Friday, October 28, 2011

Home Renovating

My co-worker, Shannon, has a brother-in-law, Paul Martin who is the owner of Martin Contracting. He's been in business for almost 20 years, but has recently launched a website. I was so thoroughly impressed with it that I had to share it!

This is a kitchen renovation that Paul did last year and I gotta say, this is pretty much my ideal kitchen. White shaker cabinets and some that have glass inserts, dark hardwood floors, dark counters, a farmhouse style sink in front of a large window, beautiful pendant lighting over the island...there's even a double oven and a pot filler over the stove top!! Gorgeous...
These next set of pictures are from Shannon's mom's house. I was over there for the first time not too long ago and noticed the kitchen immediately. The cabinets and mouldings are great and she has pot lights over the windows. This kitchen is a great example of how stainless steel appliances are not the be-all-end-all in the appliance world. When you have white cabinets, white appliances really help to open up the space because there is no break in the line of white. Don't get me wrong.. I love stainless steel, but white is appealing too, especially because I love me a white kitchen!
Here are some tray ceilings that Paul did. Tray ceilings are so elegant and really give a room that wow factor. They're also a great way to draw your eye upward, which can help make a room appear larger.

And finally, on a personal note, I'm doing my first running race tomorrow morning. It's not long (8km), but I've been hitting the pavement a few times a week for the past 2 months in preparation and I'm excited to get 'er done! Wish me luck!! :-)

Have a great weekend!

P.S. If my pictures from the race aren't too awful (and probably even if they are lol) I'll blog some when they're available :o)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Style At Home - November Roundup

The November issue of Style At Home is about easy holiday style. Sign me up! Christmas is the one holiday where my family goes all out so I really look forward to it each year. This issue had some great home tours and ideas for holiday decorating! Here is what caught my eye. 

Alison Lovel's Swiss traditions influence her holiday decor. Below, she created a modern Christmas tree by cementing tree branches in a pot and decorating them with a neutral mix of gold, silver and off-white ornaments. I've always been a fan of non-traditional Christmas trees and love the look of this

Alain Doom and Chip Hamann are an Ottawa couple who had designer Irene Langlois help design their space. I love this shot of the dining room! Irene used leftover marble tiles (from another reno in the house) to create a new surround for the fireplace. The mantle is beautiful!  The home owners found these vintage Charles Hollis Jones chairs online. I love that they have translucent legs and they pair very well with the pedestal table. The wall colour is also fantastic - it's a warm gray called Sandy Hook by Benjamin Moore.

In this home, designed by Maureen Sanbord, she integrated the large appliances into the overall look of the kitchen to make them as discreet and seamless as possible. I love what they've done to the range hood in the picture below. The cabinetry, in general, is beautiful and I love the subway tile backsplash.

Good news in the world of kitchens: Updating kitchens and bathrooms can be very costly, and are usually the most expensive home renovations. If you already have structurally sound cabinets, a product like this (and maybe some new hardware!) might go a long way in giving your kitchen an updated look. I've heard it over and over again that the easiest and least expensive way to update a kitchen is to paint out the cabinets white and give them new hardware.

And finally, I love this napkin ring. It looks so DIY-able! I see a project like this in my future :-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tutorial: DIY French Door Curtain Alternative

At the beginning of the month I blogged about the lack of cover on my bedroom's French door. Unfortunately I have to pass by the door to do pretty much anything in my room so the lack of privacy was an issue. 

My interim solution was to drape a curtain over the top of the door... As you can see, it was more of an eyesore than a solution. 

pinned around for ideas but kept in the back of my mind what Daniel from Manhattan Nest did to his French doors in his old apartment. I knew that solution would let the light come through, be easily removable, and most importantly, look great (hopefully!).

So I looked into his original source (Jessica, from How About Orange) for the project and it turns out it really is an easy process. I made a few modifications to their process because both Daniel and Jessica said they made way too much of the paste that sticks the fabric to the doors.

