics, with the tailored suit, the trenchcoat and peacoat being reimagined with new fabrics and updated cuts. PICK: Avril Lavigne After years of pop tarts pushing glitter and crop tops, the anti-Britney style of Napanee, Ont.-born Avril Lavigne is a breath of fresh fashion air. Call it "tomboy cool" or "nouveau punk," but just be relieved your 11-year-old wants a tie and not a tattoo. PICK: Lingerie With the fashion world loving the juxtaposition of hard and soft, the sweet nothings of the boudoir appeared alongside leather and goth. Toronto-based Khurana stands out for its irresistable colour mixes, retro references and innerwear-outerwear appeal. PICK: The real man Tom Ford, zeitgeist meister that he is, featured a hairy Samuel de Cubber as the face -- and body -- for Yves Saint Laurent's new M7 men's fragrance. Tired of the pretty boy, we're re-embracing the Boss: Bruce Springstein -- artist, sensitive father and real man. PICK: Gold Polishing its image in 2002, gold became the metal of choice for trendsetters such as Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen. The colour also proved its mettle as a strong neutral in everything from strappy sandals to eyeshadow. PICK: Denim The simple cloth that made Levi Strauss famous reached super-stardom this year, crafted into everything from hotpants to cocktail dresses. Its stellar turn was in low-slung -- but not too low -- stretch boot cuts at Old Navy. PICK: Belts No longer playing second fiddle to the handbag and the stiletto boot, the belt came back with a vengeance. At its most dramatic, it was wide and fringed and very rock 'n' roll or dripping with chain swags.
PAN: Caftans Yes, those caftans looked fabulous on the Yves Saint Laurent spring 2002 runway: dramatic flourishes of leopard and cheetah in black and tan. But in the real world? Without that tall, willowy model figure, most of us look more Mrs. Roper than magnificent. PAN: Big, big hair For too long, straight hair was the only hairstyle permitted. Now, wave and curls are back thanks to corkscrew-tressed celebs like Nicole Kidman. But big, coiffed and sprayed hair, like those eleborate do's that were spied in many a fall fashion magazine, should not be attempted at home. PAN: Botox parties Someone please tell us why otherwise intelligent women are choosing to inject a strain of botulism bacteria into their faces during social occasions. Is it for the free champagne? PAN: Celebrity designers Jennifer Lopez is beautiful. And yes, she can sing. But please, wearing Versace gowns, Manolo Blahnik sandals and killer jeans does not a designer make. Ditto a connoisseur of fragrance. The star's saccharine J.Lo perfume illustrates just why musicians and actors should stick to their day jobs. PAN: The ultra-low-rise jean Hip-hugging is one thing, but showing off your pubic bone is another. Whatever happened to leaving something to the imagination? PAN: Spray-on tans With designers trumpeting the jet-set look, the "I just got back from the Riviera" tan also returned to vogue in 2002. Kudos to New York designer Michael Kors for his luxe bronzing products, but we shake our collective fashion heads at those addicted to the new spray-on tanning booth where you stand to get air-brushed with your chosen shade of bronze. PAN: Stupid fragrances Tell the execs at Christian Dior that the life of a drug addict is not glamorous. Why else would the company see fit to name its latest fragrance Addict alongside images of a couture-clad princess partying it up? Runner-up in the stupid fragrance category is Capteur des rêves -- The Dream Catcher -- by Canada's own cosmetics queen Lise Watier. With its ads featuring a naked-but-for-his-loincloth aboriginal warrior, there's a whole range of reasons to be offended. PAN: Sweatpants Please, put on some real clothes. PAN: 'Ethnic' fashion Russian-inspired, Persian-inspired, Navajo-inspired, yes, but enough of the "ethnic" trend. Unless of course we start noting the "suburban white bread" look.
