Category: Homes + Interiors

Our New Florida Home

June 8, 2012

Well, it’s real.  We have a home in Florida and I’m so thankful and can’t believe that it’s ours.  The girls and I will be spending the next few days giving it a deep clean before our moving truck arrives on Monday but I thought I’d give you a sneak peek since you’ve all be waiting so patiently.

After looking online for about 6 months and not coming across anything in our price range that I even wanted to step inside, we made an offer on this house after looking at only one other.  We knew it was ours within 8 seconds.  The pool is completely screened in which is very common here in Florida.  It means less maintenance on the pool and you can leave all your doors open to take advantage of the cross breeze and not worry (as much) about bugs.  The large sliders in the living room (below) completely disappear giving us full access to the pool area beyond.

There aren’t any renovations that are pressing but the whole place needs a tonne of freshening up.  The current paint color makes the light feel dingy and I’d like to freshen it up with a coat of white paint, including the kitchen cabinets.  Any suggestions on how to make this very traditional kitchen feel more bright, modern and maybe bring back some the original mid century feel?

My husband and I both are pretty excited to have an extra garage.  I’ve always enjoyed refinishing furniture and to now have a place to carry on with a project without interruption or the need to clean it up is a definitely a luxury.  In fact, I’ve got a number of unfinished projects arriving on the moving truck.

All images by Birch + Bird

So, that’s our new house…well, part of it, at least.  I can’t wait to share with you the journey to making it our home.  Enjoy the weekend!


Open House: Jayme + Sean Lang

June 5, 2012

We’ve got a special Before + After surprise for you all today, submitted by our friend Jayme Lang. She is a local photographer who’s work we’ve featured before and she’s also shot a number of amazing photos sessions for my family over the last couple of years. Jayme and her husband Sean recently purchased their first home and undertook a remarkable renovation in an extremely short amount of time. I was lucky enough to help with the kitchen design and I think that you’ll all agree with me that the final results are pretty fantastic…

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Here’s a brief overview of the Lang’s project and a mini “interview” with Jayme:

What was the timeframe of your renovation? We had two weeks from closing until we moved in, and then another month of living in the reno. So about a month and a half. What was the approximate budget? The budget for the kitchen was $10,000 and the budget for the whole house was $20,000 (this included all new flooring throughout…bye bye orange shag carpeting!). What is your favourite room? I think its a tie between the kitchen and the living room for me. What was your design inspiration? The two main inspirations for our kitchen and the entire house were Dwell Magazine and The Brick House. I love a simple, clean, Mid Century Modern look. We spent a lot of time looking through issues of Dwell and reading Morgan Satterfield’s blog

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme and Sean were super resourceful when researching their options and had a clear vision in mind for their townhouse, right from the beginning. They were also lucky to have a roster of helpful family and friends eager to help out and Brad and I even joined in on the demolition party…there’s something very therapeutic about smashing old tiles off the walls! While the kitchen is fairly small and had a few “hiccups” (we weren’t able to take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room…of course, every possible electrical wire, plumbing pipe and vent just happened to go through that 4 foot section of wall!), we did manage to squeeze quite a bit of storage into the new space. It helped a tonne that we were able to borrow space from the double hall closet to tuck the fridge back, out of the way. Modern white cabinetry by Generation Cabinets, concrete counters, rustic wood shelves by Tack Woodwork & Design and my favourite double farmhouse sink from Ikea took this little kitchen from outdated pink and beige to white, modern and fresh!

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

This before photo was taken at night and just doesn’t quite do the original orange shag carpets justice…they were spectacular ! But they really couldn’t stay and now Jayme’s mid century furniture shines against a neutral backdrop of white walls and mid-tone hardwood floors. Tack Woodwork & Design built the custom fireplace mantle with the rustic bark edge and Jayme was lucky enough to win the gorgeous Moroccan pouf from a recent giveaway at The Cross…perfect timing!

Jayme Anne Photography

 Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

Jayme Anne Photography

I really love the calm, clean lines of their home and think Jayme and Sean did an amazing job, especially for first time homeowners on a tight budget! It just goes to show how much of a difference some good planning and a lot of elbow grease can do for a space. And it was a lot of fun playing with different kitchen layouts again too, something I’ve missed a lot since working for Generation. As certain people can attest to, I may or may not have a bad habit of pushing new kitchen plans onto unsuspecting friends, whether they ask for them or not! What can I say, I love kitchens and making them work as efficiently as possible is always a fun challenge. What “must have” elements would your dream kitchen include?

