Spot On



Confession time: when I painted up the hutch above, I was really under the gun, time-wise. Which meant that I did not really finish the interior of the little drawer where I store my small, flat clutches and evening bags.  The wood is very rough in there and I only had time for a quick coat of primer, so it looked pretty grim.  Worse, it was sort of “pick-y” and a bit of a dangerous spot to store delicate vintage items. Which I put in there anyway because I didn’t have time to deal with the problem. Very bad, lazy, rushed blogger!
I figured I’d get around to it someday….


That day came along as soon as I found the Cutest Kraft Paper Ever at Homesense the other day.


If you’d like to do similar to a drawer or some cupboards of your own, you will need:

1. Spray adhesive
2. Sharp scissors (or an X-acto knife and a straight edge– mine are in the shambles of my sewing room, currently inaccessible due to renovations, so I used scissors and just cut very slowly and carefully)
3. Cute lining– wallpaper remnant, fabric, wrapping paper, old tablecloth cut down to size… You could stamp or write on or otherwise decorate your own kraft paper or white paper. How about black paper with chalk pen designs or calligraphy?
4. A tape measure to determine the dimensions of the lining.
(Hint: if I were to do this again, I’d wrap one long piece along the bottom of the drawer and up over the back panel = no seams, pattern stays consistent.  I am GUTTED that I didn’t think of this until it was far too late. Live & learn!)
5. A ruler or straight edge to mark your measurements on the lining
6. A pencil to draw a guideline along the measurements on the lining

Start by measuring your drawer or shelf and then transfer those measurements very carefully to the wrong side of the lining. (See #4 with hint above!)

Carefully cut your lining material to size.

Tape off edges of drawer or shelf– you need to protect them from the overspray of the adhesive; if the latter is left with nothing stuck to it, it dries VERY tacky and stays that way. Messy and horrible!  The adhesive I used gives you 15 seconds of working time, which is not much, so work in batches/pieces and get all your stuff lined up ahead of time. I did a dry-fit of my paper before moving to the adhesive stage and was glad of it; turns out my first piece of paper was a hair too small for the bottom of the drawer and I had to cut another one.

I sprayed the back of the drawer first and glued that strip of lining on, smoothing out the air bubbles as I went along. Then I did each side in turn and ended off with the bottom. I wanted to practise a bit with the adhesive and paper before doing the largest (and most visible) piece. I did it in stages, spraying the back of the drawer bottom first, using the wrong side of the lining as a shield to protect the lined rear panel. After positioning the bottom lining and gluing down the first 2-3 inches, I worked forward, spraying adhesive and using the remaining drawer lining piece as a shield. Worked pretty well, though I did have to pull it up and reposition it in the initial stage. The adhesive worked just fine– it was forgiving enough to give me time to move the paper around a bit.

The adhesive is really fume-y, so you will need to be somewhere well-ventilated, even if you can’t get outside. Keep pets and kids clear of the probably-totally-toxic-but-you-are-willing-to-inhale-them-for-the-sake-of-your-need-to-make-stuff-look-pretty fumes.


The edges of the drawer looked a bit rough (why didn’t I paint the top edge at the back?!), so I turned to my dear pal, washi tape, and rolled a bit along each of the sides and the back.


Done! The paper camouflages some of the roughness and warped-ness of the bottom of the drawer and it is smoother against the delicate fabric of some of my vintage evening bags. Also, it just looks cheery, doesn’t it?

Total time for this little project: 20-30 minutes.
Difficulty level: easy, if a bit fiddly.


Quick & Easy

Today I picked up a few little Christmas presents.
Three of them were very simply gift-wrapped for me in kraft paper bags and bright green tissue paper.

I really like to have some element of the handmade in my gift wrap, so I had to add a little something to the packages.  Since I am planning to use kraft paper for my gift wrap this year, I decided to keep the gifts in the kraft bags and just add my own tags to them.
What could be easier?

I printed on each tag, added some festive washi tape to two and used a paper punch to tart up another one, added an oversized jingle bell and some pretty ribbon to each one and tied them onto the handles of the bags. It took a wee while, as I individually hand-lettered each tag, but you could speed up the process by using handwriting or calligraphy instead.

I LOVE these gifts– I got one for my BFF, one for my mum and one for my brother. I’d love to tell you what they are, but my mum is a regular reader and my BFF drops in now and then, too, so I can’t let you in on what’s inside the bags.
But I know it will drive at least one recipient nutty trying to figure out what the heck I could get that would be appropriate for both her and for my brother!

Gift tags & washi tape from The Paper Place.


Let It Snow


I have long had a fantasy about being a professional gift wrapper. If that is not a real job, it darn well should be! Ever since I was quite little, I have LOVED wrapping presents. As a teenager, I used to shut myself in my room with all the bows and paper and ribbons, sing along to Christmas tunes and wrap prezzies for hours and hours. It was one of my favourite days of the year and I looked forward to it for months.

As an adult, I still look forward to a day spent doing nothing but wrapping gifts. In my 30s, I started to pick a theme each year and wrap all my gifts the same way. One year it was blue paper, wide satin ribbon in chocolate brown and a single chandelier crystal on each gift. I often use kraft paper– one year I added a single magnolia leaf with the recipient’s name written on it in gold ink to each package; another year, it was organza ribbon with glass ornaments embellished with the recipient’s initial or a loving phrase; still another year, it was packing-stamp inspired stickers, red or gold jingle bells and red twine wrapped around and around and all over each package. I am also a huge fan of black paper and one of my favourite schemes involved it with oversized rick-rack in red or white and miniature glass Christmas balls.

