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

July 31, 2012

My Favorite and My Best: July

Thank you, friends, for sharing your personal stories and motivational words after yesterday's post on haters.  I wasn't expecting, or hoping for, such an out pour of support (and flattery!).  Truth be told, I'd kind of been bracing myself for more hate from the naysayers I pictured lurking silently around the townhouse (the blog, not the real house, because that would just be creepy and a much bigger issue).

I stayed up late, reading every comment and appreciated the candid sharing of pain, frustration, and humour.   Your amazingly supportive comments and kind words totally caught me off guard, although I'm not sure why I was surprised because you have all, always, left me wonderful words.  But I'm a touch more sensitive now, a little less naive about blissfully blogging away.  So thanks for being so awesome.

Etsy: Stella Girl

This month, in addition to being bullied on the internet, I had some fun with blog friends and guest posted over at Brooklyn Limestone and Go Haus Go.  In addition to the Huffington Post feature (which is still kind of cool, despite then negative press), I got a little more blog love, which was so nice.

Made by Girl

It was a momentous month because I gave a makeover to a chair that Hubs has had since I met him (almost 11 years ago).  I always tried to put distance between the chair and I.  I really disliked it, but now I am absolutely smitten.  I'm always amazed by the power of paint.  And I'm also sometimes amazed at just how loooong it takes me to do some things.  Eleven years?  That's nuttiness, right?

This stool, that got a little Better After & DIY Show Off love, has only been around four or five years, but it also got a little facelift with the some sweet, dipped feet.  I used dribs and drabs of leftover paint (and the stool was a yard sale find that was hanging out in the basement), so this project was almost free!

I knocked off a couple of little, very inexpensive DIY projects, like round two of dipped wood spoons:

I also did a fun, My Take/Her Take DIY project with Gemma, from the sweetest digs.  We can't wait to do another, maybe bigger, project and share our two versions!

To keep things real around here, I also shared my DIY dip bottle fail and tried my best to get a dip-tastic song stuck in your head.

Woman's Day; Design Love Fest; Project Wedding; Whipper Berry

On the treasure hunting front, things have slowed down a bit.  I find earlier in the season has the best goodies, but I still managed to unearth a Krenit bowl and some Shmoos.  As well as a few other goodies.

Speaking of treasures, I also shared a tip for jewellery storage and launched the first post in my "New Uses for Old Things" series.

This is only month two of my monthly round up.  If you missed my June round-up, check it out here (although I only highlighted my favorite posts, but my archives, to the right, will show all the posts).

What's up for August?  Well, grouping my monthly posts this way makes me realize how much black (and pale mint) I used in projects!  Boring.  It's summer, so I am pledging more colour.  I might even make good on my colourful chair obsession . . . among some other DIY fun.

Vandongen Dingen; Matter; Anthropologie; Charlotte Love

July 30, 2012

My First Experience With Negative Comments


I lost a bit of steam blogging last week.  I didn't ask to be featured in the Hufftington Post but, when the story was published, some harsh words were flung at me by Post readers.

I started the blog not for fame or fortune or features or comments, but to meet some DIY-savvy folks (which I've talked about here and here).  Happily, the blog has connected me with amazing people and, along the way, I've had some sweet people say sweet things, which has been a bonus.  But I definitely don't need to blog to meet perturbed people.  I can find them easily enough.  So last week I started to think that maybe I wasn't cut out for blogging, since harsh and hateful comments seem to be a given as a blog grows.   Jen, of Made by Girl, has shared some hater mail and Sherry and John of Young House Love have also addressed the topic

Over the weekend, though, I decided I wouldn't "let the turkeys get me down," as my Mom says.  But I couldn't just let it go without saying something, lest the negative Nellies think it's acceptable to treat total strangers (who have done nothing but blog about their little house) like crap.       

Need this mug?

