What I’ve Learned About Decorating

In the few years that I’ve been blogging, I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way in regards to my home and its decor. When I started out, I had ZERO taste of my own, and whatever taste I did have I was too insecure to explore. My house was brown. Brown brown brown. Brown leather and brown wood, stunningly accented by mustard yellow walls (literally… the paint was called “Dijon” by Ben Moore) and maroon curtains and pillows…

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It wasn’t horrible… it just wasn’t great. It was bland and boring and didn’t really reflect how I feel inside at all. The problem was that I didn’t know how to take what I like in my mind and translate it to my home! Eventually I found the joy that are home decor blogs – mainly Young House Love – and they showed me that it’s possible to have a bright, warm home with lots of colour without it looking gaudy or cheap, when done right. The trick was to incorporate these ideas into my house, and make sure they reflected who I am, and not someone else that I saw online! I have stumbled along the way most definitely.. my husband and kids will attest to that! LOL… but I think that the style of my home has evolved quite nicely over the last few years. You can check out my house tour for the full monty, but in this post I will just touch on the areas where I’ve learned the most.

5 things
#1 – Keep the big stuff simple

This is a pretty common design rule, but keeping your walls are larger items neutral is ALWAYS smart. Big pieces like sofas and dining room furniture are best kept basic and sleek. This allows you to add some personality and colour in smaller areas like throw pillows, curtains and lamp shades!
It’s a lot easier to switch out little items when you’re in the mood to redecorate than it is to replace a couch.

When I first did my living room I was stuck with a sectional from Ikea that, while very cute, was NOT doing me any favours by forcing me to stick with boring EVERYTHING when it came to accessories. Drapes, carpet, pillows, throw blankets… everything had to be neutral because of the overwhelming pattern on the sofa:

Too much.

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By the time I realized it, it was too late. I began to plan for “part two” of my living room makeover. I looked at ideas on Pinterest and figured out the direction I wanted to go in. Essentially, when you look at these rooms you can see that if you remove all the “little things”, you’re pretty much left with a blank slate, and that’s what I wanted….

Ummm… I think this is the most beautiful bedroom I have ever seen. Wow.

neutral 4

 See how everything is clean and natural? The pops of green come from easily changeable items…

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So, when I found my current sofa on Craigslist, I snapped it up immediately. It changed the feel of the entire room, brought things back to neutral and now I’m slowly introducing some colour and pattern back into the room!

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My dining room (and slowly, the rest of the house) follows the same formula:

mirror 2


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Simple, soft paint and furniture that is complimented and brightened up by some fun and colourful accessories. I’m pretty sure I will decorate this way for the rest of my life now that I have it figured out.

I sure wish I’d known about mood boards when we bought this house six years ago. Let me tell ya, it would have been a whole better coordinated different ball game! It never ocurred to me that I could come up with a colour scheme for my entire home and work from it. Not that it’s crucial to do this, but it’s certainly helpful! Working backwards, it appears that I’ve been relatively lucky…

house colour chart

1 – Our entire main floor: “Gray Horse”, Benjamin Moore

2 – Accent wall in the dining room: “Storm Cloud Gray”, Benjamin Moore

3 – All of the trim in the house: “Cloud White”, Benjamin Moore

4 – Cal & Ella’s room: “Mountain Air”, Benjamin Moore

5 – Planned striped wall in Master bedroom: “Thousand Islands”, Benjamin Moore

6 – Taya’s room: “Athabasca Blue”, Benjamin Moore

7 – Master bedroom: “Brookline Beige”, Benjamin Moore

Looking at them now, it almost looks like I planned that colour palette, but alas… we all know I’m not that bright. At least, I WASN’T that bright. I’d like to think I am now. Ha. But luckily the colours seem to work well together, and there’s a nice flow throughout the house. In the future, I know the brilliance of a mood board, and I will create and use them diligently! The biggest makeover in the house right now is the bathroom, and here is the inspiration I’m working from:

grasscloth bathroom

And of course, a mood board:

bath 2

I will be definitely looking back at these to compare once it’s all complete!

Speaking of complete… sigh. This is one of my weaknesses. I have a tendency to have many projects happening at once, and no space ever feels like it’s DONE. This bathroom reno has dragged on for so long that I’ve found myself starting on other areas of the house, and I’m not sure that’s so smart. I think that the best thing to do is pick a room, or a space, and work on it until it’s complete. Every spare hour, every spare dollar… put your time, money and effort into that spot until it’s exactly what you want it to be, and then walk away from it.

