Category Archives: our digs

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

choosing hardwood floors: our experience

12th February 2015

Building or renovating a home is just an endless lesson in decision-making. There are so many decisions to make – pretty much on a daily basis. Some bigger, and more expensive, than others. One of the larger decisions we had to make in terms of interior finishing were the floors.

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

We knew from the very beginning that we wanted a continuous look throughout the house. Sure the bathrooms would be tiled, but everywhere else would have the same floors – a hardwood. We love the warmth of  hardwood floors. They are a classic choice, don’t go out of style, are good for re-sale, and suit just about every kind of look you might be going for in a room. I’ll admit that we did think about a laminate or tile for a brief period – the kind that mimic the look of hardwood – because the price of those options was just so appealing. Ultimately though, we knew it was wise to spend the extra money now and not regret our decision later on. Floors aren’t really something that are easy to change down the line.

I had a pretty clear vision of the style I wanted from the very beginning: a wide plank hardwood in a grey-meets-brown colour with a satin finish. I kept coming back to this particular space…

via heather wilson architect

>> see this gorgeous home by Architect, Heather A Wilson here <<

The look felt just right to me – kind of beach-house inspired – with a heavy dose of grey. Not too golden, not too reddish, not too brown, that perfect grey wash kind of look.The practicality of a lighter toned wood was also appealing. I didn’t want to get something that was too dark, where I would be seeing the dust and dirt 10 minutes after it had been cleaned.

Sourcing out the floors became a full time gig there for a while. I visited a zillion hardwood floor places around town, looking for the floor that was going to be just right, but that also wouldn’t break the bank.

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My mini helper. How little she was last summer… Her short hair! The legs!

I brought home sample after sample. There was one hardwood that was amaaaaazing and I stupidly brought home a sample piece. Of course it was way over budget, but I was bringing home a piece of it just to “compare others” so that I could “find a match” that was cheaper. Ha, what a dumb move. If you can’t afford it, don’t even look at it. Seriously. Just walk away.

On wide planks: Everyone kept telling me that if I wanted wide planks, then I was much better off to go with an engineered wood product. Solid hardwood (which typically comes in narrower widths like 3 or 4 inches) is more prone to “cupping” and warping with the expansion and contraction that occurs with change of season and moisture levels. At first I was really reticent on the whole idea of engineered wood floors – I thought it was the same as laminate – but was won over when I saw the product from a few of the top line manufacturers. Engineered hardwood is made of layers of wood, bonded together with adhesives. A high quality engineered hardwood will still be able to be sanded/re-finished several times in its lifetime. When you look at the side profile of an engineered floor piece, you can see that the good ones have quite a thick top layer (the wood). The main advantage to engineered hardwood is that it is much more moisture resistant and therefore less likely to cup or warp over time. So with a wide plank where there could be a lot of expansion and contraction in a solid, you are making a safer choice by going with engineered. After hearing this and doing my own reading, I was sold on the idea of engineered so that I could get those wide planks and not worry about warping down the road. BUT… of course, they were more expensive. Why is that always the case?!  [FYI – for more details on solid vs engineered flooring, here is an article with Mike Holmes and one from House & Home].

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I went around and around on a few different choices. Some would look promising in the showroom and then look quite different in the light at our house. I also found that looking at a small piece that had lots of variation in the wood grain and tone looked awesome in the sample, but then when you saw it in a large area it was too busy. That was a good lesson to learn, and the only way I realized that was when we saw a hardwood installed in about a 200 square foot area of one of the showrooms. It was one that we had originally liked, but thought it was awful when we saw it on the large scale. So my advice? Get big enough samples and bring them home with you to look at in different zones of your home. Once you’ve done that and narrowed it down, have the store open a box of that hardwood and pull out like 4-5 pieces and lay them down so that you get a good sense of how it looks on a bigger scale (unless they already have this in their showroom).

