3 July 2015

I've moved! 

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28 June 2015

How to Create an Easy Vignette

I love seeing an interesting vignette in homes. It instantly gives me a glimpse into the personality of the homeowner. Vignettes are really easy ways to make your space meaningful and beautiful, and they're also a cinch to change up regularly with other things you own. I change up the vignettes around my home all the time - it's a way to refresh without painting or renovating or buying something new.

Vignettes can be an art - but anyone can accomplish them when keeping these five things in mind.

1. Start with the centrepiece. This is something that you build the rest of the vignette around and has personal meaning to you. A memento from a trip, a piece of art, something found from nature, a vintage mirror, or a special gift.

In this vignette the rustic repurposed cabinet that my brother made from barn boards and old weathered windows is my centrepiece. I smile every time I look at it.

2. Add height and depth. A tall element, which may or may not be your centrepiece, and other shorter ones make it interesting. And don't arrange everything in a line against the wall or the back of the surface it's on. Put some things in front of others.

3. Add an uneven assortment of small accessories.
4. Bring in nature. Whether it's flowers or something found on the beach or your backyard, adding an organic element will make the display and your home feel more natural and peaceful.

5. Edit. Step back to review your vignette and then remove a piece or two. We usually have a tendency to add too much; a cleaner look will feel more relaxed and natural, and also allow you and guests to focus on the meaningful things you've displayed.

18 June 2015

5 essentials for a small functional entryway

Entryways to our homes create one of two immediate feelings: welcoming and peaceful, or cluttered and chaotic.

One of the biggest problems I see a lot of clients and friends struggling with is a small entryway with little room to organize and store stuff. The family ends up tripping over shoes and jackets and getting irritated every time they enter. That's not the way our homes should greet us!

So for small entryways, I've designated 5 essentials that will get you out of Crazytown and into Happyland.

1. A small table or shelf.  A surface area to throw down your phone, keys, mail, and anything else you might be lugging in or need to find quickly on your way out is key. A place for all of these things instead of having them fall onto the floor will keep you from losing them and your mind.

2. A bowl or basket on your table. This not only adds some style but keeps things neatly corralled.

3. Hooks. They are a lifesaver for a quick place to hang up bags, coats and dog leashes.

4. A large basket or bin. Again, these add style and texture but also provide places to neatly store scarves, mittens, flip flops, etc. where you can easily find them.

5. A mirror. It not only opens up the space visually but also saves time by being able to do the once-over when you're heading out the door, without having to go back into a room after you've put your shoes on.

My tiny condo entry has just enough space to house a small chest with storage drawers, a stump stool for sitting, hooks, a bowl for keys, a big wooden bowl for scarves (the winter picture below) and a mirrored closet door. Small but efficient.

Hope these tips give you an idea of where to start in your entryway. Even just adding a few hooks and a pretty bowl will help! Happy refreshing.

31 May 2015

summer bedroom refresh

I just love blue ticking fabric, don't you? It's feels so summer coastal cottage - I can smell the strawberries and feel the warm breeze now. So when I spotted the iconic pattern in a cotton duvet cover at IKEA, I grabbed it. I decided that I would use it to lighten up my bedroom for summer - by reupholstering my bed frame. I put together DIY and natural elements to create this mood board to keep me on track, and then got going.

My frame is a platform bed covered in ugly brown 'pleather', but it's easy to re-cover using just a staple gun. One duvet cover was more than enough to cover the headboard, sideboards and footboard, plus I get to use the two pillow shams as well.

I found an amazing vintage industrial light cage and an antique bracket to hang a bedside pendant lamp.

Lavender, white crisp sheets and a textured white blanket make for a sensual and soothing retreat.

Add some DIY art in a repurposed old frame, plants and a few vintage industrial pieces and my coast summer bedroom is complete, for a total of $80 (duvet cover, light cage and bracket).

Are you lightening up your bedroom for summer?

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23 May 2015

5 budget ways to refresh your bathroom

Oh bathrooms - such small rooms that cause such big headaches for a lot of homeowners. Bathrooms need to function well so that day-day is made easy, and ideally be beautiful at the same time. But to be both practical and stylish means making a lot of decisions on finishes, storage and lighting, and many times people just don't know where to start so don't start at all.

I'm here to say that bathroom updates can be made easy and effective - even on a small budget. Here are just five easy ways you can refresh your bathroom without it becoming a huge renovation.

1. Update your lighting and mirror so that your tasks of shaving or putting on makeup are easier.

Lighting should not be over a mirror, as it casts shadows and makes you look older. Remove your above-mirror light bar in favour of sconces at eye-level on each side of the mirror. That means that most likely you'll need to replace the frame-less builder mirror that runs the full length of your vanity with a smaller mirror, allowing you to make a big update in style as well. These two things can be refreshed for relatively little money but will make a huge impact. Hint: look for a vintage frame at a garage sale and have a mirror put in it.

2. Update your hardware. A new faucet and vanity handles make a huge impact. There are lovely hardware options that are reasonably priced at local hardware stores. I've shopped at Rona more than once and know that they have a great selection.

3. Choose a standout tile. Fortunately, bathrooms have small square footage and therefore tile is usually pretty affordable. If you did one thing, choosing a standout tile for your floor would make a huge difference to your bathroom. Or create a feature wall with tile instead.

4. Get creative with storage. Add rustic shelves, hooks and even vintage racks to the walls.

5. Add a colourful or patterned shower curtain. Just this one thing can brighten the whole room.

Refreshed Designs

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by Rona, but is my own commentary based on my opinions and experience, and not influenced in any way.

