March 25, 2010

Outdoor Living









1. Liberty Living: Outdoor Tuxedo Daybed by Sarah Richardson, $2119
2. Liberty Living: Outdoor Open Arm Chair by Sarah Richardon, $1699
3. Liberty Living: Outdoor Large Coffee Table by Sarah Richardson, $1499
4. Home Depot: Paramount Pagoda Firepit Gel, $159.00
5. Home Depot: Woodard Grand Caymen Wicker Collection, $599.99
6. Ikea: KNYCK Napkin holder, $5.99
7. Ikea: ARV 18-piece dinnerware set, $59.99
8. Ikea: GROGGY Tray, $14.99

I believe that a back yard oasis is important for summer time, because I find that our backyard seems to work more as a second living room during the hot summer months. To me, there is nothing better than sitting on the patio, on a warm summer night, eating produce you just picked from your vegetable garden.

Not only does the outdoor room have to be functional, but it should be stunning to. You should put as much time and thought into your backyard and patio as you would in any other room in your house. Consider different textures, colours and patterns, and do not forget the little things. Small accents can make or break this space.

One thing that people have trouble with when shopping for backyard furniture is the price. They feel that spending $2000 on a furniture piece would be a waste for something that you only use for 4 months out of the year. But, try to remember that even though you only use the furniture for part of the year, it has to stand up to the wear and tear of the elements for the full year. It is much better to invest in a few important pieces for this space, and have it last 10 years, than something that will have to be replaced in two seasons.

For patio furniture textiles, I like bright colours in bold patterns. A colour scheme like yellow and white stripes can really freshen up the space, and will boost the colours of the surrounding plants. But when you are shopping for furniture, keep in mind the colour and style of the exterior of your house. It doesn’t have to match, but it is should work with the colours and tones, rather than against it.

Finally: the accents. Keep them bright, fun and quirky. This is the one space where it is okay to do something really playful. Look for cute vases with prints, bright placemats and tacky silver napkin rings. For dishes, I like to go with something that is very classic. With the other accessories being so playful and bright, the contrast of fancy, girly dishes looks great. Have fun with all of the different options available, and remember: for outside decorating, try to think out the box.

March 24, 2010

Paint the Town... Beige?

Our front door, a perfect example of the effect paint and trim can create

I am among a small group of people who actually think painting is fun. But I realize that not everyone shares this passion - I swear that my Mom’s eyes actually glaze over at the mere sight of a fan deck.

I still believe that painting is the most bang for your buck in the world of ‘renovations’. With a few cans of paint and some good, old fashion sweat equity, you can brighten up a room’s mood in a weekend.

Personally, I prefer to use General Paint ( ) for all my projects. It is a high quality paint that covers nicely and rolls on smooth. I am a firm believer in ‘cutting’ edges with a paint brush, sans painters tape, and I find that this brand of paint is the easiest for me to use to get straight lines. I also prefer to use an eggshell or flat paint. I’ve never liked shiny walls, mostly for the fact that they seem to accentuate a poor paint job. But, if you have a room that you keep your muddy dogs in (formally called my ‘laundry room’), or a 2 year old with sticky fingers – the durability from a shinier paint cannot be beat.

Remember to look up. Painting your ceilings in the right colour can make or break a room. The darker the colour, the lower your ceilings will look - so steer clear of dark or bold colours. I, personally, am partial to white or off-white ceilings, as I am always looking for a way to make my 8’ ceilings look like 10’ ceilings. But when painting, it is a good investment to at least roll on a new coat of paint on the ceilings, even if it is the same colour that is already there. It will look brighter and fresher, and is well worth the time and effort.
Our dining room (chairs are being recovered shortly)

I also insist that crown moulding is a must in most rooms. There is just something so indulgent and divine in crown moulding. It also is a lot cheaper to do than most people think. At a typical $1.25 a foot, you can install crown moulding in a 10’ X 15’ foot room for under $65. A great investment. My answer to the age old question “what colour do we paint our crown moulding” is simple – white. In my mind there is no better colour that will set off your wall and ceiling colour like white. I also use white for all of my door/window casings and baseboard – but remember to use a shiny white for these. White trim will get dirty quicker than you think, and the shinier it is - the easier it is to clean. Mr.Clean’s Magic Eraser can also be your best friend for this.
Paint colours can look very different in different lighting situations

Another thing to consider it the tone of the paint. Dark colours can add a dramatic effect to your home, but don’t always translate as well in real life. They also cost more for tinting (an extra $5 a gallon) and take more coats to get the full effect of your desired shade. If in doubt, stick to the ‘off-white’ section of your fan deck. If you select a paint colour that is two shades lighter than the colour you think you want, you can’t go wrong.

March 23, 2010

New Blog, New Ideas

Since I was young, I could think of few things better than a perfectly decorated home. But as a young home owner myself, I understand how hard this can be to achieve within a budget. I hate blog entries that start with “this is why I am writing”, but alas, here we are.

I am starting this blog as a way to celebrate all things frugal, and to encourage others to renovate and decorate. Adding time and a little thought to your home can not only increase the equity in your house, but can be so much fun to! There is nothing I like to do more on a Saturday morning than to comb over the tile samples at Home Depot or bargain hunt at the great antique mall just down the street.

Richard and I on our wedding day last year

My husband, Richard, and I bought our first house just over 2 years ago, and we’ve been slowly renovating it since day 1. With the Victoria real estate market as warped as it is, we could only afford an ugly, dated, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house for our $355 000. So, I have had to get creative and really prioritize to get the look I want.

The first way to save lots of money on a renovation, is to marry the right person. My wonderful (and patient) husband Richard is a very talented journeyman, who usually trusts my design instincts. He teaches me new techniques, and is great for figuring out things with (can you say ‘first time laying tiles’? Thanks Hun!). As we do more and more renovation projects with each other, we are figuring out how we work as a team. For tiles: he cuts, I lay and grout. For painting: he rolls, I cut edges. For drywall: we play rock-paper-scissors.

Another great way to save on renovations is have talented friends that will work for cheap beer and homemade cookies. My famous gingersnap cookies have officially been renamed ‘super cookies’ by our friend Mickey.

Peter, ripping out our closet walls. Too late to turn back now!

Doing renovations with friends can be a blast! There are tons of laughs to be had when renovating with friends – especially on demo day! Our friend, Peter, was over one night two years ago, and as Richard made us dinner, Peter and I decided it would be a good idea to remove the entranceway closet and put in a half bathroom. Before Richard knew what was happening, Peter and I had already imbedded a sledge hammer in the wall. Thank goodness we got Richard on board before he had a meltdown. Funny enough, we never see Peter after demo day... he just sort of disappears until the project is done. Curious.