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>> there was a lot of this… <<

The one that we ended up choosing, I originally thought had been too grey in the showroom. I didn’t even pick it up until my third visit there (why the guys at that place hadn’t booted me out of the store by then, I don’t know…so patient!). Once I got it into the house though, I knew it was just the right colour – a perfect mix of brown and grey. The colour is called ‘Cumin’ and it is made by Superior Flooring (a Canadian company with an excellent reputation). It is a Maple and came in both engineered and in solid. The cost of the engineered was more expensive both in materials and labour to install it, so we made a compromise – we went with the engineered for the main floor to get that wide plank look we were after, but transitioned to the solid for the second floor (the wide planks were originally to be 7″ but we ended up with 5″, and the solid is 3 1/2″). In terms of pricing, the solid hardwood ended up being around $5.65/square foot, and the engineered at $7.80/square foot, not including installation.

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

The lucky part to this story? We had placed the order for our hardwood and then received a call a little while later that apparently the supplier was not able to get their hands on any engineered maple in the particular grade we had selected (we had gone with the higher grade to ensure a more uniform colouring/look). They had, however, been able to locate some birdseye maple. Birdseye is extremely uncommon, and therefore, super expensive. If you haven’t heard of it before (I hadn’t), the unique feature is a bunch of tiny knots in the maple — resembling birds eyes. It is apparently a prized wood for artisans and fine furniture makers. So because we had already placed the order, they were going to upgrade us to the birdseye at no additional cost (it would have been double or triple what we paid!). I went in to check out the sample pieces, and at first the birdseye looked busy to me, but when I saw several pieces of it all laid out next to each other, I loved it.

The week the floor went in was amazing. Sort of like the drywall stage, it really felt like we were getting closer to that finish line.

A relatively clean job site…IMG_20141113_152648

To disaster (once again)…

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

But then… progress! We paid a bit extra to have the main floor glued down with a special glue, as we were advised that this would help with soundproofing. Since we rent out the basement and wanted to do whatever we could to minimize the noise between the two units, we figured it was a smart move.tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

I don’t have any beautifully styled “after” photos for you yet (hello, renovation zone!), but you can get a good sense of the look in these shots. These are both on the main floor, so where we went with the wide plank engineered (ignore how high up the dining room light fixture is – we had it raised so that no one would bonk their head when we were moving in furniture).

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

We really appreciated how the boards are all generally pretty long. Nothing short and stubby, and you don’t see too many seams.
tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digsAnd then on the second floor (this is Maya’s room), where we have the narrower solid hardwood in the same colour.

tips on choosing hardwood floors - via the sweetest digs

It took about a week for it all to get installed. We had the same company who we bought the floor from install it (Barwood Flooring here in Ottawa, for you local folks). That way if there were any defects or errors with the order, it was on them to fix it. They were great, the install went smoothly, and the end result is fabulous. It was definitely a bit of a splurge, but we feel confident that we got an excellent product that will stand the test of time, and a really expert installation.

After all of those deliberations and many, many trips around town, I feel huge relief that we love the floors as much as we do. It would have been a seriously expensive decision to have any regret about…!

Have you guys chosen flooring for your pad before? Or re-finished any hardwood? Got any tips or advice to share? 

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry - via the sweetest digs

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry: our experience

3rd February 2015

A few weeks ago, in this post, you saw the design and direction for our IKEA kitchen. We purchased all of our cabinetry and some appliances (dishwasher, hood range) during one of IKEA’s kitchen events, which I totally recommend. We walked away with about $1600 in a gift card to use on future purchases. It has come in super useful already, considering we’re at IKEA on a near-weekly basis these days. Oy.

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry - via the sweetest digs

Want to travel back in time a bit? This is what the kitchen looked like, post-demo, ready to get put back together…

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And here is the space with drywall on the walls. Man, I remember that being such a game changer. Like all of a sudden it seemed like a house again.IMG_20141106_141015

And a reminder of our design from the IKEA kitchen planner..kitchen layout

I’m going to start off by saying that we did not install this kitchen ourselves. Although we are almost always up for a DIY and learning a new skill, this was just beyond our scope. We’re both working while this reno is happening and frankly just don’t have the time. Plus, installing a kitchen is a tricky thing. We knew that hiring a contractor to install the kitchen would not only make it go WAY faster, but would also result in a fabulous looking space.

