Christmas Gift Guides

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Now that we're all in the Christmas spirit, have our Christmas themes and places decorated (I promise to have some pictures next week) let's dive right into gift guides. I decided to let Chad give you guys a round-up of the best Christmas gifts for the men in your life. This means this is a guide to the things Chad already has because he likes to "treat himself" and is therefore notoriously hard to buy for. On the plus side this means that these already have the 'Chad seal of approval' so you know they are going to be loved. Okay, take it away Chad:

Sarah thinks I have some kind of special insight as to what men want for Christmas. I don’t. So instead I’m pretty much gonna just write about stuff that I already have and like or stuff that I would like for Christmas. Maybe your dude likes some of the same stuff? Maybe.

Chances are your guy has dabbled in guitar in his life. Seriously, any group of 5 or more guys has someone who can stumble his way through a few Nirvana or Red Hot Chili Peppers songs.

  1. I just recently starting getting back into playing guitar after taking a 5 year break. I can’t believe how cheap guitars and guitar accessories have gotten. Check this guitar out. Can you believe it? $159 for a pretty awesome looking electric guitar. Plus if you’re American it’s free shipping! If you’re Canadian you might be thinking, “But Chad, these guitars don’t ship to Canada. This tip is useless!” To which I reply, “Nay, nay. If you’re one of the 90% of Canadians who live within 100 miles of the border (or whatever) you can use the services of a US package receiving company. For a very small fee, a company like Kinek will give you a US address that you can ship stuff to. Then just cross the border and pick it up. Problem solved!” If you are European or otherwise not in North America, I sympathise. These Americans are totally spoiled with all the good prices on stuff.
  2. Then, if you get him a guitar, he’s gonna need an amp. How else is your mid-20s to early-30s dude going to start a garage band with his stupid drunken friends without one? The absolute best deal is on at Monoprice right now. They have actual 5-watt tube amps for $124 (plus shipping). This is a phenomenal price for a tube amp. I was looking into buying parts to build a tube amp and parts alone came to over $300. I don’t know how they do it and I don’t care. I want one. If you don’t know anything about amps, tube amps are the best – although they have software things that model different amps that are apparently getting quite good. I don’t know anything about those though, so you’re on your own. (Note: Monoprice’s website says they are out of stock until January)
  3. Is your guy into Formula One or Nascar or auto racing in general? If so, does he have a PC or Mac that is good enough to run video games? Then iRacing. It is a true driving ‘simulator’ – one crash and your car is toast. You can practice on your own, but races are held only against other humans from across the world at preset times. Apparently professional racers use it as a training aid. The racing wheel and pedal set is $150-ish and 
  4. the yearlysubscription fee for iRacing is $99. Super fun though and ladies love listening to the sound of engines revving for hours on end, I think. I may be mistaken about that one.
  5. How about a DIY beer making kit? These are pretty inexpensive and make actually really good beer. One kit that makes 5 gallons of beer costs $25-40. That way you can save money, stink up the house for an afternoon, do something that’s part science and part cooking AND get drunk on something you made yourself! It’s a win-win-win-win situation!
  6. If he likes reading and doesn’t have a Kindle Paperwhite then you should get him one. This thing has changed my life. It’s exactly like a regular Kindle with one important difference: the screen lights up so you don’t need the room lights or a reading lamp! The battery will still last a week or two or more; but you can read in bed beside your gf who seems to go to sleep at 9pm without disturbing her. It’s almost like it’s a present for yourself, really.
  7. And speaking of presents for yourself, you can get yourself some skimpy underwears and tell us that’s your present to us. That tooooooooootally works too. This cat sweatshirt is amazing and particularly relevant as I talk to anyone who will listen about my cats. 
  8. Just in case you want an apron like Chad's you can get one here


Christmas Theme

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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Happy Friday Everyone! I don't know about you, but it seems like Christmas has come early this year and I for one am not complaining. Maybe because it seemed to turn so cold so quickly here, or maybe because I haven't decorated for the holidays in two years (thanks moving and renovations), or maybe because I was particularly sad to take down the Halloween decorations this year but I am really excited to start decorating for Christmas right now. So in case, like me, you're thinking of getting started this weekend here is my inspiration and plans for getting our house Christmas-y.



Here is what I'm starting with: A black Christmas tree, a black fur tree skirt and vintage inspired multi-coloured ornaments. After looking for some inspiration online (my Holiday pinterest board is here) I've decided to obviously keep the tree but change up the ornaments to make it a little bit more stylish and tie into a theme I already love- black & white stripes-as evidenced in our living room above.

