Sunday, July 17, 2011

5 Decorating Mantras to Live By

Decorating your home- where to begin!? It truly is an impossible question to answer- at least in  short form. I have complied and come up with some statements that- I believe- if followed, can help guide your journey as you turn your living space into a home that is an extension of you and your family.

1. Every element needs an element of life to sustain it. Incorporate plants, flowers, fish, and other living entities to combat a stagnant flow.

2. Pursue quality, not clutter! When purchasing an item, don't focus so much on the price tag, but consider buying an item once and buying it right.

3. Surround yourself with memories and hobbies. Display vintage family photographs and items from your favorite pastimes (reading, sports, events) to outline a visual journey of who you are.

4. The closer something is to your body- the nicer it needs to be! Splurge on that Egyptian Thread Count Sheet set, and scrimp with some cheaper drapes.

5. Your life should sparkle: Incorporate some bling into your home!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Color Of The Week: Barely Teal

his week's color pick is Barely Teal 2048-70.

I know that someone out there will say,
"Hey, didn't you already post this color here?"
And my response will be: no!
Barely Teal is brighter than Smoke. End of story.

The inspiration for this color actually came from my cereal bowl!

yeah... the bowl's a little darker... but same basic concept!
This color emulates a cool robin's egg blue, and a soft summer breeze, and a ripple in the ocean. It embodies all things serene and soft spoken. This is a color that should be used lavishly on the walls to transform any area of your home into a private getaway. Compliment this hue with a profound use of white and silver metallic accents. Or, ground this color with some lush chocolate brown furniture for a classic combination.

I envision soft blues to be the next evolutionary stage of gray as the new neutral. I'm of the opinion that the tone of this soft blue will be the new standard of blues in the design world.

Curvy Chrysanthemum Vase

Friday, July 15, 2011

Design 101: Cabriole Legs

I'm certain you've seen them before either in some high end furniture store, or maybe on a piece that you inherited from your grandmother- cruved legs on furniture known as cabriole legs.

For a furniture to be classified as having cabriole legs, it must contain shapes in two curves- the upper one convex, the lower one concave.

The detailing is an instant symbol of 18th century design. The original concept of the leg was to emulate certain four-footed mammals- particularly hoofed ones. The term itself is derived from the French word cabrioler, which means to leap like a goat.

This has become one of the prominent design features that I love the most. And if I could, I'd add this style leg to any piece of furniture in my home: the dining table, occasional chairs, even the ottoman!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Picture That Holds A Thousand Words.

I had this picture recently forwaded to me on my phone... and I don't have an iPhone or Blackberry, so anytime I get photos or other interesting messages, it's a big deal!

The other reason why this picture is so important, is that it's an update on the house that I'm currently helping to re-decorate. The house is a pretty decent size, and I've already had my hand at selecting the colors for the entire house- which, in itself, was a large undertaking. I wanted to select colors that would have strong cohesion and would flow seamlessly from one room to the next- all while feeling distinct. At this current stage, their main bathroom is being updated, and this image is of the tiling job being done. Featured are the glossy white subways tiles that I helped suggest. The accent tile was selected by the couple (again, well done on the selection!), and I suggested they do it in two rows, to match the width of the subway tile, and to start it approximately 12 inches up from the bottom.

It's just bathroom tiles, but it holds such worth to me because it is a visual image of a design concept that I helped conceptualize, that these 2 individuals brought to life. Pretty powerful stuff. As the project continues, I hope to share other pictures and exciting updates with you of my first big design project!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Curtain Drama

I didn't think we'd ever need curtains. 2" aluminum binds should be enough to block the summer sun, so Hazel can get a good nap, right? I guess not....We've been on the hunt for, what I've discovered, are the impossible curtains.

Here are our prerequisites:
-we need long curtains- 95" or longer
-we need blackout curtains 
-we want something fashionable that will grow with us.
-we want something affordable 

And, those demands are apparently too much to ask for. I managed to get these brown ones (pictured below for a steal), and so we're feeling out whether or not they really suit our living room. Brown probably wouldn't have been my first choice... at least not this shade. If the curtains were just a bit darker- more like a rich espresso shade- they'd go great. And so, the question is, do we keep searching, or learn to love these ones because I managed to get such a good price on them?

