Category Archives: Uncategorized

Getting Lucky on Craigslist

If you have been following my blog for a bit you know that I love Jonathan Adler, a love originating with his Chinese Chippendale chair.

adlerchippendaleI’ve been coveting these chairs for my dining room for at least three years: a bit of a pipe dream at $700 US a pop. We will likely always be small space dwellers and I love the airiness of the open backs and how they help to increase visual space in a dining room. They have traditional lines which looks gorgeous in both formal and informal settings, with modern or traditional decor.


chinesechippdiningroomI gave up on finding a vintage version of these chairs a while back. Those kind of killer finds seem to be more common in cities like Toronto. However, whenever I turn on my computer Craigslist comes up automatically. I normally ignore it but last week my eyes flew to the words “vintage Chippendale chairs”. Cue chorus of angels!


Seriously! Scan back to the Adler picture! The lines are identical, only the cushion is different!

Almost identical to the Adler chairs, I scored these vintage 70’s Chinese Chippendale chairs for $80 a pop. In solid condition, all I need to do is pick some gorgeous fabric and sew up some new (removable and washable) seat cushions. Charlie has already put his blueberry and tomato sauce signature on one of the cushions so I will certainly be going for a darker, more kid friendly fabric. However, I figure if these chairs lasted the last 45 years, they will be able to withstand whatever my kids can meat out. Can’t wait to pick up fabric and show you how they look with some new cushions!

In your face Jonathan Adler! (okay, not really, I still love you, but the savings!!!)


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Nothing New Under the Sun

I haven’t blogged during the past couple of weeks because I have been busy traveling back in time and around the world. Okay, not literally, but my day class on Period and Country Decorating Styles took me all the way back to Ancient Egypt. My class was only three hours per day but along with the heavy homework load, I can now more fully appreciate the challenges facing a working mom: from finding childcare to getting dinner on the table, and house cleaning? What’s that?

Today is my first day back in my “real life” and with the children screaming at my feet I am looking at the clock, wishing I had a babysitter coming to my rescue in the next fifteen minutes. Instead we will resume our normal routine: seeking entertainment outside the home in order to maintain everyone’s sanity.

Fast forward in time and my husband is back home to entertain the kids and I’m hoping to entertain (at least interest) you with some of the things I learned during my class. We learned a lot about what details and designs have marked decorating in certain periods of time and how they show up in North American design today (both traditional and modern).

The oldest knowledge we have of interior decor goes back to Ancient Egypt. Would you believe that the design for the ever popular X shaped stool is over three thousand years old? It started like this:

An actual X stool from Ancient Egypt.

An actual X stool from Ancient Egypt.

In modern decor you’d recognize something more like this:


While in traditional decor today you might expect something more like this:

tradxstoolFly yourself East to China and you’ll find the origin of the the “Greek key” pattern which is not so Greek after all.

chinese greek key

Here is one way the Greek key has been applied in modern decor:


In more traditional decor it is very popular as a trim on draperies:

Very popular as a trim on drapery.

We can also attribute one of 2014’s decor trends, fretwork, to Ancient China. I love the application of fretwork in both modern and traditional design:

Used as a room divider in a modern living room:


And as a lovely design feature on the ceiling of this traditional dining room:


Who knows what other goodies we have missed out on from long ago China? Apparently with each new dynasty, the artwork and design etc of the previous dynasty was destroyed.

Into more familiar territory, there are oodles of decor goodies which have been passed down to us through the history of Europe which will likely be recognizable to you. Did you know that the parquet which we so shudder at today originated during Tudor times in the 16th century? Their version of parquet was a far cry from what we see today:

A tudor parquet pattern.

A Tudor parquet floor pattern. Breathtaking.

Somewhere in the 20 century things got off track and they began manufacturing the terrible, honey blonde slabs of parquet which most of us associate the word with. Thankfully, after many year of this duddy flooring the design gods have gotten back on track and started coming out with lovely patterns like this:

I don't know about you but I would consider putting something like that in my house. gorgeous.

The pattern almost looks like a Greek key and I love it.

While today we enjoy the luxury of radiant heating and gas fireplaces, during the reign of Queen Anne in the 18th century, people had to come up with innovative ways to keeps themselves warm. One such idea was the wing back chair. The premise was that the wings of the chair would block the draft and keep their heads warmer. Today we continue to enjoy the classic lines of this chair.