For all of the finishing details around the house (trim work, hanging doors, building our fireplace built in, etc) we have used a contractor – Andrew – that my parents had used when they built their home, and we had used briefly during our basement reno a few years ago. He has put in a number of kitchens before and is a great problem solver. Just the kind of guy you want for the job. Going with IKEA is fabulous in terms of the price point and the look (I’m crazy in love with our white and grey cabinetry), but installing it can be a bit challenging as you are fitting standard size cabinetry into a not-always-standard space.

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Funny guy :)

I’m obviously not going to give a how-to for installing this cabinetry as we didn’t do it ourselves, but I will point out a few areas that were challenging. Oh, and these are the “Lindigo” cabinets from IKEA, which, now with their new Sektion line are basically the same as the ‘Bobdyn’ cabinets, as far as I can tell.

A corner of the kitchen proved to be tricky right from the get go. See in this picture below that triangular section in the ground? DSC_1309Well it is the top of the staircase that goes down to the basement. There was no moving that, so we knew we would just have to work with it (it has been built around in our previous kitchen as well). Andrew gave us a few options of how we could work with it, and ultimately we all felt like it made the most sense to have the run of cabinetry come around that corner on an angle and have a fake door on the front. The countertops will also make the same angle, so it’ll just blend in.

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Andrew was able to still make it look intentional and built in.DSC_1296

The hood vent was another tricky area. Initially we purchased the Luftig range hood from IKEA (the one you see in tons of kitchens!). I like the streamlined look and we thought it would work in the space. Unfortunately, once a box was built around the duct work (again, something we couldn’t move), it didn’t leave enough space for the range.

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You need to have a certain amount of space between the top of the stove and bottom of the range, and we weren’t going to meet it. Dan has been looking around for another self-vented range (ie. instead of being vented to the outside, it has a recirculation mode fitted with a charcoal filter). We have recently found one online that will work, and so are in the midst of purchasing it.

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One of the other great ideas that Andrew came up with was that narrow shelf on the left in the photo below. Although we had thought everything was symmetrical in our plans, once we started to put the uppers up, they weren’t aligning evenly with the stove. I really didn’t want to have a bigger gap on one side of the stove than the other – really felt like it would look ‘off’ – so Andrew made up the difference by building that custom shelf on the left between the two uppers. Perfect for cutting boards and some cookbooks.DSC_1294

In our peninsula area, we switched from the standard deep cabinets to some more narrow ones. This gives space to tuck in stools around that back side. We thought about some open shelving of some kind on the side of the peninsula, but didn’t really have the space in the end. A waterfall effect with the countertops would’ve been lovely, but was out of the budget for us.

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The other thing Andrew did a lot of was add little pieces of filler here and there to get a clean, continuous look between each cabinet. He also used a filler piece to make that box around the duct work above the stove. We went all the way to the ceiling with our cabinets and used the IKEA crown molding to tie it all in. All in all, we are super pleased with how it came out. I like having a few glass fronted cabinets, but also lots of closed uppers to maximise storage that might not be so ‘pretty’. We focused heavily on having drawers and corner units that pull out. So far, we are really liking the configuration of everything.

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I feel like I need to point out that I will be spray painting that white vent cover below the kitchen sink area (couldn’t find a one in the “right” grey). I realize that it sticks out like a sore thumb – you don’t need to tell me! ;)

Living with a few areas of plywood countertops and no kitchen sink has meant that I haven’t really gotten full use of this bad boy yet, but we’re getting close. I have been narrowing down on the hardware choices and think I found the right one. Countertops are also imminent. Stay tuned for more details!

Have you guys put in an IKEA kitchen before? Any tips or advice to share? I am a little annoyed that IKEA has *just* changed to their new kitchen system, right after we purchased ours. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t need any replacement parts for our kitchen for a loooong time to come. 

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the bathroom design – latest happenings

29th January 2015

I feel like we’re hoping from one room to another and back again all the time, but I guess that’s the nature of things when you build a whole house at once, huh? Anyway, let’s get back into the kids/guest bathroom (ie. the only bathroom that has a functioning toilet right now!).

Remember my little mini plumber who helped Dad install the IKEA Hemnes vanities…?

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Well next up on that wall was to figure out lighting. We had 3 spots hard-wired for sconces, anticipating two mirrors above the two vanities. I looked online for some sconce options, but holy moly I didn’t realize sconces could be quite so pricey. Like most that I liked were in the $100-$200+ range. Yikes x3! Luckily I found a couple of contenders at Home Depot that didn’t totally break the bank. I bought two, got them home, and tested them out in the space.

