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

July 28, 2014

Half Bathroom Makeover

Just moving into a new home and doing nothing would make me so twitchy.  I need to put my stamp on things as soon as possible, even if the change is minimal, unfinished, and at the expense of a plan.  I like a fresh canvas.  The powder room is slated for a full gut job when the laundry room and kitchen see their Phase II renovations but until then, like the kitchen and laundry room, I had to give it a little facelift.

Behold...the oak-less, duck-less space:

Here's a reminder of the "before":

I'm the first to admit it's a pretty unremarkable makeover - it just sort of happened, despite my having a million neat ideas.  (Do you have any rooms like that?)  Still, it just feels so much better!  Newer, fresher, cleaner, and brighter.

I painted the walls, ceiling, trim, and door white when the rest of the house was painted.  When the main bathroom got it's makeover, I used leftover supplies to paint the oak cabinetry grey, the dated 90s tile cream, and the gold light fixtures and hardware matte black - thanks to my friends at Rust-Oleum.  A matching towel ring courtesy of Plumber's Surplus replaced the old towel bar and glass shelf (not pictured).  Hubby's Grandpa's bold green painting, hung in a fit of "all of our favorite art will get damaged if we don't hang it right this second!!" makes a great statement.  In the adjacent laundry room there are two more of his paintings so it feels planned.  The other two prints in the washroom are from Hungary.

Because I don't have a floor plan for the house, this photo might help a bit.  The powder room is just beyond the laundry room.

Since initially updating the powder room, I've thought about going bolder - maybe hanging my silhouettes en masse? They would have so much more impact in a small space.  Turquoise stripes on the wall?  A bright green ceiling?  Because it's immediately beyond the turquoise adorned laundry room and the bold turquoise kitchen, I think guests might like some respite from the bold choices to collect their thoughts in the more neutral powder room.

While I ponder, I'm turning my attention back to other projects.  We need bedroom curtains and closet doors.  The office is demanding to be more than a glorified storage room.  The Etsy shop is currently a maze of boxes.  Plus I have gallons upon gallons of exterior paint and deck stain taking up real estate in the garage.  I also have a hankering for a really do-able, afternoon-type project.

So I'm especially happy I gave this space a little love when I had the chance, even if it's kind of humble.

July 25, 2014

A Lotte Better: Vintage Blue Lotte Lamps Add Character to a Living Room

My Instagram photos got a lot more touristy last week because my friend Erica was visiting from Massachusetts.  We went to the Amethyst Mine, Fort William Historical Park, the Grand Marais art fair (plus this sweet flea market), in addition to hitting up the local boutiques and antique stores.  We even found a surprise roadside estate sale where I scooped up a new-to-me Pyrex pattern and Erica found beautiful brass flatware.  Erica works for two interior designers so near the end of her visit I decided to mine her eye for design and get her opinion on a small living room tweak.

Even though some readers didn't love it, I really liked the chrome lamp in the living room but after the turquoise kitchen makeover was completed, I started to feel like that part of the living room looked bland in comparison.  With such a bold kitchen, I don't want the adjacent living and dining areas to compete but they also need to hold their own.  I decided I wanted a lamp with some colour but given that the plans for the living room are up in the air, I didn't want to spend any money (the original lamp had been free too).  My Mom had de-commisioned two vintage blue Lotte lamps and I decided to try one.  I'd been reluctant to haul it over because I was convinced the blue was wrong, but Erica and I agreed: much better!!

As a reminder, this was the lamp there before:

The Marimekko sofa pillows don't have the same blue in them, but the paintings in both the living room and dining room have that exact shade - as do the antique Lake Superior post cards on either side of the fireplace, so when you look at the entire space the blue lamp makes sense.

Even though I'm a turquoise-enthusiast, I'm crave a variety of watery hues.  Inch by inch, I'm getting closer to what I envisioned for the space.  Maybe if I go ahead and re-upholster that mid-century sectional I'll add some more Marimekko throw pillows with some blue and aqua mixed together to tie in the blue even more definitively.  Or maybe at that point I'll be obliged to return the lamp... I know it sounds like I've begged, borrowed and stolen a lot from my Mom this week but if the trading seems lopsided, ask yourself, "where are the two small yellow Lotte lamps Tanya had in her living room, and where is that gorgeous big one she had in the guest room?"

