Category Archives: our digs

steps to an organized closet

3 steps to design an organized closet

8th October 2015

Now that Maya totally has the prettiest and most functional closet in the house (you can see how we wallpapered her closet here, and then outfitted it with storage systems here),  I’m officially jealous. All of a sudden, my own closet in our bedroom has jumped up the priority list. I have been living with two clothes racks and a jumble of plastic drawer units since we moved back in in January, and although they are totally fine, the closet has so much more potential. There are lots of other rooms in the house higher up on the list – baby #2’s nursery’s, for instance (I’m 23 weeks and it’s still a full fledged guest room! whoops!) – but I can’t help it. I’m dreaming of my closet, you guys.

3 steps to design an organized and pretty closet

Before embarking on this project though, I really wanted to sit down and think it through. I think anytime you are planning a closet (or any room, really), this is a smart thing to do. What are the items I plan on storing in here? How do I want it to function, and feel? What is the overall aesthetic I’m going for?

Step 1 // Take an inventory

I needed to figure out exactly what I wanted to store in my closet, how many of those things I had (approximately), and how I wanted to store them. It doesn’t make any sense to have a perfect spot to store belts, if in fact I don’t actually own any. Or 15 dedicated spots for purses, when I only own 2. Here was what I came up with for myself:

-Pants: hung up (approx 15 pairs)
-Tops/Blouses: hung up (approx 30 items)
-Dresses: hung up and need more space for them to hang down lower (approx 15 items)
-Sweaters: folded on shelf (approx 10 items)
-Shorts: folded on shelf or in drawers (approx 15 items)
-Tank tops and Tee shirts: folded on shelf or in drawers (approx 20 items)
-Swimwear: small drawer or basket needed for 2-3 bathing suits
*underwear, bras, socks, PJs, and stockings are all stored in the dresser in our bedroom, and I don’t plan on moving them in here

Other items:
-Jewellery: rings and bracelets in a drawer, necklaces and big earrings hung up
-Purses: about 5 purses to be on top shelves
-Scarves: Hung on wall (own about 10)
-Shoes: Boots can be stored somewhere else and my “everyday” shoes are in the main front closet, so I only need a spot for my fancy footwear. Own about 15 pairs and they could be on a shelf, in boxes, or pull-out shelf/drawers
-Belts: Don’t own any!

Step 2 // Plan your system

There are lots of different options out there for closet systems. Maybe you’re working with something already in place that you just want to tweak, or are starting fresh like I am. Either way, it pays to do your research into what you like and what you can afford. From custom closet companies, to the big box hardware stores, to just adding in some better storage solutions with items from an organization store, sit down and think through what you need and want. For me personally, after seeing Dan’s IKEA PAX wardrobe in use for the last several months, I have been mighty jealous at just how well things have stayed organized and how good it looks. There are so many clever storage solutions that integrate with the PAX system, it’s relatively easy to put together, and for us, the price point is right. We can’t afford anything custom, and don’t have the time to build anything ourselves. So, PAX it is!

3 steps to design an organized and pretty closet

image via IKEA

I sat down and spent a few hours with IKEA’s planning software to think through my options, and kept referring back to what I actually need it to do for me (step 1).  Ultimately I have landed on this design, which uses a few inches shy of the whole one wall of the closet. I didn’t do the rest of the closet in the right dimensions in this drawing, so just imagine it going to either end of the closet and butting up against the walls.

5 steps to planning the perfect and organized closet

The two hanging areas on the left will be for my tops and pants, while the right hand hanging area will be for dresses and any longer tops I have that need that extra hanging space. The middle section will provide shelving for things like sweaters, and the drawers will house tee-shirts, shorts, etc. I also added one of those ultra slim tray-like drawers in there for my rings and bracelets. The bottom right has three pull-out drawers meant specifically for shoes. Along the top of the whole unit, I plan on putting my purses.

5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet6

image via IKEA

A few things to remember when you’re planning your closet system: First is to think about your lighting. I knew that I couldn’t go with the ultra-tall PAX system, as it would cover up our existing pot lights. Second is to think about width and depth. I knew that I was still going to need enough room to be able to walk by the PAX easily to the back of the closet and still wanted to hang things on the opposite wall. Luckily I have enough width in my closet to do this. I don’t have enough room to have doors on my PAX though, so it will just be an open system (makes sense since I’m doing a walk-in closet).

As for the other two walls in the closet, I’m going to hang a mirror on one, and use the other (the one opposite the PAX system) to do a big jewellery and scarf display. I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to use, but I’m inspired by this (minus the shelf part):

5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet

image via decorpad

And this, where she used a thread rack as a jewellery organizer. Clever! 5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet

image via One Good Thing

And I definitely want to install one or two long rods where I can hang my scarves in knots, like they did here (so smart!):

5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet8

image via Decoist

Step 3 // Looks

The last step in figuring out your closet design is to think about the aesthetic. How do you want it to look and feel every time you open the door? For Maya’s closet, we went with an ultra pretty, garden feel, full of pastel colours. I hummed and hawed about my own closet, from super white everything, to a bold colour like fuschia, but in the end I kept coming back to moody and dark. I haven’t ever done any space in black and not sure I could commit to it for a room in our house, so I figured this was my opportunity.

The plan is to wallpaper all the walls in this gorgeous matte black paper – ‘Vintage Flock Black’ by designer Kelly Hoppen, carried by Graham & Brown. The damask pattern is really subtle but still adds that texture to the walls that will make them feel ultra luxe.

This week is actually “Wallpaper Week” with Graham & Brown. Saturday’s theme is “Glam”, which totally inspired this closet design. Creating a spot in your home that feels luxurious and decadent and just for you (even if it’s small!), is such a treat.

