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

September 30, 2013

The Velvet Chair is Done

Oh my.  Hubby picked up the velvet chair and it looks incredible.  We've been referring to it as "the garbage chair" but that name no longer seems fitting (even if I did pluck it out of a trash heap). 

I have tried my best, but I just cannot capture the richness and intensity - or even the accurate colour - of the velvet in photos.  It's a very luxurious turquoise/teal in real life, and it beckons you to sink into it.  In the photos it's paler, duller, and bluer.  Hopefully when it's in the lakehouse, I can snap a better photo.  Right now it's chilling in the townhouse, but at the lakehouse I think it will fancy up the living room, popping against the crisp white walls and the soon-to-be charcoal grey fireplace (we successfully convinced Hubby to paint it!). 

I can't even believe this is the same chair:

Kessels Upholstering did a beautiful job.  Every seam is perfectly placed and the removable seat cushion has velvet on both sides and a zipper as well, just in case someone gestures a little too wildly with a glass of red wine.  This chair needed a professional makeover to look right - it required some repairs to the springs and, of course, all new foam.  We paid just over $600 for the labour, and I think it was worth it.  We saved some money refinishing the arms and legs ourselves (and the chair was free).  More importantly, it was the style-savvy gals at Kessels who convinced me to consider velvet in the first place.  The fabric I chose for this project is Elite Textile Renaissance, the colour is 760.   

P.S. Kessels is offering 10% off fabric to Dans le Townhouse readers - just let them know you and I are buds.  This is the same discount I was offered.  I was not perked to work with Kessels, they have just been my go-to for DIY upholstery projects (the houndstooth fabric for the vintage teak kitchen chairs was from there) and professional makeovers (like the minty chair). 

September 23, 2013

Movin' to the Country

. . . gonna eat a lot of peaches.

In my case: apples, from the apple trees in our yard that reportedly lure the bears on to the little lane between our house and garage.

Things are looking sufficiently messy at the lakehouse, but with my parents' help I'm making progress.  All of us are afraid of heights, but my Mandelbaum Mom braved her way up the ladder to the scaffolding, to prime and paint that beam and those top windows (will she comes back to clean them every spring too?).

In progress . . .
The lakehouse is still a jumble of half-finished projects and drop cloths, but I thought first I should really tell you a little bit more about where the lakehouse is anyway.  We'll soon be relocating 1500km from Ottawa to our rural property on Lake Superior, about 60km from Thunder Bay, my hometown.  I don't think I shared the little tidbit that our lovely lakehouse is in the sticks.  For those who aren't familiar with it, Thunder Bay is a small city of only 109,000 people.  It's surrounded by a lot of beautiful scenery and populated by a lot of Finns!  It's also a hop, skip and a jump from the USA border.

The hour long drive from town (including 10km on a dirt road) is new to me, as is the total quiet, and dark, at night.  I'm a city girl who is kind of really afraid of the woods at night so the abundance of forest around us is unnerving.  Country living in it's entirety is a huge adjustment for me, but I've already found new hobbies, like my daily "chase the geese away" run, done while making squawking sounds (the buggers don't jet if I just yell at them, they want the squawk).  I need new hobbies like this, though, as spray painting season has been cut short for me (it's been dipping down close to freezing temperatures at night, and quite chilly during the daytime).  Living in this part of Ontario, I'll have to get used to the colder temperatures, plus the copious amounts of snow.  

Hubs grew up in a small town outside Thunder Bay on 80 acres, so he's used to living in the country and relishes the things that creep me out (the dark, the woods, the total quiet).  As the only authorized "country folk" in the house he's also been setting rules, like "don't feed the wild animals," but are they that wild when they saunter straight into your house if the door is left open?  And what about if they eat muffin pieces right out of your hand while you're outside taking a well deserved break?

And does it count if they are this cute?  I think I might get used to the country pretty quickly with Foxy Fox, Shifty McGee and Fatso (my three neighborhood foxes) around. 

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September 13, 2013

First Lakehouse Project!

