Can You Smell Smoke?

Well now, that’s just my brain, working overtime!
Go get yourself a cuppa (or something stronger)– there are a lotta words in this post.

On Monday you saw my lovely SIL’s inspiration pins. I used those to come up with a look for her kitchen/dining area, keeping in mind words like “young,” “fresh,” “fun,” “family,” all of which come to mind when I think of her, my brother-in-law & their kiddos. I laugh like crazy every time I am with them, so I think that a sense of whimsy without fussiness (who has time for fussiness with two kids under 8?) is important in shaping their space.

Here is what I envision:


1.  A series of the new Kallax (Expedit’s replacement) shelving units– two tall ones laid sideways along the long dining room wall and one short one on the short wall will provide TONS of storage for this busy family, without taking up too much valuable floor space. What I love about the new version is that they come in truly scrumptious colours, including a minty green similar to the colour in one of my SIL’s inspiration shots! They allow for open and closed storage, a must for my clutter-hating SIL. With some chalkboard tags to label the pretty baskets, everyone will
a) be able to put things where they belong,
b) access and take responsibility for their own stuff.
Even the kids will be able to reach– useful for putting things away (Auntie is a firm believer in “A Place for Everything and Everything in It’s Place,” as is Mummy, kiddos! 😉 ), and for helping to set the table, etc. The baskets & cubbies are big enough to store table linens, the protein powder, Tupperware, toys, cookbooks… the list is endless, really. These babies are not bestsellers for nothing.

2. A bright and cheery rug under the table will bring in the pop of bright colour my SIL would like in the otherwise neutral space (cupboards & backsplash are white, countertops dark). Choosing an indoor-outdoor rug means easy cleaning when spills happen, and it will resist fading in the strong southern sunlight that enters the room.
The coral colour ties in with some cute artwork in the nearby living space.

3. I imagine a chalkboard wall on the short wall at the foot/head of the dining table with room for personalized hanging clipboards and space for a calendar to help keep everyone organized. The top of the smaller Kallax unit there will provide space for a laptop and a task light (seriously, how GOOD are these Ranarp lights?)  for bill-paying/emailing school, a phone, baskets for keys, maybe a file  storage system for incoming mail, etc. And it will all look good while also being VERY practical. The idea is for my SIL not to feel overwhelmed by piles of stuff on the table.
(She and I both have pilers for partners. Luckily, it is their only flaw! 😉 )

4. Okay, Interwebz & family, stay with me here and TRUST ME on this one. I think the long dining room wall needs some visual interest to tie in with and balance the texture of the subway tile backsplash on the opposite side of the room. Which is where my most controversial design choice comes in.
(I can HEAR you, MJ & MB– just bear with me!)
The wallpaper shown here is
a) not removable, after all. Womp womp. BUT, it is STILL a Great Idea because it is
b) very modern and crisp, not old-ladyish or fusty at all,
c) the element that will take this space from “That looks nice, did you do it yourself?” to
“HOLY HANNAH! Your house is AMAAAAAAZING! Honey, this is what I want OUR house to look like!”
There is always one element in every space that causes a client/family member to balk. (See: trying to get men to paint wood.) When that happens, I remind said client/family member that they have asked for my help for precisely this reason: I can see what they cannot. They need to trust me. AJ & MJ, you need to trust me. It’s gonna be BANANAS! So, so, SO very good. It will be the thing that you cannot stop coming into the room to look at, to just stare at because you can’t believe how cool it looks and how you never thought it could look THAT GOOD. And (pinch you!) it’s in YOUR house!

That’s how happy it’s gonna make you.
I promise.


5. On that long, wallpapered wall, above the Kallax units (in the gorgeous, minty green), I propose a gallery wall of all white frames. Some pieces might be permanent, some might be Real Art, some might be cute finds you pick up here and there, some (I hope) will be art made by my adorable niece and nephew.
It’ll be so great!

6. Finally, my SIL and I are going to DIY us up a series of the groovy Himmeli pendants in a few different sizes. The Pinterest is a-buzz with tutorials and we are relatively clever ladies, so I figure we can manage it. And then we will make my honey/my SIL’s big bro wire up all that Himmeli goodness. Because he loves his baby sister to the end of the world, so of course he will do it with a smile on his face. (And some swear words. It’s how he rolls.)

Alright, let me have it. What do you think?


Hoppy Easter!


Need some quick and easy favours for Easter dinner?


