[life]: Travel Diaries - Different Side of France


In the last post in the series we were at Semur-en-Auxois renting a quaint little two-bedroom townhouse on the outskirts of the city and traveling to different sites for both kids and adults in the area. Next leg of our trip was to reach Germany, Pforzheim to be exact and along the way make a few small detours. To reach Pforzheim originally I was planning on reaching Strasbourg first, stay there a couple of days visiting Alsace region and then cross over to Germany via rail. But since I had the rental car still, and was unsure how the whole train trip will look like with three kids in tow (one of them not even one) and a few pieces of luggage. It was a smart decision as I did not even realize that even those trains that appear to be going straight between two cities (i.e. without transfers) actually do have a transfer. I would have been quite a disaster if I did that.

Since I've decided to shorten the time spent in eastern part of France, I had to choose between several places which one to focus on - from Nancy, Colmar, Mulhouse, Besancon, etc. Upon reading a bit, I felt that Colmar was the most differentiated from what we have visited thus far and that it made the most sense.

Drive from Semur-en-Auxois to Colmar is over 4 hours and I've decided to do it first thing in the morning without much stopping. Luckily the kiddos were tired and slept most of it so when we rolled into Colmar, they were ready for a walk and sightseeing.

Colmar is in Alsace region of France, it is known as 'little Venice' and it is a mix of German and French architecture.

Old town is really well preserved and there are so many wonderful details - it is almost too much to take it all in couple of hours. What is lovely is spending time with kids going over what we saw, what they notice and tying it all together. They realized that carvings they saw on stone posts and windows were what they attempted to do in Guedelon (previous post).

Before reaching Germany, I've decided to visit an interesting castle along the route - Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg situated on a rock overlooking the region.

[decor]: Romans & Blinds In Practice

A few months ago I was looking at different ways I could create or simulate roman blinds for many windows that I need to give some oomph.. Here is part 1 and 2.

One of the most important aspects for me for this little project was to find good fabric that I liked and that was either linen or cotton, preferably linen. I've been looking over the fabrics at Tonic Living and was trying to decide on the one I liked best to order when, luck would have it, I happened on 30% off clearance items at West Elm and got 100% linen ikat curtains for a song, cheaper than I would get fabric.

So, cheap linen fabric? Check.

Next up was to assemble the fake roman blind (as I do not have a need for real working one). I've purchased tension rods thinking of doing it that way like I saw from Imparting Grace. In practice, I found it a bit flimsy to put together and problematic when wanting to open a window. I also did not like playing around with three tension rods. So I tried my hand at creating pleats using the hem tape like I saw at Just the Bees Knees. I've spent the whole evening on it - and when I put it up in the window, I was just so unhappy with results that I did not even take a picture.

Well, the next morning, most of it fell off - I guess the fabric was too heavy for that hem tape. I've tried pinning and sewing by hand parts of it only to end up frustrated with results.

The end result - I've decided to forgo the pleats and go for simple doubled fabric, steps so simple I don't even need to describe them. So my cheap fake roman blind is not a roman blind at all.

Out of one curtain I've cut the fabric into 4 pieces and decided to use some vertically and some horizontally allowing me to cover 4 windows. While I am not overly thrilled with result, I am glad I am almost done (2 windows are done, a few more to go). Since the project ended up being so inexpensive, I can easily change it when I get tired of the look.

First window completed is in our basement family room:

We have a great view of our backyard here and there is a lot of light coming in so it was important not to have anything that would impede with either of those.

I've put this up using one of those tension rods and it is far enough from the window that opening it will not be a problem.

While basement widows have casements where I can use tension rods, powder room has a flush window so I've ended up using one of those standard white curtain rods (read cheap) which I covered making the whole construct look like a valance.

As I don't actually own a sewing machine, I've used hem tape and sew by hand the ends.

While this window is far from pretty and while I would have preferred to make a longer blind to cover most of it, I just could not cover the light.

In this window treatment I've oriented the fabric vertically (as how curtain itself was), while in the basement window, I've turned it horizontally.