PICK: Home ergonomics Lightweight and designed to provide maximum efficiency for minimum effort, ergonomic tools are moving into the home. Everything from ice cream scoops to tape measures come with latex handles for easier gripping. Even paintbrushes are getting smarter -- like the new Rubbermaid brush with the "Sure Grip" handle, designed by Canadian Bryce Rutter. PICK: Light therapy Here in the great grey north, we know that good lighting makes for happier people. Whether it's a $25,000 household system or Ikea's whimsical lamps designed for kids, lighting is becoming more versatile and interactive. Our favourite: the Therapie light by Montreal's Snowlab -- it looks like a big canvas of glowing colour. PICK: Reclaimed wood Call it Flintstone chic. Huge beams are being rescued from 19th-century factories and fashioned into big, elemental pieces that proclaim their roots with cracks, fissures and even worm holes intact. PICK: The Kronan Swedish army bike A trio of Canadians came across this rugged, no-nonsense, one-speed bike in Sweden and decided they had to import it. Its attractions are immediately obvious to anyone tired of a hundred fussy gears. So what if you have to pedal a little harder? It's good for you. PICK: Board games Board games got a boost this year from the retro trend, with help from serious designers like Matt Carr and David Quan, who created this reversible chess/checkers board for Umbra. And it's more than just a passing fad: We've heard tell of family game nights, featuring old favourites such as Scrabble and new favourites such as Cranium. PICK: The Phaleonopsis orchid Yes, we know this exquisite plant appeared in at least a thousand magazine spreads this year, but we can't get enough. The epitome of simple elegance, the delicate-looking white Phaleonopsis is nowhere near as fussy as many of its relatives. We've even spotted them surviving in office cubicles. PICK: The Access Bath Kudos to Toronto's Centre for Studies in Aging at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre for creating a bathtub that is not only safer and easier to get into, but has such elegant lines it would be an asset in the hippest spa. PICK: The Candela rechargeable lamp Created by Vessel, a firm of two Canadian designers based in Boston, the Candela is a sleek battery-powered candle replacement that creates a warm illumination that lasts for hours. No more dripping wax or curtain fires. Vessel says it wants to see its products show up at yard sales in 30 years. So do we. Available at Caban. PICK: Cocktail culture From sleek chrome drink trolleys to chic little cocktail tables, the accoutrements of the swank life are back.
PAN: The wired bathroom You can't go anywhere today without hearing people talk about how overwhelmed they are by the complex demands of life. So why are we rushing to eliminate the last quiet place left to us? Designers now routinely include home entertainment systems in the bathroom, including sound systems and flat-screen TVs. They're also including telephones, so your boss can reach you anytime. We have one word for that: ewww. PAN: Couture candles We're not talking about those modest little tea lights you can buy from Ikea or the beeswax tapers you can get at the natural foods store for a few bucks. We're talking about the designer candle -- try $70 a pop for British fashion designer Matthew Williamson's votives. It's just so Ab Fab, darling. PAN: Room spray It seem the more unacceptable perfume becomes in public, the more people want to stink up their homes. A light floral might be a nice pick me up when you can't afford a dozen roses, but cookie dough room spray? Doesn't anyone bake any more? PAN: Martha Stewart The insider trading scandal, the tell-all biography, the plummeting stocks. The empress has no clothes. PAN: African wood What with environmental groups campaigning to save Indonesian teak, designers just go elsewhere. Thus a continent regularly menaced by famine provides the raw materials for the latest chi chi watering hole. And while suppliers may claim their wenge and African mahogany comes from "managed plantations," Greenpeace says much of it is illegally logged. PAN: River rock It takes millennia for water to smoothe the rough edges of a stone. River rock is as integral to the environment as the flora and fauna -- that's why many jurisdictions have laws preventing its removal. Too bad for those that don't: Their beaches are being emptied to make stone aggregate flooring and fill tacky fountains in homes across the continent. PAN: Supersized decor We've gone from industrial stoves and giant wine fridges to wall-sized TVs and 12-piece sectional sofas. Hasn't anyone heard monster homes are over? PAN: Overpowered showers The new hydra-headed shower units and giant rainshower heads look great. Trouble is, to get enough water pressure to get them to perform, homeowners are resorting to disabling the units' water-conservation unit, an environmental no-no. Stick to a single-head hand-held: It gets the job done just fine. PAN: The platform bed This minimalist "sleeping space," consisting of a mattress placed on a larger rectangle of some dark exotic wood, is a favourite among practitioners of Zen chic. But there is nothing enlightening about bashing your shins on the sharp edges in the middle of the night. Another example of aesthetics overriding common sense.