Beachside Apartment Makeover II

Monday, April 20, 2015

When we last checked in on our Beachside Apartment Makeover I promised a mood board, furniture layout and a source list...well it took some time but I think it was worth it. Just in case you missed it, the first post HERE outlined what we were working with: a bare bones apartment near the ocean in San Diego that was off to a great start but just needed some cozy-ing up. Here was the living/dining room before:

Of course I couldn't just do one option, not with all the great online resources those of you in the US have. Here are two options so my lucky beachside couple can pick the one they think will best fit them.

OPTION ONE: Boho Surf Meets Mid-Century Modern

In this option I added all the important finishing pieces: a rug, drapes, pillows, artwork and accessories for what I'm calling a laid-back boho surf meets mid-century modern room. I found this amazing rug on ebay and used it to pull out all the colours in the room. I added some additional furniture pieces for storage and for seating and of course used her stunning beach photos for personal, completely on-trend, artwork. I've mentioned it before but it's super important to hang your artwork at the right height. You'll notice in the before pictures that the art is a bit small and hung too high for the space.

I've also gone ahead and added a mantle surround for the fireplace. Now, this isn't something they have to do-especially since it's a rental, but for a few hundred dollars (or even cheaper if you can find an antique or second-hand one) you completely transform all that orange brick and give yourself additional display space.

OPTION TWO: The New Coastal Casual

As in Option One this moodboard is all about the key finishing touches. This time I went with a more neutral rug and then let the drapes and cushions add the pattern and interest. This feels fresh and modern and layered but not overwhelming. The rug and drapes were a steal from Target (R.I.P. Target Canada) and then the chair was a splurge.

With both these options, the moodboard can be a starting point for the style of the room and then certain pieces can be swapped out for vintages or second hand ones. This couple mentioned they wanted to try and shop some of the room at antique stores or flea markets and it is totally possible. Here are my suggestions for things to look for:

  • Chairs- it's easy to find great mid-century modern chairs that may need to be recovered but have great bones. Reupholstering isn't cheap but you'll have a solid chair in exactly the fabric/colour you want for potentially less then new
  • Sideboards and Dressers-the small cabinet and media console above are from Ikea and Westelm but could easily be sourced vintage or second-hand. A less then perfect piece can easily be painted and will almost always be less money and better quality then new.
  • Books and vases-load up on accessories at flea markets. A pile of books can be used as a stand to display items or used on it's own to fill shelves or tabletops.
  • I've found it hard to get the right size rug vintage or second hand but Oriental or Persian rugs are often cheaper on ebay or craigslist so keep an eye out.
Drapes, lamps, throws, sidetables, pillows- I've always had better luck buying new or handmade on sites like Etsy. 

FLOORPLAN: When you receive an e-design I always include a floorplan so you get a sense of exactly where everything should go.

SOURCE LIST: This is pretty straight forward. If you decide not to go the vintage/second-hand route I have a list of everything you need to make your room look just like the moodboard.

So what do you think? Which option would you go with-Boho Surf Meets Mid-Century Modern or The New Coastal Casual? I can't wait to see what they pick and if there is anything they want to change I'm always happy to do one free revision. If you're interested in getting your own e-design done send me an email here and we can get started right away.

Bland be Gone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


When Chairish contacted me and asked if I wanted to take part in an activity that would require me to browse through their site (which I already do), pick whatever I wanted (which I wish I could do) and then create a style board (which I love doing) that highlights bright,bold colour- of course I said yes!

If you don't know what Chairish is then you're either one of those lucky people who gets to jet around the world and frequent antique markets all day (and I hate you) or you're someone who has hours and hours to search through Craigslist and doesn't mind dealing with the hassle of picking things up from sketchy locations and questionable people. If you haven't browsed through Chairish's curator approved, online market for vintage and used furniture then you are about to get lost down an amazing rabbit hole of goodness-thanks internet!

I was asked to pick from a selection of vintage rugs and then design a room around that rug. I picked the brightest and most colourful one.

I know what you're thinking, because it's also what my Mom said when she first saw it, "ummmm... well, that's interesting. It looks like a rug for a kindergarten class." 

To me it immediately had the potential to be the centerpiece of a vibrant, jewel toned room that was part Mid-Century Modern, part 70's glam and anything but juvenile. 

I loved how this room came out! What do you think? Could you be convinced to walk away from a boring, bland neutral room into a jewel box of a space like this? It just feels so happy to me. I'm very tempted to get rid of all our furniture in the move and just buy everything on my Chairish pinterest board (don't read this part Chad). 

