DIY How To: Choose the right curtains for your home

Curtains have loads of design power.  They change a room instantly.  It’s one of those decor elements that transforms a house into a home.  With so many different fabrics, textures and colours, they all create a different look.  Even the length becomes a personal preference.

So, how do you pick the right curtains for your space?  Look no further.   This video from West elm will share all the tips and tricks for choosing the right ones!

 In my home, I like my curtains to puddle on the floor for a polished look.  What’s your curtain style?

New Bathroom Design Complete

Our basement renovation is chugging along faster than I had anticipated.  Now, I’m getting hopeful that we may get this project done in time for the holidays.  Wishful thinking, of course!  I wrote about it earlier when we had just finished electrical.  Since then, hubby has installed a Dri-Core subfloor (which makes the basement feel so warm. What a great product!), insulation and drywall.  The rooms are taking shape fast.  Here’s a little peek.

Basement Renovation.  Drywall Complete.  Dri-Core subfloor installed.

Basement renovation update.  Drywall Complete. Dri-Core subfloor installed.

But what’s more exciting is that I’ve finally finished the basement bathroom design.  Here it is.

Bathroom Design

Basement Bathroom Design.   Left: IKEA Godmorgon/Edeboviken bathroom vanity, black 3/4″penny tile                                           Right:West Elm Stripe Border Shower Curtain in Stone White/Platinum, Restoration Hardware 20TH C. FACTORY FILAMENT BARE BULB SCONCE – AGED STEEL and white subway tile.

My style isn’t typically modern, so I’m pushing myself out of my design comfort zone.  But I love it.  I think it’s playful, clean and unexpected.  I hope our house guests will love it too.

I love penny tiles and have been waiting for the chance to install them somewhere in our home.  And I love how the IKEA oak vanity sits off the floor for an airy feel.  The colour also provides an element of warmth in the space.  The walls will be tiled white to keep the overall look clean and draw the eye to the vanity and the floor.

I found most of the bathroom accessories at West Elm.  They have great stuff for the bath!  I bought this round mirror to complement the shape of the circular floor and the black wall sconces  from Restoration Hardware will match the black tile on the floor.  If the Reno budgets permits, I want to scoop up this industrial storage solution.  I can hang it above the toilet, so guests have a place to store their toiletries.

What do you think?  Do you like my design?

My Holiday LOVE list

One month t’il Christmas folks!  Eek!  I’m still not quite finished my shopping.  This year, I promised myself I’d finish early and do all my shopping online.  Digital all the way!  The days of fighting for a parking spot, waiting in store line ups and trying to multi-task with a frustrated toddler are long gone.

In case you still need to cross some people off your list, here’s my roundup of cool holiday picks!

Holiday Love List

1. Sticky9 magnets. 2. S’Well Bottles. 3. Palm Creuset Cookware 4. Vitamix S30 series 5. Custom artwork from Minted. 6. iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

My Holiday LOVE list

7. Club W subscription. 8. Mophie Juice Pack power station. 9. Coffee Table Stunners. 10. FitBit 11.Sonos system. 12. Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences.

1. Bring your Instagram photos to life with these Sticky9 magnets.

2. Save on plastic and drink in style with S’Well Bottles.

3. Indulge in the new Palm Creuset line of cookware.

4. Make smoothies, soups, spreads and frozen drinks with the new compact Vitamix S30 series

5. Create custom artwork from Minted.

6. Obviously, I can’t forget the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

7. Give the ultimate wine gift each month with a subscription to Club W.

8.  Who hasn’t complained about the battery on their phone?  Give the gift of battery life with the Mophie Juice Pack power station.

9. Coffee Table Stunners– Add visual decor to your home with coffee table books that will bring your living room to life.

10.  Try on a cool fitness band from FitBit that will help keep your New Year’s resolution honest!  It can track your steps, calories, sleep and much more!

11.  Spread your music wirelessly to every room in your home with a Sonos system.

12.  Experiences are priceless.  Help friends and family find their next big adventure with Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences.

Good luck and Happy Shopping!

T’is the Season to get your Wreath On!

I love the Holidays.  Especially Christmas.  For some of you, it may seem a little early to get festive, but I just can’t help it.   I love the way our home feels decorated during the Holidays.  The way the lights glow on our tree at night.  The carols, the baking, the social calendar.  Love it all.

The truth is, whether you like to get festive early or not, if you’re looking for a great new Christmas wreath, you’ll have to act fast.

Below are a selection of my favourites, all from HomeSense.

