Man Space (not to be confused with "spaceman")

Chef Kev's recreation room (or "man cave" as some may say) needs help. We haven't done anything to the room since we moved in this past summer and it's time to show it some love. Manly love of course. So, we're going to be a dude and bromance this space.

Eventually we are going to take over our whole lower level and make a large media/recreation room (part of the basement is currently a suite). The future reno will be a big one, so won't happen for awhile. Until then, we definitely want to infuse a little character into Chef Kev's space and make it look better then it does currently.

The room does not have much natural light since it's in the basement which isn't a big problem really, as the room is mostly used for TV watching. However, it still feels drab and dull.

Here are a few photos that I shared in my "settling in" post back in the Fall.

Well, this just can't work the way it is. Sure, it's moderately functional but... Oh but. The mustard walls and brown painted doors and trim sneer at me each time I walk downstairs. I sneer back mind you, but they are still #winning. SO, I did what any person who claims a wall is sneering does... I made a plan to change it!

Here is a mood board of where we are going...

1) artwork - I have some AMAZING vintage London Underground posters that my mother-in-law gave me. I plan to frame those and get them up. I also have some awesome English pub trays too which will definitely find a home here (Did I mention Chef Kev's family is British)?

2) industrial shelves - will add a masculine touch plus provide room for storage. Something like these ones (shown above).

3) a manly clock or something along those lines. The one in the mood board is from here.

4) bookshelves to go in the weird 'nooks'.

5) our existing sectional

6) our existing TV - we'd like to update our TV stand too (not shown)

7) farmhouse style coffee table - I'd like to redo a Craigslist find with a rustic treatment (reference photo)

8) paint! - a light grey on the walls and a dark charcoal in the media alcoves. And the trim, all getting a fresh coat of white paint.

So this is the vision for where we are heading. As you can probably tell, I'm going for a rustic, masculine space. Everything Chef Kev needs to drink his beer in peace. I mean watch hockey. No, I mean drink his beer. Actually, I mean drink his beer and watch hockey in peace.

Until I come down. Bwwaaa haa haa.

AND, the best part? The painting has started! I will post an update soon!

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February Desktop Calendar round up

Yay! February is here! Break out the cinnamon hearts and pink decor!

Here are the desktop calendars that caught my eye this month. To download, click on the link below each image and follow the prompts on the artist's blog. A lot also have smart phone versions too so if that's your 'thang' then go and get 'em.


dawn nicole

the cottage market

beauty and the chic
the front door

sarah hearts
salt design

Zsolt Szilvai via Smashing Magazine
"Love'ly aren't they? 
Happy February!

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Free coffee printable... and a personal note

Ugh. January 28. I hate January 28.

Today is the third year anniversary of my sister's death. We lost her in 2013 after a horrible, long, painful and heart wrenching battler with cancer.

I. hate. that. disease.

However, when I think of my sister - Tanya - the images that come to mind aren't the long days filled with pain, medication and sorrow. They are the happy times. And I am so thankful that they flood my memory and push the painful ones to the far, far recesses.

My sister was so, so sweet. She loved everything and everyone. She'd buy gift cards and flowers "just because". She'd call "just to say hi". She lived her life simply and her heart was filled with good.

So. Much. Good.

I miss her every day single day. I miss all the little things. The way she'd smile at me. Driving together in the car. Going to Starbucks. Sipping coffee. She sure loved her coffee. One of the many things we had in common.

My sister was plain and simply, lovely.

So, to mark this day and remember her in a 'beautiful' way as we approach the month/season of love, I made a little printable. I love printables and use them as decor all over my home. This one will take a special place on my kitchen counter, next to the coffee pot where I can see it each day.

Feel free to download one yourself here - just follow the link, download to your computer and print on a colour copier.

For all you coffee lovers out there. xo.

Tanya and I at my bridal shower in 2006.
UPDATE: Here it is all framed and pretty!

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Be our guest!

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Ours was nice - full of running errands, play dates and visits. Just the way I like it :)

You may recall from my "settling in" update a few months after we moved, that our spare room was this hot mess.

Well, I'm happy to report that... well, it still looks like this. Okay, so maybe I'm not so happy to report that...

BUT - we have a plan! Or (more accurately), it's a "we-have-family-coming-from-England-this-Spring-and-I-will-not-subject-them-to-the-room-in-this-state-so-did-something-about-it-PLAN".

After some thinking and browsing I came up with a direction for our guest room. I wanted it to be calming and inviting. I also wanted to use our existing dressers and bed since we already own those.  So, I set off in search of things that could make my vision happen.

I whipped up a mood board this weekend and thought I'd share!

