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

May 31, 2012

Tour My Home Office

Thank you so much for the hugely supportive comments earlier this week - my paper was well received!  So many of you have emailed or left comments asking about my research, hoping I'll share a bit more about what I do when I'm not blogging.  I'm completely surprised at the interest, but I promise to share some details next week.

On the topic of work I thought maybe you might like to see where the magic happens.  Of course, you've seen my artful Expedit hack, Hubby's DIY welded desk, my DIY treadle desk, my DIY magnetic board, and the silhouette wall, but not the whole office together. 

Because I work from home almost 100% of the time, it's a bit of a struggle to get functionality, style and affordability to blend together.  With an unlimited budget, there's lots of things I would do, but at the end of the day I have to work with hand-me-downs, cheap big box furniture and homemade desks. I have big plans for our next house: I want to build two new, matching desks that hide the cords and have little stations for hiding the printer, etc.

But for now, I love my treadle desk (I treadle when I'm thinking - I wish I could power my laptop this way).  Plus, I still enjoy the eclecticism of the space, the handmade touches and the fact that it looks less office-y than other offices.


Here's what you see when you first walk in: my DIY treadle sewing machine base desk and Hubby's DIY welded desk

From the other side of the office (with the window to your back), you can see the silhouette wall.  I have a new one, plus another being framed, and I promise some details on both - soon.

We haven't finished converting the closet into a nook (it still needs trim to hide the track), but I love the extra space we gained.  The antique chest under the silhouettes is a family heirloom from Hubby's side, and it is crammed full of books and office supplies. 

I still love my DIY magnetic board, I just need to use extra strong magnets.

The sculpture on top of the filing cabinet (as well as the bird sculpture on the wall beside my desk) was made by my Papa, the same talented man who welded our headboard

You remember Hubby's desk.  He plonks his laptop there but, because he also takes it to work, sometimes the desk is bare.  And then sometimes I pile my stacks of reading onto it and use both desks.

I still love the design of his desk.  It doesn't "go" with my desk but we've punched his desk up with a black painting, chair and vintage dish to tie in the black.  And the Expedit and silhouette wall repeat the black, cream and white theme.  When you see the whole room, in that elusive third dimension, it works.  Someday, when we build two matching desks, his desk will be come a console table somewhere and his chair will live in a bedroom.  I specifically picked this design because of its versatility.

P.S. Today is your last chance to enter to win some customized art.

May 28, 2012

Here is the Love

Today I am giving a paper at a conference for academics in my field, and feel like a lamb going to slaughter.  These folks asked tough questions for everyone who presented yesterday . . .

To help boost my confidence, I thought I'd share a little blog love.  I always, always (try) to link back to folks kind enough to give a little love to Dans le Townhouse, and the last couple of weeks I have been especially flattered by the positive press.  Check out Dans le Townhouse on these blogs:

Apartment Therapy, Craftionary, Fabulously Flawed, Simply Frugal, Primitive & Proper, DIY on the Cheap, and My Repurposed Life were all smitten with my (play) kitchen and featured it.  Involving Colour put a spotlight on the kitchen accessories I spray painted candy colours.

Canadian House & Home blogger Gwen linked back to me after falling in love with a DIY project that I, too, loved and included in a Mother's Day DIY Gift Round-up.

Kijiji blogger Emily listed Dans le Townhouse, among Rambling Renovators, Little House Blog, Aka Design and others, as one of the site's favorite design blogs!  Squeal!  You all know how much I heart kijiji.

Construction Management Degree (a resource for finding every construction management degree program in the US) created a list of 100 favorite blogs for home improvement and listed this little blog, among some truly great reads.

Feministing, True Blue Me & You, Our Fifth House, Jessica Stanley, Craft Gossip, and Fabulously Flawed all put a spotlight on my feminist DIY mirror.

Birch and Bird included my simple black & white abstract in a round-up of some truly inspiring DIY art ideas, as did Curbly and Decor Hacks.

Simply Frugal gave a shout-out to my Ikea Expedit Hack, as did Madigan Made, who featured the same project.

One Project Closer (specifically, The Better Half) let me guest post about my framed bakelite brooches.
Thanks to everyone for the fabulous feedback.  It makes me so happy to share some DIY projects with DIY savvy folks.  And if you've featured a project of mine and I forgot to mention it (or maybe haven't seen the link) let me know!

