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:

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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! ūüėČ ), 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! ūüėČ )

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.

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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?

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Stag Party

Here is what I opted to pick up from among the deliciousness on offer at the Imm Design booth at IDS 2014.

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Since our kitchen remains (ahem) a mirage on the horizon, the cookie jar of my dreams will have to wait. But I have been looking for a good way to store my cocktail rings, some brooches and my stud earrings; this fella provided me with the perfect solution.

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Every time I see him, antlers festooned in rings, I smile.

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I’m Crackers for Animals

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One of my favourite booths at IDS 2014 was Imm Design.
They sell cheeky little storage solutions, kitchen tools, mirrors, hooks, even stationery!

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I fell for their stuff immediately and wanted to Buy All The Things!
Of course, this ¬†reaction was not a practical one, so I set my cap for one of their crowned cookie jars to put in my kitchen (you know, the one that exists only in my head…) and contented myself with a more useful little treat in the interim.
I’ll show you that on Wednesday.

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In the meantime, here are some of their pretty bits and bobs, designed to bring a hit of charm and whimsy to any room.

It Floats!

After that last post, I couldn’t stop thinking about the bathroom shelf situation. And something felt not quite….. right.

I just wasn’t sure about mixing the industrial shelf with the more polished vintage vibe of the ‘loo. I worried that a shelf that would look cool in a different kind of space, might just look cheap when mixed with the rest of the finishes in the bathroom.

And then I got an email from CB2. And in it, I found a floating acrylic shelf. Since I’ve been wondering how I could possibly work these (swoon alert!) into my home and coming up pretty well empty, I thought this pretty shelf might be a good compromise.

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What I really like about this clever shelf is that it will pretty much disappear (given that it’s clear) yet the shine will work well with the other polished finishes in the room. And, since it’s basically invisible, I can style it up any way I choose. M will be So Thrilled at the prospect of having to hang another thing on the wall!
(He lives for it, I promise. Particularly when there is levelling involved. Good times. ūüėČ )

Happy weekend, everyone. (Maybe I’ll run into you at CB2…)

In An Ideal World

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We finished our bathroom renovation about two years ago (to be honest, I’ve sort of blanked out the whole event in an involuntary act of sanity preservation…). But we still don’t have the train rack I thought I wanted for added storage.

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Thing is, the only place to put it is on the wall above the toilet. Where the widest possible train rack that will fit ¬†can be a maximum of 24″ wide. The two-foot wide train rack is, it turns out, a rare beast, seldom seen in the wild.
I managed to find this one:

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BUT it has hooks along the bottom and that seems kind of weird to me– I mean, I don’t really want to hang towels above the toilet, dangling down near the toilet….
See where I’m going? I mean, I’m absolutely NOT a germaphobe. At all. (Ahem.)

BUT those hooks trouble me. I just don’t want my towels that close to the toilet.
On the other hand, I think they will look strange with nothing on them and, while I could dangle a cutesy little tchotchke from them, I am sorta trying to minimize the number of such items in my life.

So I was pretty excited to discover an appropriately-wide option with a bit more practicality– I could actually stash the extra t.p. on top, could put extra soap in a container on a shelf, could put the extra hand towels on one of the (higher) shelves. This shelf would enable me to clear some stuff out of my very full linen closet, too = win, win!

It is also less fancy than the ones I’d been looking at. I am trying to mix fancy and industrial, to avoid an overly matchy vibe in our house, so I think this style could work.
(I’ll know better when I see it in person.)

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Sadly, the multiple shelf version is too tall, at 32″. It looks like I will be compromising going with the two-compartment option. I can hang it high enough to get the hand towels a safe (?!) distance from the toilet, I can still put t.p. on top and it will add functionality to both the bathroom and the linen closet.

I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s Go Shopping In London

Was Wednesday’s post too pretty for you? Too whimsical? Do you crave a more industrial edge?
Or, like me, do you think that a mixture of pretty, whimsical and industrial is Just About Perfect?

While we are on the subject of pretend shopping for our pretend homes, why not pop over the pond to London Town and drop in at Retrouvius?
(Fair warning– you might want to stick your credit card in the freezer before you click on that link…)

delovelydelightful1. This angle poise lamp comes in a variety of colours. I’ll take mint, thank you.
2. In a kitchen, in a dining room, in a home office, in a living room, in a bedroom– where wouldn’t this shelving unit look great?
3. I had no idea there were such things as “numbered vintage gym hooks,” but now that I do, I think they’d be divine in a dressing room or a mud room.
4. These coat hooks, reminiscent of antlers, are pretty darned awesome.

