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The Shimmer

Paint It Black

Monday, March 2


Remember how I said that our doors were already looking pretty fierce? That may have been an understatement. Check them out now:


We painted them Benjamin Moore's Space Black - which is a fairly true black, although a bit softer. We used a pearl finish, on the advice of the paint store guy (If you're local, we always go to the Acadia & Quigley BM on Quinpool - they're amazing and know EVERYTHING.)


I do acknowledge that our doors were already pretty fantastic - old, solid wood, lots of interesting moulding details. I feel like this transformation is akin to Rachel Leigh Cook taking off her glasses in She's All That and suddenly everyone thinks she's beautiful. Except, I suppose, we put on her glasses. Or maybe we dyed her hair. I don't know. This analogy is getting confusing. Basically, yes our doors were pretty awesome underneath - but even cheap doors look amazing painted black. 

Now it's time to move on to the next project on our list: Painting those dang walls. You can check out earlier iterations of the foyer here and here.

P.S. Trying to photograph this tiny little entry is really making me aware of my need for a wide-angle camera lens! Sorry for the terrible angles!

I can probably just leave it like this, right?

Friday, February 6

If you read Tuesday's post, then you've seen the atrocious 'before' photos of our frightening foyer. Gulp. Click here for a little refresher. Well... we've made one very important step in the right direction: NO MORE WALLPAPER!


Check out those marvelous mauve murs. We can probably just leave it like that, right? No need to put in all the work we had planned?  After all, it already feels so much brighter in here.


NOT. Oh, you guys. It's going to get so so SO much better. Just you wait and see...

P.S. If you're looking for wallpaper removal tips, I think it probably depends on the quality of the wallpaper you're removing. For ours, we used spray bottles of boiling water (be very careful - the bottles get super hot and one of them - a cheaper/thinner one - actually crumpled) and spackle knives. The longer the water sits (up to a point), the easier it is to scrape the wallpaper off. We basically just sprayed a bunch of the area we were working on; let it sit for a minute and then used the knife to peel up the edges. After you get started, you can spray ahead so you don't need to wait. In some areas that have been well-sprayed, you can peel off huge strips off paper with your hands instead of the knife. The wallpaper comes off in two layers - the top coloured bit and the white sticky underlayer - we actually found the top bit the hardest to remove, but the whole process was much easier (although still time consuming) than we had imagined.

Foyer Fiasco

Tuesday, February 3

You guys, there's one part of our house that you've never seen. For very very good reason. The foyer... (duh duh duhhhhh). You see our house is a classic city Victorian, very typical of Halifax. And like many classic downtown Halifax homes, it's been converted into a set of flats. So you step inside the front door of our house, and you're greeted with this...


I apologize if you had to avert your eyes. It's painful, I know. Blue floral wallpaper. Flesh-toned trim. (Side note: WHY DOES ANYONE EVER THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO PAINT ANYTHING THE COLOUR OF FLESH?!)


It's the armpit of our house. So so bad. And yet, everyone who enters must see this. And not only those who enter our home, but also visitors to the apartment upstairs. And I call myself an interior stylist. It's EMBARRASSING. 


Which is why I'm very happy to announce that times, they are a-changing. Sayonara, wallpaper. Farewell, flesh-toned trim. This place is going to be light and bright and funky and fun... and much more welcoming to any guest who deigns to visit.


The wallpaper is already toast (using the boiling-water-in-a-spray-bottle-and-a-spackling-knife method). The doors are also now looking pretty fly. Next up: several fresh coats of paint, fancifying the trim, and adding a killer ceiling feature, an awesome light fixture, a jumbo piece of art, and a few functional accessories. It's going to be INSANE, you guys. I'm so SO SO excited. Stay tuned.

(Also, I may have intentionally not cleaned it up before taking these photos to enhance the dramatic before and after. Guilty as charged.)

Buying Art Like A Grownup

Tuesday, January 27

I’ve been trying to be more intentional with my art purchases of late.  You see, I have a bit of an addiction. If I LOVE a piece of art and it’s in my price range, I buy it. I don’t stop to consider where I might put it or whether it goes with my current aesthetic. I just buy it. Pull the trigger. Not a second thought. But now that I live in a real house - a house we intend to be in for quite some time - a house with designed interiors and legitimately nice furniture instead of whatever was cheapest at Ikea, I’m starting to realize that a house only has so many walls. And my exponential art purchasing just isn't sustainable.

So, like I said. I’ve been making attempts to be more intentional. Resisting my initial visceral reaction of: I LOVE IT. I NEED IT. I HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW. Instead, thinking: Where will I put it? Will it coordinate with the other aspects of that room? Is it the right size? Right mood? Will the boyfriend also like it? In other words, I’m being an adult. It’s hard, you guys.

I think art is so SO personal. More so than your furniture or colour scheme or choice of pillows and rugs. I struggle with definitively picking out art for clients because I think your art should speak to YOU, not the person who designed your room. And what speaks to me doesn’t necessarily speak to you. Because of this, my typical MO when sourcing art for clients is to compile one big long list of pieces that I think could work in their space and have them select what they like from the list. It works, but it’s a process for sure. I’m constantly bookmarking pieces and artists I love for future reference and client use.