20 May 2015

my plant gang (or how to organize your plants)

Have you visited Urban Jungle Bloggers yet? It's a wonderful site with lots of inspiring images of plants in homes around the world. It's quite amazing to see how plants have been embraced as a decorative and healthy addition to homes small and large.

urban jungle in small condo

This month the Urban Jungle Bloggers challenge is to "Show your Plant Gang." So I've gathered up my nine little green friends to hang out altogether on my favourite old bench near the patio door that gets lots of sun. This little exercise turned out to be a great way to organize my urban jungle - I needed to re-pot a couple and decide which ones to take outside to the patio for the summer. After a little sweet talking to each of them they got sorted out and everyone feels better after the adjustment. Mental note: talk more to humans as well as my plants.

plants make a healthy home

urban jungle in a small condo

If you're looking for natural ways to cover old cans to use as planters, I showed you some options in this post. Take a peek.

Do you have plants in your home? Have you ever taken stalk and 'spring cleaned' and organized them? It's a worthwhile exercise. Hope to see you join Urban Jungle Bloggers this month with #plantgang.

17 May 2015

easy organizing: top ways to use vessels

Is the stuff in your home overflowing and preventing you from having a serene, joyful and stress-free home? Invest in vessels.

A vessel, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is any hollow container. One of my favourite vessels for storage is a recycled glass jar - I use them for practically everything from food to tea to craft supplies to buttons to laundry detergent to soaps to office supplies. They're great because you can easily see what's in them and when you need to stock up again. And they're easy to come by  - just recycle them from soup or sauces, or pick a few up at the local flea market.

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

Baskets and crates of course are another good idea for organized storage. Natural fiber baskets and vintage wire varieties work well, as do antique wooden crates.

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

Trays, dishes, cans and bowls are also very useful and stylish for rounding things up and keeping them neat and tidy.

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

refreshed designs: easy organizing with vessels

I hope these inspire you to gather and organize using budget supplies you can recycle and reuse - it's easy and cheap and makes your day-to-day life at home some much more functional, stylish and peaceful. Happy organizing!

26 April 2015

simple no-cost home office update

In my small condo I've created a work space in the main living area, as I showed you in this post. Now that Spring has finally arrived, I wanted a quick update to make it feel a little warmer and colourful. Enter a Spring office refresh - with no budget.

small natural home work space
Spring refresh
white home office
Winter work space
I simply moved out the textured white cushion and sheepskin rugs and replaced them with a colourful cushion and natural jute mat. I added a colourful vase of willows and an antique jug with fresh flowers - move from other parts of my home. Vintage jars and canisters, along with some green plants add interest.

small condo office setup

vintage objects on reclaimed wood shelf

vintage plant shelf

vintage office accessories

Colourful DIY art adds a pop of colour. I simply washed a piece of card stock in yellow watercolour, and glued down a stalk of wheat on one and petals from a flower on another. Natural art in a pinch! 

DIY art with watercolour and natural elements

easy DIY office refresh

Easy peasy refresh done very quickly and without spending a dime. Are you refreshing for Spring? 

12 April 2015

choosing a kitchen backsplash

Wow, don't you just love the options for amazing kitchen backsplashes these days? All manner of materials, colours and patterns are accessible and pretty easy to install as well. So, with such a wide array of choice, how do you select the best one for your kitchen?

patterned cement tile backsplash
1. Complement your countertop and cabinets. It's highly debated whether to choose backsplash or countertop first, but for sustainability reasons, I always say choose neutral, classic, hard working and long last countertops and cabinets first, then select a backsplash that will augment them. A backsplash can always be changed out when you want a refresh - but the countertop and cabinets should last forever. And if your kitchen cabinets and countertops are neutral, whether light or dark, you can have a little more fun with the backsplash.

how to choose a kitchen backsplash
choosing marble for a backsplash
2. Decide on the tone. Do you want to have a little fun and add some colour or a dramatic pattern? Or, if you have a traditional or minimal home, perhaps you want to make sure the kitchen reflects this for continuity? That will drive a decision on colour and pattern such as classic white subway tile vs. colour Moroccan cement tiles.

how to choose a kitchen backsplash
Morrocan inspired kitchen backsplash
3. Decide on material. If you own your home and know that you will likely always have some sort of tile backsplash (even if you change it down the road), then I recommend tile or stone. It's fairly easy to install and affords a high-end look to the space relatively inexpensively. But if you rent, you'll want something that won't damage the walls. You could consider cutting wainscoting to size and fitting it in snugly. Or using removable wallpaper and coating it with a high-gloss durable finish.

Also, your material will determine how much upkeep you need to do. Remember that ceramic or glass tiles don't generally need to be sealed (seal the grout when first installing), but ceramic tile are porous and will need to be sealed from time to time. White beadboard or plank boards could also stain if not taken care of.

choosing material for a kitchen backsplash
glass backsplash
4. Determine where your backsplash will go. Generally it runs from countertop to the bottom of cabinets, but with the trend now for open shelving or bare upper walls, often running the bacskplash from counter right up to ceiling makes sense. You could run it up to the ceiling only on the range wall for a beautiful and functional focal point. If you plan having a large area backsplash, that will obviously affect your budget so plan accordingly.

choosing large tile backsplash
choosing a modern kitchen backsplash
choosing a budget modern backsplash
For my tips on installing a temporary wallpaper backsplash check out this post.

And for even more head to: DIY backsplash ideas and eco-friendly backsplashes.