5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet3

I thought about going with a darker PAX system, but they only have that “black-brown” option that IKEA is famous for, and I don’t love it. If it were a true black, I think I’d go for it, but since it does have a bit of a brown/wood feel to it, I’m going to stick with white. Most of my clothes are black and gray anyway, so I feel like it’ll look a lot like this space (image via IKEA).

5 steps to planning the perfect, organized closet3

All of my jewellery hanging on the wall will add to that glam look, but I might bring in a few gold accents, too. A kilim or similar style runner with a great pattern and those gorgeous dark reds and burgundys will finish it off on the floor.

Oh my goodness, I am SO excited just thinking about it. First up is to paint the trim in there and then start getting the paper on the walls. We just missed the IKEA PAX sale, so we’ll need to wait until the next one rolls around… hopefully won’t be too long!

Do you guys have a closet you love? Any tips on how you planned and designed it? Or keep it organized on a day to day basis? I’m all ears if you have some great advice to share!

blogger Gemma from THE SWEETEST DIGS takes you on a mid-renovation house tour

our digs: the fall 2015 version

16th September 2015

It’s been a while since we’ve done a bit of a recap on where things stand with each room in the house, so I figured it would be the perfect time to take you through a little tour. Just to remind you guys: we basically started from scratch with our house summer of 2014 – ripping the roof off, and adding a second and third storey and attached garage. We have been back in our home since January of this year. When you look back on the last 8 months, it’s amazing to see the progress… but then at the same time there are still SO many spaces that are a total disaster. Thank goodness that you can close doors, you know? Sometimes I get all overwhelmed by how much we have left to do, but then that’s all part of the fun…

Keep in mind that this is a “real life” tour and not all perfectly styled with professional photographs. Keeping it real, guys!

The exterior has been coming together, particularly in the last few weeks as Dan has been working hard on the landscaping. We just had the paving company come for our driveway and are finishing up the stone path and walkway. We need this done before the snow comes!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The Main Floor…

The kitchen hasn’t changed much since I lasted posted about it. It’s 90% there, but there are still those tidbit projects to do that will make all the difference (spray-painting the vent cover on the under-sink cabinet, filling the holes in the hood range moulding, etc).

DSC_1494 house tour10

Here is the dining room as of yetserday. I’d say we are only 50% there for this space – a rug, a  bigger table, and some new curtains are all on the to-do.

house tour12 house tour11

The living room has evolved a little. I keep tweaking the open shelves and feel like I’m almost there with them. I haven’t found the perfect mix of throw pillows yet, but am waiting until I spot the absolute right things. Eventually this rug will probably move to a room upstairs and we’ll bring in something bigger for this space. Slow and steady, right?

house tour3 house tour5 house tour6

This corner is a bit of a zoo of Maya’s toys right now. I need to get some better storage, curtains up on the window, and a little rug for this space. Plus, some of her toys are eventually going to head upstairs to the family room on the second floor, which will be good for the toy-overflow situation that’s happening down here.

house tour2

The main floor bathroom is currently a work-in-progress that I’m going to keep under wraps for now. We’ve been making some strides in there and I’m excited to let you in on that shortly!

I have grand plans for the staircase. I want to cover the wall going up with a huge gallery wall of family and travel photographs. Before doing that though… I kinda need to paint it. We’re still living with primer on these walls and the whole upstairs hallway.

blogger Gemma from THE SWEETEST DIGS takes you on a mid-renovation house tour

And upstairs….

Maya’s bedroom still looks like this (full reveal post here):

nursery room reveal - 8 nursery room reveal - 4

And our bedroom is about 40% there. It’s painted (yay), but we still have artwork, furniture, rug, and window treatments to do in here.


The second floor bathroom still needs artwork and window treatments, but it’s more or less there.

DSC_1452 DSC_1461

Our master bathroom still looks like a construction zone, so I’ll leave that one out for now. God knows when we will get to that space.

And now for the REALLY cray-cray spaces. Are you guys ready? These are so NOT pretty and “home tour” worthy. These are all un-painted and un-organized spaces, that basically look like we are hoarders.

Dan’s office? More like a catch-all right now. One of those rooms where I’m very happy we have a door and can forget about it for now.

house tour1

Baby #2’s room-to-be. Currently with a bed for when my parents stay over, along with some cast-off furniture.

house tour7

Our upstairs family room, currently acting as a dumping zone slash my studio. Not good…

house tour8

And our third floor loft. This space is going to be amazing, but right now it’s completely un-finished and acting as a storage unit. Most of this is stuff that needs to make it’s way into our garage… but the garage? Ha. That’s a whole separate crazy space. How is it that we have so much STUFF?!? As you can see, unpacking, sorting through things, and creating storage spaces in our new house is constantly on the to-do list around here. It’s hard when things like closets don’t have shelves built in them yet, or the garage is hosting a bunch of reno materials. You can’t put things away very quickly and for someone like me who wants to organize ALL THE THINGS, it makes me go a little nutty.

house tour9

I’m joining a bunch of other bloggers this week who are all giving Fall Home Tours – thanks to our host, Brenda over at Cozy Little House for organizing! Head on over and take a peak at all of their gorgeous homes! I bet I’m the only one who will be showing rooms full of storage boxes… ha! Next up in the “tour” is House of Hipsters (who has a ridiculously amazing pad – seriously… go browse around, my fave is the bedroom!!) but you can view all the homes with each link below. Have fun with all this eye candy!

