Thursday, 28 January 2016

Sun Porch Wishlist

We are dreaming of Spring and starting more projects on the exterior of our home.  We have a tiny little sun porch that is a nice shady spot to sit and while away some summery afternoon hours, or hide from bugs on a hot summer night.  It has a lovely view of the woods, but it is in need of a bit of a cosmetic face-lift.

The photos below show the space from two angles.

The window behind the chairs is actually the kitchen window, normally it would have a screen but it sort of acts as a bit of a pass through ;)

The white screen door leads to the laundry room.  This photo was taken standing outside of the exterior door (also a screen door)  it leads to our deck which has patio doors to the dining room.  Accessing this space through the laundry room is nice when it is rainy or buggy.  On the left side of the sun porch (which you cannot see in this photo) is another wall of screened windows just like the one straight ahead, in the above picture.

WE have been gathering ideas and inspiration for the space over the winter.  We would like to paint the entire space out white like this space shown below. Although we need to figure out if we should paint out the portion of the exterior wall of the house that sits inside the sun porch. Hmmm.

Actually we would like a built in bench seat as shown above too, possibly with a hinged top for storage.

The carpet in our space has seen better days so it needs replacing, with  kids and pets running around we are leaning towards a painted floor, possibly like this

or this.

And we kind of have our hearts set on painting the ceiling out a contrasting colour like this 

or this

We also need to replace the screens on the windows, which is not too upsetting because we would really like to use the screen that you can seen through better.

Both screen doors need replacing too (as does the one on the front of the house).  We found a couple of DIY ideas like this

and this.

But we also like this for $99 at Home Depot here.

We would like to add in some lanterns for evening light. Like these

We have a few sets of these outdoor string lights that may make a good addition to this space, strung back and forth across the ceiling in a zigzag fashion.

We also need to replace the existing light fixture, find a small scale dining table (maybe something vintage) and look for fabric to recover chair pads, possible bench seating and cushion covers.

Not much right? Ha ha!  Well it's good to dream about it anyway!

Thanks for visiting!
Ian and Laura

Monday, 25 January 2016

Guest Room Art

Do you remember when we revealed the almost completed guest room here, and we mentioned that it still needed some art.

And how we hoped said art would tie in some of the green colours found elsewhere in the house?

Well we have added in a few pieces.  Some of which we had already.  Like these cottage-y floral prints picked up cheap and years ago from Ikea, with their chalk painted frames.

And this old tin B&B sign, and pretty green hooks that were a gift from friends.

And some we found online and printed for this space.  Like these boat and anchor images.

We are so wishing for warmer weather that will allow us to tackle some big projects on our to do list.  We are currently dreaming of  a sun porch makeover!  Stay tuned for an upcoming mood board!

Thanks for visiting!
Ian and Laura

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Brown Paper Wrapped Books


In our effort to achieve a bright and airy space, we did a little cookbook makeover.  Does that sound as funny as it seems to write?

We are collectors, I think we may have mentioned that a time or two!  Ian loves to cook, and try out new recipes.  He is not much of a Googler (is that a word?) so he has some cookbooks that he has picked up over the years that he keeps to refer back to now and again.

We keep them in our living room, as that is pretty much the only place on the main floor that has space to house them.

The only problem with that is that cookbooks are typically bright and colourful. 

Sort of the opposite of airy and quiet that we are aiming for this room to be.  (On a side note, we also need major cord control!)

And some of the books, like this one that we have had since we got married, are in pretty rough shape.

So out came some rolls of brown kraft paper.

And our trusty label machine.

It took a couple of hours.

But the loud tv cabinet cubbies are now quiet.

We are loving the finished result!  We also love that one of our favourite magazines "Style and Home" keeps all their spines white, no matter the colour of the cover.  So a few stacks of those fill in some more cubbies (did we mention we were collectors?).  Maybe one day, we will use those spaces for something else - we have been looking for baskets to fit into those spots for a while now without a shred of luck.

So glad that you stopped by!
Ian and Laura

Monday, 18 January 2016

Mason Jar Coaster Tutorial

We have a fun little DIY crafty project to share with you today.

We thought a little DIY might be fun!  So we took this....

And made this...

Most of our furniture is very family friendly, but we have a couple of pieces that we like to "baby".  That said, we were in desperate need of some new coasters for the living room - the old ones were in really bad shape.


Being huge fans of Mason jars, we snagged these wide mouth lids from Amazon, and a roll of cork from the dollar store.  You will also need a hot glue gun, scissors and a pen.

The first step is to around trace the lid onto the back of the cord using a pen.  We tried a pencil first so it wouldn't show but didn't have much luck.  By tracing onto the back it doesn't really matter.