Those are Liberty covered buttons on the right!

Source. Source.

I start thinking about my festive gift wrap months in advance, so now I am getting down to the wire and am narrowing down my choices for this year. You will have to wait and see what I end up doing, but in the meantime, I hope these inspirational images get you in the gift-wrapping spirit!


Simply Done

I know it’s early, and I  know that not everyone is ready to think about it yet, but there is the smell of snow in the air and even a few flakes floating down.
And that has me thinking about how I am going to approach Christmas this year…

I am planning to go with simple, pared-down decor.
My hope is that I will only use about 1/4 of my festive stuff and give it all some space to breathe.  I love the simple ideas in these images.

Are you thinking about your festive decor yet?

Images from here and here.

Design Friday: Office Transformation

Design Brief:

Take an outdated, cluttered home office and transform it into a work-from-home sanctuary for a busy mom.

Re-use several key pieces that have sentimental value.

Do it on a budget, with room for a few necessary splurges, including new custom blinds and some reupholstery.

Keep the major elements neutral enough to endure over the long-term, with colour and spark added via accessories, paint and fabric– all easily changeable in a few years if the client tires of the colour scheme.

Make it a haven of peace and tranquility that “looks like” the client; it needed to be an oasis of femininity in a house full of boys.

The “Before” Situation:

The room had become a catch-all for the bits and bobs of a family on the go. Two boys and all the school files, mail, craft supplies, musical instruments, “where-else-am-I-gonna-put-this?” piles of detritus had gotten the better of the space. The client works from home and needed a place that reflected her personality and allowed her to focus on her work, rather than on the stress-inducing piles of stuff that had slowly taken over the space.

The client was ready for a change and was willing to weed out all the unnecessary junk that had drifted into the room over the years. She worked diligently to purge, keeping only things of sentimental value, things necessary to her work, and important household files.

I was thrilled when she liked the fabric I had seen months before and thought would be perfect for her space; after compiling three different palettes, the lilac & creme linen scheme won out and helped us to determine the wall colour and ceiling colour, both by Martha Stewart.

With the help of the homeowner’s brother, who painted the whole room and the enormous wall of overpowering oak book shelves, the room got a new lease on life; just lightening up the colours made a huge difference!

The Big Stuff reupholstered the client’s mother’s wing-back chairs in a pale oyster-coloured velvet, their legs lacquered in high-gloss lilac, and also made a new seat cushion in a pretty awning stripe for the window seat. The chair legs can easily be repainted in the future if the homeowner decides she wants to change her colour scheme; the velvet is neutral enough to work into a wide range of colour palettes.

I made the throw cushions from a range of coordinating fabrics and we pulled a lovely lavender shade from the palette to use on the cove ceiling, drawing attention to the architectural detail.

The desk had been the client’s mother’s during her career; she took it with her when she retired and it has great sentimental value. It is a large, mid-century modern teak piece, and dominates the room. Painting the teak was (obviously!) not an option, but since the top of the desk is melamine, we decided to cover it with a length of the damask-printed linen under a sheet of glass. The homeowner moved her desktop computer to the kitchen, where she can keep an eye on her boys as they do their homework, and replaced it with her laptop. The result is that the focus is on the colour and pattern on the desk’s surface, rather than on the enormous computer screen.

We replaced the  utilitarian printer table with a pretty wrought-iron garden table and the office chair will be replaced in the future, as budget allows.

 Ample storage is provided by a large dresser, donated by a friend, and spray-lacquered in high-gloss lilac. Files live in the desk filing drawers and daily office supplies are housed in pretty boxes and baskets on the bookshelves. Books were covered in kraft paper and fancy washi tape to create a soothing, uniform look to the book cases. An inexpensive, neutral-coloured area rug from Ikea adds softness and baffles sound to create intimacy.

The final touches? A few bits of mercury glass, some curvy white bookends and candle sticks, lanterns and a repeated bird motif. I made a whimsical banner of bunting to hang in the window in lieu of a valence or curtains, hand-printed with inspiring words like “moxie,” “pluck” and “strength”  to remind the client of who she is and why she is special. Add to these the homeowner’s personal collections of matryoshka dolls and British royal family souvenirs, a few family photos and the room is clean & crisp, yet still personal.

 The homeowner loves her new office! Her boys have dubbed it ‘Mommy Land’ and I take that as the best compliment of all– it means the room looks and feels like the client, which makes it a place she enjoys spending time.

Mission, accomplished.

You can see more here, if you like.

Happy Weekend!

Make a Student Smile

At the end of the school year, I always make little University Survival Kits for the Grade 12 students in my life.
In them, I put some (sort of!) tongue-in-cheek little items that will come in handy. The point of the gift is really more the thought than the content; it is a physical marker of a big transition in a young person’s life and it shows that an adult who cares recognizes that transition.

I always fill the packages with treats from one of my favourite food categories, the So-Gross-It’s-Good category. (That’s one of the ones in Canada’s Food Guide, right?)

 Those of you who are already thinking about back-to-school (yikes!) could make some of these up for the students in your life and put whatever you want in them. It’s fun to personalize a bit for each student, too. How about a little pennant or some stationery from his university or college? A long-distance phone card or gift certificate towards extra minutes or data on her phone plan? I think the charm of these little treats is that they don’t contain anything exotic or luxurious, just basic grocery items and necessities fancified up a bit for a laugh.