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The Shimmer

As If We Weren't Going To Take Cheesy Holiday Photos...

Monday, November 21

I’ve been looking forward to taking cheesy Christmas card family photos with Ralphie basically since we got him in May. I expected some resistance from my husband, but he, shockingly, was as on board as I was (Ralphie, not so much). So when the opportunity came up to work with Minted again – it seemed like a perfect fit. 

My love for Minted is hardly a secret (see here and here) and our holiday cards each year always get such a favorable reaction– especially when we opt for the foil-pressed ones (see our 2015, 2014, and 2013 holiday cards). It’s an awesome way to reflect on the years that have passed (I’ve kept one of each card we’ve sent) and they make amazing keepsakes. Andrew’s grandmother actually framed one of the ones we've sent, which makes my heart all kinds of happy!

This year, we opted for a super modern aesthetic by artist Grace Cobb. Given that we had a pretty significant year (marriage, puppy, honeymoon in Hawaii), we decided to use one of their backing options (which we usually leave blank) to share a few additional photos of our year so far. I love the way they turned out and I can’t wait to send them off to our family and friends.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Minted, they’re a design marketplace featuring artists from all over the world. The quality is amazing, the designs are beautiful, and the process is seamless. In addition to buying business cards, art for our house, and art for my clients, we also got the Thank You cards for our wedding from Minted, as well as used their wedding website service for our guests to RSVP/learn a little about the event, the wedding party, and us! If you haven’t checked them out before, they’re well worth a browse – I promise!

This review was written in exchange for holiday cards provided by Minted. All opinions and decisions are my own and reflect my genuine ADORATION of this company and their products. No lie.

Junebug Weddings

Monday, November 7

In case you somehow missed my obnoxious sharing on every possible form of social media... our wedding was featured over on Junebug Weddings this past weekend! Check it out here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a RUG!

Sunday, October 30

Do you remember what our foyer looked like back before we started working on it? No? Take a look. Go on, I’ll wait.

AWFUL. Things improved dramatically when we removed the wallpaper, painted the doors, painted the walls, painted the trim, and installed a new light fixture. But friends… things got SO much better! Check it out:

We got a vintage kilim!!! We’ve been talking about getting one for literally TWO YEARS. And we finally pulled the trigger a few months ago.

This baby is from Turkey and approximately 40 years old. I love the bright fun pattern (which conveniently hides dirt) and the durability of the wool. It’s just such a fun pop when you enter the house and makes me smile every time I come in. The beag doesn't hurt either, haha.

I still want to get a little shelf or pocket for below the mirror (for mail/keys, etc.) and probably replace the switch plate but otherwise we're pretty close to done for now! And now I think I'll end on this before & after shot because WHAT. I can't believe we tolerated that dang foyer for so long.

Project Hester

Friday, August 19

So, I’ve been teasing you with this project for years now (see here and here). Ridiculous. I’m sorry. We finished it awhile ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to taking non-iPhone photos of it, so I had yet to share. Well, this lovely client of mine has purchased a house (this was a rental flat) and is in the process of packing up all of these pretties as you read this, so it became very necessary to get some photos before she began. So at last – proper photos! 

A little backstory: As mentioned above, this was a rental flat. It had lots of charm, for sure, but there were certain aspects that we just couldn’t change and had to work around – the wall colours, the overhead light fixtures, and the window coverings. And when we started, my client only had a bedroom set, so we had to bring EVERYTHING else in!

This was one of my favourite projects to work on to date – this client is so fun and easy-going; she let me try out all my crazy ideas, which I think resulted in a pretty fun space. Let’s start in the foyer/hallway. This was a tiny space that was mostly used for passing through. To spruce it up, we added a kilim upholstered bench and framed a bunch of movie posters my client had found when travelling.

The kitchen was actually pretty decent, so all we did in here was build an island to make the space a little more functional, and paint my client’s existing stools to tie in with the pop of colour from her dish towels.

In the dining room, my client found this amazing rug, sideboard, table, and chairs at auction. After a few text message photo consults, she purchased them and we got to work polishing up the rest of the room.

We chose a fun modern fabric to reupholster the chair cushions and added a few accessories to bring the room together.

Typically, we would also bring in art and window coverings but that didn't get done (or couldn't get done) before the move.

