Category — My House

Our New House: The Before Pics!

Hey guys! Apologies for the loooong radio silence but moving really kicked my butt, in a big way! Honestly, if I never have to sort through another drawer or closet, I’ll be totally happy! We’re still settling in but are absolutely loving our new townhouse and it already feels like home. To tell you the truth, I’m actually totally surprised by how much we really do love it here, considering what a big decision we felt it was to downsize in the first place. Even though it’s smaller than our last house (a rancher), living in a split-level feels like we have so much more personal space than we had before. Something I honestly didn’t expect was how much more freedom the kids have here in our new complex…it’s like a giant cul-de-sac for them to run wild in and they’ve already made a tonne of friends! We’re all loving the myriad of trails and hiking paths in our new neighbourhood too…I’ve been walking up a storm! Now that we’ve got the basics in place (i.e. closet organizers, etc) I’m finding myself a little slow to be motivated in the decor department but hopefully showing you some “before” pics will get me hustling. Here’s a little glimpse of the main floor of our townhouse right before we moved in:

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

Birch + Bird: Our New Townhouse

It was completely renovated (we’re talking down to the studs) before we moved in so it’s a clean slate and ready for some personal touches. Brad’s already been busy and built custom closet organizers and garage storage (so awesome) so now it’s up to me to make things look pretty :) I’m trying hard to use what we already have (although I am on the hunt for a great new couch…slim pickings though!) and it felt so awesome to purge the clutter before we moved in. I’m feeling a little hesitant to decorate though, which is odd for me, but I guess I just want to get a feel for how we actually “live” in the space before setting up house. Can any of you relate? I’ll keep you posted on each room as we settle in and you can always keep tabs on me on Instagram in the meantime. Talk soon!

May 26, 2014   19 Comments

Open House: Green Avenue, Part 1

With less than a month until moving day, it’s time for me to get serious about packing. Like, really serious. I haven’t filled a single box yet but am finding it really hard to start as most things can’t get boxed up until the very end. I suppose I’ll start with our storage room and work my out from there. Any moving pros out there? Please feel free to send tips my way! Packing means purging and although we already made a huge dent in our clutter pre-listing date, I’ve still got a few junk drawers and bins to sort through. Organizing takes so much brain power, doesn’t it? It can be draining but it’s worth it to see the final results. I promised I’d share some recent pics of our house before we move and here are some I took before our open house a couple of weeks ago:

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Birch + Bird: My House | Home of Lily Ellis

Although I’ll miss our huge living room windows here on Green Ave, I’m really excited by the amount of wall space that we have in our new townhouse. I may or may not already be hoarding vintage art and signs from my shop, Spruce Collective for gallery walls galore. So much for purging! I’ve got some more pics of our bedrooms to share very soon and you can see past photos of our house (they’re much prettier than mine!) here, as well as pics of Gabe’s basement bedroom here. Happy hump day!

April 16, 2014   8 Comments

Big News: We’re Moving On!

Hey strangers! Sorry to fall off of the grid here on the blog but if you’re following me over on Instagram, you’ll know that we’ve been preoccupied with some pretty big news . . . we sold our house! Not something we thought would be happening even a mere 2 weeks ago but sometimes things are just meant to be. Here’s a personal look at our story, in a nutshell:

Brad and I bought our first home 11 years ago right before Gabe, our eldest was born, and we’ve basically been house-poor ever since. For the record, it’s totally our fault for the simple reason that we love our homes! Projects, renovations and home improvements get me excited (obviously!) and Brad just happens to be an all-round handyman. Our tiny first house was a 5-year renovation labour-of-love that took it’s fair share of blood, sweat, tears (not to mention cash!) but we loved transforming the former flop house (it was bad!) into our sweet first family home. Sadie was born and we jumped right into more serious renos there, gutting things down to the studs and swapping the kitchen and living room (I do not recommend living on site with a newborn and toddler for a renovation of this magnitude!) and somehow all survived. Fast forward a couple more years with Lilah on-the-way and it was clear that we had officially outgrown our tiny 2-bedroom heritage charmer. We bought our current West Coast rancher from friends and it has been the most amazing home to raise our family in! The cedar tongue-and-groove ceilings, treed yard, huge windows and quiet neighbourhood will forever have our hearts.

