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

April 30, 2015

A Great Source for Colourful, Mid-Century Inspired Tweed Fabric

If you follow me on Instagram, or caught the recent post about my new poster purchase, then you might already know that I'm swapping the teal DIY back tab bedroom curtains...

...for an absolutely perfect green tweed! 

From Instagram
I know that some of you are Team Teal, but the tweed has won some hearts too.  Before I show off the new drapes (they're gorgeous, but a little too long - oops!), I wanted to explain my reasoning - and how I suddenly became totally obsessed with tweed.

Finding the teal patterned fabric in the bedroom was so tricky!  I was committed to more colourful textiles in the lakehouse, and I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone of sheers, sheers, and more sheers.  It helped that Hubs wanted "real curtains" that would block light and offer privacy.  I searched for a long time, but couldn't find a shade of green/teal that worked with the posters.  Eventually I found a teal print that had a modern feel and looked nice with the posters, although it complemented the middle poster best.  I thought (and still think) these curtains were gorgeous.  Trying something different (for me) really paid off! 

When I moved the middle poster out of the room, all of a sudden my beloved curtains looked wrong.  I casually started the search anew and was looking for curtain fabric for the office at the same time.  I had a contender in mind for the office, but I really wanted the curtains in both rooms to have a similarly scaled pattern for some continuity.  I corralled all of the viable options in a Pinterest board to show my Mom and she ended up finding this photo I had pinned a long time ago, from the show house Young House Love did:

I was really smitten with those luxurious aqua tweed drapes, but because they didn't suit the bedroom I didn't think twice about them.  Huddled over my Mom's tiny tablet, we clicked over to U-Fab.  I was positively giddy when I found not only a bevy of gorgeous tweeds (Hubs would like me to say a "gaggle of gorgeous tweeds), but also what looked like the perfect shade of green for the bedroom - shot with teal, like it was made for me!  I immediately ordered a bunch of samples, trying not to swoon at my $15 bill (one reason I've stuck to buying fabric locally for so long).  The folks at U-Fab were so sweet, and generously sent over some freebie samples, which was a lot of fun.  What is it about getting something free that makes people so happy? 

I taped some of the contenders up on the wall and spent a few days and nights contemplating - I like to see fabric or paint swatches under different lighting.  This was my original short list for the bedroom (clockwise from the top, Dapp Cloud, Dapp Peacock, and Dapp Elephant):

"Elephant" was too dark, but the silvery, creamy "Cloud" looked SO good, especially with the bed skirt and the off-white background of the posters.  It definitely harkened back to the townhouse, where creamy sheers and mushroom-hued silk curtains were de rigeur.  In the end, the green "Peacock" was too perfect to ignore.  In the office, there were no other contenders because the Dapp Aqua (which YHL used) looked amazing.

The office is still unfinished, but I'm letting the art work guide my choices.  The turquoise looks perfect with the art in there (by Bert Weir):

From Instagram
I'm going to be honest and say that it really frosts my cake that it took me two tries to get the curtains in the bedroom "right," because the fabric for the first set, even thought it was on sale, cost about $100 at Fabricland.  Spending money on something twice is such a disappointment and something I try really hard to avoid, but I couldn't have predicted my poster splurge.  I'm really excited about the new curtains and I love that the office and bedroom will have coordinating drapes.  I think that's going to look really chic and polished, and I'm realizing that texture, as opposed to bold pattern, might be a better fit for me in the long run.  I think tweed will have more longevity too.

