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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.

Ambiance and Aesthetic

Wednesday, August 3

All photos by Chelle Wootten Photography
One of the questions people always seem to ask you when you're planning a wedding is "what are your colours?", which always sounded a little off to me. I mean, I'm a girl who wears black, white, and grey the vast majority of the time and I get sick of colours pretty easily. So, we opted not to choose "colours" per se, but instead tried to focus on the way we wanted our wedding to feel to our guests (and ourselves!).

I wanted to create an atmosphere that felt elegant, romantic, and intimate while still being modern and laid back. I was picturing candlelight, lush greenery, brass, brick, and wood, with a few graphic pops of black, and white. Given that Agricola Street Brasserie could not only tick all of those boxes (it already looks the way I would decorate somewhere else), but also has amazing food and drink (which were two of our top priorities) - it was a no brainer to choose them for our wedding venue, especially after we met with them and realized how fantastic they are to work with. I also can't overstate how amazing it is to have your wedding in a venue where very little needs to be done or outsourced. Don't get me wrong - I love to decorate; but on your wedding day, there are so many other things you should be focusing on that it's nice not to have to worry about those little details.

Because the Brasserie was already so beautiful, we decided to add just a few little extras to make it feel more "this is a special event!" and not just "this is a nice dinner out". That meant, flowers and candles for the tables, and a few little details elsewhere.

For our tables, we rented brass candlesticks, vases, and small planters from Make Merry to scatter along the tables. We had The Flower Shop fill the vases and planters with mostly greenery to create a lush feel and picked up boxes and boxes of white taper candles from Ikea for the candlesticks. We used the Brasserie's regular cloth napkins as they worked perfectly with the look we were going for, and folded them so they were long and could drape off the edge of the table. We placed a black cardstock place card on top of each napkin so guests knew where they should sit. Each table was also numbered with a hand-lettered sign (DIY to come), which was placed in a simple and modern gold holder, also rented from Make Merry

I wasn't super into the idea of a traditional wedding cake, so my mom made us this sweet little cake that we placed on a rose glass cake stand from Make Merry with a peony from The Flower Shop. We cut it for photos but our guests mostly indulged in the amazing homemade chocolate bar dessert that the Brasserie made.

Other than that, we brought in a few other brass accents for the guestbook art (DIY to come), cards, and welcome signs, as well as gold foil X and O balloons. And the Brasserie had their chalkboard artist come in and write out a few quotes we had chosen about love on the various chalkboards around the restaurant (as well as our wedding hashtag) - I love the way they turned out!

And lastly, I suppose I should share a little about our actual ceremony! It was held on the Brasserie's brand new rooftop patio, and we kept it super simple in terms of decor.

We used their existing chairs and benches, and just added a brass vase of greenery on the table we used to sign our marriage license and hung a greenery garland from The Flower Shop as our backdrop. That's it!

I also would be remiss if I didn't thank my mother-in-law and father-in-law, as well as my sister, brother-in-law, and niece for setting everything up on the day of our wedding. They did such a phenomenal job and it was so lovely to be able to enjoy getting ready with my bridesmaids and mom and not have to worry about all those little details (or worry much, haha). I also wanted to share how wonderful it is to work with Make Merry. Those girls are so professional, so prompt, have the most beautiful pieces to rent, and are just generally a delight to work with. All of our vendors were so great (Chelle Wootten Photography, the Brasserie, The Flower Shop, Halifax DJ Services, Allison Kirby, and Mischaela from Bowtique) - quick to respond to emails and made everything SO easy for us. Nothing was complicated or a trial - just wonderful professionals who are so talented at what they do. I couldn't recommend them more.


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

We do.

Monday, August 1

I'm so excited to share a few photos from our wedding today. We got our wedding photos on Friday and it's safe to say that I've done almost nothing but look through all 800 over and over again for the past 72 hours. I managed to whittle down my favourites to about 250 (!) to share on Facebook but I can hardly post that many here... so this is a good exercise in restraint, haha. (Well, sort of restraint, haha... there are still almost 40 in this post.)

I won't bore you with a play-by-play of the whole day, but suffice to say, it was the best. Although, of course, there were a few minor unexpected challenges, our wedding day turned out exactly as we had hoped - surrounded by close family and friends, lots of happy tears and laughter, insanely good food and free-flowing libations, and an epic dance party. We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to celebrate our commitment to each other in a way that felt so very us and so very memorable. And now, a few photos, courtesy of our amazing photographers, Chelle Wootten Photography.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Agricola Street Brasserie
Flowers: The Flower Shop
Brass and Decor Rentals: Make Merry Events


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