Birch + Bird

The thing is, despite the fact that Brad and I both work our tails off (he is honestly the hardest worker I know) financial stress has never been far away. Even though our house isn’t huge (and we had renters in our basement suite for most of our 6 years here) there are always projects to do, appliances to fix and bills to pay and we’ve been feeling like we’ve been treading water for far too long. Financial stresses have played a big part in our marriage and we realized early this year that something had to change if we wanted to keep our family together. We’ve played with the idea of downsizing (or even selling our house and renting) over the years but never seriously considered it until recently. One of my partners, Kevi, and her family live in a ’70′s era townhouse complex very close to us and I really loved the layout and lofty ceilings when I first saw her place (not to mention she has mad decorating skills!). I’ve kept my eye open for similar units on the market (they’re few and far between on our side of town) but she let us know during Spring Break of a new townhouse listing in their complex. It had been fully renovated (we’re talking everything) so we called our realtor, loaded up the kids and went by for a looky-loo. Well, we loved it! I think we were all surprised by the fact but it felt like us and we could totally see ourselves living there. Long story short, we listed our house last Saturday and the first viewing was on Sunday (before it was even officially on the market) and they made an offer by dinnertime that evening! We accepted and made an offer on the townhouse, which (after a few negotiations) was also accepted. Boom.

Needless to say, we feel like we made the right decision and that this move is “meant to be” but that doesn’t mean that it’s been an easy choice to make. I’ve definitely shed a few sad tears (I’m sure there will be more!) and we’ll all miss this house dearly (especially the yard, sniff sniff). But I’m also totally at peace and incredibly excited about our fresh start as a family. There is so much relief at the thought of putting our financial burdens behind us and having the chance to actually save money (is that what a savings account is for??) not to mention have a bit more flexibility for the odd vacation and family fun too. Weighing the pros and cons was actually surprisingly easy when we envisioned what we wanted our future to look like. Together.

Birch + Bird: My House

Sorry for the long-winded personal post but I thought it was important to share my story and I’m really excited to share the rest of our journey with you too. Our house is looking sooo clean and has never been more organized (seriously, it hasn’t!) and I’ll be sure to share some fresh photos with you before we start packing. With the thought of neighbours and who-knows-who poking around at our open house yesterday (I hope someone actually appreciated my tidy utility closet), I’ve cleaned, purged and organized every cupboard, drawer and closet and it’s really inspired me to keep clearing out the clutter and keep things simple at our new townhouse. Our closing date is mid-May so I’ve only got a five weeks to pack thing up, eek! You can keep tabs on the process here on Instagram and please feel free to send any moving/packing tips my way! Enjoy your Monday :)

April 7, 2014   23 Comments

Christmas at My House, with Pottery Barn!

Sorry for skipping out on Wednesday’s post! It’s been another busy week, one that had a few challenges thrown in for good measure (“challenging” sounds so much better than draining, non?) but I’m still standing and pretty happy that the weekend is here. Pottery Barn recently asked me if I’d like to receive a surprise box of Holiday ornaments from them and I happily accepted, of course! It was such a treat to come home to a pretty package on my doorstep last week, a box that contained not one, not two but ten gorgeous glass ornaments! There was one small catch though: I was challenged to creatively display them, ie. not on a tree. A little tougher than you’d think but I used some vintage finds that I already had as the backdrop and styled this travel-themed vignette on my mantle.Come see:

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

The large “painting” in the centre is one of my favourites and is actually a vintage card table top. My dear friend Monica gave it to me and the scene is my happy place when life’s “challenges” get me down :) The other artwork is also all vintage except for the black + white architectural sketch, which I drew in an interior design class years ago. My mom made the stockings for each of us and the nutcrackers are a mix of new and vintage finds. The greenery is all from our front yard and I forgot to turn our gas fireplace on so just imagine a toasty glow inside!