Here is a very modern, dare I say almost space age, version of the wing back chair:


The wing backs in this traditional living room give you a better idea of the original design:


There isn’t much of a positive spin that can be put on Napoleon’s reign in the early 19th century but if I could shoot at one, it would be that the sleigh bed took off at this time, though its earliest roots are in Rome.

This super modern sleigh bed is pushing the edge of what a sleigh bed is but I love the look: it reminds me less of a  sleigh and more of the toboggan I rode on as a child.


You are likely more familiar with the kind of sleigh bed seen in some more traditional bedrooms these days:


Around the same time Napoleon was wreaking havoc in France, Germany was perfecting the art of wood veneering. Though this was not the beginning of veneering, the Germans excelled at the craft and created extraordinary pieces of furniture in what is known as”Beidermeir” style.


A stunning Beidermeir secretaire

Veneers are used in much the same was as seen above in today’s traditional decor but are also used to help create sleek modern designs such as in the kitchen below:

Veneering is an eco-friendly (all-be-it) expensive way of using exotic woods.

Veneering is an eco-friendly albeit expensive way of using exotic woods.

The funny thing is that they used these veneers due to the economic necessity of not using too much wood. Now-a-days, to get a piece of furniture with that quality of veneer it may well be more expensive than a piece of solid wood furniture.

Once we reach the Victorian era, starting in 1837, there is not much new under the sun. This period of history marks the beginning of the first truly eclectic decor style where the good, the bad, and the ugly of all the previous generations were incorporated to create Victorian style. They did however add some distinct pizazz at this time with excessive trim and the first tufted furniture. I’m not a big fan of trim but give me tufting any day.

Here this modern sofa is enhanced with a few selective tufts:


This sofa would fit as well in Victorian times as it would in a traditional living room today:


From there we hit the 20th century and design history repeats itself. There is nothing new under the sun, simply new applications of old design. But aren’t we lucky that we had such design-savvy ancestors to pave the way?

Special thanks to Bea O’Driscoll for the passing on of this knowledge and to my husband for helping me carve out the time to relax and write this post.





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Adding Pizzazz to a Boring Bathroom for under $200

When I said last week that I re-vamped my kid’s bathroom for under $200, you may have guessed that my “weapon” of choice was paint. Because we had just spent a significant amount of money updating some of the finishes in our master bathroom, this was one of those makeovers where I had to sneak twenty dollars here and twenty dollars there to achieve a new look for a lot less.

Sometimes I feel frustrated with certain blogs I follow because it seems like the bloggers have unlimited resources to tear rooms down to the studs and build them back up to beautiful. This post is for those of us who need to ratify the ugly in our homes (now!) but are unable to afford anything that can’t be done with our own two hands. It may be a bit of a band-aid solution, but hey, they make some really cute band-aids now-a-days.

No true before picture again. This is another bathroom in my complex with the same finishes as mine.

No true before picture again. This is another bathroom in my complex with the same finishes as mine, right down to the drab off-white paint. It is slightly larger than any of our bathrooms.

The key to this budget bathroom makeover can be summed up in three elements: paint, fabric, and accessories. But first the gigantic wall mirror had to go. People think these mirrors make small bathrooms look bigger- wrong! Ask my husband, he’s a skeptic turned convert since we eliminated these mirrors from our home. Removing them does tend to leave a bit of a mess since builders like to gob on way more glue than needed. I found this video on you-tube very helpful in regards to fixing up all the torn dry wall (just using poly-fila or drydex is not enough! I tried).


After: Bold colour reigns.

After: Bold colour reigns.

After: bold colour reigns.

A small, clear container now corrals all the children’s grooming supplies and keeps their gear from being spread all over the counter. The plant picks up on the orange in the shower curtain. It may die from lack of light but I love the look for the present.

A little paint can go a long way to amp up your bathroom decor, and not just for the walls. I found a paint colour to match the teal in my shower curtain and for the whopping additional cost of a $5 sample pot I transformed an ugly $13 mirror from Lowes into a statement piece. I picked up some two dollar frames from Ikea and painted them to match. I currently have $2 Ikea floral prints in the frames that do the job but I have my eyes on some small water colour paintings from an artist I recently discovered on Etsy.

