[home]: Studio/Office SourceBook & Budget


I still had to share my sourcebook for One Room Challenge reveal of our studio/office/guest bedroom so here it is with some of the more detailed shots that I have not shown before. I wanted to share budget of many finished rooms in our house to help those planning renovations. So far I did not get to it yet but will start with this one.

As I mentioned during 6 weeks of ORC posts, I tried to furnish this room on a strict budget. There was not actually any amount that I gave myself except trying to find everything I needed at the best possible price achieving what I like to call "really good value for money" or something like that. I reused, DIYed, scoured Kijjiji/Craiglist, garage sales, thrift stores, you name it.  This room is a fair size and it needed a lot of items, so finding inexpensive items was a must.

Those who saw before & after of this room can easily guess that we have done a complete gut job of this place. Everything was removed, we put up new insulation, drywall, taping, flooring. It was a family affair, my father-in-law, husband, father, brother, HVAC and electrician friend, everyone pitched in. I don't have full costs of that as we pretty much spent only on materials for two rooms (same was done to playroom next to this room) just overall number of about $1000.

Swedish rollup blind (here unrolled) - DIY from Restoration Hardware curtain - $20
Teal velvet cushions - Re-purposed from another room Indigo/Chapters clearance - $17 each
Window bench - DIY from Target shower curtain and 4 xlarge pillows from Walmart - $65 total
Long rectangular silk pillow - re-purposed from another room - Home Sense - $25
Small lilac linen pillow - re-purposed from anther room - Restoration Hardware - n/a
Shelf turned bench - Ikea Expedit shelving unit (discontinued, replaced by KALLAX) - $69

[life]: Weekly Roundup


It's been some time since I posted anything - I guess it is my first big break since I started blogging. I wish I could say that I was on vacation somewhere enjoying myself, heck, I wish I was on vacation somewhere.  I got caught up in emotions and aftermath of some of the happenings which completely overwhelmed and consumed me. I wish I could say that I am completely out of it. I am not, but at least I am blogging again.

Needless to say, weekly roundup, which is usually about some great decor finds is more about our life over last two weeks. Finishing up One Room Challenge prompted me to sign up for Instagram. It is a completely different world there - I feel like I discovered fairies but somehow everyone already knew about them.. It is definitely more gratifying experience in terms of immediate feedback than blogging. But I am not in it for feedback (even though I love getting it).

What have we been up to? As the warm weather emerged so did we - cleaning, pruning, gardening, planting, seeding and grass-obsessing. We added a row of cedar trees to hide some ugly spots from our neighbour's house. It is possible that we planted these way too close - we are not really green thumb experts and we don't like to follow instructions. Pic 2 below shows tomato plants which we also planted this year. Last year was not very successful mostly due to not tying them up properly and not caring for them as we should have. Let's hope this year works out better. Backyard is looking mostly recovered from this harsh winter and grass is finally starting to look better. But hubby is still obsessing (what is with men and grass?) so much so that he spent couple of days trying to manually purge weeds and seeding certain areas.

We've been busy with other small projects around the house as well. I shared photos of small updates in our family room (curtains/pillows) and master bedroom (look #3). I got new curtains for the master bedroom as well and I can't wait to complete another look for the room. My dad got back to their basement bathroom and completed all the tiling. Wall colour will change and we sourced glass for the shower. Good progress all together.

[life]: Travel Diaries - In France for A Day & German Style Sunday


Those who have been following my Travel Diaries series know that I jumped around a bit with descriptions of our 2.5 months in Europe as I've missed writing about our time in Germany... Since then I described our trip to Edge of Black Forest & Frankfurt and here is part 2 of that trip. 

As part of the overall trip, I've rented a car in Paris which I used to get around eastern France and bit of Germany. Driving in both countries, I preferred France despite the freedom of Autobahn. In fact, I found Autobahn overwhelming. In France you can do 130 km/s for most highways which I found to be a good speed limit which most of the drivers respect. On some locations there are speed camera radars but there are signs notifying you of these in advance so it is hard to miss them (even though we missed a few during our earlier trips to France). Overall, driving through France was a pleasure in all 3 trips we made. 

When it came to driving in Germany, I found the whole experience less enjoyable for couple of reasons - speed and construction. While it was nice to try and test own limits of speeds for short stretches of the Autobahn, it was scary to experience cars literary zoom past you even though you are already going really fast. It was equally scary that cars would change lanes in front of you even though they are going at much slower speed without any regard, not to mention trucks merging and disregarding completely yield signs. To top it off, lack of speed limit is not there for the entirety of the Autobahn as the speed comes down to some 100 km/h whenever there is an exit to a town or city. All of that made for a bit of a bumpy ride, or basically I felt I had to be extra vigilant and I did not enjoy it as much. There was also a lot of construction on the highways. 