The bathroom has gone from this:

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To this:

bathroom progress

 But that’s it. Over the span of a year. There’s still SO much more to do.

Focusing on one space until it’s totally done not only gives the room a sense of completion, but it gives YOU a sense of satisfaction and hopefully deters you from endlessly tweaking a space that will never truly feel finished.

Buy something with a use or a place in mind… not just because you like it.
I have always had a habit of falling in love with something in a store, and bringing it home with the intention of just “finding” a place for it. That’s not usually a good idea. Unless it’s an amazing one of a kind item or an incredible deal on a vintage or antique piece, buying something without any idea of where or how it will be used in your home is just clutter waiting to happen. Thankfully I don’t have an example photo of this inside the house… I’ve learned from my mistakes!

Or have I???
Yah… that’s our garage.

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I’m as guilty as anyone of buying small, decorative items at Target or HomeSense – I LOVE those stores! – but I’ve learned that whenever possible, it’s better for something to MEAN something to me. I don’t travel a lot, so it’s not like I can gather beautiful trinkets from around the globe, but I make a point of decorating my home with sentimental items that have history and value – even if it’s just to me.

This cake topper was not only on my wedding cake in 2009, it was on my grandparents’ cake when they married over 70 years ago.

cake topper

Decor shops have lots of lovely things, and they’re perfect for filling an empty spot on a wall or a shelf, but the things that make a house a home are the ones that have a story, and a spot in your heart!

This pretty vintage container holds what’s left of my Grandma’s “White Lavender” perfume powder.
And the tissue flowers in a clay pot behind it are something that my oldest daughter made me years ago in school.

white lavendar

Sometimes I get a real burst of energy and even MAKE something!

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So there you have it.. nothing fancy, just the most useful things that I’ve learned through trial and error over the last few years. I feel like I’m finally in a bit of a groove with decorating, and I can’t WAIT until our next house when I can start from scratch and (hopefully!) not have to undo my own mistakes. What’s in your design bible? Any rules you live by or tips to share? Until I win the lottery and my dream of looking at fabric swatches over tea with Sarah Richardson comes true, I will remain a faithful student of the decor world.

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The IKEA 2015 Catalogue is here!!

(Alternate Titles – “Happiness in Paper Form”, or “The Best Day of the Year”)

So here it is… oh happy day!!

Ikea Catalogue

I am the first to admit that I get super excited for the new catalogue each year – but at the same time I do often find it to be more of the same stuff they usually carry.  I usually flip through, get excited, then leave it in the bathroom for the next 12 months.. lol. Today, however, I was quite surprised! Personally, I think that Ikea has knocked it out of the park this year, and I’m more impressed than ever before. Their new items are innovative, functional and VERY cool to look at. They also seem to have a wider array of styles than in previous years. They’ve moved beyond just the nordic style they’ve become known for and have incorporated some new elements that range from mid-century modern to shabby chic. I am LOVING this new line!! In saying that, I thought I’d share my favourite new items from the 2015 catalogue, and tell you why I love them so! Part of Ikea’s new line this year is a sub-collection called “PS 2014″. These items are more forward thinking than anything they’ve sold before, and I want them all. LOL! Here are some of my favourites from this collection and the rest of the new line that’s available now.

Wall Rail with shelf, mirror & four knobs – $47.99

This thing is super cool. You can purchase many different components to suit your needs. Knobs, mirrors, trays, rails… it’s modular and can be easily switched around. I love the idea of having it just inside a mudroom door to drop jackets and keys, or even on a bathroom wall to hold towels and jewelry.