The bulk of negative comments I received were directed at the Huffington Post for a misleading link, but many others vehemently complained that my "before" photos were too dark and it was sleazy (!) of me not to have television-quality before & afters.  I had duped them because the "before" rooms were fine - even more comfortable - if only they had been well lit, which was deemed "stupid" and "lame".  Yup, I was elementary school-style name called over some photos of my house

Well, the photos reflect how dark the home was:  broken light fixtures, grey carpet, grey walls, heavy window coverings and dark furniture made the space more dim.  This comparison demonstrates a dramatic difference between the before and after, even with the exact same method used: automatic setting (no use of manual exposure or other settings), similar angle, same camera, no tripod, and no editing.  Mystery solved: there's no conspiracy.  A bigger mystery is where people get such a strong sense of entitlement; they talked as if I "owe" them better photos, and next time they expect better (free) results from me.

Thanks to some for the backhand compliments, though:  the townhouse apparently looks professionally lit in the after photos!  Point Tanya.  Hint: it really is thanks to those white-white-white walls the negative Nellies freaking hated.

Nerdy Little Stitcher


Speaking of the Nellies, people complained about everything - it is exhausting to read.  From the misleading link that led them to the article (I have no idea about that) to how my ottoman will collect crumbs, then on to conflicting comments about how our furniture is too expensive, or all from Ikea (both wrong), people wanted to have their negative opinions heard.

I don’t care if everyone who reads the Post hates the townhouse.  What I find problematic is that NONE of the negative comments were constructive.  People called me names.  Sigh.  People insulted my intelligence (and the author's), trumpeted their own, and none were constructive or meant to be helpful.  It was just “I hate, I hate, I hate”. Followed by some "this is stupid" and team salmon-pink-bathroom battle cries.


Anyone with time to log in and rain on someone's parade is definitively telling the world they see only the negative.  And that maybe things in their life aren't going well, which makes them so angry and upset about trivial matters like my townhouse.  (And that maybe their home looks like the "before" photos).  This makes me sad for them.  But also sad for the world.

Many people only open their pie holes when they have something negative to say: at work, in stores and online.  I've seen customers berate customer service staff for no reason.  I mean, in Canada we had to come up with laws for this because it was such an issue.  There are whole books devoted to the topic. 


People (mostly those with nothing nice to say) often rely on cliches like "We're all entitled to an opinion".  But what a world we would live in if everyone was bombarded by hateful "opinions" all day:

"Hey, I think you look fat today, but it's only my opinion" 
"It's just my opinion, but you're extra stupid" 
"Don't fault me for saying this, it's just my opinion, but the world would be better if you jumped off a bridge"

Sometimes it just comes down to being a person, and that means treating other people with respect, even when you think you have the right to share your opinion.  Finding something nice, or, at the very least, constructive, to say is more meaningful.  It actually might contribute to this world.

There's another fabulous cliche about little brown starfish and opinions: everyone has one, but it's not always appropriate to share it.



I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

I haven't had any negative comments on my blog.  I'm so lucky to have lovely readers blog friends who don't sign in to say something hateful.  Your comments make me smile and you're always constructive and positive, even when you're helping me figure out what to change or see something you might not like.  You are fabulous people and I'm  lucky you choose to stop by the townhouse every now and then. 

A few rockin' people left sweet comments on the article, too, which gave me hope for the world - not because they liked my design, but because they recognized I'm a person, with feelings, who could benefit from a little dash of niceness amidst a sea of unkindness.  I hope they know they made my day.

"I wouldn't have even commented on this if I hadn't seen everyone's heartless negative comments on here. Post some pictures of you guys' perfect homes and then start talking about how bad this one looks. My opinion, I think it looks very clean, organized, economical, and spacious after the makeover. This article was simply created to give people ideas/motivation/inspiration to turn their home into something more spacious and modern. It's a great article that a lot of average American's should be able to get something from if they struggle with average home issues, ie. not enough space/traditional boring decor/budget restraints on home makeovers. Yes, the sub-titles of the article were misleading, but seriously, there is nothing wrong with this house's decor. I enjoyed the classy modern makeover". 

"It looks beautiful and modern. The bathroom remodels added so much to the look and feel of the house. I am just about to tackle the bathrooms in my house.
I think the people that are commenting with anger are frustrated with AOL and Huffpost because the lead in to the story implied you discovered something under the stairs and it was never mentioned in the article. The "teasers" they use are frustrating and they take away from all great things you actually did to this house.  Your home looks great!

