Gather No Moss

You know what they say about rolling stones … they sell their big suburban house and move to the city!

We are officially moving to Hintonburg, arguably the hippest neighborhood in Ottawa (I might be biased). The area is amazing; steps away from public transit, the river, a beach, and littered with great shops, restaurants, and craft breweries. The house itself is the perfect size for our nuclear two cat family, needs absolutely no outdoor maintenance, BUT -you’ll like this- is in needs more interior renovation than the house we just sold.

Renovation blog-posts for life!!! 

Okay maybe not. As much as we love DIY, we are going to let the professionals step in on this one. The changes we’d like to make are major and we wont even be living in the place while they are happening.

We are currently interviewing contractors and attempting to get things organised to start as soon as we take possession. Meanwhile, I’m having oodles of fun planning the new space; losing sleep over patterned tiles, aggressively pinning genius ways to store coffee makers, and perpetually on-line shopping for light fixtures.

Here’s what we’ve got so far:
Kitchen PlanThe kitchen is basically a gut-job. It photographs well, but trust me when I tell you that it’s all looking pretty warn. The refrigerator is too large and blocking access to a light switch, so I’d like to replace it with a counter-depth unit that is more size appropriate. At the same time, I want to upgrade the stove for a gas range and go with a hidden dishwasher for a streamlined look. The cabinets, counters, fixtures, and back-splash will also be new.

On the other side of the room, I’d like to remove the wall separating the kitchen from the dinning/living room (please oh please renovations gods, let this be possible) and create a “peninsula” counter with room for a few stools. I’d also like to add a pantry on the back wall, maybe with a small area for a built-in desk. Something like:

Dream Kitchen.jpg
check out my Pinterest for links!

All the work in the living room will be focused on the fireplace wall, which currently looks like:

living room plan

We want to bring some symmetry to it by either removing the recessed shelves, or evening them out with some custom cabinetry. Liam loves the wall-mounted TV so we will be keeping that feature, but the black tiles and blue paint has to go.

We’re toying with idea of adding hardwood to the stairs, re-finishing the floors, and installing pot lights in here too, but it will all depend on cost. My inner-DIY-self is already cringing at the expense.  This doesn’t look cheap:

fireplace wall.jpg
links on my Pinterest page

Thankfully, the master bedroom only needs a little face-lift;

bedroom plan

I can handle most of the work in here, including the immensely fun job of removing the wall paper (oh joy). With an electrician already in the house, we’d like to get him or her to move the wall sconces down a bit. All the baseboards and door casings will be replaced as well, and I will of course paint everything.


The upstairs bathroom is another gut-job. I wont go into too many details because we aren’t even sure the “plan” is possible. The idea is to widen the space by shuffling some walls around and stealing square footage from an adjacent closet. If it is possible, we will be pulling off one heck of a transformation. Here’s an example of those patterned floor tiles I am obsessed with:

Style at Home


Exciting times!




Kitchen Excuses

I’m not sure what excuses can be made for how long it took our kitchen renovation to be done. We started last last November, like not the mostly recently passed November -the November before that, and didn’t finish up completely until only a few weeks ago.

It would have been one thing had we ripped it all out and started from scratch, moved around electrical and plumbing, or torn down a wall or two, but our plans were modest! Over a year to paint, change out the light fixtures, replace the counters and appliances, and lay a new floor right over the old one? Not cool lifestyle blogger, not cool.

before and after 2before and after 1

I mean it looks good, but a year and a half!?!

To be fair, there were unexpected delays. The counter top installation left huge scratches in my painted back splash adding a whole new project of covering it with adhesive tiles. My calculation was off on the tiles so I got half way through the job before realising I needed more, which then took a few weeks to come in.

I fell in love with a fabric and just HAD to have it made into Roman shades even though I had painstakingly cleaned every single panel on the old perfectly good blinds. We were also interrupted by projects like the Basement Makeover, sparked by water damage, and the Backyard Makeover, sparked by nice weather and a desire to be outside.


Mainly though, we simply ran out of steam when all the big work was done and left things like “nail up the trim” and “touch up the paint” on the To-Do List month after month. It IS done however, and only now while putting this post together do I really see what a transformation it has been.

Green rotten counter tops are replaced with grey Wilson Laminate Soapstone purchased and installed by the Home Depot. We upgraded to a square edging so that it would look more like poured concrete. The sink and faucet are from our local Costco and were terrifically affordable buys. I like the black granite sink that is fathoms deeper than the old one, and the high arc faucet is both useful and aesthetically pleasing.

virtual-tour-208535-26The green linoleum floor got a quick coat of primer and then 12″x 24″ Allure vinyl tiles placed over it. I was very pleased with how well the floor project went; the peel-and-stick installation process was a breeze! The tiles being grout-able meant that the resulting floor looks almost like real tile, just much softer and forgiving. I can drop almost anything and it wont break. It is however easier to scratch, so be extremely careful moving heavy things across it (like refrigerators!). Also, don’t slop a bucket of water over it when washing. Water sitting in between the tiles will tend to discolour the grout. Just dry it a titch after washing, or use a steam mop.    virtual-tour-208535-28

To further justify the length of time this project took, I will note that although the changes were limited and easy to implement, the transformation is actually quite dramatic. These craft-like jobs (floor stickers, wall stickers, painting, a little simple wood-working) made a big difference in updating the aesthetic of the space. So a small job with a big impact can take a big-job amount of time … squared. Right?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Time well spent I guess, a lot of time, but well spent.



