Monthly Archives: July 2013

Monkey See

My little monkeys

My little monkeys

I’m hard on myself. The times when I actually feel like a good mom are few and far between. But there are always some redeeming moments to celebrate. I was blessed with two of those moments today while looking after my friend’s daughters.

One when Sofia came up to her friend after her friend had finished on the potty and patted her back saying, “Good job! I’m so proud of you!”.  And another when she hugged her other little friend who was crying out for her mom and said, “it’s okay sweetie, mommy back soon.”.

If she can be so loving, sweet and kind, I must be doing something right. Monkey see, monkey do.

Admittedly, I also frequently hear, “mommy, play right now!”. But I’m not focusing on that right now.

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Bollywood Design

When we first started talking about moving to Queensborough we had mixed reviews from our family. Our parents’ generation have a saying that the Queensborough bridge is the longest bridge in the world because it goes all the way to India. Yes, kinda racist. But like most stereotypes, there is some truth in this one. Queenborough has a large Indian population and this is one of the things I love about it. I have always been fascinated by Indian culture. I love the food, the music, the dance and the clothes. I love smelling the scent of Indian food wafting from houses, admiring beautiful women dressed in their saris, and being invited to partake in local festivities celebrating Sikh holidays at the park.

All this led me to ponder what the interior design world might be like in India. Does the liveliness, the colour, the general extreme beauty of the culture translate to uniquely Indian interior design or is it just the same as what we see on HGTV at home? I decided to investigate. My investigation started with pictures of Bollywood dancing through my mind, and my expectations were aligned with this colourful, gaudy, fantastically beautiful image:

Bollywood at its best

Bollywood at its best

I was sadly disappointed. Not by the quality, the decor is beautiful and the architecture stunning, but by the western-ness of it. It wasn’t the bright colours, silken fabric, and sequins that I was hoping to find. I was expecting more of this:

Bright bollywood style Indian design.

Bright bollywood style Indian design.

 

 

 

 

 

What I found, however different from expectations, is well worth sharing. Here are some pictures of rooms decorated by two design groups in India who I have narrowed down as my favourites.

Design by Sunita Kohli

terracelivingroomsk sunitakohligreatroom sklivingroom

skentryway

Design by Aamir and Hameeda

aamirandhameedaliving

ahliving

Taking a second look at these pictures, a day after having first found them, I see that there are certain elements of the design which were likely, at some point, uniquely Indian. They did not originally seem unique to me because I have seen similar things in western design magazines. This made me realize that it is not so much that the design in India is westernized, but that in North America we have adopted a global approach to design which includes elements from around the world.

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DIY Artwork for the Entryway

My entryway, for lack of a better word, is blah. It is narrow, dark, and commonly dirty (thought taking a picture for this post was good motivation to clean it).

My very drab and uninteresting entryway. No after picture for you here. This is how it is for now.

My very drab and uninteresting entryway. Even the pictures on the wall weren’t there until today.

Since it is the first thing people see when they enter my home, it is my next big project. An entryway is meant to set a tone for the rest of the home, and right now what it tells my guests is that my home is boring, tired, and dirty. Big projects take a bit of time to save money for, so my current band-aid solution is to add some art to the walls. In my post on outdoor inspiration part 2 I posted some photographs I took. I have since taken more and decided on these three to frame:

I've been experimenting with my camera to try get a good shot. This one is my favourite.

I’ve been experimenting with my camera to try get a good shot. This one is my favourite.

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Like I said, it is a band-aid solution but it helps to bring a bit of life and colour to the space:

This "artwork" of mine only cost me the $6 for the enlargements as I already had the frames hanging around empty.

This “artwork” of mine only cost me the $6 for the enlargements as I already had the frames hanging around empty.

Bringing the outdoors in

Bringing the outdoors in

Here is a preview of my entryway plans over the next few months:

I plan on getting something similar to this ikea cabinet custom built to fit in our entryway and serve as shoe storage.

I plan on getting something similar to this Ikea cabinet custom built to fit in our entryway and serve as shoe storage.

These wall hooks from umbra are perfect for a narrow space because when they aren't in use they lay flat into the hanging piece.

These wall hooks from umbra are perfect for a narrow space because when they aren’t in use they lay flat into the hanging piece.

I plan on putting a graphic wallpaper up on the walls of the hall and stairwell to liven things up a bit.

I plan on putting a graphic wallpaper up on the walls of the hall and stairwell to liven things up a bit.

close up of the wallpaper in a different, more dirt friendly colour.

close up of the wallpaper in a different, more dirt friendly colour

Entryway lighting

I want to bring some Hollywood bling to the space with a couple of these sweet little chandeliers.

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For the sake of progress: Ode to the cotton trees

We must be accepting of expansion, progress, growth, right? We do live in a bustling metropolis after all. I’m sure my own townhome development did away with a similar such beauty. But it is so sad to watch it happen.

Before: Our beautiful little forest of cotton wood trees.