Tuesday’s Tours:
Wednesday’s Tours:
Thursday’s Tours:
Friday’s Tours:
Want to try hanging wallpaper? Here are my tips as a first time wallpaper-er! Isabelle Blue paper by Graham and Brown.

wallpaper hanging tips from a beginner

26th August 2015

So I know I said I was focusing on getting our bedroom closer to done, but I got side-tracked with Maya’s closet. “Oooop-ieeees” as Maya would say (apparently I say “oopsies” more than I realized…ha!). All of our closets have been pretty much a disaster since we moved in. We made sure there was a rod and a shelf in Maya’s closet, but then just shoved things in, including two small dressers we had from the old house. In all honesty, it was still probably the best closet in the house so far – some don’t even have shelves in them yet. Mine just has plastic drawer units and some old clothes racks.

Anyway, I wanted to do a few things in tackling this closet:

1 // Make it functional. We need smarter storage in here. Baskets, shelves, etc, with a dedicated spot for everything. Right now, random stuff is just shoved into drawers and stuck up on the top shelf with no order.

2 // Make it pretty. I LOVE a gorgeous closet, I really do.  I haven’t ever had the opportunity to actually decorate the inside of one, so I want to have fun with this guy. I want Maya to love it, and have it be something that will grow with her.

3 // Test out my wallpapering skills. So you guys know that I’m working as a brand ambassador for Graham & Brown this year. Well, I have used their papers so far in small scale projects (my IKEA Latt table hack, and this shadow box art project), but I hadn’t actually pasted any up on the walls yet. It was time to start, but since I’m a total novice I figured that starting somewhere like a closet would be a good idea. If there was a slightly imperfect seam, well, you won’t be starring at it from your bed day-in and day-out, you know?

wallpaper application - tips from a first time wallpaperer

Here is how the closet was looking from the outside….

nursery room reveal - 4

But the inside was a whole different story.

closet - before

First step was to take everything out (you really don’t want to see the state of our guest bedroom right now… it’s straight out of an episode of hoarders!).

closet - before1

Once that was done, we gave the shelf and baseboard a coat of PARA paint’s Whitewash White (the door & trim paint line). We hadn’t gotten to it earlier when the closet was being finished, so it was still just the raw MDF. All of a sudden the closet already started to feel so much more fresh.

Next up was the wallpaper. I chose the ‘Isabelle Blue’ paper after using it for the Latt table. It really is such a beautiful pattern, and the colours went beautifully with the mint accents in Maya’s room.


My adventure in wallpapering actually went pretty well, all things considered. I had heard that it can be a frustrating and long DIY, so I was a little nervous. Including the prep and clean-up though, I’d say the closet took me about 2.5 hours in total. And I wasn’t totally wanting to pull my hair out at the end of anything. Not bad!

Here were the things I learned about wallpapering along the way:

// Start with a perfect line: The first step is REALLY important. You want to draw a vertical pencil line on the wall surface at your chosen starting point. You are going to line up your first sheet of paper along this line and all the rest will follow it, so if it isn’t level, then everything is going to be off and potentially look crooked. Check that your line is perfectly level a few times before you get started.

My first piece overlapped a corner (you always want to do that in corners, rather than having a seam there). It looks a little crooked in this photo for some reason, but it was actually a fairly good plumb line.


// Seams are important, and work with a partner: The seams of side-by-side strips of paper should butt against one another, not overlap. Particularly if you have any kind of pattern in the paper that has to match, you don’t want to have overlap as the pattern will look off. You also don’t want any kind of space between your two strips. Getting things lined up perfectly is what I struggled most with. If you can wallpaper with someone else, then I think that would make it a lot easier (one person holds the paper up top, while the other carefully lines it up down the seam). That was a lesson learned for me. Doing it on my own = not the best idea.


// Dealing with bubbles: Carefully push any bubbles out toward the borders. You want to use whatever smoothing tool your wallpaper kit provided you with. The one from Graham & Brown was nice and big and I was easily able to smooth out the paper toward the edges, then wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth as I went. I got no bubbles or wrinkles in my paper and was actually surprised by how easy that part was.

// For cutting edges: I used a good quality exacto knife to trim the excess paper at the top and bottom edges. I would hold up my smoothing tool, which held the paper nice and tightly against the trim seam, and then ran my exacto along it. This ensured a crisp line and was pretty easy to do. Going around any corners or wonky areas can be a challenge, so take your time to make sure you get a good cut.


// “Paste the wall” wallpapers for the win: This is obviously my first time at the rodeo with wallpapers, but I have to say I’m a huge fan of the paste-the-wall type that I used from Graham & Brown. You mixed up the glue, and apply it on the wall with a paint roller. Then you take your strip of paper, place it on the wall and smooth down. I imagine it would have been a whole bunch trickier to be holding wet gluey paper and trying to get the placement right on the wall, without getting glue all over my hands and making a mess. Maybe some of you other seasoned wallpaper-er’s will disagree with me — let me know! I’m curious.


All in all, I’d say my first shot was OK but not perfect. There are a few seams that bug me, and a corner where I was trying to go too fast (you can see it in the photo below). However, it was all in the name of learning and I feel like my next go will be better!


Now that it’s looking all kinds of pretty in there, I can’t wait to get it organized! We had been talking about custom building some shelving, but we just measured out some IKEA stuff and think it’s going to be a good option. Look out for a post next week – we plan on shopping this weekend!


Closet Door paint color: ‘Baffling Behavior’ by PARA paints
Trim paint color: ‘Whitewash White’ by PARA paints
Wallpaper: Isabelle Blue by Graham & Brown

You guys done any wallpapering before? Any tips or tricks to share with this newbie? Seriously, I plan on doing a bunch more in our pad, so I’m all ears.


DIY bedroom makeover: picking paint and bedding

30th July 2015

A progress update on the status of the master bedroom makeover is on the books for today, guys. Well, I’m not sure I can really call it a “makeover” since the before is just total lack of anything other than 4 walls and the floor? Anyway, you know what I mean.