Ikea PS 2014 wall rail with shelf mirror and 4 knobs

LED Stool Lamp - $59.99 How COOL is this thing? It’s a stool, it’s a lamp, and it’s cordless. When I first saw it I immediately pictured it in my kids’ rooms… but then when I saw that it’s cordless I wanted to buy a bunch for our backyard! Imagine a circle of these out back on your patio at night? Amazing. LED  stool lamp Storage Table – $79.00 I’m mildly obsessed with this one, and I’m fighting the urge to run out and buy a few until I can decide where I will actually USE them. But really? The possibilities are endless. Our living area always seems to have a few straggler items that never find a home. (My husband’s X-box headphones, the tv and X-box remotes, pens and a handful of small toys ALWAYS seem to be leftover no matter how much I tidy.) I’m thinking this table would be the perfect solution – not to mention that it’s levels are interchangeable and can be used as trays! Not a fan of the colours?? It comes in solid white too! Storage Table Enudden Wall Storage with Knob – $3.99 Here’s another “by the door” idea that I love. It’s small, it’s simple, and it serves a great purpose. Put a few of these up right next to the door you use most and you instantly have your own spot for keys, sunglasses and a wallet. Attach some inside your closet in a vertical arrangement to store scarves and jewelry, or put them pretty much ANYWHERE to keep small bits of whatever you think needs a home. Craft supplies, makeup and nailpolish, you name it – this holds it. Enudden Wall Storage w Knob Enudden Hat & Coat Stand – $39.99 This one is definitely on my list. We currently have this Ikea coat stand in our front hall, but I much prefer the aesthetic of this one with its smooth lines and rounded base with no feet to trip over. It’s sleek and offers great storage, and you can even purchase a package of clips and hooks to add to it for hanging scarves and mittens, etc. So I’m totally going to sell the one we have and get this. LOL. Enudden Hat and Coat StandIngeborg Bath Towels – starting at $1.99 This line of towels makes me happy. That’s all. I just love them and think that the colours are fun and fresh. Love the pattern combos! Ingebord Bath Towels & Accessories Lekande Bedspread – $19.99 So basically you can spend $100 at Pottery Barn or $20 at Ikea for this adorable patchwork style quilt! Don’t have to ask me twice… How adorable… Lekande Bedspread Gonatt Crib – $249.00 (But on sale ending TODAY for $211.00!) I think this crib might be my favourite thing in the whole catalogue, which is kind of unfortunately seeing as it’s like the one thing I have NO reason to buy. It’s a gorgeous grey which is perfect for a boy or a girl. It’s got storage underneath and it converts to first a day bed and then a loveseat. It’s not too juvenile looking so it can be used for YEARS. Talk about a good buy. Personally I’d switch out the knobs, but otherwise I think it’s just perfect. Gonatt Crib

I couldn’t find a photo online of the converted version, so yes – I took a picture of the catalogue with my phone:

Gonatt Day Bed

Stuva Twin Loft Bed – $506.00 (this combination) Okay, I admit that I’ve never been a fan of this style of bed. I always thought they were sort of cheap looking and junky. BUT – my ten year old daughter saw this and literally swooned. Yes. Literally. There was swaying and moaning and glassy eyes… the whole deal. I get it, it’s like a club house and this one has tons of storage which is pretty cool. Again, you can get this in many different combinations, styles and colours. I kind of want one myself. Stuva Loft Bed Selje Bedside Table -$39.99 Another forward step for Ikea… this side table has a cut out in the drawer front that allows for a cable to come through. Perfect for the 37 year old teenager who sleeps with their phone two inches from their head, it’s cute and stylish too! Selje Nightstand

So there you have it.. my favourites from the new “book book”… lol!

pin it Have you gone through the new catalogue yet? Are your picks the same or did I leave out something crucial? My closest Ikea is about 20 minutes away, so I’m hoping to get down there one day this week. And I’m definitely taking the van… hehe.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

PS – This post was in no way sponsored. I just reeeeeeally like Ikea.

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See You in September…

Oh wait… SOB… how did that happen? Ugh. I don’t know about where you guys all live, but around here (Toronto) it just wasn’t very “summery” this summer. Pretty cruddy weather made it zip by in no time, and I can’t believe it’s over. Oh well… fall is my favourite season, so I’ll deal.

And I can’t complain, because MAN did I bring this month in with a bang!! I got the most amazing message the other day, from an editor at BuzzFeed, asking if they could use one of my posts in an article on their site!!!


So on Monday the article went live, and I am SO excited to be a part of it!! Check it out below…


You may or may not notice that my two year old is now famous… I mean, doesn’t a photo on BuzzFeed pretty much ensure instant notoriety and fortune??? Even if it’s just the back of your head??


Click HERE to read my original post that was featured!

So that was a pretty awesome start to the month I have to say.  But you guys… it gets BETTER. Yesterday afternoon I got a message from a Facebook friend of mine. We don’t know each other too well, but she used to work with my husband and she knows me well enough to know I have a major wee obsession with collecting and refinishing furniture. She has these pieces in the basement of her home and has no space or use for them, so she asked if I wanted them. I was all, “YES they’re gorgeous!! How much?” and she was all, “No, you can just have them… I’ll even drop them off!”

