That fancy telephone

Remember the fancy telephone I noticed on craigslist the other day (for $25)?  I had to laugh out loud when I saw this on Pinterest tonight - it's from a Design*Sponge house tour:
Ah the magic of lighting and editing.  And now I need the phone.

Golden table inspiration

I saw this awesome table on an Etsy email today and just loved the soft gold against the worn wood in place of the usual chrome or black.  So I thought I would throw together a cozy little imaginary space.  I love virtual shopping.

Now, tea or pinot grigio?

Craig's List Roundup

I haven't done a craigslist post in a while, so I thought I would take a quick peek at what was there this morning.  There are a couple of cool finds, but nothing that made me drool, and there is a much junk that is so overpriced on there!  But these few items caught my eye, including the pretty pine dining room table above.
These could make nice accent chairs, or dining room table chairs, especially if you painted them a fun colour (or black would be nice).  And at $30 each, they are a pretty good deal.
This looks like a nice corner curio cabinet - I love corner cabinets because they make such good use of an awkward space.  Luckily we only really have one corner in our place!  At $275 this is a pretty good deal too.

Value Village art: feedback required.

While dashing through Value Village on Tuesday, I was stopped in my tracks by the large framed art section.  Someone with a lot of art must have done a clean sweep, there were lots of big huge works on the floor.  I was intrigued by this one, I think because of the watercolour brush strokes and artistic lettering.  Plus it is beautifully framed - this guys is heavy.  So for $15 it came home with me.  But do I love it?  It is too 70's?  Should I remove the brown matting? It is hung too low, but I thought it might work well in the bedroom with the colours in the rug.  (There is no big picture because there was more mess in there than I was willing to clean up!)
I think I like the big horizontal shape better over the bed, but maybe there is a place for this somewhere? Or should I leave it here (but hang it properly)?  Help!

Weston & Burtynsky on Ill Seen, Ill Said

Things are sort of crazy busy around here lately, leaving not a lot of blogging time or fabulous post-writing.  However, Jane at Ill Seen, Ill Said is on fire, and I want to send you over to see her brilliant post comparing Prof Richard Weston's silk scarves made with extreme close-ups of minerals and crystals and Edward Burtynsky's massive industrial landscapes.  I love love love Burtynsky's photographs, and Jane's comparison has made me see them in an entirely new light.
2a. Weston Scarves Turquoise Agate Print Silk Scarf from Liberty of London
2b. Mines #17 - Lornex Open Pit Copper Mine. Highland Valley, British Columbia 1985 by Edward Burtynsky

3a. Weston Scarves Abalone Shell Print Silk Scarf from Liberty of London
3b. Oil Spill #4, Oil Skimming Boat, Near Ground Zero, Gulf of Mexico, June 24, 2010 by Edward Burtynsky

See the rest of her amazing juxtapositions on Ill Seen, Ill Said.

Maine cottage inspiration exercise

After posting about this beautiful cottage in Maine the other day, I started trying to identify for myself what exactly it was about it that so appealed to me.  I go through this exercise every now and then (usually during a pause after a flurry of pinning) to try to articulate the elements of the design and decor that I would like to emulate in my home.  There are many, many things to love about it this place - which would I like to try to bring in to my decor and which would I like to modify for something more 'me'?  

For example, I do really love the easy, uninterrupted flow of white.  I feel like it unified the space in a very free way - anything goes with white, right?  I find I really crave the reflective brightness that a white canvas provides.  It's like a calm mind. (Or so I would imagine... don't they stick you in white padded rooms?)

I love the french linen slipcovers, but I need furniture I can snuggle in to - especially by the wood stove.  I like the lines and look of the two occasional chairs in the inspiration photos, but they don't want to make me curl up with a cup of tea. (I'd be upstairs on that bed, staring at that incredible view and daydreaming, thankyouverymuch.)  

I managed to jot down a few elements that I would like to keep in mind for my place, and I thought I would share in case you also fell in love with this style.  Please add any others you found in the comments!

Then I went over to one of my many dealers of online crack, Olioboard, to take a stab at putting something together myself.  I love that you can play around endlessly in this programme, and add in things you find online when they don't have what you are looking for in their library of images.  It always makes for an approximate rendition of a room - a very rough sketch based on what they have in their database - but I think the exercise of pulling in some elements and removing others is really instructive.

But what about actually hauling out the wallet and trying to recreate it IRL*?  Where do you start, what do you look for? Thank heavens for online shopping - these lovelies should be on their way to my front door as we speak.  (I wish.)

