[design]: One Room Challenge - Week Five - DIYs


We are really in the home stretch now with One Room Challenge with only one week left. I am so glad that I signed up even though the challenge consumed me and my time more than I could have imagined. Well, I still not done, but a lot of little projects are.

I just love this little box that I found at Urban Outfitters for $2 as it reflects so perfectly all the colors and whimsy of studio/office I've been working on. The space has a bit of a split personality (as much as its proud future occupant), not only that it cannot decide if it is vintage or bohemian, but it also likes injection of polished and posh. Oh well, let's see how this mishmash of styles comes together next week.

[home]: Bridges and Plane Kites...


All this warm weather brought some new energy so we managed to complete a few updates around the house. Yaay!!  One such change is to tweak our son's "almost finished" bedroom.  First we added a blimp, and now a bridge and some plane kites.

Let's start with the bridge shelf - this awesome contraption was done by my dad based on my, oh so, (not) detailed sketch of couple of different designs and random lines. What I love about it is that my son will have this for years and it will mean so much more than just any other shelf that I could have purchased. 

[style]: France's Dordogne Rental


We are still undecided on what to do for vacation this year and while we would love to visit France and Spain this summer, we are not sure if it will happen at this point. But it does not hurt to plan and dream, does it?

One of the areas we want to visit is Dordogne and while we want to go to Bordeux, countryside around it seems very nice as well, think of movie Chocolat. I found a very nice rental, 3 bedroom, 2 bath cottage for some $180 per night in medieval village and I just started looking...

[design]: Living Space e-Design


Here is another installment of 3D renderings for a couple's living space. It is a 2500 sq. ft. house and they wanted to achieve warm family atmosphere. 

Start of with living/family room:

[design]: One Room Challenge - Week Four - Still On


If you followed my progress with Linda's Calling it Home One Room Challenge you'll know that it has been a struggle of sorts. I've made some progress and decided on a number of things, but when you are working on a shoestring budget like I am, you really depend on DIYs and incredible finds. When creating shabby chic decor you want it to be more chic than shabby and it is a fine balance of achieving that. 

So where are we now? Most of the clutter has been dealt with. The only real one left you can see in the image above in the shelves - manageable! Bench cushion is my Plan B and it looks really good. I did not secure it so it moved, (I just realized from the photo), but it works perfectly with this shelf turned bench. DIYed couple of bolster pillows from leftover fabrics from my daughter's room DIY wall art project and voila! This is not where they will stay though.

Re-purposed cheap round table using Anthropologie table cloth but not sure yet if I am sold on it due to other fabrics in the room. I am still playing with placements of many things including that chandelier. Yup, weird angles and all...  

[life]: Travel Diaries - At the Edge of Black Forest & Frankfurt


Almost two years ago we spent some 2.5 months in Europe spanning France, Germany, Balkans and Adriatic.  It was a trip I did mostly on my own with three small children (ages 8, 5, and 1) with occasional friends or family joining us while hubby worked back in Canada but he did manage to get 2 weeks or so to join us for a bit.

What I forgot to include before and I fixing now is our time in Germany, specifically, edge of Black Forest and Frankfurt where we spent one week. When I was a child, there was a show on TV called The Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik) and I always admired the paysage. I don't think I imagined that one day I would be visiting. Technically, we were only on the outskirts of the Black Forest and I am hoping for a better visit next time to venture in deeper into the forest where Hansel and Gretel encountered the wicked witch.

My aunt lives in Pforzheim which is also called 'The Gold Town' as it is known for its jewelry and watch making. City was heavily bombed during Second World War so there is not that much to see really and we did a small trip to Baden-Baden instead, a spa town an hour away.

[home]: Staircase to Basement


This first image looks more like staircase from basement than to basement but you get the gist. I don't have really any usable before photos here which is why this is not a before & after post. Not to mention that changes are not that extensive anyway - it is definitely not one of those - "I can't believe that this is the same space" post.

In reality I would not probably even show this little staircase nook if it was not for the "painting" looming over it all which I wanted to describe in a bit more detail.

[decor]: Weekly Roundup


This weekend came fast and furious and I am not sure why - it must be this nice weather and all the sunshine. So what is happening in the decor land?

Over the last week or so I visited several stores, mostly chasing decor for my studio/office (One Room Challenge) and I popped in to a couple of usual suspects. I saw Rohini daybed cushion on Urban Outfitters site and wanted to find it in a store to see if it was worth the purchase. I found a bit of time and quickly visited two UO stores downtown to not really find anything I was ready to buy. This was quite disappointing considering all of the great decor they have so much in line with what I am hoping to achieve in that space.

