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

February 28, 2014

Our Sleep Easy

Embarrassingly, Hubby and I didn't immediately move into the lakehouse after our grueling move.  We unloaded the stuff (with help, thankfully), returned the U-Haul truck, and then bee-lined it to my parents' place, where we camped out for a bit.  Their home has the lure of clean towels, hot dinners, and fast internet.  Moving really took the wind out of our sails and trivial things like getting groceries (and turning them into meals!) seemed like Herculean tasks.  We drove to the lakehouse everyday though, and steadily got it to a more livable order.  We were totally busted by Hubby's family, who came over (with dinner) for a tour.  They immediately spotted our mattress propped up against the walls, barricaded by boxes.  They need to come by again.  Look: a bed with sheets and everything (I even found the bedskirt, but not the iron to smooth out those wrinkles). 

The headboard and side tables my Grandpa welded weathered the move!  The paint is a bit scuffed so come spring time a new paint job is imminent.  Should I keep it matte black?  Try glossy white?  A bright colour?

We hung the vintage Hungarian posters across from the bed, and I think they are perfect for the bedroom.  Magically, the minty chair and table pair well with the posters.  I'm so happy that, so far, I've been able to rearrange pieces from the townhouse with relative ease.  

The dresser is a stand-in, borrowed from my Mom.  We didn't have a dresser in the townhouse, so I naively thought everything would fit in our closet (what is it with me?).  When we downsized from three bedrooms to two, our closet contents were smushed together.  I still have surplus clothes, so I'm itching for more storage.  They are so pricey, but I'd love these two Room and Board dressers

Even though I've squashed the bed as far as it will fit on the wall opposite the closet - and I've even turned the nightstands sideways to take up less room - I'm dubious about my prospects of having enough room for bi-fold closet doors to open, which I should have explained when I chatted about the closet earlier this week.  I'll take some measurements and start shopping options.  I appreciate everyone's suggestions!   

High on the bedroom to-do list: refresh the headboard and tables, buy (make?) closet doors, sew curtains, get my hands on better storage, accessorize, add more colour, and maybe try something nutty.  I've been slowly building my collection of Fab trays, picking them up for $1-3 a piece.  I think the collection (grown much larger) would look fun in the same room as the fashion-focused posters because the trays are little time capsules of 1960s and 1970s fabrics.  I am putting my little red armoire into storage, so I think the blank wall behind the door might be a fun place to hang them - floor to ceiling, salon style.

Still lots to do, but for now we can get a good night's sleep in our own home!  As a reminder, after painting the walls, doors, ceilings, and trim white, removing the window coverings, replacing the boob light (not pictured), and filling the room with our art and furniture, we've turned the room from this . . .

into this . . .


February 27, 2014

CIL Giveaway Winner + A Question

Just a quick note to announce the winner of the giveaway sponsored by CIL.  Drumroll . . . congratulations Jordana of White Cabana!  I'll be in touch shortly to connect you with CIL. 

Thanks to everyone who entered (apologies to my non-Canadian readers who were left out of the running this time).  A quick question for you: do you like when blogs host giveaways?  I turn down a lot of giveaway opportunities because I don't want giveaways to clutter the blog.  I happily said yes to this one because it was a good fit but, ultimately, giveaway are a clever way for companies to advertise - something I'm trying to keep to a minimum in this little space I've carved out on the internet.  What do you think? 
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February 25, 2014

Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer Review

We installed a closet organizer in the orange bedroom closet and it's incredibly satisfying to simply pull out a garment, instead of rooting around through heaps and boxes.  We loved the maple-look closet fitting in the townhouse because it matched the floors nicely, but we didn't find any wood closet systems to match our lakehouse floors.  After some questing, we found a grey version of the ubiquitous white wire closet organizer that we thought looked kind of smart.

Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer (in Titanium) Review:

We purchased the Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer system because it promised to be cheap and easy, but it didn't look cheap (to us).  When the dust settled, it turned out to be kind of pricey because we added Rubbermaid Slide on Baskets.