After the green and aqua tweeds were ordered, I tossed the samples on the dining room table.  And that's when it hit me: these tweeds are upholstery weight!  Hmmmm... would any of them be suitable for recovering our super comfy dining room chairs?  I have kept my eyes peeled for comfortable, more stylish replacements for years, but no chair can hold a candle to these - they are lounge chair comfy, and they encourage us to sit and relax and linger.  I've even dragged my laptop out to the dining room and spent whole days working there, drinking in the view, instead of clacking away in the office which, although it has a lovely mountain view, pales in comparison.  I don't think our butts will ever allow us to part with the chairs, so recovering them might be the way to go.  The "Peacock" actually looks pretty good with the living room, but I think it would be a bit much beside the aqua kitchen - it's a pretty saturated green.  I think that with such bold statements in the living room and kitchen, the dining room chairs don't need to yell quite so loudly - although they do need to be a little peppier than their current brown, because they do seem out of place

A creamy beige, shot with pale aqua (Dapp Crystal), caught my eye.  It really picked up the creaminess of the leather sofa and the white stained maple counters, but I think cream dining room chairs might be giving us too much credit.  It would be a disaster on spaghetti night.


After a bit more sample shuffling, I found "The Magic Tweed" as we call it (Dapp Blue Jay) - a blue-ish, grey-ish, slightly teal-ish tweed that, at first glance, doesn't seem bright or bold enough to strike my fancy.  It's a chameleon, though, blending in and looking more teal, grey, or blue as required.

It is especially adept at picking up the teal of the velvet chair.  We'd like to build a new living room ottoman, something a bit narrower and longer, with hidden storage, and this teal could work for that too.  Carrying the same fabric from the dining chairs to the ottoman would be lovely - it would connect the two spaces.

I'm going to get some quotes from some local upholsterers to see how feasible it is, and how much I'd need to save up.  In the meantime, now you know how I came to decide that everything must be tweed ;)


April 28, 2015

Do You Mix Metals?

We are going to begin tearing out the bathroom this week!!  Cue the sweaty, panicked terror.  I need you to think exceptionally warm thoughts, because our plan is to shower in the guesthouse (which boasts our only other bathing facilities).  We can only use the shower out there if the ground has thawed enough for us to turn the water back on (the lines aren't insulated).  Truthfully, I'm not 100% sure that the bathroom out there even works, but I'm hopeful.  Because we're going to be doing much more of the work than we intended, we need to get going - yesterday.  No time to wait for warmer weather.  Worst case scenario, we end up taking cowboy baths in the laundry room tub - which would have been a luxury for our ancestors.  A luxury!

Although I've locked down the cabinetry, tile, and counters (eek), I had a few more decisions to make last week.  I don't know why, but this renovation has seemed to involve many more decisions than the last bath reno we tackled.  I think last time "not crappy" was good enough for me, but now I'm more particular - plus I feel pressure to get it perfect, because we can't afford mistakes or do-overs.  One of the more difficult decisions was one of the smallest: the finish on the faucets and lighting.  Geesh, I agonized over that.  Gold (brushed or brassy) is definitely having a moment, and while I can appreciate how beautiful it is, it just isn't for me.  Although I wear gold jewellery and my favorite handbags have gold hardware, I just cannot commit to it in my home - and I've tried! 

Elements of Style
For silver-loving folks, chrome seems like the most modern, and perhaps even classic choice, but I really dislike how spotty chrome gets - even with the magic cleaner I found.  And - this will sound completely nutty to you metal mixing aficionados - but I've realized that I don't like pairing chrome with brushed metals.  Although I mixed metals a bit in the townhouse (chrome, black, oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel), in the lakehouse I'm been striving for a totally unified look with all brushed silver.  Even though I can look at spaces like the ones below (two of my favorite rooms, actually) and appreciate how gorgeously and expertly the metals have been mixed, I just cannot commit to this look in my home either.

Smitten Studio
I just really like brushed silver, and I just really like when metals match.  It's one of those things my weird little brain zeroes in and fixates on.  I think it's because the lakehouse is somewhat small (1300 square feet - smaller than the townhouse, actually), so I like the eye to skip over hardware and not be drawn to different styles or finishes - it's why I like all white walls and trim too.  Because so much of the metal in the lakehouse - from the door hardware to the trim on our furniture and the stainless steel sink and faucet in the kitchen - are brushed silver (which is no accident), I'm staying the course.