[decor]: Kids Bathroom SourceBook


As promised during the reveal, here is the source list. Quite a few items are from Ikea - this renovation came done fast and furious and I while I got the vanity a few month beforehand, all the accessories I needed to find pretty fast.  In one of the earlier posts I've shared our process of selecting faucets and shower systems for all of our 3 bathroom renovations (4 if we count the rental property) which you can read here.

wall art: Ikea (from a few years ago)
toilet: UberHaus Design; Rona
high cabinet: Godmorgon High Gloss White; Ikea
vanity: Godmorgon (this option is discontinued); Ikea
ceramic sink: Odensvik; Ikea
floor tile: 18x18 bianco carrarra marble; TileShoppe

wall sconces: Home Depot
stainless steel swivel mirror: SÄVERN, Ikea
towel hanger: SÄVERN, Ikea
faucets: RÖRSKÄR, Ikea
backsplash: marble mosaic; Home Depot
embroidered towels: Pottery Barn Kids

towel hooks: Ikea (discontinued)
towels: Carter's and Winners
teak stool: Home Sense
shelf and brackets: EKBY TONY/EKBY ROBERT; Ikea
print and frame: Ikea
wire basket: Home Sense
ceaserstone top: local source

double towel railSÄVERN, Ikea
shower curtain & hooks: Home Sense
shower system: Uberhaus; Rona (appears to be discontinued)
bath mat: Target
bathtub: Mirabelle; Taps Bath
shower tile: 12x24 white porcelain tile; Tile Shoppe
glass mosaic tile: Home Depot

[home]: Before & After Kids Bathroom


I shared some thoughts and photos of our kids bathroom in the last post.

Next up is seeing what we started with and how far we've come.  It's hard to imagine that this new bright and clean looking space used to look like that green monstrosity. 

We were very lucky to have an extra space off this bathroom that we could tap into - these types of gifts don't come every day. It was just enough to re-position the bathtub.

Even not counting the small extension that we've made, the resulting space looks so much bigger even with all the extra cabinetry and double vanity that we've added. It has something to do with light colours, lots of light (pot-lights and wall sconces) and double mirrors.

[design]: Our Kids Bathroom

Back in July I've shared reno and progress photos of our kids bathroom including details of what we have done (here).  Couple of days ago, I've put everything else aside and hurried in between baby nap times to take a few snaps. I was, of course, followed by my little blond sidekick.

As it can be seen from the photos - I've done minimal styling - which basically also means that this is how the bathroom looks for the most part.  Overall we are very happy with this reno and choices that we made and for the most part everything is holding up well two years and counting. There no choices or decisions that we regret making or that we would change if we had a chance not counting couple of 'mistakes' which I wrote about in earlier post.

I've always liked Sarah Richardson's approach to designing bathrooms for kids - by really making classic selections on big ticket items and adding nice playful and/or quirky elements through easily changeable decor - wall art, towels, bath toys, shower curtain, etc...

When designing and decorating this bathroom we made a few choices thinking specifically of kids:

  • extra deep bath tub (as deep as budget would allow it)
  • no glass on tub but shower curtain (to make it easier to reach them)
  • swivel mirror so they can adjust it as they grow
  • standalone toilet paper holder - avoid having them pull on the one that would be on the wall
  • adding caesarstone quartz top with rounded edge over unavoidable drywall box (due to stairs) next to the bathtub. If we left it as just a drywall top - I am certain it would have been completely damaged by now. It is very useful this way as it allows to place small baby bathtub on it and fill it from the shower when washing the baby.
  • adding a small backsplash against the vanity - absolute must with the kids
  • shelf close to the tub but out of reach to hold shampoos and soaps   
  • stool for us to sit on while watching them in the bath
  • vanity with plenty of storage that is easy for them to use
  • shower system with handheld shower head to make the rinsing out easier

I'll share before & afters plus the source book next.