Here's a look at the organized installed.  I really hate when people stage closets for photos, so I hope you don't mind that these photos reflect what it actually looks like, day to day.
Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer Review

First I want to address the cost of the Rubbermaid system.  Admittedly, the basic kit is only about $150-200 dollars, but we ended up spending a lot of money on the baskets (online they are about $45, but we paid $55 in store).  When all was said and done, after we bought every little bit and bob necessary, this cost us around $500!

But, everything is organized and in it's place - and that's priceless, right?

Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer Basket

As customize-able as Rubbermaid claims this is, you're a bit limited with how you can place the vertical tracks if you want to add shelves or baskets, or any of the other add-on pieces.  We also couldn't put the bars (on the right side) at the height we wanted them because the baskets use the same tracks to clip on to.  That's why the baskets ended up unevenly spaced, and Hubby's shirts just dust the floor.  We might need to fuss with this some more.

Happily, the wire shelving is smooth and doesn't snag or catch (although the basket brackets are a little sharp). 

Installing the Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer Review

The spacing limitation has also left us with another problem: the baskets slide out, which is great, but now we can't install double sliding doors.  If we move the baskets over to the right, they bump into the frame and won't open. 

Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer Basket Review

Despite these small installation issues, I'm really happy with the closet.  I think we really maximized the space - I even added larger versions of my shoe bins to store winter boots and make use of that awkward space under our longer items.  I also love that my purses all have their own space on the top shelf.

Organized closet
Rubbermaid Configurations Closet Organizer

The colour still makes Hubby smile (I like it too!) and I'm really happy we took the time to swap out the dated light fixture for the cutie one I love so much

Cute closet light

Certainly, it's a far cry from before:

UPDATE: We purchased absolutely gorgeous, triple pass glass sliding doors.  Take a look here!
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February 24, 2014

How to Hide Popcorn Ceilings

Ceilings.  Ceiling have been the bane of my existence since Hubby and I first became homeowners.  The townhouse had popcorn ceilings which were a little bashed and (kind of poorly) patched in many spots, and let's not forget the dreaded drop ceilings in the basement.  Although drop ceilings are genius, especially for finished basements, where you still want to be able to access plumbing and the other guts of a house, ours were old and cheap.  As luck would have it, the lakehouse has popcorn ceilings too!  Luckily, they are in pristine condition.  Other than soaking up twice the paint of drywall, they haven't bothered us too much.  With our white walls/white ceiling combo they aren't terribly ugly but, in the back of my mind, I can't help but wonder if de-popcorning should be on our to-do list.  

Popcorn Ceiling

When Armstrong Residential Ceilings asked me to review their new website, especially their Ceilings 101 feature, I was really curious.  Would they have a solution for popcorn ceilings?  How many different ceiling styles could there even be?  Turns out there is a whole world of truly elegant ceiling options, and dropped ceilings have come a long way.  The Ceilings Guide breaks it down, starting with the most straightforward options (drywall and drop), but also explaining the more fanciful, like coffered ceilings, shed ceilings, and tray ceilings.

Coffered Ceiling

Ceilings 101 is quite literally a crash course, helpful for anyone looking for some outside-of-the-box ideas.  Then, for serious shoppers, the website links to products to suit different styles and budgets.  If you like the idea of tray ceilings, for example, you could opt for tin ceilings with tin-look panels, which can be painted any colour.  They had me at teal.  A colourful ceiling is on my to-do list.

Teal Tin Ceiling

In regards to my popcorn problems, in the section on Ceiling Myths I learned I don't need to scrape them bare.  I could just cover up my popcorn ceilings by installing a new ceiling right over them.  So clever, and seemingly easy for anyone with some DIY skills.  Hmmm, good to know!   