P.S. don't forget to enter my current giveaway.  I wasn't paid or perked to host it - I just thought you all might like a chance to win some customized art!  It's my way of giving some blog love back.
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May 25, 2012

Giveaway: Custom Subway Print by Streetcar Prints


Happy Friday Folks!  It's time to win some cool, personalized art from Streetcar Prints.

Want a chance to win a stylish, customized design in a high-resolution format that's ready to print?   The winner will get to work with the artist to design a piece of art that means something personal: with subway stops, cities or other words.  Then all the winner needs to do is print the masterpiece (at Costco, an online printing company or local shop).

A high-resolution, ready-to-print digital file of an existing design is ordinarily $25.00, but a custom design is more, so what a great value for the lucky winner!

How to enter:

Leave a comment, telling me what city, subway stops or words you think would make a great design.  That's it!!

BONUS entry to folks who follow with Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers or Email.  Just leave a separate, second comment to let me know which method you use to get your daily peek into the townhouse!

Contest closes Midnight (EST) Thursday, May 31st. Winner will be chosen with

Check out some of the existing designs to get the creative juices flowing . . 

All images from Streetcar Prints.

Good luck!  And have a lovely, sunny weekend.
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May 23, 2012

Treasure Hunting Report: More Stress Thrifting

Thanks to everyone for their awesomely supportive comments yesterday.  The bowl wasn't the whole story:

A gorgeous, but small-ish, vase for $5.00 from an estate sale.  You caught a peek of it on the mantle here.

A sweet little pink striped Pyrex bowl.  I have a feeling Mom might be stealing this one.

Another cast iron votive holder.  This one marked Japan.  Alright, I  need to open an Etsy shop.  Soon.

More vintage melamine for a play kitchen (this isn't Melmac, though).
I am planning a pretty long research trip abroad (details soon) and I thought this vintage sewing kit would be perfect.  Actual scissors?  Needles made in English?  Snaps?  Gosh, people sure were spoiled.  This will be much handier than the cheap-o hotel version I have.

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May 22, 2012

Treasure Hunting Report: Bowled Over & One Friend Less?

Sigh.  My last couple of weeks have been a little rough.  A few of the relationships in my life have become very emotionally draining.  I don't think I ask a lot of the people in my life (except Hubs), but some folks seem to want a lot, even when they're not really giving of themselves.  It wouldn't be as big a problem if the same people weren't accusatory, demanding more, and then disinterested in actually working on these relationships, together. Worst of all: I feel like these few relationships are distracting me from committing fully to the amazing people in my life.

I don't often bring my drama to the blog, but I have to mention it this time because I think that's why I have hit the thrifting especially hard of late.  My treasure hunting reports are increasing in frequency because I think thrifting and yard saling have become my new stress relievers.  Oh dear!

Case in point: I stopped by my favorite Value Village and scored again.  I bought a fabulous vintage enamel covered bowl for $4.99.  I love everything about it: the clashing inside & outside, the minty-turquoise (!) and the scale.

Along with the lilacs, it's another bedroom addition, and it makes me smile.  Ahhh, feels good to smile.

One the subject of tchotchkes, because I don't wanna talk drama all post, my Mom & I have noticed that small tchotchkes are harder to style with.  One or two, sure, but a herd?  Headache!  It is so much easier to plonk down a large bowl, vase, dish or other statement piece.  We talk about our tchotchkes (and who has bigger ones) a lot and it makes Hubby uncomfortable.  He might not know what tchotchkes are. . .

What do you think?  Are bigger ones easier to style?  Or do you fall for the wee trinkets? Are you scooping up thrifty finds as a stress-reliever too?
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May 21, 2012

Flowers for Free

A three legged dog head-butted me in the face while I was darting through the alley by my house, pruning sheers in hand.  Dharma would say the universe might have been telling me I'm a jerk.  Why?  I had my pruning sheers in hand because I've been collecting massive bouquets of lilacs, growing beside the road, and filling the townhouse with the sweet smell of spring.

I love fresh cut flowers (who doesn't?) but I hate, hate, hate spending the money.  I've read so many articles listing "a vase of fresh flowers" as the cheapest way to spruce up a room but, at $10.00 a pop (and that's Costco prices), with a bouquet lasting a week, maybe two, I can't bring myself to indulge.  I just can't.  I keep doing the math and calculating what kind of fabulousness I can buy if I saved $10.00 a week.  That's why I'm darting around the neighbourhood under the cloak of darkness.  Oh yeah, did I mention I do this at night?

Even with my sore nose (stupid dog), I'm happy.  Because look at all the lilacs . . .