Things are progressing at the lakehouse, but I'm kind of a crazy person and that impedes things.  It seems to me a lot of people move into a house, then tackle projects room by room.  I opt for a marathon makeover session before moving in.  With the townhouse, the weeks before moving in saw carpets and bathrooms ripped out, new flooring installed, more than 12 gallons of paint applied to walls, and bathrooms re-installed.  Frankly, it still looked awful when we moved in, but it felt so good to get such a big chunk of work done before we lugged in all of our stuff. 

This time around, we don't have the funds for big makeovers right away.  We're relying on paint to make a major impact, and give us a blank canvas for fun projects.  But gosh, do we ever have a lot of painting to do!

I've partnered with Canadian Tire to paint out the skinny oak trim, dusty rose, pale green and taupe walls, and . . . shudder . . . the greyed popcorn ceilings.  Plus we've partnered to see my turquoise kitchen plans come to fruition!  The place is a mess right now, but after the first stripe of white went on the walls it immediately felt like our home (and not like someone else's home).  I actually brought in the same paint chip we used for the townhouse (Behr Snowfall) and had it custom matched at Canadian Tire.  I like bringing a piece of the townhouse to the lake.

It's plain, but it's an enticing blank canvas.  I have some really bold projects in store so this fresh white backdrop is exactly what I need.  Plus, the dated trim disappears when painted white - wait until you see the living room windows!!  More details on de-oaking next week, plus hopefully we'll have all of the boob lights replaced too.
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September 11, 2013

Pillow Talk

For over a month, Hubby and I tested out some new pillows.  You know I'm a little throw pillow-nutty and have, since we bought the townhouse, bought three decorative down pillows and shams for our bed, had my Mom sew no fewer than six silk pillows covers and six cotton pillow covers for the bedrooms, living room and even the basement, plus I painstakingly embroidered my own pillow and even brought felted wool ones back from Hungary!  Despite the pillow frenzy, the pillows we have relied on for a good night's rest were cheap, bargain bin synthetic pillows that had been getting flatter and flatter and flatter for years.  I'd finally decided to buy new ones (yay, more pillows!), but couldn't decide between down and synthetic.  Down is comfy, until it gets squashed flat from the weight of my (presumably giant) noggin, but synthetic can feel stiff.  When Down Linens asked if I'd be interested in reviewing two Plush Perfect Gel Fiber Pillows - with the softness of down, but with more firmness - I was thrilled. 

Tanya's Take
When they first arrived, whoa did they feel HUGE and pouffy compared to our pancake pillows.  At first I spent a few evenings trying to punch my new gel fiber pillow into submission, overwhelmed by its girth.  But it wouldn't quit, and I quickly grew to love it.  It has the softness of down but more firmness and substance, exactly as promised, which really is a dreamy combination.  It doesn't shift or bunch either, and is hypo-allergenic and easy to wash.  Although it's designed for tummy sleepers, I sleep on my back, side and stomach at various times throughout the night and it always offers great support.  My old pillow now feels like a lumpy sweater shoved into a cloth sack by comparison and, minus a few sleepless nights due to external factors, I've been sleeping much more soundly thanks to Down Linens.

Hubby's Take
I quizzed Hubby the other day about his opinion, and he had this to say: the pillows are "consistent" (no soft, squooshy areas near the edges), "thicker than our old pillows," "fairly firm," "kinda thick" (when prompted to not compare the thickness to our old pillows, as that's of no use to readers), and "they don't flatten during night".  Does Hubby pine for our old pillows?  Nope.  Would Hubby have forked over $49.99 for a pair, if they had not been provided for review?  Yup.  Let's ponder that a moment, because that's a huge compliment, coming from a miserly pillow-hater like Hubby.  I was actually a little floored - he answered so quickly and definitively.  He really loves his new pillow!

We were provided a pair of Plush Perfect Gel Fiber pillows for review, but these reviews are our own and we were not prompted or paid to describe them favorably.  Hubby, in particular, was in no way obligated to say anything nice, but he was so keen to partake in reviewing these pillows that he even agreed to model their squishiness above.  And yes, Hubby has a bit of a mohawk.