Next you will trim out your circles, using scissors.

And end up with this.  Now you can go ahead and hot glue the cork onto the lid.  Because the cork came on a roll it was slightly curled, we weighted it down for a couple of minutes while the glue set.  It dried nice and flat.

Now pop those lids back onto the bands and you have instant coasters.  We did not glue the lids to the bands, but Ian thinks we should. It hasn't made it onto the to do list yet, so we will see if it even gets done! ha!

Our lids have a slight gold-ish colour, you may be alble to find them in silver as well.  The gold looks great in our living room.

As you can see wee started using them right away! 

We typically use large mugs and the wide mouthed band are perfect for them.

Thank you for visiting with us today!
Ian and Laura

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Family Room Inspiration Board

Our family room is going to need a whole lot of work to get it looking how we would like it to.  We are aiming for a cozy lake house look, somewhere to snuggle and watch movies or play games.  Something super kid and pet friendly and welcoming to guests.  It is pretty much a blank canvas at the moment.

We do not have a floor plan of the family room, which is in our basement, a half story below grade as our house is a ranch style.  You can, however, get an idea of the size of the space by looking at this main floor plan.  The family room is the entire space below the living room, dining room and kitchen.  The whole space measures about 25' x 27'.  Because it is so large, it will need to be broken down into zones.

We have a couple of photos taken of either side of this room, just as we were moving in.  They are not pretty so please forgive that.

in the midst of unpacking

This will be the main zone that we use, as we are big movie watchers.

We purchased the pieces to our entertainment unit separately as our TV grew, lol, so they do not quite match.  We plan to fix that by painting them out.  Originally, we thought grey, but have since decided on a creamy white.

The whole room needs painting, we just picked up a sample of "Light Pewter" by Benjamin Moore.  We found it online, and headed into our local BM store for a sample.  They didn't have a chip as it is an older colour but when we asked for it, they confirmed the colour for us on a deck and had no problem whipping up a sample sized can.

After quick test patch we confirmed that this is the paint for our family room, it is a warm beige grey with a slight green undertone, although Ian doesn't see that :) .

The room needs lighting, too, those fluorescent fixtures have to go.  Maybe track lights??  We will see what we can find.

The carpet is in good shape,which is nice.  However the ceiling is not, although new, and that is a daunting prospect. The trim around the ceiling needs some work or maybe replacing, too.

There is about 6 feet between the loveseat and the wall (in the above photo) some thought still needs to be given to that space. And we need to be sure to leave a spot for a desk and a location for the Christmas tree.

Because we had so many ideas running through our heads of what we would like to do in this space  we put together an inspiration board. Originally, we were going to carry the green accents down from the upper level, but then we saw something red that inspired us to change our minds.

We picked up grey slipcovers for the sofas, they are still in the packaging awaiting a finished room to adorn.  (By finished we mean started, ha!)

You cannot see it in the before photo but there is a propane fireplace in the right hand corner of the room, which has brass trim.  This is our main source of heat for the house. (With electric heat as a top up.) Ideally we would love to change it out for a more traditional styled fireplace, but cannot justify the expense at this point.  As you can see in the inspiration board, we hope to paint out the brass trim with a flat black paint.  This will have to be done in the summer when the unit is not in use.

We would also like to plank the wall beside the fireplace, and stain it a mid-tone colour to bring in some warmth to the room.  A nice distressed looking hunk of something would be great for a faux mantel / shelf.  We shall see what we can unearth on our travels.

Would love to find or make a blanket ladder to hold some cozy cover ups for our long winter nights of movie watching!

The colour red will be introduced subtly through throw pillows, blankets, lanterns etc.

We are currently using a black IKEA Kallax shelf as a sofa table but hope to replace that with something in a distressed wood.  Ian picked up an old piece last week, which was free, that we are hoping we can modify and use to replace the IKEA piece.

The other side of the room looks like this.

another photo of our move in mess, sorry!

There is sort of an alcove over there that is about 16 feet wide and has a nice big double window, this will be a second zone.  It definitely needs new window coverings, plain 2 inch wide faux wood blinds in white will be a starting point, time will tell if we will also add curtains of some sort, though likely not.   The china cabinet is only there until we remember to try to sell it.  We will not really have a space for it, and it is not really in keeping with what we are aiming for now.

We are thinking this space wood make a great entertainment area, as we are not into the whole typical bar look.  It is a good space to add some extra storage, a mini fridge for cold drinks and a microwave for popping corn!  A little Keurig would be nice as well! This area will also be convenient for any guests staying in the adjoining guest room.  A wine rack was a must ;)!

