Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adios Chairs!

Tuesday was my day off, and was a very productive day off indeed. I finally got around to craigslisting my old white fabric parsons chairs, and also listed some "hunk a junk" that's been rusting in our backyard for sometime for free, and ended up with some deluxe coffee in exchange. Ok, we'll start with the chairs. These are the chairs I bought a month ago on a whim after seeing their INSANELY low price tag.


Pretty, ain't she? I actually bought 4 of them, although I really need 6 dining chairs. I wasn't sure how they'd work since I was buying them online, plus I wasn't sure if I wanted all  the same or if I wanted to do 2 different captains chairs. They were $33 each. REALLY! No,  I didn't forget an extra zero there! I was floored. For those who don't know, this is a chiavari chair. It's actually an ancient Italian banquet chair design,  created for the ladies to perch upon in the massive ball gowns of the day. On top of it's charming antiquated history, the chiavari chair is a must have staple for glam weddings, and considering my past as wedding planner, it seemed even more fitting to have these in my home. They're easy to clean, lightweight, and just that perfect splash of eclecticism I was looking for. Love.

And this is a very similar design to the chairs I craiglisted. Ok, this one's a bit nicer, but you get the idea. Just add some scuffs on the legs and some stains on the fabric!

My hubby and mother told me I was dreaming when I said I thought I'd get $100 for them. I thought that was realistic, but I asked for $125 instead just in case some haggler decided to barter me down. Well guess what? Not only did I sell them but I got exactly what I asked for them! Woot woot! A little part of me almost wishes I had asked more- as I had many people emailing me asking if it was $125 for one chair, or for all six. Oh well. They found a new home (thank goodness because these chairs were my first baby), and I made some money to help pay for my lovely chiavari chairs.

Just for fun, lets do some math:

Cost of New Chairs (including shipping) $190
Less funds from Old Chairs - $125
Total Expense: $65

Granted, I now only have 4 chairs and do need to figure out what to do for the other 2, but if I do say so myself, $65 for an entirely new look is GREAT deal! I love this upcycling thing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For the love of Chiavari

Before: Dining chairs from afar


Before: White fabric parsons chairs


After: Glossy white Chiavari chairs



The Never Ending Headboard Debacle

I don’t know why, but finding a headboard has handsdown been the hardest design dilemma I’ve faced during our year here. Ok, I do know why- our room is awkward and as much as I love our plentiful windows, they cause their share of problems. The distance between the two windows sandwiching our bed is not equal to that of a queen sized bed, ruling out about 95% of queen beds/headboards that would cut into the window space.

The only reasonable solution seems to be a curvy headboard that slopes down the sides that will make room for les windows (is there a name for that kind of shaped headboard other than curvy?).
This one that I photoshopped in is from Target, and is a beauty at around 300 bones. J’adore.

Pretty, no? I think the style is perfect for our bedroom and certainly solves the window problem. *Note: this was our bed duvet-less and pillow-less. It has since been beautified, and soon to be photographed.*
So what’s the problem if I found a steal of a deal on a beauty of a headboard? Well, as much as I *love* our current shabby-chic-glam look going on, the hubs isn’t totally sold, so in the interest of our marriage I’ve decided it’s not long term. I love the master bedroom style of Dana on House*Tweaking. It’s certainly different than my current aesthetic, but I’m a rather ecletic person when it comes to design, so really, I swing both ways.



Until I get to the time that I pull down the wallpaper and paint it a yummy grey, I need a headboard solution that will tide me over for the next year or so until we get around to switching things up. Truth be told, I’d love to keep solids on the wall and patterns on the bed, which is exactly the opposite of what I’ve got now. So a white headboard will be great for now but not for long term. Therefore, an affordable and easy solution would be really really nice.
I really like this ornate headboard wall decal. It’s so pretty I might be able to overcome my distaste for wall decals.
Creator of this fab decal unknown. Fill me in if you know where I can find it!
I also love the idea of using an old vanity mirror (the kind that folds and is actually 3 seperate mirrors) to create a unique headboard. I scour craigslist daily hoping to score something similar for a deal.
I even contemplated DIY-ing an upholstered headboard. I made one a couple years ago using foam insulation sheets instead of wood, and not only was it pretty easy to make, but being lightweight made it super easy to install. Thing is, it looked homemade, and although it worked for me in my freshly married rental suite, I just don’t think I can do that to our little home we now call our own.
My top pick for our headboard solution right now would be inspired by this baby I saw on Colour Me Happy.