From the Art Corner Shop on Etsy.

From the Art Corner Shop on Etsy. A bit rich for my non-budget but all in good time.

Monogrammed towels were not something I was going to invest in for my children’s bathroom but for a dose of fun, I added a $3 “L” to the rather boring medicine cabinet which I removed from my master bathroom.


The custom shower curtain I made took up the majority of the budget as I needed four yards of fabric and I had my heart set on this gorgeous P Kaufman floral for the top three quarters. You can easily spent much less on a stylish shower curtain at places like Target, West Elm, and Homesense.

All in all the budget breakdown looks like this:

$80 Custom Shower Curtain

$60 Paint from General Paint

$18 Mirror from Lowes (includes cost of sample paint pot)

$10 Plant from Walmart

$10 Storage basket from London Drugs

$4 Artwork and Frames from Ikea

For a grand total of $182. The great thing is that you can easily knock some big money off your budget by buying a store bought shower curtain and cheaper paint (I bought the expensive stuff because my kids splatter excessive amounts of water on the walls).

So, do you have a boring bathroom that needs some budget friendly help? I hope this post inspires you to make the most of what you have. Not confident to decorate yourself? Let me help. You can contact me at Whether you are local or far away, I’d love to assist you to achieve your best possible bathroom (or any room for that matter). You see, that was the last room left for me to decorate in my own home. It’s time to step out the door.


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What’s in Your Closet?


Skeletons? Probably not. But if you’re like me and have a bit of clutter phobia there may be some treasures that you have hidden away behind closed doors. For me this looks like wooden sculptures from my husband’s and my separate trips to Africa and trinkets inherited from beloved family members.

I was recently reading an article in a design magazine where the designers were complaining that when they went to a house to take pictures they always had to go through people’s cupboards to draw out personal items to add flavor to the home’s design. Looking around my own home, I see that my clutter phobia has left few personal touches in the space. Unless you count copious amounts of hot wheels and play mobile as a personal touch.

The recent removal of my Christmas tree from the corner of my living room seems to have left a giant decorative gap. I had decided on what I thought was the perfect unit to display some of my “hidden treasures” but it ended up overwhelming the space, so back to the store it will go. Until I find that “perfect” unit for this corner, I have decided to take up some of the space on the playroom bookcase to display a few treasures. I’m much happier with the overall styling of the  bookcase now that I have shuffled things around to include these items (and as you can see, I finally found some stylish little toys baskets to fit the billy bookcase)

As you can see near the bottom, I finally found some stylish little toys baskets from Walmart.

Top left is a gorgeous engraved jewellery box my sister bought me in India and an alphabet crochet my mom made me when I was a little girl.

The brass apple is a buy from a lovely fellow vendor at the flea market.

The brass apple is a buy from a lovely fellow vendor at the flea market.

My husband brought home this lovely wooden statue from Burkina Faso.

My husband brought home this lovely wooden statue from Burkina Faso.

These keys belong to my husband's recently deceased grandfather who worked in telecommunications during WWII.

These keys belong to my husband’s recently deceased grandfather who worked in telecommunications during WWII.

In my mother’s generation these kinds of treasures were displayed in china cabinets but since my decor style leans more towards modern, I love the idea of using etagères as modern day “china cabinets”. Given the smaller living quarters most of us inhabit these days, the airy openness of these pieces helps to take up less visual space than a traditional china cabinet. The downside: get your dust cloths ready.

I'm a sucker for vintage bamboo etageres painted in bold colours.

I’m a sucker for vintage bamboo etagères painted in bold colours like those framing this couch.


These are great for a more industrial look.

The vittsjo shelving unit from Ikea is sleek and super inexpensive at $50.

The vittsjo shelving unit from Ikea is sleek and super inexpensive at $50. They are easy to customize with spray paint, and if you google these units you’ll find them made over in a variety of gorgeous shades.

I'm a sucker for a good glass and brass/gold etagere and I love the Asian of these two pieces.

I love a good glass and brass/gold etagère, and the Asian influence displayed in the lines of these two pieces is beautiful.

Leaning shelves are another stylish way to display your treasures. Check out Crate and Barrel or the Container Store for some nice options.

Leaning shelves are another stylish way to display your treasures. Check out Crate and Barrel or the Container Store for some nice options.