I also managed to get the rod for uber-cheap (almost free! thanks to working at a hardware store that gives me in-store credit for every new credit card account I open with customers... so, 5 new accounts paid for this rod!). You'll also notice the price tag still hanging- I just don't quite have the heart yet to remove it- just in case. In this curtain journey, I have learned this: curtain rings are your friend! They completely eliminate the need for tie backs, and the look of them isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Also, just when I thought our vaulted ceilings couldn't feel any higher- mounting the rod a few inches away from the ceiling added the illusion of at least 3 more feet to the room, making it feel even more grandeur and massive! Hooray!

On the other hand, I picked up the same curtains in gray for our bedroom- and they look amazing! They have a metallic lustre and aren't quite as blackout as I hoped for in a bedroom, they're very chic and I quite enjoy them.

Any opinions? Should we ditch the chocolate brown panels and keep searching? Or should I be bold and rip off those prices tags?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why I Don't Hate Homesense Anymore.

I am, in no sense of the word, a good "thrift store shopper".

And by "thrift store", I don't mean just second hand shops. I mean any store that carries one-of-a-kind items in limited quantities. I like being able to find the product I want online and know that there is unlimted stock and then envisioning it in my home and making that mass produced item feel like a one-of-a-kind.

And then, there's Homesense.

I've been there countless times, earnestly trying to find something I like- because, so many people I know find treasures there. To me, it's just a store full of junk- much of which will never look good, no matter what the setting is. I've often wondered if I'm shopping on the right days. Some people tell me to go when their shipments get in for best variety. But, it's still junk.

(the candle holder on the left is our unity candle from our wedding!)

But, on a recent visit, we found this mirror (pictured above), that perfectly nests on the top of our bedroom dresser. And it's exquisite in design. It's one of the few items that we own that I would dare to describe as beautiful.

This jewelry holder is kind of empty...
I should get on filling it a little quicker!
And we also found this jewlery stand. I've been meaning to get Jackie one for some time (ever since the one that I ordered for her at Christmas from Urban Outifitters was back ordered. bah). And this one had birds! And was only ten bucks!
Both are great additions to our bedroom. And what I've learned about stores like Homesense is this:

You can't go in expecting to find something, or be amazed every time- you simply have to leave all expectations at the door, and just go for the pleasure of shopping and being out. And if you can do that successfully, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Welcome Here!

For some strange reason, ever since I did an entryway Room To Go, I've been really excited and anxious to tackle our own entryway. The space is limited. Very limited. The improvements that we added reside behind the door, due to that lack of space. Here's a brief breakdown of the few simple improvement that we added to our entryway that make our lives more organized!

First of all, this is a cabinet with a chalkboard door that we purchased from IKEA almost 3 years ago!'s been sitting in storage ever since, and we finally got around to hanging it. I suppose that you can never have too many chalkboards in a room. The french greeting is courtesy of Jackie, and the lopsided mustache was done by myself.

The interior of the cabinet is split into 4 compartments, and I hope that this cabinet will become our new junk drawer, rather than the edge of our kitchen counter top :D

We found this vintage looking hook at a home decor store in town called "Cozy Home". The hook was only 6 bucks, and will become the new residence for Jackie's purses.

This mail station was composed by myself last week. It is comprised of a clipboard ($2 at Walmart) and an old scrap of vintage-looking wallpaper (free! yay Home Depot!). It was easy enough to do- I just traced the size of the clipboard onto the wallpaper, cut it out, lathered the clipboard with Modge Podge, and carefully positioned the paper. The tricky part was to cover around the metal clip near the top of the board. After throwing a few ideas out there, I cut out a similar shade, and ended up covering a bit of the clip- but it's barely noticable. I find that mail can quickly pile up- so keeping it in a visible spot (that looks good too) will keep clutter at bay.

quote from Jackie while installing the clipboard:
"why do you always pick the most difficult projects to do?"
said with a loving smile, of course :)
 and finally, the wooden plaque with a 28 on it. This piece of wood serves absolutely no purpose other than to look good. I am always a fan of the numerology look, but have never really had a number I wanted to boast. But this 28 is loaded with sentiment and meaning. 28 is the day of our anniversary in December. 28 is also Hazel's birthday in March.

*by doing a quick Google search, I also learned that 28 is:
-the second perfect number.
-the sum of the first 7 numbers: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7= 28
-the atomic mass of silicon and nickel.
-28 days is the revolution of the sun's surface.
-the number of dominoes in a standard set.
-corresponds to the word koakh, meaning "power", "energy".
-deals with the expectancy of divine courage and strength.

