Design Sponge Before & After Holiday Contest – I’m a finalist!

I’m so excited to announce that I’m a finalist in the Design Sponge Before & After Holiday Contest!! Yay!! Here’s where you can vote. I really love the other designs too – check out the homemade gems, the starry backdrop and the embroidered tree – all genius!

For my design I decorated our kitchen table for a Christmas meal with some of my favourite Christmassy items:

Table - After


1. Plates and bowls – West Elm

2. Cutlery – Crate and Barrel

3. All glassware – Homesense

4. Footed bowl – Daiso

5. Ornaments – vintage

6. Placemats – Wrapping paper from Homesense

7. Trees – Homesense

8. Garland – Canadian Tire and IKEA

I’ve been all over the metallics recently, so this really came together nicely. Plus – you can’t deny me my green obsession!!

What do you think? How do you decorate your holiday table?


Emily Henderson Holiday Mantel Styling Competition

My entries have been spotty at best lately – but good news! I have a new job and I won’t need to commute two hours a day now, so good-bye putting off entries for a good reason and hello putting off entries for no good reason! Gotta love procrastination.

Anyway, I really love Emily Henderson’s design blog, and she’s just posted a contest for decorating mantels! Yay! If anyone has been reading this blog at all, you’ll know that I love mantels and I’ve been wanting to put one into our apartment for ages. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon because lots of furniture + small space = no walls to put it on. Boo.

However, all is not lost, because Emily has graciously allowed us poor, cold, mantel-less individuals to enter with another flat surface! Yay! And I just so happen to have a built-in hutch in the kitchen that I’ve styled below:


I am not the best photographer, so I basically ignored her advice and turned all of the lights on in the house and took the picture. Oh, and I held a pillow up over the kitchen pendant light to reduce glare. But I’m pretty proud of myselfstyling-wise! Here is where everything’s from:

1. Silver tray under the liquor bottles – vintage

2. Green sparkly drink shaker – Bath and Body Works (bizarre)

3. Gold snowflake garland – IKEA decorations from 2011, I just strung them on some fishing line

4. Gold Christmas tree – Homesense (how I love thee)

5. Silver tray – Homesense

6. Green bowl and white decorations – thrift stores

7. White silver-dotted bowl and various pinecone decorations (I am obsessed, ’tis true) – West Elm and various stores

8. Green glasses – Homesense

9. Yellow glasses – My nonna’s vintage

10. Wrapping paper – Homesense (see? OBSESSED!)

I really went all out with wrapping paper this year (it’s also laid as a runner in the picture). Homesense had some AMAZING wrapping paper, so all told I bought approximately 15 rolls. Yeah. I have probably never bought that much wrapping paper in my life before this point. And those are real presents – I’ve coordinated all my wrapping paper with pink, red (for P), gold and white this year, and I’m pretty stoked with how it’s turned out.

So…that would be all, except for one small detail. The only way to enter the contest is through Facebook. Du du DUUUUUUUUUH! If you know me, you probably know that I shun Facebook and always will. I just can’t bring myself to join it again (long story short – I had it back in 2004 before it was everywhere, and I wasted a good 3 years of my life using it. I’ll never get back that time *sniff* and I still hold it against Mark Zuckerberg *waves imaginary fist in his general direction, which I think is south of here*). So now I can’t enter the contest. Harumph.

HOWEVER. Emily has indicated that she will choose her favourite entry, even if it doesn’t win the most votes. So I’m making an impassioned plea to her – please consider my entry, even though I can’t put it on Facebook! I respect and admire your work so much that even for you to look at and consider what I’ve done would be tremendous.

Anyway, *ahem* enough grovelling. I like what I’ve done and I hope you do too. What do you think? Have you decorated your mantel/flat area?


Christmas advent calendar 2011


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I really love Christmas. Some of my fondest memories are clamouring around the formal living room when I was under 10 years old, acting out the Christmas songs from the Amy Grant Christmas tape. I still listen to those songs and get sentimental. P’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, so Christmas is his absolute favourite time of year too. I’ve never really related to how people don’t like this season – but then again I love my family, I love making crafts and baking cookies, and I absolutely can’t get enough of buying gifts for people. One of those gifts is P’s annual advent calendar.

For the past 3 years I have made P an advent calendar – a series of packages he gets to open over the course of the month. The first year I didn’t have any wrapping paper, so I used green construction paper and wrapped up each of the gifts individually, then suspended them from leftover scraps of ribbon and suspended them over the doors in the hallway. It was pretty ghetto style.

