Dans le Lakehouse

Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 14, 2017

DIY Holiday Tea Towel with Reindeer Embroidery Trim

DIY Holiday Tea Towel with Reindeer Embroidery Trim

My Mummu loves a good yard sale.  She loves going to them, she loves having them - she's even convinced my Mom and I to help schlep boxes of stuff to indoor community sales in the off season.  At our last yard sale, I noticed my Mummu was downsizing some craft supplies and I scooped up a ton of cute stuff: some beautiful lace appliques, a vintage clutch I have a plan for, and this gold embroidered reindeer trim, which I used to embellish a DIY linen tea towel for the holidays.

Reindeer Embroidery Trim


Because our local Fabricland was moving, they had some great deals on fabric and I bought some pale turquoise linen for 50% off.  Using our own tutorial for how to sew a mitered corner, my Mom and I quickly hemmed a simple rectangle tea towel - but you can always buy a plain tea towel to embellish.

I didn't want to fuss with sewing on the embroidered reindeer, so I decided to try Liquid Stitch instead.  

Liquid stitch

I had already washed and dried my linen, prior to sewing, so I was able to quickly get to the fun (and scary) part: gluing on the embroidery!  I hand-stitched the two lengths of embellishment together so they would line up and be easier to manage, then I placed my linen on a flat surface.  I put a plastic cutting board underneath, to protect my kitchen counter from any glue, but this adhesive is water soluble until dry so any drips washed off easily.

Following the directions, I shook the tub of Liquid Stitch well.  I spread the glue on the back of the embellishment, being careful not to bring it too close to the edges because I didn't want it to squish out.  Once I had glued everything, I went over all of the edges and anywhere it didn't seem stuck, I added a smidge more (that's the technical term) glue using a toothpick to carefully apply it.  I quickly pressed the reindeer down with my fingers and let it dry, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.  You can launder this fabric after 24 hours.  I will keep you posted on how well the glue holds over time - I am very curious about this Liquid Stitch.

DIY Holiday Tea Towel

I love how this turned DIY tea towel out! 

DIY Linen Tea Towel

You know I'm not super festive over here, favoring "wintry" to "Christmassy" decor, but I do love the look of this glitzy tea towel in my turquoise kitchen.

How to Sew a Teak Towel

Turquoise Linen Tea Towel

If this seems like a heck of a lot of work (I hear ya), here are some cute BIY (buy-it-yourself) holiday tea towels that caught my eye: Black + White Deer Tea Towel | Gin Christmas Teal Towel | Illustrated Holiday Teal Towel  

I actually bought enough linen to make two tea towels - any ideas for the second one?

December 12, 2017

DIY Utility Sink Skirt | New Sink + Faucet for the Fish Room!

Modern Utility Sink

The Fish Room is done!  I'm working on the full "before" and "after" post, but it's really difficult to photograph this space, especially now that the skies have turned dreary, snowy, and grey.  While I wait for the perfect sunny day, I wanted to start sharing some of the changes we made in this odd little room.

The last time you saw the Fish Room, it was just a sea of brand new DIY plywood floors (although I did give you a pretty big sneak peek in this post).  Now the room has furniture, shelving, storage - even a new sink and faucet!  The sink and faucet is what I want to talk about today, because I am so smitten with the faucet we found.  It was such a challenge to find the right size faucet to fit the sink we bought, which is really only designed to fit the ubiquitous chrome utility sink faucet.  I had my eye on a few different designs (like this beautiful kitchen faucet), but they wouldn't fit!  Lucky for me, Delta came to the rescue with this classic single handle bar/prep faucet that's sleek and gorgeous - and just happens to be the perfect size for this utility sink!

Delta Bar Prep Faucet

The Fish Room originally had a pretty dreadful sink, in a janky old cabinet, but even once we removed the rest of the cabinetry, I actually contemplated keeping the sink and just painting the cabinet because a new sink (even a cheap new sink) was more than my tiny budget could handle.  But at the last minute I decided to rip it out - and I'm so glad I did!

Seriously, what was I thinking trying to work with that?  Now that same angle looks like this:

Craft Room Makeover

After impulsively ripping out the old sink and cabinet, I contemplated one of those fancy laundry tubs built into a sleek cabinet but those rang in at around $200-300.  I couldn't justify that price tag because when we eventually renovate this space we won't need a laundry tub (we're getting a dog washing station that doubles as a sink), so it seemed wasteful to buy that kind of cabinet now.  Plus, who knows what kind of mess I'll end up making in here - it is a craft room after all.  In the end, we found a really nice utility sink for super cheap in a local big box store, and something about it feels more modern than the typical laundry tub (see the old townhouse laundry room sink for a comparison so you can see what I mean).  The only problem was those ugly legs!  Yikes.  I stash paint under there too, so I wanted to cover it somehow.