Holiday Wreaths from HomeSense

Holiday Wreaths from HomeSense

Holiday Wreaths from Homesense

Holiday Wreaths from Homesense

Holiday Wreaths from Homesense

Holiday Wreaths from Homesense

This one from Ikea allows you to get creative and decorate it yourself.  What a great family project.  And look at this silver magnolia wreath from Crate and Barrel.  How fabulous with just the right amount of dazzle!  Potterybarn has some beautiful ones too.  This one, made from fresh olive and myrtle leaves, is splendid.

Live Olive Leaf & Myrtle Wreath from Potterybarn

Live Olive Leaf & Myrtle Wreath from Potterybarn

The possibilities are endless if you act now.  For our front door we decided on a real wreath, but I still have room for a couple more inside.  Happy wreath shopping!

Real Holiday Christmas Wreath

Real Holiday Christmas Wreath

Toronto Free Hugs Project

A Lens Full of Travel

I’m going to take a bit of a departure today to share something special. I’m half way through a continuing education digital media strategy course at the University of Toronto, and we were tasked, in groups of 5 or 6, to make a sharable video on any topic we wanted. So we did. Introducing the Toronto Free Hugs Project:

I liked how happy the hugs made everyone. We came bouncing back to class with our footage, but soon became weighed down with the technology, details and time constraints (or maybe it was the bad 1960s-era institutional lighting). But we got it done, and were then treated to a veritable film festival of shorts by other groups. Great way to end off the assignment.

Unlike lots of group projects, this one was quite fabulous. Everyone was a motivated contributor (though our team lead Work|Life|Freckles had the lion’s share of the movie…

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Will Toddlers and Veggies ever mix?

What should you do if you have a picky eater on your hands?  Other, than broccoli and sweet potatoes, my toddler refuses to eat her veggies.  Every meal is a constant struggle.  I’m hoping this is a short-lived phase she’s passing through.

So to fight back, I’ve started running covert operations in the kitchen.  Call me Sarah, the sneaky chef!  Here are some recipes my girlfriends have swapped to beat the veggie battle.  And now I’m sharing them with you.  Maybe they will help solve your picky eater problems too.

Green Monster Pancakes with Spinach & Banana

Green Monster Pancakes with Spinach & Banana

Green Monster Pancakes (shown above)

Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Green Zucchini Muffins

Iron rich meatballs

Italian Bean Balls & Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Spinach Mango Smoothie

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you have a favourite veggie-packed recipe you can share?

‘Sarah Style’ is here!

Today’s the day.  It’s finally here.  My favourite Canadian designer, Sarah Richardson’s, new book hits bookstores.

Sarah has fuelled my love for interior design.  She is constantly inspiring me to change things up at home (not sure my husband loves this) and take unexpected design risks.  I’ve been following Sarah from the very beginning.  From city home to country life and now to cottage country, Sarah continues to re-invent herself as a versatile, iconic Canadian designer.  And now, I’ll have Sarah’s style secrets all in one place.  How divine.  It’s like Christmas morning!

In her book, you can explore a room-by-room guide to designing your perfect home.  Order your copy today and get inspired!   Sarah Richardson’s Sarah Style book.

What else could Sarah Richardson possibly have up her sleeve? A partnership with Target Canada that launches September 2015.  I can barely contain my excitement, especially since I live around the corner from a Target store.  Bring it on!

 

 

 

New Bookcases- A place to put it all

I have a bare wall in my living room and need to fill it.  And I’ve concluded that bookcases are the missing solution.  It’s exactly what our home needs.  A place to store all our books, baskets and special keepsakes.  That’s the stuff that tells your story.

 

Like all home design decisions, it’s taken me months to find the perfect set. And I’m starting to think they only exist in my head.  For now, the Ikea Liatorp series is my best bet.  White, clean lines.  Solid wood pieces, moulding detail, transitional design.  I’m confident that with a little DIY creativity, I can get the look I want.  It will be my first Ikea hack.  First, I need to add some white ikea kitchen cabinets to the bottom so they look like this.   And, I’m not crazy about the beadboard backing or the knobs, but both are easy fixes.   But after reading The 7 Emotional Stages of Ikea Furniture Assembly, I’m nervous about how this will all come together.

I got pinspired by the number of ways I can achieve the look I want.  I’m leaning towards paint or a grasscloth wallpaper design hack.  I also might ask my handy husband to add some lighting to the top of both units.

Then, there’s the challenge of styling the shelves.  Design expert Jennifer Stagg shares her tips and tricks:

Stay tuned for the living room reveal coming soon.

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary!

Today is Halloween.  And for the first year ever, I am ready!