DIY bedroom makeover - how to pick the right paint colour and bedding - via the sweetest digs

To remind you, this is the general direction of the design scheme for the bedroom (full scoop in this post)…

bedroom moodboard

And this is what things were looking like at last glance…


To start with, we got our butts into gear and painted all of the trim (baseboards, window trim, door trim) in PARA paint’s “Jo Jo Whitewash” in their ‘ultra trim & door’ paint line. The colour is a nice bright white and the coverage was decent. Bare trim just sucks up the paint, so ultimately it took us 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of top coat. With some filling of holes and sanding in between. Bo-to-the-ring. You can see why I quickly lose motivation in doing the un-painted parts of the house (which is most of the second floor).

Warning: ultra attractive old PJ wearing coming up.


Once the trim was done, we could put the colour on the walls. I chose P5214-34D Blenheim Palace by PARA. It’s this gorgeous green-gray that has the most relaxing feeling about it. It definitely adds some colour and interest to the walls, but you almost don’t even notice it. It’s one of those colours that I think could work in just about ANY space with any kind of decor. I love it.

My tips for choosing the right wall colour for your room?
// Take out all the paint swatches that you think you like, even a little.
// Hold them all up on the wall (tape if you need to) in a few different spots and eliminate the ones that aren’t working. Narrow it down to your favourite 2-4 colours.
// Buy small test pots of those paint colours from the store. Paint squares of those colours onto different sections of wall around the room, or paint onto white foam board and hold/tape up in multiple areas of the room.
// Live with the test patches for a few days and ultimately determine which one is the best. Especially with grays that can be notoriously hard to pick, do the work in the beginning so you don’t waste money and time needing to re-paint.


Ignore the sneak peaks of the lighting, bed, and nightstands, which I’m going to get to in another post soon, k? For now, let’s talk bedding. We have had a white duvet cover for the last 6 years (it was a wedding gift) and although it has held up well we thought it might be time to switch things up. Although I ADORE a bright white bed (so classic, right?), I just wanted to try something new. So when Maple Harbour got in touch looking to work together, I was totally game.

Just a bit of background on Maple Harbour. They are a Canadian-based online company (out of Montreal) who carry bedding and linen. Their product line is attractive and high quality but at a reasonable price point, they have a money back guarantee, and offer free shipping across Canada and the continental US. What really got me, though, was that they collaborate with not-for-profit animal shelters and adoption centers. A portion of each purchase goes towards the Balto Shelter and the Animal Rescue Network. They have a whole campaign – #CreatingHomesTogether – that is focused on this work. I love companies that are socially minded, don’t you?

Anyway, I decided to branch out of my comfort zone and try out a solid gray duvet cover (comes with matching shams), and a patterned sheet set. I know, hold the phone. Patterned sheets? I haven’t had anything other than pure white in at least a decade. DSC_1424

The duvet cover – the “Micro Matique” is pretty and simple. Clean lines, a nice medium gray, and super soft. We needed some king sized pillows for the shams, so I ordered these feather-filled ones (called “Sweet Dreams”) and they are AMAZING. Super plush and they fill out the shams so nicely. I hate pillows that look too flat when you’re trying to make the bed.


As for those patterned sheets? I went with the ‘Sweet Disposition’ set which have a grey and white oriental pattern. They are microfiber and super comfortable. Dan especially has been LOVING these compared to our el cheapo previous set. I’m still not 100% sold on the pattern (old habits die hard), but I do love how they feel.


I had also ordered these shams, thinking that they would be nice as accent pillows, but they were the only product I was disappointed in. They were incredibly thin and had the brand name label attached right on the front of the sham. So instead, I pulled my black and white IKEA throw pillows out of storage and love the way they look. They add some graphic interest to the bed, but not in an overwhelming way.

[ignore the bare bulb light fixture…]


Next up is to tackle the opposite side of the room. I scored a dresser off Kijiji the other day that I’m about to re-finish and paint to replace those stand-in white dressers. We’ll be moving the TV over to the family room and start on a gallery wall above the dresser. Oh and can you name the show that I had on in the background while I was shooting the bedroom? It rhymes with Smarty of Hive and is one of my absolute fave old-school shows that I’m re-watching on Netflix. #iwantedtomarrycharlie


Then I’ll tackle this corner, which includes finishing off the PAX (notice how there aren’t any handles on it yet, and that hole cut out of it?), moving the laundry basket, adding a chair, rug, etc.


Oh and there is all kinds of accessorizing still to do, window treatments, etc. Lots left, but at least we can call the painting (except for the doors – ahhh the doors) done, right? Halle-frigging-lujah.

Are you guys doing any decorating right now? I feel a bit weird spending time decorating this room when there is so much to do on the outside of our house. My parents are going to come watch Maya for a day this weekend so we can make some progress out there. I hear a retaining wall and stone pathway calling our names! I don’t want to think about it, but the cooler weather will be here before we know it, so we have to get our butts into gear out there.

A big thanks to Maple Harbour for partnering with me in this room! I received the products free of charge, but was not paid to write a review. All opinions are entirely my own.

bedroom moodboard

up next: bedroom decor

23rd July 2015

We have sort of been jumping around from room to room since we moved back into our house, post renovation. There isn’t always a lot of rhyme or reason, except for things like we worked on the kitchen and a bathroom first so that things were functional over here. There still isn’t a “complete” room, but that’s OK. Lots of the spaces, like the kitchen, kids bathroom, living room, dining room, etc are at say 75-80%. Totally live-able. When you renovate, decorate and DIY your house into a home (as many of you know!), it takes time. This isn’t a half hour HGTV show where we are going to suddenly have a perfectly finished and styled home. But that’s part of the fun, right? At least I hope that’s why lots of you stick around and check in on our progress!