We contemplated building some kind of encasement with the leftover watercolor stained plywood pieces but we both agreed that's too much of a good thing.  With the budget in mind, I re-purposed the fabric from my failed shower curtain hack (in the link, it's the ruched monstrosity we tried before my Mom and I sewed the simple tweed-look curtain) and we sewed a simple skirt for the sink.  I had seen some very traditional, fluffy looking utility sink skirts, but I wanted something more sleek and modern.

DIY Laundry Tub Sink Skirt

Making this DIY laundry tub skirt was so easy but it really helps the space feel more polished.

Sewing Velcro on Fabric

Because of the location of the plumbing, the sink is right up against the wall so the sink skirt only needed to cover two sides, but we made it long enough to wrap around a little bit so it looks like it covers all four sides.  It's basically just a rectangle with hemmed edges and to make it look a little fuller, but we also sewed a small pleat into the corners to give it some oomph.

(Don't mind out rough hemming job - no one will see it but blog readers, haha).

Sewing Velcro

Then, using a zipper foot, we sewed on the velcro - the other side was backed with peel and stick tape and easily affixed under the lip of the sink.

DIY Laundry Tub Sink Skirt
DIY Utility Sink Skirt
DIY Utility Sink Skirt

I love the pale blue/grey hue of this linen because it's quiet and simple.  Plus it always feels good to use up something instead of buying new - not that it isn't nice to replace something broken and ugly with something shiny and new once in awhile! 

Along with the gorgeous faucet they sent me, Delta also provided the Compel towel ring (I hadn't even thought of where I'd hang a hand towel) and three of the Trinsic robe hooks (which come in lots of finishes, including this gorgeous champagne bronze).  Because this room isn't accessible from inside the house, I usually don a coat or jacket to run over here, so it's nice to have a place to hang my coat, keys, scarf, dog leashes - whatever.  The Trinsic collection also has really beautiful faucets, like this modern wall mount bathroom faucet and this matte black tub faucet combo kit.

Modern Utility Sink Faucet
DIY Utility Sink Skirt | New Sink + Faucet for the Fish Room!

You know my penchant for simple fixtures in matching brushed nickel.  Even though this room isn't accessible from inside, I still like that the faucet and accessories have the same modern feel and similar shape as the hardware and faucets inside.  It makes the space feel less like an afterthought and more cohesive.  Plus, when we do renovate out here, it will be easy to transition these pieces to somewhere else in the house because although the utility sink likely won't find a new home, the faucet and accessories definitely can!  Knowing this makeover is temporary, I've been trying to make my design decisions strategically, with re-purposing in mind.

I can't wait to show you the rest of the room, along with some more before and afters!

Sources: Bar/Prep Faucet | Trinsic Robe Hooks | Compel Towel Ring | Hand Towel (similar) | Utility Sink (similar) | Grey Linen Fabric (similar) | Velcro Tape | Fabric Storage Bins (similar)

P.S. Be careful online shopping because when a deal seems too good to be true, it might be a miniature that you almost mistakenly order, lol.
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December 5, 2017

DIY Mini Potted Plant Holiday Ornament

DIY Mini Potted Plant Holiday Ornament

Even though I don't put up a Christmas tree, I am smitten with Anthropologie's ornaments this year - like this one that looks like my puppers and this very beachy jellyfish ornament.  One in particular caught my eye and even inspired a knock-off DIY: this little potted plant ornament.

Isn't it the cutest gift for someone with a green thumb?  Years ago I thrifted four mini terracotta planters for an abandoned dollhouse project, so I decided to make a set of little potted plant ornaments of my own!

Potted Plant Holiday Ornament
DIY Mini Potted Plant Holiday Ornament

It took a little bit of trial and error - and in the process I accidentally smashed my fourth potted plant (another leafy one, in an unpainted terracotta planter).  But they turned out so cute, it was definitely worth the effort!

Homemade Ornament Idea - Potted Plant

Here's What I Needed:

How to Make a Faux Mini Potted Plant:

The first step was easy: I decided to paint two of my terracotta pots with some pale blue chalk paint.

The next step was to try and replicate the look of soil.  I made a lot of failed attempts here, but I'll tell you what worked.  I had a massive bag of black glitter from when I painted my vinyl flooring because I ended up skipping the glittery topcoat I had schemed, so I was looking for an excuse to make a dent in my epic glitter stash and glitter really replicated soil so well.

To contain the glitter, I glued a small circle of cardboard inside my planter to block the hole and keep glitter from escaping.  For the painted planters, I added a dab of paint to hide the cardboard, but that's optional because no one will see the bottom.

Next, I filled the pot with black glitter.