I did this project by getting a 10" by 5" block of wood cut at work. I then covered the entire piece in Frog Tape. True, I previously griped about its lack of worth, but I had some leftover, so I figured I'd give it a second shot. I then drew the letters on top of the masked wood. Using an exacto knife, I cut around the numbers and removed the surrounding tape to reveal a numbered stencil. Using some high gloss Pale Avocado paint (the same one used for our dresser makeover), I lathered on a quick coat, and removed the tape, and was done! This was a quick little project to do- less than an hour!- and I love how the wood grain comes through.


These few mini additions were so simple to put together, and probably only took about 10 mins to complete. Interesting how some of the most simple projects in our lives can feel the most daunting. Now, if only we could do something about that boring white entry door....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Upcycling: a definition

Upcycling certainly is the hot topic of the moment. Seldom an evening goes by that I don't hear that word being used in my own home. So, what's the big deal? Why is everyone jumping onboard with this upcycling movement, and what's it all about?

By definition, upcycling is:

"the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value." (thx wikipedia!)

It's a term that has been on the downlow for the past 17 or so years- and it revolutionizes the concept of recycling- which "destructively" involves the tearing down of materials for reuse. Whereas upcycling, in contrast, gives an item more value, as it is built up into a new evolutionary form.

fashion wine bottle cork into a sustainable bath mat!

The movement seeks to reuse products in the home, in an enviromentally friendly way, and to further improve upon an item's frail and useless state.

weave old newspaper into a lampshade!

So, how would the average DIYer go about upcycling an item? Here's a few suggestions:

-Use old plastic bags as yarn.
-Make new clothing out of old scraps.
-Turn an old hard drive into an alarm clock.
-Make a dress out of newspaper.

Essentially, it's the art and stewardship of turning someone else's trash, and giving it a second chance.

make a bowl out of some loose change!
We've had our own experience with this practice by rescuing a set of chairs, repurposing an old record player, and giving new opportunity for a dresser.

While I still am a bit uneasy about rifling through the trash for hidden treasures, I've found upcycling to be a unique way to add some history and interest into your home. Try it out for yourself!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Color Of The Week: Coral!

*update* this month's issues of Home decor magazines, are referring to this color as tangerine.... likely because coral has negative connatations for people.

This summer is the season in which coral tangerine reigns supreme. At most clothing stores, you see it's variation on every display. It lives in home decor shops in accent pillows and pillar candles. And it pops up everywhere else in geometric designs and with funky textures.

Salsa 2009-20

If you're going to brave this color- don't use it in small doses. Use it large scale for a summertime punch that will bring some added zest and warmth to your home.

I don't anticipate this color trend to last long- at least not past September. But in the meantime, enjoy the coral tangerine ride, before it gets classified as a boringly-intense-peach again. And pair it with some navy for a look that screams Summer 2011!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We Put a Dresser In The Living Room.

Way back in the summer of 2009, when we found out that we were pregnant, one of the first items we bought, and the first collaborative project that we worked together on for Hazel, was a pale green dresser.

Rather than purchasing a streamlined clothing storage option from IKEA, we wanted to find something with a bit of history and class. After scouring second hand stores, we happened upon this one, at a steal- 15 bucks! The dresser had a coat of saggy primer slapped onto it, and definetly needed some TLC. And we brought it home, and fixed it up! It was the first project I used a palm sander on- due to the crappy prime coat- and fondly remember sweating in the sweltering sun with dried bits of sand sticking to me. *ah, memories* I coated the dresser in a high gloss Pale Avocado paint (at the time, we were both digging the high gloss painted furniture look!)

Pale Avocado 2146-40

For a personal touch, I also lined the drawers with a coat of blue semi gloss that I had kicking around. The dresser served glorious use during Hazel's first year. And then she started to walk...

...and now that dresser lives in our living room. Odd place for a dresser? Maybe. Or maybe it could become the next great trend. So, how did our baby's dresser end up in a location like that? Well, first of all, when I painted the thing, I neglected to paint the inside frame... and it made Hazel's clothes smell a bit funky. Secondly, the dresser is old- and probably was assembled before drawer gliders were ever thought of- so, if you're not careful, the heavy drawers could fall out on you- not the best feature to have for a mobile toddler. We agreed that we needed to get our growing child a new wardrobe system, and gave in and bought her an IKEA wardrobe (and it was on sale!).