Life lately has been busy. Dan was away for 3 weeks on a work trip to Europe (and of course I battled a nasty cold while solo parenting Maya for that time), and we have been trying to get away to cottages on weekends and taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather. Other than me knocking out some smaller DIY projects, there hasn’t been too much progress on the house. But the other night Dan and I got a burst of motivation and decided to start tackling our master bedroom.

bedroom moodboard

I don’t think I have posted any bedroom photos since we actually moved in here. The room is on the second floor and spans the whole back wall of the house. We have a master bathroom ensuite that is completely un-finished…. and frankly, will probably stay that way until 2016. The bathroom is on one end, and then the rest is bedroom. It means it’s quite a long space, with 3 windows. The stairs protrude in a little too, meaning one section of the bedroom is more narrow – not a perfect rectangle.


We planned a decent sized walk-in closet for me in one corner, and planned a large IKEA PAX wardrobe system for Dan on the other side of the room. See in the photo below the area to the right of the doorway? That’s for the wardrobe. I totally won on that one, huh?


When we were designing the bedroom, having the bed against a window wasn’t my preference. We tried to work the room around a bunch of different ways, but ultimately kept coming back to this layout. We needed to have the windows where they are for symmetry along the back of the house, and there wasn’t enough room to have our king size bed along the opposite wall (looking out on the windows), due to the two doorways there. Moving the closet to a different spot didn’t really make sense, and after I google image searched “beds in front of windows” and saw lots that were done really nicely (like Dana’s!), I was sold.

That doorway in the corner of the photo below is the entrance to my closet. The window on the left is where the bed will be.


Here is what the room has been looking like over the past several months that we’ve been living here. And in case you’re wondering, yes, that is a pouf on the bed acting as a make-shift desk for me when I was working sick in bed one day. Ha.


This old wardrobe is standing in for Dan’s PAX system. The area between the wardrobe and my night table is quite substantial (longer than it looks in this photo), so we’re going to treat that as a “reading nook” and plan on putting a plush chair and rug in front of the window.DSC_1296

There is a lot to do in this room, but what we want to tackle in the coming weeks include:
-paint all the trim, doors, and walls (the trim is all primed now, but not top coated)
-invest in some new furniture: a new bed frame & night side tables (we have an IKEA gift card from our kitchen purchase that we saved for this)
-bedding (the un-covered duvet look is apparently not in?)
-window treatments (some kind of blind…)
-find a Kijiji/yard sale dresser for the wall opposite the bed (we have crammed two old white dressers there for now because they fit, but they aren’t exactly the look we want)
-figure out the “reading nook” … add a chair, rug and pouf? budget will be a factor here…
-add artwork
-add the DIY pendant I have planned for above the bed (the two sconces beside the bed are already installed)

I don’t have a super clear vision yet of the design, but I do know that I don’t want it to be too loud. Wood, white, some blue/green/grays, gold accents, fabrics and textures, and some “worldly” elements like kilim throws pillows and a moroccan pouf. We’ll see how things come together. I created the moodboard to try to help bring my ideas together in one spot, but I’m sure things will change and evolve as we go.

bedroom moodboard

Oh and the budget? It’s pretty tiny. As usual, our plan is to keep things as thrifty as we can. The rug, for example, may not happen for a while… we’ll see.

Are you guys decorating any rooms these days? Ever feel like you are jumping from room to room in your house? It’s so different when I do a client’s room and see it right through from start to finish in a short amount of time. In my own house, it takes aaaages to get there.

IKEA hack: kids bookshelves

nursery hack: IKEA picture ledges as bookshelves

7th July 2015

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have used IKEA ledges and spice racks as bookshelves in most (all?) of the kids rooms I have designed. In Maya’s new room, I used the IKEA picture ledges as bookshelves and they worked perfectly.

make kids bookshelves using IKEA ribba picture ledges - via the sweetest digs

Here are the reasons why I love doing these outward facing “libraries” in kids rooms:

1 // Books as art. Kids books have such fun covers and I love being able to put favourites on display. These shelves are perfect for that, and they help to maximize a narrow wall space that might have otherwise been left blank. I like doing at least 3 shelves (4 or more is better, in my opinion) to create height in the room.


2 // Budget-friendly and easy to install. Who doesn’t love IKEA prices? And there is no major assembly required – just drilling into the wall and bob’s your uncle.

3 // Promoting reading. I think most parents out there would say that they really try to encourage their kids to read. We want to create smart, imaginative little people! We read to Maya at bedtime in her room, but also have books dotted around the house so that she can pick one up and sit down to read anytime she likes.make kids bookshelves using IKEA ribba picture ledges - via the sweetest digs

4 // Multi-use. Once your kid outgrows large board books, these shelves totally double as artwork display. Let your kiddo put up their latest masterpieces and you have a rotating art show!

On Bekvam Spice Racks vs. Ribba Ledges: I have done both hacks – the first using the IKEA bekvam spice racks and the other using the IKEA ribba picture ledges.

kids bookshelves comparison- IKEA spice racks and IKEA picture ledges - via the sweetest digs

The spice racks have that slightly higher front rail piece which holds books in a little better, and I think they are a bit deeper too, meaning you can fit more books in. The downside though, is that they are more narrow and you have to sand and paint them, unless you are going for the raw wood look. Good if you want a custom colour, not good if you just want white and find the extra work annoying (me).