I would have liked to have used resin to secure the glitter and "plants," but it is so expensive!  Instead, I found a two-part epoxy at the dollar store.  It works and smells like the brand name epoxy we often use for projects, but a lot less expensive.  With my pots filled with glitter, I poured the epoxy on top and stirred it around using a toothpick.  While the epoxy was setting, I inserted some small stems clipped from some faux plants my Mummu had in her craft supply.  It required some patience to hold the stems upright while the epoxy dried but eventually the epoxy had thickened enough to keep the  plants upright.  With the epoxy still tacky, I sprinkled on another layer of glitter and set it aside to cure overnight.  In the morning, I poured off the excess glitter and was thrilled with the result!

DIY Gifts for Green Thumbs
DIY Potted Plant Ornament
Anthro Holiday Ornament Knock Off

Another idea could be to stuff the planter with a cork, or really anything you can firmly glue in there, and then just brush on some mod podge or exoxy and dust with black or brown glitter - or maybe stuff it with some air dry clay and paint it black.  There are lots of options but I used what I had on hand to save some $$$.  Plus I love the glitter, especially the way it settled just a bit with the epoxy the way soil does after you water a plant the first time after potting it.       

To hang the plants, I used a hot glue gun to secure some thin ribbon and make little slings.  If I was more patient, I might have made mini knotted macrame plant hangers - that would be really, really adorable.

DIY Mini Potted Plant Holiday Ornament

And that's it!  There are lots of ways to personalize this DIY tree ornament, from painting a design on the pots, to making pots out of found objects.  It's the perfect project for using up craft scraps!

P.S. If you're looking for another easy DIY Christmas Tree ornament idea, take a look at my glittery spider ornaments and read the legend to find out why every tree needs a spider...
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December 1, 2017

See What Real Renovations Really Cost - and How to Avoid Contractor Horror Stories

Today I'm collaborating with a Canadian company that offers services which anyone planning to renovate will find incredibly useful!

From creating solid maple counters from scratch to tiling a kitchen backsplash to building our own bed, Hubby and I have tried a lot of projects ourselves, but we definitely turn to the pros for certain jobs.  Sometimes it's for jobs we hate and other times it's because we know our limitations.  Even though we've tiled, we HATE it, so we hired out the tiling in both of the bathroom renovations we've tackled, and then handled other parts of the project ourselves.  As much as we love DIY, sometimes it just saves a lot of time and money to hand over certain tasks to experienced tradespeople, but the problem is that Hubby and I have had both good and bad experiences.  The folks we hired in Ottawa were great but, if you remember, we had some issues with the tiling company we hired in our current city.

Sadly, that one bad experience actually made up scared to hire out jobs again! 

My unfortunate experience is why I was so interested in Reno-Assistance, because they help connect you to contractors who won't waste your time and money - or bungle up the project!  The company's president founded Reno-Assistance because of his own unpleasant experiences (like stolen deposits and terrible work), something his impartial contractor referral service can help his customers avoid.

It's a really unique business model which offers lots of free resources to homeowners - even useful information for anyone not in a city currently served by the company.

The most unique aspect is that Renovation Advisers work with you to discuss your project, review your options, and send up to three verified contractors to provide a quote.  It's such a fabulous service for first time homeowners, for whom the whole experience can be really overwhelming.  With Reno-Assistance, you get a real life person walking you through the process, which can help prevent costly mistakes.  Plus, the service is free - it's the contractors who pay, which means that you're getting quotes from serious contractors who really want your business and want to make sure they keep you happy to ensure that Reno-Assistance keeps sending clients their way.  

Reno-Assistance will set up appointments for you and even send you a report about each contractor, so you know what to expect.  And after you receive your quotes, a representative will help decipher what they mean and help you choose the right contractor.  If, for some reason, you're unhappy with the work or the contractor, there's even a process to help come to a resolution.

There are also checklists and tips for every kind of project, from who you might need to hire to what steps you should take to ensure the project progresses smoothly.  There is a growing library of articles weighing the pros and cons of certain materials and things to think about before starting a renovation.  You'll find lots of great bathroom and kitchen ideas, but there are tons of resources for every kind of renovation.

Perhaps the most interesting part is that you can see real renovations and what they actually cost.  Although I love blogs for design inspiration, with brand collaborations the real cost of a renovation to a blogger is blurred.  With Reno-Assistance, you can see real renovations done in real homes - paid for with real money!  I have been obsessively scrolling through pages and pages of beautiful room makeovers - I just LOVE seeing what people really paid, especially the bathroom renovations because I've got three of those under my belt.  It's strangely refreshing to see a renovation where nothing was perked or comped.  