The second year I wrapped the gifts in IKEA wrapping paper (that coordinated, thank you very much!) and hung them from the curtain rod in the bedroom with IKEA-issue ribbon. Definitely an improvement.

Last year, 2011, I made the following advent calendar, which is a mish-mash of bunting and kraft paper – two trends I was completely loving.

Well, not Kraft paper exactly – more like dollar store lunch bags. Hey – I was improvising! First I cut out square shapes that folded in half into a triangle in the above shape. I then filled them with the gift – it’s usually something I get from the bulk section at Save-On, or a small candy cane or one of those individually-wrapped candies Aero et al are coming out with lately, and took my sewing machine and sewed a zig-zag in red across the top.

Then I did this 24 times. Well, 23 MORE times. You get the idea.

It was a bit of an art getting the zig zag to work properly in paper, without coming too loose.

Then I cut a small square of paper and drew a backwards number on it, simplified and squared so I could easily do it on the machine in a simple stitch.

I then sewed on the line with the machine.

Well…kinda sorta on the line. I’ve never been good with straight lines…don’t even ask about my scissor abilities. There’s a reason why I didn’t freehand this!

Then I snipped it and turned it over and – I bet you didn’t see this coming – it’s actually a 5!

Yeah, it’s not perfect, but I was going for the homemade look, not the Martha Stewart look. Okay, I was going for the Martha Stewart look but I need to come to grips with the fact that I’m not her. All my projects are a good lesson in that.

Anyway, then I simply taped it to the front of one of the buntings:

Then I did this 23 more times. Phew!

Count them Martha – they’re all there!!

Like she even has time to pick her nose, let alone read my blog.

Then I punched holes in each corner of the bunting and hung them by some red ribbon from the bookshelves. Unfortunately, I can’t find my picture of this bit! Argh! Oh well, you get the idea. I did it in 2 rows of 12 each. ūüôā (I’m a math genius, did I ever mention that?)

Anyway, this year I’ve been thinking…I need to make an advent calendar that lasts more than one year! These take hours each year, so it would make WAY more sense to just put the effort in one year and reap the benefits for the rest of our lives! Okay, maybe for 10 more years.

I’m starting to put it together, so I’ll post that in a few days – I definitely have a deadline on that!


Apologies for my absence

I really apologize for my spotiness lately when it comes to the blog. Things have been whirring around me and I haven’t felt like I could gain a moment of spare time. (Just who am I writing to out there? Probably hardly anyone, but helloooooo!)

Sometimes I feel like I really don’t have any excuse at all for not posting more often – I don’t have kids, I’m not in school currently – I don’t have any of those fundamentally busy-making things on my agenda. My only excuses are that I work full time, commute two hours a day, and that I am always actively seeking things to do that don’t involve sitting around the apartment.

However, recently I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the amount of money I’m making, or the grandness of my job title – it’s about how relaxed and contented I feel when I get home. And right now, I’m not feeling either of those two things. I need at least 2 hours to wind down from my tension, and by that time I’m firmly entrenched in the sofa and 30 Rock is about to come on.

So many things have been happening, and so many thoughts have been inside my head that I’m feeling stretched really thin. I feel like it’s time that I stop going out, stop seeking new things, and just take stock of what I have. That doesn’t mean that I’ll stop full-stop, just that I’ll be setting more time at home for me, instead of being the person who says yes to everything. I’m definitely that person who is up for just about anything, and being that yes person is supposed to be great. But it also means that whatever pops into my head as a great idea, I need to do immediately. And when I’m invited to something, I always, ALWAYS make time to go, because – if I don’t – what if I regret it?

Just imagine if I was single and what a gong show I’d be. I’d be one of those girls who thinks she’ll meet Mr. Right around every corner. Thank god for P!

Anyway, expect more from me. I might change the format up a little bit too, not sticking strictly to my categories.


Inspiration and trends in interior design – Caitlin Wilson Design


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I saw the apartment of designer Caitlin Wilson on Design Sponge last week and I can’t get enough of it. She does not shy away from colour, but uses it all against a neutral background – perfect!

I love the accents of bright pink in the room above, as well as the bamboo and brass accent tables with marble tops – that is exactly what I’ve been searching for for our place.

I love the neutral but interesting butterfly pattern above. It really doesn’t limit the colour scheme but adds a lot of interest. The table is really classic but the bold rug and curtains and the lucite chairs make it more modern and preppy. I like how everything isn’t matchy-matchy in this room, but still plays off the wallpaper. THe drapes play off the light turquoise in the butterfly wings, the lamp shades echoe the off-beige colour of the wallpaper and the area rug plays off the colours on the lamp.

