Exterior Update

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


If you remember back to this post  I made a list of all the exterior updates I wanted to make on the front of the house. I also joked that I probably wouldn't get around to these updates (or at least showing you) until the end of the summer...and I was so right! I am however pretty impressed with what got done. Let's take a look, shall we?

Yeah! So much less strange Greek isle blue and so much more neutral cottage charm. Let's go over what I did and didn't do:
  • Paint shutters and planter box-CHECK! The shutters are painted a shade darker than the roof colour- Behr Exterior Satin Enamel in Dark Granite and I love it. The planter box is painted the same white as the rest of the house-Sico Exterior Paint in Natural White and I think it allows the bright flowers to really shine- P.S. thanks Mom for helping me pick and plant everything.
  • Paint door fun colour-FAIL! I could not decide on a door colour. I even put up samples but am now debating whether or not a colour will highlight the fact that the door is off center? 
  • Paint over brown brick on side of house-CHECK! I wasn't sure about this one but boy am I glad we painted over it. I don't understand why there was decorative brick on the side of the house in the first place.
  • Remove blue outdoor carpet from stairs and walkway-CHECK! That carpet was gross but it turns out it was hiding a huge crack in our front steps. Now we have another project.
  • Remove awning from side of house and concrete steps-CHECK! and FAIL! It was ridiculous to have an awning over nothing so Chad ripped it down, finally getting rid of the last of the blue. We also painted over the newly filled in door but we didn't remove the concrete steps. I'm not sure now that we will as the expense may not be worth it. Right now the steps lead to the laundry line which would have to be moved.
  • Plastic planters gone-CHECK! That was kind of an easy one.

All in all I think that's pretty good. You'll notice we also changed out the house numbers and light fixture and I brought my indoor citrus tree outside. I also added some additional shrubs and planted flowers for the first time in my life. I'd  also just like to let you know that I officially hate gardening and yard work. This past weekend I was raking leaves (booooo Fall!) and Chad was cleaning out the car and I had to stop and take a moment because it made me feel super old to be spending my weekend doing something so boring. Anyway, there is our exterior progress after year one in our house. Have you tackled any projects around your place? Are you one of those weirdos who likes yard work? Do you have any door colour suggestions for me now that the rest of the house is updated? Do share!

Le Weekend

Friday, August 29, 2014


Hey everyone! It's Friday-yeah! It's also the last Friday of the summer-boooooo! While I'm out enjoying the last few moments of the season (and possibly taking some pictures of our updated exterior- I did say it wouldn't happen before the very end of summer and I'm right on time). Here are a few things from around the internet that I've enjoyed this week:
  1. New to me blog Year of Serendipity chronicles interior designer and house flipper Karen as she wields her own power tools and renovates homes. She's just started on a new one and I can't wait to see what she does. 
  2. Isn't getting ready to go out always the best part? An old standby Into the Gloss, just started a new series called 'After Dark' where they focus "on the going out routines of some of the coolest girls we know, along with whatever makeup and hair they're feeling that night." 
  3. Trick and Tips- Abigail Ahern shares 6 Design Tricks Designers Want to Keep to Themselves- that you can now steal and use.
  4. I love following Stephanie Sabbe on Instagram as she shares sneak peeks of the works she's doing- I mean check out that blue bathroom!
  5. If you haven't been following along with Mandi on her kitchen renovation-you must! Her post on Planning A Budget Kitchen Renovation is one to bookmark.  
  6. Fellow Montrealer, Lake Jane, shares a funny and honest post about being a creative freelancer.
  7. Bijou & Boheme brought these amazing photos to my attention. Jane Long is an Australian photographer who took WWI photos and gave them a little magic in Photoshop.
  8. Another blog I just found this week is The Private Life of a Girl. Sophie is a jewelry maker in the UK who shares all kinds of interesting tidbits like '18 Books for Creatives' which I've already added to my reading list. 
  9. Last but not least, our kitchen was featured on The Kitchn.

Thanks for stopping by and see you in September!

A Trip to Austin

Monday, August 25, 2014


As I mentioned in my last post, I got back at the beginning of last week from a work trip to Austin, Texas and yes I honestly felt like I was going to melt in the 103 degree heat (that's almost 40 degrees celsius for those of us who have no idea about fahrenheit). 

I don't normally talk about my day job here on the blog but it is design related (although I don't design anything personally except maybe powerpoints). It has allowed me to travel to a few pretty interesting places and take part in some pretty interesting events.

This conference had a balloon animal maker stationed outside-bonus points! I also wore inappropriate footwear, as per usual. I had some free time one afternoon and decided to venture to down to South Congress or 'SoCo' shopping district. I'm not sure I would call this area a neighbourhood as it was really more of a single short street (despite it saying it was six blocks) in a high traffic area but it had some really beautiful vintage stores that were styled perfectly as well as what looked like fun restaurants and bars.  

