28 May 2014

create more space by putting the attic to use

Anyone who's been reading here for a while knows that I'm a big proponent of sustainable design - my definition of that being leaving a small footprint but also having a home that's functional and stylish. There are various ways to achieve this, depending on what's right for you at the time. It could include building and decorating with eco-chic products, or reusing and repurposing materials, or simply living small.

Small spaces can be organized and designed so that you don't have to sacrifice lifestyle and convenience. If you're feeling too cramped, think about how to expand your space. One potential solution? Move up to the attic. 

Here are some great examples of using attic space to create new rooms without adding on or building a whole new home. 

Fresh Home
Fresh Home
Coastal Living
Apartment Therapy
Kelly Deck Design
Lotta Agaton
Yes, slope roof lines can create challenges, but as you can see from these examples, they also create interesting spaces.  If you are lucky enough to have convertible attic space, what are you waiting for? 

25 May 2014

weekend vintage finds

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. We had a gloriously sunny and warm one in southern Ontario, and some of the design bloggers in the area were able to take in the Christie Antique Show, including me. I'm fortunate to live very close to this twice-a-year outdoor antique fair. There were wonderful vendors there, including some new ones this year. In addition to being able to meet in person with a couple of the design bloggers I admire, I was able to score a few decorative vintage pieces for my own home. Made for a wonderful day!

vintage dinnerware

These pretty ironstone Alfred Meakin dessert bowls were $6, and the silver cake server and wooden butter paddle were $4 each. 

vintage vignette

I spotted this other ironstone dish along with two small bottles to use as bud vases for $20 total (I snagged the apple blossoms and lilacs at the side of the road on the way home for free - don't tell!). The pearls are also vintage and picked up at the show for $3 each. 

Christie Antique Show

I thought this was interesting - a shoe size stamp, in my shoe size no less. A neat little accessory and conversation starter for the coffee table. I found it at a very cool booth with lots of old tools, drawer pulls, knobs, door hinges and hooks. If you are looking for these kinds of things, this vendor is also at the Aberfoyle Antique Market near Guelph on Sundays. 

Anyone else hunt down some interesting bargains at the show? If you missed it, make sure to attend the next one on September 6th. Have a great week everyone!

Check out some other 'finds' over at this lovely blog...

23 May 2014

find it: handmade items to create a healthy home

Etsy provides so many great handmade and vintage items that allow us to create a home that's not only stylish but also healthy. A healthy home is one that promotes well-being - physically, mentally and spiritually. That can mean decorating with organic and natural materials and fibres, using all-natural cleaning products, or simply creating a serene environment that allows you to relax and recharge. You can choose how far to go along the healthy home scale, and what's right for you and your family. Have fun with it - it feels great!

Take a look at my picks on Etsy to create a healthy and wholesome home.
natural organic home decor
PS - I'm proud to be an Etsy affiliate, which means I promote the products being sold on the site and in return I get a small portion of the sales on any products that my readers click through to and purchase from my links. It's a great way to support both craftspeople and bloggers. Thanks for your support!

20 May 2014

DIY lightbulb terrarium

The terrarium trend is big right now, and I love that homeowners are embracing bringing plants indoors - it improves air quality and reminds us of the beauty of the natural world. Here's a way to display succulents without consuming pricey new glass vessels:  repurpose your lightbulbs. Clear lightbulbs (preferably used ones that you are replacing) can be upcycled into beautiful hanging terrariums.

Use tinsnips to cut into the top of the aluminum end of the lightbulb. Wear glasses and gloves to protect yourself from tiny bits of glass that will break when taking out the inside of the bulb. I also suggest doing all of this inside a cardboard box so that it catches all of the small shards of glass and wire. Once the top of the bulb is cut off, use needlenose pliers to pinch the glass and wire. It will break and then you can dump it out into the box.

Next, wrap jute rope around the top and secure with hot glue. Leave one end long for hanging at the right height.

Finally, add sand, tiny pebbles and moss for air plants, and some soil for a mini-cactus or other succulent variety. Soak the plants in water for a while before inserting them into the bulbs using tweezers. Add a few drops or sprays of water now and then, and they will thrive.

I hung my three in a bunch over my upcycled nightstand in the bedroom using hooks. A bracket would also work well; I just used what I had on hand in my tool box.

Pretty easy right? A great way to re-use materials we would normally throw away instead of buying something new.

18 May 2014

Spring colour inspiration

Looking for colour inspiration for decorating? Look no further than the brilliant hues that nature provides every Spring. Think soft greens, yellows and pinks, mixed with white and sandy neutrals. Natural hues will always be fresh and on trend.