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September 9, 2013

Planning to Paint a Brick Fireplace - Inspiration

No matter how much I pushed and prodded, and produced photo after photo of lovely painted brick fireplaces, Hubby never budged on the don't-paint-the-brick policy in the townhouse.  Given that there were so few things he was adamant about, decor-wise, I knew I would be entering serious bad-wife territory if I just primed and painted it when he wasn't looking (not that I didn't ponder it a time or two, paint brush in hand). 

When we bought the lakehouse, I was over the moon with the composite, concrete fireplace because it wasn't sacred, can't-paint-it brick.  Score!  Pass me a paint brush and let me have at it.

I immediately pictured charcoal grey paint covering the whole thing - knotty pine included - paired with freshly painted black fireplace doors and grates (goodbye gold).  Imagine my chagrin when Hubby vetoed painting this fireplace too!!  Womp wompHis reasoning: it matches the outside of the house.  My reasoning: that composite (and the siding) needs a dose of dark grey too!!

Now, I understand not painting stuff.  If the fireplace was chic and awesome, I'd leave it alone:

Reclaimed wood fireplace
But ours is nothing special: it's builder's basic and isn't even real stone.

Concrete and pine fireplace

Someday I'd love to re-do the whole thing with something more modern and streamlined.  Drool:

Grey fireplace
Smooth or stone or brick, I'm just really loving grey right now for a fireplace, and ours has such potential to look this gorgeous:

Emily Henderson
Warm grey fireplace
House and Home
black-brown brick fireplace
The Brick House
fireplace painted makeover
Kirsten Sessions Photography
fireplace painted makeover
The Best{H}Life
Like a bad kid, I already swiped on a stripe of primer (only on the pine!!), but I'll admit that I stood there, brush in hand, staring at the stone for a bit too long. 

We have to convince Hubby to come to the dark (grey) side.  Help?
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September 6, 2013

August is Done. I DID it!!

August was certainly stressful for me, and for some reason I decided an excellent way to "unwind" after a super stressful day of frantic writing was to start watching the Walking Dead!  Three sleepless nights later, I submitted my PhD dissertation before the deadline!!!!!  And we accepted a conditional offer on the townhouse, one day before my deadline.  The day after the deadline, we held a yard sale to de-clutter a little, then I made the 1500km journey to the lakehouse to start painting (sans Hubby, who has to work).

Here are the many copies of my dissertation that I had to photocopy, and submit in person.  Did I mention my department is on the 11th floor?  Feels crazy to see it all ready like this . . .

Because I was so focused on my research last month, this is all that happened around here:

I linked to a few fun features, including a mention in Canadian Home Trends magazine, a feature on Love on Sunday and, what I forgot to share, another feature on Apartment Therapy!

I did manage to sneak in a little DIY (we have to keep that a secret between you and me).  Hubby and I refinished the arms and legs on our vintage curbside find (which is currently at Kessels Upholstery, getting a new look).

I reviewed two Villeroy and Boch serving pieces (and shared my delicious turkey meatloaf recipe).

Eager to start work, I shared photos of the new kitchen, in addition to my plans for a quick and affordable makeover (along with photos of every turquoise kitchen out there, for a little inspiration).

I also started to figure out floor plans, so I can decide what furniture to keep and what furniture to sell from the townhouse.  I've already sold a lot, including the living room side tables, the living room orange tweed chair, the kitchen table, the dining room hutch, my swirly teak table, Hubby's desk . . . We are really starting fresh, mostly because the new space requires a new configuration.  It was sad to see so many pieces I lovingly picked out or hunted down go (some still need to be picked up by their new owners), but it was also nice to see my vintage finds find new homes! 

To make up for the lack of great "Before and Afters" around here in August, I shared some amazing makeovers from a new favorite read.

Next up for me: months of waiting to hear news about my dissertation.  My committee needs to review it and will give me a grade of 1 (some revisions), 2 (more revisions), 3 (it needs substantial work, so re-register, pay tuition and try again), 4 (GTFO).  If it's a 1 or 2, I get to defend my dissertation, where I can receive the same grade system.  I will likely defend November, December, maybe even January.  Luckily I have a house in need of updating to keep me from worrying!!  I've already primed some of the teensy oak trim and will have updates Monday.  Feels good to have tools and paintbrushes in hand again!
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