I've selected to return the car in Strasbourg in France as it is an hour or so away from town in Germany where my aunt lives and where we were staying. I also wanted to visit this city and returning the car in the same country was cheaper option. It was a bit of a rainy day when we got to the rental office and they were kind enough to drive us to a closest mall - really great service that was quite unexpected.

[home]: Before & After Studio/Office/Guest Bedroom


In my haste to publish my ORC post with final reveal of our newly decorated studio/office/guest bedroom I did not include before & after photos. Until you know from where you started, how do you really know how far you've come?

I have 3 before photos that we took during our house walk-through with previous owners furnishings. Even I need to look twice at these photos to be sure they represent the same space:

This first one is just as you enter the room. We still don't have door on this room as it is quite low and doors just would not work well here. I will add a curtain though, most likely shower curtain as they already have holes on top which can be used to close off space when used as guest bedroom. I have not found the right one yet and I've been thinking of perhaps adding bead curtain, but I am yet to look for one that would look chic.

Changes in this space, not counting the decor are obvious - we gutted everything! This room actually had a bit of mold problem because of garage above which had broken floor and rain/water was getting in. We fixed all of that and dry-walled, added new flooring, etc. My father-in-law did most of the work with rest of the family pitching in as well.

Same nook, different interpretation.

On the other side of the room we gutted that closet which was taking away lots of space from the room. Fireplace we kept but painted the same color of the room (Cloud White) and we hid all the HVAC components.

Next I will share sourcebook for this room.

In the meantime you can find all other before & after posts here:

[decor]: On The Subject Of... Swedish and Roll-up Blinds


My quest for sensible and stylish window coverings for our many windows had me look at different options.  In addition to faux Roman blinds I considered Swedish and roll-up blinds.

Swedish blind is a simple style of blind that is raised and lowered by a cord and pulley system that hangs from the top of the blind. The unique charm of the Swedish blind lies in it’s simplicity. There are no stacks of folds that so characterize roman blinds, and crucially, because the blind rolls up on itself, the fabric on the reverse of the blind is exposed, giving you the opportunity to blend the reverse and face fabric in a way that is not possible with some of the alternatives. (via)

Variations of the Swedish Blind include roll-up blinds, which are formed in the same way, but are more suitable as dress blinds, because they are held in place at a fixed position by ribbons or other tape, rather than by a cord and pulley system. In the above example, it appears they used leather strings. There are plenty of different ideas and options of what one can use to roll up the blinds.

Options are to have them relaxed looking (example above) or rolled up straight (example below).

[style]: Beautifully Renovated Marais Apartment


Before Airbnb there were Homeaway and VRBO not counting many other agencies one would use to book apartments or houses while traveling. I've used them both and I always like to look at real spaces that people rent which are most of the time more affordable than hotels in the same locations.

Here are some random ones from Paris:

This renovated apartment is located in the heart of the beautiful and fashionable Marais (4th arrondissement) in the center of Paris.

[decor]: Weekly Roundup


Well, ORC definitely took a lot out of me to finish off hence the lack of posts this past week. I am glad it is over even though I am still moving and improving things - some of them I just forgot to add which I planned originally. Note to self - create a better list next time - you can't just remember it all, age and all that fun stuff.

My decor hunt in past few weeks was primarily focused on ORC so it is not as varied as the last one.

Those who know me and follow me are not surprised that I go gaga for linen bedsheets. I think I always like the feel of them but ever since I've spent couple of nights sleeping in them while visiting one of those chateau B&Bs in France, I've been dreaming of owning one or two. Note that I am yet to recount that visit in my Travel Diaries. 

Ever since that trip (and that was in 2009!) I've been searching for RGVFM or really good value for money that has been my guideline for most of my purchases. Since I could not justify to myself paying $200-$500 for readily available ones, I've been on the lookout for ones that would be closer to $100 that would be luxurious and soft.  While I did not mind getting duvet set, I was more interested in the sheet set. I managed to find the one that fit the bill some six months ago (finally!) for about $110 in Home Sense (Home Goods) by Nicole Miller. 

Now I found that many more selections of duvet sets by Nicole Miller for some $149 and then I also noticed that most of them went on clearance for $110. I did not grab any, but I am sure plenty of people did - they are truly RGVFM!

While in Home Sense/Home Goods I also found this teak patio set which you might see peering through the window of my studio/office reveal. I also loved this console table. I wish I had space for it.

When looking for bohemian decor Anthropologie is a must and I just loved this easy to replicate wall art, so perfect. Store front is not from Anthropologie though, but it is so perfect for spring/summer and easy to DIY. Not sure really anymore who creates trends, stores or bloggers, or is it a really nice mix of one inspiring the other and vice versa.