Halloween traditions are a big deal in our home.  When my husband and I moved in together, back in 2004, we started a Halloween pumpkin carving contest.  Just the two of us.  The rules go like this.  We each pick our own pumpkin, create a unique design, carve it and then have our friends and family anonymously vote on which pumpkin they like best.  At first, the idea seemed a bit corny, but with each passing year, the tradition has really grown on us.

So, here’s a peak at this year’s pumpkin designs and carving skills.

Pumpkin Carving Competition

Pumpkin #1 Carving Competition

Pumpkin Carving Competition

Pumpkin #2 Carving Competition

This Halloween is extra special because our daughter joined the festivities!  Who knew that playing with pumpkin seeds and guts would be such a great sensory activity for a toddler.  This kept my daughter amused for close to half an hour.  Unbelievable time for mama!  She is still too young to know exactly what’s going on, but we captured all the Halloween fun with lots pictures and videos that she’ll one day appreciate.

Toddler Sensory Activity

Halloween sensory activity for toddlers

And if you’re looking for a good recipe for all those pumpkin seeds, I highly recommend this Sriracha-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe.  We tried it last night and it was a hit!

So who will win this year’s pumpkin carving competition?  I think it’s still too soon to tell.

Help us find a winner!  You be the judge!  Vote for the pumpkin you like best!

Pumpkin #1 is on the top left  Pumpkin #2 is on the bottom right

Pumpkin #1 is on the top left
Pumpkin #2 is on the bottom right

 

And when we get home from trick-or-treating tonight, we’re having this Thai Spiced Pumpkin Soup for dinner.  I stumbled upon this recipe on FoodBabe and it seemed only appropriate.  We have some friends coming over and I can’t wait to serve it.

Thai-Pumpkin-Soup

Photo & Soup Recipe Courtesy of Foodbabe.com

 

I hope you’re celebrating great Halloween traditions today!  Happy Halloween.

Winterizing your Home- A Checklist

Winter is just around the corner.

Winterizing your Home

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons- ‘Winter at Djurgarden, Stockholm, Sweden’

 

And if you’re like me, the plunging temperatures and dark days ahead will make you want to stay warm inside.  As you prepare to pump the heat, it’s important to make sure your home can weather the storm.  Because I love “to-do” lists, I attempted to create a Winter checklist, so I (I mean, mostly my husband) wouldn’t forget anything.  Here it is:

Outside the House

  • Check for leaks- Check around doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Add weather-stripping and caulk any holes you see that allow heat to escape.  Your energy bill will thank you!
  • Patio furniture- Wash, cover and store all patio furniture.
  • Lawn & Garden- Aerate your lawn.  Empty pots and planters and discard soil.  Bring them indoors so they don’t crack.
  • Hoses & Drains- ensure all drains move away from your home to avoid a leaking foundation.  Remove all hoses and store them inside to prevent cracks.  Shut off exterior faucets.  Drain water from pipes and sprinklers.
  • Air conditioner- clean your cooling system.  Use the high pressure setting on your hose to clean the fan blades.  Make sure the coils are clear of any debris.  Don’t forget to put the winter cover on.
  • Sprinkler system- If you have one, turn off the water supply and force compressed air through the lines to empty them.  This will prevent them from freezing and bursting.
  • Gutters- Clean them!  All you need is a ladder, a garbage bag and some rubber gloves.
  • Garage- Consider a fall purge, especially if you plan to park your car in the garage.
  • Summer tools- spray all tools with a coat of oil to prevent rust.  Clean your lawn mower, trimmers and chainsaws.  Empty any unused gas.
  • Winter tools Move your snowblower and/or shovel(s) to front of the garage.  If you have a snowblower, don’t forget to change the oil, spark plugs and fill it up with gas.
  • Ice, sand & gravel- Stock up early!  You’ll be glad you have this ready to cover steps, walkways and the driveway.
  • Car- Find last year’s ice scraper/brush and toss it in the trunk of your vehicle.  Consider adding a blanket, flashlight and emergency car kit.  You just never know!

Inside the House

  • Check your furnace- Is your heating system ready for the cold days ahead?  Don’t forget to replace the furnace filter- it will work more efficiently, use less energy and last longer.
  • Fireplace- Check that your chimney is clear of any nests or animals.  Close the damper when it’s not in use.  Otherwise, your chimney will act as a large open window.
  • Test your smoke detector(s)- Check the batteries on all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Replace batteries as needed.
  • Radiators- if you have them, let the valves release any trapped air.  This will help improve their efficiency.
  • Air conditioner- If you have any window units, remove them or cover them with an insulated liner.
  • Thermostat- consider investing in a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one.

Congrats!  Now you are officially ready for winter! (ugh….sigh)