Here’s what I did with some cloth bags from the bargain bin at Target. First, I hand-stamped them with the recipients’ names and then filled them with some cute treats: Easter-themed bubbles (because nothing says “Spring!” like going outside and blowing bubbles!), and a few sweets. I had some heart-shaped thingies meant to jeuje up Ikea string lights, so added those to the ties on the bags and, quicker than you can say, “The Easter Bunny’s your uncle!” I was done.
My kinda project: speedy and sweet.
I gave mine away to my students, but they’d work well as place settings, too.


If you celebrated Passover this week, I hope you had a great time and ate lots of yummy goodies.
If you are celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope you have a great time and eat lots of goodies.



DIY Off-Piste


If you are a DIY-er like me, then you know that projects do not always go according to plan… Sometimes, the thing you have envisioned so perfectly in your brain (which, for me, usually involves lying awake at night, figuring out how to make that vision into reality), ends up looking….well…. a bit crappy. There is even a big trend in the blogosphere of posting your most hilarious DIY failures.

But, sometimes, things work the other way and, though your finished project ends up looking nothing like your original plan, it ends up looking…. SO MUCH BETTER!
This is what keeps DIY-ers going– this SO MUCH BETTER THAN I IMAGINED result is the equivalent of DIY crack, Gentle Reader. It’s like seeing a unicorn.

I had just such a unicorn moment last week when I finally got around to making over a picture frame I picked up in the As-Is room at IKEA for a whopping $7.  I liked it because of the size of the mat– I am a sucker for an oversized photo mat, I must say. But I hated the cheap, damaged, faux-wood frame. Of course, as you know, I never met a bargain I didn’t want to paint, so home it came with me. My original plan was to  copy er, emulate these frames:


I got started with my Annie Sloan chalk paint, but not even Annie would cover the weird, slick surface of the laminate frame. Frustrated and in a hurry (when am I not?), I wiped off the paint and gave the frame a quick sanding and then primed it. Next, Annie Sloan, but the colour was too yellow. So, I added a couple of coats of Farrow and Ball’s All White.


And then, the unicorn moment: being in a hurry, I started to paint on the gold (how I LOVE this gold craft paint— it is soooo perfect!) before the white was totally dry, figuring I’d just go back and tape off the clean lines once things were dry and then fill in the gold up to the tape line. BUT, the gold paint goes on in a beautiful, sheer way and I really liked the way it created an ombré effect. Luckily, I had to sleep on it, as the paint was not dry enough to tape off. When I returned to the project the next day, I realized that the way the white and gold faded into each other really could not be improved upon.
Another coat or two of gold to add depth and I was done.


And, then, I put the mat in and the sample of Timorous Beasties’ Thistle hand-inked wallpaper and there, Interwebz, was the unicorn: it looked sooooo good!  SO MUCH BETTER THAN I’D IMAGINED!
(Even M had to admit it was an impressive finished project. 😉 )

Also, just signed up for Bloglovin‘. I know. I’m very late to the party.




More on the now-ubiquitous gallery wall today. I still love a gallery wall, even though I fear it is the avocado-coloured kitchen appliance of the new millennium…
I like gallery walls because they offer a way to showcase a lot of pretty things in a way that “reads” as one big “piece.”  But, a word of warning: in order to work, a gallery wall needs to have a variety of things on it.  A good gallery wall is not your grandmother’s “rogues gallery” of school portraits. 🙂 To look current, aim for a range of sizes of frames, a range of items (not everything should be a print or photo in a frame), a range of textures and works that are both vertical and horizontal in orientation.


Here is a little work-in-progress in the corner of our dining room. It was born of the need to camouflage the thermostat (I still dream of getting one of these, but M is not on board, alas), which stands out like a sore thumb on our newly-dark walls. I started off with the round shelf and the gold K, then added a few cards from Rifle Paper Co. and a couple of other cards I found at Indigo and framed up in IKEA frames.

The table and the candles added some interest lower down, but I knew I would need to keep my eye out for a few more pieces to complete the look.


When I found the little figure at IKEA, I had to have him– I have always wanted to hang a series of these along a long hallway. I used my beloved 3M Command Strip to hang him on the wall. The tiny mirror was a Homesense find– it had a black frame, but a quick coat of spray paint fixed that in a hurry!


 You can see that I still have a couple of spaces to fill (don’t worry– I have some horizontal items for those empty gaps), but things are looking better all the time. I was not happy with the corner until yesterday, when I added the large piece at the bottom; I was feeling that the stuff in the corner was too “bitty” and teensy-looking.    I love the way the larger piece balances things out and I am a BIG fan of hanging artwork low to the floor.

More about the frame on the larger piece on Monday.
Have a great weekend!

Take it to the Mat

I have a bit of a habit of picking up “things to frame.” I do it a lot when I am travelling. Then I come home and put them all in my “things to frame” folder.
Where they generally languish for years.
YEARS, Gentle Reader.