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Master Bath: Glamifying Builders Basic on a Budget

I contemplated calling this post “Baby Bedroom Makeover” since  the master bathroom will have a bassinet placed in the bathtub for baby Anna’s first first few months, but decided to avoid the confusion. Besides, this makeover was for me, not her.

I’ve been wanting to makeover the master bathroom (okay, every room) since we moved in and about six months ago I slowly started working towards that goal. I knew that we wouldn’t have the budget for a real renovation so some budget savvy DIY ideas and smart shopping would be necessary to make the greatest impact for the least amount of money.

* please note that when I speak off “saving” and “splurging” that in my world, anything over $200 is pretty much a splurge. This high-low is for those of us who decorate on a shoe string.

My “master” bathroom is a mere 8 feet by 5 feet so picture taking was a bit of a challenge but I did my novice best to display some of the work I’ve done in the bathroom. But first a before picture. Truthfully, it is a picture of a neighbor’s  slightly larger bathroom which has the same finishes mine used to have (I’m terrible at remembering to take before pictures).

No offense neighbor but boring, boring, boring.

No offense neighbor but boring, boring, boring.

My goal was to create a luxurious master retreat with deep colours and some much needed sparkle. The cheap blond laminate cabinets were not pulling it off so I painted them black to tie them in with our bedroom furniture and bought new crystal hardware to add some bling. I had custom overlays made in order to add interest and dimension to the flat cabinets. Save! $150 for cabinets that look high class ($100 for overlays, $50 for paint and knobs, blood, sweat and tears shed during cabinet re-finshing: priceless). I’ve seen bathroom cabinets with this kind of look on sale for thousands of dollars.

I used painters tape on my cabinets to help me visualize what the pattern would look like:


Before, with design taped out.



After, with custom overlays.

I have to admit that I am super picky about lighting, particularly bathroom lighting so I knew that this would end up being a splurge item. The clean lines and subdued sparkle sold me on this vanity light right away though I had to choke down the price tag. Splurge! This beauty cost over $300 (Vancouver Lighting). Know how I said a couple posts ago that I was still waiting for my electrician to get back to me? That’s still the case, but I was tired of waiting to write this post so here is the manufacturer’s picture of my light.


The builders beige/cream/yuck on the walls wouldn’t do either so with the help of a good friend I painted the walls a dark toned green, one of the colours used on the gallery wall frames right outside the bathroom. Save! $60 for paint (okay,the Benjamin Moore paint was a bit of a splurge but much cheaper than hiring a painter!). I know light, spa like bathrooms are popular but I prefer a dark, luxurious feel for my bathrooms (see pictures below).

The counter was a birthday/Christmas present from my hubby. I picked a lovely white quartz with small green/blue stones which reflect the wall colour. It also has flecks of glass which add some sparkle. We saved by going to a stinky, dirty factory location and picking out remnant stone. Removing the counter top by ourselves also helped to cut costs. Stone, sink and installation cost a total of $350 (kind of a splurge, but in comparison to alternatives it was a real save; Archstone). I found the new faucet on sale at Lowes for a song (see in last picture).


It turns out it is hard to capture a quartz’s sparkle with a camera.

The final touch of bling was the ever so inexpensive mirror from Lowes. I love their selection of mirrors and the prices can’t be beat. $60 for this beauty (see full mirror in last picture).

The medicine cabinet was also a save since I stole it off the wall in my kid’s bathroom. I splurged on a custom shower curtain with designer fabric but saved by sewing it myself. I avoided having to do pattern matching on the shower curtain by doing the bottom third in a different fabric. I added some pleating to the bottom for an extra touch of fancy.

Snagged Ikea cabinet;  custom shower curtain with Robert Allen fabric.

Snagged Ikea cabinet; custom shower curtain with Robert Allen fabric.

Hard to show off the shower curtain without sticking you with a big picture of my toilet. I avoided having to do pattern matching on the shower curtain by doing the bottom third in a different fabric. I added some pleating to the bottom for an extra touch of fancy.

Hard to show off the shower curtain without sticking you with a big picture of my toilet. I haven’t put anything above the toilet yet because I’m hesitant to make this wall look too busy. Any suggestions?

