LINEN....LAVENDER...OH MY!

A recent family trip to Vermont has renewed my deep love for country living.  The mountains, the grass, the animals, not to mention - fantastically amazing interiors.  We arrived home just over a week ago and my brain is still swimming with images of fantastically chic scenery – linen, lavender, heavy duck cotton, cosy cashmere in the summer….arrrrgggh it’s like a Ralph Lauren dream 365, 24/7!

I then wake up from my dream and realize that I do not live in the Green Mountains, but a bustling and busy city and instead of getting all depress-y, I have been motivated to include some country into my own décor – in the hopes of recreating my own Ralph Lauren dream…one chic laurel crock at a time!

Take a gander below for a round-up of some of my fave Adirondack items that are sure to country-fy your space:

(P.S….my current store-love is Farmhouse Pottery in Woodstock, Vermont…..perhaps one of the nicest and freshest retail/workshop spaces I have ever visited…it even smells fantastic!)

TRULY...MADLY...DEEPLY...WALLPAPER!

It's safe to say that I am OBSESSED with wallpaper...so much so that my husband ACTUALLY made a comment about it to me the other day..."so...wow...you're really obsessed with wallpaper?!"  It's funny to me that he has JUST made that comment simply because 4 rooms in our home are wallpapered as well as the wall along the staircase leading upstairs.....my response "uh.......ya.......I Loooooooove wallpaper". And those are the riveting discussions that take place simply because at the end of the evening after chasing around a 2 year old we only have the energy to talk about wallpaper. Ha. 

Now back to the wallpaper....What I love most about not just Fornasetti, but wallpaper in general, is how it can completely transform a space. Whether you are papering a feature wall or an entire room from floor to ceiling, wallpaper really has the ability to  elevate the overall look of your space.  Fornasetti papers are extremely special and a lot of people may think that they are 'too far out on the other side', but I say 'pashhhhah' to that!  Experimenting with design is what makes the whole process so much fun, so why not live a little and paper your powder room in that fantastic fish print?!  I will guarantee that your guests are sure to make some comments!

ENTRY-LEVEL STYLING : UPPING YOUR WELCOME GAME

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Yes, this sounds like very cliché dating advice but oh-so-true, especially when it comes to the front entrance of your home. Regardless of whether you have a constant stream of visitors or just the FedEx guy stopping to drop off that package, a front entrance is that first hug, handshake or smile - make it memorable and a peek into what's to come.

Creating a welcoming entrance that is functional and stylin’ is something that can be achieved over one weekend.  

Weekend warriors read on if you want to Up your Welcome Game (and maybe this will entice some envy from your visitors...even the FedEx guy!):

1.  Let’s talk front door – whether you have a fab vintage door or a not-so, metal, prefab your front door is the first change-item to reno your intro.

Painting your door a rich glossy black will add some major drama and class up your place. You can also go against the grain and paint your door a vibrant lemon yellow - a colour that is sure to stand out on any street!  This is a weekend project (weather permitting) but a quick and relatively inexpensive one that can give you a great bang for your buck (ie a can of paint is much less expensive than an entirely new door).

2.  Console/Storage - this need not be an expensive item.  Try sourcing your local salvage or vintage store or even a relatives home for an unwanted cast off.  Well worn pieces look fabulous in any type of interior, from modern to traditional, and if you don't happen to like that 'aged' patina a can of paint will do wonders to revamp that piece.

3.  Designate a space for all your ‘stuff’ such as boots, shoes, dog leashes, backpacks, etc…  This could mean that you have a fantastic closet in your entry way (you lucky devil), or it could mean that you have a coat rack and some storage boxes.  Whatever you situation is, designating and maintaining ONE space for your items is key.  Spacial designation like this will prevent anxiety inducing clutter and will make it that much easier to find those mittens when it’s -20 overnight.

Take a peak at this fabulous entry way - it really is the perfect blend of trad and modern, and it's super stylin'!

OUR SUPER HANDY DECORATING BUDGET CHECKLIST

CLICK on the image to see the before and after VIDEO House & Home shot of this space!

CLICK on the image to see the before and after VIDEO House & Home shot of this space!

Preparing a decorating or renovation budget can be slightly nauseating simply because there are SO...MANY....THINGS....TO CONSIDER!  But fear not my friends, that is why I am here!  

Let's use a recently completed project, photo above (see the video House & Home shot of our work on this project).  This project included top to bottom decorating as well as some minor non-structural work and we managed to complete the project on time and on budget...how you may ask??  By following our checklist of course! 

This quick and simple checklist will provide you with an overview of the things you need to consider before spending your hard-earned cash-ola! 

1.  Identify the purpose of the room and how you will use it. Take stock of how you use your space, it will save you money in the long run!  If you do not need a home office then DO NOT SPEND MONEY creating a home office!

2.  Prioritize.  While we all want fancy and fantastic spaces but those two icky words...'budget constraints' can sometimes put a damper on our Architectural Digest dreams.  Prioritizing allows you take a realistic look at your budget and allows you to assess your needs - i.e. what is actually important....that sofa your family needs to sit on or that super fantastic designer vase?

