December 31, 2010

We Even Vacation in a Townhouse

For the last week I have been secretly blogging from a different townhouse.  Although we don't celebrate Christmas, we do enjoy a good holiday.  So, instead of gift giving and turkey eating, my parents, husband and I tend to travel this time of year.  Last year and this year have been spent in a gorgeous townhome for rent on Lake Superior.  The homes are decorated beautifully, but what I find really inspiring is the world around them.  I took tons of pictures of the ice, lake and sun setting.  I want to pick a half dozen or so to frame, and hang them in a row in the main bathroom (above the towel bar).
See bathroom pics here.

The above pictures were all from this website.  The units are also available for purchase (or you can purchase a share) but we go the cheaper route and just rent a unit for a week or so. 
All of the following pictures were taken by me or my hubby.

I heart this fireplace surround.  You have no idea how many pics of it I took . . .

Last year we tried dog-sledding!
This year we did more sitting and eating, which I thoroughly enjoy.

One of my favorite pictures.  I wanted to share.

December 29, 2010

Front Hallway: "Before & In Progress"

Remember I blogged about getting a photo we took in Portugal enlarged to fit a frame we had?  It was my attempt to inject a bit of "summer" into our hallway.  Here's a link if you missed it.

Well, we finally have the enlargement and already wrestled it into the frame.  Scroll down for some shots of our front entry way "before" and after a "spit and polish".  It isn't finished, but looking better.  To see another part of this hall, check out my post about making a holiday card display board here.

The picture, at last!

Hallway "before"

Hallway "before"

So, What Did We Do?
We kept the tile.  It was installed professionally and the same tile runs through the hallway toward the stairs and in the half bath.  Plus, the same tile in a different colour combo (black & white) runs into the kitchen and then is transitioned nicely to the hardwood.  To change this tile would be an all or nothing job, so we decided to work with it.  Its no secret I like turquoise anyway, so it works. 

We did give all the walls and doors a coat of crisp white paint, sewed a new curtain, changed all the door knobs and hinges to silver (mismatched and ratty door knobs and painted hinges were this home's trademark) and bought two new ceiling fixtures.  The rug is handwoven by a Finnish artisan in Northwestern Ontario using reclaimed materials.  Because my mom donates old clothes and fabric to the artisan, one of the turquoise stripes in the rug is of my old pyjama pants!

Basically, we just brightened up the space and made it look fresh and clean.  I think an overhaul isn't always necessary (or affordable) and sometimes a "spit and polish," as I like to call it, is enough.

My old ripped pyjama pants found new life as a rug!

Some trials and tribulations:
The frame we bought wasn't just a frame, it was a piece of "art" bought from the furniture department at The Bay because it was the largest frame we could find (and loads cheaper than custom).  But when we cracked it open, we saw that the "art" had  been glued to the matting and took some careful slicing to extract. 

I also tried to "save" the light fixtures with some black spray paint but they still looked awful and after a mild earthquake which involved much rattling of the danglies, we decided to scrap it and buy new.  Happily, my grandma had actually been looking for similar dangles to replace the ones on her light fixture (hers had turned yellow-y), so parts of these light fixtures lived on and weren't thrown out!

DIY Gone Bad

TLC for Teak Update

About a week ago, I blogged about an Apartment Therapy post I found, outlining how to care for teak.  I did tackle my newfound vintage teak chair.  Although the before and after are pretty identical, I feel good knowing that my teak piece will look good longer if I care for it properly. 

One tip I learned from the super mangled bottle of teak oil I have: apply the teak oil with the direction of the grain.  Don't use circular motions or go against the grain.

Is it just me, or do my supplies look
exceptionally ratty?

December 28, 2010

Art Attack: Nick Wroblewski

I am totally in love with this woodblock print by artist Nick Wroblewski.  The colour palette is so pretty!  I spotted it at the Siverston Gallery in Grand Marais, MN.  At $75.00 unframed, it isn't even out of reach, like much of the art I love.  But we just bought bedding, upholstery fabric and some other home goodies, so I'll have to settle for ogling this print here.  Yep, I'm blogling


Wroblewski is an artist based in America's Midewest.  Check out his website for more info.