Happy Friday, everyone.
If you need me, I’ll be picking up this gorgeous item for my pretend home in London.

 

Let’s Go Shopping In Paris

And by shopping, I do mean pretend internet shopping. For my pretend home in France. Oh, heck, for BOTH my pretend homes in France– clearly I can’t be confined to Paris all the time, so I’ll need a place somewhere near Antibes as well.

Here is some loveliness from Caravane to add a little brightness to dark winter days here in the northern hemisphere:

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¬†How about a new dining room table (the link for which I cannot find…) for my fabulous apartment in St Germain/Montmartre/ the 4e? ¬†I’ll need some pretty storage to organize my bibelots in my Parisian pied a terre, so I’ll add this whimsical little bunny canister and this colourful tray to my (incredibly chic, Proven√ßale) shopping basket while I’m perusing the wares at Petite Friture.

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What would you buy if you were shopping in Paris?

Chalk it up…

…to the joys of experimentation.

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I loved the old, worn, peeling paint on this Very Useful Hutch I bought a few years ago. But it was time for a face-lift in order to make the piece work as part of Project Dressing Room. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what, exactly, I wanted to do in terms of giving the hutch a makeover. I knew, however, that my good friend Annie Sloan would not let me down and I was right! ¬†I did prime, just because I did not want to waste my pricey paint on the very old, very dry wood– I figured it would just drink up all that paint and I’d need 6 coats to cover! I did no sanding at all, though (I was worried about lead-based paint, as the piece is over 80 years old)– I just painted Old White on the inside and Graphite on the outside, right over all the old, chipping paint. There is a bit of texture in the final effect, which I quite like.

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I wanted the hutch to have a slightly quirky, whimsical touch, in keeping with the somewhat irreverent, modern/vintage mix I am aiming for in the dressing room. Enter NEON pink craft paint! I ended up mixing it with some of Annie’s Old White for more opaque coverage, as the craft paint was very sheer and streaky.

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Finally, I added some chalk drawings and a¬†soup√ßon¬†of French (“but well, there you go!”) to the front. I can erase it and change it up any time I like. Also, it’s easy to remove if I get tired of the look and I can quickly paint out the neon legs if I decide I want a more sober, traditional look one day in the future. In case I ever When I grow up.

Not only does it provide very useful storage for all my handbags,
the finished product also serves as an outstanding cat perch.

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Winter Wonderland

And by “wonder,” ¬†I mean, “I wonder if winter will ever END?”

I see on my Instagram feed that the folks I follow in places like the UK, California, France and even NYC are all posting lovely shots of sunshine and trees in blossom. Meanwhile, take a look at what is going on outside my window as I type this post:

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So, though other folks are busy pinning Easter crafts and doing their spring decor freshening up, I am going to talk about a problem to which those of us who live in northern climes are no strangers. It is, Gentle Reader, the problem of how to keep all the necessary GEAR required by 5-6 months of wintry weather under control.

I love our house, but it is not huge and it is nearly 90 years old. As a result, storage is at a premium. Our front hall closet is very tiny and the upper shelf of that closet is always a seething morass of tangled scarves, toques, gloves and mittens. It used to stress me out just thinking about having to find a hat and a matching pair of mitts every morning.
So, this year I FINALLY got serious about getting things organized.

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I was able to find three not-very-inspiring fabric-covered bins at Winners. The key was to find some that would actually fit in our tiny hall closet, but still be large enough to hold all the STUFF that normally spilled down onto our heads every time we opened the closet door. Given their utilitarian appearance, I decided they needed a little jeuje, so I trotted out my trusty alphabet stamps and washi tape and made some labels.* I tied them on with some twine and, ta-da!
Organized, handy, useful and, best of all, I find I am wearing a greater variety of my winter gear, as I can actually find it all.

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*Also, my dearest love is not what you’d call “naturally organized,” so I thought the labels might help prevent him from just tossing his gloves and toques into any old bin.

A Little Jewel (Box)

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Here is the finished product!

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I started with a coat of Provence, but it looked a bit drab. To spice it up, I mixed a bit of Provence into some Florence and added a smidgen of Old White. It ended up being less pastel than I had hoped, but I still think it looks cute.

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The refreshed jewelry chest now sits next to my sewing machine, providing a home for bits & bobs such as ink pads, letter stamps, bobbins, mini-clothespins, gift tags and paper punches.

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