Let’s face it, I’m too cheap impatient (ahem) to get things professionally framed, so I like to do it myself. I like my frames simple and my mats big because the latter can make even little souvenir postcards look like Real Art. I think the best source for simple, clean-lined, inexpensive frames is IKEA. The trouble is, sometimes your “things to be framed” do not match the available mat-opening sizes. But, given that IKEA stuff is pretty much designed to be hacked, here is a quick and easy hack anyone can do.


I found the black frames for under $10 each (not on the website, alas) — I immediately fell for the wide black mat and the way it made the framed piece seem to float. I wasn’t so stuck on the plasticky black frames, but since I have a spray painting obsession, I was not too worried about them– I knew I could jeuje them up in a jiffy.  I bought three of them and then looked around for frames with the right sized opening to fit the slightly creepy line drawing postcards I picked up at the Louvre about 10 (!) years ago. I found some cute frames  with the appropriate-sized mats on sale for $3.99 each– I couldn’t have custom mats cut for that!

By layering the mats, I was able to get the larger frames’ mats to “fit” the small postcards and now I have three cute frames to use with any 5×7 “things to frame” that may make their way into my possession in the future. Win-win!


I admit that I am not stuck on the gold frames– I think spraying them gold made them look a bit cheap, but I have a couple of options in mind to fix that. If the prints were more modern or funky, the frames would probably look fine, but the gold frames look too traditional for me when paired with these particular images.  Oh, well– it’s fun to have another project!

delovelydelightful(Once again, grainy photos– SUCH a dark room!
It’s cosy, but it blows when it comes to taking photos!)

Heart’s Content

In my dressing room, I felt at liberty to go as GIRLY AS I WANTED with the decor.
I try to rein in my girly decorating tendencies in the rest of the house
(and fail miserably, most of the time), but I just let it all hang out in here! Within girlicious reason. Ish.


One of the things I was really looking forward to styling was the interior wall of the Murphy bed. I collected images  for months and months, knowing I would use them in an all-white gallery wall over the bed, creating a cozy nook for guests.

Buying “art” is pricey and, while I do have some “real art,” I really just like to frame up stuff I think is pretty or cute. The frames are all from Ikea or re-painted ones I had at home. If you are thinking of embracing the gallery wall trend (which we have done in whole-heartedly around here!), here are some of the things I did to get on the bandwagon without breaking the bank.

I found the adorable Amanda Catherine print of the Kate Spade quote at Homesense and snapped it up. I strung up a sweet little Liberty garland I made with pre-cut circles from La Droguerie and some vintage chandelier crystals I found in London at the top, to camouflage the frame of the bed where it mounts to the wall & to add some softness. This is the inside of a bed, after all.

I kept the frames uniform– I went with all white for a soothing, fresh look that won’t keep my guests up at night. I added one gold frame and I mounted a sweet little box from Ladurée to add some sparkle. I like to use more than just framed images on a gallery wall to add some interest. In this case, I hung some starfish and the macaron box from Ladurée to add some depth to the display.


Above, you can see that I used one of my favourite Dorothy Parker quotes and layered it over a wallpaper sample from Farrow & Ball. Instant cuteness!

How to get a gallery wall without a gallery price tag:


1. Frame a snippet of vintage fabric. I got this piece at a vintage fair in Kensington, London. It’s an old piece from France and there is no way I could bear actually cutting it, so this was the perfect solution!

2. Use washi tape to hang pretty cards or postcards that tickle your fancy. I like that the flatness of the taped-up cards makes the depth of the frames and other items more interesting.

3. Keep your tongue in your cheek. I loved this postcard of a WWII propaganda poster. I picked it up at Churchill’s War Rooms and thought that I would have had a Very Hard Time with this particular piece of advice. Also, I often pick up postcards when I am travelling and then they just get stuck away in a box and I never look a them. This way, I can be reminded of my lovely summer trip.

4. Frame cards. They also make great travel souvenirs and are inexpensive and light to bring home. I got these in Shoreditch High Street; they are by an East End artist in London and remind me of William Morris‘ wallpaper designs. You will also see a Ziggy Stardust card I picked up at the V&A and a few more postcards and cards on this wall.

5. Frame wallpaper samples. This darling otter with a fan is one of the images on my beloved House of Hackney  fabric and wallpaper. Since I could not bring home the wallpaper (or convince my fella that we neeeeeeeeeed a wall of black wallpaper covered in naughty animals), I got the sample and framed it up.

