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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Winter Sanity

I'm a mother of two little kids.  They are both in school now and life is busy.  The busiest time of the day?  Mornings.  Between the lunch preps and the breakfasts and the nagging for them to get dressed and brush their teeth, and my getting ready, there is little time to look for things as we are running out the door.  I KNOW I am not alone in this!  With winter RIGHT around the corner, this is only going to get more hectic. 

I have put in place a few things to, #1, keep from yelling at my kids and, #2, to keep my sanity and I'm about to share them with you.

First up is my labeled basket system.  I have found these baskets at Canadian Tire at one of their crazy discount sales.  Each person has a bin with their name on it.  Every time you come in from outside, your "stuff" goes in the basket.  No more "what have you done with your hat???".

Next is the hooks for the little people.  The adults and my giant stepson are able to hang up their clothes on hangers in the closet, but the little kids get to put their stuff on a hook.  There are two great things about this.  Firstly, they can get their coats by themselves.  Secondly, I have strategically placed the hooks over a vent, so their wet winter clothes dry out before morning.  If they went into a closet they would still be damp in the morning.

When my daughter was in Junior Kindergarten, we spent many mornings looking for mittens.  We'd find they hadn't been put away or they were wet or they were mysteriously missing.  I thought of the whole idea of having stringed mittens, but they are not perfect.  Then I found these mitten clips at Kiddytown, down the street.  What a fabulous invention!  Now you can take any pair of mittens and clip them to their coats.  The mittens NEVER get lost.  And with them hanging off their coats, over the vent, they too are dry in the morning.  I have since seen very decorative ones, but even these do the trick.

Next it's the footwear.  Although we have a small entry way in our 50's home, we do have enough space for a bench.  This one is from Ikea, but I noticed they don't carry it any longer.  There is a similar one that is a bit smaller.  For our bench, each person is given two cubbies.  If you have more shoes, they need to go in the closet.  My stepson isn't around enough to warrant a shoe cubby, and well, size 14 basketball shoes just don't fit!  I have also placed a large scale mirror in the entry way, to bring more light into the space, and to functionally allow you to check some last minute things before heading out the door.  Every entry way needs a mirror!  This one also covers up an "architectural detail" that is a 1.5 ft square box in the wall for placing the telephone.  You can see from the ledge that is there, that it is also off centre. 

Lastly, I need to have keys when I'm heading out the door.  For years, I have had my keys on a carabiner.  Since we retrofitted our closet space with these shelving racks, I can clip my keys right by my basket.  I also happen to clip them to my purse when I'm going out.  Not just for the mountain climber! 

I hope some of these organizing tips get you set for the coming cold weather.  If you need help getting your entry way organized, give me a shout.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Little Fridge

On Saturday, I went for a walk in the Glebe with my husband and two kids.  After enjoying some very delicious gluten/dairy/egg-free treats from The Wild Oat (thank you so much!), I was left to explore a couple of kitchen and decorating stores while my darling husband took the little peeps (aka the things that can't stop touching stuff) to the toy store.  He got brownie points for that one.

While I was walking around in J.D. Adam Kitchen and Home Accessories, I found something that I knew I "needed" but didn't know existed.  I almost did a little gleeful yelp, but I kept it all inside.  This is the gem I found:

Solace Interiors

Oh 'Fridge Binz!, where have you been all my life?  

As many of you know, my daughter was diagnosed with food intolerances in August.  This has meant that our already crowded fridge has become extra crowded as we have to stock dairy and non-dairy substitutes of everything.  I also enjoy cooking and many of my recipes call for multiple condiments.  I had a whole door full of bottles that I might need for one recipe, but don't use on a daily basis.  But, if you push all those bottles to the back of the fridge, I may inadvertently purchase a second bottle of a sauce or spread, thinking I was all out (PET PEEVE!).  Then along comes 'Fridge Binz!.

Here is my fridge earlier today:
Solace Interiors
Here is my lovely new bin filled with jams, horseradish, seafood sauce, olives, and good 'ol flax meal.
Solace Interiors

While I was reorganizing my fridge, I took took the opportunity to clean it.  My mother would be so proud!  I also ended up moving around a shelf.  Check out my bin on the orange juice shelf.  