{Christmas Rush} Guest Bathroom Reno Plans

Just because the Christmas rush isn’t stressful enough (sarcasm) Liam and I have decided to renovate our main bathroom before we host over 30 people to a sit-down dinner on December 24th. The good news is that we had been mentally planning this particular project for a while, so had already stockpiled the materials. Inspired by the beauty (and relative cheapness) of a bamboo counter top, I decided on an earthy wild-child look for the room.


guest bath plans
Shower Curtain / Wall Cabinet / Toilet / Rug / Light / Mirror /  Sink / Bamboo Counter / Art / Slate Tray / Towel Ring / Door Handle

The bad news is that with less than two weeks until Christmas, our bathroom looks like this:

bathroom during candy

Festive! We keep telling ourselves it will be okay because we have a plan. Its pretty simple; just some painting, plumbing, and minor electrical work, nothing complicated … eeek!


So yeah, we have some work to do!


Laundry Room Makeover

Our old chepo washing machine stopped functioning properly about a year ago. It technically still “worked” because it got clothes clean, but we had to manually start the spin cycle. Manually. Every. Damn. Time. Occasionally all it would take was a light push requiring no more effort than giving a kid a twirl on a tire swing, but usually the washer demanded curses, kicks, and a blood sweat and tears sacrifice before spinning the clothes.

I kept my eyes out for a good deal on new appliances and when one came up we jumped on it … I also had a plan ready to completely makeover the room. Once the Mr. and I got everything disconnected and removed, I took advantage of the empty space and painted it a grayish white that immediately made it feel bigger and brighter. The colour is “Swiss White” from Dulux and it took two coats plus a primer to cover that pink, which I think was original to the house. door before and afterThe light fixture got a hit of black spray paint and the drying rack a coat of white, just to freshen them up. We also replaced the doorknob and electrical plates as well as installed a new laundry tub and faucet. The new washing machine not only looks a lot nicer than the old one, but it actually initiates the spin cycle all  by itself!

sink before after

The wooden wall cabinets got painted a creamy white and all the door hardware was replaced. I took my time with this project, first using a spray primer, then an enamel paint applied with foam rollers for a leveled finish. I’m planning a similar treatment for the upstairs bathroom vanity so am super pleased with how well it turned out.


I love my laundry room because of its size and that it is on the main floor (not being noisy beside the bedrooms yet not banished to the basement either), but it is odd not having the machines beside one another. The washer and dryer face each other in the little room leaving gaps between walls that loved to collect household junk. We made the best of the unusual setup by installing a counter over the dryer. It makes the space seem more planed out and built-in, rather than just having an appliance floating in the middle of a wall. It’s also wonderful having a wall-to-wall surface for folding and pre-treating clothes.


This was a surprisingly easy project. We cut an Ikea EKBACKEN (dark oak effect) counter to size with a circular saw, and then supported it slightly off the dryer by screwing 1×2 boards into the studs along the wall. TIP: tape under the cut line before using the saw to prevent the laminate layer from splintering. We achieved a really clean finish and even drilled a hole for the electrical cord to pass through, cunningly camouflaged by a my framed Weekly Cleaning Schedule. The counter is simply sitting on the supports so it can lift right off if there is ever a need to access the back of the dryer. counter

I put a lot of thought into how to keep this utility room organised, luckily Ikea is always full of organisational solutions. A RÅSKOG cart is keeping all those extra bottles and cleaning supplies neat and accessible under the counter and a FINTROP system above the sink houses sponges, rubber gloves, and brushes. I also added wall hooks designated for brooms and dustpans, and tucked the ironing board away behind the door.


All said an done, we only spent $1850 on this makeover, including the two new appliances! Laundry is still a chore but it is certainly nice to have a pretty and well-functioning space to do it in. There is some sort of magic in design that means nice-looking rooms stay clean and tidy much longer than the drab ugly ones. Do we unconsciously work harder to keep a space we like looking the way we like it?

I really like the look of this room.

laundryroom after

Staycation Plans

The Mr. and I are currently on a “staycation”; meaning we are off work but at home. As much as we’d love to spend this time lazing around or playing tourist in our own town, we have far less convivial plans. This week and a half has been set aside to overhaul our neglected and overgrown backyard.

Remember that beautiful, lush, mature yard we inherited when we moved in? Well sometime over the last 3 years everything either rotted, died, or shape-shifted into threateningly large and spiky plants. Lately we have been too busy to cut our grass, let alone hang out on our rotten deck, but as wedding-season summer winds down, we’d like to look forward to having a more welcoming space to spend our precious spare time in. We’re going to reclaim our backyard and create an oasis we will actually enjoy. Here’s the plan;       backyard plan 1

The shed is absolutely infested with rodents and bees, and everything being stored in there is junk anyway. It’s an eyesore and a hazard; I cannot wait to tear it down! Also, the garden is wildly overgrown and needs taming.  Backyard plan 2

Aside from a few rotten boards, I think the deck can actually be salvaged. We will strip it, sand it, stain it, and get some professional help on fixing the steps. I’m keeping an eye out for some sort of structure (gazebo, pergola, etc.) to create shade so sitting on the deck is bearable during the day. We’ll also need a cozy chat set for some comfortable seating.