In other words, FRAME EVERYTHING.
Frames can be had for a song at Ikea or craft stores and there is precious little that is truly un-frameable, so let your imagination soar.
Hung as a collection, even smallish frames and inexpensive artwork can have a big impact, so hunt around your house and see what you’ve got!

Update: Since writing this post, I have seen several posts around the web about the very topic of gallery walls. Clearly, this is bandwagon on a roll– hop on! 

Murphy’s Law

At long last, the dressing room is worthy of the title “Almost Finished!”

There is still some work to be done, but it has reached a state where it works for both its intended purposes, as a closet/dressing room and as a guest bedroom.


We got rid of our antique bedstead 😦 in favour of a more practical, space-saving Murphy bed. Which I LOVE! I had the front of it wallpapered in Fresco, by the oh-so-brilliant Timorous Beasties. I will mount my painting of Wallis Simpson onto the front of the bed so that it stays put, even when we pull the bed down for guests; for now she is comfortable just leaning there. The bench (to be painted navy, once spring is here and I can use my paint sprayer again), serves as handy perch for me, but it is very light and easily moved to the side to become a night table for guests. The rug is a Homesense find; I like the way the circles echo the polka dots in the wallpaper.


The lacy pendants you have seen before– BMad helped me make them. Okay, he made them, I just bossed him around. Thanks, BMad! I used the good ol’ Ikea hack approach to hang them– those are shelf brackets, mounted to the sides of the Murphy bed. The installation caused my honey to swear a lot, but they are perfect– the bed opens and just skims the pendants without whacking into them. Because the switches are on the pendant cords, I got a multi-channel remote light switch (the kind designed to be used with Christmas tree lights– get them now, while they are in stock!) so that our guests (and I) don’t have to crawl into the closets to turn the lights on and off. I hide the ugly remote in a pretty lacquer box I got in the clearance section at West Elm.


I opted to hang curtains in front of the closets on either side of the bed because I wanted to minimize the visual distraction of all my clothes. It also means I can use the floor space beneath the clothing racks for storage, too. The bed linens for the guest bed are in the trunk. I plan to build shelves to run along the top of each closet space & over the rack of vintage frocks on the opposite side so I can keep things up there, too.


My vintage clothes are along the Wall o’ Shoes where I can feel happy every time I look at them. I think vintage clothes are works of art– the craftsmanship in them is far superior to most of what we have access to nowadays– so I want them to be visible, thus no curtains. The shoes are stored in Billy bookcases with doors; I added cute handles I picked up in London at Zara Home. If you have feet bigger than a size 7-7.5, you’d have to store your shoes facing sideways, but my size 7s fit perfectly. Ah, serendipity.


My mum slept in the nearly-finished guest room last night and she said she felt like she was sleeping in a pretty tent, with all the canvas curtains and the “nook” of the Murphy bed to keep it cozy.



I have big dreams of getting some really gorgeous wall-mounted articulated sconces for our TV room. The ones that have stolen my heart represent a significant financial investment.  As in, the pair will cost $770 USD, before shipping, duty, etc. We will get them someday, but for now, we want to save some cash for the bigger projects we have on the horizon.


I have also been admiring this baby online for a while– it’s a simple IKEA hack and it looks great.
Which is why, when I stumbled on these cuties online on Sunday, I thought to myself, “Self, this might work….”


So, I headed off to Target to check them out, figuring that
a) they would look chintzy in real life,
b) the lameness that is Canadian Target would (once again) let me down by not carrying them.
Imagine my shock  JOY when I saw not one but TWO of them, right at eye-level, and ON SALE for $18 each!
Can I get a hallelujah for Canadian Target possibly (finally) getting in the game?!
(Fingers crossed, fellow Canucks…. Seriously, the lampshade selection was AMAZING this weekend! Yay!)


I knew I had two IKEA brackets at home, so it was a matter of using some of my favourite Command Strips
(I am in no way affiliated with the product, I just LOVE it!),
phutzing around until I was happy with the cords and the height of the sconces, screwing in the lightbulbs,
and ta-da!
I will get Edison bulbs this week, but for now I think these look pretty cute.
Also, it’s all a bit trendy, so the low-cost, easily-changed nature of these lights is perfect for a decor hound like me.


Oh, also, M had a fit about all the white furniture and insisted we get something NOT WHITE, thus the grey couch cover. I am learning to live with it. He also (during the same incident) had a bit of a freak-out over all the artwork piled up all over the house, waiting for walls to get repaired, sanded and painted, so we decided to just hang it all up. We created a “gallery room” in our TV room and it, combined with some luscious sapphire-blue velvet curtains, really makes the space personal and cosy.
Which helps me to reconcile myself to the fact that we may now never get around to actually fixing the walls…
You can see one side of the room in these photos.