"Tanya--I'm actually embarrassed by the comments left here by the bitter and ill-informed. I think you did an extraordinary job using creativity and ingenuity. It's nice to see a reno where the fabrications used are available to the general public and not necessarily high-end unattainable resources. The rooms look modern, spacious, liveable and FUN--which seems to be exactly your intent. Congratulations on a job well done".  
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July 27, 2012

Thanks Babble and Better After

You know I love to give a shout out to anyone kind enough to feature my projects or townhouse.  I consider it a high compliment that Jan, from Poppytalk, included my black and white painting in a round-up of 15 Awesome DIY's on  You can see all 15 projects here.

Lindsey, from Better After, featured my newly dipped round, armless, backless chair (we had a giggle fest about the word "stool") and, as always, she made me laugh.  Which was much appreciated during a looooong week.

Thanks to these lovely ladies for including my projects!
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July 25, 2012

My Take/Her Take: One Tray, Two Ways

Gemma (from the sweetest digs) and I had been searching for a project we could each put our own spin on, when I spotted two metal trays at a church rummage sale for free!  They had different designs on them, but were of the same size, material, etc.

The tray before was cute and all, don't get me wrong . . .

. . . but I had pinned a few triangle stamped objects and wanted to give it a no-commitment whirl.

Inspiration from Poppytalk (sorry, I lost the original post) and Kicsi Haz

I first rolled on some metal primer (and yes, I used a fork to stir it).  I used a small foam roller and a small brush just to quickly reach what the roller couldn't.

Then I painted on a soft mint-turquoise hue (Zen, by Debbie Travis), leftover from other projects.  The pic was snapped once I already painted the back black, so just ignore the black edges.

I then applied some random triangles cut out from painter's tape and painted on some black, also leftover from other projects.

Everything went swimmingly until the stupid paint bled under the stupid tape.  I'm having one of those weeks.  I thought it would be okay to place the tape on wax paper, mark & cut out the shapes and then transfer the cut out design, because it was costs-an-arm-and-a-leg-per-roll "gets sealed by the paint" super tape but, alas, no.  I think I applied the paint a little too thickly.  It might have worked better with thin coats of spray paint.  User error!

Undeterred (I'm not gonna let a little tray best me), I grabbed a small angled paintbrush, from the dollar store awhile ago, and re-painted the triangles and fixed up the edges, once the black was dry.  While I was at it, I added a little copper triangle.

My plan was to add small picture hanging hardware to the back with crazy glue to make this wall art, but I want to let it "sit" a bit and see if I really do like it.  Right now, I don't.  But I loved experimenting, especially when I didn't have to spend a dime!

Go take a peek at Gemma's makeover!  Her project went a lot more smoothly and looks super sweet!

P.S. If you're new to Dans le Townhouse, you can check out my other DIY Projects here (they're a lot better, I promise).
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July 24, 2012

DIY "Dipped" Wood Spoons, Take II

I picked up these wooden utensils for pocket change at Ikea (they're a lot more "pared back" than this more expensive set, but I don't have a "before".  Just picture plain wood utensils).  I intended to use them for the play kitchen Hubs and I DIY'd.  But then I realized how small kid's hands are (really, really small) and came to my senses.  These would be like lacrosse sticks for my wee little cousins!  I have a real issue remembering what size kids are.  Buying kid's clothes is a nightmare plus I'm always buying too-advanced books and games.

So the utensils sat, half-finished, in the basement for awhile, until I recently decided to just wrap up the project and use them for myself!  I did the same thing I did for my last set of dipped spoons (which had been grabbed from the drawer as an experiment, not like this squeaky clean brand new set I got to "dip").

Some folks have used food safe paint and varnish for their dipped spoons, which is a fabulous idea.  The painted part of my other spoons never touches the food, so mine haven't posed an issue even though I've used latex paint and regular varnish.

I'm happy to incorporate some more of the the mint hue I was mooning over.  Plus, look at what an awesome prop the recently made over antique chair is!

A bit of a repeat performance, I know, but I had to share.  Plus, you got a glimpse of my new Pyrex bowl.  I have two of the gooseberries on white - recently thrifted.  I'm missing the other two to make a set . . .