3.  Timing.  Think about what is realistic for you and your current situation and when you would like the project completed.  A 30 minute renovation show IS NOT REAL LIFE!  Keep that in mind when putting together your list.  Sometimes it takes months for one room to be completely finished so just be patient and most importantly enjoy the process!

Over the next couple of weeks we will dissect this project and I will provide a full room by room overview of how we beautified the space and how long the process took from start to finish...and of course a source list will be included! 

Video Courtesy of House & Home

3 Foolproof Tips for Decorating Kids Rooms (it's not that scary!)

Decorating your little ones space can be daunting, but it really doesn't have to be!  Yes, kids are little people but until they form an opinion and become super duper bossy you can decorate their room however you want - you do hold the purse strings after all! Ha!

All kidding aside, decorating your child's space should be fun and not stressful endeavour.  Below are 3 Easy Ways to ensure you and your little bubba equally enjoy the space:

1.  Decorate with longevity in mind - Infants are little for only a short while, and while it's so tempting to purchase all those cutesy items and accessories you have to keep in check that soon enough your little baby will become a toddler or preschooler and they no longer want to stare at Sophie the Giraffe (sorry Sophie!).  Stick to artwork/frames that can be easily changed to appeal to your bubba's interests.  Neutral and un-fussy furniture and textiles also work well as it is always easier to accessorize a neutral backdrop.

2.  Choose a Neutral Paint Colour - Choosing paint colours is overwhelming in the best of times, but choosing a paint colour for a nursery when you're expecting is the equivalent of reversing your car while taking foreign language lessons! But alas - it does not have to be this way!  Trust me when I say that choosing a neutral paint colour for the room is going to alleviate so much of that decorating stress.  It will provide you with a neutral palette and save you from repainting years down the line when your little angel becomes super duper bossy and demands you paint over that bubble gum pink wall.

3.  Add Books - Ahhh.........kids books were MADE to live in kids rooms.  They're colourful, silly, and fun and can add so much to your child's space without a hefty price tag.  You can purchase picture ledges at a big box store and display your bubbas book collection across the wall - this will take up some valuable wall real-estate and add some visual interest.  And when bubba is older he/she can spend endless hours in his/her room reading....so you can have some well earned relaxation! 

And VOILA....3 Foolproof Tips for Decorating Kids Rooms........

........and Yes that is my Bubbas room...He is now 2 and we (I mean he and I) love the room so much that I don't plan to change a thing! 

MY TOP 3 WHITE PAINT COLOURS

I get a lot of questions about wall colour...choosing the right colour for your interior walls can be very daunting and a little intimidating.  But it doesn't have to be!  The great thing about paint is that if you don't like the colour you can always, and I mean always, paint right over it!   

Perhaps the more frequent questions about wall colour I get is about which white to choose - either for trim, doors, in the kitchen, etc... There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of shades of white, and they all differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Some of my personal faves are the 3 below from Benjamin Moore...all classics in their own right!

DINING ROOM...BEFORE AND THE AFTER PLANS......

Living in Toronto (or any metropolitan city for that matter) can be expensive!  Real estate in this city has gone cooko-bananas and until last year I had grandiose dreams of moving from our crooked little semi to a detached palace of our dreams.  Those dreams, however, have been squashed because I do not have access to a readily available pot of gold and we have yet (yet!!!) to strike it rich with the lottery.  So we have decided to stay put in our semi and sometime down the line we will gut this sucker and create that fab family palace!  Until then we have embarked on a couple re-decorating projects.  We have been in this house for 6+ years and over time my and my husband's tastes have evolved, and until we are ready to tackle a major reno both financially and emotionally (renos are stressful! And we have a 2 year old!  'Nough said!) we are making little updates in each room so that we can enjoy our home until we pull off the reno bandaid.  

One of the more dramatic updates will be in our dining room, where we have planned a complete overhaul (albeit one that has taken us months....see above re: lack of access to pot of gold!); new table, chairs, paint, wallpaper, credenza, lighting....Phew...I'm tired!

Below are some photos of the before (as in before we moved in), what the room looked like for about 5 years, its current state and my fab plans (completion mid-June....yay!).

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MY HOUSE!

My crooked little house!

My crooked little house!

Being a designer/decorator, I am constantly being inspired by or working on amazing design/decor projects that it's sometimes hard to really love my own home.  I feel like I spend A LOT of time complaining and hating on our house; things like the fact that it's over 110 years old so nothing (I mean nothing) is straight, the floors creak so much it's almost like they're talking, the bathroom is old and not functional for family living, the main floor is not open so if I'm in the kitchen and my son is up to no good in the living room I can't catch him in time, the list goes on and on......Gah, see how easy it is for me to go down the hate train?!  

But today I'm feeling a bit more introspective and very grateful (note to self - feel these feelings more often!), so I thought I would make a list about the things I love about our house....

1.  I love how calm it feels despite the craziness that everyday brings with a toddler and 9 year old lab 

2.  I love that my husband I were able to meld our two design styles together to create an environment that we both enjoy

3.  I love the street and neighbourhood!  You can't choose your neighbours - how true is that?!  We are so fortunate to be able to live on an amazing street with fantastic, caring and respectful neighbours

4.  I love how excited my son gets when we pull into the garage...."Yay...home!"

5.  Most, I love the fact that I am able to celebrate the quirks of living in an old and crooked house with my little family!