I think it’s about as close to perfect as I could ever imagine. Although I don’t ever plan on acquiring this exact headboard (well, maybe I would if I knew where it was from), I do think that I can try and hunt down an old ornate headboard and refinish it to create a similar look. There have go to be plenty old fashioned headboards around just waiting to be rescued, right? Well, as of today- not so much. I can’t seem to find anything on craigslist that even remotely resemble what I’m looking for. But I will not stop looking. I will hunt it down until it’s mine.

Vintage Sideboard Revamp

I went through a serious Danish/ Mid Century modern phase a couple years back. I scoured craigslist hoping to find some incredible treasures that someone didn't want anymore for a great price (aka- had no idea that their grandma’s piece of furniture was an iconic piece of design history). It took some time, but boy did I score! Although my vintage-hunt has slowed, some of the pieces I acquired during that phase are still some of my favourites to this day. And because sometimes you shouldn't save the best for last, here’s my fave.


I found this Danish tulip sideboard on CL for $40. Really, just $40! I later found the EXACT same sideboard on a website for vintage furniture listed at $800. Yup, it’s  a winner. I feel kinda bad that I defaced its’ (teak?) wood surface, but I'm a sucker for all things white, so white it went. After using a power sander to sand the surface down (who am I kidding? The hubs did the sanding), we painted it completely wrong using who knows what kind of paint that required close to 10 coats to prevent some weird orange streaks from bleeding through (was unaware of the magic of PRIMER at this point in my life). In the end though, baby turned out like this:

Please excuse the rando vignette on the sideboard. It was purely temporary and has since changed, but this was the best pic I could find that showed our sideboard in all its glory. And frankly, I’ve got a wiener dog sleeping on my lap, so getting up to take a picture of it now just wasn’t an option.

Gone be the gallery

I've been working on a picture gallery wall for our dining room for weeks now. Despite loads of inspiring pictures out there, I just haven’t been able to come up with the right collection of images to frame. This is the wall that is screaming for some lovin’.

A few inspiring photos?



























There’s just something so curious about picture gallery walls. I love how no two are the same, and you can really be creative with what you use. I take art seriously, and because I absolutely HATE hanging art, I want to make sure I know exactly where I want before that nail hits the drywall. That’s why I did this:


Yes, I made a rendering. I used approximate sized frames and filled them with art and oddities that interested me. But not all of it interests me. In fact, some of them I just plain don’t like- but I didn’t know what else to put in there. That FABULOUS woven hanging art that adorned the wall in Carrie’s Apartment in the SATC movie looked incredible in it’s massive, original state. Shrunk down to a teeny print just didn’t work the way I was hoping. The others? Well, they’re alright I guess. They just feel so forced to me. And a collection should be just that, a collection. Not an “I slapped these photos together because I was anxious to get my dining room decorated” moment. A collection takes time, time to find things you fall in love with, things that are worth collecting. So I’ve decided to keep my little graphic rendering project on the go, and as I fall in love with art/sculptures/trinkets, I will slowly add to my gallery art collection. Maybe one day I’ll have a really stellar collection that won't keep me stressing about what to put on the walls. And oddly enough, as soon as I gave up my gallery wall dreams, my eyes fell upon this great big canvas I bought months ago with no purpose in mind. It’s been sitting in my guest room, protective packaging still on, just waiting for a place to call home. And I think I’ve found the perfect place for it…


The Elephants in the Room



Ok, they’re not quite elephants, but our new couches are certainly on the heavy set side. With a textured greige fabric and chunky arms, one could say that our couches have a good case of elephantiasis going on. I actually never would have picked a set like this on my own. We sort of happened upon them after my mom bought them from a trendy danish modern decor store only to find out my father wasn’t too thrilled with them. Being the great mom she is, she swapped us her never-been-used couch with ottomon set for the proceeds we got from craigslisting our old sofas. To say we got the deal of a lifetime is an understatement (Thanks Mom!!).
Not only did this work out perfectly as I have been DYING to get new couches for a long time now, but I’m really happy that I didn’t have to toil about what style to buy. I do have serious design ADD and given the opportunity to choose from so many sofa styles would have probably taken a year. Last summer, I fell in LOVE with this beauty (ironically I bought it at the same time at the same store when my mom but my little ellies- who’d have known they’d be mine half a year later!)