Solace Interiors
I can pull it out very easily and access any condiment I need.  If you had more storage needs in your fridge, 'Fridge Binz! are stackable and come in a variety of sizes.  The one I purchased was 8"x14.5"x4".  I love it.  On a side note, I was recently working with clients that kept a Kosher kitchen and I wonder if this would be an option for keeping dairy and meat separate in a small fridge.  So many options and so much nicer than a simple plastic box.  The plastic is BPA-free and is extremely durable.  It feels to be as thick at the drawers already in the fridge, so I think it's going to be around for years to come. 

Happy Organizing, my friends!

Friday, August 3, 2012

ORGANIZING: Understanding Your Client

I have known this client for six and a half years and have been trying to figure her out since day one.  While her need to have everything in its place is apparent, her need to create overtakes her space in a short period of time, making her space look like bomb went off.

Yes folks, I'm talking about my daughter.  She has the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your view) pleasure of living with me, an organizer.  I have a need for things to be in their place.  I need the sense of calm when I walk into a space.  I think everyone needs a degree of that as well, and sometimes it takes a while to figure out what your needs are.

My little lady has been in this room since her little brother was on his way and she needed to move to a big girl bed.  Being a decorator, I chose to paint the room a soft neutral and allowed all the textiles in the room be the pops of colour.  I made her a duvet cover to work with some great ready made drapery panels from IKEA.  I added the carpet, also an IKEA find.  I'm a thrifty person, working on a very limited budget.  Knowing that, I was able to use previously loved furniture in this space.

Solace Interiors
Her room has been "done" several times over the last few years.  First the bed had to be up against a wall or she would roll onto the floor, then it was moved to allow for more play space.  After that, her small 3 drawer dresser was moved into her little brother's room, leaving room for a 9-drawer dresser that had been mine growing up.  If I was decorating the room from scratch, I would say the dresser is too big for the space, but with our budget and my daughter's need for storing clothes, it was just going to have to work.

The bookcase, that was in our kitchen at our previous house, has been in here since the beginning.  As the years go by, the books get placed higher and higher, allowing more storage for bins and baskets. 
Solace Interiors
Most recently, she asked for a desk to do her homework and drawings on.  After Barbie's three-storey house was moved to the basement, I found a desk on Used Ottawa for $55.  Not a wow piece, but will work just fine for the time being.  I do love the shape of the chair, so that was a bonus.

All this moving furniture in and out of her room means I have put more than a few holes in the wall, hanging art and magnetic boards.  At one point, I made a wall of 4 Ikea magnetic boards.  I thought it would be a great way for her to showcase her creations.  In no time, it was covered and began to look like a mess.  I kept trying to edit it, but in the end this is where understanding your client comes in.
Her little space
 It's taken me 6 years, but this is what I know of my daughter and her organizational habits.
  1. She likes a clean room and is a master of making her bed. 
  2. When I ask her to tidy up, she would rather take it all and shove it under the bed so I can't see it instead of finding it's proper place.
  3. She likes to keep EVERY SINGLE THING SHE HAS MADE.  This one is a tough one for me.  You can keep SOME things, but not all things.  Otherwise you don't honor how special some of your pieces are.  This is also why the magnet boards didn't work.  I'm trying to teach her this now, so she isn't on some freak Hoarding show in 20 years.
  4. She needs places to put things or they will all end up on her desk or dresser.
  5. Like most people, she gets frustrated when she can't find something.  Thus her need for the organization.
Her room has been reorganized for the 6th time now, after this final furniture addition.  The dresser and the desk have been separated.  Having them on one wall, meant the mess could continue from one to the next.  Above her desk, I have left her with one of the magnet boards to display changing items.  A while back I picked up these butterfly decals at the Dollarstore (shown above the magnet board in the desk photo).  They work wonders at covering up nail/screw holes and can be repositioned without affecting the paint. 