I had more luck at Anthropologie which is ever so inspiring. There was even a beautiful box of recipes from Ladurée remanding me of our Paris trip (bottom right photo). I left with couple of shams and a nice dress. 20% off sale always helps to seal the deal. 

[design]: One Room Challenge - Week Three - Better Progress


Last week's update was all about slow progress and frustration of not sticking to any one direction for the space.  It is not surprising that it is hard to stick to single inspiration for this studio/office as there are so many beautiful ways it can be done. This space emulates my own personality and for the time being, I am having a bit of a hard time defining it.

I feel much better about the progress for Week Three of the challenge  as I've made actual progress with the room itself in terms of cleaning it and de-cluttering it, but also in finding and deciding on most of the decor. Sorry for grainy photos - iPhone camera at work.

So getting down to the specifics: what was done, purchased, decided on, what is still presenting a challenge and what still needs to be done?

[decor]: On the Subject of... Rug Materials and Construction


When it comes to selecting a rug for a space there is a lot to consider:
  1. Material and construction considerations
  2. Size
  3. Location (living space vs. bedroom vs. hallway)
  4. Design - What it should look like (colour, pattern)
  5. Texture - what it should feel like (high pile, low pile, soft, etc)

Given my affinity to natural materials it is probably no wonder that criteria #1 for me is the most important one.  What that means practically is that when looking at rugs I only consider wool, cotton, leather, jute ones so those are the only ones I actually own.  What has made it easier for me is that there are so many area rugs of all different sizes now available that is possible to find a great natural rug at great price points. Of course, when I walk through Elte from time to time I seem to be always drawn to most expensive rugs there - there is something about them that subconsciously attracts me - only to make a shy detour after a touch test and quick glance of $25K price tag. Yup, maybe some day when my kids become famous ... (fill in the blank).

When it comes to more affordable natural rugs I was always more guided by designs and colours than actual construction, meaning that I would equally consider  hand-woven and hand-tufted wool rugs and would buy either of them if I liked how they looked and how they felt to touch. Hand-tufted ones would be more of my choice most of the time due to more modern design but also because they are less expensive. Until I stopped.

[home]: Entrance Hallway Updates


While our first floor renovation plans are taking time to take shape (and find necessary funding), I could not wait much longer to give our entrance hallway some character and functionality.  I found this console table on clearance at Home Sense (Home Goods) and built this eclectic vignette from there.

[design]: One Room Challenge - Week Two - The Progress


Well, it is Thursday and I have jumped into One Room Challenge without too much thinking. The week has gone by really fast from first posting the plan and where did the time go?

What the room needs first and foremost is good organizing of all the stuff that we have accumulated there - basically we need to find a permanent home for them. While we renovated our basement I had purged a lot of things - some were thrown out, some were donated, some gifted and I felt that I left only those items that we absolutely needed. Well, I just started going through some of the stuff in my future studio and I forgot that I had them. I would say that would be a good candidate for purging, no? The problem with purging things is that I also find that I sometimes need things that I give away only to have to buy again so the best solution is probably to find really good organized storage.

Our basement renovation limited us when it comes to storage as we maximized the living space hence using one of the rooms as a dumping ground for the past year. During the last week I actually worked more on organizing some other areas of the house so I can properly move things in their right place without creating additional chaos. But progress in the actual room is slow (sigh!). This dark and dreary photo resembles my progress....

It feels that things that I moved, I just piled on elsewhere as in case in point these purses ended up in laundry room:

What I spent a lot of time on is actually thinking about some of the specifics of the room. I've decided to get Ikea's Helmer drawer unit and I am rethinking the purchase of Ikea's Besta Burs desk mostly due to cost ($299) but also practical reasons. While it would look incredible in the space due to all white high gloss, I am not sure how practical it will be to have it as part of studio that needs to get messy. I've been contemplating building something or just finding the right piece on Kijjijji - no luck so far.

Other area that has been giving me nightmares is bench cushion for my expedit shelf that I put on the side to act as a bench. My sewing skills are non-existent and while there are plenty of tutorials on how to make-fake this cushion using mdf and mattress topper, I like the look of the real cushion. I really really like something like this:

Speaking of inspirations, I've started a pinterest board to collect some specific inspirations and practical ideas I am hoping to incorporate in the space.

One thing that was completed last week is that I've decided to use vintage chandelier that I tried to sell on garage sale previously. My dad changed the wiring so I should be able to plug it in the electrical outlet now. Yaay...

