30 March 2015

simple Easter table setting

In an ever-continuing effort to simplify, my Easter table is pared down to a hydrangea and white dishes, with a linen tablecloth to give add a little bit of a rustic feel. It complements the vintage server but contrasts with the modern flatware and plates to make a simple but interesting table.

Easter table setting; simple Easter; table settings; Spring table

Easter table, Spring table, simple table setting

table setttings
Quick tip: I simply wrapped the plastic pot the the hydrangea came in with kraft paper and secured with jute rope. Easy peesy.

quick hydrangea pot refresh

Happy Easter weekend everyone. May we all take this time to slow down and be grateful for our blessings. 

22 March 2015

5 tips to make Spring cleaning easy

Happy first week of Spring! I'm so sorry to my family and friends on the East Coast who are still neck-deep in snow, but it's been beautiful here in southern Ontario and it feels like it's time for Spring cleaning. Your Spring cleaning is more likely with a shovel than a broom? Well, perhaps a little de-cluttering and refreshing indoors will help you feel a little cheerier!

spring cleaning, homemade cleaner; healthy home

I started my Spring refresh this weekend by organizing and cleaning out some closets, and thought I'd pass along my top 5 tips to make Spring cleaning easier. If you do just these 5 things over one or two weekends, it will make your day-day go much smoother, and your home will be healthier to boot.

1. Ditch the chemical cleaners once and for all. I've talked about this lots before, but if you haven't gone to vinegar and water yet, do it now. It's the one simple switch that will make your life better. Get a big jug of vinegar and keep it and a spray bottle on hand. Mix vinegar, water and little eco-friendly dish detergent together and you've got a cleaner that works for your kitchen, bathroom and floors. I pull it out every day and use it with a microfibre cloth to clean off my counter tops. You can also add a few drops of orange and lavender essential oils to disinfect and leave an invigorating scent.

pretty homemade household cleaning supplies

2. Replace your shower curtain with a PEVA liner plus a natural cotton or linen outer curtain. Check out this post to see why PEVA liners are so much healthier than vinyl. If you've already done this, wash your shower curtains as part of your Spring cleaning.

non-toxic shower curtain, spring cleaning the bathroom

3. Get down on your hands and knees and scrub your entryway floor and floorboards with your vinegar and essential oil mix. It will disinfect and smell great as you come in the door. Wash or air out a large throw mat or two to have in the entry for shoes - and always leave shoes at the door. Just thinking about the dirt and toxins they track inside makes me want to scrub the floor all over again!

organized entryway, mudroom, spring entry
4. Do a 3x3: de-clutter by get rid of three things in each of these areas, and then organizing what's left:

- entryway
-clothes closet
-bathroom vanity drawers/medicine cabinet

Organizing and minimizing the "stuff" in just these three areas (you can tackle other areas during Fall cleaning!) will make your everyday less stressful. Toss things that are broken, empty, have holes in them, or that are taking up space because you never use them (why do I keep mismatched socks anyway?). Then, get out bins, baskets, bowls and boxes (use cardboard food boxes and cover them in pretty paper) to organize like with like.

Spring entryway cleaning and organizing
5. Clean the air. If you don't have many plants, add a couple of new ones to your home. Open the windows. And use essential oils (through a diffuser or a linen spray) to clear out toxins. It will give you a boost of energy and calm you at the same time. Which means you just may want to organize some more! No? That's just me? Hmm...

plants in bedroom for cleaner air

Happy Spring everyone.

16 March 2015

green home styling

In honour of St. Patrick's day, I thought I'd share a couple shots of the green shamrocks I recently brought home, along with a few vintage favourites. I have so much fun vintage-seeking and adding unique touches to my home with antique and natural items. Old crates and boxes and baskets are both organically appealing to the eye and are functional in corralling items in the entry, kitchen, bathroom, or really anywhere.

decorating with vintage items; eco-home decorating

Vintage kitchen tools are lovely too;  they're both useful and decorative. This old peeler is from my Mom. Reclaiming and re-using items from the past is a fun and green way to style and finish our homes, don't you think?

eco-friendly, vintage, home decorating tips

Happy St. Paddy's Day all, and I wish you a green Spring.