I really liked these ones from the Martha Stewart line, but they were pretty big and came far out from the wall. Not quite right in this bathroom that is on the more narrow side. Check out how excited Dan looks about this part of the design process. “Hold it there babe, okay now this one. Ummm can we go back to the first one again?”. What a guy.
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These next ones by Hampton Bay ended up being the winner. I liked the squared lines and they were much more appropriately sized for our space.

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My original vision for the room had included black faucets and possibly some black sconces. In the end though, budget won out. The only black faucets I could find (even the ones from IKEA) were more than $70 a piece, and quite tall, which had me worried about splashing in the not super deep vanity sinks. Plus, with the “olskar” faucets from IKEA at $25 a pop, I couldn’t beat the price. And likewise with the sconces, these Hampton Bay ones from Home Depot came in at about $50 a piece, and I liked how they tied in with the chrome faucets and chrome shower fixture.

Don’t mind the dust in these photos. Our entire house is coated in a layer of fine dust at all times right now, despite the frequency of mopping.
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Another new feature in the bathroom is the West Elm shower curtain. I splurged a little on this guy, but no regrets. I’m in love. I adore the waffled white top section, the stripes, and the fringe on the bottom. It all feels a bit Turkish inspired to me. I ordered it online when they were having a sale so I got it for $39 instead of the usual $49 price tag (+shipping as we don’t have a West Elm in Ottawa). DSC_1296 Oh and you might have noticed those shelves next to the shower. Well when we were planning out this bathroom, I decided that it made sense to make use of this space as the toilet didn’t need all that room in that corner. It wasn’t really wide enough to be a proper closet with a door, but I thought some open shelving would be great. A perfect spot to put some baskets, towels, whatever.

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My Dad cut and rounded the wood brackets and then our contractor quickly cut out the shelf pieces out of MDF. They were glued and nailed into the walls, so we made sure that we found the baskets we wanted to use in there first, to get the heights right. I still need to paint them obviously, but I love how custom they look.
DSC_1306All that is left to do is paint and add the accessories and art. I love this part! When 95% of the rooms in our house have unpainted trim and doors, let alone walls, having even just one room that will be completely finished is going to feel amazing.

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shower tile: subway with a side of marble

19th January 2015

Let’s get back to the kids/guest bathroom, m’kay? It feels like the one room in the house that is close to being finished. Maybe cause it’s the smallest? In the post last week you saw how we put down charcoal grey tiles in a herringbone pattern and installed the IKEA vanities. Well, let’s get to the shower.

Like the floor tile, there wasn’t any DIY’ing going on here (too little time – functional bathroom required!). We have a great tile guy who works quickly and does beautiful work. To start off, he painted the drywall with a waterproofing material.image (6)

As you can see, in keeping with the black + white direction of the room and my general French vibe, I figured that classic subway tiles would be perfect. Plus, they don’t do too much damage on the ol’ wallet. To up the ante a little though, I went with the extra long ones. You can still get them at your regular big box hardware store – I got these ones at Home Depot. The price per square foot didn’t end up being all that different from the usual 3×6 subway tile size.

That orange thing in the pic below is a niche – little nook where you can put shampoos and stuff. It feels all kinds of fancy to me…. but in actual cost it was only an extra hundred bucks or so (for materials + a bit of extra time in labour).

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I had a little fun with the niche and bought one sheet of marble hex tile. It isn’t cheap, but buying just one sheet was do-able (also from Home Depot). DSC_1327

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We went with a medium grey grout. I like the way the subway tiles pop, and I also like the fact that the grout won’t show dirt. Three cheers for less cleaning?!DSC_1331 DSC_1333 DSC_1337

I would have looooooved to get a black shower head/drain set, but the black ones I could find were all on the expensive side. This budget-friendly Moen one in chrome was $150 and the traditional shape felt like it would suit the bathroom (it is this fixture from Rona). DSC_1343Oh, and here is a more “keepin’ it real” pic of the niche. It holds 4-5 bottles, which means that we have just a few tucked in that one corner (I’m a bit of a product lover, and Dan and I don’t use the same stuff… so you know… there are always quite a few bottles on the go!). I also need to grab one of those bags that you can put bath toys in. Right now, our various boats and ducks sit on the vanity when not in use. Not ideal! 
DSC_1346So that’s how it’s shaping up. I need to paint in there and then I can get to the really fun part: accessorizing. Oooh how I’m dying to put up a piece of art somewhere in the house.

