April 25, 2011

Spring is here

Happy Easter!

It's been a crazy couple of days... I have SO much to tell you about.  I am just itching for some showing off... but as usual I have not downloaded any lovely pictures for you lovely readers.  I AM SORRY.  I'll make it up to you I promise.

Over Easter we were visiting family and generally enjoying ourselves and the lovely warmish weather (5-10 degrees Celsius).  We had snow last week (no joke) so we'll take what we can get.  The plants are enjoying the weather as well, and it seems that Spring has really arrived.

Lately, I have been having so much fun watching my tulips come up in the front garden; it is SO exciting.  Tulips are my absolute favourite flower.  In our area (we are Zone 5 for you gardeners), we plant bulbs in the Fall and then cross our fingers all winter and wait expectantly in the Spring for the little green leaves to poke out of the ground.  Of course there are some that get eaten by squirrels (little buggers!) and other animals before they have a chance to grow, but when they start growing out of the ground it's like magic.

The front of our house used to look like this.
Yup, just grass... how boring.  In fact, it's all pretty beige.  We planted a garden along the front path and around the giant cedar tree that you can see in the bottom right of the photo.  It looks so much more homey now.  The tulips are not blooming yet, but for now the little green leaves are excitement enough.  Happy Spring!

I hope you have something growing!  I'd love to hear about it if you do.  Are the flowers out in your city?

April 20, 2011

Bathroom "Sketch" Art

I'm no artist, and I don't pretend to be, but that's something that I always wished I could do... draw.  It's amazing to me what artistic people can do with just a pencil or paint.  I was looking for some art to add to the powder room that would go with my Renoir print that has been my inspiration for the powder room.  Seriously, he painted that.  Amazing.

Renoir's "Dance in the City"
I wanted something simple and monotone like an etching or sketch.  I hinted at this before when I told you about the paint colour for the bathroom.  So I looked to my good friend Google to help me out with some ideas and stumbled across this really inspiring idea.  It was perfect, but could I pull it off?
From starterhometodreamhome.blogspot.com
Step 1: Find and print out clip art pictures (from Microsoft Word or anywhere online) that you want to sketch (resize if necessary).  I wanted to do 4 frames so I found a bathtub and toilet (similar to above) and added a sink and a roll of toilet paper (so cute!).
Step 2: Trace the clipart in pencil using "sketchy" strokes.  You want the lines to be soft so that it looks like a real sketch.  Add some shading... just follow the darker areas in the clipart and shade softly.  Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it too.
Step 3: Sign your art.  You can just do a squiggle, or sign your (or any) name or initials... no one will know!

Voila!  Beautiful custom made art... for FREE.  Can't beat that.

I have some amazing "after" pictures coming I promise.  Painting the powder room is really taking WAY longer than we'd hoped.  Looks like it will be FOUR coats of primer to cover that sponge painted madness.

April 18, 2011

Weekend Bliss and Reminiscing

So as most of you know we celebrated hubby's birthday on the weekend with a party at our house for a bunch of our friends.  We had so much fun!  I think the best part (other than the cake - yum!) was that we took an entire weekend off from working on the house.

We have been having a lot of fun working on the house, but I think we really appreciated having a break.  We have come a long way, so far we finished the family room and the front hall, we've also made some progress on the powder room.  On the weekend we got a chance to kind of show it off and it was so great to hear everyone's wonderful comments about our progress so far.

We are so happy that our house is starting to feel like our home.  Even though its only been a few months, it's still fun to look back at how far we've come.

Remember what the family room used to look like before...

And now...
The front hall is also one of my favourite places in the house now.  Before it was SO green!

And now it's so lovely...
It's nice to see how far we've come, but I know that we still have a long way to go.  I have some great projects coming up including the powder room getting painted!!  I can't wait to show off that before and after!  Stay tuned...

April 14, 2011

Powder Room - The Plan

So although we're in full party planning mode (read: procrastinating on making all the food/cleaning so that we can run around like idiots before the party)... we have picked the colours for the powder room.  After holding up many paint swatches to our lovely green tiles... we've decided to go green-gray with the paint colour.  Etching to be exactly. 
CIL paints
I think this will look lovely with our inspiration art and the name "etching" has given me an idea for an art project... can you guess what it might be?

So for the rest of the bathroom, yes, we will be removing the pink toilet and ugly vanity that I showed you before.

