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Office Budget

Tuesday, December 15

The fiancé (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:

The Gift List

Sunday, November 1

It's no secret that I'm an Etsy addict. And unless you've been living under a rock, you're likely well aware of its legions of wares. It's one of my favourite places to look for art and accessories for myself, for friends, and for clients. And it's a fantastic place to look for gifts. You can find pretty much anything. I mean it. Have a friend who's (still) obsessed with NSync? I know where you can find earrings with Justin Timberlake's face on them. Need pyjamas for your cat? I know where you can find those too. So, in honour of the upcoming holiday season, I've teamed up with Etsy to bring you a few of my favourite gift ideas. The possibility of getting all of your Christmas shopping done early (and all in one place!) is my gift to you ;)

(And check out the bottom of this post for a fun giveaway!)
Like what you see? Well, you're in luck! I have a $50 Etsy gift card up for grabs! Just comment below (and make sure you're signed in with an email address so I can contact you if you win) and let me know what YOU would spend your $50 on. Contest closes next Sunday at noon (Atlantic)! 

Giveaway is closed and the winner has been notified. Thanks to all who entered!


Monday, August 17

Those two stunners up above are the boyfriend's sister and new brother-in-law (and my good friends), as captured by the super talented Chelle Wootten Photography (who is also responsible for all the stunning photos in this post). They got married in June in the most perfect, hilarious, and intimate wedding. The dinner was held in the private dining room of an amazing little restaurant here in Halifax. The food was unbelievable. Like, so good. But the natural décor of the dining room, although classy, was very traditional and not entirely the bride or groom’s style. So we came up with a few little details to help the room feel a little more special for such an important day. This was our inspiration board:

And this is how it all came together:

The real stars of the show were several beautiful floral arrangements by the talented Chelsea Lee, so we did our best to complement them with a few subtle details: a grey-green linen table runner, grey ticking stripe napkins, grey-blue watercolour place cards in corks, white taper candles in brass candlesticks, and white taper candles in clear wine bottles. 

The groom is a pretty avid wine-maker, so I thought the cork place card holders and wine bottle candle holders were a subtle (but not cheesy) nod to his interests. The bride is often clad in shades of grey and blue (check out her gorgeous wedding dress!), so the colour pallet was an easy choice – especially after seeing which flowers Chelsea planned to use in the arrangements.

This was a super simple look to put together – the only remotely time consuming part was sewing the napkins, and even that was only a few hours (largely because I’m not the most skilled seamstress). 

Most of this needs no instruction but here’s how I made the runner and place cards:

LINEN TABLE RUNNER: I LOVE linen. It’s the perfect fabric to work with. Know why? It rips in a straight line. AND those rips actually make really beautiful rough edges. This is important because it DRAMATICALLY reduces your work load because you don’t need to hem the sides to make the edges straight. I chose to make the table runner 1/3 the width of the table (13” wide in my case), with an overhang of about a foot on either end (168” for our long table). Then, I cut a little slit about an inch in from the side of the fabric (parallel to where the fabric store cut it– it won’t rip the other way), and started to rip. You want to do this first to ensure that there’s a rough edge on each side of the runner (otherwise, you’ll have one piece with the weird “I cut with scissors” look on one side and all other sides ripped). Then, I just measured 13” segments, made a little slice with scissors and ripped the piece apart. Once  I had enough pieces, I ironed them to flatten the slightly-curled edges (from being ripped), pinned the short ends together, and used my sewing machine to sew all the strips in one long line. Then I flattened out the seams with my iron, hemmed the ends, and it was done. The whole project took under an hour!

WATERCOLOUR PLACE CARDS: These were also super simple. I simply cut out rectangles of watercolour paper in the size I wanted, used my paint brush to paint a swath of water onto the card, and then mixed a combo of mostly white and a little grey watercolour paint together and swiped that over top of the area I had just painted with water. Depending on how it looked, I sometimes added a few extra droplets of water on top to get the super wavy look. Then, I let them dry for a little over 12 hours, and printed on each person’s name (using Emily’s faux calligraphy trick). The bride helped with the cork holders by cutting a slice into the top of each cork for the place card and cutting a segment off the bottom of each cork so they would sit flat. She noted that it was actually a bit easier to cut the corks using a sawing motion with the knife – FYI. Again, the actual watercolour work was maybe 30 minutes (plus drying time). Super easy but a really pretty effect.

And that's it! A few really simple steps to help the space reflect the beauty of the day. What do you think?


Friday, August 7

We've had a pretty sentimental addition to our living room... This trunk.

It came from my grandfather's house. Grumpy, as he was affectionally known, passed away in February at the impressive age of 100 years old. We're not sure if the trunk came from his side of the family, my grandmother's, or my step-grandmother's, as they all had last names that  began with B. Wherever it came from, it means a lot to me to have it now.

It's not in peak condition - one of the leather handles is torn and there is some water damage on the top but none of that matters to me. Every time I look at it, I feel nostalgic and happy. And that's how homes should be - full of things that are beautiful or functional or just plain make you happy. 

I looked in to having it repaired but the guy seemed less than interested in doing the job... and basically just told me to buy a new trunk. He seemed to have difficulty understanding that I didn't just want a trunk; I wanted this trunk for sentimental reasons.

Given that a fix doesn't seem in the cards, I'm using a scrap of leftover linen to cover the majority of the water damage, and we picked up this fantastic new lamp from Wicker Emporium to place on top. We're also hoping to replace the bannister in behind with a built-in bookcase (like this) sometime soon. For now, I'll enjoy a little burst of happiness and sentimentality every time I look to this corner.

Project Hester

Thursday, June 18

I shared a glimpse of this project months ago and after more than a year of working together (a really FUN year), we're finally nearing completion. This was a floor-to-ceiling decorating job - the only furniture my client had was a bedroom set. She's really fun and adventurous, and loves things with a little bit of edge - so obviously, it was a blast to put this space together. It won't be ready to be photographed for another few months, so you'll see the full before-and-afters later, but I thought I'd share some iPhone previews of two of the almost-finished spaces today.

This little foyer was begging for some personality. When my client first moved in, it was pretty bare. After scoring an amazing bench, we sorted through a bunch of movie posters she had bought while travelling and picked a bunch to frame and hang. 

My client killed it at auctions and found this gorgeous hutch, and a pedestal table with a set of chairs. 

We paired them with this gorgeous vintage rug.

Then we recovered the chairs with a fun zigzag and styled up the hutch to give the room a dose of personality.

We still need to hang some art but this room is almost wrapped up!

These are just two of the rooms we tackled but the others, including possibly my favourite living room to date, will have to wait until some pro-photos are taken!