For past few visits to Ikea I've found some new merchandise which is great if only they would not continue to discontinue the things I love and need!

New bedroom setup - very cozy looking and outdoor cushion for $40 which if I had found earlier I might have used for my window seat in my studio/office as the measures are perfect for Expedit bench I am using. 

Pottery Barn Kids with some great kids decor ideas as usual. This pirate mast is about $110 and I think one could probably recreate it for half the money or less. But then if you can find this on clearance, would it be worthwhile doing it? My dad built little bridge inspired bookshelf after I saw one from PBK. I like this better as it has a story and emotional connection which just buying that shelf would not bring.

There are some really interesting houses in my neighbourhood and I am always on the lookout for front yard ideas to R&D (rob and duplicate!). Some houses I just admire from afar. The house on the left is not something I would build for myself but I like to look at it as it is unique even though there are more and more modern style houses being built at the moment. What is most interesting about this space is a lifelike sculpture of soldier holding a rifle - you can glimpse it a bit in the photo above.

The other house was a nondescript 70s bungalow that you would look twice. They've done a wonderful transformation of this space creating a fake second floor and even all the furnishings of the inside (as much as I could glimpse while walking) are really my style. Yes, I admit, I am a regular voyeur.

Hopefully soon I'll have a few more houses to share as I pretend to take photos of kids while walking.

[design]: One Room Challenge - Week Six - The Reveal


This is it, the final reveal is here and I am happy that I made it to the finish line... I might be limping, and everyone around me would like to have me back from the pits of my new studio/office/lounge/ craft room/guest bedroom space. Just as versatile as this space is, it also takes on many different looks as I've worked on cramming in as many different styles that I could while I was mainly driven by keeping to strict budget.

Before I share the reveal - some info on the event:

So onto the reveal - my 7-year-old son said: "I can't breathe, it is so good!" He always knows what to say! Here we go:

This is what you see as you enter the room. I decided on DIY desk that my dad built and I love it. It will only get better with time and use/abuse. I also decided to change the placement of the desk compared to original plan and it works great.

This bench cushion area I am so proud of as I've put together two window treatments and I built a bench cushion. I am also not really done with this cushion as it still needs a few steps to have its edges rolled

This cushion cost $60 to make counting all the fabric and insert. Fabric is cotton shower curtain from Target and fill I got by buying 4 kings size pillows from Walmart for $10 each. Rolled up blind (Swedish style blind) I made from Restoration Hardware linen curtain which I got for about $20. I re-purposed the ribbon ties making this window covering functional. Bench is Ikea's Expedit shelving unit.

We had this Ikea bookshelf some 14 years now. I updated it a bit by adding wrapping paper to the back. What you might notice on bookshelves are dozens of Agatha Christie books. 

Pegboard and clipboards are quick and easy DIYs but so functional. I did not have a chance to complete everything I want to add to pegboard. Chair is a garage sale find and pillows are from Anthropologie.

This is a view from the daybed (which is an actual bed when this is a guest room).

And here is a completely different side of the room, bohemian vintage space. Most of the paintings are from thrift store and Home Sense (Home Goods), same linen curtain from Restoration Hardware and pillows galore.

As this space doubles (triples really) as a guest bedroom I needed to add something for hanging clothes. I cannot completely close off this area as it hosts an HVAC vent. Little nondescript round table is hidden by Anthropologie table cloth (square one). The macrame was made by my dad years ago. I am so happy to find a special place for it.

Rug was a last minute find from Home Sense (Home Goods) and I just love it. Chair is a garden chair that I had for a few years.  Little cardboard apple tree is from Anthropologie, I had it for years hiding somewhere - I enjoyed putting it together.

 Bed-sheet is from Target, Nate Berkus collection. This was my last purchase from Target before they closed for good in Canada.

[decor]: On The Subject Of... French Mattress


Ever since I embarked on One Room Challenge these past 5 weeks I've been obsessed with French mattress style cushions.  What is the French mattress? I am glad you asked. In a nutshell, it is a natural (mostly filled with wool) hand-made mattress that has a hand-rolled edge that is referred to as French style edge or a roll edge. 

These mattresses are rather expensive to buy, not that easy to make, but appear to be used for life. There isn't too much information out there about them and they are definitely not in mainstream use around us, but there a few blog posts of those who tried to buy or create them. There is some information on Root Simple site including links to instructions on how to make these mattresses from the turn of the 20th century (here and here). 

I'll be checking those links out as I am completing my own French style bench cushion. I only wish that I found this before spending an hour in Fabricland yesterday trying to decide on the thread to finish the cushion and having the salespeople look at me funny when I tried to explain what I was trying to do.