I mean isn't this the cutest guide to vintage stores ever! Take a look the guide online here. My three favourite vintage stores were: Prototype Vintage Design, Feathers Boutique and Uncommon Objects. I also loved Allens Boots which was not vintage but pretty special. I can't believe I managed to not buy anything. I think my new trick is to be too busy taking photos of everything. 
Prototype Vintage Design
This store had a curated selection of colour blocked mod vintage set against a backdrop of white. It felt very swinging sixties in the best possible way.

Feathers Boutique
Wearable vintage with a bohemian vibe. I really loved the decor in this space-California cool with an industrial touch. Artwork and new handmade jewelry for sale also. 

Uncommon Objects
I spent a long time in this store (which as Chad knows means a really long time). There is nothing I love more than a curiosity shop and this place has my favourite delicate combination of jam packed attic mixed with carefully selected and arranged vignettes. It's like digging without all the dust. 

Allens Boots
It's just not Texas without cowboy boots. Allens Boots had some really lovely embroidered boots that I knew I had to step away from..but not before taking a picture!

After that I stopped at Amy's Ice Cream and made the grueling walk to see the Texas State Capital before a much needed swim in the hotel pool.

I wish I'd had more time to see some live music and eat more BBQ but maybe I'll save that for a winter trip. How about you? Have you been to Austin, what did you think? More importantly, have you done any good vintage shopping lately?

Real Estate Room Reno

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hi ya'll! I'm back from a work trip to Austin, Texas. The only place I've ever been where people said 100 degrees wasn't 'that hot'. Austin made up for the melting heat with BBQ and live music though. For your viewing pleasure here is another installment of 'Real Estate Room Reno,' where I re-do a room from a real estate listing that has potential but isn't living up to it.

This real estate listing is exactly the kind of home I'd love to own in Montreal. A beautiful town-home in the hipster neighbourhood of Le Plateau. Yes it needs some work- we all know what  'retained many of its original features often means' but what amazing bones this place has. It's very rare to find such a large space that hasn't already been renovated to be ultra modern. 

A chapter in the history of the Plateau. This Victorian property is situated on a desired tree lined street and has retained many of its original features. A lovely garden terrace makes the most of the outdoor space. Make it your haven and also enjoy a rental income.

Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Year Built: unknown
Asking Price: $742,000

Take a look at some of the interior photos, Chad said it looked like a horror movie set but that's actually what I love about it ( okay I'm weird). 

Look at the molding detail, the fireplaces, the built-ins and all that bad wallpaper! It was really hard for me to not want to decorate all the rooms. Since I've already done two living rooms, I figured I would branch out and redo this formal dining room. I wanted to do something fun, bright and modern to contrast with the dark wood trim and formal Victorian feeling (don't worry wood purists I'm not going to suggest painting it out). I also knew I'd need wallpaper- just not the original wallpaper! Here were some of my inspiration pictures:





Here's the dining room from the listing photo...

The Before

and the dining room after it's been 'Real Estate Room Reno'd':

The After

I absolutely love this room and how it mixes the period elements with vibrant colours and modern furniture. The only non-decor changes I made to the room was to darken the floor (they looked like they needed to be refinished) and paint the moldings and ceiling white. I think the white and black temper the strong hits of lime and fushia and balance a more formal wallpaper and mirror. I can just imagine the late into the night dinner parties in this room. Here is the source list in case you're in the mood for a bold space:
  1. Wallpaper
  2. Mirror
  3. Framed Artwork
  4. Yellow Vase
  5. White Vase
  6. Wall Scones
  7. Chandelier
  8. Rug
  9. Lime Green Chairs
  10. White Eames Chairs
  11. Dining Table
  12. Black Vases

What do you think? Does this help you envision what the room could look like? Do you have a room in your house you'd like help figuring out? Check out my services page so we can start working on creating your very own re-do.

How to Use Flea Market Finds

Monday, August 11, 2014


Last weekend Chad and I borrowed my Dad's convertible (a sure way to lure Chad into participating) and finally made our way to Finnegan's Saturday Flea Market in Hudson, Quebec. It was a beautiful summer day, the town of Hudson could pass for a small New England seaside escape and we were doing what I love to do best-going to a flea market.

While I originally intended to simply show you all the things I looked at and what I bought (despite vowing to only take pictures and not actually bringing any money- I did in fact manage to "borrow" $20 from Chad to buy something) I realized that this would be a good opportunity to share with you what goes through my mind when I'm digging through what many people see as junk. This is the question I get asked the most when I'm shopping with people or when I'm showing someone what I would consider a 'score' and they ask "what the hell are you going to do with that?" 

The biggest mistakes I see people making when decorating is that they simply don't have enough accessories and the ones they have are often boring. It's great to be able to tell a story about an object in your space rather than just 'it's from Ikea' (don't worry I won't quit you Ikea). I know you're scared your house will be overrun with 'tchotchkes' but if you approach accessories like a 'collection' they inject some much needed layers and personality into your home rather than just as objects to collect dust. Now, I am definitely a 'more is more' kind of person but I'm not against minimalism altogether. I am just of the opinion that it has to be done with a few really special pieces and that my friends normally comes at a cost. If you're on a budget, accessories are your best friend (this also applies to clothes but that's a whole other post).

