The Learner Observer

Hey friends! Last week you may have noticed a photo of a fabulously awesome green chair I posted on Instagram. 

Penney & Company Decorating 101

This fabulous piece is one of the seats at the first ever Decorating 101 Class hosted by Penney & Co. at Pineapple Street. Are you familiar with these names? Good. Then you know how awesome Michael Penney’s stores are. Not from the Durham Region in Ontario? Well then I feel sad for you because you’re missing out on some of Downtown Whitby’s best independent shops! 

I’m going to share a little recap of the best bits of info shared by Michael, and also show you some more of the amazing things available at Pineapple Street. Ready?

The Art of Mixing Old & New with Penney & Co.

 The topic for the first class was how to mix old and new. Something we all can relate to, because we all have old stuff lying around, am I right? So how do you mix that with potentially more modern pieces? Here are my top 5 things shared by Michael.


Find your signature style

Do this regardless of what other people say or do themselves. Find what you love, colours, textures, whatever. Think Jackie O and how she broke the mold with her big sunglasses and scarves on her head.

Decorating 101 with Penney & co

Old and new can bring the best out in one another

Think of how old pieces stand out in a museum with white walls and leucite boxes. You’re better able to appreciate colours, details and patina on the art because they’re next to very simple things. Your old pieces can stand out like art, too!

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Create balance through contrast

Think rough next to fine texture, small next to large-scale, old next to new pieces. Here Michael also talked about painting old pieces to give them a new life, and what that can do for your space in terms of adding colour to your home. Best quote of the night: “Don’t be worried about painting and just do it when your husband is away!”

Decorating 101 with penney & co 2

Loosen up the traditional with something natural

Using humbler fabrics like cotton, burlap or linen, raw wood and other natural elements can bring warmth to your space. Simple lamps can also loosen things up – think clear cylinder-like bases or simple white ones with plain shades next to an ornate sofa.


Decorating 101 with penney & co 7

Feel free to mix & match eras & a few wise words

60’s mod pieces can look great next to your modern ones because they both have clean lines. Look for similarities between the periods you want to mix & match so that they complement one another. Some extra tidbits: 

  • Blending wood tones does work in a room and all of the wood does not have to match. Natural tones naturally complement one another. 
  • Repeat colours in several rooms of your house in small scales. For example, if you have a lot of blues in your living room, bring blue into the dining room with small accessories, also in your kitchen and any other spaces your guests will see. It will make you home look like it goes together.

Decorating 101 with penney & co 5

I hope you were able to take a little something away from this post. Believe me when I tell you this is a very short summary of the hour we got to spend at Pineapple Street!

Decorating 101 with penney & co 6

Michael plans to keep these going, hopefully on a monthly basis, so look out for the next one if you’re in the area! You can get more info on his site, as well as by following him on Facebook!

The class was great, and I even met a few new people, which was great! Michael graciously talked to everyone that wanted to stop for a chat on the way out, which was lovely!

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I hope to see you at the next class because I am sure to be there!




  1. Reply

    Midsommarflicka aka. Elena

    September 22, 2014

    Oh, I love these guidelines… Like I always do, when I read some. ;)
    Maybe I just have to write them down to really remember them!

    • Reply


      September 25, 2014

      thank you! I feel like I should write them down too – and keep them somewhere I can see them!!

  2. Reply

    Julia at Home on 129 Acres

    September 26, 2014

    I love Michael Penney’s style. If only Whitby wasn’t so far away, I’d join you at the next class. My favourite tip is “using humbler fabrics like cotton, burlap or linen, raw wood and other natural elements can bring warmth to your space.” Since moving to the farm I’ve embraced the “humbler” side of my aesthetic.

    • Reply


      October 1, 2014

      He is pretty darn amazing! And I also loved that tip! Also wish you could join!!!

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