Everything is against a backdrop of white here, but there are punches of bright pink again, which ties it all together.

Love these two pictures of the work room. The gold tables bring just the right element of sparkle, and assortment of pillows doesn’t apologize for only matching because of their geometric prints.

I really like the gold tray with the mirror bottom – I have a silver tray, maybe I should paint it gold instead and get a piece of mirror cut for inside. Then I might actually like it!

The side table in this shot is a hack from IKEA – love the knobs and the shiny neutral paint job. Hehe – looks like they accessorized the side table with the same tray, flowers and bottles as the picture above! Secrets to styling success – reuse your best items? I love the headboard, but is it too limiting on the colour pallette? Probably not if you know you’ll stick to pinks and reds for the foreseeable future.

Finally, I am so inspired by this shot! I love the table – I can’t get enough of the tulip table style and they always seem to be popping up on Craigslist. But what’s really got me is the floors. They look like marble, but they’re stick-on laminate floor tiles from Home Depot! Genius – they look amazing! I wish we could do this here, but we’ve got ceramic tiles, some of which are cracked, that we just couldn’t lay laminate over. If we do do something about them it probably won’t be laminate.

Don’t you love this space? I love the colour!


Project day – My parents’ family room Part III


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Looking at coffee tables for my parents’ family room, and found some locally:

From here

Spider Table from FullHouse Modern, it’s $395 and on sale! I don’t think my dad’s too into glass tabletops though – our family tends to be rough on furniture.

From here

This is the Elysee Coffee Table from The Cross, and it’s selling for $569. It’s very similar to the CB2 table I put in my second board for the room, but that one’s 5 inches smaller in diameter and only costs $349…choices…

From here

This is the George Cocktail Table, also from The Cross. They don’t quote the price on the website, so I did a quick Google search and it looks like it’s around $2,000 bucks!! Yeah, not doing that. But I love how sculptural it is, and I think the metal would be a great contrast for the rest of the room.

Check out this amazing room that Sarah Richardson designed – uh, this looks familiar. I don’t remember seeing this room before, but it has SO MANY of the same elements that I wanted to put into¬†my parents’¬†room!

Grey and white patterns – check

Original citron accents Рcheck (now green)

Marble-topped mid-century table – check

Armchair with a grey-and-white pattern – check

I love the curtains, but we’re going with a green and grey palette now, and I can’t find any green and grey fabric I like! However, my dad was thinking of painting something new to put in that room, so if I can convince him to do it in yellow, I might just be able to get my way! In that case, I might try to put this fabric from Amy Butler into the room:

From here

I’ve been admiring it for a while!


Project day – My parents’ family room Part II


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So here are some pictures of their current room:

The carpet looks grey or taupe in these pictures – don’t be fooled, it’s green.

And here are some pictures of what it could look like, as I’ve revised the board I made to exclude the citron:

So far I’ve sourced a couple items:

This geometric grey and white chair from Homesense. It’s super deep – P sat on it and his feet were dangling off the front! I also sourced an x-stool with a really great ikat pattern in green, white and grey that my mom bought as well – I don’t have a picture though.

I found this coffee table at Refind on Main street. It is yet to come in and I’m unsure of the dimensions, but I love it!

After we got the armchair to go by the window next to the TV, I realized that having pattern-y drapes probably would be overkill. Instead, I’ve found these great grey drapes by West Elm that have this white edging. They would be very versatile in their house, and aren’t too colourful and loud. Now to find them…apparently not everything is carried in Canada!

I think I’ve come to terms with their style a bit more – there can be pattern, but it has to be in relatively muted tones.

The next main purchase is the sideboard. We found one but my parents hesitated and it was gone – now they know how Craigslist works!


Inspiration and trends in interior design – Jonathan Adler vase


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We had our Halloween party last night, so I’ll be posting pics from that soon enough – can’t give away all that Halloween goodness before you’re in the festive spirit! (Isn’t it still too early for Halloween?!)

And I’m still going to post pictures of my parents’ place “before” – I finally got some high-quality pictures¬† (not taken on an iPad – ahem) – but I wanted to post something quick today that made me super excited!