To see some better progress of other participants follow this link:


[decor]: Master Bath SourceBook


I've mentioned most of the sources already throughout master bathroom renovation posts, but I thought it might be worthwhile putting them all in one post making it easier all to find.

wall colour - Benjamin Moore, Swiss Coffee (OC-45)
Harbour double vanity burnt oak - Ginger's
black baskets - Home Sense (Home Goods)
towel holders - Home Sense (Home Goods)
Ralph Lauren towels - Home Sense (Home Goods)
18x18 glazed polished floor tile - Home Depot
mercury glass canister (bottom shelf) - Home Sense (home Goods)

stainless steel mirrors - Ikea, Grundtal
wall sconces, nickle plated - Ikea, Lillholmen
Victorian single hole chrome faucets - Overstock.com
glass canisters - Home Sense (Home Goods)
glass soap dispenser - Target
white plant pot - Ikea
glass tray - local shop

stainless steel tray - gift
Nuxe Huile - french pharmacy
parfume bottle - Indigo/Chapters
gold flower pencil holder - Indigo/Chapters
dark gold vase - Indigo/Chapters
Modern Apothecary bubble bath bottle  - Home Sense (Home Goods)
glass canister - Home Sense (Home Goods)

shower glass enclosure and ceaserstone step - local supplier
2 inch bianca marble hexagon tile - Quarry Direct
Turkish bath towel - Ginger's
toilet - Rona

Turkish bath towel - Ginger's
bath floor mat - Ikea (discontinued)
Uberhaus Design shower system - Rona
stainless steel shower corner shelf - Taps Bath
12x24 white ceramic tile - Tile Shoppe
decorative mosaic strip tile - Novecento, Home Depot

black and white picture - Wallmart (old purchase)
towel holder - Home Sense (Home Goods)
Ralph Lauren towel - Home Sense (Home Goods)
glass doors/baseboards - local supplier

[life]: Travel Diaries - Adriatic Part II


In part one of our trip to Adriatic I shared images of place called Krasici where we spent two weeks in addition to some of the day trips we made around the area.  Image below is our view from the balcony and the beach we frequented during those two weeks.

After two weeks we stayed on Adriatic but moved up the coast to Herceg Novi, Montenegro where we rented an apartment overlooking a beach (see image below). It was a very pleasant stay - having a place with large terrace where one could sit and read and enjoy a dip in the sea every so often was priceless. This villa offered about 5 apartments and grounds were just so beautiful. At about 80$ per night for all of us it was more expensive than other accommodations in the area, but well worth it.

We had nicely equipped kitchen so we cooked for most part, but also enjoyed local food in restaurants. Herceg Novi offers long promenade which we enjoyed for most evenings.

One of the day trips that we did was to Dubrovnik, Croatia to visit a friend who I worked with years before in Sweden. It was a wonderful day, short trip from Herceg Novi and we first enjoyed coffee in square catching up and watching tourists (sometimes my favorite pass time)

He and his family have several properties around Europe, one of which is in the old part of Dubrovnik where we went to prepare for boat trip. I snapped a few photos of the view from the apartment and I wanted to take a few more inside the space as I really liked how they married old and new, but somehow missed doing it.

Next up was getting on the boat and going for a short trip out to sea looking for nice place for a swim or two. These are photos as we were leaving Dubrovnik on the boat - these photos should be familiar to those watching "Game of Thrones".

Kids fell asleep both on the way there and back while the rest of us enjoyed the speed, wind, smells, and company. We looked through a few secluded areas but there were already yachts there so we would move on. Having someone local like my friend to show you around is really the way to experience a place. Boat itself is also incredibly looking, imported from Norway, teak decking, bells and whistles... We finally found a place - enjoyed our swims, had some wine and grapes while my friend reserved a spot in local restaurant for dinner.

This restaurant where we went does not look like much from the outside, you would never think twice about entering it. We got there via boat as you can get it from seaside. Apparently this is one of the best places to eat where Richard Burton and Elisabeth Taylor among others spent time while they filmed there. What is the truth I am not sure, but seafood we had that day was incredible. Lunch and dinner morph into one here as you take your time to order, eat, and chat and relax in between courses. Kids even took a dip as you can basically just step into the sea off the restaurant. You take it easy and you enjoy these moments.

Back from Dubrovnik we enjoyed a couple of other trips to Zanjice, Rose and Kotor. Images here are of Rose village, so picturesque. We had a boat ride to get there and then spent some time in secluded beach.

In other part of the village we had some refreshments in the restaurant overlooking the bay. Kids would sit at the edge of the wall waiting to be sprayed by the waves. Load of fun really. Finally, we took the boat ride back to apartment at sunset - just incredible.

Another day trip was to Kotor, town as beautiful as Dubrovnik, it is an old Mediterranean port surrounded by fortifications built during Venetian period. 
Kotor has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is home to numerous sights in the old town (built in 1166), and the ancient walls which stretch for 4.5 km (3 mi) directly above the city.

