A most perfect house

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December 17th 2014

Do you ever come across a picture of a room and gasp out loud? This doesn’t happen to me as often as it once did, but every once in a while, an image of an interior will literally take my breath away. I am being super dramatic here but I was born that way and I can’t help it. This entire house, picture after picture, had me trying to catch my breath. I am obsessed with the colour palette and light of this home. I often tell my clients that it’s helpful to create a colour palette for your entire home (as opposed to one palette per room) because it creates a greater flow between each room and, more  importantly, it facilitates shopping and coordinating. This house is a prime example of this. Well done Amber Interiors. Check out all the pics from this incredible home on her blog.

{All images by Tessa Neustadt}

Baba Souk Pop-Up Shop

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December 16th 2014

Mark your calendars! One of my favourite Canadian online shops, Baba Souk, is hosting a Pop-Up boutique in Montreal later this week. If you love indie design, artisanal crafts, and exotic treasures, don’t miss out! I just might see you there.

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Happy First Birthday House!

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December 15th 2014

This week marks 1 year since we moved into this old house (sidenote: my friend just bought a house in a small village in the UK that dates back to the 15th century, which makes our house feel like a newborn, in the grand scheme of things). Theo, Mike and I celebrated this special anniversary on sunday morning with a kitchen dance party (I dare you not to dance to this song), a serious vacuuming session, and a roast chicken dinner. We were feeling much happier than we were when this photo was taken, on moving day last year – sick, sleep deprived and covered in a fine layer of paint and sawdust (Mike’s hair kills me):

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I’ve had a rather rocky relationship with this house. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was more like we became friends and then feelings developed and then we fought a lot – especially in the beginning – and then we got comfortable with one another and eased into a commitment. How romantic. My father told me that you really have to live in an old house for 4 seasons before you really understand its noises, its quirks, its character. That is so true. Both for humans and houses.

I tried to find some of the first pictures I took of this house but they were on a hard drive somewhere and I couldn’t be bothered to get up to find the hard drive #laziestbloggerever. But what I did find, was proof that I’m totally nuts. I forgot that I’d done this but, when we first visited this house, I actually photoshopped the pictures from the MLS listing to see if there was potential there. I mean, I could see the potential in my head but I wanted to bring it to life in order to help others see it. Also, I just like doing this kind of stuff. It helped some of our friends, who are used to my madness, to see what we saw in this house. Now keep in mind, I’m a terrible Photoshopper but if you squint, you can see what I was aiming for (apparently black on everything):

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And here is what these rooms looks like, more or less, one year later. Surprisingly not that far off from my terribly Photoshopped pictures.

 

Our new entryway

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December 11th 2014

Our entryway renovation was completed over a week ago and I am happy to report that we are thrilled with how everything turned out. This was more than a simple re-decorating project. It involved some demo and re-designing of the storage situation. As I’ve mentioned in the past, our old entryway simply wasn’t working for our family. It was too cramped and the closet was hard to access. If you’ve been following our move into this house (almost exactly 1 year ago!), you might remember what the entryway looked like when we first moved in:

The rust-coloured tile floor was durable but every spec of dust or salt stood out against that colour. The transom was pink marble and cracked in several spots. The dark green walls with wood beadboard and trim made this tiny space feel claustrophobic. But the major issue was how little room there was in the actual entryway. When the closet doors were closed, you couldn’t step into the house without having to lean into the wall to close the front door. If we had guests over in winter, one adult would have to walk in with the door open, remove their boots in the entryway and then walk inside before another guest could step inside. People inevitably spilled into the hallway because the whole scene was just uncomfortable and cramped.

We didn’t have the means or time to renovate the entryway when we moved in so we did the bare minimum:

  • we removed the beadboard
  • painted everything white
  • changed the ceiling light
  • removed the closet doors to buy ourselves a few more inches of floor space

But these minor changes did not fix our main problems: space and storage. I started to brainstorm some ways to make the entryway more functional in the spring, after living through our first winter in this home. It became apparent that a) we are lazy slobs and b) gaining more floor space was the #1 priority. I say we’re slobs because apparently we can’t be bothered to use hangers or to place our shoes in a tidy row. We’re hook people.