1 - curtains: I loved these ones for their calming grey and blue pattern. I also thought these colours complimented the birch toned Ikea dressers that we already own. A dark curtain rod will play nicely (good curtain rod) with our existing headboard and the light fixture hardware/details.

2 - light fixture: so much prettier than our 1990's boob light. Just so much prettier... And softer. And prettier. And nicer. And prettier.

3 - Art: not this one necessarily but something photographic, abstract or painted that has colours tying the room elements together.

4 - bedding: Yes please! This was the first thing I chose  for the room and then picked the others items to compliment. I loved the pattern, the colour and the price. Score.

5 - our existing Ikea Malm dressers. We have two back from the days of Chace's nursery (sniff). I'd like to update the dresser by doing little leather pulls in white (similar to the inspiration photo in the circle)

6 - bedside table: something like this one perhaps?

7 - paint. I plan on painting a light grey or blue shade.

I haven't purchased any of these items yet but this is my plan! And in the wise words of Mike Tyson (according to my google search) "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." So, let's hope I don't get punched in the mouth. At least not before I can make this happen. And then after that too. Why would anyone want to get punched in the mouth?

Have a punch-free Monday everyone.

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corralling the clutter

I'm sure most of us can sympathize recognize this...

The inevitable stack-o-papers-on-the-counter that comes with school, kids, running a household etc. The papers seem to come in faster then they go out (5, 10, 15 a day!) yet some just have to stick around for reference, information or sentimental reasons. 


I. hate. clutter. 


So, I organized. Awhhh yeah! My favourite word (oh wait, there is "wine" and "coffee" in the dictionary too). Okay, so maybe my third favourite word. Anyway, now the pile-o-clutter looks like this.


To achieve this calmness, I first separated the stack-o-chaos into piles. The point of this was to see what categories I could lump them into.

I came up with:
1) "Reference" (for things like recycling schedules, Chace's school notices etc)
2) "For Review" (notices about programs I may want to check out, forms I have to read still etc)
3) "Action Required" (forms I need to fill out such as book order forms, field trip forms etc) and
4) "Projects" (ALL the paperwork that comes home from Chace's day - spelling, art, poems etc.).

A note about the "projects" folder: when that folder gets full I take the paperwork up to our office where it gets placed in a larger box. Once a year I go through the box and save the best pieces or my/Chace's favourites. I recycle the rest (will he miss a piece of paper with an orange crayon line across it when he's 20?). In the end I am left with one large manilla envelope for each year filled with all of the papers I've kept for that period. 

Then, I bought the Ikea Kvissle magazine rack to corral my piles. This unit was perfect because it was a) sturdy since it's metal, b) customizable - you can use only one or all five (I used four as mentioned), c) inexpensive - who doesn't love that? And d) white - clean and pretty - my fave. Also, since it's metal you can attach things to it using magnets too if desired.

The file compartments attach together easily by simply sliding in and latching together in the back.

I used these Martha Stewart adhesive metal bookplates to label my files, but from what I've heard they are hard to get now or discontinued. I don't know why though because they are awesome! To print the words, I used my label maker (aka my third arm).

To attach the file system to the tile backsplash I simply propped it up and used a few 3M Command picture hanging strips to keep it in place.

Tucked in beside the fridge, I now have a tidy, clutter free system that helps keep me organized.

Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping clutter at bay?  I've been using this system for awhile now and LOVE it.

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Decorating inbetween holidays

If anyone is like me, once you remove all of your Christmas decor your house can look kind of bare. As nice as it is to have a fresh clean slate for the new year, the emptiness can leave your space feeling a bit drab and uninviting.

And, since it's not quite time to decorate for Valentine's Day, how do you show your house some love? Get it, love, Valentine's Day… oy.

I like to decorate minimally with natural elements and fresh greens (shades and plants/flowers). Here is an example of what I did with our entrance one all the Christmas hub-bub was packed up for the year.

This table is set up right off our entry as you head down the hall towards our kitchen/family room. It is one of the first areas you see as you come in so I like to have it styled in some way to welcome people.

Plus, let's be honest, I just like doing it. Seriously, it has me like…


Dancing aside (can you call that dancing?) here is a closer look at what I have going on.

The beer growlers are a nod back to the city where we used to live. Craft breweries are becoming increasingly popular out here (and everywhere I think) so when we moved to a different city good friends of ours gifted ChefKev with these for his birthday. Man loves his beer and this place is SO good. I love having them out on display. Plus, I covet (read: secretly pet and rub my face on) the rustic feel and the colours. I smudged out some of the details so that not everyone in the whole wide interweb knows where we live.