Overall, I left the main builder’s basic elements intact (tiling, bathtub, flooring) but with a few fancifying touches I was able to give the bathroom the feeling of a total makeover for under $1300. Looking at that number now, it seems like a lot but given the impact it was well worth it. It was a bit annoying to do the work so slowly but necessary due to my lack of energy in early pregnancy. As well,  spreading the costs over a period of six months helped us to be able to afford touches like the quartz counter. Here is the best after picture I could get of the overall effect of the makeover.


Next week I’ll be showing you how I added some fun and funky to my children’s bathroom for under $150. Stay tuned!



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Sisters, Sisters

(If you’ve ever watched the movie “White Christmas” you will know the tune going through my head when I picked the title of this post.)

I’m one of those lucky people whose best friend happens to be my sister. I can only hope the same for Sofia and Anna when they are older (Anna being not in my belly would also help the situation).

My sister is one of the most extraordinary and talented people I know. We share a passion for beauty, in nature and in design, though my sister veers towards fashion and I towards decor. She lives along with her husband and three young boys in a cute house set in a trendy Vancouver neighbourhood. The owners of the house had, let’s say, “eclectic” taste, and have left many marks of their presence in the home including gecko stencils on the trim (yikes) and random pieces of gorgeous old decor (yay real Persian rug and mid century modern chairs!). My sister has been itching to give their living room a makeover since they moved in and her husband has finally given her the thumbs up.

Today, while our combined five children ran amuck in my house, we stole moments to look at some furniture and paint colours. Now, post bedtime, I’ve been having fun putting together some ideas based on our conversation. Here is my best attempt to show you (and her!) what my mind has been up to.

(note: these are just ideas, fabric and paint swatches etc. would need to be seen in person to assess true compatibility)

A loungy neutral sectional, vintage vogue posters, brilliant blue walls, and funky patterns would make this living room a classy.

A loungy sectional with neutral textured fabric, a gallery wall of vintage vogue posters, brilliant blue walls, and funky fabrics would infuse this eclectic living space with energy to match that of three rambunctious boys.

So sister, what do you say?

(special thanks to my dear husband who guided his technology deficient wife through making my first online idea board).


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Fun and Funky Alternative Christmas Trees

Next Saturday my little family will be bundling up against the (likely rainy) weather and heading to a Christmas tree farm for the second year in a row. This year will be extra fun and crazy as Charlie will be tramping around on his own two feet. However, if I find the creative energy earlier this week, I will be adorning our little playroom  with an alternative Christmas tree of its own.

I had a great time typing random ideas for alternative Christmas trees into Google images and never once failing to find that such a tree has already been created. My favorite, the one I plan on re-creating in mini version for our playroom, is one of the most simple:


I find Christmas decor can be a bit overly colourful at times so I like the idea of holiday decorating with a bit of white. I’m hoping it’s not overly difficult. The instructions can be found here on Pop Sugar. The directions are somewhat lacking so if I make one I’ll try to write out a step by step and post it.

Here are some other alternative Christmas ideas that struck my fancy. Even if crafting isn’t your thing, some of them are quite simple, like the bay leaf tree below.

As simple as spray painting a bunch of bay leafs and gluing them on a cone.

As simple as spray painting a bunch of bay leafs and gluing them on a cone.

I had mixed feelings about this next one but its fun factor won me over.


Parents of young children will cringe when they see this next alternative but it’s a cool idea for a Bachelor, especially if he happens to have an industrial loft.


One of my favorite bloggers to read is Kate from Kate’s Creative Space. She is an extraordinary crafter/mother/decorator and I adore how she turned this mannequin into a “Christmas tree” for her kitchen.

kate'sfirladytreeAnother alternative that I could see my children trying to scale but is beautiful none-the-less.


And at the risk of giving your children the wrong idea about Christmas:


So unless you happen to be a master metal worker this next one isn’t exactly a DIY project. You can buy it online here.


One idea I love and could not find a picture of is using painted thrift store china plates to make a wall Christmas tree, not unlike the one made from shelves a couple pictures above. I already have my wall of china (see below) so I won’t be experimenting with this one myself but if anyone happens to come across such a picture please do post it in the comments.

We tried out our "new" dining room on some friends for a dinner party.

Have you come up with any of your own fabulous ideas for alternative Christmas trees? Please do share!

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