Thursday, February 14, 2013

Making Every Dollar Count in a Kitchen Makeover

Young couple.  First home.  Needs work.  Needs love.  Needs space.  Small budget.  Got the picture?

I had a call last fall from this very handy couple.  They had a 60s home that had been through a minor reno in the 80s.  The home is small, but with the right changes, could be very functional for this couple.  They wanted to do most of the work themselves, but brought me in to do the design and help with the finishes.  The finishing touches took a little while to put in place, but we were finally ready for a photo op this past weekend.

Here's the view from the living room (the wall is no longer orange...that left soon after they moved in.)
Before and after dining room. Porcelain tile extended from kitchen, new patio door replaces window, new dining room set.
The window shown on the left was replaced with a patio door to give them easy access to their back yard.  It's a huge bonus, as they have two dogs and therefore access to the backyard is a must.  The dogs also love to spend their days looking out the patio door. The existing access to the backyard, a door, was removed.  The large window that was beside the door was replaced with a smaller one, allowing a long stretch of lower cabinets along the back wall.

View into the kitchen from the dining room.You can see the side of the stove behind the partial wall. 
The microwave sat on an added cabinet that floated between the dining room and kitchen.

Part of the partial wall was removed so that the dining room and kitchen are one big room.
Proper layout is now possible, with space on either side of the stove for safe food preparation.
A partial wall separated the kitchen and dining area, making both spaces very tight.  It contained some ductwork that was not moveable with our budget, but we were able to move the wall back so that it was flush with the cabinetry.

The stove was moved from that centre wall, to a space a long the far wall and now there is ample safe space for cooking.  We were also able to move the sink so that it sits under the window.

An awkward stove location, with a tiered corner counter, sat behind the partial wall dividing the kitchen and dining areas.

The fridge was moved over to allow for better access to the basement. Pantry cupboards were installed to the left of the partial wall. 
The storage the previous kitchen lacked is so abundant now, there are empty cupboards.
Entry to the basement has improved with the new layout, as I made sure the cabinetry was placed so they could carry their hockey gear up and down the stairs without bumping into the cabinets.
The cappucino maker sits where the door once was.  The window was replaced with a smaller one to allow for lower cabinets to be installed in front of it.
The sink and dishwasher were moved to this wall.
We had a couple of restrictions to work with when choosing the the finishes.  First, they had a new suite of white appliances, but they did not want a white kitchen. (Dogs...hello?)  We chose a mid-tone wood cabinet, and I made sure to include lighter finishes for the porcelain floor tile and the laminate counter, so that the appliances would blend a little better. The coordinating mosaic tile in the backsplash was chosen by the client and I picked a cream coloured subway tile to compliment it and keep the costs down.

Laminate counters in a granite-like pattern pulls all the colours used in the room.
A beautiful grey-green wall colour was chosen to compliment the cabinetry and table.
My clients claim they have a whole new home because of their new large kitchen. Using my services helped them keep within their limited budget and ensured the final design worked for their family lifestyle.

Another job well done!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When You Need to Upgrade From Ikea

Ikea furniture is great...for a while...for certain things.  And then there comes a point in time when you are no longer a student or a new grad and your income is at a level where you can have something a little better.  Solid wood perhaps. Custom draperies. That's where this client and her husband were.  They had a sofa and a loveseat to sit on.  A beautiful table that had been made by the client's father sat in front of it.  The large flat screen sat a shelf, in a position that made it difficult to see from both seating areas.  Homemade drapes were on the windows, but they needed some love.  And the walls had been very recently painted.
Source:  Ivar cabinet photo from
Well I can't say we finished the space.  It still needs some art work and some items to fill the beautiful custom stained bookcases.  There are end tables to add, as the perfect ones haven't been found yet and some more lighting. But we've added some more layers.  I believe the perfect space doesn't happen over night.  So I'm thrilled with what we were able to achieve, especially working with an existing paint colour...which from a decorating standpoint is best chosen last.  I do love a challenge!

The style of drapes we chose was ripplefold.  They are absolutely perfect for a transitional type of space, as the top of the drapes is very simple.  The photos were shot on a very bright winter day, so it's challenging to see the ombre striped pattern, but the clients adore them open and closed.  This type of drapery is often on a track system that wouldn't have been very attractive in this space.  By using a decorative rod, we were able to make it a little less modern.

We added a few feather-filled cushions to their sofa and loveseat to add some more interest and layer in some more textures.  A button detail, that matches the colour of the sofa fabric, was added to the cream striped fabric cushions, while a modern pattern adds a dramatic punch and pulls in the wall colour.