We used the kitchen planner at IKEA online to create a plan to share with you and inspire us.  (The grey door is in lieu of a mini fridge, IKEA did have that option in their planner.

We will choose a creamy white cabinet colour which we will then use to colour match a custom paint for the TV's entertainment unit.  We also opted for two different depths of cabinetry, just to break things up a bit since it is such a large expanse of wall.  A wood block counter will tie in nicely to the plank wall we hope.

What do you think? Are we on the right track?

Monday, 11 January 2016

Mail Order Blinds | Yes we did!

We needed some blinds for the living room, not really for privacy per se. More to filter the light of the hot summer sun, this window takes on the full impact of the afternoon sun.  The blind means we use the air conditioning much less.  And it protects the furniture from sun deterioration.

Let us just take a second to apologize that these photos are a little grainy, it is so bright in this room which is perfect for taking photos of everything but the windows with that light behind it.  Not complaining though, I love that this room is bright!

Yes we still have a few Christmas decorations up.  We need to get on that, they are just not in the way at this house so it is easy to ignore that "to do"!

It is nice to be able to cover this large window at night time, even though we have only a few direct neighbours, the window being bare can make you feel like you live in a fishbowl.  I have to say we love how it looks closed in the day time too, so bright and airy.  But of course, they are usually open.

We priced out blinds at Home Depot, they quoted us $350. plus $60. more if we wanted the optional valance. They are a custom order but we was still hoping not to spend so much money.  HD said that they could do them a fair bit cheaper if we was willing to use two blinds on this window. But we weren't loving the sound of that.  A seam / gap down the middle??  No thanks. FYI, this window is 95 1/4 inches wide.  And the wait time at HD was several weeks.

Then we found (or .com if you are from the US). Admittedly, we were a bit nervous about ordering a custom blind online.  However, the site has a ton of info and is super easy to navigate. Their price was $290. including the valance. (We have not installed the valance as of yet and likely will not, it is just a personal choice but we are trying to stick with a lighter look.)  And shipping is free!!

We opted for a linen colour light filtering roller shade, they had a few nice neutrals to choose from, this colour is in the drapes so it was a perfect choice.  You can choose which side the opener sits on, so it works best for your room.

After clicking send on our order, we waited. We received an email when our order was processed.  We also received an email with a link to install instructions, though they did also come with the blinds.   We were delighted when the blinds arrived at our door, in well under two weeks, they were exactly what we were hoping / expecting both in quality and fit.  The install went super smooth.  And we think they look great! 

We also ordered blinds for the basement, a different style, we will share these at a later date.

PS has a sale on right now.  PSS this is not an affiliate post, we just love our new blind!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

12 Easy Peasy Steps to Sewing a Throw Pillow Cover When You are Not a Sewer!

Over Christmas break we were trying to add a bit more green into our living room, plus our loveseat needed a couple of throw pillows.  We were hoping to re-purpose throw pillows from our bedroom with new covers because the size of them is really great for lounging on the loveseat.  We have moved the last set of pillows that we made for the love seat to the chairs in this same room, they are a lighter fabric and don't seem to get as lost on the chairs as they did on the loveseat. (It's a process, you know.)  You can see in a later photo that the current colour of the pillows just does not work in this room.  Truthfully they didn't work in the bedroom either, they were from the living room in our previous house and were looking to be re-purposed.

So we headed off to the fabric store to see if we could find anything that worked well for this room.  This time Ian came in with me and it went much faster!  I am super indecisive at times.

We found this fabric fairly quickly but it took a little while to grow on us.  We haven't loved Ikat  style fabrics in past but we did love that this pattern had multiple shades of green in it, from the mossy green we have used repeatedly in this space to the mint-ish green and almost a teal (it is not quite as pronounced as this looks in person).  Plus it was on sale for half price, and you just can't beat that!  We purchase one yard for about $15.00.  We also found a pretty fabric that is inspiring a palette for the family room, but that is another story for another day.

When it came time to make the pillow covers we thought we should share a bit of a step by step tutorial in case anyone else that doesn't really sew wants to give it a try.  We warn you though, covering two throw pillows in great quality fabric pretty quickly and on the cheap is addictive!

I think I have mentioned before that neither of us really sews, I can do a fairly straight line with the help of the guides on the machine but other than that I am at a loss.  I cannot do zippers or button holes as much as I would like to and I cannot follow a pattern.

So if you can sew a straight - ish line, you are ready to go!

I always like to make my covers removable for washing, not doing zippers or button holes makes that challenging.  So I usually opt for a simple envelope style cover.  This is a slight adaption on that which I decided on and created on the fly.
  •   step one - trim your fabric to about an inch to an inch and a half wider than you need on either side

  • step two - wrap the fabric around the pillow allowing yourself plenty of fabric to overlap (I allotted about 1.5 inches for a hem on one end and 4 inches on the other, plus a couple of inches to overlap the two)

  •  step three - trim off the excess (super easy so far right?)