On a side note, we scooped up a petite little brown Lotte lamp thrifting the other day.  I bought it for the shop, but my Mom has hidden it.  Why do we love Lotte lamps so much?  They evoke such a classic, mid-century feel.  Even more special than that, Lotte lamps were originally produced in Canada!  The company was sold in 1997 and current production is based in Ohio - which is still pretty cool because I'm all about keeping jobs in North America (woo-hoo, jobs!).  Find out more about the history here and click here for sources.
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July 24, 2014

Special Feature: Thrift Score Thursday

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I use the hashtag #thriftscorethursday on every photo of a vintage treasure.  Thrift Score Thursday is a fun weekly party hosted by the lovely Trisha (from Black and White Obsession) and fabulous Brynne (from The Gathered Home).  All week long, treasure hunters share their thrift store, yard sale, classifieds and feebie finds on Instagram or Twitter using the magic hashtag (#thriftscorethursday).  Trisha and Brynne then comb through the submissions and on Thursdays they share their favorite picks - they've even featured my goodies from time to time!  Now they're adding guest bloggers to the fun, and this week it's my turn to join along and pick my favorites, in addition to showing you what I scooped up.  I was made for this because not a week goes by that I don't find something incredible.  It's partly because I just love decorating my home with vintage wares, but it's also because I'm re-opening my Etsy shop soon so I've really ramped up the search!

First up, the finds that made me pine:

Jess McGurn (@brightgreendoor) found a set of hobnail glasses with matching pitcher.  The price?  Only $3!

If you're into mid-century furniture, then you must follow Sabina (@futuristichuman).  But if you see something you like, act fast!  This gorgeous pair of dressers already sold.

Jenn Pflueger (@suite22antiques) takes the most beautifully styled instagram photos.  She recently found a sweet pair-shaped vase to make her vignettes even more gorgeous, if that's possible.  If you spot something you can't live without, she has an Etsy shop too!

One side effect of the hastag party: you'll want to start hitting the thrift stores even more!  Sometimes I'll scroll through great find after find and then get this urge to drop everything and go thrift.  It's bad because I've come home from a town run and realized I've forgotten groceries because I made an impromptu thrift store stop instead!  This week was particularly delicious as I scored two stand-out finds.  The first is a textured West Germany pottery vase.  My Mom has a small collection and so I technically picked it up for her on my way to her place for lunch.  It sat on the counter while we munched our salads and by the time I pierced the last tomato, I said, "Mom, I'm sorry, but I've decided to take it home."  I had a total Gollum moment.  Sometimes things look blah in the thrift stores when they're covered in muck and bathed in florescent lighting.  All cleaned up and basking in natural light, this vase called out to me.  It's perfect in the lakehouse - especially with the George Nelson bubble lights.  Don't feel too sad for my Mom because I've lost track of the number of things she's scooped, bartered for, or just plain stolen from me :)

Although the vase is all mine, I found something adorable for the Etsy shop as well: a Rörstrand luncheon set - cups, saucers and small plates.  Pristine condition with a mod, mid-century design in blue and grey, trimmed in silver.  To me it has an Orla Kiely feel.  Rörstrand was (and continues to be) a famous Swedish porcelain manufacturer and you can feel the quality in how delicate these pieces are.       

Just a quick tip: if you see something stamped or marked with three crowns, that typically means it was made in Sweden!  I've learned this because my Mom (although of Hungarian ancestry) was born in Sweden so whenever we're out treasure hunting, things from Sweden get scooped up.

I'm betting that now you're feeling like a stop at a thrift shop might not be a bad idea.  If you do find something awesome, play along!
  • You can share any thrifty find, no matter the source (craigslist, kijiji, yard sales, etc.)
  • Use #thriftscorethursday on Twitter or Instagram (or both)
  • Share your finds all week long and tune in Thursdays to see if your find was featured
  • Remember, by using the hashtag you're providing consent for your finds to be shared on social media and on Trisha and Brynne's blogs
Speaking of Trisha and Brynne, check out their blogs today to see their scores for the week, and to see which fabulous #thriftscorethursday finds they decided to feature.