Here is my revised paste:
  1. Boil 2 cups of water
  2. While the water is boiling, stir 1/8 cup corn starch into 1/4 cup cold water
  3. Add the boiled water and mix it up
  4. Wait for it to cool down
While I waited for the paste to cool, I took the measurements from one glass panel on the door and used those measurements to make a template on a thin piece of cardboard (think cereal box thickness). The fabric I used was a basic white 100% cotton twin bed sheet and I ironed it thoroughly. Using my template and a pencil, I outlined my template onto the fabric, but drew it about 0.5 cm bigger on each side of the template so that I wouldn't have any gaps once the fabric was pasted onto the glass. It's definitely a good idea to test paste one or two pieces before you draw out and/or cut the rest of the fabric. That's how I figured out to cut the fabric slightly bigger than the glass panel. 

Once the paste was cool, I slathered it onto the fabric with a pastry brush until the fabric was fully saturated. I worked on big plastic bag so I didn't make a mess. I placed the fabric on the door and used an old metropass (any plastic card will do) to gently smooth out the bubbles. Have paper towel or a cloth on hand because most of the paste will leak out! 

I let it dry over night and am SO pleased with the results!!

Here is a close up of the fabric

And here's what the door looks like from the other side of my door with the hallway light off and on

Total things needed for this project and their costs:
Cornstarch (already had)
Fabric (bought a 100% cotton white sheet for $8)
Bowl (already had)
Pastry brush or paint brush (already had)
Sharp scissors (already had)
Paper towel or cloth (already had)

Total cost for this project: $8!
Difficulty* of the project : 3
(*1=breathing, 10= tightrope walking across high-rises on a windy day)
Notes: Even halving the recipe, I still had a lot of paste left over, but I wouldn't have reduced it any further. 

Here is the before and after side by side so you don't have to scroll up and down :o)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Decor at Jedd's Frozen Custard

Gary and I went to Jedd's Frozen Custard on Thursday night with a group deal coupon in hand. We each ordered 2 scoops of frozen custard - one vanilla and one chocolate. Being from England, I've had many many many custards in my life, but this was the first time I had frozen custard. It was delicious. Jedd himself was serving us and told us a bit about how the custard was made and said the chocolate wasn't as "chocolately" as normal that day, but that was fine by me - I actually really liked that it was a light chocolate flavour instead of intense chocolate. 


Anyway, while Gary and I were eating our dessert, I was checking out the place... Before we walked in I noticed how crisp the black and glass store front is, and then once we walked in, I immediately noticed that all of the counters and bistro tables were marble - beautiful!
{via}..and slightly altered

As we were eating I started to notice all the other great little touches: the cabinets were espresso-coloured with chalkboard fronts that displayed the menu options...

There were a few glass tile walls and fantastic chandeliers
The radiator had a cool cover on it and even the bathrooms were great!  They had the same design elements as the rest of the place so everything flowed nicely. Jedd said he designed everything himself and I think he did a great job

Unfortunately my camera charger broke and my battery is dead (I've ordered another charger!) so I didn't have my camera with me and grabbed these pics from online. They don't do the place justice!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Canadian House & Home - November Roundup

November's Canadian House & Home issue was the 25th Anniversary Issue and discussed the changing design trends from the 80's to now. Some of the images from the 80's were hilarious - very matchy matchy with lots of peaches, dusty roses, and baby blues....Yikes! Now it is much more current to mix and match separates.

Also, it looks like we're spending way more on renovations now than we did when the magazine was first launched in the mid-80's. I wonder where all that money was going before...

I was very surprised to learn that Toronto isn't the most condo saturated city in Canada. British Columbia has the top four condo saturated cities with Vancouver, Abbotsord, Kelowna and Victoria leading the pack. I can't even imagine a city that has more condos than Toronto...

I saw this ad for carpeting and I love it. I love neutral berber carpeting. I've been trying to convince Kevin that we should go the carpet route in the bedroom in the condo, because it's so much warmer and quieter (and less $$$!) I don't think he's quite sold on it yet.

Carpet One
The following images are from a show home in Calgary, Alberta that were designed by James McIntyre. I love his style! Simple lines, neutral colours, minimalist.... just my style

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photography Challenge...First Up: Self-Portrait

Here is my first photo for the 30 day challenge. I always feel funny looking directly at the camera when I'm doing a self-shot, so I'm looking out the window in this one. I got to use my tripod (which is AWESOME by the way :-)

Feel free to critique the photos! I'll put a few of them (the good ones lol) up so everyone can see my potential progress.