8 March 2015

choosing the right white

Refreshed Designs: choosing the right white paint

It's funny, isn't it, that the colour that stresses us out the most when choosing paint for our homes is the most neutral of all colours: white. It can be tricky choosing the right white - which most times is actually an off-white - as there are so many possible options. It also looks different depending on the amount of light coming in, on the direction a room faces and even the geographical area you live in.

choosing the right white paint
I love whites and off-whites because they're calming and lift my mood at the same time, and they also play so well with natural textures, materials and d├ęcor (which of course I love). Not to mention that they are a sustainable choice, since they are timeless and will likely last longer than walls painted richer colours that we tire of more quickly.

choosing the right off whites for your home
So, as is my motto for most things, keep it simple! You could straightforwardly go for pure white all throughout the room if you like the minimalist Scandinavian trend.  You pretty much can't go wrong there.

pure white walls
But if you'd like to go for a clean look but with a little more interest, there are some tricks to make choosing off-whites a little easier.

warm up a white room
1.  Determine whether you want a cool or warm feeling in your home. You can use several different whites in the same room or througout your house (in fact it is usually recommend to keep from feeling cold and dull), but keep them in the same family - either cool or warm.

One nice neutral white that work either way is CIL's White on White - it's just a slight touch warmer than untinted white, and reflects light a little better.

mixing warm whites with wood
2. Check and see the undertones - is it pink, green, blue, yellow? Compare it to a pure un-tinted white. You can see more easily how far away from pure white your colour sample is when next to each other. Cool undertones are greens and blues; warm undertones are pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows.

Hint: stay away from pink undertones if you have yellow based flooring or cabinets. And forgo peachy colours altogether - they rarely look good. Greens are also tough to do well - a white that leans toward turquoise (hence green undertones) will also emphasize the yellow in birch or oak floors, for example.

Another hint: you'll want your trim (in most cases, unless you have very deep rich coloured walls) to be pure white or just a touch creamier than pure white (like Behr's Ultra Pure White). So your wall colour should be slightly distinctive from this for architectural interest.

choosing the right white paint
3. Check your lighting- are you south facing with lots of windows to allow for sunshine? Or is your room more limited to natural light? Some spaces in your home often have different lighting coming from a multitude of directions, so you need to consider this when choosing a colour. Also, try to switch to LED light bulbs (both because they give a more natural light and are eco-friendly). Unnatural incandescent or fluorescent lighting will make your white shades seem off.

Hint: north facing rooms with lower light will cast shadows, so I like going with warm neutrals with yellow undertones that make the room feel more welcoming. Stay away from green undertones for north facing rooms. East facing rooms often have blueish light, so blue and green undertones work well here for a brightening effect. However, these rooms obviously have more light in the morning that in the afternoon and evening, so if the space is used a lot later on in the day, you may want to consider a warmer palette to balance the lack of natural light.

cool tones for bathroom
4. Create contrast using finishes. Flat goes on the ceiling, eggshell or satin usually works well for walls, and semi gloss or gloss enhances trim. Just this little bit of variation is quite pleasing to the eye.

different finishes for white paints in your room
5. Finally, and most importantly, the best way to know if your paint colour is right is to bring home a sample and paint a big swatch on your walls, then observe it at different times of day. Research can help, but this is truly the best (only?) way to know if the white you choose will work for you.

choosing the right off white paint
I hope this helps you choose the best off-whites for your home - it's confusing, I know! My simplest piece of advice? Go with:

- a true neutral such as BM Simply White or CIL White on White,
- a slightly warmer white such as BM Winds Breath or CIL Wedding White
- a light cool grey-white like BM Gray Owl or CIL Song Porcelain 

Happy painting!