For the toilet we're going low-flow; it's good for the environment and for the wallet.  We managed to snag this beauty (can a toilet be beautiful?) for 30% off from Home Depot and we get a rebate from the city for installing a low-flow model.  In case you're really curious this toilet it a 4.8 L or 1.28 Gallon flush.  We thought about going dual flush, but decided against it since I think its weird to flush a toilet by pressing a button.

Kohler - Cimarron Comfort Height The Complete Solution Elongated 1.28 GPF Toilet With Class Six - K-11451-0 - Home Depot Canada
Kohler Cimmaron Comfort Height Elongated Toilet from HD
Moving along... the vanity that I wanted was this one (but in dark brown), but even on sale it was over $700 and that was not in the budget. 
Magickwoods - 32 In. Sonata Base Unit-Mahogany Finish w/Porcelain Sink - 1794 - Home Depot Canada
Magickwoods Sonata Base w/Porcelain Sink from HD
I love the shallow porcelain sink, which I think is perfect for a powder room.  Nice and wide so lots of kids (in the future) can wash their hands and since you almost never plug the powder room sink to say, wash your face it seemed perfect and very pretty. 

After more searching I found this much more affordable option from Ikea for around $200.  It has doors below the sink for hidden storage, which I actually prefer, AND it was on sale!  At Ikea!  They almost never have sales.  15% off.  Booyah!

FREDEN/HÖLLVIKEN Sink cabinet black-brown Width: 31 1/2 " Depth: 21 5/8 " Height: 35 "  Width: 80 cm Depth: 55 cm Height: 89 cm
Freden/Hollviken Sink Cabinet from Ikea
So there's the plan for the new and improved powder room.  Let me know what you think!

We're hoping to go low-flow with most of our plumbing to save money and water for the environment.  Are you going low-flow at home?  Faucets, toilets, shower heads?  How do you like/hate it?

April 12, 2011

It's a Party!

So this week will be super busy with party preparations for hubby's birthday bash this weekend.  To prepare the house for "company" (i.e. our wonderful friends) we will be doing a bit of leg-work in the cleaning/tidying department and trying to make sure that the house doesn't look too "under construction" for when they arrive.

"I can't believe that you are having people over when you are in the middle of renovating!" you say... well, we decided at the start of this whole project that we were not going to give up living our lives until the reno is complete, which is good because it will likely be years before we are completely done.

It should also be said that our friends, of course, know that we're renovating since we talk to them about crazy stuff like choosing paint colours, removing doors, moving furniture and the best way to use a caulk gun.  I know, we're fun times!  Seriously though, everyone does some sort of renovation at some point and its great to get tips from people who have lived through it before you, or give tips to those that will follow after.

The main focus will be to put all the tools, paint cans, trim, etc away and to arrange the furniture that we have so that it looks like a "real room".  Unfortunately we won't have time to finish the powder room before the party, but it will be painted and trimmed (it's not a Halloween party after all).

And CLEAN.  I'm a super freak about cleaning before company comes over.  I know I can't be the only one!  So let me know... would you invite people over if you were painting/renovating?  Do you HAVE to clean your house before people come over?  Do you share reno tips with your friends?

April 11, 2011

Powder Room - Inspiration

Since I always start every room with an inspiration item, I'd like to show you what the inspiration for the powder room will be.

Renoir's "Dance in the City"
We have an art print on canvas of this Renoir painting that was an engagement gift from my mom.  I love it and I like to plan for "art" that I love to be in rooms where I will get to see it a lot.  Since the powder room is just off the front hall it will likely be a high traffic bathroom... enough said. 

The print has a nice elegant feel to it, which fits in with the completed front hall, and there are lots of pretty greens in the background, which works great with my plan for the powder room because we have the green tile from the front hall in here as well.

As you know, this room will require a gargantuan effort in painting and will further serve to buff up my arms... so we will be doing multiple coats of primer and paint (boring!) before I have any pretty pictures to show you.  But at least I will be one step closer to killer tank top arms.  Stay tuned.

April 8, 2011

My dirty little secret

I hope you've been enjoying the progress so far on the house.  We're really happy with how the family room and the front hall have turned out, but there is one room that I've been hiding from you.  You've seen the door for this room, but I haven't showed you inside yet.  Have you guessed which room it is yet?  Well, it's the powder room, which is just off the front hall.  You can see the door to it here.  It's the first door on your left... come on in...

Whew!  Are you scared?  I know I was.  Yes, the whole room is sponge painted, even the ceiling.  Didn't notice that?  Scroll back up and check it out.  Yes, that is a matching pink toilet and vanity top.  Yes, the light is a gold bar with bare bulbs.  Now you can see why I've been hiding it.