Brushed nickel for the bathroom it is!  It's not a very common choice - which is why I was waffling so much.  It had a heyday in the 90s, but the fixtures I've chosen are so simple, I think it will have a modern feel.  I might end up with some subtle metal mixing anyway.  We've settled on the Kohler Purist faucet with a single lever in vibrant brush nickel, but the brushed nickel seems very warm.  In the photo below, the left is brushed nickel, the middle polished chrome, and the right is brushed bronze.

Although I'm a bit nervous, I'm also pretty excited!  I think this matchy-matchiness is going to make my brain and I very happy.  After spending so long creating a neutral, people-pleasing space, I'm really relishing the opportunity to just focus on what I (and Hubs, when he chimes in) want.  Anyone else like coordinating metals and finishes?  Or are you all metal-mixers?  If you are a metal-matcher like me, enjoy a little eye candy: 

Desire to Inspire
Style at Home
Style at Home
Urban Outfitters via Pinterest
EST Magazine
Style at Home
Desire to Inspire

The last photo is from a gorgeous, must-see house tour and the homeowner seems to love gold with the same passion I feel for brushed silver.
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April 15, 2015

Wallpaper Craft Fail - What to do if Mod Podge Doesn't Work?

My Mom had been bugging me to get my hands on some wallpaper for a project she had in mind, so when I acquired a roll of a mid-century inspired pattern, I handed it over to her!

Photo Source
When she saw the wallpaper, my Mom wanted more - to wallpaper her kitchen!  But we had already dropped $30 on a super-sized tub of Mod Podge, so we stayed the course.  Her plan was to recover a bunch of hat boxes she bought at HomeSense years ago.  She no longer loved the floral pattern and after we snapped some "before" photos, she realized she had about seven in total.  She hoped to recover them all. 

We plotted our moves, deciding how to position the pattern of the wallpaper on the boxes.  We snipped the edges so we could fold them over neatly underneath the box.  We were on a roll!

Hey, did you know that Mod Podging is really flipping difficult?!?

Neither of us had ever used Mod Podge, but hours of gluey sticky smudgey mess later, we determined that the Hat Box Recovering Project was not going our way.  The wallpaper is THICK and did not want to be wrapped around a round box.  Truthfully, our beginner Mod Podge skills were the bigger issue.  The paper ended up bunchy and severely wrinkled in a couple of places.

We added some black ribbon to the lid, which looks cute, but I think this qualifies as a #craftfail.  We're actually too intimidated to even tackle the other six hat boxes...

Have any of you used Mod Podge?  Any tips/tricks for using thicker paper?  Any Mod Podge fails of your own?  This is a really humbling moment for an avid DIYer like myself ;) But, you win some, you lose some. 
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April 14, 2015

A Lifetime of Art in the Canadian Bush

I have some really fun news.  One of the most commonly asked questions I field is about the art in our home - specifically, the paintings by Hubby's Grandpa, Bert Weir, a professional artist who is now in his 90th year.  I've chatted about the pieces we have (in this post and this post), but it has largely remained inaccessible to readers because Bert resides outside of Parry Sound, so to see or purchase his work has meant a trek to McKellar, Ontario.  BUT, until the end of September, his work can be viewed at Evergreen Brickworks Centre for Green Cities in Toronto (which is a little more accessible).  I know some of you live in, or visit, Toronto, so here is all of the info about Brickworks. 

For those who can't make the journey, Bert also has a book of his artwork available for purchase.  We have a copy and I find it inspiring to thumb through because he uses such vibrant and invigorating colours.

I might have some other ways for you to get your hands on some of Bert's art, but first let's take a tour around the Brickworks exhibit.  I tried my best to capture the beautiful paintings on display, but the lighting is a bit dim (and a bit fluorescent) there, so it was tricky.  You can also see his work on his website.

The showstopper is this 32 foot (!!!) painting, called Transitions, painted in 1978.  Hubby's standing in front, for scale.  Incredible, right?