Here are the photo stats if you're interested:
Exposure 1/15
Aperture 4.14
F Number f/4.2
(I sharpened and slightly desaturated in Picasa)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge

While pinning, I came across this 30 Day Photography Challenge. My friend, Kerry from This Tinder is doing a year-long photography challenge and I wanted to do a condensed version of something similar to improve my photography skills and get me thinking outside the box...
I don't know if I'll remember to take a picture every. single. day, but I'll give it a shot (pun-intended :-P) This is probably something that I should start at the beginning of a month, but if I start it by tomorrow I can potentially be done right before my family and I leave for St. Lucia for my brother's wedding.

Have you done something similar? Did it improve your photography skills? Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So...My Old Apartment Is Listed on Craigslist

My uncle, a real estate agent, came over on Saturday and informed me that the house Kevin and I were living in is still on the market (I already knew though because I check it regularly on MLS), but that our old landlord did get an offer for the house. That offer fell through. My uncle asked me if I thought he would re-rent the upstairs apartment in the meantime. I'd checked a while ago, but not recently, so I went onto Craigslist (the method our landlord used when we found the apartment) to do some sleuthing. 

Guess what? He's got it listed. What a shocker....

$925 / 1br - 650ft² - Bright, clean, recently updated 2nd fl. apmt, Central A/C, all-inclu.

This listing is for an unfurnished, UNbasement ;) clean, bright and quiet apartment on the 2nd floor of a house. There is hardwood throughout with a separate entrance off the main hallway.

Rent includes all utilities, cable with most specialty channels, hi-speed Wi-Fi internet. Sorry no laundry facility but there is a Laundromat literally 2 minutes walking distance.
Ample street parking and permit is $14/month from the city.
This apartment is well-suited for a young professional who enjoys quiet M-F evenings but comes alive on the weekends. ***Rent for couples is $975; 1st and last months rent required upon signing.
Not suited for families.


There is so much wrong with this listing!

I measured the apartment while living there to make as accurate as possible a floor plan on If you include everything (stairs, closets, space taken up with counters, etc), the apartment is 504 square feet. I don't know where he came up with the extra 146 square feet...

Central A/C
The kitchen didn't have a working vent and the living room had little/no insulation on the exterior walls or floor. We had fans/heaters going about 10 months a year.

The kitchen is poorly installed laminate and the rest was hardwood, but was original and in desperate need of replace (re: stained with a bad shellacking job). People regularly told us they felt like they were on a boat because the floor was so crooked.  

Separate Entrance
I don't know how he's gonna get around this one... The entrance is most definitely shared.

When Kevin and I first saw this listed a couple years ago, he had it posted at $925. Then he lowered the price to $825 a few weeks later, so we went for a viewing. We knew the place was small, but we also knew that it was temporary and that we'd be able to save a bunch of money towards a down payment - and we did exactly that. (It also included laundry, but we had to walk through his unit to do it... which I admit, must've sucked for him, but we set up a schedule with him and only did laundry on Monday nights).

I know I sound like I'm ragging on my old landlord a lot, but I just don't get this guy. When I told him last year that Kevin and I bought a condo, he asked if we planned on staying until it was built and I told him we definitely would. He seemed relieved not to have to find new tenants. But then a few months later he told me he wanted to put the house up for sale, so we gave notice and left. Living in a space where you constantly have strangers walking through is not fun. He told me his intention was to sell the house and rent an apartment downtown with his friend. 


If I owned a duplex house, and had secured tenants in one of the units, I would just get tenants for the other unit if I were planning on becoming a renter again. I never asked him, so I'll never know his reasons, but doesn't it seem weird that he's selling to become a renter?

Anyhow, long story short: He listed the house way too high (according to my uncle and all the real estate agents that came by for the open houses) so it hasn't sold yet and now he's looking to re-rent the upstairs unit again, but this time for 18% more than we paid and not including laundry anymore...

If he wanted more rent, he should've just upped the rent a bit while we were living there - that's totally reasonable and to be honest, we expected it! Because now, even if he gets the higher rent ($975), he's already lost 3 months of rent since we left (including October). So over the next 12 months, assuming best case scenario (he gets a couple in there for $975 starting Nov 1st), he'll be down $675. If he gets a single person in there who would pay $925, he’ll be down even more with $1275 in lost rent.