She has one wall where we will tape up artwork.  This makes it not look so messy.  I tried the blue tacky stuff to hang the posters, but it doesn't stand up to the ceiling fan current. The thought of using paint to turn the whole wall into a magnet board crossed my mind, but then we'd run into the messy wall again.  Not going to do that!
Her artwork wall
Similar to my last post, this is not a room that is meant to be in a magazine.  The books aren't organized by colour or facing backwards with the spines facing in.  But the books are on the shelf.  The desk has room to work.  The room is relatively neat and thanks to a few bins on her bookshelf, I don't step on toys when I walk in to kiss her goodnight.  There are nail holes to fill and yes, I might have to repaint in a few years when the butterflies covering the holes just won't do.  All this is to say, we need to be flexible with our organizing methods.  If we find something's not working (like the magnetic artwall), it's okay to pull it down and move on...holes can be filled.  Life is constantly moving, as are our needs.  Let yourself be flexible to move with it.

Enjoy your spaces and above all...find your organizational balance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Would Hire A Decorator BUT...

The other day, I was thinking about what another mother shared with me while we were working on a project for our children's school.  Somehow through our conversations it came up that I was a decorator.  She said that one of her friends had hired a decorator.  She didn't like what they did.  Her friend's home, while it looked pretty, no longer reflected her friend's tastes.  It no longer felt like "her".  Hmmm...interesting point and of course it is a blow to my occupation if people say "decorators" do that instead of that decorator in particular.  When we have a bad experience with a furniture store, for example, do we say all furniture stores give us bad experiences or do we point to the problem one?  Either way, this is what is being said, and it had me thinking.

Overdone or just right for the client? Source Pinterest
What do you say when someone says that?  My personal feeling is, if that's the reaction your friends have to your home's makeover, then the decorator missed the mark.  They tried too hard to make the space pretty without listening to who you are, what you like, and how you like to live.  Just because the final product is worthy of a spread in the local decor magazine doesn't mean it's right for you.
With that I was reflecting on my own sense of style and how I like to live.  Am I a photo-worthy decorator?  What do I bring to the table?  Why am I doing this?  If someone were to look at my space, they wouldn't say it was magazine worthy, because it's not a WOW space, but it's a NICE space and it's LIVEABLE. The living room looks like people use it, the toys have a home of their own, and the colour palette of the finishes are soothing and coordinated.  The bathroom is classic, clean (because it's organized) and again has great budget-friendly coordinated finishes.  The kitchen is small, well thought out and again organized.  The kids' rooms have a level of organization to them, but I do have to close the doors from time to time to forget out the mess.  After all, I'm good, but I'm still trying to figure out their organizational habits, and they can make a mess REALLY fast.

In the next couple of months I am trying to really LAUNCH my business.  I mean I have officially been in business for several years.  I've had a company name, a logo, a business card and a website, I've taught at the local college, I've stayed connected in the decor world, I go to the design shows and I read all the magazines, but my reality is that I've spent a good chunk of my day taking care of my little ones.  With my youngest ready to start school, it's that time when I have to start investing more time into my business.  I'll now be available to give my best full attention to my clients so I'm ready to put myself out there.

I'm excited about this and let's face it, a little nervous.  I think, no, I KNOW I have a lot to offer.  I want my clients to be wowed by their space and love it for years to come.  Not only that...I want to CHANGE people's lives in the process.  I believe if you have an organized, beautiful space, your life can be better.  You'll have more time for the important things in your life, you'll have less stress, because you can find the things you need and you have less clutter...who wouldn't love that?  And above all, I want the space to reflect YOU, not me, when I'm done.

I'm looking forward to September my friends.  Bring on the crazy spaces and let's have a makeover, shall we?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reason to Hire a Decorator #4: You Have a Budget

This may come as a surprise (not really), but EVERYONE has a budget.
You know what you want your space to look like.  You've had dreams of walking through the completed space and you've imagined how fabulous it will feel to be in that space.  But reality is, how much money is that going to cost to achieve?  Unless you've recently decorated or redesigned a similar room in your home, you have no clue what things cost.  So when you start a new project, you don't know where to start.

And that's why we are here, once again, at the ready, to help.  You can tell me your budget and I'll be able to tell you what I can create for that dollar value.  Maybe that causes you to rethink and adjust your budget to get what you are looking for, but at least you don't start the project and get only partially completed because you run out of money.  I also have the experience and the creativity to get the look or feel you are craving for your new space, while possibly saving dollars where it's not going to matter as much.