With the Ribba picture ledges, you can get them in a few different widths and they come in white and a few other colours. For those reasons and the ease of installation, I prefer them over the spice racks. We can still fit in plenty of books and haven’t had any issue with them falling off the shelves. But ultimately, both options are good ones.


make kids bookshelves using IKEA ribba picture ledges - via the sweetest digs

Have you guys done this project at your pad? Or used IKEA products in non-traditional ways? Gimme the scoop!

dining room - square

designing our open concept dining room

3rd July 2015

I haven’t really given you guys the full scoop on where our dining room currently stands since our renovation, so I thought I’d give you a peak today. Designing an open concept dining room is new for me, and it is by no means finished!

tips and advice for designing an open concept dining room - via the sweetest digs

Let’s rewind for a sec. Here is the main floor space, once the walls had come down and the new drywall was up. The space at the back of the house (which had been our bedroom) was the to-be living room, and the middle section would become the dining room.

dining room 1

See that big 3-pane window on the right above? Well, it’s actually the same window that was in our previous dining room. Remember that space and all of its’ walls? Man it feels like a blast from the past!

home tour 7

Here was what things were looking like once we had our floors in, kitchen semi-installed, and lighting in. We chose to center the dining room pendant on the window, and brought it away from the window far enough that it would also be centered on whatever table we have in that space. You can see that the dining room now sort of floats in the middle of our open concept main floor. I really like the placement, as it makes it easy to bring food from the kitchen, have Maya or guests sitting at the table and one of us in the kitchen prepping food, and just generally still be “together” even if we are doing different things throughout the main floor.dining room 2 And here is how things are looking today. You can spot the painted mint buffet that I placed to the right of the window, which provides perfect storage for things like placemats, napkins, etc. And we threw up some curtains we had (the Gulsporre set from IKEA), on basic black IKEA curtain rods.
dining room 3

A quick word on the lighting. I had my eye on all kinds of really fancy big pendants for the dining room area when we were in the build process, but our lighting budget line was really slim and I was trying to cut wherever I could. When I stumbled upon the “Montebello” at Rona for $99, I couldn’t pass it up. It was big enough (a too-small fixture over a dining room table can look really womp-womp), I had been looking for something black (this is oil rubbed bronze, but basically looks black), it had multiple bulbs, square lines, and wouldn’t be really obstructive to the view to the living room. Total win.

[P.S. Shauna from Satori Design has some good tips for the size and style of light fixtures for open concept dining spaces – worth checking out!]

dining room 6

Here is the room from the other angle. You can see in this photo that the window to the left of the patio doors is still bare. I actually have some black and white fabric that I’m thinking of doing in drapes for both that window and the dining room window – will help to tie the spaces together. The other thing we are so obviously missing? A rug. Clearly a rug under our dining room table would really help to define the space as it’s own “room”. The problem? Any parent of a toddler will tell you that rugs under the dining room table are a huge pain. We have to sweep under Maya’s high chair every single day and I know any rug would get dirty and stained so quickly and would be a huge pain to clean. Functionality is going to trump style here, at least for the next few years. dining room 4

I’m not loving is the warm golden tone of the wood next to our grey-washed floors. When we had golden toned hardwood in our previous house, the table worked, but now, it just looks so yellow. I haven’t landed on what colour or style of table I would like, so please chime in with your input in the comments section below!

The other thing is the table size. Again, it worked when we had walls confining our dining room to a small space, but now that we have plenty of room on all sides, it makes sense to have a bigger table. One that could accommodate 8-10 seats would be amazing. Looks like I’ll be building another table at some point (you can see how I built our current farmhouse table here). dining room 7

In this shot you can see the adjoining entryway. We are missing our closet doors in this photo as I’m currently painting them out in the garage, but as you can see, our front door is still un-painted too. I mean, it’s white and could stay white, but I’m not digging it. I haven’t landed on the colour yet, as I feel like the closet doors (which will be gray) need to be re-installed first. We’ll see how things progress over there.
dining room 5It’s still a learning process for me, but this is what I have discovered so far about decorating an open concept space:

// Keep things consistent. With open concept spaces, you need a level of uniformity throughout your “rooms” so that the whole area works together. Think flooring, paint, colours, furniture, etc. We carried our hardwood floors throughout the space, the same white walls, and have the gray of our lower kitchen cabinets carried through to all of the interior doors. All of my big pieces are neutral, but I still plan on bringing in more artwork, window coverings, and textiles to add more interest and warmth.

// Careful with clutter. Because you can see into all the different rooms on the main floor, we need to be thoughtful about clutter. I don’t want to be sitting in the living room and see things piled on our dining room table. Or be in the kitchen and see shoes, coats, and hats all over the entryway floor. When you’re designing your space, think about closed storage so that everything has a place. When things are easy to put away and have a “home”, then it actually happens. Having some open shelving is nice to display special things and to give a certain amount of visual interest, but don’t go overboard.

// Unobstructed views. When you are designing and decorating an open concept space, you need to think about your sight lines. You don’t want have to have a really tall, heavy cabinet that breaks up the flow between your dining and living areas. Lighting that feels really heavy can also be distracting. Try to stay away from super bulky pieces so that once it’s all layered in together it works and there isn’t one or two things that are stealing the show.

So, that’s where we are! A work in progress, but one that is totally functional and will come together over time. Do you guys have an open concept dining room? Any advice or tips you’d like to share? 

maya nursery - feature image

maya’s bright and cheerful DIY nursery

8th June 2015

We have come a long way in this little lady’s room – from four bare walls to a room bursting with love, fun, colour, and cheerfulness. This space makes me instantly happy when I come in, and Maya seems to dig it too (thank goodness!). Here is the full scoop on her bright and cheerful DIY nursery.

a DIY mint and pink girls nursery - via the sweetest digs

Just a reminder of what the room looked like pre-makeover. Fresh walls and floors… but dying for a little life!

maya room 2

As you saw in last week’s post, we started out by creating an accent wall with paint and decals (paint colour is PARA paint’s “Flushed”). The ice cream cone decals came from Urban Walls (on etsy) and I LOOOOVE them. They definitely set the tone for the rest of the room.

nursery room reveal - 2a

Usually I would always do drapes in a room like this, but for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it for Maya’s room. We have roll-down blackout blinds already installed, and I plan on installing some bamboo blinds in front of those eventually, so I was pretty OK to leave the windows bare for now.