Frankly, I cannot wait for them to expand because I desperately need something like this in my small city!  We are currently getting quotes for a new roof and it is agony to get anyone to commit to coming out here.  So many roofers have flaked or complained that they're booked solid - plus I have heard horror stories about bad roofing jobs.  I've been Googling "DIY Metal Roofing" because we might have to install our own if no one will even come out for a quote.  I would love a service that books these quotes for me and only sends pros who have been vetted and want my business.

I'd love to hear what you think of this service - and feel free to share your WORST - or best! - experience with a contractor... Anonymous comments are always welcome.

This post was sponsored by Reno-Assistance, but all opinions and words are my own.  I genuinely think this is an exciting service - especially for first time homeowners/renovators.  However, I fully admit that I may be totally biased because they recommended teal as a kitchen trend for 2018...
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November 30, 2017

Give the Gift of Sleep

When I was a kid, I loathed getting practical items as gifts.  If there were socks under the tree, or underwear in my stocking, I just wasn't enthused.  I wasn't even a super demanding kid - I'd have preferred no gift.  These days I'd love if someone would buy me some quality wool socks or comfy underwear.  I don't even want to admit how many of my Smartwool socks have holes on the bottom that my Mom has kindly darned.  As an adult, I am never moved by holiday commercials with expensive diamond gifts because as much as I love jewelry, for that kind of outlay of cash, I'd prefer a dishwasher that actually washes dishes or a lawn mower that mows...

If you're shopping for anyone who is old enough to vote, and lives on their own, I have the best recommendation: give the gift of sleep!

We've all read the stats: we sleep about 1/3 of our lives - or we should, anyway, if we're doing our best to get an adequate number of zzzzzz's in a night.  That's around 230,000 hours!  Way too many people I know are logging those long hours on 30 year old mattresses and flat, sad pillows.

Even though I'm loving sleep on a new mattress, I've realized that my pancake pillow is ruining the full experience.  Sometimes it's a hassle to pick out something new like that, though - I wish someone would do it for me (and wrap it with festive paper while they're at it).  But Hubby and I decided to do the adult thing and choosing brand new pillows - so we can start 2018 refreshed and rested - is high on our list of things to do.

Wouldn't you want to gift someone with that amazing feeling?

Unless you've recently won the lottery, I doubt you can buy everyone you love a new mattress (although you can score a queen for under $600 at Sleep Country Canada - and they sell their own brand of handy-dandy mattress-in-a-box with free shipping), but you might want to consider starting your year off with a dreamy mattress that will help your mind and body rest.  You can shop online by brand, by size, or construction - or you can try them out in store.

For everyone on your holiday gift shopping list, here are some nice ideas.  Box springs are so ugly and usually ignored - I know I hid one with a bedskirt for years and then finally built a bed for mine - so I love that you can also just buy a simple white cover.  Even if you're hiding it under a bed frame, this casement is bed bug proof (great for dorms!), dust-mite proof, and allergen-protected (great for allergy sufferers).

A cozy duvet is one of those expenses so many of us keep pushing off the list of things that we deem important to buy (guilty).  But it's so essential to a good night's rest!  There are some really high end ones that Sleep Country Canada carries, but I love the price and quality of this Australian wool and down one.  Show someone you love them by replacing their itchy, satin-trimmed blanket (you know the kind) with this:

For a smaller budget, I love the idea of giving a throw (like this neutral gingham print).  I have so many blankets in my house and I don't think I've ever complained that I have too many!  It's nice to keep one tucked in the bedroom closet, draped on the bed, a few in the living room, and of course the bunkie has some too.  I even keep one in my office in the winter, so I can bundle up on those blustery winter days when I'd rather stay in bed.

Another affordable gift that everyone can use is a new robe!  The perfect gift for winter time, when dashing from the warmth of the bathroom to anywhere else feels miserable.   

But I really advocate for new pillows!  It's such a practical gift but you can really find one for every budget and even get a really indulgent one for that special someone.  Plus, they wear out!  They get filled with creepy dust mites, flatten from the weight of our massive noggins, start to get all bunchy - it's seriously something most people need but probably haven't replaced.  And picture that massive box under the tree - points for size, right?

This Responsive Down Pillow is the perfect mix between memory foam and down, for people who want the best of both worlds. 

This PolarTropic pillow boasts two sides that help satisfy changing temperatures: a cooling ice silk yarn and memory foam for when you're warm, and on the other side a room temperature material for when you get chilled - it's the pillow designed for people always flipping it over to get that coolness.

Myself, I'm eyeing up the Polar Tropic one - so clever!  I love that Sleep Country Canada organizes pillows by how you sleep so you can quickly find the right fit, but you can also shop by size.  And you can rest easy, knowing you're giving a gift that keeps giving.

Time for a poll: would you choose a new mattress or a sparkling diamond necklace...?

This post was sponsored by Sleep Country Canada but all thoughts and opinions are my own
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