Our family is always in a rush in or out the door so whatever storage solution we designed for the new entryway had to be very simple, practical and capable of hiding our mess. Since we couldn’t tear down any walls, this was the space we had to work with. The only way to buy more floor space was to demo out the closet and maximize the wall space. Here is what I sketched out last summer:

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I came up with the idea for a trunk to store our shoes. It would double as a bench when closed and, more importantly, hide our crap. My amazing contractor, Christian of Bonjour! Construction, was concerned that our shoes would get damaged but I assured him that this was the best solution for us and that all winter boots would be stored on the floor during winter. He and I debated whether or not we should opt for open cubbies but I knew that they would just get crammed with mismatched shoes and that the cubbies would get real dirty, real fast. In a small space, hiding clutter is key. Christian suggested that the front of the trunk not touch the ground so that we could expose more floor. This would give us about 5 inches to tuck the toes of our boots under and expose more floor, thus giving the impression that the entryway was deeper than it actually was. Sold. I also asked for some closed storage above to house Mike’s precious baseball caps, recycling bags and other random accessories that we need to access frequently. Christian took some measurements and sent me this:

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Once the plans for the custom trunk and cabinets were finalized, I went shopping. Christian recommended I check out Ciot for the new floors. They have the most beautiful tiles and a great liquidation room. That’s where we spotted boxes of tiny grey marble tiles on super sale. They were still slightly more expensive than some of the tiles I’d looked at but the quality was superb and I knew that they would hide dirt and salt stains really well. Next up was wallpaper. The initial wallpaper I had my eye on didn’t work out (long story) so I had to find another option real quick. I wanted wallpaper because, unlike paint, a pattern can hide scuff marks and scratches. And I like to make a bold statement in a small space.

Turns out, wallpaper can be very expensive ($200+ a roll). Depending on the repeat, we needed at least 3 rolls and there was no way I was spending that much on wallpaper. I was determined to get a better deal. I went to Hygge & West to see if they had any products on sale and, sure enough, they did! Had we had an unlimited budget, I would have probably opted for this beauty but this simple Lisa Congdon print was half off ($62.50/roll) and I knew that it would work in our home. After finding an extra 20% promo code, our 3 rolls of wallpaper came up to less than $200 total! Plus, the rolls arrived within 48 hours. #winning

Now for hardware. No one will be shocked to learn that I went for brushed brass. I knew that I would be purchasing two of these knobs for the cabinet doors, so that was easy, but my search for wall hooks took weeks. I found lots of polished brass wall hooks but finding ones that were in the same finish as the knobs, and that offered 2 hooks per piece, were a rarity. Why two hooks? Since the back wall is so small, I didn’t want to load it up with wall hooks but we live in Canada and we have many seasons with many coats. We also have a toddler with another one on the way and three hooks total would not suffice. We needed a minimum of 6 for this to be functional. I don’t know how I came to land on Scout Regalia’s website but I knew I had found “the one” as soon as laid eyes on these brushed brass, double-hook beauties. Sure, they were a bit pricey but they were solid enough to handle the weight of many heavy coats and, well, they were so prettttyyyy.

The final touch was a mirror and that took all of 2 minutes. I went to Target, spotted this matte black round mirror with leather strap for $70 (it’s part of the Beaver Canoe line) and walked myself to the cash whilst simultaneously patting myself on the back. While I shopped for accessories, Christian was busy demo-ing out the closet, wrestling with old alarm systems, masterfully hanging wallpaper and laying down tile.

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Like most renovations, there were a few surprises but all in all, the renovation process went quite smoothly. As they say, a good plan and a good contractor are key.

So here is a final reminder of what the entryway looked like 1 month ago (total slobs):

And here it is now!

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These pictures are showing what our entryway would look like if we lived in Southern California where the only thing I would need to hang is my straw hat and perhaps an organic cotton reusable bag I use to go to the farmer’s market on Sundays. But we got over 30cm of snow yesterday and we need armour. Here’s what the entryway actually looks like with all of our stuff. Not as Pinterest-y but it is so functional and, if you ask me, still pretty cute.

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A big thanks to Christian of Bonjour! Construction for being such a great ally. I can’t recommend him enough.

 

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