This bathroom is original to the house (i.e. 1981) and has not been touched at all, I'm sure there are lots of people our there with "original" bathrooms in similar condition, but it you can find a scarier paint job, I would be shocked out of my socks.

This bathroom would give almost anyone "the fear", but next post I will share with you my inspiration and plan for conquering "the fear" and becoming queen of my own castle powder room.

April 7, 2011

Fighting "The Fear" of Design

I think a lot people have trouble designing a room because they are afraid of making a mistake and they don't know where to start.  I know that I still suffer from "The Fear" sometimes even after designing a bunch of rooms that turned out great (well, we like them).

Here's what I do to get started and maybe it will help you to get started on something that you've been unsure of what to do.

1. Pick something! 
I read somewhere that if you choose things that you LOVE for your home they will naturally go together and make your house feel homey.  This makes sense to me in some ways because your home should be a reflection of you and you should love your home.  On the other hand, your tastes can vary between different styles and of course there is the budget to consider... that said, I always start a room with something that I love.  The best part is that this should be easy, you know what you love.  You don't have to know how it will work right away, just one step at a time.

For the family room, we have that huge sectional that we love.  I knew that I needed to work it into the design.  For the front hall it was the wainscoting in crisp trim white.  For the dining room it will be the curtains that my mom gave me as a housewarming gift for our first house.  For the living room it will be a pillow that I fell in love with.  Now that you have decided on something you can work from there.

2. Consider existing elements
Now that you have something you love, your room is off to a great start, but its important to take the elements that are not changing (flooring, fireplace, doors, cabinets, etc) into consideration.  For our family room we had the fireplace and the bulkheads from the duct work to work around.  We took colours from the brick around the fireplace (browns, reds, charcoal grey) and used them in the room.  We also managed to build shelving to incorporate the bulkheads and make them part of the room.  Working with existing elements is important to making everything work together.  If you are in an apartment where you have things that you cannot change, this is especially important.

3. Determine the "mood" of the room
How do you want to feel when you're in that room?  For the family room we wanted something fun, bright and sophisticated; we didn't want it to feel like a basement.  Since the sofa is dark, we decided that the walls and the flooring should be light (for a brighter feel).  Once you choose the paint, flooring and a major item in the room, other things will be easier to choose and will come together more naturally.

Overall in a room you are trying to find balance; you want both light and dark, both solid and pattern, both wood and fabric.  Remember that paint is easy to change, pillows are replaceable, art can be changed, reframed, and things can be returned if they don't work.  Don't be afraid to make a mistake, you'll never have a room that you LOVE, if you don't try.

April 4, 2011

Kitchen mini-makeover

So eventually we plan to redo the kitchen… I just need to keep watering that money tree I planted in the backyard.  Seriously though, it’s not the ugliest kitchen in the world, but it does need a little help.  There is a LOT of green, and I hate the layout.  Corner cabinets with plastic lazy-susans instead of shelves are like a bad joke in kitchen-storage-land (this is a mythical place that I would like to live).

To make the kitchen livable for now, we changed the knobs.  Seriously, this simple thing made such a huge difference!  With our new furniture and counter accessories the whole room looks so much more updated and modern.  Now I just have to figure out something creative to tone down all that green!

  1. Count how many knobs you need
  2. Purchase new knobs – make sure you shop around, knobs can be expensive, also pay attention to the size of the knob and the placement on your cabinets.  If you want to swap out knobs for handles you’ll have to drill an additional hole in your cabinets for the 2nd screw… also this adds a complication for the drawers since the knob holes are centered.
  3. Remove old knobs – you will need a screwdriver for this… I used a drill to make it faster, but inside the drawers can be a bit tight and you may have to do it the old-fashioned manual way.
  4. Install new knobs – same as step 3 only in reverse
  5. Voila!  Brand new kitchen!  Well... "newer" looking kitchen, I suppose.

Here is what my kitchen looked like before...
and after...
 Whew!  Still a mess!  Please don't judge me for my messy kitchen.  But don't the knobs look great!

 Here's a close up of the old knobs.

 And the new ones.
So pretty!  These knobs were discontinued so I got a great deal on them from HD online.  For about $100 I got all 35 knobs (plus 3 extra - I bought all remaining 38 knobs because you never know!) and installed them all in about 15 minutes.

I think this is a great and inexpensive way to update your kitchen or a bathroom vanity or even a dresser! 

I have some big plans to paint the kitchen and get rid of the painted border.  I'm dreading the number of coats of primer that I will need to use to cover it.  That dark green is so persistent!  Wish me luck.

Linking up!