In our bedroom:

 In my office:

 In the kitchen:

In the living room:

I haven't wanted to take them from the tree in our backyard, because I want it to stay all purdy for our view.  That's probably why the universe saw fit to punish me: we have our own lilac tree but I'm thieving them instead (not from anyone's property, though, so I'm not all bad).

And here's the bee I brought in with the lilacs.  Another sign, no doubt. Too bad, universe.  I win.

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May 18, 2012

PANYL Giveaway Winner

Thanks again to PANYL for partnering with Dans le Townhouse to host this fun giveaway!  The winner will receive a generous credit to the shop and will be able to customize their furniture easily and beautifully (without having to whip out a spray paint can).


A drumroll please . . . the winning comment is #10.  Congrats to Jamie, from Backless Shirt!  Please send me an email ( so I can put you in touch with PANYL.  And we'd love for you to show us photos of your Ikea hack!
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May 17, 2012

From Geek to Chic: Easy Tray Makeover

Pssst . . . have you entered my current giveaway for a chance to makeover some of your furniture?

Right now, probably because it's yard sale season and I've been yard saling my little heart out, I've been rocking the $1.00 projects.   It started with the $1.00 railing makeover, then yesterday's $1.00 necklace-to-key-chain project and today . . . you guessed it . . . a $1.00 tray re-furbish.

I found this tray at a church rummage sale and loved the shape but not the ugly shiny blue with the 80s shiny gold and the odd little red rubber feet.  What an ugly duckling!

After I spray painted our knife block with Krylon chalkboard spray paint, we forgot to store it inside for the winter (along with the remnants of a couple other cans).  While the Tremclad spray paint cans bit the dust, the Krylon seemed fine so I thought I'd experiment on the tray.  I'd rather use the paint than waste it, but was hesitant about using it on something "good".  Happily, the little tray was a success!

We're using the newly-cute tray in the hall, on the useless table, but I haven't actually finished the chalkboard process (rubbing it with the side of chalk and wiping it off).  While I think it would be a great place to write reminders we'd see before leaving the house ("take the garbage out"), Hubby thinks we'll just coat our stuff with chalk dust.  I think he might be right (AGAIN) because, although no one ever mentions how dusty chalk is, it sure does create a mess.  I don't doodle as much as I thought I would on the knife block for this reason.

But I have the option.  Chalkboard or not, I love the matte black look.

For now, it's chic and the little rubber feet look cute, not weird.  They actually connect the red accents from the kitchen and I love the punch of black in the hallway.  Another $1.00 well spent!

I have found the Krylon chalkboard paint to be durable: no scuffs or dings.  It creates a "tough, slate-like surface" so I didn't prime first.  I'll let you know how it stands up to wear and tear.  But I can say, after 9 months, the knife block (despite being stabbed repeatedly when I miss the slots, and being washed often because I am a neat-freak) looks exactly like it did when I first painted.  NO wear!  Sweet.

P.S. I'm linking up here: Lesley's Super Sweet Thursday Par-tay, Polly Want a Crafter? Craft Party
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May 16, 2012

Turn a Pendant into a DIY Key Chain

DIY Key Chain

I found this vintage Sarah Coventry necklace at a yard sale for $1.00.  I loved the shape of the pendant but the gold tone was wearing off.  It was hard to capture in photos, but it looked really worn out, in the way only cheap jewellery can.  Not pretty.

Sara Coventry
Vintage Sarah Coventry

I wanted to try Rub 'n Buff but it was hard to come by in Ottawa, and I also worried about it continuing to rub and buff off onto surfaces (anyone have experience with this material?), so I thought I'd try some leftover spray paint instead.  As a bonus, I had dribs and drabs of various paints so this makeover was cheap-cheap-cheap.

I used Krylon indoor/outdoor paint in gloss blue ocean breeze (leftover from my play kitchen accessories and bow box) and painted the whole surface.  But that looked a little plain, so I taped off half-ish with painter's tape (after waiting for the turquoise paint to cure for 24 hours):

Then I sprayed the un-taped section in Krylon's Brushed Metallic Satin Nickel (leftover from a yet-to-be-revealed project).  I'm loving this paint because it is a really warm, elegant silver.

Krylon Brushed Metallic Satin

After patiently waiting for my project to dry, I had a chic new key chain!  I could have kept it a necklace, but I just know I have too much costume jewellery to wear this.  It will see the light of day more as a key chain.  It seems pretty durable (without priming or sealing) but you can always add those extra steps for more durability. 

DIY Spray Painted Key Chain
Easy Hand Made Key Chain
Spray Painted Key Chain DIY

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