Wood Ceiling - Hide Popcorn

My tour around Ceiling 101 was insightful and I feel armed with a lot of knowledge.  If your ceilings are gorgeous (you lucky duck), there are still some neat things to be done with ceiling tiles.  I'm reminded of Chris and Julia's use of thrifted tin sheets to update the backsplash of their rental kitchen.  With some strong adhesive tape, they temporarily covered up some tile that just didn't do their collection of vintage treasures justice.  Armstrong's metal ceiling tiles would look just as cute.  I vote for that dreamy teal!

Use Tin Celing Tile as Backsplash
Cover a Backsplash in a Rental

This post was sponsored by Armstrong Residential Ceilings.  From the first click I thought the website, especially Ceilings 101, would be useful to anyone tackling a renovation or perhaps house-shopping (and feeling discouraged by wonky drop ceilings and crumbling popcorn ceilings).  This is a great place to start researching options (or just while away a lunch break in the before & afters section).  All thoughts, opinions, and editorial decisions are my own. 
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February 20, 2014

How to Turn Three Ikea Besta Cabinets into a Floating Credenza

The lakehouse dining room nook is about seven feet wide, which is why we sold our incredibly wee four foot long teak cabinet from the townhouse dining room.  During the fall I casually kept my eye out for a larger mid-century credenza (either teak or walnut) but I had a serious Goldilocks problem on my hands: everything I found was too short, too long, too beat-up, too pricey, too far away.  Sigh.  One day we might make something for the spot (Handy Hubby's Dad is a woodworker, after all), but in the meantime I decided to find a quick & easy placeholder.

Wall Mount Ikea Besta

After much waffling, we opted for three wall mounted Ikea Besta units (the same kind we use for television storage in the living room), with glass front doors that have a white backing.  I splurged on the glass doors because they look a little beach-glassy to me (with the faintest grey-blue tinge).  They are similar, but not identical, to the glass backdrop behind the television, which is equally luminescent but more of a minty hue.  The new ceiling fan also has a similar glossiness, but it's much greyer.  Can you tell I'm kind of into anything with some glassy glow?  In case I get bored of the look, there are other options.  I can put a fun fabric behind the glass, or I could even paint the glass itself - painted glass turned out so beautifully with the amazing mirror Sarah made from an 80s glass chandelier.

Hanging them was simple because Ikea sells Besta suspension rail kits!

One problem: there is an outlet immediately behind the wall mounted Besta and the only other one is to the right.  This means the cord for the lamp on the left needs to run along the credenza.  Messy!  Not to worry, we're going to be building a wood top for the credenza, stained pale grey, to finish off the look and hide the Ikea-ness of it (most notably the seams between the three units).  At that time we'll drill some holes in the top and run the cords down into the unit, to access the outlet hiding behind.  I am unbelievably excited about the prospect of totally hidden lamp cords

Dealing with lamp cords
Dealing with lamp cords
How to hide lamp cords

I've known all along that Hubby's grandpa's painting, which hung in the townhouse dining room, would also look good here.  It's the perfect scale for the nook.  I topped the credenza with the milky, glossy lamps from the townhouse office and I love how they pair with the glass doors.

Robert Abbey Lamps

As a reminder, here's how the nook looked when we first toured the home (it had furniture in the listing photos, but was emptier for the house inspection):

Lake House Dining Room Before

And here's the nook now (good-bye taupe walls and oak trim):

Ikea Fauxdenza

UPDATE: We finished the floating credenza!  See how we made a plywood top by reading this post and also take a look at how we finished the piece using furniture grommets - I love those hidden lamp cords!
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February 19, 2014

Customized Topographic Moving Announcements with Coordinates

Topographic Moving Announcement

I just wanted to say a heartfelt "thank you" to the readers who nominated this blog for Apartment Therapy's Homies.  I am truly touched, especially in light of the fact that I really left you hanging with the lakehouse during the fall, and things have only just picked up again. 

To carve out more time, I offloaded the task of notifying our friends and family of our move to my pal Erica, of Wicked Bride.  She tweaked the design of her own moving announcement (adding orange text for Hubby, plus our cell phone numbers) and sent me customized moving announcements, complete with our actual coordinates!  It took two seconds to slip them each into an envelope, scrawl on an address, and mail them away to the folks left totally in the dark about our whereabouts.  It could not have been easier. 