To further soften the space, we added a circular motif rug, again pulling in the colours from the room, and the adjoining dining room.

The biggest investment is their "step up from Ikea" bookshelves.  The semi-custom solid wood bookshelves were chosen to have open and closed storage.  You can pick what size you want from the catalog, and then have them stained in a select number of colours.  The media cabinet was found in a complimentary style and was stained to match the bookshelves.

I love what were able to do.  And hopefully the final pieces will be curated in the near future to make this former university pad into a comfortable "grownup" space.

If you need help freshening up your space and are not sure which stores to shop, I can help!  I have many design packages for budget friendly makeovers.  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Decorating Can be Simple...

We've got a family birthday at the end of November. I've been party planning and cake decorating my little heart out. 

That means that Christmas decorating gets put on hold until December every year, which I guess isn't a bad thing.  But it does mean, with all the other obligations at this time of year, that I like to keep things simple. 

I took the time yesterday to work on two simple projects I felt needed some Christmas attention and would give me BIG decorating for little EFFORT.  First, I have two urns in front of my shed, beside my house.  They are an attempt to makes the giant white shed not so, well, giant.  The urns are exposed, which in turn means they get snowed on...a lot!  Anything I put there has to have enough height to still be visible in a couple feet of snow.

I  went to go to the local grocery store and picked up a bundle of spruce clippings, a bundle of mixed branches, a pine cone and a round ornament for about $25 for each of the urns.  This is my before...embarrassing, but true.

After pulling out the dead plants, and doing my best to loosen up some of the frozen soil, I was able to start by putting in my spruce branches first.  The tall ones went at the back, in the hopes you'll still be able to see a bit of the arrangement with the snow.  Next I layered in the other branches, clipping them when necessary.  I used a really long screwdriver when the soil didn't cooperate.  I have heard that a drill also does the trick.  Finally, in went the large pinecone and ornament, both of which come already fastened to a stick (thanks Loblaws!).  I took some ribbon I already had, did a bow and attached it to the ornament.  I think it's a huge improvement.

My next project was to dress up my mantle.  I have a new painting from Matt Leblanc over my mantle that wasn't there last year.  I decided to use it as my colour inspiration and do all the ornaments in similar colours.  The garland is tied to the mantle with nails and string (it's an old house, so it's ok...otherwise you could use the 3M removable hooks), the ornaments are attached with craft wire and I tucked in sprigs of gold and copper faux branches.  I'm really happy with the outcome.

The garland is something I reuse every year, but what I attach to it changes.  It'll be our pretty until we get our real tree next week!  I'm very excited about that, as it will be my first real tree since I was a baby!  We'll see after this holiday if the tradition will continue next year or not.

Happy Decorating!

Certified Interior Decorator,
Solace Interiors

Monday, November 5, 2012

Every Little Bit Counts

I have always been one to help out where I can.  I put up my hand a lot.  I organize a lot of events.  I say yes, when possible.  In January of last year, a request came home from the kids' school asking for a volunteer to organize a silent auction.  I was not overly busy with my teaching and work schedule, and I figured, why not?  The school was trying to raise money to install a playground for the primary kids. For any school council parents out there, you know how much work is involved in raising funds for these projects.  At my first meeting, the organizer for the playyard renewal told me she was hoping for $20,000 from the silent auction.  I choked a bit and then came back with a more realistic (and hopeful) number of $5000.  In the end we raised over $5500.  It was just a little contribution to the overall goal, but I was pleased to have done my part.  I also donated to the cause personally by donating a colour consultation.  The lucky recipients have had a busy time renovating their home, so we waited until a couple of weeks ago to do the colours for the main floor. This is what we chose:

For the inset for the television and accompanying receiver area in the kitchen, we will use Benjamin Moore's Escarpment (CC518).  This will reduce the contrast between the television and the wall colour, making it blend in a bit better.  The same colour will be used in the dining room.

The rest of the kitchen area will be done in Revere Pewter (HC172), which works beautifully with their new Corian countertops and marble and glass mosaic backsplash.  The living room and entrance will be done in Stone House (CC120) which is a beige without too much pink in it. It happens to work well with their existing furniture and the brick on the fireplace, which for the moment will be staying.  The trim and ceiling in all areas will be done in the ever popular Cloud White (CC40), because well, it just works.

And now the play yard is in too.  Happiness is in abundance.

 Nothing like seeing a project come to fruition.  I can't wait to see these paint colours go up too.