I maximized the little wall space to the right of the window with some mint-painted boxes, and also hung up two of the pieces from her original DIY raindrop mobile. I couldn’t find the right spot to hang the mobile in its’ original form, so I took it apart and did this instead. Cute, right?
nursery room reveal - 5

nursery room reveal -004

Then as you pan around the room, there is a reading/crafting spot. I used an IKEA LACK table under the window (I prefer the look of these versus the specifically kids tables at IKEA – cleaner lines or something), and paired it with some vintage kids chairs I found at the flea market.

We put some of Maya’s fave books up on the wall, and I also had the space to hang two framed prints (“dream big little one“, and “think happy! be happy!” from my etsy shop).
nursery room reveal -002

As you continue to turn around in the room, you get to her closet on the opposite side. This area was screaming out for colour, so I got out my fave mint paint (PARA paint’s “Baffling Behavior”) and gave those puppies a dose of the happy hue. There is just something about white walls and brightly coloured furniture and accessories that does it for me.nursery room reveal - 4

The embroidery hoop art has a mixture of fabrics that related to the room’s colour scheme. An easy and inexpensive DIY (tutorial here). nursery room reveal - 4bThere are still a few things in here I’d like to do down the road. One is a larger area rug (saving up our pennies for that), finishing the interior of the closet (I’m thinking wallpaper!), and potentially painting the window trim out in a colour. I might do light gray or go really crazy and keep the mint thing alive. Oh, and hanging the bamboo blinds like I already mentioned. For now though, I’m pretty pumped on how the room has come together.

Now for some more fun stuff. First up, MERRY MAG!! The day is here, guys. Maya’s room is featured in the magazine (ahh! blushing over here!), and the issue is JAMMED with amazing project ideas and inspiration. Melissa from the sweet escape pulled the whole thing together and worked her magic to make one spectacularly gorgeous issue. Head on over and have a read!

MERRY-SUMMER-COVERSecondly in the “fun stuff” category, to celebrate the launch of Merry, I’m going to do a giveaway for 3 free prints from my Etsy shop, THE SWEETEST DIGS CO!! Winner gets to choose which ones they want, and prints will be shipped anywhere within North America. Giveaway runs till the end of this week (Friday June 12 2015). Enter below:

Merry Mag & THE SWEETEST DIGS CO. giveaway!

Good luck! Are you digging Maya’s room makeover? It definitely hit the “cheery and bright” criteria, which I hoped it would. Luckily the girl LOVES it. We pick books out every night and read them on the floor with pillows, she loves to draw at her table (and ON the table… thank god for washable crayons!), and she thinks the ice cream cones are pretty silly. I’d say it was a win. 

nursery room reveal -003

how to create an accent wall in a nursery

3rd June 2015

Last week you saw the pink and mint nursery moodboard for Maya and the items I was keeping and nixing from her first room. Let’s dive in next – how to create an accent wall in a nursery. We’re talking pink and ice cream cone decals, folks. Holla!

design inspiration! a pink + mint + white girl nursery design moodboard via the sweetest digs

Before any of the fun stuff, I first needed to get the room painted. I LOVE myself some white walls with fun bright colours in accents, so I got to work painting the trim, baseboard and walls in a bright white – PARA Paint’s “Whitewash White” – using an eggshell finish for the walls and PARA’s door & trim paint for the trim. It’s a really cool, bright white, which works in this space because we have two windows which let in tons of natural light. Did you catch Emily Henderson’s post recently about when NOT to paint walls white? If not, you should check it out. It totally makes sense.


Remember those ice cream decals from the moodboard? Well, I spotted them through my fave decals source, Urban Walls, and barely paused before I hit the purchase button. Seriously, how cute are they? I could die. I have used Urban Walls products in past projects (like their big heart in this client’s nursery) and not only are the designs amazing, but the product is easy to use, good quality, and affordable.

ice cream cone decal, urban walls decal,

Originally my plan had been to put the decals straight onto the white wall where Maya’s crib (and eventually bed) will go, but I had a sudden urge to throw some pink on that side of the room to balance out the pink dresser, which I knew would be on the other side. So, out came PARA Paint’s “Flushed”. This colour isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s a full on pink. And I love it.

pink paint, paint can, para paints

Decals time. They are individual rather than sheets, so you can choose exactly how you want your spacing to look like. I did a quick count of how many I had, and then calculated out how many rows it would give me with about a foot between each decal, and half a foot between each row. Once I had figured out that basic placement, I tapped up my decals using painter’s tape. I was able to step back and view it all, before going one by one and removing the backing and applying the decal to the wall. PS – the space in the middle of the wall will make more sense in a sec.

applying ice cream cone decals

Note: If I wanted to be really precise, I would have put the first one up, then measured a foot every time, making a pencil mark where the center of the decal should go. Having a laser level would have also been helpful to make sure my lines were perfectly straight. But you know me… sometimes I don’t have enough patience and I figured I could more or less eyeball as I went. Luckily, it worked out. #Phew

I also kept the colour placement random, but made sure not to stick like 4 mint cones in a row.