Isn’t she purty? Oh yes she is. Her name was Pearl and we had an affair. I didn’t tell the Hubs that I bought her, and although he was somewhat supportive of our illicit relationship, I was the one who actually ended it. I found Pearl very difficult. She didn’t play very well with others, so she was quite hard to find friends to go with her. I hunted down occasional chairs, but she didn’t really like them. I tried to match a loveseat to her, but things just didn’t work out. In the end, Pearl found a new home via some online dating website (craigslist), and she is now very happy and likely not sharing the spotlight with any other upholstered lovers.
In the end, I am over the moon happy about our new set. It’s a style I might never have chosen out for myself, but the chunky lines break up a lot of the feminine touches I’ve showcased around our home. I think it’s good to have a piece or two that grounds the whole space and neutralizes some of the girly stuff for my hubby. So in love with Ellie and Ella! And because we need a good before and after to understand the impact, here we go:
Before: Blah Blah Big Box Store Furniture

And After: Ellie and Ella in all their glory!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A (practically) free room makeover


Although I already summed up our painting experience, I left out a major key piece. The wallpaper. That darned wallpaper. I bought it almost a year ago, after endless hours of narrowing down samples. The only reason I even settled on  it despite my indecisive nature was that I wanted something to put on my wall for our perfectly planned housewarming. Turns out, my “special order” wasn’t that special, as it took over 2 months to come in, missing my party by a long shot. I picked up my wallpaper near the end of May, and in the closet it sat until this last Friday. I figured my $150 or so worth of wallpaper wasn’t earning me any interest, so I might as well put it to some use and execute my year old decorating plan.
After I threw some paint samples on the wall to dry, the hubs and I started to wallpaper. This was my third time wallpapering, and his only time. My first two attempts weren’t quite as successful as they could have been as they were done solo (partner highly recommended for wallpapering!), so we followed the directions to a tee. We measured and precut all of the pieces we would need with the pattern perfectly matched up, filled the tray with the perfect temperature water, and primed the walls with size. I soaked it in the water for the recommended 15-20 seconds, rolled it out evenly and booked for the proper length of time. The first strip went up fairly easy. We started smoothing it over, full of anticipation of what our joint effort could bring. Dum dum dum. There it was. Our first strip of wallpaper. It looked pretty good, except for the sides were curling. Everywhere. We tried a multitude of tools to smooth the edges down, and nothing worked. I felt deflated.
Maybe it was the wall size (primer) that we used? So we tried it again, on another area of the wall with no size. Again, my luxury wallpaper failed to stick and the sides curled up like a potato chip. At this point I went from frustrated to furious. This was clearly not our fault. We did everything right! And here we are, left with 20 something strips of cut wallpaper that just won’t work. I called my resourceful mother to see if she had any tricks up her sleeve, and actually suggested we call Home Depot to see if they’d accept a return. I thought that surely there was no possibility- we had no receipt, bought it a year ago, and then cut it into a bunch of pieces. But no, Home Depot didn’t mind. The looked up our invoice since it was a special order, and then not only credited us for the cost of our wallpaper, they actually refunded it to our debit over giving us a gift card! I’m sure I would have spent the gift card anyways, but it certainly impressed me. Dear Home Depot: We love You.
The $160 or so refund completely covered the cost for our paint and supplies for our kitchen/ dining room makeover, and since the original wallpaper was bought with a gift card given to us as a housewarming gift, we really didn’t spend a penny! Now it doesn’t get any better than that. And now that it’s done, I am SO happy we decided to paint the full height of the walls as opposed to wallpapering half. So so happy! I’d post pictures, but I think I’ll wait until my wall plans are all finished!

A paint by any other name... would still not be fun to apply

Yesterday was wallpaper paint day. A day I had long dreaded as wallpapering and painting are two of my least favourite things to do in the world. Knowing that the end result will be well worth the pain and suffering, I pulled myself out of bed on our day off and headed to Home Depot. I brought in my wallpaper sample, and matched it to a Behr’s Ultra Premium Primer and Paint in one called Pensive Sky. Quite fitting for a city such as this. Our skies are quite pensive. It wasn’t a perfect match, but I thought it paired well enough with the wallpaper without being too “seafoamy” which was my main concern. I brought my $5 sample home, and slapped some on the wall in a little sample patch. In the jar, the paint looks white. Like “I think they forgot to tint it” white. I didn’t see any semblance of colour in the jar, but once on the wall it started to dry a very very light icy baby blue.