 

kitchen

planning + designing a kitchen

13th January 2015

So, the kitchen. The heart of the home, right? Just to jog your memory, this was our sweet little diner-style kitchen we had pre-reno.

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We had made it work by painting out the oak strip cabinetry, adding new hardware, and laying those fabulous budget-friendly black and white vinyl tiles. We lived with our kitchen like this for a number of years, which gave us lots of time to think about what our dream kitchen would look like.

One thing that was on the must-do list was to expand the kitchen. You can see in these pics that I snapped just as we were moving out, that our kitchen was on the right side of the supporting wall…

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And the living room on the left side..IMG_20140609_111313

Well, one of our main re-design elements was to bring that wall down (a beam put up in place to support the house). Once our renovation was underway in the summer, things were looking pretty horrific.

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When you do any kind of large reno, you just always have to remember that it gets worse before it gets better. Otherwise you would just want to hide under your pillow and wonder why on earth you ruined a perfectly functional space…

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As the house was getting framed, we turned our attention to planning the kitchen. We kept the kitchen in the same general spot as it was before to save on costs related to moving plumbing, but we moved our front door over to the other side of the house so that we could expand the kitchen right up to the exterior wall. Where the door used to be, would now make way for a big picture window.

Before I go on, I just want to make it clear that we are newbie DIY kitchen designers and did these mock ups on our own. Once we got to our more final version, however, we consulted with an IKEA kitchen rep, which was definitely super useful. If you’re able to, I would always recommend chatting with a professional kitchen designer as there are lots of things that they can help guide you with, and point out things that you might not have considered.

On our first crack at using IKEA’s kitchen designer tool, we came up with this. We got the basic layout down, with the “work triangle” people talk about (you want a triangle between your sink, stove, and fridge for efficiency and ease of use). You can’t see the sink in this snapshot, but it goes under the window. The whole thing wasn’t bad, but the island was looking really dinky. We needed to leave a certain amount of space around the island for walking in and out of the kitchen, so this short island was basically as big as it was going to get. In the picture it looks decent, but when we measured it out and imagined it, I just didn’t love it. Plus, we ended up deciding to do a wall to help define the entryway/front door area, so that wall was going to come up and block the left hand space around the island. Plan #1 nixed.

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In our second attempt, we switched from an island to a peninsula. Made way more sense space-wise, and this way we could build out the wall by the front door. I didn’t like the symmetry with the microwave built-in by the hood vent though (and it wouldn’t have been functional anyway, I have now found out!), and wanted to incorporate some glass fronted uppers.Kitchen Snip #2

Version 3 was the winner. I liked the symmetry of that far wall, the peninsula gave a nice big stretch of countertop while leaving enough walking room between it and the fridge (over 3 feet), and we could still have our wall to help define the entryway. See where there is a box on the floor of the peninsula that doesn’t appear to have a cabinet on it? That’s where the wall would come to from the far left side of the picture, leaving enough space to tuck two stools in to the peninsula. kitchen layout

Here it is with the new door, window, and wall framed up. See what I mean about wanting to define the entryway? If we hadn’t of put that wall in, you just would have walked basically straight into the kitchen. Not terrible, but not ideal either. I like having the bit of wall, and it gave an opportunity for a few more upper cabinets and a spot to run a bunch of electrical.

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I had done up a moodboard a few months before on a bit of a whim, and I ended up sticking quite close to the design.

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Flooring >> We decided to carry our hardwood through to the kitchen, both for continuity on the main floor and also because I just love hardwood in a kitchen up next to painted cabinetry. I like the warmth that it brings to the space. So our medium tone gray-brown hardwood (more details on that in another post) was what we started with.