Anyway, this was really just one big long introduction for today’s post. A post about the art that I DESPERATELY want to buy, but have been resisting thus far, until I can make grown-up decisions about it. Here are a few of my favourites:

The Power of 10 by Irene Suchocki
Clothed Figure Study 1 by David Lloyd
Coming Home by Sara Coursin
Calculation by Stephanie Nowotarski
Rimma by Tosya
William Saroyan Quotation by Chelsea Petaja
Some Things Take Time by Laia Blesa
Frida Kahlo by Michelle Tavares
Grey Waters by Kimberly Blok
In a Mist by Jane Rovers

Forward Momentum

Thursday, January 22


I'm pretty sad about Target. I mean, I don't feel sad for the corporation that they failed (which someone seemed to think was the reason why everyone was talking about Target on Twitter... uh no). No, their failure was their own fault. They weren't prepared, they didn't do their research on a Canadian market, and they didn't adapt or change when things clearly weren't working. That's on them. But I'm sad for me. There aren't that many places around here that you can get beautifully designed home decor for an affordable price. HomeSense can be great - but it can also be junky. And Target? Target's design aesthetic just spoke to me. It's been an awesome resource for styling and design. The perfect spot to pick up accent pieces. A lot of our house is from Target. And a decent amount of my clients' homes are accessorized by Target. But alas, no more. Anyway, I was super bummed last Thursday when they announced they were closing up shop in Canada. It sucks. So, I headed out to Target after work to grab a few things that I had been eyeing but not yet bought. Yes, I could have waited for the liquidation sales, but I cared more about being able to find the items I wanted than the cost - they're inexpensive regardless.


And although I may be melancholy about Target's failure... our bedroom is not. In fact, I'd say it's profited quite nicely from Target's demise. I picked up two awesome oversized Beaver Canoe pillows, a classic Threshold bench for the foot of the bed, and a few random accessories, including those you saw in Monday's dresser post.


I finally feel like this room is heading in the right direction! We also switched back to our white duvet and picked up some super soft white sheets. There's something so lovely and restful about an all-white bed, isn't there?


I also styled up our bedside tables a little. That adorable little tortoiseshell box (old, from Target) holds night cream and lip balm. The little dish is for jewelry that I've forgotten to take off. And of course, I had to pick up one of the picture frames I'd been eyeing at Target.


Now, I just need to deal with that window situation, save up for a new rug, and invest in some new dresser/side table hardware. It's funny how bedrooms are often the last place people focus their attention because you spend SO much time in them. The changes in here have definitely been worth it. It already feels a million times more restful!


Styling Practice

Monday, January 19


The one area I've always struggled with when it comes to design is styling surfaces. Furniture selection and placement, I can do. Gallery wall arranging - not a problem. But styling the surfaces of coffee tables, side tables, dressers, and the like has always been something I struggle with. I understand and agree with the premises of grouping things in threes, having objects of varying heights and weights, and looking for a cohesive colour scheme. But in practice? I struggled. But maybe that's it. Maybe it really is just a matter of practice.


So I've been practicing. Here's one example: our bedroom dresser.


If we're being perfectly honest, it's usually covered in clothes... but I figured if it was all styled up, we might be more inclined to actually put things away at the end of the day. Wishful thinking?


Given the sad news of Target's demise (worst worst WORST), I beelined there at the end of last week to stock up on a few favourites before they disappeared for good, including a few new accessories for the dresser. I also FINALLY hung our DIY Typography art on the wall. 


I corralled my daily makeup into a few pretty containers, which makes for a much more aesthetically pleasing and restful view.


Other plans I have for this dresser? I'm planning to replace all of the handles with something new. This dresser is part of a set the boyfriend bought before we met and it matches the bed and both nightstands. Although it's super high quality, I'm really not a fan of matching furniture sets or of all super modern furniture. My thought is that by switching out the hardware for something that looks a little more vintage, it will help make the room feel a little less "catalogue". On a trip to Lee Valley the other week, I spotted many a brass handle I adored... so the tough part now will be to narrow down my selections and find something the boyfriend and I both like. Stay tuned for a post on that decision in the coming weeks.


Liquor Locker Lighting

Monday, January 12

I know, I know. I've been MIA for ages. My only excuse is that it's been tough to re-adjust to real life after an awesome holiday vacation. But I'm back. And with something new to show you! If you've been around for awhile, you may remember the vintage locker we bought last year to use as a bar in the corner of our living room - affectionately known as the 'liquor locker'. It's a definite conversation starter and one of our favourite pieces in the house.

Liquor Locker Lighting; The Shimmer

The boyfriend REALLY wanted to put lights in it. But it's a metal locker. So it's not the easiest thing to do. For awhile, we investigated different options, but everything seemed like a lot of work (e.g., drilling a hole through the back for a cord) or just didn't feel quite right (e.g., coloured stick-on lights).

Liquor Locker Lighting; The Shimmer

In December, I picked up a bunch of delicate battery-powered string lights for holiday decorating (check out one of my holiday ideas here) and we ended up having a few strings left over. I can't remember who thought of it first, but we realized that we may have finally found the solution to our liquor locker lighting conundrum.

Liquor Locker Lighting; The Shimmer

They're PERFECT. Battery-powered so no drilling required. Really delicate, so they're barely noticeable when they're not turned on. And because the strings are actually wires, they can be bent into the perfect position (without risking knocking something over).

Liquor Locker Lighting; The Shimmer

I love how they make the glass sparkle. And I REALLY love how easy it was to do. You can find the lights we used here.

P.S. Sorry for the iPhone quality photos... for some reason, it seemed to capture the look of the lighting far better than our nice camera!