  •  step four - prepare the first hem (along the width) for sewing. Make sure you are working with your fabric wrong side up at this point.

Professionals usually recommend a 1/2 inch seam, I can never quite manage anything less than three quarters of an inch on a thicker fabric.  It doesn't really matter though, thankfully.

I opted for a double fold hem, because I didn't want my pillow to have loose fibers near the opening flap.  So I folded over 3/4 of an inch along the width of my fabric and pressed it.  (Ironing really helps to keep your project neat looking and also makes it easier to sew.  Be sure to use the recommended  heat setting for your fabric.) Then I rolled this 3/4 inch fold over again and pressed this as well.  This tucks the cut end of the fabric inside what will be the hem.

I pinned my hem to secure it as I ironed along.

Your fabric should look something like this now.

  • step five - sew along your pinned fabric as close to the fold as you feel comfortable getting, removing the pins as you sew along. (I hope you can see my stitches, they are not quite straight but not too bad.)

  • step 6 - repeat for the other end
I made a slight modification on my pillow, I wanted to add buttons to my flap, purely for looks, so I made my hem larger so that the buttons would fit inside the stitched hem.

This meant a hem of about 1 3/4 inches, although I only rolled about a 1/2 inch under just like I did for the first hem.

As before, I pressed and pinned as I went along.

Then I stitched the hem down. My stitching was much more straight this time, which is good because this hem will be showing!

  •  step seven - sizing the height of your cover, working with the right side up to start with..
Because I am adding buttons to the front flap of my pillow, I needed to be mindful of where they would sit on the fabric.  For example, if they sit too low on the pillow you may not be able to see them or the proportions could look off.

Have a look at these two examples.

This second example is a much better look.

My pillows are about 13 inches tall, so I made my flap 5.75 inches long.  I arrived here by dividing the height of my pillow by three and add in a couple of inches for the overlap.  The eye loves things in 3's!  With your fabric right side up, fold the top hem down 5.75 inches (or whatever works best for your pillow cover).

Next I brought the bottom of the fabric up and placed it carefully over the top flap, ensuring the the height of my cover is 13 inches, the height of the pillow. The flap you want on the outside of the pillow should be on the inside of the cover at this point.  At this point your pillow cover will look inside out.

I added pins to hold the cover in place, while I stitched.  You can go ahead and close up one end now, with a half inch seam allowance.

  •  step eight - the last side!
This is a good time to double check your width and then hem the last side accordingly.  I was a little generous with the amount of fabric that I thought I would need (see step one), it is definitely better to have too much than too little.

Simply measure your fabric from your previously stitched edge, allot for the width of your pillow and pin along where you should stitch.  Then go ahead and stitch.  If this hem is any larger than an half inch or so you will probably want to trim off the excess fabric to keep it from looking bunched up inside your pillow.

  • step nine- turn right side out and press

  • step ten - add buttons.  
 I measured the width of my cover, and divided by three to figure out where to sew on my two buttons.

Again the rule of 3's!

Stitching on buttons only takes a few minutes.

  • step 11 - I hand stitched a small bit of Velcro to the inside of my flap to keep the cover closed and sitting flat on my pillow.  This step is optional but I know our pillows will get a lot of use and I do not want to be continuously making sure the covers are closed and laying flat. When I stitched the Velcro strip to the top flap, I kept it inside the hem seam from step 6 and only stitched through the inner most layer of fabric so that my stitches would not show on the outside of the cover.  

  • step 12 - put the cover on your pillow and enjoy!
Here is a look at one of my finished covers.

And look how pretty the pair look on our loveseat.

They fit well along the back or along the arms of the love seat.  This is how they usually are when we are lounging around.

We wanted to show you how well the fabric matches a pillow that we picked up last summer, prior to moving, talk about good luck!  This pillow was the jumping off point for the colours in this room along with the china cabinet colour in the dining room next to the living room.

It took me about 1.5 - 2 hours to create my first pillow cover, mostly because I was making it up as I went along and stopping to snap photos for you!  Then second pillow probably would have only taken about 45 minutes except I kept getting sidetracked, kids coming in and out coffee with Ian - you know the drill!  Anyway, as you can see this is a simple and inexpensive way to re-use pillows that you already own.  You can add new pillows to your room or change up the colours on pillows that are already in the room.  Or maybe you want to go with seasonal pillows, well storing spare covers takes up much less space that storing spare pillows!  And you can say that you made them yourself!

Have a great day!
Ian and Laura