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The Shimmer

A Year in Review

Friday, January 1

2015 was a pretty monumental year over here.

2015 was the year that I worked on some fun design projects with a bunch of new (and old!) clients and finally finished a few projects in our own home.

2015 was the year we rented a villa in Costa Rica with friends, soaking up the sun, learning how to surf, and eating way too many tacos (side note: is that even possible?).

2015 was the year we flew to NYC to celebrate our friends' beautiful wedding and I got to eat my way through the city with my love (and visit my bestie and her beau shortly before they moved across the pond!)

2015 was the year I fell in love with the city of Boston, a place near and dear to my guy's heart (and now mine), during a long weekend escape. 

2015 was the year we said goodbye to my Grumpy. And even in the moments of sorrow, there was something to be grateful for. On what would have been his 101st birthday, my family gathered from across the country to celebrate his life and laugh about his "quirks" in the way that only family can. And to have those people and share that time, I feel so lucky.

2015 was the year we celebrated the simultaneously emotional and hysterical wedding of my soon-to-be sister-in-law (along with several other beautiful weddings!).

2015 was the year that we hit that cottage lifestyle hard, cottaging on the South Shore, the North Shore, and across the shore on Prince Edward Island.

2015 was the year I became the kind of person who camps. And hikes. And ENJOYS it. And if you know me at all, you likely realize just how shocking a development this is.

2015 was the year I sold my first car. My baby. "Hot Bitch", as we lovingly referred to her. And as bittersweet as it was to let her go, it was liberating to more fully embrace our downtown walk-to-work rarely-use-a-car lifestyle.

2015 was the year I celebrated my 31st birthday, which was surprisingly more emotionally difficult than my 30th. I'm officially "in my thirties", which is about 10 years older than I feel in my head. 

2015 was the year I officially registered my design business. Something that has been a dream of mine for a long long time. (And now 2016 will be the year that it officially launches!)

2015 was the year my family expanded in the most beautiful way with the addition of a new soon-to-be brother-in-law and niece.

2015 was the year the love of my life asked me to spend that life with him. And I said yes. HECK yes. All the yes. 

Pretty dang excited to see what's to come in 2016.

Office Budget

Tuesday, December 15

The fiancĂ© (I have to use that term as much as possible given that it’s time-limited, haha) and I were discussing the office recently and he thought it might be a good idea to share the cost breakdown with all of you because it’s surprising how little we needed to spend to make such a difference in how it looked. It really wasn’t very expensive, as far as rooms go – especially given that we purchased almost everything in the space (rather than using stuff we already owned). I hadn’t really given it too much thought – but he’s absolutely right. Although some spaces do require more investment to decorate, solely because of the furniture required (e.g., sofas, beds, dining tables), the office definitely doesn’t have to be one of them. We redid our entire office for just over $1000 plus tax (the 16-year-old Trading Spaces-junkie in me is ecstatic about this). 

Here’s how it broke down:

PAINT: We painted three of the walls with Benjamin Moore’s ‘Sweet Innocence’ (~$75) and one wall with Rustoleum’s chalkboard paint (~$30). We also painted all of the trim, using Benjamin Moore’s ‘Snow White’ but we’re using this colour on the trim throughout the house, so we just borrowed a bit from the can we already had.

CURTAINS: We lucked out a little bit here. We had to have something custom-made due to the dimensions of the window, which can get pretty expensive. Luckily I managed to hit the fabric store during one of their awesome sales (which actually happen pretty frequently if you’re a member) when linen was “buy 1 meter, get 2 meters free”. Fabricville will also sew your curtains for you (for a fee) if you buy your fabric from them. The fabric, sewing, grommets, and rod (Umbra, from Sears) came in at $160.

RUG: This was a HomeSense find. With their rugs, I feel you just need to be diligent about looking. For 3 weeks straight, they’ll have nothing but garbage rugs – and then you’ll hit the jackpot. It’s really just about persistence. This rug, which is a 5x8, cost $149.

DESK: A Kijiji score – again, you can find amazing things if you’re persistent. We spent $100 on it.

CHAIRS: The most expensive element we purchased, but worth it. These are from Structube, and although they’re not Eames-level quality, they are high enough quality for the use they get. Plus, they’re much prettier than the average office chair. They were $199 each.

BOOKCASE: This is literally garage/workshop shelving from Home Hardware, and I believe Rona also sells this brand (Gorilla something-or-other). It was $89.