You can also click here, plus you can find her on Twitter or Instagram!

You can also click here, plus you can find her on Twitter and Instagram!
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July 18, 2014

Show Me Love

I thoroughly enjoy tackling DIY projects and decorating our space, especially because it almost always means spending quality time with my Handy Hubby.  Sometimes a fabulous outcome is just icing.  Folks commending us on a job well done?  That's the cherry on top.  Before I get any hungrier (I'm on Weight Watchers - how many point is icing?!?), let me cut to the chase:  I owe a huge thanks to some fabulous folks who gave the lakehouse and our projects a little love recently.

Most recently I was a guest blogger on House of Turquoise - which is obviously the mother-ship for a turquoise-loving gal like me.  I'm so flattered to have been asked, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting other folks who love turquoise as much as me!

The turquoise kitchen reveal has been getting a lot of attention, which feels surreal because for a looooong time it looked like thisCentsational Girl added our kitchen to her "Best of DIY" collection.  Wow!

Delineate Your Dwelling featured the kitchen in the latest link party.

I really enjoyed link parties after the kitchen reveal - something I rarely do.  But partying lead to neat things, like The Makers choosing me as their featured blogger!

Yep, linky parties were a real ego boost because a Stroll Thru Life also featured the kitchen, as did My Re-purposed Life

Apartment Therapy also featured the space, which always yields a flurry of surprising comments.  . 

Some folks want me to add more colour.  It's a good idea, but....NEVER!!  I am in love with the kitchen palette which, to be fair, is different shades of aqua, blue, grey, cream and pale green.  See?  So varied.  Adding orange and yellow is like adding oreo cookie crumbs to a butterscotch sundae for me.  Certainly that sounds enticing to some (and I certainly do love butterscotch and oreos separately), but I just want to savor my butterscotch.  And then maybe eat some oreos later.  How many points are oreos? 

But I know the feeling - there are many homes in blogland and in magazines that I'm just itching to tweak (or do-over completely).  Sorry for causing any twitchy fingers, but I'm happy as a clam in the kitchen.  And the turquoise laundry room, which Lindsey featured on Better After.

This is an oldie, but a goodie: my painted fireplace was featured on Remodelaholic.

In other news, Brit + Co featured my Ikea Expedit Hack in a fun round-up of Ikea shelf hacks.

Not only did I get many pats on the back for DIYing, my thrifting prowess even earned me some fist-bumps.  Vintage Revivals included my Eames find in their newsletter, and then the secret mid-century sectional I have stashed in my garage was featured on the VR blog!

I do my best to keep track of all features on my Press Page but if you see some link love I've missed, let me know.  I'm so appreciative of the support.  But, more important than accolades: you!  Thanks for reading.  I love sharing my projects and hearing your feedback. 
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July 17, 2014

Concrete Floors

This might seem kind of nutty: we just finished our temporary kitchen makeover and I'm already dreaming of the next one.  I know time will fly by and sooner than we think we'll be faced with big decisions, like choosing flooring.  The kitchen, entryway, laundry room, and powder room all have the same linoleum, while the rest of the house (excluding the main bathroom, which also has linoleum) has walnut-stained maple hardwood.  The hardwood is in okay condition, but it's scratched, dented and gappy in the winter.  Szuka has really gouged it, no matter how well we trim her nails.  I think that five years from now it might just be wise to replace the flooring in the entire house and make it uniform for a cohesive look.  We've been pouring over flooring buying guides and tossing around flooring options:
  • Hardwood = scratched and dented easily
  • Laminate = just not our jam
  • Tile = I hate grout and despised cleaning the ceramic tile in the townhouse entry and kitchen
  • Vinyl and linoleum = scratched and stained easily
  • Cork = just not our jam either
Recently, it dawned on me: concrete!!

We live in a lakehouse, so I think we get a pass concerning any rules about "appropriate" materials and finishes.  Concrete floors bring to mind cool loft spaces, but I think we can pull it off.  It would be super easy to clean and would stand up to Szuka's wear and tear.  We can add in-floor heating to make it cozier in the winter.  There are some cons, of course: it can crack (but can be repaired), it can be rough on joints to stand on it (we'll tough it out), and it can be cold (that's where in-floor heating comes in).  But I love that it can be stained or even painted as our style evolves, plus it's pretty affordable.