Our three weeks along the Adriatic coast were relaxing, gorgeous, inspiring, and fulfilling but they went by really fast. Kids enjoyed the trip immensely. This beach in the image below and my trusted sidekick holding the fort while other enjoy their swim reminded me of trip to The Côte d'Azur and more specifically to be beach in Villfranche-sur-Mer, but that is for another post. 

I completely forgot to share our trip to Germany which was part of this two and half month European trip. We visited Black Forrest region where my aunt lives so I will have to do that next. Until then read more from our travel diaries:

[home]: Master Bath Reveal


I've been waiting for a really long time to style and reveal our master bathroom. One issue was that I wanted to find a perfect art to put over the towel bar that would be in keeping with style I was going for and that would not break the bank. The other reason was that I wanted to add window covering for which I also was not going to splurge even though I prefer that is functional and not just decorative. I felt I could not wait any longer so I just added a picture I already owned and will be on the look out for the right one (doesn't it always happen that you find the right thing just as you settle for something else). On the window front - it will be a project on its own knowing me so these pictures are sans window coverings.

 This bathroom like our other two bathroom renovations (kids and basement bath) are labours of hard work creating best value for least amount of spending by figuring out when to splurge and when to spend countless hours searching for best bang for the buck.

Originally we planned to increase the footprint of this bathroom and to add a soaking tub. I even purchased this tub - it was a great deal from Costco. But our house was going through identity crises of sorts and we returned it somehow managing to put it in our old hatchback barely able to drive to Costco while crying a little. 

Deciding to forgo the space increase meant that we needed to re-purpose 18x18 carrara marble floor tiles which went to kids bath. I scrambled to find something to replace these tiles that would work with vanity we already selected and that would not be overly expensive. I lucked out with these tiles from Home Depot - while really really inexpensive they don't look cheap and they let the vanity shine but they also ground it.

[design]: One Room Challenge - Week One - The Plan


I've seen One Room Challenge around and viewed finished rooms but never really spent much time understanding what it is all about.  It so happened that yesterday I was sitting in my car waiting while my youngest slept in the car seat (yes, I can be that kind of mom) I browsed a bit and happened upon Linda's Calling It Home site where this great idea originated. From what I understood there is a group of some 20 designers who are invited to participate in One Room Challenge on Wednesdays for six weeks and then there is a sort of a linking party for the rest on Thursdays for six weeks.

Considering that I don't have enough challenges in my life currently (wink wink!), I've decided to link up at pretty much a moment's notice. It helps that I already have some plans and a room that I really want to tackle. I wrote about my studio/office plans back in November, but here we are some 4 months later and not only has nothing been done, I think we dumped more stuff in that room.  Six weeks does not sound that long but then again it will take me up to mid May and having this space done for spring would be great as I could get creative again just as nature awakens from this long and dreary winter.

[decor]: Weekly Roundup


It was a very busy week hence lack of more posts which were either written in my head or started and left as drafts. I've managed to photograph our master bathroom and I can't wait to share that as well. A few more rooms to go through and we might have a complete house tour. Yaay!

I mentioned in my kitchen inspiration series (I, II, III, IV & V) that we are planning renovation of our ground floor including kitchen, new deck off kitchen, new front door and general overhaul of the rest of the space with slight layout changes to improve the flow of the house and to make it work better for us. One of the things that really bother us in determining the plans is that there is HVAC column going from basement to second floor right through middle of the kitchen/breakfast space but as it is included in the general wall we don't know exact measurements and location.

This weekend we decided to stop the suspense, armed ourselves with hammer and broom and started poking holes in drywall hiding them behind a picture we typically hang there. Of course our kids we were mad and came to observe us and then just left muttering: 'Those crazy parents again...' Once we solved the mystery of HVAC column we started thinking different plans for the space and we resurrected the thoughts of having an island there wrapped around that column. I found some photos to see how it might look plus some photos of 3 ft deep islands as my worry is that island might appear tiny. Anyway, more to think about and I will share some thoughts, planning and designing in other posts.

On the decor front my eldest wanted a trip to the mall which we almost never do, but two of us (plus the baby) went to Yorkdale mall which I haven't visited in quite a while. I was surprised to find parking full and people circling around as if it was a Boxing day. I parked not really within yellow lines (more like on top of them). Mall looks amazing - some of the store fronts are just like places you would see if you walked on the street in one of the European cities. Bay has done a great job as well to improve the store look inside even though it became a maze and very hard to find entrance or exit. I guess they want to keep you inside as long as possible.

Visiting Anthropologie is always a treat - enjoyable at every level - I left with small pillow (I think that I know officially have pillow fetish):