"Polarity of Snow Geese"

"Winter Silhouette"

December 26, 2010

Babble Alert: Tips for Picking Fabric

This is a wordy post.  I won’t know if you just skip down to look at more picture laden posts! J

Upholstery fabric can be pricey.  It can cost hundreds of dollars a yard (but you can pick it up for $20 bucks too—I don’t want to scare you) and if you add that to the cost to reupholster a piece (or even the supplies to DIY), upholstery jobs can be expensive. 
To prevent buyer’s remorse, here are some tips:
-Bring a photo of the room (if you’re designing to fit into a scheme).  I totally kept misremembering the shades of green in the room, so I was glad I could refer to a picture on my phone to refresh my mind.
-Check the prices right away.  You don’t want to fall in love with something that’s out of the question.
-But, if you do fall in love with a pricey print, order a small piece for a pillow or save it for a special small piece, like a footstool, and find something cheaper for your sofa project.
-Play fast and loose with the samples you’ll bring home.  What I fell in love with in the store was blah at home, so I’m glad I was greedy and brought home dozens of fabrics that caught my eye.
-Some companies provide stores with large samples and also smaller ones in a book.  Try to get as big a sample as possible.
-Try out the fabrics in the room, on the item of furniture if you can, in evening and daylight.  What looked super cute in the sunlight read as beige at night.  Find something you like all day long.  (Same goes for paint colours).
-If a salesperson is helping you, be specific about what you like and use example from their display (I explained which greens were too dull and showed her which shades I liked) but don’t be overly specific.  I wasn’t too bossy and, as a result, the woman helping me pulled some really awesome prints I wouldn’t have picked because I was so narrowly focused.  The fabric I ended up picking was one she suggested!
-If you’re constantly changing your décor, pick a pattern with a few colours so you can pull a different colour out as an accent if you get bored with the original scheme.  Or pick a more flexible pattern, like black & cream houndstooth or grey & white herringbone, which can be dressed to fit more décor schemes than a giant hot pink flowered print.
-If you’re scared of pattern, pick a textured solid (like a great tweed or velvet) and splurge on a gorgeous throw pillow in a great print (like the super expensive one I know you’ll pick first).
I’m always tense about shopping for bigger ticket items.  I can’t afford to re-do if I don’t like what I bought or did.  But, the best advice (for me, especially) has to be this: just relax and go with what makes you the most excited.  I liked all the fabrics, but I picked the one I was most excited about. 
What are your tips???

December 25, 2010

You're The One That I Want

Yay!  Decision made!  We finally picked a fabric for the guest bedroom chair.  It was really difficult because I liked soooooo many of the fabrics.  We picked the green & turquoise swirly rose pattern, at the top left of the chair.  Photo #2 is a close up shot.  It is brighter in real life, the lighting and camera setting dulled the colours a bit.  The fabric will take a few weeks to come in, but I promise to post better quality pics when it does. 

Because I'm embarassed that this bedroom is looking a tad messy, click here (please?) for some pics of the room when the contents of a fabric store haven't been unleashed on it.

December 24, 2010

Colour Me Surprised

I finished my paintings!  The basement is the warmest, coziest spot in the house (other than two feet in front of the fireplace), so I've been spending many evenings down there, painting.  But, I also line dry my clothes down there and I couldn't do both at once so there was very little laundry done. 

I was painting something dark and moody but, after a flash of inspiration, this is what I created:

I guess I wasn't feeling dark and moody.  Anyone else find that creative endeavours sometimes have a mind of their own?  These paintings are across from our black, random square headboard (see picture below).  New bedding (back-ordered until the end of January, unfortunately), colourful throw pillows & accessories are in the works.  I'll post pics soon, but a true "after" shot won't be had until February. *sad face*

December 21, 2010

Inspiration: Eco Chic

I just picked up Emily Anderson's book, Eco-Chic Home.  I won't lie, right now I'm only looking at the sections with pictures (what can I say? I'm a visual learner).  But, I'm pretty excited about some of her DIY ideas and home-making advice.  Did you know that adding some lemon juice to a load of laundry bound for line drying can brighten your whites?  I plan to implement some of her ideas in the New Year, and I'll let you all know how it goes!

