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.

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Keep Your Fork, Duke…

…there’s pie.

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Okay, maybe there isn’t pie, but there is a new dining room at our house.
Okay, maybe there isn’t a whole new dining room, but the one we do have has had a facelift. Thing is, the facelift has taught me, among other things, Important Lessons On How To Never Become a Famous Blogger.
Namely, paint your rooms in dark colours that, while they make your heart sing, do not enable the taking of decent photos. Looks like the ABM girls have nothing to fear from me. 😉

Our dining room here at Delovely HQ is in the middle of the main floor. Since Delovely HQ is a semi-detached house, built in the 1920s, the centre room has no windows of its own. It did, however, have French doors at both ends, which I loved. M, on the other hand, did not. And so I sacrificed and gave in when he said he wanted to take them down. I am still sad to have lost them, but I must agree with him that getting rid of them has opened up the flow of the main floor in a very pleasing way, one that is sure to increase once we build our deck off the back of the house and we can swan right out onto said deck, cocktails in hand…
I digress.

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You may remember that I made the mistake of painting the dining room white, in an attempt to be all “oh, look at me and my all-white house full of airy lightness!” Except that the white paint was boooooooring and made the room look pokey and small and, weirdly, even darker than it did before. Hm.

Here is how we fixed it:

1. I repainted the walls in a colour that makes me swoon with joy every time I see it– Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball is a dark navy with a teal-y undertone. It’s so dark it’s nearly black. Totally my speed.

2. M agreed to let me have our outdated dining room furniture painted. We had it done by a pro and ended up with a brand-new-looking set for a fraction of the cost of buying new. I had the table painted in Great White , three chairs done in All White, two in Blue Ground and three in Stiffkey Blue. The multi-coloured chairs not only help to tie in the colours of the rug, but also to keep the room looking current and fresh.

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3. We invested in the Slip Bench from Crate and Barrel to add some interest to the seating. Getting rid of the French doors meant that we were able to shift the table and chairs to along the party wall, leaving more space to walk through the room and more space to access the china cabinet than we had when things were centred.

4. We bought grown-up lights. I chose the Capiz Orb Pendants from West Elm in the small and medium size and had M wire me up two Plog-it cords in pale grey. We staggered the height and the alignment of the globes over the table, for interest’s sake. Bonus feature: we didn’t have to fuss about lining up the ceiling hooks from which they are swagged (our electrical box is centred in the room, so we had to pick swag-able lights). I LOVE these lights. I had M put them on a dimmer so they just glow like beautiful moons or lanterns over the dinner table.

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5. I re-purposed the chalkboard I made for our kitchen several years back and hung it horizontally over the back of the bench. I added a few mirrors– the vintage, gold-framed one was smashed & the frame was broken when I got it and I finally got around to having the glass replaced & the frame repaired. It cost less than $40! It would have been a bit more to get the antiqued glass I really wanted, but I was in a rush and didn’t have time to wait for the antiqued glass to come in on special order.

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6. I added two vintage-inspired bevelled mirrors I found at Target for about $25 a piece, and the antique swing-arm sconces I picked up at The Door Store in the spring. I have a few ideas of bits I’d like to add to the wall, but for now it’s fine.

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What is really funny (now ) about the dining room facelift is, like our office facelift and our TV room gallery walls, it just sort of happened, snowballing out of the Misguided White Walls Fiasco. Yet, also like the office & the TV room, it is now one of my favourite rooms/projects in the house.
I wish you could all come over and see it in person– I’m a lousy cook, but my dining room looks pretty enough to eat!

 

Warm Glow

 Our dining room is FINALLY nearing completion. I still have a few bits of “artwork” to hang on the walls & I need to get a decent pad for under the rug, but I was so excited to get the lights up that I couldn’t resist Instagramming some photos of them.

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To my utter delight, @westelmtoronto re-grammed & tweeted my image of our dining room!
Talk about a warm glow. 🙂 Thanks for the shout-out, West Elm!

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Once I get things all set in the dining room, I’ll do a proper post.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ensconced

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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.

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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….”

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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!)

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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.

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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.

Work it!

Remember the Office Inspiration post? Well, here are (most of) the details from the (very nearly) finished office.

I needed to update all the storage & organization bits in the room, but did not want to invest in all new boxes, files and bins.  I decided the solution was to give our existing ones a facelift with the help of some fabric and some paint.

I wanted gold accents, so I had to find a way to take the trim on our Ikea storage boxes & magazine files from silver to gold. Removing the hardware and painting, then replacing it was not an option; the boxes would not have survived the surgery.

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Some of the boxes were black, so I sprayed the silver trim gold & then went in with an artist’s brush and some white paint to cover the black/gold-overspray. I do not recommend this if you are in a hurry. It took FOREVER! Lesson learned: spray prime entire surface first, then do gold spray on hardware, then paint. I rushed right in with the gold paint and then the white paint = I needed about 6 coats of fiddly, artist-brush painting to cover the dark lids. Sigh. Learn from my haste, Interwebz.

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For boxes whose lids got a paint job, I covered the bases in one of two fabrics. I just cut a strip of fabric a couple of inches wider than the height of the box and long enough to wrap all the way around. I used a combination of spray adhesive and glue-gun action to adhere the fabric to the boxes. Then I re-attached the newly-gold outer label hardware and ta-da!

Some of the boxes were already white, so I just sprayed the label hardware gold and covered the lids in fabric. Using spray adhesive and hot glue, I pretty much just wrapped the lids like they were presents.
That will never be opened.
Because they are glued shut.

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I found some cute file folders at Target in the $1 bins (woot!)– they are a natural colour and have metallic designs on them, so they look cute with the new accents in the room.  Now to find the time to reorganize our file drawers. (The entire contents of our filing system may have fallen down the stairs in a moving incident during the floor refinishing bonanza…. We may have just shoved the files back in the drawers any old which way because we were tired and highly cranky….)