The result? SO FUN!!!! Oh my goodness I want to marry those decals. They are just the cutest. My only thought had been “what if I’m promoting unhealthy eating in my daughter?” which is so the health promotion academic in me speaking. Like maybe I should have gone for pineapples or watermelon (fruit!) instead? But I just loved the ice cream cones too much. I figured I was being ridiculous, and stuck with my sweet cones.

DIY, accent wall, nursery design, pink, ice cream cone decalnursery room reveal - 2a

See the M-A-Y-A letters up on the wall? I used those at her first birthday party (originally from Indigo, now sold out sadly). Well, my plan was always to use them in her room. I love the way the gold looks next to the pink, and plays into the gold light fixture, too. Hello, meant to be.

DIY, accent wall, nursery design, pink, ice cream cone decal

Sidenote: That light fixture? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember it from the bungalow. It was the fixture I pulled out of the garbage, removed all the yarn (it was one of those hippy yarn-covered pendants, which can be cool… this one was not), and spray painted it black. I gave it a new coat of gold for Maya’s room (my go to Krylon gold spray paint), and threw a vintage style bulb in. That $0 garbage fixture always gets lots of love from visitors (“oooh, where did you get the light fixture? I love it!”). So funny, hey?

So there it is – A beautiful accent wall for a kids room! Pretty easy, eh?

nursery -pinterest

Stay tuned for the rest of the room reveal. Usually I would share more about the room coming together in bits and pieces (as it does in real life), but because Merry Mag is coming out next Monday, you’ll get the full “after” of this room then! Get excited. Not just about the room (which I will say is all kinds of cute), but for Merry Mag. This summer issue is going to be packed full of amazing articles and project ideas. The contributor lineup is bangin’.

Update: You can now see the full nursery reveal here.

Have you guys used decals before? Into accent walls, or do you prefer to just carry a look through to all four walls? I know people can be divided on this. What else is going on? Any new news? Do tell. 

design inspiration! a pink + mint + white girl nursery design moodboard via the sweetest digs

maya’s room: pink and mint nursery design

27th May 2015

Maya’s nursery was the last room in the bungalow (our house pre-reno) that we re-did. She was born in August and we started our renovation in July the following year, so she lived in her first room for just under a year. It was a sweet little space that I had loads of fun finishing while my belly grew bigger and bigger. Some snapshots of that room:

DIY nursery: a sweet space for a little girl designed on a budget with great DIY ideas! DIY nursery: a sweet space for a little girl designed on a budget with great DIY ideas! DIY nursery: a sweet space for a little girl designed on a budget with great DIY ideas! DIY nursery: a sweet space for a little girl designed on a budget with great DIY ideas!

That last photo was the day we started packing up our stuff to move out. Where did that little baby of mine go?

With Maya’s new room, I have carte blanche to start over again. Thing is, I really loved the pink + mint + white scheme and the DIY projects I had done. So, without replicating the room entirely, I have decided to do her room as the 2.0 version. It’s already a nicer room in terms of the bones: bigger, more windows, a waaaaay more decent closet, and you know, not having to share with our home office. All major improvements from the get go.

Here is the moodboard I have put together.

design inspiration! a pink + mint + white girl nursery design moodboard via the sweetest digs

Fun, right? The basic plan:

– pink + mint scheme, with a white base (walls)
– furniture: white IKEA crib, pink dresser, small table and chairs
– bookshelves
– DIY artwork on the walls
– fluffy rug
– decals!! love those ice cream cones….
– gold accents, like lighting and furniture hardware
– shadow boxes to add dimension on the walls and create spots to display favourite objects

The elements I’m going to be re-using from her previous nursery:

-Her IKEA crib. We don’t have an interest in moving Maya out of her crib anytime soon (and she hasn’t tried to climb out of it or anything), so we’re definitely re-using this bad boy. It has held up beautifully and I still really like the classic design in a white-washed look.

The pink and gold dresser. I’m still obsessed with the coral-y pink of this solid wood midcentury dresser, and the gold hardware I added. There was no way it was going anywhere.

Gallery wall. Although I’m going to replace some of the artwork and probably won’t have room to hang all of these frames, I’m going to re-use some of them for sure. Oh and the canvas that I painted for my little lady will definitely re-appear in the new room somewhere.

DIY Raindrop mobile. I’m not sure if I’ll be hanging the driftwood piece from the ceiling again, or will take the clouds off and hang them on their own, but either way those raindrops will be in the room somewhere.


Woah belly!

Things that won’t be making a re-appearance:

DIY Ribbon garland. I LOOOOVE this garland, but I’m not actually sure if there is a spot that makes sense for it in the space. We’ll see. If there isn’t, I’ll def re-use it somewhere else in the house or keep it on hand as a party decoration.

DIY ribbon garland

-The yellow chevron rug. This flatwoven guy was a $30 find and frankly, it got pretty dirty pretty quickly. Also, I don’t really want to bring any yellow into this new room, and I don’t know about you, but chevron ain’t really doing it for me anymore.

-The gray polka dot removable wallpaper. I saved the paper when I took it down off the walls (NO damage to the walls, by the way! that stuff really is awesome), but I don’t have enough of it to do the new room. I’ll probably re-use it for a closet or some other art project down the line.

Here is the new room, circa construction zone over the last 10 months. All framed in, but no windows:

maya room under constructionComing together with drywall (primed), window trim, and flooring…maya room 2 And finally with some painted trim and baseboard (painting that stuff is going to be the death of me, guys… there is SO MUCH of it in the house and it’s the most tedious thing ever), plus a few pieces of furniture. maya room 3

Stay tuned to get all the progress and updates over the next week or two. This room has been top priority lately as it will be featured in Merry Mag – the summer issue – and so I have needed to get a move on! Nothing like a deadline to light a fire… right?