Cabinetry >> We knew we would go with IKEA – great prices (most important factor for us), nice contemporary styles, and good reviews from friends and fellow bloggers. I went back and forth about going with all-white cabinetry, but in the end I fell in love with the grey of the Lindigo cabinets.

ikea kitchen gray lindigo cabinets

via IKEA

I like the look of a two-tone kitchen, so we went with the grey for bottoms to help ground the whole space, and white uppers. If I had a huge kitchen I would have loved to do some open shelving, but the reality is that our new kitchen, although bigger than it used to be, is still not massive. I knew we would benefit from having as much storage as possible.

As I type this, the kitchen cabinetry is actually in, but we are still waiting on countertops, and figuring out hardware, backsplash, etc. More pics and posts to come soon!

Have you guys designed a kitchen before? Ever gone with IKEA? Got any tips or secrets to share?

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a last look at the bungalow: final home tour

20th August 2014

Since we are mid-build on our house, I thought it was the perfect time for a last look at the bungalow. It’s definitely bitter sweet – I really loved our little house, and we put a lot of effort into making it a home that was suited perfectly to us.

The turquoise front door was always a happy way to enter the house. I liked the way the colour played off the red brick, with black accents.

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Here was the entryway. It certainly wasn’t big, but we had some fun with it by adding that DIY floating shelf, hanging a minty green mirror, and painting the ceiling chevron.

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Although it needed a bit of touching up, I was sad to see this little bit of ceiling get torn up during the reno.

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Here was the living room, in its last iteration. Over the 4+ years we lived in the bungalow this room changed a bunch, but I was happy with the light, fresh, and colourful vibe of how it ended up. I have plans for a pretty different living room scheme in the renovated house. I’m thinking mostly black and white and wood, but still with touches of my first love – minty turquoise. home tour 4

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The adjoining dining room had a similar vibe, with the harvest table that I built with my Dad, two-tone buffet, and old pine chest (where I kept all my craft supplies – needed the storage space!).
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We gave the kitchen a facelift by painting out the oak strip cabinetry, adding hardware, and adding the vinyl peel and stick striped tile. Even though it still eventually needed an overhaul (cabinets were old, appliances were seriously vintage, layout wasn’t great, etc), this kitchen suited us just fine for the years we were in it.
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Down the hall came our one bathroom, which we renovated a few years ago. Luckily this bathroom has stayed fairly untouched during our demo, so it will remain as our main floor bathroom post-reno.home tour 11

I never felt like I got the master bedroom to look how I had envisioned it, but there were a few projects that I liked. One was this headboard, which I think we’ll use again in our new bedroom (maybe with a few fabric?) …
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And the other were those painted closet doors. I loved that something so simple – paint and some tape – totally transformed those ugly ducklings.

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Hands down my favourite room in the house was Maya’s nursery (slash mini office in the corner). It was so cheery and had so many handmade touches, that we will bring into Maya’s room in the newly built house.

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I loved making the raindrop mobile and ribbon garland while I was pregnant and waiting for my little girl to arrive.

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And the pink + gold dresser came out just as I had hoped, so this guy will definitely be moving into Maya’s future room with her.

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The best part about the room? This girl!!

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Luckily our basement will remain pretty much the same after the renovation (we are trying hard not to damage it too much) but the stairwell down to it will look pretty different. The few things we did here – artwork, yellow door, and stair runner – all made the space feel pretty fun.

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This was us on our moving day! We gave the little bungalow a kiss and although are sad to say goodbye to it as-it-is, we couldn’t be more excited about the larger family home that it is becoming. I’m giddy just thinking about all of the new spaces that I have to decorate. Confession? I think about each room and how I want to decorate it pretty much every night as I’m falling to sleep. #Obsessed.

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Okay now for the fun part. This home tour is a part of the Canadian Bloggers Home Tour that is going on this week! Be sure to check out these other bloggers for their fabulous homes. Seriously, there is so much good eye candy in here, and lots of project ideas.

cdn bloggers home tour

Monday

AKA Design

The DIY Mommy

Northern Style Exposure

Echoes of Laughter

Tuesday

Pop of Pretty

Rambling Renovators

Craftberry Bush

Elliven Studio

Wednesday

First Time Fancy

So Much Better With Age

The Creek Line House

The Sweetest Digs

Thursday

Clean and Scentsible

The Happy Housie

Just Beachy

Dans le Townhouse

Friday

The Uncommon Law

This Little Estate


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after the demo debris

26th June 2014

I wanted to share the latest photos with you guys at our renovation site. Everything on the interior has been demo’d as you saw in-action in this post, and now that the debris has been removed (two huge dumpsters worth!) and everything cleared out, we were able to really get an idea of what this new ground floor space is going to feel like.