This may be one of my favourite living rooms yet. 

We layered a classic hempweave with a fun striped rug and added a cozy down-filled sofa and classic leather club chair piled with an assortment of pillows in different textures and a plush throw.

We also added a vintage dresser for the TV, matching gold side tables, an industrial coffee table, and a modern spine bookcase to fill the corner; and brought in some black & white photographs and fun navy lamps for an extra dose of personality. Again, we couldn’t add drapes here but ordinarily we would!

Lastly, this little office nook was pretty fun. We used a kilim-esque rug with a vintage desk and chair, a bright teal lamp, and a vintage armoire for storage. Simple but pulled together.

So there you have it! The whole space. I love how this flat came together and I’m so excited to reuse and repurpose these pieces so they work in her new home. You can catch a sneak peek of our plans on Instagram here. And if you’re interested in having me help make your home feel more cohesive and beautiful, I’d love to chat! You can reach me at vanessa[at]thebackdropdesign[dot]com.

Little Details

Wednesday, August 10

Another wedding post?! Last one, I promise. 

All photos by Chelle Wootten Photography
Today, I thought I'd share a few other little components we created for our wedding that helped to make everything feel cohesive but really took very little time: our programs, place cards, and table numbers.


As you can probably tell, the process for our programs was very similar to our invitations, which you can check out here. I drew the original on white cardstock with a fine black pen. My bridesmaid, Kel, took care of printing them for me (THANK YOU!!) and then the whole posse of bridesmaids helped me gold leaf them the night before the wedding. Super simple and very quick - especially when done by a group!


I wanted these to feel reminiscent of the envelopes we used for our invitations. I took some black cardstock, used a paper cutter to cut them to size (approximately - I wasn't too specific because they weren't going to be side-by-side so no one would notice if they were slightly different sizes), and then used my favourite inky white pen to hand letter each guest's name the night before the wedding. It was super quick and something I did while my bridesmaids and I all sat around chatting before bed. 


These were inspired by our New Year's Eve table settings and also were reminiscent of our invitation envelopes. I cut thick black cardstock into circles, using a bowl to get them perfectly round. Then, I used a pencil to spell out each table number, and then, white paint and a thin paint brush to trace over the pencil. I did this on both sides, so you could see the table number regardless of where you were standing/sitting. We popped them into super modern gold holders that we rented from Make Merry and that was it! Again, a project that took under an hour from start to finish.

None of these projects were at all complicated, but the goal was to make the whole wedding from invite to last call feel intentional and cohesive.


For photos of our wedding, click here.
For details on our wedding decor, click here.
For our DIY invitations, click here.
For our DIY "guestbook", click here.

Forever Doesn't Have To Take Forever (A DIY)

Monday, August 8

Photo Credit: Chelle Wootten Photography
For our wedding, we weren't super into the idea of a traditional guestbook. We both felt like it would just sit on our coffee table or bookshelf and we'd never really look at it after the first week or so. But we still wanted to have something that would help us remember all of the people who spent the best day ever with us. I've seen a few versions of guestbook art floating around on the internets and there are certainly plenty on Etsy, but again, I wanted it to feel like us - and most of those just... didn't. So after a fruitless search, I decided to make my own.

This was actually probably the easiest project I did for the wedding, no joke. It took me about 5 minutes of work (and 25 minutes of waiting for the foil adhesive to get tacky). That's it. If you want to try it yourself, here's what you need: white art board in the size you want (I got mine at DeSerres for around $5), a pencil, a good eraser, foil adhesive (I use the Mona Lisa brand), gold foil (found at any craft store or on Amazon), a skinny paintbrush, and a wider/fluffier paintbrush.
Once you've chosen what you'd like to write, sketch it out lightly on the board - I placed mine a little above centre. I also used Emily's faux calligraphy trick, which is one of my faves. Then, using your skinny paintbrush, dip it in the foil adhesive and paint over everything you want to be covered in gold foil. Wait around 25 minutes for the adhesive to get tacky. Then, take a few pinches of gold foil and place on top of the adhesive, rubbing lightly as you go to ensure it attaches to the glue. Once the whole thing is covered, use your fluffier paint brush to brush off the excess gold foil (be careful - it floats through the air and is difficult to clean up without a vacuum). Aaaaand, you're done. That's it.