Beside these, I have three little potted plants which are actually left over from my Christmas table. I went for a rustic, wintery natural theme and found these little guys at a local grocery store. They had small red and white scarves tied around the neck of each mason jar and small wooden Christmas shapes (tree, reindeer etc) tied to the necks as well. I simply removed those Christmas elements to use them here.

Just past that is a tea light candle holder in the shape of a log.

I love the mercury glass vibe that it is loggin' rockin'.

Moving along we have a decorative lantern and art print.

I swap out art for each season in this frame. I display it by simply propping the frame up in this corner and securing the top with a 3M Command picture hanging strip (obsessed, I use these EVERYWHERE) to prevent it from sliding down (just for extra security).

I usually just hit up Pinterest and search "free printables". That is where I found this one. I can't seem to  locate it again though to sight a source. Argh.

I've had this lantern for years. Currently there is a bark candle in it that has long since been used up. However, I love the sparkly bark exterior so just place a battery operated tea light in it to give the illusion of a flickering flame. It creates a similar glow so it works!

Hanging beside it all is my porthole mirror. I found it last year at Homesense.

I'm obsessed with the finish. All rustic and patina-like. Meow.

And last but not least, the bottom shelf holds a wicker basket which is a catch-all for keys, sunglasses, gum etc. Beside that is a small growler know as a Boston… but I prefer to call it a Lady Growler since it's lady sized. Keepin' it classy.

Do any of you change your decor to something neutral between holidays? Anyone else do a happy dance when decorating. Oh the looks from Chace and Chef Kev… and the side-eye from Belle (our dog)… but they love me anyway.

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Playing around in the playroom

Over the Christmas break I did a few much needed updates to Chace's playroom. The room served its purpose but was lacking a bit lot in the functionality and storage departments.

As you enter the playroom, you are greeted by this little guy.

You can also see Chace's ode to his love of all things Minion on the door as well.

But, back to this guy. He's a clay pirate that Chace made at his fourth birthday party. We held his party at a kids art studio - the girls made fairies and the boys made pirates. I still love this little creation.

Years ago, I framed him. I didn't use the glass though since he's three dimensional.

Okay, so now we are in the playroom. Back in the Fall I shared some photos snapped as we were settling in. At that point, the room looked like this…

Although not drastic I've made some fun changes and now the same view looks like this.

Most notably I've added a lamp. The room is SO dark and upgrading the overhead light is on our hit wish list. I also added some bookshelves to create a defined little reading area.

Eventually we will upgrade the peeling faux leather chair but for now, our 6-year-old client isn't too picky. Plus, it's fun finding little bits of pleather all over the house. Not annoying at all.

I love the lamp (this one from Ikea). I think the over-scaled design of it is perfect for a playroom. It screams "hey, I'm a desk lamp that ate my Wheaties and look at me now". Or something to that effect. Either way, I find the overexagerated scale of it has a comical, animated feel. Plus, it has a foot on/off switch which is super easy for Chace to operate.

The book ledges are the same ones that I used in Chace's old closet nook (see it here). They are actually picture ledges and are these ones from Ikea.  Picture ledges are such an easy solution for showcasing books. Plus, Chace always gravitates to the books that I front face on them so I know he appreciates it too!

Next to this area I have Chace's easel and toy bins from his old bedroom.

The bins used to be a catch-all for all things random but now they are dedicated to art supplies and creating. The easel came with cloth baskets that fit along the top rung but they were constantly tipping, were hard to access and blocked the blue ones on the bottom. So, they had to go.

Chace wandered in and wanted to help me label the bins. Kid after my label maker loving heart I tell ya.

Turning around and looking back towards the door, the playroom looks like this.

Opening those closet doors in the Fall would have you staring at this (avert your eyes)!

But now it looks like this…

Thanks to some Ikea bins and a lot of sorting, all toys are now organized and labelled. I also took this opportunity to purge a lot of the toys that Chace is no longer using/has grown out of. And the top shelf (which he can't reach of course so it's useless to him) holds adult games.

Overall the room feels much better now. Recalling our wish list from this post you can see that there is still much to do, but at least there are a few things crossed off. And it will all come in time.

  • shelf supports ( am crossing this off as after living with the shelves piled with things for months, supports don't appear to be needed - read, no sagging and/or pulling)
  • organize closet
  • lamp
  • window treatment
  • paint?
  • decor/art
  • new chair
  • toy storage and systems (I may still add to this but not high on our priority list right now)
  • art display area
  • new door hardware

Anyone else do some organizing over the break? January always makes me want to whip our house into order :).

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