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It’s totally crazy to see it like this. The house already feels completely different. No more bedrooms, or hallways, or blocked off kitchen. It’s just one big, bright and open space. There aren’t going to be big lofty ceilings like you see in these pics because we are putting the second floor on, but still, it feels so much more opened up.
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We were able to walk around and plan where we might put a couch, or our dining room table. Imagined walking through the new front door. Cooking in a kitchen that has a stove from this millenium (ha!). It’s a trip.
Remember? Our turquoise door, the front closet, and the kitchen!
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The bathroom somehow looks even more teeny tiny now than it did before. That space to the right of it (in the photo below) was Maya’s nursery/our office. Already hard to believe.

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Up next? The guys are about to start peeling off the brick from the facade, remove the roof, and tear down the free-standing garage. There is no way we could be doing this part of the work ourselves, and we feel great about the experience and knowledge that our contractor and his team are bringing to the project.

If you happen to be a reader from Australia and have done any building projects, you might have gotten your industrial and building supplies at Gotstock. They are a well-priced online retailer that supply all kinds of things from electrical supplies, to tools, to hardware. They generously sponsored today’s post – so thanks Gotstock! And as usual, thanks to any of you readers who support the brands who support this blog. Love love.

Nothing like a construction site to get you all pumped up. Any of you demo’ing anything lately? It’s way easier to see the vision when everything has been cleared out, I find. Like a fresh slate. 

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light it up: new wall-mounted lights

13th January 2014

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you might have noticed that in addition to the new mirror in our bedroom from last week’s post, there was also a switch up with our lighting situation. For quite a while, we have had two task lamps on either side of our bed. I still love those lamps, but the bases were really quite big and when the baby made her arrival, we realized we really needed the space on our nightstands much more than we used to. Bottles, blankets, books, creams, etc. were all taking up mad real estate. No room for a nicely styled book + plant + light combo anymore.

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So we decided to move out the lamps for now (we plan to re-use them elsewhere down the road), and landed on these Hektar wall-mount lights from IKEA for $20 a pop.

Dan did the installation. One of our little tricks for reducing the mess when you’re drilling is to fold a piece of tape in half lengthwise. Then stick half onto the wall and have the other half as a little “shelf” for the dust from the drilling. It’s not going to pick up all the dust, but it does cut the mess down a whole lot.

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They aren’t the most amazing lights ever or anything, but I’m pretty happy with them. They cast a nice bright light for reading, and the look is simple and unassuming. I would have preferred hard-wired sconces where the cord doesn’t show, but getting finicky with our electrical right now just wasn’t in the cards.
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The black finish is nice and matte, and plays well with the grey walls and black picture frames we have going on in the room.DSC_1202

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It’s really nice to have all that space back on the nightstand. The baby clutter has reduced somewhat lately as Maya has given up the night feeds (yessss!!), but it gives plenty of room for lotions and potions, etc.

What do you guys do for lighting in your bedroom? I am digging the sconces for sure. In our future bedroom (post addition/reno), I definitely want to hard wire some in. I have also seen some people do these stellar hanging lights beside the bed that have an industrial and cool vibe. Thoughts? 

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a new bedroom beauty: the EQ3 ‘Conner’ mirror

8th January 2014

When EQ3 got in touch recently and selected me to be their December “blogger of the month” I was ridiculously flattered. I’m crazy for the Canadian store – did you know it originated in Winnipeg and they still manufacturer most of their products (including all upholstery pieces) there? Love that. And don’t forget the EQ3 Reverie sofa that I have been so pleased with.

I was gifted an accessory from EQ3 as part of this series, and I quickly chose the ‘Conner’ mirror in white (it retails for $99). I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a round mirror for above our bed for a long time now, and the Conner couldn’t have been more perfect.