1 (Source unknown)/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9
By adding a black and white striped ribbon as garland and metallic, black and white ornaments I'm hoping to have a tree that is sophisticated and sparkly. I'd never thought of using ribbon as garland or a tree topper but I can't wait to see how it transforms the look. Target, Ikea, Michael's and some of the big hardware stores seem to have some great, inexpensive items this year so it shouldn't cost a fortune to do a small update. I plan on reusing the colourful vintage ornaments I already have on a smaller white tree that I may put up in the office as a bright surprise when you walk in. Here are a few sources to get the "Black & White + Metallic" Christmas look this year- Happy tree trimming!

Banner/ Wreath/ Tree/ Ribbon/ Black Ornaments/ Owl Ornaments/ Pompom Garland/ Leaf Garland/ Diamond Ornaments/ Metallic Ornaments/ Bottle Brush Trees (other images-doily snowflakes [source unknown]/presents and gift tags/ branch and star)


Wallpaper

Monday, November 17, 2014

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If you know me, you know I love wallpaper. If Chad was willing to install it in more rooms I would plaster it everywhere. It can make such an impact in a room and also hide a multitude of imperfections if you have questionable walls. Not all wallpaper is created equal though,  as I can tell you after taking down two layers of 70s vinyl wallpaper in the living room. This is why I am so glad I found Spoonflower. This way you can have removable wallpaper at a reasonable price in either your own design or one from the Spoonflower Marketplace where independent artists get a commission from every sale.

As I mentioned in this post, I've been working with an amazing client to make her rental apartment a chic, feminine, modern yet cozy space. She knew she wanted wallpaper somewhere in the space but wanted to keep it within budget so a large wall was out. The entryway, or entry wall in this case, is often the perfect space to try a little bit more pattern or colour. It was important in this room because the best place for the sofa was facing the entry wall so I wanted to give it some extra punch. It was hard to narrow down our choices from Spoonflower but we needed something to reference the colour scheme of blue, coral, mint and grey. To get sense of the other side of the living room here was the original moodboard...


...and here are a few of the final contenders:

Birch Grove in Greige and Rich Cream by Sparrowsong

Blushing Peacock by Peacoquette Designs

Coral Jubilee by Evie&Co

William Morris Strawberry Thief in Blue and White by Peacoquette Designs

Mexico Springtime White on Linen (Large Scale) by SammyK
What do you think? Thanks to the mock-ups I think we're down to a choice between the birch trees and the William Morris pattern that references the throw pillows. Just in case you're looking for even more options, I've rounded up another nine that I'd put up in a heartbeat (click on the numbers below the image for the source).

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9


Mid-Century Modern Man Cave

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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Remember when I talked about finally renovating the basement here? Well, that hasn't happened. Maybe it's a good thing we haven't gotten started because a little while ago, I was asked by Man Crates to be part of their 'Man Cave Makeover' campaign. Man Crates say they deliver "awesome gifts for men" and one look at their site and I had to agree. I mean , guys, they have a whole section for Zombie Preparedness! I think it's safe to say Chad's Christmas present is checked off my list.

This was the perfect time to re-think my idea for the basement a.k.a. Chad's man cave. With a little refinement it's gone from simply 'Replacement Basement' to 'Mid-Century Modern Man Cave'.

Source: Sofa/ ChairsCoffee TableSide Table/ RugCredenza/ Record playerCeramic HandPrintWall Art/ Screen/ LampChandelier /Pendants/ Foot stool/ Bar & bar stools










I know when I think man cave I picture a dark room with an ugly recliner or left-over couch that has seen better days, sports paraphernalia and maybe if you're lucky a mini-fridge. I honestly don't think the men who get these man caves choose this decor on purpose. I think it's just another room that is not a priority and so never gets any special attention.

The man cave I envisioned is a perfect mid-century modern gentleman's room.We all know the men in our life have a little 'Don Draper' in them and could use a room to let loose the sophisticated, whiskey drinking 'Mad Men'. I feel like this room will be a place friends will be dying to hang out in and the opposite sex won't be scared to venture into -only if invited, don't worry boys. This would be the ideal space to enjoy the personalized Whiskey Crate (Chad's Finest Quality Distilled Spirits) while listening to a record or jamming out on a vintage guitar.



Here are a few tips to help you create your own Mid-Century Modern man cave, or really any man cave that isn't a scary, dark cave.