Before: Our beautiful little forest of cotton wood trees.

After: To be replaced by town homes.

After: To be replaced by townhomes.

We bought this townhouse knowing this would happen, soon even, but I can’t help that my heart fell in love with the simple beauty of this small forest of cotton-wood trees. Our deck was surrounded by this lovely greenery and we enjoyed watching the trees go from wintry brown to lush summer green in our four months living here. I didn’t expect that they would do away with it so soon. My heart echoed my daughter’s cry of “no digger, no!” as it knocked over our lovely greenery.

In my present state of mind I took the change particularly hard. I don’t know anymore if these periods of depression are due to my mental health issues, breast-feeding hormones, or simply being a mother of two young children, but whatever the cause I have been feeling very stressed, anxious, and shaky lately. We all go through “desert” times in our lives and the desolate looking land left behind by the digger mirrors my soul at the moment. Seeing it makes be feel naked, lain bare. I preferred the protective encasement of my little trees. It was comforting.

This mama needs some prayer, some wine, and a child-free trip to the fabric store.

Goodbye little trees. And goodbye to the frogs and crickets who made their home among them and sang us to sleep each night. You will be missed.

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Discovering colour palettes through art: Large Nude

In my colour class, in order to prepare us for future clients who may want their space decorated around a specific piece of art, we were asked to choose an inspirational picture. The goal was to then pull out colours from the artwork to make a colour scheme for the theoretical room.

This is the painting I chose:

"Large Nude" by Renoir

“Large Nude” by Renoir

This work was painted in 1907, and in my eyes represents a time when beauty was not determined by today’s impossible standards. It is inspiring to me to see a curvaceous woman lazing around nude, with a peacefully unabashed countenance. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, it is a breath of fresh air to see an “imperfect” body portrayed as being so lovely that it inspired a masterpiece.

The colour palette I came up with below is an analogous colour scheme (See Colour Schemes 101: I can sing a rainbow). These colours represent all the different decorating aspects of the room, not just paint colour. One or two might be a paint colour in the room whereas the other colours could represent furniture, throw cushions, rugs, curtains, wood tones etc. They aren’t particularly colours that I would be inclined to design with in my own home, but the point was to pick colours that represent the artwork.

yellow-green (stretching a bit here, there isn't too much yellow in it)

yellow-green (stretching a bit here, there isn’t too much yellow in it)

yellow (cream is derived from yellow)

yellow (cream is derived from yellow)

yellow-orange

yellow-orange

orange (brown comes from adding black to orange)

orange (brown comes from adding black to orange)

red-orange

red-orange

I am still a novice at this practice but it is fun to play around with colour. The magazine House Beautiful has a section every month where they do something similar to this. If you are interested in the concept but don’t feel like buying a magazine check out the website design seeds: it beautifully demonstrates this practice and is fun to browse around.

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I love my couch

Okay. I love Jesus. But I really really like my couch.

My couch with home-made pillows

My couch with home-made pillows

I have started trying to make decisions more carefully in terms of buying furniture over the past year or two. When my husband and I were starting out as a newly married couple all our extra money went into paying off student loans and our whole basement suite was a la Ikea. I’m not hating on Ikea–just note the Ikea rug in the picture of my couch–but the quality is only just so.

We lived with a rather frumpy couch, which was graciously donated to us, for the first three years of our marriage. Once I started taking decorating classes I knew that the first big purchase I wanted to make to change the look of our home was a new couch. I looked for months. I wanted to be able to choose the style and the fabric and to make custom changes if desired. I also wanted the quality and look to stand the test of time (and cats).

I love looking in antique shops and whilst rambling along Main Street in Vancouver I came across a store named Novo Furniture. Not only do they offer a large selection of customizable couches and other living room furniture, but their furniture is locally made and their prices beat similar stores like Sofa So Good. Some furniture stores can tend to be uppity and unfriendly towards people with strollers and children but the owner, David, was delightful and welcomed our family, toddler and all, warmly to his store. They had a great selection of stylish and moderately priced couches (worth saving up for) and hundreds of fabric samples to choose from.

It was great from a decorating perspective to be able to bring the fabric samples home and see how they looked throughout the day in different light. I love the clean classic lines of this couch and, as someone who likes throw pillows galore, the straight unfussy back. I had a great deal of fun scouring around fabric stores looking for the perfect fabrics to make pillows out of and the resulting happy and colourful throw cushions add to the warm fuzzies I feel towards my couch. It was a great way of putting into practice the pattern mixing skills I had recently learned in my Fabrics class (a post on Pattern Matching to come soon).

The couch is still going strong after over a year and much abuse. I would definitely shop there again, not that I’ll be needing a new couch any time soon. However, here are some other fantastic pieces of furniture they sell:

Milo End Table

HGVF130Baxter Rectangle

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Mila

The best designs aren’t created by interior designers.

My niece, 2 days old.

My niece, 2 days old.

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