I pulled all the colours in the room from the rug, added just enough white accessories to not overwhelm the space and refrained from using any pattern apart from that amazing grasscloth wallpaper- also found on Chairish! If you're not quite ready to leap into the deep-end of colour, why not take a few small steps and try one colourful piece like a rug and then keep all the other pieces neutral? Or pick a bright couch and then keep the rug neutral? I know you've often heard the rule about keeping larger pieces neutral but sometimes that's just boring. Look at how many colour combinations you could pull from this rug or even from the couch. 

Everything I used in the room was sourced from Chairish. Here are links to all the individual pieces (please buy them before I do):

Gene Meyer Multicolor Triangular Rug
Schumacher Waiyevu Grasscloth Wallpaper

Nicolette Quilted Sofa

Cylindrical Hand Embroidered Pillow

Solid Elm Turquoise Asian Bench

Orange Slice Serving Tray

1960's Saarinen Armless Executive Chair

Large Oval Cobalt Blue Vase

Danish Modern Lounge Chair by Nanna Ditzel

Round Rattan Cubes

Mid-Century Teak Tea or Bar Cart

Vintage Framed Tiger Needlepoint

Vintage Italian 1950 Blue Vetro Opalina

Lana Lucite & Chrome Console Table

Mid-Century Hexagonal Glass Lamps

Puces De Vanves by Artist Hardie Cobbs

Geometric Cut Out Wood Wall Sculpture

Geometric Cut Out Wood Wall Sculpture II

Saarinen Tulip End Tables

Lacquered Vintage Bassett Triple Dresser

Orange Leather Mirror

Interlocking Rings Sculpture
Since you made it to the end, let's just take one last look at my new favourite room. Thank you to Chairish for letting me play around in their amazing site, have a great weekend and I'll be back with the second part of the beachside apartment makeover next week.

Beachside Apartment Makeover

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


A former colleague and friend was lucky enough to move from Montreal to San Diego. I'm always super jealous of her Instagram pictures of sand, sun and what looks like killer Mexican food, especially right about now! She wrote me a long time ago (sorry friend!) and asked if I could help her out with the finishing touches on her apartment. Of course I said yes but with the caveat that I could share the process on the blog. So let's follow along with the entire process from her first email to my inspiration and design process. Here is what she had to say initially:

Okay so here are the pictures of my apartment as it stands. The truth is, this whole building and many other buildings in this area have such a motel feel. I am not sure if its because the beach is close by but in any case it is off topic!

As you can see, the apartment is pretty bare bones. Mostly it was for financial reasons but also my husband and I have a hard time agreeing on anything!!! I had bought these chairs and we couldn't agree on a table. After buying two tables and returning them we agreed on this one! Everything else was similarly chosen haphazardly merely because we agreed finally on something. For that reason, I feel like things don't necessarily go together and I need to tie them all in with decor (lamps, cushions, rug, mirror etc). We are having a hard time agreeing even on a color scheme so maybe you can start there!

I know that in the living room, we need a side table next to the couch with additional lighting. I also know that we need something under the tv to put his little box on and hide those wires. What do you think should go there?

Again, a wires problem, next to the dining table, I need maybe a table/console to put the plant on and to hide all those crazy gadgets and wires that just drive me crazy. Maybe we also need shelves..

Besides furniture, I was thinking a round mirror on top of the fireplace (thoughts?) I HATE the carpet in here...what can I do to make it less carpety? I also hate these blinds. Should I put curtains up in the living room and take down those blinds?

We have a West Elm in San Diego, Ikea, Target, World Market etc. but I can also order online. If you send me ideas I can also check out the flea market. 

HELP!!!! I don't feel cozy in our place!!

Firstly, I think she's done an amazing job in terms of getting some great larger pieces. I think they definitely have a style that reads very mid-century modern to me. Her ideas of what she needs are also spot on. Here is what I think we need to work on: 

  • A few more accent furniture pieces like she mentioned-tables, lamps, shelves, mirror
  • Some pieces to add layers, colours, texture and personality-area rug, original artwork, curtains, pillows

I find a lot of people want a cozy room but don't necessarily know what goes into getting that feeling. It's the layers of things in a room, like area rugs, blankets, pillows, curtains, artwork and decorative objects that take a room from motel-like to cozy. 

I usually like to start off a decor plan with a search for inspiration for the final space. With this space, I immediately thought of all the beautiful Instagram beach photos she takes that make me so jealous. The mass produced art above the sofa isn't screaming "we're a cool mid-century modern couple who live by the beach so feel free to hate us." Why not use your own photos to inject some personality and originality into a room? 