…and I was all


So I am going to be the super excited new owner of these lovely ladies very soon…



My husband isn’t so excited about this whole thing… he lacks the vision needed to see how STUNNING this is all going to be. AND of course it means I will have to sell some stuff that’s currently in the garage, but that’s okay! I have a rule – when you bring something in, something has to go out. We live in a 1600 square foot house, ain’t nobody got room for dat. Gotta keep the clutter down.

But these pieces aren’t going anywhere… I’m definitely going to update them somehow, but they are coming to their forever home, baby! They totally fit in with the midcentury aesthetic that I’ve been leaning towards lately, and I LOVE them.

So, that’s my wee update on this random Wednesday morning. I hope everyone is having a fabulous week, and to all my fellow Canadians I hope your kids are enjoying their first days back at school!

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Back to School Again…

This time next week I will have three children in three different schools. What has happened? Where has the time gone? Oh my heart.

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I’m pretty used to sending Taya off on the bus now… she’s starting grade five this year and she’s got it all under control. It’s never really easy to wave goodbye as she heads down the driveway, but I’m at least used to it.

But Cal… well, my little man is starting JK in four short days and I’m just not sure how to feel about it. My little man is heading out into the world and going on some great adventures. I’m so happy for him, and excited… and terrified, and sad. He has his new back pack and he’s all ready to go. But kindergarten here is full day now, and for a little guy who is used to spending every minute with mommy, well… I’m not sure who is going to have a harder time with the transition. Hopefully it’s me.

And then there’s my wee Ella. My little spitfire of a toddler who is the most adventurous, loving, brave two year old I’ve ever known. She’s going to miss her siblings so much and I know it’s time to let her spread her wings – just a little. She’s starting nursery school, two mornings a week, and it was a pretty big deal for her to pick out a back pack with her big brother in anticipation of the big day!

(Spiderman and Bubble Guppies, respectively, if anyone’s interested…)

This time last year it was Taya hopping on the bus while my two little babies waved in the window…

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My gosh how things have changed.

So as I prepare for the madness that next week will bring, I’m so overwhelmed with emotions. Pride, stress, fear, excitement… and a million others. Mainly I’m panicking about lunches.


Thank goodness for Pinterest, although while I’m happy to get ideas of what to pack, there will be no landscapes or animals made from sandwiches. I don’t know who the moms are that do this, but I don’t really like them. No offense – go on with your bad selves, but I’m skipping that party.


I will just consider myself lucky if I get the food in the box and the kids out the door. It’s gonna be interesting. And exciting! And I’m definitely going to cry on the first day. And maybe the second. But hopefully not after that.

More than anything? I can’t wait to take a photo of my three beautiful kids on the first day. New clothes, bags bigger than they are, hair brushed and excited, nervous smiles… I’ve been preparing for this moment for years, and preparing them especially. I’m so proud and I know this is going to be an amazing year for them – and for me! A few mornings a week with no kids in the house is totally foreign and will definitely be good for me. A chance to do my own thing and reclaim a little bit of myself is pretty awesome, I must admit.

And, because I have this song in my head on repeat EVERY year at this time, I will subject you to the same fate…
Hope everyone’s back to school experience is a good one, and that all these wonderful kids have a fantastic year!



Filed under Kids, Personal

A Masterful Mess

This post may not be suitable for some readers.
Those who enjoy tidy rooms, laundry put away and beds made should proceed with caution.

Our master bedroom is lacking, my friends. It’s small, it has ONE tiny closet and no en suite bath. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never really wanted a huge bedroom. It just seems like wasted space since I’m really never in there, but it would be nice to have a PRETTY bedroom. An organized, functional bedroom with storage.

Yah. I’d like that.

When we first came to view this house in 2008, this is what the master bedroom looked like:



Fancy, right? SO fancy. Purple-y blue walls, one sad little window and a ceiling fan. SO much awesomeness. We painted before we even moved in, (a colour that I now regret but am not changing) and pretty much did nothing else. I’ve had our furniture arranged at least six different ways since then… it’s a frustrating space and here’s the scary part… as we began working on other areas of the house, our room became the dumping ground.

I cannot be the only person this has happened to… lol… I like to think of it as a great, selfless act… taking the hit for the family by keeping the other rooms attractive and clean, and letting the junk pile up in MY space. At its worst, it looked like this:

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Oh my…

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There’s just no excuse…

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I’m so ashamed…

Okay. Deep breath. Now that’s out of the way, allow me to explain. While our bathroom was being remodeled, I needed SOMEWHERE to put all the “stuff” from in there, and this was the only option. I always have laundry issues that I’m attempting to get under control. I DO the laundry, I SORT the laundry, I just don’t always end up putting AWAY the laundry.