Our Rent
New Rent (Couple)
New Rent (Single)

I know it’s not a huge amount, but I’ve always been taught a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush!

P.S. Feel free to laugh if you thought this because I totally did: Maybe he hated us and thought we were horrible tenants and this was all a huge ploy to get rid of me and Kevin... 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

{Clockwise from top left via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

I hope all my fellow Canucks are having a fun and safe Thanksgiving! And if you haven't gone out and enjoyed this fabulous long weekend weather yet, get outta your house and enjoy it while we still have it :-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

French Door Cover Up

My new bedroom has a 15-panel French door...and the glass has no cover whatsoever, which is unfortunate because I pass by the door to do, oh just about everything.

Going to the bathroom = passing by the door
Going to the closet = passing by the door
Computer = door
Sitting on the couch = right in front of the door!

Refer back to my bedroom layout, you can see what I'm talking about...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a private person. I have no problem with my family seeing me in my skivvies. But on the other hand, my family is as nosy as me and I have more than one time passed by the door and been greeted with someone *coughMichelleandMomcough* pressed up to the door like this:

...or some derivative of this, and it has literally given me nightmares, so it's about high time I do something about covering up the scary faces creating some privacy.

I have a black-out roller blind from Ikea (I can't remember which one) that we used on the French door we had in our apartment, but I don't really want to put holes in this door. My interim solution is quite horrendous and involves a curtain thrown over the top of the door:

I love what Daniel from Manhattan Nest did on his set of French doors in his old apartment.

 I also checked around on Pinterest and saw this cool idea:


What do you think? Both are screw-less options and can be removed without causing damage to the door. Should I go the fabric route à la Daniel or should I put up a picture/map? Even as I type this, I think I'm leaning more towards the fabric route as it will still let in the light... But I'd still love to hear your opinions!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Toronto Fall Home Show 2011

EI EI Home offered up two tickets for the Toronto Fall Home Show to me and the ol' bloggo, so my buddy Gary and I headed on over last weekend.

Gary was impressed that my tickets got us through the VIP Entrance (psst: every attendee was a VIP)

One thing I was definitely interested in checking out while at the home show was window coverings. The condo that we're moving to next year has 2 complete walls of windows - a long wall facing east (the bedroom, den and living room) and a short wall facing south (the other side of the living room and the kitchen).

We came across a Hunter Douglas booth with some pretty cool shades. These Duette Honeycomb shades had my attention for a good 20 minutes. I'd never seen shades like this before... I've also never gone shopping for window coverings either though, so take that with a grain of salt. After a bit of research online, I can tell you that these types of blinds are called cellular or honeycomb. The reasons I thought they were awesome is that:
a) they have a cordless lift option so the blinds can be positioned by hand (When Riley was a kitten, I once found her hanging from the cord of my blinds in my first university apartment. Needless to say, but cords are dangerous yo!)
b) they were top-down/bottom-up (hehe saying that makes me laugh every time) so you can pull them down from the top or pull them up from the bottom. 
c) the ones on the left had a sheer portion on top and a blackout portion on the bottom (perfect for a bedroom!)

This picture shows what the sheer part looks like for the shade on the left

These blinds would be $$$ and the option I had in mind and am still considering for window coverings is what Anna from Door Sixteen has. She used the ENJE roller blinds from Ikea and they look great. So clean and minimalist. I think they would be a great option for the living room/den/kitchen, but I would definitely need a more opaque option for the bedroom. I literally cover up every single source of light when I go to sleep. Light drives me nuts when I'm trying to doze off.

On another note, Gary and I also checked out some cool storage options while at the home show. This above-sink storage option immediately caught our attention. It uses an internal mechanism that counters the weight so it is easy to pull down and lift up.

This was a nicely decked out pantry. I imagine this would be easy to keep organized because everything is in plain view.

And we saw lots of options for bedside tables for beds with storage underneath!

This one would be pretty easy to make... I think

This one has more storage potential with the drawer. And I think it had integrated lighting in the headboard.. very cool.

Did you go to the Home Show? Find anything interesting? Did you get the bread pudding mix?? I may or may not have taken three packages...

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