It Takes A Village…

… to stage a DIY wedding!

You will need:
1 extremely relaxed bride
1 similarly laid-back groom
a cast of dozens of loving family and friends

My new sister-in-law was easily the most unstressed-out bride I have ever met. She basically said to me: “I want bright colours, I don’t care which ones. You have good taste; I trust you.” And so I got to have The Most Fun Ever picking out pretty fabrics to turn into miles of bunting that would reflect the joyful, generous natures of my brother and his bride.

My brother spent pretty much forever designing and making the suspended ceiling for the dance floor.

My sister-in-law baked cupcakes for months in advance, freezing them along the way. Her lovely sister and wonderful friends, niece and mum whipped up lots of of yummy icing and decorated the cupcakes. They were sublime.

Several tall, good-natured, good-looking(!) men let me boss them around over the two days it took us to get all the bunting in place. They uncomplainingly climbed on gigantic ladders to pin the bunting up, they made painstakingly sure my swags were even, they made sure the table bunting was pinned perfectly in place, and then they got up and did it all in reverse to take it all down the next day.

An enormous cast of friends, relatives and guests spent the week setting up and getting ready, making time to go to the beach and have a few BBQs and then all showed up on Friday and Saturday to work hard and make sure that S & S had the best wedding ever.

It was AWESOME– I have never had so much fun making an event happen.

More wedding to come next week!

Thanks for stopping by.
Have a great long weekend, North Americans; have a great weekend, everyone else!


And the Winner Is….

….Palette #1!

Thanks for all your input, Interweb. I liked both palettes, but thought for sure that the homeowner would choose #2, so I was (at first) surprised to see she’d chosen Palette #1. Now I think I know why– Palette #2 involved a lot more pattern and that can be a bit scary.

I think it will look fantastic and I can’t wait to see the finished room! We will have to wait a few weeks for that, however, as the furniture is not on deck to be recovered until early October.

I have spent a few days making the cushion covers. What do you think?

I trimmed one of the large ones with a lovely little silk ruffle from France, but once I got it on there, I decided I might actually prefer the cushions without it.

I will let the homeowner decide– it is just as easy to add it to one pillow as it is to take it off the other, depending on her preference. Below, you can see the cushion on the left with the trim.

I am particularly thrilled with the crewel-work; the fabric is such a spare, modern take on a classic fabric that it keeps the scheme from being too fussy or stuffy.

Pretty in Pink

Here is the (mostly) finished dining room.  I wanted the space to be welcoming and contemporary, without being trendy, but to also respect my mum’s love of traditional style. I think the result is crisp and modern, feminine without being frilly, classic without being stuffy. I think part of why it works is that it is a small room that is not afraid to make a big, bold, colourful statement.

Design Brief:
Re-use all the (mismatched, outdated) furniture and the lovely chandelier. Replace the carpet. EDIT the very full storage cabinets and keep only the truly beautiful, useful items. Replace the skinny faux curtains with functioning ones, to allow for privacy in the evening. Take the room from dark, tired and dated to fresh, modern, feminine and bright.

We found the gorgeous stripe with the cherry branch print (I used it to make the statement curtains) and that drove our colour palette; all the colours in the room were drawn from the fabric. The walls are a smoky, lavender/grey, the ceiling is pale lilac under a wash of cream-coloured pearlescence, inspired by the ceilings of old Parisian bistros; the effect adds coziness in the evenings & a mellow warmth during the day, counterbalancing the cool colour of the walls. The wool carpet is a darker shade of the wall colour. The carpet and paint on the furniture, the two biggest investments in the room, are neutral colours, so my mum can change the fabric on the windows and the chairs in the future.

