Category Archives: our digs

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? 

moroccan rug review from Mohawk Home and giveaway - via the sweetest digs

painting door trim black + finding the right wing chairs

18th March 2015

So when I gave you guys a look at our new moroccan rug, you must’ve spied a few other updates going on in the living room. I’ll fill you in on those today: finding some fabulous wing chairs and painting our door trim black.

painting door trim black - via the sweetest digs

Let’s back up a sec to what the room was looking like just a little while ago. The layout came pretty naturally once we had the built-in’s done. We used to have two sofas in our old living room, but knew that they wouldn’t both work in this space as one would cover the patio door leading to the backyard. Here we are (pre-built in’s), but see what I mean about the couches? Not working.

DSC_1271 (2)

So it made sense to have our better couch stay in the space, facing the fireplace, and get two new chairs to flank it on either side. The only chair we had ever really had was an IKEA Poang back in the day (didn’t everyone?!), so we were starting fresh.

Our chair requirements: comfort (we didn’t want any “aww-sucks-that-you-got-stuck-sitting-in-the-chair” mentality in our living room), stylish, and something timeless.  I don’t want to be thinking about changing these chairs in two years time because I bought something that was too trendy, you know? Budget was also a factor. We didn’t have $800+ to spend per chair, which is often what they cost. I find big chairs to be quite expensive a lot of the time — like what you might pay for a couch.

Anyway, we looked around at various stores and came up with a couple of options. I liked the look of the IKEA Karlstad chairs, but then figured that the squared, low profile was too similar to our couch. I wanted something a little different to add some interest to the room.

I went shopping at Structube one day and as soon as I sat in this beauty – the “Polo” – I was sold.

structube polo wingback chair

It’s a modern version of the wingback chair, with a rounded back and high head rest that makes it SUPER comfy. The curved lines, tapered wood legs, and buttons on the back brought it home for me. Oh and the $399 price tag was pretty darn great, too. Especially considering they are a Canadian company and you can tell that the quality is excellent.

living room featuring black wingback chairs (the polo by structube) with fireplace built ins and grey couch - via the sweetest digs

Initially I had thought the charcoal grey version would be the best option, but then changed my mind at the last minute to black. We have other black elements going on in the room and I figured these would be a great way to tie it all together.

I got in touch with Structube to tell them about my love for the chairs, and they graciously offered to collaborate with me on the living room. Please know though that although this post is now in partnership with them, I was going to be getting these chairs whether they wanted to work with me or not!

I roped my Mum into helping me pick them up. Of course it was one of the coldest days of the winter – roughly minus 40 degrees Celcius – on the day that we went to get them with my parents truck. Pretty sure it took several hours for our hands to de-thaw. BUT…. it was so worth it as soon as we got them in the living room. Talk about swanky, hey?

living room featuring black wingback chairs (the polo by structube) with fireplace built ins and grey couch - via the sweetest digs

The chairs almost look grey in these photos, but in real life they definitely read as a soft black.

As I have been chipping away at painting the trim in our house (along with all the walls, doors, etc.. ugh SO MUCH PAINTING), I decided to paint the trim of the patio door black. I had initially dreamed about having a black accordian door there, but budget won out and we went with the more wallet-friendly white sliding patio door. I figured I could try and get some of the same impact by painting the trim black, and I think it kinda works?! I like the way it brings your eye there, to a view of the backyard. Of course right now the view includes a barricade as we don’t have our deck built yet, but you know, you can envision a deck where we can open up the door and have an indoor-outdoor vibe going in the summer.

The paint I used was PARA Paint “Forge Black”, door & trim paint, in matte finish. It was the perfect paint – the matte finish helping to cover any imperfections in the trim.

living room featuring black wingback chairs (the polo by structube) with fireplace built ins and grey couch - via the sweetest digs

It’s coming together, eh? The built-ins have a lot going on, so I’m trying to keep it a little more “quiet” in the rest of the space. I haven’t figured out the perfect pillows yet… but I’m getting there. I also think the rug is a little space for the space so eventually I’ll move that one to another room and bring something else in here.

For more living room posts check out: laying out the spacebuilding the built-ins, styling the fireplace built-ins, and a review of the moroccan rug.

A big thank you to Structube for partnering with us on this project. Be sure to go check out their beautiful stuff! I already have my eye on a few other things for the house… !!

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.


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].


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).


>> 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 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…


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.



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…


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.


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…


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.


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.


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


AKA Design

The DIY Mommy

Northern Style Exposure

Echoes of Laughter


Pop of Pretty

Rambling Renovators

Craftberry Bush

Elliven Studio


First Time Fancy

So Much Better With Age

The Creek Line House

The Sweetest Digs


Clean and Scentsible

The Happy Housie

Just Beachy

Dans le Townhouse


The Uncommon Law

This Little Estate