Any combination of two or three of these photos blown up and framed inexpensively would look great over the sofa. I also often like to start a specific Pinterest board and search for inspiration from other rooms. 

A little tip for you, don't search coastal or beach house if you don't want a whole lot of rope mirrors and seashells! That was not where I envisioned this room going. I was thinking more along the lines of this:

via Top Left to Right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

From that I have a pretty good idea of the kind of mood board I'll start working on. To recap:

I'll look for pieces to bring in a cool blue colour palette to reflect the ocean inside, pull in some warm wood tones to offset the cool blue and crisp white, add in lots of layers and original artwork. Time to go get started on sourcing some possible options. I can't wait to use all the amazing online resources not available to us Canadians. Next time I'll show you all my sourcing options, get some feedback from our cool mid-century we live by the beach couple and give you a peak at the moodboard.

Welcome back!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hi everyone, or hi to my Mom really! I'm not sure if anyone has stuck around to read this after my extremely long pause. I was initially planning on taking a break while I went on vacation to Costa Rica at Christmas (which was amazing by the way-maybe I'll write another whole post about it and get my lovely sister to send me some photos) but then with listing the house, moving myself, my clothes and the cats to Ottawa plus starting a new job- this little blog fell to the wayside. So....I'm going to attempt to ease back into this slowly. 

In early December, we had our house featured on Houzz Tours! Houzz contributor, Laura Garner was truly amazing and I love the photos she took and the fact that she put up will my kitten following her around and attacking her. 

For a look at the whole tour and to read my interview take a look here: A DIY 1950s Cottage Reno.

It's a bit sad to look back at the house now and see how far it came especially now that I don't get to live in it anymore! We're hoping someone else will get to enjoy all the hard work we put into it. If you know anyone who'd love to own our cute cottage check out the listing here.

So that's me dipping my foot back in. I promise I'll start posting regularly again and I have some fun ideas in store. A friend asked me a long while back to help her add the finishing touches to her beach side apartment and I'm going to take you along for the process-so stay tuned and happy Friday!

Christmas Decoration

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


After all my talk of Christmas decoration and themes, it took me a while to get around to actually photographing our house. I swear it's not just me wanting to sit in our living room with the Christmas lights on drinking bourbon (okay part of it is that) but it's really been a busy few weeks around here. At the beginning of this week I got the news that I've been offered a dream job in Ottawa. So folks, this means we're going to be moving! This also means this will be the first and last Christmas I decorate this little house and it's kind of bittersweet. I'm not sure how long it will be until we sell this house but in the future it means there may be a new renovation on the horizon. So I hope you don't mind if I get nostalgic and overload you with pictures. Let's take a look a my original Christmas theme and how it turned out. 

BannerWreathTreeRibbonBlack OrnamentsOwl OrnamentsPompom GarlandLeaf GarlandDiamond OrnamentsMetallic OrnamentsBottle Brush Trees (other images-doily snowflakes [source unknown]/presents and gift tags/ branch and star)

I reused the branch I spray painted for Halloween and instead of hanging skulls (not very Christmas-y) I added clear snowflake ornaments I picked up a few years ago at the Dollar Store.

The gold glitter garland was from Target, as were the brush bottle trees and some of the Christmas tree ornaments. The lights on the bingo sign were from Ikea (old). We bought our black Christmas tree a few years ago at Canadian Tire.

I changed up a few throw pillows with something more festive from Target and created a centerpiece from a vintage cloche, leftover ornaments and a wreath and wire lights from HomeSense.

Here's Billy the Kitten (who's not so much a kitten anymore) testing out the merchandise.

Again, some Target trees, older Ikea snowflake lights and a new lamp (also from Target).

I reused another Halloween accessory in this black wreath. By taking off all the orange berries and replacing them with a few ornaments, I think it ties in quite nicely to my B&W + Metallic theme.

My old colourful vintage inspired metallic ornaments got a new home on this small tinsel tree and I used up the last of the ribbon and ornaments hanging on the chandelier. 

Since I've always wanted a banister to decorate but was afraid the cats would go crazy for real tree garland. Instead,  I used up some more leftover Halloween decorative burlap to wrap the stairs. I added some Martha Stewart battery powered lights and a few ornaments and the entryway is now ready for Christmas. 

Are you all ready for Christmas? I can't believe it's two weeks away! I don't know about you but I'm ready to relax and get back to bourbon drinking in the twinkling glow.

P.S. Anyone in the Montreal area who is interested in our house, or knows someone who may be, please feel free to contact me here.

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