It would have been even easier had Szuka not found my roll of stick-on stamps and eaten $10 worth before gumming another $15.  My Mom's consoling words as I tried to salvage some of the drier ones: "be thankful they aren't the kind you have to lick".
Customized Moving Announcement Printable
This is obviously not our contact information, but you get the idea. 
If you'd like your own announcements, you can order these printable topographic moving announcements in Erica's Wicked Bride Etsy shop (she also has printing options). 
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February 18, 2014

Lake House Living Room Progress!

After painting the walls, trim, and ceiling white, painting the gold fireplace vents and door matte black, painting the faux stone and sauna wood a deep charcoal grey, and adding a chic new ceiling fan, the living room became a beautiful blank canvas.  Now it boasts furniture and artwork!

Charcoal Grey Fireplace DIY
Ikea Besta Wall Unit
Bert Weir Abstract Art
McCoy Pottery Collection - Aqua

I've been keeping a secret: before we left Ottawa - I'm talking literally right before - I bought a mid-century sectional sofa.  We actually picked it up with our U-Haul an hour before we began loading our stuff.  I checked its measurements against our floor plan and it should fit nicely but I'd like the opportunity to actually haul it in here and see, before I invest time and money in having it professionally reupholstered.  It's in rough shape, but at its core it's a beauty.  I'll show you photos soon but it's currently in pieces, each perched on their side, in the garage. 

In the meantime, every piece here is from the townhouse.  The teal velvet garbage chair, refusing to photograph true to life as always, is a welcome burst of colour below Hubby's grandpa's painting.  We're still using our handy Ikea Besta wall unit for our television and my McCoy pottery collection.

Teal Velvet MCM Chair
Komondor Puppy

Our second-hand cream leather sofa made the 1500km journey unscathed, thanks to our plastic wrapping prowess.  It's looking a little bland, so I'm planning to rook my Mom into helping me sew some teal velvet cushions, and maybe even add a bold pattern.  As planned, Hubby's desk chair has been re-purposed as an occasional chair in the living room.  I still think black was a practical choice, but I can't help but wish I'd picked something a little less "safe" because this living room, with it's large windows and tons of natural light, can pull off bold colours with ease.

Black Wool Organic Chair from The Modern Shop, Ottawa
Textured Cream Wool Pillow

Hubby & I hung the hundred year old Lake Superior postcards (they were hung in the stairwell in the townhouse) on either side of the fireplace.  It's incredibly lucky I found a couple more at the Ottawa Antique Show to round out my set so I had an even eight.  Placement was tricky because of the paneling behind - I wanted the panels spaced evenly behind the floating frames.  It was do-able, but it dictated the spacing between the frames.

Artwork Flanking Fireplace
Antique Post Cards Framed
Antique Post Cards Framed

I acquired some large rocks from a family member and set them haphazardly on the fireplace mantle awhile ago, just so they were out of the way.  In the unpacking process I added some rocks from my collection so they'd all be together while I figured out where to put them.  They are still there and, with most of my decorative wares still packed, I'm happy for a little sparkle.  We'll call this "decorating the mantle" for now.

Rock collection on display

The living room has come a long way, but it's still got a long way to go.  In the immediate future I'd love to add a much-needed lamp, more decor pieces, maybe a DIY sofa table, brighter cushions, plus a stylish DIY dog bed for Szuka.  Then I'd love to makeover that vintage sectional, build a new ottoman, and, eventually, totally re-do the fireplace and rearrange the floor plans.  Anything in the living room is subject to change, but for now it's nice to have an area of the house that beckons us to put up our feet after a long day.

Here's a quick reminder of how it looked before, with photos taken during our showing and also snagged from the real estate listing (the previous owners swapped out and shuffled some furniture):

And now:

Lake house living room makeover
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