The struggle is real.

Anyway this room does NOT look like that anymore… I did a really big purge this past week and also cleared out some furniture and put it into storage for now. It’s tough – sometimes I think I should sell the furniture I’m not using right now, but then I think about how our next house is going to be (it HAS to be!) so much bigger than this one, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of something that I know I will need when we move. So, those items got stored in the attic and garage, and everything was either cleaned up or donated.

Here’s what I know about where this room is headed:
- The dark wood dresser stays
See that big dark dresser up there? Well, it’s not my favourite thing in the world, but my husband made it, so it’s going nowhere. Yes.. I mean HE MADE IT. From pieces of unfinished wood, with his bare hands and some power tools. We’re not talking “assembly” here, folks… this piece is special to him because he created it from scratch, and it stays.

- The bed goes
Well, it either goes or it gets made over. It’s “faux” leather, it’s too big and it’s too dark. So I’m either covering it all with fabric to freshen it up, or it’s leaving altogether and being replaced with a beautiful rattan headboard that I bought from Kijiji recently. We shall see.

There are new night tables in there now that will be painted “Old White” by Annie Sloan and that chair you see in the corner is being painted as well… not sure yet what colour.

I stumbled across this mood board yesterday on Pinterest, and I couldn’t believe how bang it it matched our room…


I emailed it to Alex and he wrote back, “Did you make this?” LOL… see? It really matches our plan. The dresser is similar, the night tables will look like those ones, the fabric I bought to cover the headboard and frame is almost identical and the wall colour is a dead match for the background of the roman shades. The only difference is that in our room we will be incorporating some blues, so I will have to figure that part out.

So that’s what’s taking up my free time lately. Emptying the room out and working on it is pretty challenging when all of our stuff still needs to be accessible AND we have a two year old who insists on napping in “mommy’s bed” every afternoon. Sigh.

Oh well, it will all get done eventually… and starting next week I will have TWO children in full day school, so being home with just Ella should free me up a bit to tackle these things.

I hope I didn’t terrify you with my AWFUL master bedroom… I promise it won’t stay this way!


Filed under Furniture, Organization & Storage, Renos & Makeovers

Creative (and cheap!) Solutions for Hiding Cords

Today’s post might not be flashy, but it still brought me big time joy.

My house had CORD issues. We are a tech house – as in, my husband needs to own every freaking gadget there is, and he needs to own what appears to be multiple versions of each one. lol… we have xboxes and Wiis and blu ray players and dvd players and all kinds of components that truthfully I have NO IDEA what their purpose is.

What I do know? CORDS. So. Many. Freaking. Cords. I hate it. I work my butt off to decorate and make it pretty, but then there are these black and beige cables hanging everywhere and it makes me RAGEY. Yup. I think that was the first time I’ve ever used that word.

I like to think that I can be handy on occasion, but nope.. there’s no way I am opening up walls to hide these things. And my hubby IS handy, but as the sole breadwinner in this house, the man just doesn’t have the time. So, as always… I got creative.

pin it

Yeahhhhh… we lived with that “before” picture in various states for SIX YEARS, people. We’ve had different media consoles and they’ve been against different walls, but the bottom line was always the same… the look was ruined by cords. So I started to dig around on Pinterest and found some really great ideas…

box em up




I also saw a few… umm… “other” ideas…

bad idea

 Seriously?? Just no.

Anyway, in the end I came up with my own version which is what usually happens… I was at the thrift store, keeping in mind a few “issues” I was having at home and keeping an eye open for possible solutions when I found THIS:

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Remember these cheap coat hooks from Ikea? I don’t think they carry them anymore but you can find similar ones pretty much anywhere. It was $2.99 and I immediately envisioned it as a holder for all the crap you see above. LOL. I pulled the console away from the wall, drilled it into place and then weaved the cords around the hooks to keep them off the floor. Once I had them all wound neatly I laid the power bar across the top and I was done! Seriously, it doesn’t get much easier..

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Side view

It looks SO much better and I honestly cannot believe that it took me so long to come up with such a simple idea. Embarrassing, really…

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So there’s my easy-peasy solution to a very common problem. I LOVE finding ideas that work for so little time and money… especially when it’s something that no one is ever going to see anyway. Hope you found it helpful!

ps – click below to share!
pps – hubby is home tonight, and thank goodness… I’m TIRED. I wrote this entire post using the word “CHORD” and caught it right before hitting publish. Help me.



Filed under Furniture, Organization & Storage, Renos & Makeovers