Here are a few things that jumped out at me:
1. Nautical Chart for Blue Hill Bay Maine ca. 1950's ($20 on eBay) - beautiful on the wall, useful when in a boat in Blue Hill Bay, and only 20 bones - what more could you ask for?
2. Ektorp Ikea sofa ($599) with Bemz Rosendal Pure Washed Linen cover ($669) - I love this line of casual linen covers that Bemz does, and this is seating a could really sink into (I should know, I am currently glued in one, but sadly not with that cover.)
3. White Kelly Chair ($99 at Elte) - such a pretty chair that looks so light and unobtrusive in the white colour, with an antique feel in the caned seat and bent wood frame.
4. Knox Lanterns ($48 - $100 at Crate & Barrel) - these look so East Coast, and they would bring in some darker colour without looking out of place.  Plus, this place just screams for candle light!
5. Handcrafted Red Oak Flooring (Real or Engineered Hardwood from Mirage Floors) - hardwood is a must, I like the beachy feel of this treatment.
6. Modern Weave Round Basket ($15 at West Elm) - baskets provide more natural textures and help contain clutter and messes that would otherwise diminish the space.
7. Lavato Ungaretti coverlet ($453 for Queen size blanket at Au Lit Fine Linens) - if I am imaginary shopping, I might as well indulge a little!  Quilted coverlets again have a bit of visual texture, a kind of antique/timeless feel, and will keep out the chill on those windy Maine nights.
8. Boston Functional Library Light ($465 at Elte) - I like the zap, the ping, the snap of the darker wall sconces. (I am trying to avoid the word pop, is it working?).  Again the modern yet industrial yet antique look is perfect.  (Can something look modern and antique? I have to go to bed...)

So now I know what to put on my shopping list (kind of want that chart), and maybe which things to take down and put away for a future decor whim.  Do you guys ever do exercises like this?  Or do I need to join some sort of support group...  I have so many.... it would be hard to schedule another.

*That means 'In Real Life' Mom.  Cool people like me say it all the time.

Dreamiest Dream House: Cottage in Maine

Based on the number of times I have seen the above image on Pinterest, I am sure many of you have already seen this gorgeous cottage in Maine featured on Remodelista, but I love it SOOOOO much I have to post it for you.  Honestly, I know I say this a lot, but this might be the most perfect house I have ever seen.  :)

The house sits right on Martinsville Bay in Maine - so close to the shore, in fact, that the first order of business was ensuring that the high tides stopped flooding the basement.  It was originally a general store, later converted into a home in the 1930's.  The current owners, Fiona and Tony Hooper, were given a copy of the diaries of the two ladies who lived there for so long by their realtor - how neat is that?

The architect Sheila Narusawa overhauled the interior, and I especially love the white ship lap that runs throughout everything.  Her niece Justine Hand took these bright and airy photographs, and wrote the most beautiful post about her experience at the cottage and its history on her lovely blog designskool.  (Her blog is absolutely perfect - you should really go take a look!)

The windows, the view, the white, the ship lap, the lights, the KITCHEN, the bedroom.... I could go on and on and on....  This is OFFICIALLY my dream home.

The dresser project: let there be light!

I am happy to report that one item on my project list has been checked off.  The new school year filled me with energy and enthusiasm, and one day I found a drop cloth, took out the drawers on my big dark dresser/toy cabinet, and got busy.  No time like the present, right?  I sanded it all down with my rotary sander and by hand, and removed the hardware.  There was a LOT of hardware.  Each drawer actually had four separate pieces, and they were screwed and nailed down.  This thing was built to last!
I then primed it with STIX Bonding Primer, using a 2-inch angled brush and a "velvet nap" mini roller. I wasn't messing around.

My biggest hurdle was choosing the colour - I am not what they call "decisive."  I got so many great suggestions from you guys and on Twitter, and really dithered about this.  My poor Para colour deck got quite a workout.  Finally, I went with my gut and chose a creamy white - Desert Sand to be exact.  I dug out my coupon for a free gallon of Para Ultra paint that I got at Blog Podium (thank you Para and Blog Podium!) and headed to the local paint store in the Junction.  I have to say, I normally just whip up to Home Depot and choose the cheapest paint I can get.  Having this certificate forced me to find a Para paint distributor, which happily was West Toronto Paint.  I had the best service, loved supporting a local store, and don't think I will be going anywhere else for paint any time soon!  They gave me great advice on how to go about it: many thin coats ("as thin as you can get") with a light sanding in between.  This is quite a departure from my usual glob it on thick to avoid too many coats.  And sanding in between? Yeah, right. 
This new-found high standard approach made for a lovely smooth finish, and many many days of chaos.  Also, I became a little obsessive about it, constantly feeling for any drips, bumps, or nicks.  Did I mention this baby is seven feet long and has nine drawers??
So you can imagine my dismay when I put it all back together and the doors in the centre wouldn't close.  I took them off again and laboriously scrapped off all my meticulously-applied paint from behind the hinges, and on the doors.  I have managed to jam them together, but can't quite figure out why they won't close.  My mum suggested that maybe the moisture from the paint swelled the wood itself?  Argh.  Double Argh.

Whatever - moving on.  Maybe I will eventually plane them and repaint. (As if...)  I put the half the hardware back on, after polishing it all up.  The original drawer face configuration just seemed too heavy on the lighter background.  Plus, I didn't want to cover up all my hard work!  I also left the three middle drawers (behind the doors) as they were.  Call it strategic, call it laziness.  I like it.

The result pretty much rocks my world.  SO much brighter and lighter in there!  You may have noticed I also moved the dark brown sofa from there and switched it out with the little blue one.  I am thinking of adding another project to the list - recover the blue sofa!  I do like the smaller size and lower back as it also helps open the place up.  So there you have it.  Dresser = Done. You like?