We framed ours in an inexpensive black frame for the wedding, but I plan to reframe it in a nicer one with a mat. I opted not to get one with a mat right away because I was concerned that people might get confused (read: drunk) and accidentally sign the mat, instead of the art itself, haha.
For the reception, I removed the glass from the frame so people could sign it, and left some inky black pens (so they wouldn't catch on the board) for people to use. We displayed it on an easel we rented from Make Merry (the best!).

I love how it turned out, and that it matched our invitations and programs. It just felt really cohesive, and way more meaningful than something I could have ordered from Etsy. And it was seriously SO easy. SO EASY.

And the comments are pretty special. Some of my faves are definitely the ones that were left toward the end of the night, after many celebratory beverages had been consumed... and also this one from my 12-year-old nephew at the bottom. Just so good, haha.


For photos of our wedding, click here.
For details on our wedding decor, click here.
For our DIY invitations, click here.
For our DIY programs, table numbers, and place cards, click here.

Your Presence is Requested: A DIY

Friday, August 5

Photo Credit: Chelle Wootten Photography
One of my favourite decisions for the wedding - and also one of the most nerve-wracking - was deciding to DIY our invitations.

We sent our save-the-dates via email (using Paperless Post) but kept them consistent with our scheme of black, white, and brass/gold. Then, I sketched and sketched and sketched out invitation options, pulling inspiration for wording from various places on the internets.

When I finally settled on something I liked (approximately 3 months later), I sketched out a final version of our invitation, an RSVP request with directions to our website (we used Minted's free basic wedding website - SO good), a few actual RSVP cards (for grandmothers and other relatives who would have difficulty RSVP'ing via the internet), and a rehearsal dinner invite for the wedding party and our immediate families. These were all just simple black pen (I used these amazing Muji ones that my bestie introduced me to) on white cardstock.

early iterations

I picked up a bunch of white cardstock and black envelopes at Michael's, and then brought the cardstock to FedEx for printing. It's a good idea to check with your printer first to find out if your invitation dimensions are too small for their printer or not. The cardstock I used had to be at least 5" on all sides to work for FedEx's printers. Given that my invitations were around 4" on one side (and other pieces were even smaller), we ended up printing two or more to a page in order to ensure the cardstock was wide enough for the printer and then just used the paper cutter to separate them after printing. The printing guru at FedEx scanned and cleaned up my sketches and then printed them onto the cardstock I brought in within a few hours.

our wedding website

Then, I laid them all out on our dining room table to be gold leafed. If you've never used gold leaf before, it can feel intimidating, but it's seriously the EASIEST thing ever. Seriously, my bridesmaids helped me gold foil our programs the night before the wedding and they were shocked at how easy it was. I decided to do a large gold swipe on each invite to keep it simple. Using a paintbrush, I swiped across each invite with adhesive (I use the Mona Lisa brand), and then left them for around 25 minutes for the adhesive to get tacky. Once the glue was sticky, I placed a small pinch of gold foil (you don't need much) on each invite, and used a foam brush to spread it across/press it into the adhesive. Once they were all done, I used a clean fluffy paint brush to clear away the excess gold foil. The excess will get EVERYWHERE, so be prepared. It vacuums up pretty easily though! (Side note: Andrew thinks it's hysterical when I vacuum up pieces of gold. Our dyson looks ridiculous.) That's it!

with a totally legit address, haha
The final step in invitation prep was to address all of the envelopes. I did a little research for the best white pens, and found that these ones were the most opaque and inky - highly recommended. Japan knows their writing utensils.  Using my own handwriting and printing, I addressed each envelope and chose a non-wedding but colour-scheme-appropriate black and white Queen Elizabeth stamp for each envelope. I wish we had the selection of gorgeous stamps the US does - they're practically artwork! But Queen Betty had to suffice for ours. 

I also elected to have an address stamp made locally, using my handwriting (thanks to a heads-up from the delightfully talented KDPLetters), which I used to stamp the back of each envelope in white ink. Each invite was sealed with a piece of gold washi tape. And that's it!

It wasn't a minor amount of work, haha - but I really really enjoyed the process.


For photos of our wedding, click here.
For details on our wedding decor, click here.
For our DIY "guestbook", click here.
For our DIY programs, table numbers, and place cards, click here.