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery BarnOrnaments from Pottery Barn. Photos by Lily Ellis.

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery BarnOrnaments from Pottery Barn. Photos by Lily Ellis.

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery BarnOrnaments from Pottery Barn. Photos by Lily Ellis.

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

Birch + Bird: Christmas with Pottery Barn

I’m pretty thrilled with the end results and Gabe told me last night that it’s “the best decorating you’ve ever done!”, a big compliment from my 10-year old boy :) Make you want to jump on a plane and go somewhere, doesn’t it? A BIG thank you to Pottery Barn for the early Christmas gift and here’s a list of the 10 ornaments that I received:

Temperatures are dropping fast and it’s supposed to get reeeeally cold (for us!) this weekend. So stay warm and have a wonderful weekend!

*While I did receive 10 ornaments from Pottery Barn at no cost, I was not compensated for this post in any way. All photos are by myself, Lily Ellis, for Birch + Bird.

December 6, 2013   3 Comments

Before + After: Gabe’s New Room

As promised, I’ve got some Before + After photos of Gabe’s new bedroom! If you’re out of the loop, our home has a 1 bedroom basement suite that we recently took over and it’s been pretty darned amazing to double our living space from 1200 to 2400 square feet! We thought our 10 year old son, Gabe, was ready for a bit more space to hang out with his buddies and study (or simply “chill like a villain”, as he likes to say :) and it just took a little time and elbow grease to get him settled in nicely. Come take a look…

Birch + Bird: Gabe's Room "Before"The “before” and “during” process (all photos by me)

You may remember my boy’s room inspiration post here and here’s another look at my mood “board”…

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "Inspiration"

Gabe is a pretty mature 10-year old and definitely knows what he likes…and what he doesn’t (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree)!  This is a space that he’ll very likely grow into his teen years with so we kept to a mostly black + white scheme with bright pops of colour that can easily be changed with his tastes. He’s been passionate about skateboarding since he was about 2-years old (that canvas painting on the gallery wall was done by him at age 4!) and I’m sure he’ll soon be plastering the walls with posters of his favourite pros but, for now, this is what it looks like (sorry in advance for the dark photos, the day got away on me and I took these after sunset last night)…

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"The “after” photos (all pics by me)

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"

This was a budget room reno all the way and I only bought paint for the walls (it’s Cloud White, not as creamy as it looks in this dim light), I already had fireplace, trim + chalkboard paint, the metal side table ($160 from Spruce…it’s originally from a Spokane, WA hospital!), sheets ($30 from Homesense), desk chair ($35, Spruce Collective)  and some art, also from Spruce Collective (Phrenology head poster, $5, and ship prints, $22 each…all others I already had). My sister and her family recently downsized so we “inherited” the vintage desk and the antique metal bed belonged to my great grandmother. Each of the kids beds have been passed down through my mom’s side of the family which is pretty cool, I think! The laminate floor was existing (not my fave but is in good condition) and I gave the ’70′s mirrored closet doors and bedroom door a quick update with chalkboard paint. Still searching for a good ceiling light and a full-sized duvet cover but making do with what we already had for now. Gotta love a cheap home reno!

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room "After"

Birch + Bird: Gabe's room

And there it is! Hope you liked it and if you’re ever in the neighbourhood on a sunny day, you’ll likely find me here at my perch watching Gabe at the local skate park! We’re hosting The Urban Market this weekend so I’m beyond swamped and will be taking a blogging break for the rest of the week. Hope it’s good to you and I’ll be back to chat soon!

October 21, 2013   16 Comments