15 May 2014

home of the week - modern natural apartment

I wanted to share with you the renovation project by NYC Interior Design of a small apartment on the Upper East Side. This was a complete renovation and redesign, and what is interesting is that it is very sleek, modern and minimalist but with a natural and relaxing feel. The existing hardwood floors were refinished and other natural elements were introduced, like a rustic wood shelf in the entry, wood stools in the living room, leather stools in the kitchen, layered natural textiles and flowers. This small space is organized and serene, which makes it live large. Fantastic.

natural vignette

All images by NYC Interior Design.

11 May 2014

top eco-friendly alternatives to vinyl flooring

Last week, I wrote about keeping old vintage flooring in the bathroom. Well, some of us aren't lucky enough to have flooring that we can keep, as is the case with my parents, who have had to remove the tile in their bathroom in order to replace the tub and change the footprint of the room. They are looking for an inexpensive flooring material; vinyl is of course the cheapest and most readily available option. But beware cheap flooring. Here's why:

-Vinyl is made of PVC and off-gasses in your home. What you are breathing in can hurt your lungs, contribute to asthma and potentially lead to even more serious health conditions over a long exposure time.*

-All of that PVC creates a huge environmental impact, from manufacturing right through to disposal, since it is not recylcable and does not break down.

-It won't last as long as other more durable options, meaning over the long run it will cost you as much as other materials anyway.

* Let me state that the vinyl industry is working on improvements to the material that will lessen both the health and environmental impacts, so hopefully good things are on their way. By doing some research I did find that Armstrong has come out with a vinyl flooring product that emits lower VOCs, so that is a step in the right direction.
So what are the most inexpensive and easy alternatives to vinyl flooring? 

1. Cork. It comes from a rapidly renewable source, is sustainable and comfortable underfoot, and can easily be installed as a click-together floating floor or as glued-down tiles. It is naturally insulating, so would be warm on the tootsies, and it is impermeable to liquid. Perfect for the bathroom. I wrote more about using cork here. Stylish options like wood and marble looks can be found at hardware and flooring stores, and also online.  Cost: $3-12 per sqft.

                                           Modern Bathroom by Toronto Photographers Peter A. Sellar - Architectural Photographer

2. Linoleum. Yep, this is the stuff that is under three other layers of flooring in houses dating back into the 19th and early half of the 20th centuries. It's making a comeback. Made from linseed oil, powdered cork, powdered wood, limestone, jute and pine, lineoleum is catching on as a sustainable flooring option. The raw materials are rapidly renewable, and it is recyclable - even biodegradable, given enough time. Though a bit more expensive than vinyl, it also comes in sheets and will hold up to heavy traffic, lasting for many years. Can be more tricky to install though, and you may want to use a professional. Marmoleum is one of the most readily available brands, and has a great overview here. Cost: $3-7 per sqft.

healthy options for bathroom flooring

3. Reclaimed hardwood. A popular style right now, using reclaimed planks for a bath is an option that saves on buying 'new' material, and will last forever. Water resistant and comfy, reclaimed wood can simply be covered with a water based sealer to let the natural beauty shine through, or painted to create a country cottage look. Easy to find and install. Cost: $0-5 per sqft, depending on availability in your area.

eco-friendly bathroom flooring options
                                                Rustic Bathroom by Atlanta Architects & Designers Peace Design

4. Recycled-content tile. Ceramic and glass tile that has a high recycled material content is becoming more available and in more style options. Durable and with a long life-cycle, recycled-content tile can be a sustainable option. As long as you can rent a tile cutter, it's pretty easy to install. Can be cold on the feet though. Cost: $5-15 per sqft.

                                        Contemporary Bathroom by Richmond Architects & Designers Birdseye Design

Choosing sustainable flooring for better indoor air quality and to lessen environmental impact will be healthy for both your family and the planet. With such stylish and cost-effective options available, how can you not? 

7 May 2014

keeping vintage bathroom flooring

I've seen it many times. The bathroom becomes the last room of the house we renovate and refresh, and by then the funds are low. It's still functional, it just isn't that pretty. But perhaps if we look a little closer, a big part of the solution is already in front of us. The floor. Keep it and simply refresh with paint and a few updates all around it.

saving vintage bathroom tile

If you are lucky enough (that's right, I said lucky) to have old tiles or laminate flooring in a groovy pattern, you can easily bring it into the 21st century by making it the star of the show. Paint the walls and old cabinets in the bathroom white, gray or another light, serene neutral.

Modern and sparkly lighting updates a space quickly, along with chrome hooks. Natural textures also make the room both serene and contemporary, so add baskets and bamboo blinds.

Apartment Therapy

Saving old patterned flooring in your bathroom can save you money and be a way for you to design your home sustainably. For more inspiration, check out other examples here.

And...if you can't work with your existing flooring, how about painting it? Check out these ones.

3 May 2014

handmade gifts for Mom

Looking for something different to give Mom this year? Head on over to my curated list on Etsy for some great handmade and vintage picks. Support artists and craftspeople, and make Mom so grateful she'll be baking you cookies until next year.