  • A comfortable couch doesn't have to be a boring couch. This is a room that's a great chance to take a risk on a fun colour and a masculine couch doesn't just have to be leather.
  • A cowhide rug is stain repellent and super durable.
  • Have lots of seating options that can be moved around easily- who doesn't want to cozy up to the bar!
  • Have multiple light sources so you can change the mood and create an atmosphere dependent on your needs. Just having drinks? Bar pendant lights on. Practicing guitar? Turn them all on to get it right.
  • Create zones in the space. Try using a room divider to hide anything you don't want to see and be sure to create space for your favourite activities.
  • Personalize the room with artwork. I used vintage advertisements but this could be the time to bring in a sports reference if you must, just make sure to have it framed properly (that means no tape or staples). 
  • Add a few details to finish off the room. Don't worry, I don't mean adding a million throw pillows - just one or two. If you have a collection or a few pieces that 'someone' won't let you display elsewhere, now's your chance.
What do you think? Are you ready to tackle giving your man cave a makeover to turn it into a space everyone wants to hang out in? Thanks to Man Crates for inviting me to take part and seriously go check out the site to check off a few gifts for that special someone who will appreciate using a crowbar to pry open their present.




Le Weekend

Friday, November 7, 2014

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Well hello there Friday, am I happy to see you! I don't have much to share with you guys, honestly this time change business is making me feel like I don't have enough hours left in the day. What are your plans for the weekend? I just going to be doing some catch-up.  Maybe finally some meal planning for the week and obviously a little bit of wine drinking and kitten cuddling. Here's a few things from around the internet I loved this week:
  1. A new to me blog 'Into Mind' about personal style, minimalism and the perfect wardrobe shared a 'Closet Detox Cheat Sheet' that I may have to use this weekend if I get ambitious. I mean let's me honest, I'll never be a minimalist but this may be a good starting point to get my overflowing closet in order once again.
  2. I talked about gallery walls earlier this week in my 'Decor Tips for a Rental' and Decor8 has laid out 8 great tips on 'How to Plan a Gallery Wall'. Maybe finally hanging that art is in your future this weekend?
  3. Sea of Shoes always has impeccable taste and her mother Judy Aldridge was kind enough to give me some tips on shopping in Dallas many years ago, so I have a soft spot for them. This week she outlined some of favourite new beauty buys and there are a few I definitely want to try. 
  4. These 10 Best One-Pot Meals from Camille Styles may help me out this weekend if I actually get around to making a few things for the week ahead. 
  5. Victoria McGinley shared a post about a few thing on her mind lately, including the possibility of taking a solo trip to Paris so that she could enjoy "visits to pottery stores and flea markets" without feeling like she was dragging her husband along. I've traveled alone before and loved it. What about you? Would you brave a solo trip so that you can enjoy exactly what you want to do?
  6. I've suggested using the Ikea Malm dresser to a number of people, mainly because of it's clean lines and price point (if you don't have time to source vintage). Erin Gates, of Elements of Style, shared her favourite addition to the dresser to take it from good to great! 
  7. Are you thinking about starting a renovation? Sarah from 702 Park Project shares all the things she wished she'd known before starting her own reno here.
  8. The One-Room Challenge is complete (for the most part) and one of my favourite spaces is Naomi's 'Petite Kitchen' - my new most pinned space. I mean the walnut, the brass and that backsplash tile- too much!
  9. Another One-Room Challenge space I loved was the Holtwood Hipster's bedroom. The new molding in the room really makes me want to start a new project. 
So on that note, have a great weekend whether you're relaxing or tackling that long put off (or new) project.

Decor Tips for a Rental

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

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I know not everyone owns their own home. Renting definitely comes with its own benefits (that leaking toilet is not my responsibility) and its own challenges (this bathroom is ugly and I can't replace anything). I've been working with a client who is renting an apartment so I've been doing a little reminiscing on rental properties as well as revisiting some of my cardinal rules for decorating a rental. I thought I'd share a few with you today. Obviously every landlord is different so please do check with them before doing anything. You never know, they may be the cool landlord that springs for updates!

Paint

It's true what they say about paint, it really is the easiest and cheapest way to update a space. Most landlords I've known are okay with a renter painting as long as they promise to paint it back to white when they leave. You may even want to freshen up the space with a new coat of white if it looks dingy. If you're planning on staying longer then a few months then I say paint it something other than white. Nothing makes a space feel cozier and lived-in than colour on the walls. Here are a few colours that I'm loving right now:
Images via clockwise from top left: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


Stripes, Stencils & Removable Wallpaper

If you're not ready to commit to a bold colour everywhere (this goes for homeowners too) try a striped or stenciled feature wall or room. Stripes always make a space feel larger and draw attention to anything you want to highlight.

There are so many great removable wallpapers right now- check out no.5, 6, 7 & 8. While it's more expensive than paint, it's a great way to bring a bit of personality into your home. Try it in an entryway, a bathroom or behind a headboard. 