PS. Can you spot Cam in the after photo?  :D
PPS. All the lovely arrows I had so much fun using in Photoshop were a free download from the ever-amazing Ez at Creature Comforts.

Camp style in lieu of project reveal

I was pretty excited to finish the dresser project, put the toys away, and re-set up my living room once again.  Most of this happened, but when it came to taking some photos, I was unhappily sidetracked when I dropped a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen while making dinner.  This baby shattered - I am pretty sure I witnessed a re-enactment of the Big Bang on my kitchen floor... but with oil instead of... whatever the universe is made of... Anyway, I spent over an hour cleaning up and searching on my hands and knees for the teeny shards of glass that are almost invisible but cause inordinate amounts of pain when they end up in your foot.  I was amazed at how far from the crash zone I found the little fragments.

OK wait, don't leave, I promise I will stop talking about olive oil disasters.  Instead I will distract you with this awesome photo of the attic bedroom in a lake house in New Hampshire.  There are so many things I like about it, first and formost the general camp/cottage/cabin* feel to it.  I love the bare joists on the walls, the plywood floor, the mattresses on the floor, the old wool blankets, the maps pinned on the wall.  I love that it was styled with a guitar on the bed and a tray and thermos on the floor.  I immediately can imagine it being a quiet refuge from the world and whatever craziness is happening in the kitchen below (which may or may not involve olive oil).  A dreamy retreat where songs are composed, poems written, and naps taken.  Or perhaps a kids-only zone where secrets are whispered and photos of cute boys are passed back and forth...

What do you think - does this look hold the same romanticism for you, or do you see spider webs, splinters and mildew?

*I read such an interesting article in the Globe about whether it is called a cottage, a camp, or a cabin.  Apparently it depends on what part of Canada you live in.  New Brunswick and Northwestern Ontario say camp, Southern Ontario says cottage, Newfoundland and Victoria BC say cabin.

Photo from Country Living - the rest of the rooms are also amazing.

An Autumn Weekend

This weekend definitely felt like fall.  For the first time in ages I was actually cold when I went to sleep!  We were supposed to go camping but bailed when the boys were up all night with miserable colds and Saturday morning it was pouring buckets of rain.  Oh, and did I mention it would be the boys' first camping trip ever?  Probably better to stay home and work on my list of project, wouldn't you say?

I am almost finished painting the dresser - I have tried to do it well, not just quickly (which is my usual painting method-of-choice) and have been at it for 5 days.  I am on my sixth super thin coat, with sanding in between each layer and a day for each to dry.  I suppose five days isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but when the piece of furniture in question is used for housing thousands of toys, and said toys are now randomly piled and scatted all over the first floor, and the piece has nine drawers and two doors that are also strewn about the same area, and half of your living room furniture are under a painting drop cloth.... five days is a loooong time.  I am hoping that tomorrow I can put it all together again, put the toys away, take some photos, and restore a tiny piece of my sanity.

Then on to something else, which I have decided should definitely have beautiful fall colours like the ones in the bouquet above.  Isn't it incredible?  The gold service is not-too-shabby either...

Photo from Honey of a Thousand Flowers - one of the best floral eye candy sites out there.
Arrangement is by Sarah Winward, photography by Green Apple Photography

Princess Margaret Welcome Home Sweepstakes sneak peek

Last night I had the pleasure of visiting my future home in Oakville.  I know, I never thought I would move to Oakville either, but when I saw this lovely home designed by Lynda Reeves, I was suddenly won over by suburban life.  The funny thing is, I have never actually met Lynda, but she clearly designed the place with me in mind.  The earthy neutrals, marble kitchen, linen drapes, and ethnic-inspired accessories were all right up my alley.  The way she and her design team combined them with those large black modern doors and windows, the sleek floor-to-ceiling patio doors that fold open onto the terrace, and the exquisite landscaping clearly reflected my love of combining modern and well-worn aesthetics.  I love that she gave me an AGA stove, although I have absolutely no idea how I will whip up my mac and cheese on it... No detail was overlooked in this place, and I really appreciate it Lynda.
You can go ahead and buy a ticket for the lottery if you want - in fact you really should, because it is in support of the amazing Princess Margaret Hospital - but I am pretty sure I have this one all sewn up.  I made sure to rub Renee's arm raw.  She is an amazing good luck charm (just ask Aleksandra below, who won the massive 3D HD LG flatscreen tv just by standing next to her).

My horrible iPhone pics don't really do it justice, believe it or not.  You can find out more about my home HERE, including the names of all the amazing suppliers who provided materials for the house pro bono and the design team that met needs I didn't even know I HAD until now (sadly, there is no going back...).  There is a virtual tour online, but I really recommend going out to see it yourself.  I mean, of course I'll have a house-warming party, but you should probably check it out sober too.

Thanks so much to the lovely folks at House & Home for the good time and blogger reunion.  And the ride home - that was awesome too. :)

So much more...

This print immediately made me think of my last month in New Brunswick with my family.  I had it all.  I am a lucky lucky girl. xo

Print available at The Love Shop.  Seen on Life as an Artistpreneur.