P.S. Don't forget, these are hand wash only.
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July 23, 2012

Our Two Week Reno + The Huffington Post Feature

Pinch me.  I was interviewed by telephone for the Huffington Post's Stylist Home section last week!  Click here to read the story but, before you do, I just wanted to clarify a thing or two.  Michelle Manetti wrote a fabulously flattering piece that totally made me blush!  But I think I might not have been clear explaining a couple of things. 

Our two week timeline:

I think I made it sound like our whole townhouse went from ugly to pretty in two weeks.  What I meant was, we made it livable it two weeks.

When we bought the townhouse, it was hideous (you can see the before pics in the townhouse tour).  Hubby had two weeks off from work and, with the help of my parents, grandpa and Hubby's dad, we set about making the townhouse livable.  It's in this two week period that we did the biggest projects: ripping up carpet and installing hardwood floors, painting the main floor and upstairs, re-doing the main bath, etc.  BUT, after two weeks the space still looked pretty dismal:

Our bedroom had nothing but new hardwoord floors, fresh paint and our bed and nightstands.  

The guest bedroom had no furniture yet (we bought that later), except an armoire and pieces of the guest half bath.

Our main bathroom had a lovely new tub, tiling, vinyl floors and vanity but no marble counter-top, sink, mirror, etc., yet.

The guest bath had nothing yet.  Sorry for the blurry pic!

The office had curtains, new flooring and paint.  My desk (with a crappy desk chair) and expedit were set up so I could get to work.

The dining room was a storage room.  You can kind of see me (by the stove) unpacking and my dad installing a light fixture in the kitchen.

Why the kitchen wasn't gutted:

I don't think I was clear in the article that two weeks was just for the bare bones issues.  So we could move in and, you know, flush the main bath toilet (old owners couldn't) and take a bath without barfing.  We didn't tackle the kitchen until the following year and it was money, not time, that prevented a full gut.  There's only so much money you can put into a small townhouse and see a good return on the investment when it comes time to sell.  And we only had so much money to funnel into this home.  A realtor agreed that a full gut wouldn't raise the price enough to make it worth it - we would have out priced the market and not gotten our investment back.  So our patented spit and polish (re-finished cupboards, new counters, sink and herringbone backsplash) was on the menu.

Here's what we lived with for a while (I used stick-on tiles to hide the ugliest ones):

When we called in the pros:

We did almost all of the the work ourselves, with our families lending a hand.  But the bath tub we left to pros.  We imagined sending the bathtub crashing down the stairs during removal or accidentally building a new tub on a weak sub floor.  Because I splurged on a deep, soaker tub, getting the pros was especially important to make sure the floor could hold the added weight of the water (the thing is deep).

But the vanity, vinyl flooring, etc., was all DIY.  As was every other single thing in the house.

You can see in the photos just how much more work came after that initial renovation.  And, as Michelle says, we're still tweaking, framing walls and dry-walling (in the laundry room), and decorating.   So, check out the article here and, please, please, please, take a look at the "after" photos here so these images aren't burned in your brain.  I hate sharing ugly pics!
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July 19, 2012

My Brooklyn Limestone Guest Post

Whenever I have a project I love so much I want to share it everywhere, with everyone, I call it my Michigan J. Frog, from a 1955 WB cartoon.  Catch the video here.

Photo Via
If you can't watch the video (are you reading blogs at work?!?), I'll summarize - but it won't be as funny.  So you have to catch the clip at some point.  A gentleman finds a singing frog and brings him from place to place (even renting an auditorium) to show him off, but the kicker is the frog only sings for him.  When I'm super excited and telling anyone with ears about my latest DIY, I picture me skulking around with a frog in a box, and laugh.

When I was invited to guest post on Brooklyn Limestone, as part of the fabulous Trash to Treasure series, I immediately thought of this Michigan J. Frog:

Because I see big, old, builder's basic mirrors in the trash all the time, I submitted my stenciled & antiqued mirror in the hopes of saving a few from a similar fate.  If you missed, or snoozed through, the original post, check out the feature on Brooklyn Limestone here.

There are more than a week's worth of fabulous projects, so I suggest you head over to Brooklyn Limestone anyway to check out these genius ideas and makeovers:

Here's a list of who else was invited to partake:

Besotted Brand
Freckles Chick
Go Haus Go
House Bella
Jones Design Company
Miss Mustard Seed
Dans Le Townhouse - that's me!
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