It’s a pretty big mirror, so it’s easier to have two people on hand to do the install. The hubs and I measured out where the center spot on the wall would be, eyeballed the right height, and then broke out the drill. We do the paint tape trick of folding it in half and sticking it below the spot where you’re drilling to create a little ledge where (most) of the debris should fall. It definitely helps with the clean-up.

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The simple round shape of the mirror plays off the straight lines of the bed and headboard perfectly. And it’s big enough to have a presence up there, rather than feeling too small and rinky-dink, you know? DSC_1174

I like the way it reflects the chandelier and the art display around the TV on the opposite wall. Again, the lines on the opposite wall are very rectangular (frames + TV), so it’s really nice to have the rounded shape of the mirror to add some dimension.DSC_1184

And the symmetry that the mirror + light fixtures + pillows provides in the room is much needed with our off-balance windows.DSC_1192

One of the features I really like about the mirror is that it is inset quite deeply within the painted wood frame. Somehow it makes it feel more luxe that way. It gives off a bit of a nautical feel, don’t you think? DSC_1202

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Sometimes it’s just one piece that can make a room feel a whole lot more complete, you know?  And although I used this in our bedroom, the scale and look of the mirror would be fab in so many different spots. I can picture it looking gorgeous in a bathroom above a vanity, in an entryway above a narrow table, above a fireplace, or on a big wall in a mixed gallery wall.

Thanks a million to EQ3 for having me as the blogger of the month, and for this lovely mirror! I couldn’t be more pleased.

PS. I owe you guys a few other bedroom updates. More on those wall-mounted lights and bedside table soon.

What do you guys have hanging over your bed? Anything? I always find it a difficult spot to decorate. Leave just the headboard, add a mirror, mixture of frames, some antlers or other more arty object, etc. So many choices! Oh, and I always make sure to hang things really securely…wouldn’t want anything coming down in the middle of the night!

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curb appeal 101: painting the front door

22nd November 2013

Remember back in this post when I lamented over our front door colour? And then bit the bullet and painted our screen door black?

Well, with the now-black screen door, my colour options were now wide open. I could go with any of my original contenders (yellow, red, or navy), or could get a little creative.

First step was to tape off the door. I used an “exterior surfaces” painter’s tape from ScotchBlue that I hadn’t tried before (this is the stuff). The special feature is that with a bit of pressure when you are ripping it off the roll, it tears off in a straight line – no scissors needed or wonky cuts! It only took a few tries of getting used to breaking it off, and it really made things a cinch. Taping off all of these little windows took waaaay less time.

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I’ll give you three guesses on what colour I went with…DSC_0783

When I was browsing my Martha Stewart paint deck, I saw her teal colour (called “araucana teal“) and I was sold. It’s a fun and happy colour, knew it would go well with our red brick and black accents, and gives a bit of a hint of our aqua-loving house inside. Are you surprised? Turquoise is like my middle name, you guys.

I had it colour-matched at the Home Depot to CIL’s exterior paint in a satin finish.
DSC_0786Oh I should mention that I gave the door a bit of a sanding before getting started. I didn’t go overboard, as we will replace this door when we do our major addition/reno, but I wanted to get some of the major dings sanded down a bit. Then I gave it a wash with a soapy cloth, let it dry, and got started on painting.

First up was to cut in with a 2″ angled brush.
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And then I finished off the rest with a small foam roller. It took three coats for full coverage.

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This is a really good photo of the colour. It’s very much a teal. I couldn’t be happier.DSC_1175

You can see that there are still some dents in the door, but the paint did a nice job of distracting from them. They were more noticeable in the glossy white, which was so dingy looking.DSC_1176

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I really like the balance of the cool turquoise with the warm red and rich black accents. It’s a happy little marriage of colours.DSC_1180

With the screen door closed you can’t see the turquoise as clearly, but there is still a pop of colour from the street.DSC_1188-edited

This is one of those projects that I so wish I had done when we first purchased. The turquoise door and black screen have really changed the curb appeal of our place. There is still lots to do (hello landscaping and dingy walk-up pathway).. but it is miles better.

What colour is your front door? Are you into bright doors? Love neutral beauties? I definitely still love a black or deep navy door. I think we might go that route in our future once the addition/reno is done.