If you still want to take the wallpaper plunge, why not use it on a hanging panel (like Emily Henderson did in her studio) or on a bi-fold screen (like Jenny Komeda did in her office space). 
Images  and Sources via: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 

Large Rugs & Drapes

I'm combing two of my tips in this one but don't think that this makes either one any less important. A space without either of these things is going to look cold and empty -period. I'll repeat a few things I'm sure you've heard before. Get the biggest rug you can for the space. Sisal or jute woven rugs are less expensive options and can be used as a layering piece to place a smaller more expensive rug over top if you want less neutral. You can also buy two rugs and stitch them together if you have too. Whatever you do, don't buy a tiny rug that floats under the coffee table only. All the furniture should have at least its front legs on the carpet.

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I've heard rumors of landlords that won't allow you to hang drapes because of the holes. I'm not saying to be specifically defiant but it's pretty easy to get some spackle and touch up the holes from curtains and artwork. I think it's worth it to not have anyone looking in but also to add the softness that fabric brings to a room. Ikea has some very reasonably priced good quality curtains, as does Target, so no excuses people. If you live in a stunning modern glass house with a full wall of windows please disregard this but I'm pretty sure that is not most of us- so get some curtains, hang them as high as you can and make sure they touch the floor.

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Light Fixtures

I know of so many rentals that have the dreaded 'boob lights'. Please get rid of these as fast as you can. Light fixtures are an investment and you can take them with you when you leave. Just put back up that stunning 'boob light' when you go. I've found some great light fixtures on Etsy lately:

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Kitchen Fixes

Two things that can help elevate a ho-hum kitchen that you aren't going to invest the money in renovating are a temporary backsplash and new hardware. Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book, gave a great tutorial for painted wooden tiles held in place with magnets- so genius!

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Changing up the knobs on the kitchen cabinets (or the bathroom vanity) is another way to add a bit of interest and distract from an otherwise imperfect space. Again, these are things you can always take with you when you leave. Schoolhouse Electric has some beautiful brass knobs and these agate ones from Etsy store KnuckleHeadKnobs would also look amazing. 

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Multipurpose Furniture and Artwork 

You made it all the way to the end! Here are my last tips. These are some other just general living tips for you- renter or not. Buy or make your own large scale artwork. Go buy a pre-made canvas from the art supply store and some paint. Pour the paint on for a cool dribble effect or paint out a grid of shapes like the pictures below.

If you have a lot of small piece, group them together to create a gallery wall.  It will give the same effect of filling a large blank space. You don't have to hang artwork either, you can lean it against the wall on top of a console table or use a picture ledge. Just don't hang a few little pictures above your sofa.

Multipurpose furniture is another great tip for renters and homeowners. These can be benches, stools, nesting tables etc.- anything that you can easily move around the room, from room to room or take with you and re-purpose in another space. You'll be surprised how often you use it. 


Whether you're a renter or a homeowner, did you find these tips helpful? Is it worth it to you to invest in the space you're living in even if it's temporary? I can't wait to show you pictures of my renter's finished space. In the meantime, if you need help with your space send me an email and we can get started.

Halloween Decor

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Happy Halloween Everyone! Now I will be the first to say that I don't really like Halloween as an adult. I mean I love the candy but the whole forced costume thing, I hate. In the past I've always somehow managed to make vintage dresses into a costume. I've been a random lady from the 50's and 60's a few times and then just wait for someone to reference a character and agree. This year we're actually hosting a party (obviously not my idea) but I've really gotten into the idea of decorating for Halloween. Maybe it's because I already have so much black and white that it's been easy to transition into a restrained Halloween palette. Either way,  I'm all set and prepped for the party so let's take a peek into my Halloween decor (with a few cameos from Bill the kitten).





Almost all of my decorations are from Target and Walmart as well as re-purposed items I took a can of spray paint to. All of the pumpkins are from my Thanksgiving table setting that have been painted. The tree branches were left over from an outdoor planter project I made my sister help with. When she was visiting I made her go with me to steal branches from neighbors yard clippings and drag them back home. A few coats of spray paint later and I love them as a decor element.






I think the black bat wall decals are my favourite part - subtle but still Halloween. It's unfortunate they don't stick very well and I've already had a few casualties. 






The 3-D bats on my metal wall hanging, the black cat bowl (how could I say no?) and the skull candle that supposedly melts red wax (I'll let you know how that turns out) are all from Target. I used some left over ribbon to add a black detail to my lamp and the tree branch candles are from Crate & Barrel. The runner was another piece I already had.







The hanging paper fans are from Target and hold together with a magnet so they will definitely be reusable (in case someone convinces me to have another Halloween party). The skull and cross-bone garland is also a Target find. I used a large glass vase to hold my black branches and wrapped it in some of my leftover Thanksgiving table runner. The amazing glitter skull is from Walmart.





I'm happy that a lot of these pieces can be re-used and incorporated into my normal decor. I sense a few skull candles lingering around long after Friday. Now my Halloween costume, that's another story. I should probably try and go finish that - wish me luck! What about you, are you dressing up your house or yourself for Halloween?


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