Of course we have quite a few years to noodle on this, but if I had to decide today I would definitely be looking very seriously at concrete.  Thoughts?
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July 14, 2014

DIY Raised Dog Bowl Stand With Mod 1960s Shape + Hairpin Legs

DIY Raised Dog Bowl Stand on Hair Pin Legs

Szuka, our Komondor pup, is a tall gal - which you might have gleaned from this leggy Instagram shot of her.  After watching her strain to reach her ground-level dog bowls like a brontosaurus, Hubs and I decided she could use a raised dog bowl stand.  I decided that it should be mid-century modern inspired.  And turquoise.  With hairpin legs.  Drool.  These retro-inspired raised dog feeders were clearly the inspiration but they're unavailable, plus we wanted to customize the height, so we whipped up our own version of a retro, DIY raised dog bowl stand.  Ours is so wonky it can hardly even be called a knock-off, but the three of us love it equally so we'll call it a success!

How to Build a Raised Dog Bowl Stand

The first step was figuring out the height, so we created a cardboard cutout and put treats on it for Szuka to munch on while we held it up at different heights.  We made sure to factor in that the food would actually be lower once the bowls were in place.  She thought it was the most. fun. game. ever. (free liver, just for standing here?!?).

Making a Raised Pet Feeder - template 
Next we rustled up the supplies for our DIY dog bowl stand - including some gorgeous hairpin legs.


We ordered our hairpin legs from Hairpin Legs for Less because of their great selection.  Even though I ended up choosing the gloss clear powder coat, I still enjoyed being tempted by white, turquoise and even brushed gold.  The quality is excellent, they were shipped with care, and I was able to customize the height.

Colorful Hairpin Legs
To assemble our DIY raised dog feeder, first we used our cardboard cut out to trace the design onto a piece of plywood.  (We really should have blown up the image of the bowl stand we liked and traced it, but that felt too much like copying).  We marked where the legs and bowls would go and then the bowl holes were traced and cut with a jigsaw before we cut out the whole shape.  We made the bowl holes smaller than the bowl edges, so the edge would catch and hold them in place.

How to Make a Plywood Raised Pet Feeder
DIY Wooden Pet Bowl Stand
How to Make a Wood Raised Pet Bowl Stand
Make a Raised Pet Feeder

Once it was cut out, the entire piece was wrapped in edge tape (see this post about our DIY kitchen pantry, or this post about our floating credenza top to see how we do that).  Then I primed and painted it.  I mixed together the creamy white from the kitchen pantry and shelves, plus the turquoise of the cabinetry and the mintier office closet colour - all in semi-gloss - for a paler hue.  See?  There's lots of colour variation in the lakehouse: there's lighter turquoise, darker turquoise, greener turquoise, bluer turquoise...


And here is Szuka's brand new, 1960s-inspired DIY raised dog bowl stand - complete with hairpin legs.

DIY Aqua Raised Dog Bowl Stand

Once the paint was dry, we attached the legs and dropped in the stainless steel bowls (from Petsmart). Szuka took to it right away.  I photographed it in the dining room because the laundry room - her spot to chow down - is windowless and difficult to photograph.  You'll have to trust that it fits perfectly in the corner and looks cute with the turquoise curtains and her matching quilt.

Turquoise Dog Bowl Stand
How to Make a Raised Dog Feeder

With raised feeding stations, there is some controversy as to whether this can cause bloat in dogs.  Some studies say higher bowls contribute to bloat while others say they prevent it and relieve digestive discomfort.  I didn't want to put Szuka's health in the hands of random internet sources so I consulted with our Vet who said the raised bowl is in no way a risk, especially given that Szuka is a pokey eater.  But if you're thinking of making your pup an elevated dog bowl - high or low - chat with your Vet about what's healthiest because, after all, I'm just a random person on the internet too.

DIY Modern Raised Dog Bowl Stand Tutorial

Thanks to Hairpin Legs for Less for providing the hairpin legs for this project!  
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