We updated my great-grandmother’s dining room suite with a coat of  warm cream spray-lacquer, opting for a pale lilac drawn from the cherry branch striped fabric for the inside of the hutch. Tip: if your painter tries to talk you out of something unusual, stick to your guns! I knew the lilac interior would make my mum’s (ruthlessly edited) collection of dishes and beloved figurines look AMAZING, so I had to really insist to the painter that I was right about it and please-and-thank-you could he just do it?  Rather than replace the hard-to-fit hardware, we just painted it in the same pale lilac, too!

The sideboard was a Goodwill find and getting our (actually very wonderful) painter to lacquer it in a high-gloss hot pink also took some convincing. It looks pretty great, though, right? I think it adds that oh-so-necessary sense of humour and fun to the room. Formal dining rooms can be so, well, formal.

The mosaic mirror adds sparkle and reflects light from the wall of windows. It also makes the room seem bigger and reflects the pretty contents of the hutch, so that diners on both sides of the table can see them.

More photos (including MUCH BETTER “before” pictures!) over here.

Design Friday: Dining Room Do-Over

These are the only photos I can find of my mother’s dining room in it’s “before” state. I feel there are more shots of it in a less, er, festive  state lurking around somewhere, but they elude me at the moment. In any case, you can see the key “problems” in these two photos.

Among those problems are: the 1990s wallpaper border in a print we thought was the absolute LAST WORD in chic in 1993 (Oh, dear!), the dark and dated colour palette of cranberry, dusky navy and forest green with gold metallic accents, the dated and overly ornate accessories and the dark and oppressive dining room suite inherited from my great grandmother. Oh, did I mention that the room is a tiny converted bedroom?

Stay tuned to see how we turned this little space from dark and dated to crisp and fresh!

Workin’ 9 to 5

Are you reading this while you are at work? (Don’t worry– I won’t tell!) If so, look around. Unless you are a powerful executive in a Hollywood movie, or an artist in a light-filled studio, or someone who works from home in a space designed for  you, my guess is that your office surroundings are pretty soul-suckingly hideous. Mine are. Worse, like so many people, I share my day-job space with 15 other people and all of the detritus that comes with our
occupation– mainly, stacks and piles of papers, laptops, dirty dishes, etc. Yuck.

I always figured that the only people who get to have nice office spaces are the sorts listed above. But, just because you don’t OWN your office space or have it professionally decorated to suit you and to impress clients, doesn’t mean it can’t be personalized a bit. Most of us spend A LOT of time in our offices, so why shouldn’t they be pleasant, pleasing spaces?  I have (finally!) realized that it is possible to translate to the workplace the idea I hold absolutely sacred at home: that your space should make you feel good. Why should I work in a laminate-covered box of ugliness, when I have the power (and the fabric scraps!) to pretty it up?

And so, this year, I have vowed to make my work space a place that makes me feel good. I may not be able to remodel the entire office (a girl can dream….), but I can make my own little slice of it less utilitarian, more welcoming and prettier.  Maybe I’ll even inspire a colleague or two to do the same…

Here is a little bit of what I have in the works:

Owl measuring cups, repurposed to hold clips and pins, West Elm; Poketo daytimer from Target; colourful pencils and clips.

Owl mug, West Elm, Seven Year Pen, Lily Ashbury fabric in Jaipur Pink to cover my bulletin board, decorative binder clips.

I will take some photos of the finished project once I get settled in.
(Hint: there has been some sewing and some crafting!)

Decisions, Decisions

A dear friend of my mother’s asked for some help giving her living room a “face lift” and I am delighted to be able to do it!

Design Brief:
Update a formal living room that is channelling the 80s. The homeowner likes the colour scheme and does not want to replace big investment pieces– the oversized rosy-salmon coloured chair and the matching drapes– as they cost quite a bit of money and are not worn out, rather just need freshening up.

Here are two possible schemes we pulled together:

Have a say below– vote for the one you like best! I’ll keep you posted as work progresses!

Pillow Talk

I’ve mentioned before that I have a thing for textiles. Also, that I have a thing for cushions & their covers.
Oh, and let’s not forget ribbons and trims!