COME ON BABY LIGHT MY FIRE.......

Finding the appropriate light for your space can be extremely daunting.  There are so many styles and finishes to choose from that I would equate it to finding that perfect wedding (or prom dress!).  Lighting is key for so many reasons, it allows you to control the mood/feeling of your space, provides you with illumination when you need it, and it of course helps to finish the overall look.  Below are some of my favourite pendants...all very different but equally gorgeous!

WHAT I'M LOVING NOW....

Ah-mazing!! I can't get enough of these stone mosaics by Mosaique Surface.  The company is based out Montreal, and they make some of the most extraordinary made-to-order mosaics I have ever seen - literally works of art!  I am DYING to use one of these in a project....any takers?? 

THE FIDDLE LEAF TREE...AND HOW I TURNED MY BLACK THUMB GREEN

Let's be honest, being/having a green thumb is hard work!  Not that I'm averse to hard work mind you, but man keeping plants alive takes some skill, lots of patience and making sure you schedule those recurring maintenance/watering reminders.  My journey as a green thumb has been a long fought battle....I have spent many years planting, replanting, watering, talking to and spending money on plants - all the while managing to pretty much kill every single one.  It's not until recently that our house has exploded with greenery, and shockingly plants that have been alive for months and are actually thriving.  How did I do this you ask?? Well I will tell you - It all started with with a Fiddle Leaf Tree....My brand new shiny (very pricey & trendy plant) was dying a slow death shortly after I re-potted into an equally pricey but spacious pot.   I was beside myself and then of course the google curse took over....I obsessively typed and typed into that little search bar until I came across a random thread very deep in the interwebs that had one clear tip - DO NOT RE-POT YOUR PLANTS!  Yes, that's right!! Keeping them in their yucky plastic containers is actually what keeps them alive and helps them grow!  I paid our local nursery a visit the very next day and spoke to the lady in the tropical section - and she confirmed this!  I mean, I wanted to cry!  There was hope for my fiddle leaf. I promptly bought a small pot (the same size it originally came in) went home and replanted it.  It was touch and go for a while - but I'm happy to report that it's it's making a nice recovery!  

Below is my Fiddle loving life!

Now that's a happy plant!  Planter from West Elm...

Now that's a happy plant!  Planter from West Elm...

PLANNING YOUR BABES FIRST SPACE....ON A BUDGET

Being a mom to a 21 month old, I have now learned a couple of things about where to splurge and save when it comes to planning your little one's first space.  It's tough NOT to want to spend gobs of money on your nursery since there are so many too-cute options out on the market, but here is my TOP 3 list of Splurge and Save items (according to little old moi........)

SPLURGE

  1.  Mattress / change pad and protective covers - A great mattress and change pad are essential.  Your little one will spend soooo much time snoozing (lucky bugger!) and getting his/her diaper changed that investing the money in these items is totally worth it. And don't forget the mattress and change pad covers - they are extra but trust me you will thank me for this!
  2. Window treatments/drapes - These are so important and necessary especially during those first months when you are getting the baby used to sleeping/napping during the day.  Room darkening window treatments are a must!
  3. Books - get your little one interested in books early by making them a part of your decor. Invest in some classics and some of your faves and you too will look forward to story time. 

SAVE

  1. Chair - This one tends to be somewhat controversial...and it's all personal preference really...but I was never sold on the idea of spending an absurd amount of money on a chair that will eventually be moved to the dark shadows of the basement.  The glider/rocking chair concept is also not for me (thank you motion sickness!).  I believe the most important thing about your nursery chair is that it has to be comfortable, stylish and washable/easy to clean - and all of that doesn't need to come with a $1500 price tag!
  2. Artwork - Etsy, Indigo, Animal Print shop have some amazing art prints for kids that are fun, colourful and not too kiddie-looking.  And since there are tons of affordable options you won't regret your purchase when you want to change things around as your little one gets older.
  3. Change table - Hit up your local salvage or vintage store for some unique finds or you can re-purpose a bedroom dress as the change table, and when the babe is no longer a babe you can remove the pad...and voila his/her very own grown up dresser!

Below are some of my favourite 'splurge and save items':

CAN TOASTERS REALLY BE THIS COOL?

The SMEG brand of appliances has been available in Canada for some time now, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago when the small countertop appliances really hit next level hipster coolness. The retro designs are available in a myriad of oh so trendy colours - having one of these beauties on your countertop is a sure fire way to increase your design cred.  Below is a summary of some of my faves.

NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S FLORALS

The It's safe to say, wallpaper is one of my true obsessions.  My hands literally get clammy every time I spot an interesting pattern or design.  Wallpaper has been making a comeback for several years now, and there are so many interesting and bold choices available - including florals.  Yes florals!  Gone are the days of the hive inducing patterns from your gram’s house.  These are great for statement walls or covering an entire room if you really want to make an impact.  Ellie Cashman’s designs are currently my fave and totally worth the splurge.