I quite liked it, although I did feel that perhaps it wasn’t pushing my boundaries quite enough. And it surely wasn’t anything like the grey that the sample showed. I wasn’t quite sold on it, so when hubby rolled out of bed at noon (apparently not such an eager beaver for the home projects, are we?) and expressed his distaste for it, I was more than open to other options. On the same colour swatch paint card thingy, one spot up from Pensive Sky, was “Rhino”.
I had my eye on Rhino. He was a tad darker than I imagined the “one” to be, and perhaps not as feminine as my subconscious was pushing me towards. It did have a really nice hit of grey though- and I have been wanting to incorporate some grey into our townhouse in the worst way. So, when hubby looked at the paint card and loudly declared his affection for Rhino, I leaped for joy. Not only was this a colour I wanted to try out (despite my slight apprehension), I was getting to paint our dining room in a colour that hubby himself felt like he selected. Bonus!
So, after 4 trips to Home Depot, and 14 hours of “game time” from start to finish (drive through lunch breaks and taping off trim time included), we collapsed on the couch and let the new colour set in. We may have been delusional from exhaustion and lack of food, but we could still appreciate the beautiful colour on the walls. Although these aren't the greatest before and after shots, the wall transformation looks like this:

Before: Builders Beige



After: "Rhino" Muddy Grey Blue



I’m really happy with the outcome, but I can say with absolute certainty that I truly and utterly despise painting. It is so so exhausting. My body just… aches. On the plus side, the whole cost of out kitchen/ dining room paint-ovation came to about $0. Now that will be another post!

Step by Step


A very bland dining room/great room just begging for some love.

And the possible wallpaper/ wainscotting combo for the wall right of the dining table.


All of this talk and all of these thoughts of my kitchen overhaul are causing me to go in the entire other direction. No, I’m not changing my design plan, just reevaluating my priorities. I started out wanting to do more, to do things entirely different, and I am on the path to doing less and doing things in the same tone as previously planned. Why the big change? Well, for one, budget constraints are a major issue. There are so many small projects that need to get done that will make an overall large impact if I do finish them, that putting our entire home budget into one project and leaving the rest unfinished seems silly. That, and part of me thinks I really should start with the small stuff and work up from there. As I struggle with my personal fitness, I encounter the same challenges- start slow, with easy workouts, and THEN run the marathon. Makes sense, no?
Since we are working within a budget (who isn’t, really?), my first way to remedy my “sights set to high” ailment is to work with with what we have. I have hundreds of dollars of wallpaper in my closet, some bought on sale just because they were on sale, other designer ones bought at full retail with a design plan in mind. It seems like a no-brainer to start wallpapering these builder’s beige walls baby, because wallpaper can make a HUGE impact, and will hopefully satiate my redesign urges for a small amount of time. So, my first plan of attack, first thing to check off the to do list is to FINALLY do something with our boring dining room (after a year of nothing).
I have approximately enough wallpaper to create a feature wall on the wall right of the dining table. I have toiled endlessly on what to do with the wall because of the darned windows (but I love windows!). No large statement piece of art would be able to go there, an 2 large pieces of art would just compete for attention with the window. I also tossed around the idea of some great custom millwork to display some pretty accessories, but if I’m going to do built-ins, I’d like to do them right- and right now, the budget aint right. So wallpaper it is. I picked out this wallpaper about a year ago, and although I’m not head over heels for the pattern like I was back then- it’ll do for now. I think I’ll paint the wainscotting in a colour matched to the greyish blue green of the wallpaper. By doing the wainscotting, I can stretch out the wallpaper supply and repeat the same thing on the buffet wall! Now…let’s just see if I’ll ever actually get around to this! Friday’s the plan…so let’s see!

Second thoughts on kitchen cabinets


So, my kitchen post from earlier this week got the wheels a turnin in my head again. I just couldn’t let my idea rest (or put my ultimate plans on hold) until I got a better idea of how much such a project would cost (ie: I needed to comparison shop and see what other deals were out there). Although I’m not big for hiring services over craigslist, I decided to at least do a search and see what I could find. Sure enough, there was an ad for an entire kitchen redo for under $3000. Score! I don’t need an entire kitchen redo, only a paltry little 10 cabinet doors, so surely it’ll be just a fraction of that cost, right? Not so much. Although this second quote was more reasonable than my $1500 without delivery or installation quote, it’s become very clear that to get this job done, and to get it done right is still going to cost between $1500- $2000 when all is said and done. I actually do now think that is a fair price and I completely understand the cost of quality workmanship- it’s just that there is so so much more on my list I need to tackle first, so back down on the priority list is goes. And that reminds me- must start working on that list!

All up in my kitchen

This is our kitchen. It was one of the main reasons we decided to purchase our townhome. Overheight cabinets, tons of storage space, and a built in paneled fridge and dishwasher were only the icing on the cake. Our (my) favourite part of the kitchen was the size and layout. It’s open and spacious feel and massive island really made it feel like it belonged in a single family house and not a narrow lil townhouse. I also hadn’t seen this type of kitch in any other townhome floorplan, and that made us feel special. Check out this crappy picture below (better ones to come).