Literally Bar None

Continuing from my post, "Bar None" from a few days ago . . .

I'm still searching for the perfect black towel bar for the mainfloor half bathroom.  This task is proving to be really difficult because I bought the light fixture, faucet, drain, and mirror separately so I need something that "clicks" with all the different elements of the room.  What are your thoughts on bathroom fixture "sets"?  Sure makes things a lot easier, right? 

Click here for more pics of the bathroom, or just scroll down through a few posts.

Thoughts on these two options?

Umbra Braid Towel Bar

Gatco Brooklyn Towel Bar

December 20, 2010

TLC for Teak

I found this great Apartment Therapy post that provides step by step instructions for giving teak furniture an oil.  Tomorrow I plan to give my new vintage chair some lovin' following these directions.
Check out the gorgeous teak credenza featured in the article.  Anyone else jealous of the author's gorgeous teak piece (and beautiful styling)?

Happy Anniversary!

My hubby and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary today!  We've been married two years, and together for nine.  We were planning to elope, but our family protested so we had a bit of an un-wedding-y wedding.  Here are some pictures from our wedding day:

My dress was based on the wedding dress Grace Kelly wore, but mine had 3/4 sleeves, a shorter hemline and I opted for peach silk and black lace instead of white.  I don't get to wear fancy dresses as often as I'd like, so I didn't want to waste the opportunity on the obligatory white wedding dress.  Although I "designed" the changes I wanted and purchased the materials, I had a dressmaker make it for me.  I did DIY my own hair and makeup, flowers, plus a gift for each guest, as well as the box for cards and our guestbook/scrapbook (scroll down for details).  Our invitations were from Target.  We just added our own text and printed.

We were married at city hall in Toronto, which was really nicely decorated because it was Christmas.  We then had a very small brunch reception at the Hôtel Le Germain, Toronto

For wedding favors, I made "Christmas Spiders" (because we were married so close to Christmas).  According to German folklore, every Christmas tree has to have a spider, a reminder of St. Nicholas turning cobwebs into tinsel.  There's a super cute story that goes with these glittery guys.  

I wrapped the spiders in these cream boxes with black ribbon (Our invitations were cream with black text) and they also served as place cards because each had a tag with a guest's name.  I used special scissors to create the scalloped edges on each name tag.  I also asked the chef to make a Christmas cake with icing made to look like presents for dessert.  

I made our box for cards from an old cardboard box.  I wrapped it with fabric and ribbon to make it look like a present (sense a theme?) and then embellished with some handmade ribbon flowers and leaves, made by my mom. 

Instead of a having a guestbook, I created pages for our scrap book with photos of us through the years in the middle.  We asked guests to write us messages using a gold pen.  Then we inserted the finished pages into a scrapbook I made, which chronicled the day.

Our "getaway" car!  We left for our honeymoon in Greece the same afternoon.  It was lovely to have our family wave goodbye to us as we departed.  We were headed someplace warmer, that's why we were grinning ear to ear.  Joke was on us.  We brought the cold weather to Greece. 

Inspiration: Sarah's House

Awhile ago, I was mesmerized into watching back to back episodes of "Sarah's House" on television, re-runs of course.  I think the only thing more jealousy-inducing than watching one episode, is watching seven in a row.  Because I've been trying to channel Sarah as I make my fabric decision (so close the picking something for the vintage teak chair, I promise!), I thought I'd post a few of my favorite rooms from "Sarah's House".  These aren't hot off the presses, but delightful none the less.  So here's a little post-weekend eye candy:

If you want to see more stunning rooms, check out her portfolio here.
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