I also re-jigged the magnetic bulletin board I made a few years back, covering the board with fabric and painting the frame Blackberry Punch (after trying three different versions of gold…). I sprayed the little clothespin magnets gold, too. I sprayed a woven box and a few Ikea tea-light holders gold to keep storage looking pretty and to keep pens, pencils, letter-opener, etc. accessible.

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I invested in new frames for the gallery wall because I wanted white ones and the images in the frames all came out of mis-matched, random frames. I did paint the one on the lower right side, next to the M. I love the way the white frames look so crisp against the dark wall. It makes me happy every time I see it!

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I took a West Elm dip-dye curtain (that I snagged from the sale section for $14!) and, since I wanted a horizontal, rather than a vertical dip, I cut the curtain in half and, using some inexpensive white muslin ($3 a yard), made two curtains with simple rod pockets at the top.

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Finally, I decided to embrace the whole, “colour code your books” trend. This is the cheapest update you can think of: it’s free! You do need to invest some time, but it took me less time than I thought it would. I’m still a bit on the fence about it– sure, it looks great, but I’m not sure I can FIND my books…. My previous system was a “by topic” system, so I could easily find any book at a glance. Now, I have to know what colour the book’s spine is… I’m pretty visual, but I’m still not convinced that this is the most sensible way to file stuff.

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Once my Serena and Lily round rattan rug arrives and I find the perfect ceiling light fixture, the room will be done! Yay!

Darkness & Light

Renovation chaos continues at Delovely HQ– it took me a looong time to find my tablet and stylus in order to do this post and I don’t even want to imagine what will happen the next time I need to find something to wear that is not one of two pairs of (grubby) shorts and one of two (equally grubby) t-shirts….

One of the things we are discovering (#late_to_the_party) is that one renovation project leads to another and, thanks to a profound difference in working styles (I’m more “start one room and finish it before moving to the next,” and he’s more “do all the similar projects at once, even if they are in different rooms”), every single room in our house is both filthy and full of stuff that Does Not Belong There. Think a headboard for my mum in the living room, paint supplies in the dressing room, ALL MY CLOTHES in the basement, all my shoes in storage bins, etc.

What keeps me going is the fact that I may be within striking distance (*spits superstitiously for fear of angering the renovation gods*) of finishing the decor in the office. Which was not on the initial reno list beyond a little project to make desk drawers. Which quickly escalated into new paint, new curtains, new flooring, etc.

Here is the inspiration for the office make-over. I’m hoping I’ll be able to reveal the finished product to you before, oh, say, Christmas….

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1.  Dip-dye curtains, scooped up from the West Elm sale room ($15 each! Woot!)

2. The colour that has captured my heart– Blackberry Punch, by Benjamin Moore. Looks sooo sharp against the creamy white built-ins in our office.

3. Some crisp and preppy fabric that is not too feminine, since our office is shared space and I must refrain from making it too girly.

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4. An area rug to protect our new hardwood floors from the ravages of our office chair’s wheels.

5. A cute print or two to lighten the mood. (I love this one in spite of its punctuation error.)

6. Jumping on the brass hardware/gold accents bandwagon.

 

I have this thing…

…about changing my living room décor to reflect the seasons. It involves “lightening” the accents in the room by removing the ruby-red raw silk drapes and the warm, nubbly linen and raw silk cushion covers and replacing them with more summery fabrics.

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This year, we are embarking on a big renovation and so I did not want to go all the way– dredging out the seashells and starfish to make the living room feel beachy– rather, I wanted a quick fix that would still say summer without all the fuss and muss, as I figure fuss and muss are to be had in spades in the weeks ahead.

I was lucky enough to score a real deal on some curtains from Ikea. They were in the “As-Is” room and were in perfect condition, but had been used in a display, so could not be resold at full price. I scooped them up immediately, despite the fact that they were tab-tops.

Dear Interweb, I really hate tab-top curtains. They don’t function well and they don’t look good.

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I had elaborate plans to get rid of the tabs by cutting them off and then sewing a channel to make a pocket for the curtain rod and then, out of nowhere, it hit me: there was an easier, BETTER way!

So here is what I did:

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I folded the tabs over to the rear of the curtain and pinned them in place.

Next, I machine-stitched each tab in place along the top (now the bottom) of the tab to create the look of pleater tape without the hassle of pleater tape. I threaded the rod through the loops made from the tabs on the rear of each panel and that, my friends, was that.

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The result?
(A bit hard to see in our north-facing living room, I admit.)
For $20 and 20 minutes of work, I have a light, summery linen look that lets my new cushions with their bright persimmon-coloured birds pop.

Rituals

 

I guard my Sundays jealously. Ferociously, really.
I like to start off the week/end the weekend quietly.

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From September to June, my Sundays afternoons are given over to  Girding My Loins.
I mean, Getting Ready For The Week Ahead.
Part of the prep is the ritual of having a restful soak.

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Since we (finally!) finished our bathroom reno last year, I can really indulge.
Something that smells pretty, something that looks pretty , a soothing cuppa and a good read are all part of the ritual.

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Life’s Little Luxuries

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Glossy magazines.

A good ol’ gossip session with a girlfriend.

A satisfying, engrossing (if not overly-literary…) read.

Truly yummy wine.

Snuggles with a cat (or three…).

Time to oneself.

These are life’s little luxuries.
Here is another one: candlelight.
If I had my way (and I often do!), I would light our home solely with candles.

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In the deep, dark depths of our northern winter, I thought I’d bring you some images of  a few of  the candles that keep our house warm & glowing.