The only issue is that I’m not a brown girl. I like my chocolate dark, and that’s about it. I’m a white lover, and it takes one glance at my dining chairs or built in media cabinet to see that I’m colour-averse. I can deal with dark wood floors (although my fave are a bleached grey look that I’ll reserve for another post), but every time I walk into my kitchen, my heart sings a song longing for white cabinets. As a New Kid on the Block would say it ” uh oh oooh oh, uhh oh oh oh, uhh ohh oh oh, the WHITE stuff!”. Ok, that was corny. Anyways, in honour of my white love, here’s a beautiful kitchen that calls to me:


And this one:

I really can’t say that I prefer a traditional shaker style off white cabinet over a super modern glossy bright white one, all I know is that I love white in all its forms, and I’d be happy with pretty much anything (hold the cheap laminate basement grade cabinets of yore). Of course, the hubby and probably the rest of my family would disown me if I tried to overhaul and renovate a 10 month old kitchen. Yes, it sounds crazy. And it kind of is. But a girl can dream, right?
My compromise (and by compromise I mean my mid-to-long term plan) is to go the two tone cabinet route. I’ll keep all of the cabinet bases, the lower cabinet doors, and replace/ refinish the upper cabinets. It is a lot more work than it sounds, because on top of making my uppers white, I’ll also need to use a white veneer/panel along the side of the cabinets (thank GOODNESS the frames/bottoms/insides are all white!). The supplier that did our kitchen originally quoted me over $1500 for the upper cabinets without delivery or installation. And that doesn't even include a new panel for the fridge, so the fridge and the cabinet above it would remain in the espresso colour. Will this even look good? Let’s hope so. Here are some examples of kitchens I found that reflect the general idea in my head:


Until then,  I can only dream of the days I will spend in my glorious kitchen. I am going to *try* to hold myself back for as long as possible, but I have a feeling that I may get antsy and try to refinish the laminate cabinets myself and paint them a glossy white (is that even possible?). I guess the worst that can happen is that I wreck them and have to get my new ones anyways, right?

And at first... there was light

I guess in order to get to point B in my master plan to decorate our townhouse, I should probably start at point A - how we came to be in this teeny townhome out in the burbs. When the hubby and I first got married, we lived in an incredible rental suite about 15 minutes away from our current abode. It was everything I envisioned our first place to be; sweeping views of the valley, wall to wall windows, an expansive cobble stone patio, granite counters and a spacious open floor living plan. The only thing missing was that it wasn’t ours. And no matter how much we loved living there, it never could be ours.
And so our hunt began for our very first property. Not being “downtowners” nor “country folk”, we found our perfect neighbourhood in the same city I grew up in. It’s the perfect blend of suburban comfort with a trendy urban vibe, and to boot it’s much more affordable than living in the heart of the city. We knew we wanted a townhouse, but beyond that we were clueless. Geared without a realtor in hand, we limited ourselves to new home builds within a 5 minute walk of a bustling new shopping village. Location really was key, because had we expanded our search just another 2-3 minute drive past that, we would have opened ourselves up to about 9 different communities, but instead we narrowed down our search to 3, and then ultimately 2.
Falling in love with both new home communities for very different reasons, we decided to write a contract on both homes and then had to think long and hard about our priorities. Our original home we purchased had *almost* everything that we were looking for. The finishes were top of the line, the clubhouse was divine, and there was even a promotion that covered the tax, which would amount to close to $15 000 savings compared to the second home we were looking at. But in the end, my practicality won over, and I realized cosmetic things can be changed, but location and specific home features can’t be.  The home we ended up purchasing afterwards shows just as well (sure it’s lacking the composite stone counters in the bathrooms- but then again it’s just more reason to put my own mark on the home, right?), has a very good sized walk out backyard, and an open concept floorplan. I am happy (overall) with our decision, since I wasn’t able to marry the 2 homes to create my dream home, I figured I might as well do it step by step. Starting now…




To Do: Decorate Townhouse



I’m not a very good blogger. If I reach 10 posts this year I’ll certainly be giving myself a big pat on the back. I’m also not a very good to-do-lister-er. Well, I’m great with writing the to-do lists, just not so much at the actual doing of them. And so, here I find myself seeking a way to track my projects whilst brainstorming the next one. I sit here, in my 10 month old townhouse, wondering what happened to the last 10 months, and why my walls are still builders beige and my bed has no headboard? Well, New Years resolutions aside (those always fail, don’t they?), I’m going to *try* to both check things off my list, and document my accomplishments every once in awhile. If you’re along for the ride, I promise sporadic posting, incoherent mutterings, and poorly lit photos (ok, I'm sure the photos won't be that bad- I do have a DSLR after all!)