We went to Homesense (how I love thee!) to find my parents an armchair for their family room – we found a great one with a grey-on-white geometric print that everyone loved and was super deep and cushy. I always go there with the intention of spending 5 minutes in the one department I’m looking for stuff in – but that never pans out. The lamps come calling, then I have to look through the rugs for that perfect geometric zig-zag a la Madeline Weinrib, then we have to look through the kitchen gadgets because Paul wants to, then the knick-knacks are right there, so we have to look at those quickly – and that’s when I saw it:

It’s the Jonathan Adler Artemis Vase from his Santorini collection! I recognized it, turned it over – and there was “Jonathan Adler” on the bottom!! I almost dropped it! I have never seen anything Jonathan Adler before at Homesense, so I snapped it up. It was only $25 – regular $88! “Start the car!” I think this would look great with some fuschia peonies.

I really wish, to be honest, that the Pandora Box from the same collection had been there – I’ve actually been coveting this for a while – but we looked around for a good 15 minutes afterward to see if there was any other Jonathan Adler stuff to no avail. I’m really going to have to pay more attention to that section in future – it’s usually the place I frequent last, but that might change now!

Then I styled the remainder of the area so I had a cute picture:

That’s an old discarded TV dinner stand I found in our basement garage that I painted white with gold stripes, the Brooklyn Larder Gelato print, with a frame from IKEA, a Vancouver 2010 card that I framed also from IKEA, some books that aren’t in storage right now, some random knick knacks and the IKEA Tisdag lamp. It’s so colourful that I might have to tone it down. Oh, and there’s a marble egg that I got from the Salvation Army.



Project day – My parents’ family room


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So I’m really excited about this post, because I’ve put together a board for my parents’ family room a la one of my favourite blogs, Making it Lovely. I’m putting my Photoshop skills to work!

So, I’m working with a few things that I figure my parents won’t want to get rid of. Namely:

1. Their two brown leather couches

2. The green apple painting my dad painted that’s over the mantle (this isn’t it exactly, but same colours)

3. The green rug they bought recently

4. The existing hardwood floors

Given those parameters – green and¬†lots of brown leather – I’ve decided to inject some Citron Yellow, light gray, and white, with hits of black as accents.¬†Currently they have some light wood furniture – two pieces that my Nonno made¬†in the¬†early¬†nineties – that really need some updating. I’ll try to take some pictures tonight and post them tomorrow. They were made for a different room, and don’t quite fit here.¬†Because of their leather couches I don’t want to go with dark wood finishes. I’d rather include some white furniture – the coffee table surface, the side table, the outside of the sideboard – to offset the dark couches.

They have great big south-facing windows that ensure the room has lots of light all day, so I’d like to frame these with some new drapes that bring in all three of the new colours.

Because I’m so in love with grey right now, I’d paint the walls Stonington Grey from Benjamin Moore. And to hit on the grey again, I want to lend them one of my two capiz-shell column lamps – 8 lamps in a one-bedroom apartment is slightly overkill…

Finally we have accessories – the Hive vases in yellow and white and a green lacquer tray to start.

You’ve got hits of black in the drapery rod, the drapes, and the coffee table legs that will tie in with the existing pendant lamps they have hanging in the stairwell, and the colours will still tie in to their kitchen, which is sort of a granny smith apple green in the breakfast nook. I hope they like it – otherwise I’ll be posting a revised version soon!

It has also occurred to me that I could custom-make the drapes with the Tula Pink Parisville fabric I made napkins out of for my mom last Christmas:

From here

It picks up on a lot of the colours I was focusing on, but also brings in some pink and red to soften the look up. The more I see pink the more I like it…we’ll see after I present my ideas tonight!

Wish me luck!


Inspiration and trends in interior design – IKEA buys


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Just got back from IKEA:

I went there to buy the frames for the Salumi and Pastries posters. I went to Point Roberts yesterday to pick up the new Salumi poster – it’s not damaged – and when I opened the package, there was not one, but TWO free posters inside. One of them was the gelato poster:

From here

Yay! I really like this one. Unfortunately, the other one was the pastries poster again. ūüė¶

So I have three posters for the price of one! I got these frames because I think the rounded corners evoke the stove we have, so hopefully they tie in nicely with the kitchen. They also had some new grey frames that I hadn’t seen before that I thought were nice – I think they’re a new colour.

I also got the napkin holder because I’ve been looking for an envelope organizer for a while – our bills always seem to get tucked into other papers. I might spray paint it. Maybe something unexpected, like a fluorescent or a kelly green – or ooh! I have a nice powder blue, maybe that. I’ll post pics once the posters are up and the napkin holder painted.