Before I went to work, we agreed to have Jackie's mom come pick up the dresser, and put it in storage until we had a yard sale. When I got home from work, the dresser was in the living room... still there. With a sheepish grin, Jackie admitted that it was too hard to let go of the dresser, due to its significance. I admire that about her. And I'm glad we kept it.

The knobs, pictured above, are a vintage classic, and are a small detail that make the dresser such an incredible piece to have around.

Nesting in front of our hot pink wall, the dresser fits right in. It currently houses some of my gardening tools, and will eventually be a home for our table linens.

I know- a dresser in a living room- weird. But, it's become the perfect little hutch area, and is another resting place for pictures and other decorative accents- and best of all, it's a piece loaded with meaning and value to us! Once agian, this is a lesson for me that I am forever continuing to learn- listen to your wife the first time around. She's probably almost always right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

(i see that red door and i want to) PAINT IT BLACK!

One of the projects that I worked on recently was painting the back door that leads out to our deck. While I do appreciate a white french door, I just think that a black one has so much more class to it. I spent a good day or two thumbing through swatches of black to find the perfect shade- I wanted a flatter color that still appeared black, and didn't lend too much of a charcoal feel. I ended up using Black Jack 2133-20, as it went well with the other black accents in the room.

This is Black Jack. I also liked a similar shade called
"Witching Hour"... but was a little too creepy for my liking.
  This project was especially important for me, as I was granted approval to paint the door on my own :-D. As previously mentioned on this blog- my painting skills leave something to be desired.... I'm pretty terrible... But I still wanted to do a decent job. So, I busted out the Frog Tape! You might've seen this stuff advertised on TV- essentially, it's a painter's tape coated with a resin that supposedly resists paint. As previously mentioned, it is a french door, so I wanted to get as crisp of lines as possible. I probably spent close to an hour just taping the door. And was disappointed with the results. Even though I spent more time taping than painting, the paint still bled through.

curse you, frog tape!!

After a few touch ups, the door was completed, and I'm actually pretty proud of it. The black presents a certain elegance, and charm. I wish I had taken a "before" picture, but, I"m sure you can imagine what a white door looks like.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Long Weekend Adventures

I'm just about to end off a three day long weekend (Happy Canada Day), and I'm slowly preparing myself to head back to work, punch in on the time clock, and get asked, "what'd you do for the long weekend?" I hate questions like that. They're so vague, and really, people don't want to hear about what I did- it's just a conversation starter for them to tell me about how wickedly awesome their weekends were. Well, I have prepared a suitable response to the dreaded question- I spent my long weekend sewing!

Hazel generally naps in the early afternoon for a few hours, and also goes to bed at around 7- leaving plenty of time in a day for us to find some quiet activities to pursue- as noise travels pretty quickly in a small apartment. And we spent these blocks of time crafting- Jackie crocheted up a storm, and I sewed- with only a handful of minor needle injuries.

We recently purchased a little wicker chair from IKEA for Hazel, with the aspiration of attaching a small padding to make it softer to sit on. While we were at Walmart the other day, I found a 2" thick foam square for $2, and figured we could cut it down to size, and sew a pretty cover for it. When I retreated to my bin of fabric, I couldn't find anything big enough to cover the foam in a solid piece. Instead, I sewed scraps together for a patchwork look. After a brief tutorial from Jackie on how to patchwork, or "quilt"- interesting, because I don't think she's ever actually done it herself, she just seems to know these things- I was off! I hand stitched the entire thing, because I appreciate the rawness of the needle and thread without the machine- and, because, everytime I try to use the machine, I somehow ruin it in a way that the troubleshooting manual cannot seem to fix...

This afternoon, I wrapped the top patchwork piece tight around the foam square, pinned it off, and used a scrap piece to sew it all together at the bottom. The square fit perfectly on the chair- we didn't even have to cut it! Hazel squealed with delight when she saw it- which made it all worth it.

And with some of the scraps of fabric, I made Hazel a little chicken- again, totally worth it for that smile!

The chair cushion does look a little sloppy, and perhaps amateur, but I'm convincing myself that it adds to the "patchwork look". All in all, it was great to spend the weekend crafting with my baby, to make some goodies for my other baby. It might not have involved crazy fireworks and crazy drunken parties- but it was memorable, and perfect, just the way it was.