Friday, June 3, 2016

Bamboo Chairs

I can't even tell you how long I've searched for a pair of Chinese Chippendale bamboo chairs at estate and garage sales, kijiji, and Craig's List. I know there are some areas where furniture in this style is easy to find, but here in Southwestern Ontario, they were pretty elusive.

So, when this ad came up on a my local kijiji site, I emailed instantly.  The chairs are rattan, and they've certainly seen better days.  Some of the wicker wrapping at the joints is missing but they're sturdy. 

Our dining area has a banquette (which I loooove)

obviously unfinished: missing toekicks, crown molding, etc.

The banquette seat will be upholstered and so will the chair seats. Here's the fabric I've selected:

Robin's Egg Herringbone along with my existing Chiang Mai Dragon pillows.
I'm trying to decide how I want this chair makeover to look.  I know (think?) I want to paint the chair frames because they will need some repairs that would be obvious if I leave them natural. I'm thinking about colour options for the paint. 

White frames:


Black frames:

Saarinen tulip table + black Chippendale chairs. Why oh why did I sell my Chippendale dining set?!?:

Navy Frames:

THE MITTEN COTTAGE: - Lake Room :: gold curtain rod with navy blue and white print curtains:
via - I would probably go more like BM's Hale Navy than this blue

Still working things out.... feel free to weigh in!

xo Meg

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nailed it! Hardwood Floors

This project has definitely been a learning experience for me. When we pulled up the red engineered hardwood that was installed by the previous homeowner, we hoped to be able to re-finish the small slat hardwood that was original to the house.

original hardwood

But things don't very often go exactly according to plan with a project like this one. The original wood was badly damaged, and it wouldn't be worth the patch and repair job that it would need. Neither one of us thought that the floors would turn out well with so many patches needed. We decided to install new sand-onsite unfinished oak floors.

newly installed oak floors

These floors are a thing of beauty.  I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  After these photos were taken, the floors were sanded and stained and finished with a satin clear coat. They're very durable and the colour of the stain turned out exactly as I hoped.  Because there are no grooves or gaps between the planks, they don't collect dirt and are very easy to clean. 

So we are definitely making good progress in our reno. Finishing the floors really opened things up so that the space has a much larger feel. I'm looking forward to sharing the finished floors, my beautiful cabinetry and a new-to-me pair of bamboo chairs that might make an appearance around the dining room table. 

xo Meg

Friday, April 1, 2016

Scenes From A Renovation, Part II

Although these pictures are a disaster, much progress is happening on our renovation! The kitchen window has been replaced with a much smaller window.  I know this might seem like a bad idea, and in some ways it is, but it allows us to actually have both cabinetry and open shelving.

Here are two shots of the kitchen, first with the old larger window:

And then with the new smaller window:

I will admit that when I walked in to see this little window I had a panic attack. Who makes their windows smaller, anyway? But Jay reminded me that to the right of the window there are cabinets and to the left of the window there are open shelves.  These shelves were on my absolute must-have list for our kitchen and something I've always wanted. We are also considering replacing the working window with a fixed glass pane so that it's less busy there. It seemed important that we be able to open the window above the sink, so we're going to live with it this way for a bit and see.

You can also see that we opened up the wall where the stairway goes down to the lower level. The light blue door will be replaced with a full glass garden door, meaning plenty of light, and a pretty sight-line into the backyard will be visible to the space.

On the other side of the space, in the living room, the fireplace has been chipped out. We will be moving the fireplace surround a couple feet to the left, so that it is centred on the wall with built-ins on either side.  Honestly, this fireplace has made furniture placement near impossible in the room and just needed to be moved. This portion of the project may come in phase two, since the flooring has eaten up more of our budget than we anticipated. In the meantime, the gas will be moved to the appropriate spot so that when we're ready to finish this part, we can move forward easily. 

Counter-top selection, and cabinet colour sample in actual space
Then we picked up a drawer front from the finisher so we could see how everything looks together.  I looooove it. It's a bit hard to tell the colours in the iphone pic below since it was poor light when I took this quick shot this morning.  There is actually much more contrast between the counter selection and the cabinet doors.  Things are looking a little on the 'cooler' side so I'm hoping the wood floors and shelving warm things up a bit. 

Counter samples, wall colour and actual drawer front 

So things are still moving forward. Decisions are being made about finishes! Also moving forward this week are:
  • wood floors ordered (oak with stain colour to be determined) and installed
  • electrical plan rough-ins are installed for pot lights and fixtures in all the rooms
  • drywall has gone up on the ceiling and walls

Still lots of work to do, mess to clean up and decisions to be made!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scenes From a Renovation

I mean, who doesn't love a dirty, messy, ripped apart home?

view from living room into kitchen

These shots are from our first day of tear out.  We've ripped out the cheap hardwood flooring, down to the original hardwood, only to discover peel and stick vinyl tile in the front entrance and the entire kitchen area. We were hoping that the hardwood ran throughout the main floor, so that we could just refinish it.

Once we discovered the problem, I considered  tiling those areas, but because the original hardwood is 3/8", and the tile would be thicker, we would have to incorporate an angled transition, which I don't like.

kitchen, right side

view from left side of kitchen into dining room

 Now we are considering installing a pre-finished hardwood floor versus installing an unfinished floor and having it stained and finished on site.  Our decision will depend largely on price (!) since this has added to our budget considerably.

view from living room towards dining room

I'll post a few of the samples we got in the space so that you can weigh in on the decision.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Since space is tight in our little kitchen, we're looking for a really specific sized undermount sink.  It has to fit into the cabinet, which is 33".  This is trickier than you might think.

Let me back up a little.  I've always wanted a porcelain apron front sink.  All my life, really.  I love the farmhouse feel they give. But as we were planning our kitchen, I found myself thinking about other options.

Here's the problem: when you first walk into our front door, you can see the sink.  There's a window above it but the first thing you always notice (or at least the first think I notice) is a dish pile-up. We only have a single sink basin right now, so there's no place to put the drying hand-wash dishes other than on the counter beside the sink. Believe me, I wish we were the type of people who always had time to dry all our hand-wash dishes as soon as they were clean but we're more apt to leave them to drip.  Who has time for stuff like that?

As we looked at sink options, I just didn't think that an apron-front sink would look as nice.  This was surprising to both of us, really. I don't want to draw any more attention than necessary to the dishes that are in the sink (dirty or clean and drying). I feel like an apron-front sink would put more focus on that from the front door.

Criteria for  new sink:
Double Basin, deep enough to hide dishes
Stainless, cause it's pretty and easy to clean
Small, to fit the 33" cabinet it belongs in but big enough to fit our mess

As soon as I let go of my apron-front farmhouse sink dream, I began to really like other options.

Like the above Kohler Strive Sink, which is the sink my dreams are now made of. Except it doesn't come in a small enough size, which breaks my little heart.  I love how the divider between the basins is only half height so that you can fit lots of pots in there.  I also love the accessories that come with this baby.

Then there's this Soleil Sink (above), which is pretty slick looking too.  Basins are divided fully which would also allow for more drip-dry dish storage, I guess.

This guy is from Kindred, which was recommended to us by someone.

Now to talk about the sink jewelry... the faucet.  We're thinking a bridge faucet in polished nickel.  We may splurge here, because you can see it from the front door and I would like it to be really nice.  Here's a couple we're considering.  I found them on the site - I'm so glad we have this resource in Canada now.



I'm pleased that things keep moving forward with our project. There are so many small decisions to make about each detail - it feels a little overwhelming sometimes. But I'm really excited too.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Kitchen Drawings

We're working on narrowing down kitchen counter options right now.  I really, really, REALLY wanted Carrara marble. It is the most consistent element to almost all the inspiration kitchens that I've pinned and admired.  I definitely want the counters to look like a lightly veined, white and gray marble.

But there's also the wear to consider. They're prone to etching, staining and pitting. We do have the marble in Elliott's bathroom and it has held up really well over the last two years - no signs of wear that I can see.  I've read tons of reviews of marble counters, and looked at so many different options for look-a-likes.

We did some research at our stone supplier this week.  Right now the front-runner if we don't go with Carrara is a Quartz counter-top that looks a great deal like marble. It doesn't have the same cold feel, but it was really hard to tell the difference from looking at a slight distance. Basically, it has the looks we're going for, but will be easier to look after.  We do have a house full of teenagers here, after all. Coffee and spaghetti spoons aren't always washed immediately, and are often left on the counter.

In terms of the overall design of the kitchen and dining area, we've done a lot of thinking about how we need the space to function for our family.  Remember that it is very small and a lot of the areas serve double duty.  For instance, the banquette where we'll be eating meals is also the homework center for our kids and the place we do household paperwork.

overall kitchen layout

One of my favorite things about this plan is the banquette.  I've long been a lover of this style of casual eating.  Our table is actually a round pedestal, which will extend into the living area when we have big groups over. you can see the banquette elevation below, with the two pantries on either side.  The left pantry is actually quite deep and will provide storage for all those things you need in a kitchen but don't use every day. I'm looking at you, waffle iron and bread maker. The other pantry will house our daily-use dry goods, like boxed cereal, chicken broth and lunch snacks.

View of fridge and microwave area (left), and banquette with flanking pantries (right)

 The cabinetry on the stove side will go up to the ceiling and provide much more storage than currently exists in the kitchen.  The hood is a custom design my husband is building.

Stove wall, with cabinetry to ceiling height.

I'm really excited about using open shelving on the sink wall, below. I think it will be a great place to store our every day dishes - right above the dishwasher. We will most likely tile this whole wall.  The shelves will be wood and we might use some brackets as well, instead of floating shelves.  We are actually reducing the size of the current window in order to make more room here for the shelving.
Sink wall, with open shelving on left over dishwasher.

It has been a heck of a week around my house this week, with lots going on in my personal and work life. Having the kitchen reno to think about has been such a great distraction.

Hope you have the loveliest of weekends!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Narrowing Down Cabinet Colour

This weekend we got samples of two BM paint choices for our kitchen cabinets.  We're going with a light gray colour. The grey of the perimeter cabinets in the kitchen below is what I'm looking for.

Gray Owl OC-52 Benjamin Moore.:
just barely gray

Benjamin Moore Whale Gray 2134-40. Benjamin Moore Whale Gray 2134-40. Benjamin Moore Whale Gray 2134-40. Benjamin Moore Whale Gray 2134-40 #BenjaminMooreWhaleGray #BenjaminMoore2134-40 #BenjaminMoorePaintColors

I picked up two colours that I thought might work from Benjamin Moore, and painted them on a canvas so that I could move the samples around my kitchen. The perimeter cabinets in the kitchen above are BM's Gray Owl, which was the front runner for my space too. I also selected BM Moonshine to try out.  They're very similar colours.

Yeah, like practically the same colour in some lights.

Left: Moonshine, Right: Gray Owl

 I moved the canvas around and we decided that we liked the Gray Owl the best for our cabinets.  It's very neutral and light, with just enough colour to make it different than white. I might also get a sample of Coventry Gray to try, even though I think it might be darker that what I want.

I'm going to leave you with this question:  who creates a dishwasher panel out of two drawer fronts stuck to a white dishwasher with construction adhesive??? Who does that???

Can't wait to get this project started.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Kitchen Reno

Documenting the process of our upcoming renovation has already been inspiring to me. And it's also helping me to rein in my decorating ideas.  Since we live in a small footprint, and are not making large structural changes like an addition, we know we want this great room to serve several functions.  Really, it needs to function as a family space, casual entertaining space, kitchen, coffee spot, home office/work space, and entry-way.  That's a whole lot of functioning in a really tiny footprint, which is why we've spent so much time going over the plans for the space. I'll share our blueprints soon, and the changes I see happening to the current space.

The other important thing for us to think about, other than how the renovated space will function, is how it will look. We definitely want a comfortable, casual space that our friends and family can feel good in.  We want it to be organized and welcoming.  We want to hang art that means something to us and we generally want the vibe to be pretty relaxed.  Jay and I both love a neutral shell with hits of personality and a little colour.  We love re-purposed farmhouse style... just a little more refined.  I'm not sure if that makes sense.  Maybe the closest description would be 'modern farmhouse style'.

Here's a sample of some of the finishes we're looking at for the kitchen in our home.

1.  I love the soft grey of this cabinetry and simple hood vent over the range. This space contains a lot of the elements we love for our kitchen.  Especially the general feel - casual and family-friendly, but still a little refined. Via

2. We chose this light to go over the sink in our kitchen... I think. I feel really stuck on this decision. One part of me likes this oil-rubbed bronze with brass finish, and the other part of me wants polished nickel.  The light comes in two finishes and will be hard-wired.  If we go with the nickel, the hardware and bracket choices will also change. Via

There's also this version which dreams are made of.

3.  We already have this light in our dining space now.  We'll be keeping it and hanging it over our new banquette.  Spoiler alert: there is a banquette in our new space. This light is one of the main reasons I've been looking at oil-rubbed bronze for our hardware finishes as well. It was ordered from a few years ago.

4.  Decisions, decisions.  I've been reading up on counter-top options including carerra, quartz, caesarstone, etc.  I want the counters to read more as white with veining, not gray, since the cabinets are gray and I'd like to see some contrast.

5.  I will be testing out some paint colours this weekend to try and begin to narrow down the colour selection.  BM Gray Owl is currently the front-runner, but I'll wait to see the colour painted in the room before I make a final decision.

6.  Brackets to hold up our barn wood shelves.  Jay will be making the shelves out of some salvaged lumber we have.  I love the warmth this will add to the space.  Still feeling torn about the oil-rubbed bronze finishes. Via

7.  A great example of salvaged wood shelves that I think are done really well. (I think these are from the 'Our Vintage Home Love' blog.

8.  The hardware I love from Schoolhouse Electric.  Doesn't come in polished nickel.  Really wish it did.  I love this hardware and want the hex pulls hard.

9.  These chairs are perfect to blend our farmhouse modern look with the mid-century style of our little ranch. Now that Wayfair is accessible to us Canadians (YAY!), I will most likely order their version since the Cassandra chair is only $249.99 CAD/pair.

The shiny metal version for reference.

So there you have it.  Any thoughts on the polished nickel versus oil-rubbed bronze debate??  Is it worth it to keep the light fixture we already have for the dining room if it changes the overall look of the whole reno?  Am I being too dramatic about this?


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On Missing Blogs, Blogging, and New Adventures

Obviously, I don't really blog anymore. I often miss writing and keeping a journal of the process of our home projects. Sometimes, when I'm feeling like I don't get enough accomplished, I page through my older posts. I love seeing the progress we made renovating our homes. I love the way I documented our family's journey.

But even more than I miss writing this blog, I truly miss reading good DIY, home decor and decorating blogs. So many home blogs that I used to love have disappeared! Bloggers aren't really only blogging anymore, more often posting on other forms of social media. Somehow along the way, blogs became competitive - followers, likes, advertising, and unique views. As a result of feeling too much competition, blogging became something I didn't really want to do anymore.

Although it makes me sound sort of stalker-ish, I miss reading about the lives of bloggers I used to follow. You know, when a blogger acquaintance had a baby... or it was somebody's birthday and they posted about the party.  I miss these voyeuristic glimpses into their lives when they got a little more personal along with their creative projects and the encouragement I felt for my own.

I have friends in real life, a family, and a career that involves interactions with thousands of university students.  I'm busy and active and doing stuff.  But I still miss the sense of community I felt with home bloggers sometimes.

Our home has gone through so many changes since I last posted about our little ranch.  It is looking really beautiful in some areas, and still needs work in others - probably like most people's homes.  We've completed our son's bedroom and bathroom, the basement, our master walk-in closet.  We've added a deck, landscaping and a hot tub (so good!) in the back yard.  We've created some pretty cool headboards and shelving units out of barn board.

Moving Forward...

One of the best things that writing this blog did for me was keep me honest and accountable to the projects I was working on.  Instead of finishing a project 80% of the way, and leaving the details and accessories undone, I actually felt driven to complete it. That way, I could photograph them for the blog and post them. I also created design boards, which helped to direct the outcome of each project we worked on. I think these steps are the missing pieces to the successful completion of our current renovation projects.

We are about to embark on a main floor renovation that includes a new kitchen, dining room and living space.  As usual, Jay and I are doing the contracting and building, including the demo, and finishing. Some things are being contracted out to keep us to our timeline (ha!) and some parts of the project will be DIY.

These are the lights we are considering for the kitchen and hallway areas. Please feel free to weigh in if you strongly prefer A or B options in the comments.  I will say that Jay strongly prefers option A. Our cabinetry is a very light grey finish - BM Grey Owl.  

We are several stages into the planning process for this renovation.  We have had architectural plans drawn up, revised them and have settled on a final plan for the layout of the kitchen and dining room.  The reno has created a sort of domino effect causing some extra work in the living space as well.  

I'm looking forward to sharing the details of this reno here.  I'd also like to catch you up on all the work that has been completed over the last while. You know, if you're still reading. This will help to keep me organized and on track with the project in a way that will be really helpful to me.  It will also document the project along with the others I have completed here.