LIGHT FIXTURE: A crazy steal from Home Depot. $15. I'm not joking.

ART: The art was a gift to the boyfriend a few years ago that I found on Etsy (PopChart Labs) for $52. We DIY’d the frame. Etsy is an awesome source for inexpensive art.

FRENCH DOOR (not pictured): FREE! Well, sort of. We did pay the guy who installed our bedroom doors to move this French door (which used to be on one of our bedrooms) upstairs to the office. Well worth it for the light it now spills into the rest of the main floor.

So there you have it. Our incredibly inexpensive office makeover. It really doesn't have to cost a fortune!

Recent Obsessions

Wednesday, December 2

Pencils | Rifle Paper Co.
Marble & Wood Wine Cooler (would totally use this to store kitchen utensils) | Indigo
Floral Temporary Tattoos | Rifle Paper Co.
Grey Velvet Ring Box | The MRS Box

Sarah Style

Monday, November 30

It's no secret that I'm a Sarah Richardson fan. I've loved her since her Room Service days and my life was pretty much made when I got to have tea with her in Toronto a few years ago (thank you, Blog Podium!) So I'm sure you can guess my response when Simon & Schuster offered to send me her new book, At Home: Sarah Style, to review.

No exaggeration, when I got home from work and saw that it had arrived, I literally stood in the kitchen for 30 minutes, leaning against the counter reading it with my coat still on. 

Sarah has such an engaging way of speaking/writing and it was really cool to get an inside peek at her home and life. I'm in love with that flamingo wallpaper in her daughter's room!

Not only does she share peeks into never-before-seen spaces, but she also included some of her personal family recipes, like the one for wild rice salad below that I am definitely going to try this week.

And who doesn't love a book with a gorgeous spine?! The perfect gift for the design-lover in your life.

Although I was sent the book for free to review, all opinions are mine and I only choose to share things with my readers that are consistent with my taste and this blog.

Operation Office: The Full Story

Monday, November 23

You guys. We started #OperationOffice almost two years ago. How nuts is that?! It’s funny how your own projects always seem to get put on the backburner. But no more! Operation Office is finally complete! 

Check out a few of our recent upgrades:

Degrees! On the WALL. Like proper ADULTS. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to see these up instead of resting in a stack on the floor. And it took under 5 minutes to do.

A proper filing cabinet (which you can just barely see to the left of the photo)! We had been storing our files and papers on our bookshelf in clear acrylic boxes from Target (moment of silence for its Canadian demise) but we felt that space could be better used for other things and I have to admit, it’s nice to have all of our boring-looking papers tucked away, rather than out in the open.  We grabbed this one off Kijiji and it’s a little banged up… but we both kind of like that. It gives the room a slightly worn-in industrial feeling. We’re in talks regarding a plant to put on top. The main hold-up is that I’ve managed to kill everything but my fiddle-leaf fig (which is my BABY) and our snake plant (which is strangely durable given how much neglect it faces). But this space does get way more light than practically anywhere else in the house, so maybe I can branch out into something more advanced. (Probably not.)

I’ve been using the acrylic storage boxes that used to house our files to store fabric samples, which are WAY prettier than boring papers. And they’d just been sitting in piles on the floor or the desk, so this is also incredibly more functional!

Probably the most exciting development so far for me has been these chairs… THESE CHAIRS. I’ve been coveting them for ages – they’re the Spencer from Structube. I had intended to get them in white but we both wear dark denim a lot and I was worried about colour transfer. Rather than spend all of our time stressing about magic-erasering the material, I decided to go with black, which works just as well in the space (if not better).  They were shockingly easy to put together (I think we were both a little wary after our dining chair debacle) and so far seem to be a great quality match for our needs.

We organized the closet. We had done this once before but now we’ve had time to see how much stuff we actually never use. We donated and turfed a bunch of things and grabbed a few organizers and hooks to keep the contents nice and easy to find. And it no longer stresses us out to open it… I'm planning to replace or spray-paint the door knob, but I haven't got to that project yet.