The garden beds around the BBQ will get torn down and the tiny interlock pad will be ripped up to make room for a larger pea gravel patio. Gravel isn’t our first choice, but is an affordable DIY option that should be easy on the eyes and on barefooted toes! The space under the bay window will no longer be wasted, becoming a designated dinning area.

backyard shopping list
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

The back of the house gets a lot of sun during the day so I’d like to visually cool down the space with blues and purples. We’re shooting for a boho hippy vibe, casual and relaxing … which we are going to need after all the work this is going to be!

Happy Canada Day Bunk Room Reveal

In honour of Canada Day, I am revealing our Canadian themed spare room mini-makeover. Everything in this room had been given to us and didn’t really jive together. Ahead of hosting some American friends, we spruced the space up a bit with some coordinating bed linen and patriotic accessories.  before and after view 1 before after view 2before after view 3

The biggest project in the room was making the DIY canvas art to fill the wall above the single bed. I had the canvas wasting away in the storage room, painted with a past -failed- expression of my artistic ability. Inspired by Katie at, I slapped on some spackle and paint and turned out a pretty decent abstract textured piece that cost next to nothing.

Bunk Room After 011 edit

Also adorning the walls are pictures from the Mr. and my engagement photo shoot. The large frame used to hold a mass-produced print of a lily, I ordered a poster-sized photo from VistaPrint for $30 to replace it.  A smaller print is displayed in a $7 Ikea HAVERDAL frame. We did our e-session at my family’s cottage on White Lake Ontario and nothing is more Canadian than cottage and canoes.wall art

The bedside table got dressed up with a maple-scented candle, a $6 DEKAD alarm clock, and a $10 ceramic carafe with a cute moose imprint which was an unexpected Wal-Mart find. When planning the makeover, I knew I needed to have some rendition of the Canadian flag in the room. This flag tray was only $3 from my local Ikea. It also adds a nice hit of colour.    beside table

On the solid pine dresser I centered a cottagey rope-handle tray displaying a few Canadian tchotchkes. I love trays for grouping small items together while also being functional as catchalls for stuff like guest keys, phones, etc. The branches and Umbra vase I’ve had for years in another room, but they work in here  with the outdoorsy feel.

table scape


Not the most dramatic makeover … my little brother says the Before&Afters look like Spot-the-Difference puzzles … but still an improvement. It’s nice to have a touch of patriotism in the house, today and everyday. Happy Canada Day et Joyeuse Fête du Canada!

Boston Boys {Freshening Up the Bunk Room}

We are preparing for visitors! Three men from Boston whom we have never met, staying with us for three days at the end of June.

No, we have not listed our home on Airbnb (although that is an intriguing idea …), the Boston Boys are groomsmen in my friend’s wedding, and I am a bridesmaid. These guys are traveling all the way from Boston to attend the wedding and spend a few days exploring Canada’s Capital. Rather than stay in some overpriced fancy hotel, they are bunking with us in my convenient three bed spare room.


All the furniture and linens were given to us (lucky us) so we have never paid any attention to decorating this room … the cat seems to like it nonetheless. In honour of our American guests, I’m freshening up the bunk room with a Canadian theme.

With only a busy few weeks between now and the wedding, changes have to be kept minimal. Sadly, there is no time for painting, or changing of electrical outlets or door hardware. Still, there is a lot I could do to make this room more welcoming and put-together. Here’s the plan:

bunk bed plan

The plaid comforters on the bunk beds fit in really well with the pine wood furniture, but the purple on the single bed clashes horribly.  I’ll cover it with the KUSTRUTA duvet cover set from Ikea. So that we aren’t overwhelmed by plaid, I’ll also pick up two grey GURLU cushion covers. I’m in love with the Canadian flag pillow above (from Urban Barn) but $42 seems a little steep. I may cave and get it if I can’t find something similar. I must have some form of Canada flag in the room.

The small lamp on the dresser doesn’t do much to light the space, so I’m adding a HEKTAR wall/clip lamp over the single bed to brighten up the corner. I’d like to tablescape the dresser with random little pieces of Candiana like maple scented candles and a mini Inukshuk. No guest room is complete without an alarm clock (is it my job to make sure the Boston Boys get to the wedding on time?) and the DEKAD fits right in with the heritage feel.

The room is in desperate need of stuff on the walls. Framed pictures from our Engagement Session, shot on an Ontario lake, should work nicely.  I’m also toying with the idea of framing some iconic Canadian wildlife images, but am worried they will come off too kitsch. To fill the giant wall space over the single bed, I’d love to accomplish a project I’ve been planning for a while now; textured art inspired by

I better get started!