So the question is, where should you focus your budget dollars?
  • Good quality sofa.  You will never regret this.  Granted, QUALITY for some might mean $1200 and for others will mean $4000 and up.  You have to decide where you fall.
  • Great kitchen cabinetry.  You will use this every day.  Make sure you buy the best you can afford or save until you can.
  • Hardware.  If you touch it, make sure you love it.  That being said, it doesn't need to be high end to be great.
  • Privacy.  Leave the fishbowl look for the fishes and buy some window treatments.
  • Sufficient lighting.  Now it all doesn't have to be high end lighting, but be sure to put some dollars aside to make sure you have ENOUGH lighting.  Most rooms are lacking in this area.  No point having a space you can only use when there is daylight.
  • Fabulous tile.  If the room requires tile, use some.  See below on how to save with it.
    Use a small amount of expensive tile as an accent.  Photo:  Solace Interiors
Where should you SAVE your budget dollars?
  • If your budget dollars are stretched, try doing your window treatments in layers.  Start with the layer that will provide privacy, such as blinds, the first year and then when more money has been saved, add the decorative touches, such as valences or panel drapes.
  • Accessories.  There are so many places to get accessories at great prices.  Like a piece of jewelry, a room NEEDS accessories to feel finished, otherwise it's just a plain black dress.
  • Anything that is "on trend".  Be sure to limit the dollars you spend in this area.  Try bringing in a trendy colour in an accessory instead of your main sofa. 
    Source:  American Leather
  • Fabulous tile.  Use it as an accent, and then you can tile the rest of the flooring or wall area in a more economical choice.
  • Area rugs.  There are a ton of options to choose from for every budget.  Find one that works for you.  In most cases, you will replace the area rug before your sofa or chairs.  Spend accordingly.
These are just a few examples where your interior decorator is going to KNOW what to do.  It's what we do.  Before you spend money where you shouldn't, give us a call.

Until next time,

Special limited time savings of $25 off of a colour consultation.  Click here for more information.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reason to Hire a Decorator #3: Organizing

Yesterday I was sitting on the basement floor with my four year old, attempting to recreate a Lego flying object from one of his books.  The floor was littered with hundreds and hundreds of different pieces that he had been given to him by his 17 year old half brother.  As I was trying to find pieces that might work for his flying object, all I could think of was how much easier it would be to find a piece if all the pieces were organized by colour, size and function.
Source: ebay
So I will admit it, hand in the air with the other over my heart...I have an organizing fetish.  I'm addicted to having things in their place.  I love being able to find things where I expect them to be.  Some people call it crazy, but I think it is efficient.

As a decorator, one of the things I like to do when assessing a space is thinking who will use the space, how will they use it and is there sufficient (and proper!) storage for the things that need to be here.  With 5 people living in our small home, this is especially important.  Even for children, if they have a space to put away their things away, they'll do it.

Recently I added some labels to some existing baskets in my son's room.  I didn't change what was in the baskets, just labeled them.  An immediate change was noted...my son started to clean up his room at bed time, and he was playing with those toys more often.   

In the fall, I was able to convince my husband to tear out an existing useless cabinet in our kitchen and replace it with a PAX Ikea cabinet that we had used in our old house.  For some reason, the cabinet had not fit in any of the rooms in this house and had been sitting awkwardly in my daughter's room.  I measured the opening in the kitchen and with the help of a handyman, turned my horrible open closet to an efficient storage system.  All the drawers were already in the cabinet and they now hold recycling bins, garbage bags, a spice drawer, and baking supplies.  There is even a pull out shelf that holds all the wrapping foils and plastic wraps a girl could ask for.  Beer goes on the top shelf...both the full and the empties.

I was on a roll after this conversion.  One last little fix up was needed for my linen closet.  Storage is not plentiful in this little house, so sometimes I have to be a little creative.  In my linen closet, I have minimal shelf space, but when you close the door, there is a lot of space between the back of the door and where the shelving starts.  So, I started to store things on the door.  My favourite addition? A swinging towel bar that allows me to hang laundered, ironed table clothes.  Now the effort I put into ironing is not wasted when I stuff the table clothes into the closet.