Okay, back to the flea market. First off, let me tell you that it was not a huge market. I think I'm forever spoiled after Brimfield but it wasn't bad and there were quite a few things I could have taken home but I managed to show restraint-surprisingly! I'm not going to give you a general guide to flea market or antique shopping because there have been quite few good ones I've read lately and overall it's just common sense: come early, bring cash, sunscreen and water and don't be afraid of something that can be easily changed if it has good bones. It also helps to have an idea of what you're looking for and try and focus on that and not get distracted. I haven't mastered that one yet. Now let's dive in and take a look at several pieces I wanted to buy and how I envisioned them in a decorated space.

At the Flea Market: Vintage Glass Bottles

When you look at this picture, what do you see? A bunch of old bottles. It's exactly things like this that can start a collection. Group a selection of bottles together on a mantle, shelf or table - alone or filled with flowers.

In Your Home:

Clockwise from Top Left: 1, 2, 3, 4 (unknown)
At the Flea Market: Brass Candlesticks and Vases

This is not your Grandmother's brass. Vases and candlestick holder have been popping up for sale in stores like Crate & Barrel but why pay for that when you can score a deal on second hand? (I even threw in a picture of how I styled my bar cart with a vintage brass vase I got at Goodwill).

In Your Home: 
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
At The Flea Market: Chinoiserie Panel

Again, maybe you're thinking that this looks 'Grandma' but Grandma is back in! Actually Chinoiserie has never gone out of style but it has made a comeback -I've seen it featured in Elle Decor and in the bedroom of my favourite decorator Orlando Soria. 

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2 (unknown source) , 3, 4
At the Flea Market: Industrial Pendant

Industrial pendant lights are still created today for a reason! There is nothing better than bringing a touch of patina to your modern kitchen or dining room with a piece like this.

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top: 1, 2, 3
At the Flea Market: Ladders

While you may think, "I don't need a ladder Sarah, I live in an apartment," you are wrong! You aren't going to use it as a ladder. You are going to use it as a holder for your collection of: blankets, fabric, magazines, towels etc. You're welcome.

In Your Home: 
Clockwise from top right: 1, 2, 3, 4
At the Flea Market: West German Pottery

To some people, West German pottery screams '70s' but to those people I say, "the 70s were awesome and this pottery is beautiful!" These are the kind of ceramics that look handmade and hand glazed. This is how you bring in interest.It doesn't just have to be a compliment to mid century modern design. Like I said above, there is something to be said for the juxtaposition of old and new, rough and old vs. sleek and modern. 

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (source unknown)

At the Flea Market:Vintage Portraits

I'm aware I won't be able to convince everyone that vintage portraits are amazing (yes even you horse portrait!) Art isn't cheap, especially original art so a vintage painting not only saves you money but is also a conversation piece. The key is to use them in a modern way and mix them with modern pieces- i.e. if you have a very  formal/traditional room don't use vintage art. I'm going to repeat this again, but it's that contrast between old and new that breathes life into a room. 

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top left via: 1, 2, 3, 4
At the Flea Market: Vintage Pyrex

Vintage Pyrex is a collector's item so it's not super cheap but it adds a great bit of colour in an otherwise boring kitchen. It took everything I had not to buy those cute little polka dot bowls.

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3
At the Flea Market: Depression Glass

Depression Glass is also a collector's item and I can see why, it's delicate and feminine and to me it just screams- tea time or girl's brunch or baby shower. These could be the kind of pieces you mix in with your everyday dinnerware or display to bring a subtle amount of colour to a space.

In Your Home:
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3
At the Flea Market: Ironing Board

This is probably another item where you're going to tell me that you don't need an old ironing board. You are probably happy with your ironing board or like me you hate ironing so have a streamer. Again, I'll tell you that you will not use this to iron. This will be a console table or a book shelf or a plant holder. 

In Your Home: 
Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
What do you think? Was this helpful for you next antiquing trip? Let's recap what we learnt:
  • Home accessories are like just like fashion accessories. They can take completely elevate the look of a space (or dress) and are an absolutely necessary way to add interest. 
  • It's all about the juxtaposition! Old and new, rough and sleek...you get the idea.
  • Build a collection of objects to pair together for maximum impact. The flea market is a great place to start because it doesn't have to be expensive to get quality, interesting pieces. 
  • You don't have to use things for their intended purpose, keep an open mind!
  • I can't NOT buy anything at a flea market - just not possible...

Would you like to see what I ended up getting? I was sneaky and didn't mention it in the earlier picture but these turquoise metal tins were too good to pass up at $5 a piece. Not only can I store baking supplies in them but they add more of that all important colour and contrast in my modern kitchen.

Here's what I didn't buy at the flea market but what also makes it so fun. What the hell is this and did anyone actually buy this when it was mass-produced? Just what you need, something to make coffee with while you're driving.

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