We switched out the light fixture. It was a generic traditional fixture before, and we found this awesome globe light at Home Depot for 14.99. Yes, you read that right. Insane. It’s fun and modern and I love how chrome base picks up on the chrome in the office chairs, and…

Our new curtains! It took me forever to decide on a curtain fabric but I finally chose this simple acid yellow linen. I like how it picks up on the Apple print (from PopChart Labs) but doesn’t compete with the pattern in the rug. One of our windows presses right against the wall, which made for a slight challenge in figuring out how to configure our curtains. This is the brightest room in our dark house and we didn’t want to risk blocking any of that light, so instead of having two panels made (one of which would sit in front of the left window and block light, even when open), we opted for one wide panel that can be pulled all the way to the right and out of the way of the window. We also chose grommets over pinch pleats to ensure that the panel could be completely pulled away from the window (pinch pleats are a lot more voluminous and may have slid back in front of the window, even when pulled to the side). The chrome-look grommets and chrome curtain rod tie in nicely to the chairs and light fixture.

And the final task was completed just this past week. We had one of the French doors from the basement moved upstairs to replace the office door in order to let some of the light streaming in filter into the rest of the house. It's perfect. I'm thinking I might spray the handle and paint the brass casings black to make it a bit more modern, but that's a project for another day.

So there you have it! Operation Office is DONE. Two years later, but DONE. And, just to show you how far we’ve actually come, check out these before and afters:

Pretty radical, right?

Other Office Posts:
- Before
- Chalkboard Wall 1 and 2
- Walls
- Trim
- Desk
- Bookshelf
- Art
- Rug

Ahead of Schedule

Tuesday, November 10

It's no secret that I love paper goods. It's also no secret that I love Minted (see here, here, and here). But what you may not know about me (unless you know me in real life) is that I'm a huge procrastinator and am constantly doing things at the last minute. So when Minted offered to send me some holiday cards to review a full TWO MONTHS before Christmas... it was exactly what my procrastinating self needed to get on the ball this year. 

I chose these gorgeous foil-pressed flat cards from Alethea and Ruth, keeping with my preference for botanicals, calligraphy, and metallics (here are last year's cards, which are still available). 

But this year, I amped up my order by adding these pretty green speckled envelope liners and Minted's signature skinny address wrap. I've never tried either before and unsurprisingly, I was super impressed. In keeping with Minted's attention to quality, both are beautiful in person and add a really polished final touch to the cards.

Although Minted has a plethora of gorgeous paper goods (and fabrics! and art! and homewares!), I'm always drawn to their selection of foil-stamped goods. There's something about that added reflective element that seems to completely elevate the whole look.

And although we're not really at the family-photo-christmas-card stage of our life yet, Minted has a ton of gorgeous photo options if that's what you're looking for. Below, I've rounded up a few of my favourites in case you're in the market for something a little special this holiday season.
Joy by Makewells   |   Cheers by Hooray Creative   |   Season's Greetings by Laura Hankins   |   Warmest Holiday Wishes by Cheer Up Press  |   Happy by Waldo Press   |   New Year Cheer by Up Up Creative   |   Merry by Hooray Creative   |   Merry & Married by Hooray Creative   |   It's a Wonderful Life by Geekink Design   |   2016 by Phrosne Ras   |   Oh What FUN! by Alicia Schultz   |   Joyful by Erin Deegan   |   Happy 2016 by Geekink Design   |   Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Laura Bolter Design   |   Merry by Leah Bisch

Aaaaand, Minted's Free Foil Event starts today (and ends next Monday, Nov 16th), which means you get 20% off anything foil-pressed (including art)! PLUS, you can also get 15% off any orders over $150 and 10% off any orders over $100 with the code JOY. What are you waiting for?! If I'm not procrastinating this year, neither should you ;)

"How is the foyer coming along?"

Wednesday, November 4

“How is the foyer coming along?” It’s probably the most asked question about the house I get from family and friends. Well. It stalled for awhile. We need to beef up the existing trim (which is insubstantial and unimpressive) and after a few miscommunications/prolonged delays from craftsmen, we decided to tackle it ourselves. Which always ALWAYS ends up taking way longer.  And eventually, I just couldn’t wait for the trim to be fixed anymore. That flesh-toned monstrosity had to go. So I broke out my trusty little shortcut brush (the BEST) and painted all that dang trim Benjamin Moore’s Snow White. Big sigh of relief.

Yes, it would have been more efficient to wait until the new trim was installed to paint but installing the trim was holding up the rest of the project. Now, we can move ahead with other components of the space (like the CEILING!!!) and get to the trim when we finally make the time to DIY the work. 

In the meantime, I’ll just be in the foyer making all the heart-eye emojis.

P.S. Check out this before and after: