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Archive for the ‘decoration’ Category

Our buffed-up master bath is grey and white. Very soothing, but requiring a few pops of colour. These two different wine crates came from the garages of friends in the neighbourhood. One became a wall shelf for a few items too tall for the vanity drawers. The other is now a stool – style table for accessories beside the tall tub.

From the canvas over the tub I choose red ochre as an accent colour for this small project.

I used craft store acrylic paint, and only put on two coats as I wanted these items to look a bit rough. Once dry,  I sprayed them with some varnish to protect the paint.  The cloth in the back of the wall shelf is a place mat from a sale table at Pier 1 and can be changed out easily when I find something I like better. Cottager cut some molding for the rough front edge, and I filled the joints and gave the frame a coat of BM Cloud White. These small practical additions make me feel that I have put something of myself into the project.

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Its tough to find time to blog when you are trying to move a project along and tend to the business of work and family at the same time. I’d hoped to post pictures as we progressed, but here, in short, is the first bathroom we demo’d, in its new glory.

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Only missing is the back splash tile, which will be installed in few weeks, when we will have a few jobs for the tile layer to complete at once.

I had some professional help with this, by way of a friend who is a professional designer: Jenn Brown Interiors

Most importantly, she gave me the kick-start I needed. I just didn’t know where to start, and so she arrived with a ton of samples and helped me clarify needs vs. desires, priorities and a vision of the style we wanted.

Our family home is simply that. It is full of the stuff of our lives and will never look like a magazine house, nor would we want it to. We live here, and have done for two decades, so things get worn, and even when we can keep up with repairs and touch ups, things get messy and sometimes just plain dirty. We love our pets, but they take a toll on things as well. So we were looking for an update to our old pink bathrooms that incorporated practical solutions for better organization; reduced visual clutter, and easy clean and hard wearing surfaces. And a reasonable price point, of course. Because we are frugal.

And so far I would say we are hitting it out of the park in terms of getting what we want and need.
One of the nice things about Jenn is that she listens well. If you want her to just design and create a new space for you, she will do it. But we wanted to make our own choices and do a lot of the work ourselves. It gives us a great sense of satisfaction when it works out, and we learn stuff when it doesn’t. She was able to go with the flow, and our rather slow pace.

She knows a lot about various products, and was especially helpful at things like picking out tile, which is, frankly, overwhelming. She is also a very frugal person, and knows lots of ways to get a great look for less. Her fees were easily offset, in my view, in savings that directly resulted from her advice and product sourcing. So a great value and highly recommended.

Now that we are well on our way, we are mostly using her as an occasional resource, and for referrals to trades people she has used and trusts. Once our bathroom projects are completed, I’m going to enlist her advice to refresh our bedroom and the front hallway, and maybe re-stage our living room too. Project creep!

More and better photos, information about the products we chose (and why) and a rough cost break down for this first bathroom to follow shortly.

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Beach glass pendant in a jiffy

Beach glass pendants in a jiffy

I love to collect beach glass because I am a ‘hurry up’ person and this forces me to slow down and pay attention. It is like a walking form of meditation. And so I have lots. Cups full, in fact.

And though I like being crafty, my talents are not great and my patience (see above) is still less. These pendants require little skill or patience. My first one turned out well, in about 30 minutes.

My first effort and still my favourite

My first effort and still my favourite

What is required is this plier set which I found at Michael’s for 16$. It includes side cutters. Also includes round pliers, which you start with to make the bail.

Just add beach glass

Just add beach glass

The wire is 20 or 22 gauge shiny wire -my spool said “ideal for wire wrapping” so that was helpful.

White glass gives the nicest results. It is harder to make a piece of beer or 7-Up bottle look really nice, but I might use those bits, along with some larger beads, to make wine glass charms.

Here is a link to a free photo tutorial you can download.
(Disclosure – I did not follow this, I just looked at the pictures and gave it a go.)

Looks like a fun project for the next Crumpet club. Maybe I can get the Crumpets to whip up all my Christmas presents for me again?

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When we first bought the cottage, I was determined to paint every interior wall.
Then I started to like the white-white walls and white-white trim.

Over the winter, we’ve done a mini make-over of the kitchen – with a few finishing touches yet to come. We replaced the dishwasher, stove and baseboard heater.

And it became clear that it was a good time to paint. So would it be white-white or white on white?We opted for white on white. Aside from the simple happiness a really fresh coat of paint can bring – I like it.

Didn’t go looking for Linen White as recommended by the Cottage Decor guru. Simple reason – we had a half a gallon of BM Elmira White. In some lights and angles the difference is very subtle – just enough to make the white trim pop.

At night, under artificial light, (and in this “after” picture) it is a bit more distinct. For a kitchen, I would say its pretty perfect.

Won’t be long until we feel the urge to give the main room and halls a paint job too. Probably next winter or spring. When we do, I will likely go about 50% lighter still, to get a really subtle white on white effect in these areas that will still harmonize with the kitchen and make all that white trim pop.

So here it is before…

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And here it is after – with a new piece of countertop and some backsplash tile still to come….

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

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So my last post on Frugal tips did not seem to strike a chord, but I am undeterred. While for some, the word ‘frugal’ remains a bit of a dirty word – perhaps particularly so when associated with Christmas gifts -I am embracing the frugalista within. I’ve been too busy having fun and being creative to fill you in, but here goes.  Here are some small homemade hostess-type gifts that I made with tea candles, beach shells and rocks and some garden-shop plant saucers. 

small gifts for friends on a budget

small gifts for friends on a budget

To make the shell candles: Scrub shells clean and allow to dry.  Sniff.  Maybe scrub again?

Dismember some inexpensive tea candles. Place wicks in shells; line them up on a cookie sheet covered with newspapers to ensure easy cleanup. Melt the wax from the tea candles in a clean soup tin in a pan of water over low heat.  Pour wax carefully into shells and allow to harden. Arrange on plant saucers or other lipped plates along with some pretty rocks. Add other bits and pieces to taste: These might include bits of ribbon or tinsel (secure away from candles using glue gun to avoid fire hazard) small glass ornaments or some other forgotten or unrealized treasures. Wrap with cellophane and ribbon for pretty presentation.

I am also making generous bags of homemade caramel corn and pretty jam jars filled with spiced nuts as gifts for our neighbours and friends. My kids are more than willing to help out when simple recipes like these yield quick and impressive results. So, to summarize…. pretty, easy, fun. . . Frugalicious!

A larger version

A larger version

nicely wrapped for giving

nicely wrapped for giving

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Home Sweet Home. Here are some photos of the hotel room I wrote about mid-week.

comfortable reading spot

I’m a bit disappointed in these photos, since the flash has significantly brightened the colours, and by extension, the way the colours worked together in the low natural light of the room. For example, the duvet cover appeared to be black and white in the room, but in the photos is clearly green and white.

Also, the photos can’t really capture the overall feel of the space. Never-the-less, this will give you some idea of how the design elements worked together and made the room both relaxing and stimulating – if that makes any sense. 

The wheat design was really quite cool, though I think one might tire of it quickly. Certainly I’m not planning to do anything quite that dramatic. If our cool weather continues, I may open some paint next week. If it suddenly improves, I don’t plan to waste a fine day painting. But once I have made some progress I’ll be sure to post some photos.

Update:  See the before and after photos of my new hotel-style bedroom

Indigo Room

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I’m in Ottawa this week, for work, and feeling inspired.  Been down pub for a pint recently, so I hope this is coherent.

In our non-cottage life, our bedroom is pretty sad and has been for a long time. The green-tinged yellow walls are a failed experiment. And it goes down hill from there. We typically spend very little conscious time there. The bed and furniture are generally bestrewn with laundry, socks in search of partners and old magazines we hope to get around to.

Nowadays, the urchins seem to take up space all out of proportion to their physical size in the shared areas of the house.  I need a retreat, and the bedroom sprang to mind as the most viable space. I visualized a soothing restful space… revolutionary, wot?

Last week I bought the Benjamin Moore big chip of Violet Mist which means I am nearly committed. Did I mention the room has poor lighting amongst its other charms? So poor that this quite-blue colour chip looks like a warmed up grey at all but the brightest moments of the day. Also invested in some finely checked black and white bedding from Ikea. Then got carried away and splurged on some Ikea art:  celery-green tinted dogwood blossoms on a dark background and a black ribba frame. 

So those are my basic elements: Pale violet blue, black and white, celery accents – oh – and navy – just because I can’t imagine it without navy.

The existing furniture is good quality warm brown country pine. The headboard has a similar tone, being the swing door from a 1910 farmhouse. These things, and the dreary beige carpet must remain, as total budget for this make-over is 500$. Will spring for brushed nickel hardware on furniture to jazz it up a bit, but thats it.

So imagine my surprise when I checked into the Indigo Hotel here to find my colour scheme ready and waiting for me to test-drive. The wall behind the bed has a wall to wall colour transfer of golden brown wheat waving against a violet blue sky. The bedding is high contrast – dark-dark green and white, with indigo blue and white pillows and indigo bed skirt. The window wall is celery green, as are the armchair and footstool. brushed nickel hardware, and nickel and navy lamps with black-trimmed white shades pull it together. All other walls are white. If this sounds like a dog’s breakfast, check back next week when I will post some photos of the room.  But how weird is it that I would imagine a room almost exactly like the one I’m now staying in? 

Happy Birthday Cottager. Have thought of a great gift for you… wouldn’t you love a celery-green armchair?

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