Look around your space.  Could you use the help of a decorator to put things where they belong and make your home more efficient and beautiful?  It'll make you happier...I guarantee it. 

Until next time,

Special limited time savings of $25 for a colour consultation.  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IDS 2012 Through My Engineering Eyes

I'm just back from visiting the Interior Design Show in Toronto.  During my visit I was able to attend two very well organized blogging events.  One was called Blog Podium which focused on how the media and blogs interact and the other one was the Canadian Design Blogger's Meetup.  Both fantastic.  Both taught me to be myself, in 500 words or less, with fabulous pictures and original content.  Hopefully I'll be able to translate their teachings into something fantastic for you to read.

So here I go...

This was my second year at IDS and while I'm still pretty new to the design world, this being my second year at the show, my comfort level with exploring the space on my own was much higher.  What happens when you explore on your own?  You see the things through your eyes.  What draws you in may be different than a fellow designer or design enthusiast.  So, my having a background in engineering, my eyes were drawn to joinery and interesting finishes and textures.

I love organizing, as you may know, so I also love creative things that allow you to live in small spaces.  One of the first things to catch my eye were some Murphy beds from a company called clei. The poor girl working the booth spent the whole time opening and closing those babies, which I'm sure resulted in some aching muscles. They had a number of different systems that were creative for a small space.  Check them out at Resource Furniture if you are in Toronto.



Another wow for me was on a closet system by Valcucine.  They had integrated the lighting into the shelf, so that you could see what was below the shelf, and it didn't take up any space.  Brilliant.
Kantelberg + co.
Kantelberg + co. had an amazing, original light fixture that mixed metal and glass in a way that was unique.  Love unique.  It reminds me of my daughter's best friend's hair when it's all beaded up.  It had me staring up into it, trying to figure out how all the little springs are attached.
Kantelberg + co.

Native Trails
Native Trails had a hand hammered reclaimed copper bathtub that made my jaw drop.  The closeup picture shows the beautiful workmanship that hides the welding joint.  The one shown here is nickel plated.  Interesting fact...the copper sinks and tubs also fight bacteria, though not so when they are plated.  And of course the non-plated ones get an amazing patina as they age.
Native Trails

Holtz Furniture
Holtz Furniture had some amazing joinery used in their reclaimed wood pieces.  Not sure I could use their pieces, it's that kind of beautiful.  The bottom photo uses a piece of plexiglass as a support to show off the beauty of the wood.  They had a piece at the show last year that used a thick piece of glass, so I was pleased to see the plexiglass used here.  I'm not a fan of thick glass due to its green hue.  I think it takes away from the wood.  Just my two cents...
Holtz Furniture
Holtz Furniture

There were many, many other pretty and unique things at the show.  I'll have to share those at another time.  If you are interested in reading more about IDS2012 and the blogging events, check out some fellow Ottawa Decorator's blogposts: Maureen at Modecor Muses, Kelly at Jax Does Design, Lisa Goulet Design, Sonya Kinkade Design

Until next time,

Special limited time savings of $25 for a colour consultation.  Click here for more information.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reason #2 to Hire an Interior Decorator: Matching Grandma's Favourite Chair

So most of us, when changing the decor in a space have limitations.  They might be an existing tile that can't be replaced,
Source:  http://uglyhousephotos.com/wordpress/?p=10249
 some drapes that you paid a lot of money for 3 years ago and can't afford to buy again right away,

Source:  http://autohomedecor.com
or it might be Grandma's favourite chair that she's either using or has such sentimental value, it can't be changed.

Grandma's chair...Source:  http://4.bp.blogspot.com
Or maybe these finishes or chair styles are not the problem, it's that your tastes has changed and it's time for some new things.

We all have decorating limitations.  It's the interior decorator's job to work within those limitations and still make your space as fabulous as possible.  I worked for a couple of years as a design consult at La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.  During that time, I was frequently given the challenge to coordinate with some existing furniture in the client's home.  In most cases, it was entirely possible to bring in new things to blend, disguise or hide the challenge in the room.

So bring it to us...we LOVE challenges.

Until next time,

Special limited time savings of $25 for a colour consultation.  Click here for more information.