When it came time to make the cushions for the screened-in porch, I had a chance to indulge all three passions.  Because the pattern of the main upholstery fabric, a large-scale or “buffalo” gingham, is linear, the cushions were the place to get playful and add some whimsical, girly touches in order to balance the geometric pattern on the seat cushions and in the lines of the windows, the panelled walls, the floor and the rug. I made most of the cushion covers from scratch, but I also used one pre-made cushion cover from Ikea in a waffle-weave texture and just tarted it up a bit with a giant flower.

You could do it, too!

Le Big Reveal

Design Brief:
Unify a jumble of comfy, much-loved bits of furniture,
acquired over time and representing a mixture of styles and eras.

Use the homeowner’s existing pieces, recycling as much as possible
in order to keep room in the budget for her must-haves:

an area rug


So, without further ado, here it is!

It was the hottest week of the year, but that did not stop me from using the awesome paint sprayer to unify the wicker furniture with a coat of charcoal grey. The 1920s settee, chair and table, in particular, look AMAZING in this new, dark colour.

The rug, from West Elm, brings a hit of contemporary design into the space, to keep it from feeling too girly or too theme-y. We wanted to keep the cottage vibe of the room but with a modern edge.

The Big Stuff made the seat cushions (and they did an excellent job, as usual!) in the gorgeous yellow buffalo gingham check that was our starting point. Once the client saw that fabric, the whole room just fell into place; we let the fabric dictate the rest of the palette.  The grey and creme floral and all the ribbons and trims came from Designer Fabric Outlet, and the polka dots were a twin duvet set from Ikea–thanks to my trusty shears and sewing machine, it is now the upholstery on two of the  dining chairs and has also been transformed into cushions, including some reversible ones, for the rest of the seating. We drew the yellow from the check out to paint a curvy little chair and placed it in the corner, with a view of the garden.

Curtains add some privacy and can be drawn in the evening if it gets cool. The tea-towelling I used along the border of each panel picks up on the yellow and evokes a bit of the south of France at the same time.

Rewiring an old, broken lamp and giving it a coat of the same yellow as the chair brought it back to life.  The other lamp belonged to the client’s mother and sported an antique gold finish; a quick coat of charcoal grey and it was ready to provide some much-needed light for reading in the evenings. I recovered both lampshades and added whimsical oversized pom pom trim in charcoal grey, including a pom on each finial! I think every room needs a touch of something to make you smile, don’t you? Tired of the pom poms in a few years?
No worries– some neutral linen shades are an easy and inexpensive update.

To see more, head over here.

Design Monday: Backyard Retreat

This space is one of my favourite places in the world; it is so peaceful and welcoming that you can feel all your cares and stress just melt away the minute you step into the room.

This large screened-in porch off the back of a small house serves as the homeowner’s “cottage,” with the added bonus that the commute takes about 10 seconds! The homeowner is an avid gardener and the room is surrounded on three sides by her beautiful, mature garden. The sounds of rustling leaves fill the air, skylights bring in sunshine, moonlight and starlight. The furniture is a charming hodge-podge of sturdy wicker pieces, antique and contemporary, acquired over the years.

Because the room is a three-season space, it gets a lot of use and the decor was starting to look tired and confused. Inspired by a fabric that had her at “hello,” the homeowner went to work to freshen up the space, but the finished product just didn’t gel.

Stay tuned to see how paint and fabric turned this pretty porch into a modern, vintage-inspired space that suits the homeowner to a T!

We Could Have Danced All Night

And so we did.
We danced and we danced and we danced.
It was the dancin’-est wedding I have ever attended!

Isn’t that how weddings should be?

Once again, all photos here were taken by Lucas Jarvis. You can check out his amazing work here, here and here. I should mention that he is not just our cousin, he is one of the most sought-after wedding photographers in Australia.

He works internationally, too. (Even when he’s not related to the groom!)