[decor]: Creativity and DIY


Well, creativity and DIY are not my calling cards - that is for sure, but I appreciate (more than appreciate) others who like to do it and who more importantly find time to do it. While I do find time for occasional DIY that I cherish - I am finding that with such great deals all around (garage sales, thrift stores, new merchandise on clearance) you almost spend more on a DIY than on a newer piece. Then again, there is something to be said for uniqueness factor and enjoying one's own efforts - which is why I have a few attempts of DIY around the house (i.e. wall art in the girls' room).

When a friend told me that she was creating a quilt for charity my interest was more than peaked and I asked her to share the finished result. This is fairly difficult task - especially for the beginner and requires lots of patience. Quilt is cheerful and perfect to delight a child. It was donated to St. Joseph's hospital.

On the subject of DIY and creativity - these caught my eye...

Finally, my friend shared her steps on how to personalize Christmas cards.. Yes, holidays are over and I am late with many posts... My friend was kind enough to document all of her steps... I will have to share this again next year.

I have a lot more to share - kids bathroom photos, new bed is finally here and half assembled for our master bedroom, some curtain updates, etc..

[decor]: Weekly Roundup


Well, this hasn't been weekly over the holidays, but then again there has not been too much to report to anyway. Now, January is organization month and as I typically avoid doing things when I am 'supposed' to do them, I dutifully avert my eyes from anything organization oriented.

As I learned the news that Target is closing all of its stores in Canada - all I can think and say is NOOOOOOOO... I've written about Target and its lack of success in Canada before and have probably a thought or two to share on the latest news - but let me collect myself first... My hope is that this announcement will be seen by another awesome retailer or retailers who will swoop in and replace them..

Here are some of the finds ... starting with Home Sense - new and clearance items...

Horses seem to be everywhere in the art and decor sections.. I guess horse is the new owl...

Here are some of new and clearance consoles and sideboards - one of these actually made its way to my home.. any guesses?

Headboards are still going strong at Home Sense and now they have many more options than a year ago.. there is really something for everyone. I loved that little pink side table - just so cute and stylish for a girl's bedroom, especially a tween.

I am still on the lookout for a nice little box for my son's room where he can keep his treasures...

I had a chance to visit Pottery Barn - they also have quite a few pieces on clearance sale and a few new items like that cart bar.

Chapters/Indigo have their new spring merchandise, but what really caught my eye are all of these amazingly illustrated children's books. Just such a feast for eyes...  Some people are so talented and imaginative.

At Ikea I saw a couple of new pieces. The first photo shows two that I am considering - that little cabinet has perfect measurements for the space in basement that I need to fill, but I am not too sure about the quality of the piece. That ceiling lamp I love for my hallway as our current one broke.. how? mystery..

At Ikea close to us they had a few new display areas - I was quite impressed with complete master bedroom and master bath. First bedroom in this image has all the colours of Target's spring collection - I can see many of the pieces working here.

This bathtub is a first at Ikea - space looks great -  I just love this brick feel, cozy sitting area in the master and make-up station.. Vanities I find a bit too busy with everything but overall great space...

Another surprise was the gift wrapping, party central area. So many cute items.. I am always on the lookout for inexpensive party gear.. four kinds et al...

In between brief store visits above or chugging all of the kids in tow at Ikea, I've managed a quick trip to mall sans kiddos..I haven't done it in so long that I almost forgot that I can relax for a second or two.. I did not really expect any sales as I've expected most of the stuff to be sold by now and was actually nicely surprised by some awesome clearances.. like 50% off clearance at J. Crew... I've managed to pick up some nice pieces there - for a song really ..  I just love how all the pieces work together that I ended up taking more than one photo - and tried my hand at arranging them..

I got 'Masterpiece' ceramic tray by Hugo Guinesses for knickknacks or jewelry, linen dress, earrings, and desert plates.. At Pottery Barn I found black/white frame (I have quite a collection now for basement styling - just need to start putting all of it together) and bottle opener as I've been looking for one for quite some time now...

Happy hunting!