Transitions, 1978

In the same space as Transitions are these four pieces:

I surprised myself by favoring not the blue painting, Winter Balsam (second from the left above)...

Winter Balsam, mid 1970s
Instead, I was mesmerized by a painting with lots of purple (!) - purple isn't really in my roster of favorite colours but this painting, October Red, pulled me in (of course, it doesn't hurt that there's a little aqua layered in there). 

October Red, 1977

This is why I advocate buying a piece of art you love, and pulling colours from it to decorate a room.  Artists just get colour - they have an innate sense of what colours look good together.  Design a room around the painting above and it will look stunning.

Brickworks is a great space and it was such a change to see Bert's art against brick walls with history, but his paintings really belong in the space.

After the Red, 2012
I love this peek of Full Summer as you walk down a set of stairs.

Full Summer, 2012
Unfortunately, two of the my favorites, part of the Wave Series, were moved to a meeting room that doesn't have a lot of character.  The series, which is comprised of twelve large diptychs, was inspired by Bert's burgeoning passion for sailing.  The way in which the wind and water interact is brought to life in these incredible paintings, painted in the late 1980s.

When we went to Brickworks, Hubby and I were told that the conference room which houses the Wave Series was booked, so we weren't allowed entry.  There was no way Hubby and I were going to drive more than 3000km and not see these paintings.  Hubby didn't want to interrupt (he's so polite!), so I steeled myself, prepared for a bit of confrontation and barged right in but, to my surprise, the room was empty.  We were able to take in these paintings in peace and quiet, which was lovely.  Can you imagine having something so beautiful to look at during your next meeting?  Lucky ducks.

Wave Series # 7, 1989
I love how softly Bert layered the colours in #4 of this series.  I took dozens of close up photos and I've been studying them (plus I shared some on Instagram).

Wave Series #4, 1988

I can only imagine how disappointing it will be for everyone who uses this space when Bert's work is removed at the end of September.  Having such beauty in the workplace must make it so much more enjoyable - I imagine it would spark a lot of creativity, too!  Just look at this hallway:

If I remember correctly, The Purples of Fall is down the corridor pictured above.  It's another painting with purple that caught my eye... Hmmm. 

The Purples of Fall, 2010

At the end of the hall is another one of my favorites, New Growth, from the Bush Wall Series.

New Growth, 2010
I thought that our painting in the dining room is from the same series, but it's actually from the Summer Landscape and Summer Grasses Series.  It brings Hubby immense and immeasurable joy to have his Grandfather's art in our home.  For me, it's more about the aesthetics and the energy, but Hubby enjoys a sense of closeness to his Grandpa because our home is filled with his art.  He picked out the piece in the dining room, and we appreciate it for different reasons.  I love how it makes us feel totally ensconced in nature; with huge windows across from it, it feels like another portal into the wilderness, but for Hubby it means something more.  Hubby rarely chimes in about decorating, but much of the art has been chosen by him.  It makes our home feel comfortable and familiar for him because he grew up surrounded by Bert's art!  We're so thankful that Bert has been so generous and has given us so many treasured pieces.

There are many more paintings at Brickworks, so if you have a chance stop by.  If you happen to share a photo on Instagram or Twitter, I'd love if you'd use #BertWeir and tag me so I can see!  I'd be happy to pass on your thoughts and experiences to Bert.

For those of you who are as smitten with Bert Weir's art as we are, you can always contact him directly (a studio tour can be arranged by appointment), but Hubby's Mom chatted with me recently about the possibility of selling signed, limited edition prints of his work ($100-200 range) or smaller original paintings.  Because I know that many of you, like me, are on a tight budget, there's also the possibility of notecards with images of his work...the sky is really the limit because Bert's wife is a talented photographer and she has cataloged and documented his extensive body of work.  For anyone who has ever asked about Bert's art, what would interest you?  Prints?  Smaller original paintings?  Notecards?  Something else?  What would be your budget?  Let me know what you think.
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