Lived In Spaces

April 30, 2012

Lately, I feel like I’ve been apologizing for the untidy state of my home a lot. Can any of you relate? I used to pride myself on my weekly cleaning routine but that has slowly gone downhill over the last several years. Blame it on 3 young kids, blame it on blogging and/or market planning, or simply blame it on life…whatever the reason, I’ve been slow to accept that this is the “new normal” for our family way of living. Nagging my children and/or constantly picking up after them makes me feel like I’m on repeat most days and, while I do believe that kids need to pick up after themselves, I do think there are much more important ways for us all to spend our time together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clean but I honestly just cannot keep up with the zillion pairs of shoes, Squinkies and art projects that come through our home each day. While I refuse to completely give up, (I tackled and conquered our hall closet this weekend), I thought I’d ease some guilt and show some perfectly lovely spaces that look perfectly lived in, just as they should…


Chris Barrett Design for House Beautiful via Sacramento Street

Style by Emily Henderson

VT Wonen. Photo by Jansje Klazinga.

Old Brand New via Apartment Therapy. Photo by Marcia Prentice.

Life is busy, no matter what your stage of life, and I for one will never be caught ironing my sheets! My mom always enforced making our beds each morning though and, while it may only happen by 3pm, that is something that I do always make happen each day…well, most days anyway (sorry Mom)! I find nothing spurs me to get cleaning more than having friends over. In fact, during our last home’s reno, Brad and I would often plan a house party as a deadline of sorts (aka an excuse to blow off steam!) to get each phase of our remodel finished. And there’s nothing like that 5 minute power clean right before that unexpected guest arrives…

Country Road via 79 Ideas


Elle Espana vía SF Girl by Bay. Photo by Maria de Miguel.


Livet Hemma. Photo by Roland Persson.

Design*Sponge. Photo by Trevor Tondro.

Our children’s childhoods are so short in the grand scheme of things and I don’t want my kids’ memories to be of cranky/frazzled mommy. Having an organized and clean home makes me happy though so I guess I’ll move onward in my quest for the perfect balance…could there really be such a thing? That remains to be seen!

Children’s Bedrooms: Room to Grow

April 24, 2012

My weekend just seemed to keep on going…you should see the mountain of laundry I need to catch up on after the busy past few days! I had a great weekend in the city with some friends and the weather cooperated just perfectly. I even managed to pop in for a quick browse at Make It Vancouver and Stepback on my way into and out of town and wish that I could have stayed a little bit longer to do more browsing! It felt great to get away overnight and to catch up with some dear friends while enjoying lots of sunshine by the ocean. Last night, I got on the highway once again and headed out to the new Ikea Richmond media party. I wasn’t sure what to expect but ended up having a really fun time chatting with fellow bloggers and friends and it felt a little surreal wandering through the quiet store with a glass of Prosecco in hand! The new store is fantastic and opens to the public this Wednesday. I came home with a few small purchases as well as one of the fabulous gift bags that they handed out on our way out the door. Thank you Ikea!


Brad and I are at a bit of a crossroads with our home. We’re at the point that we need to decide how long we see ourselves living here and whether or not we should start planning the upgrades that it will soon need or if we should simply spruce things up and start looking for a new home that will suit our growing needs even better. It’s a tough call….moving is no fun and I’m pretty picky at this stage of the game. I picture our next house being our “forever” home, you know, the one the kids will come home to visit with their families when they’re grown. But budget is a huge issue and we chose to live in one of the most expensive housing markets in Canada, too bad for us! The most pressing dilemma is how to provide some more space for the kids to play and stretch out in. After the market later this Spring, we’ll get started turning our unfinished basement rec room into a playroom and then I’ll be able to focus on reconfiguring the kids’ bedrooms with more efficient toy storage and study spaces. I’ve been collecting some inspiring kid’s rooms, where the designers have worked hard to think outside the box…

Desaccord via Apartment Therapy. Photo by Simon Wardavoir.

Miluccia. Photos by Julien Fernandez.

CWB Architects

 Photo by Petra Bindel for Elle Interior via La Maison d’Ana G

Decor Pad. Photo by Mark Lund.

Jenny Wolf Interiors

Lincoln Barbour

The Marion House Book

Jen Loves Kev

VT Wonen via Meet Me At Mike’s

I love seeing children’s rooms and nurseries that can grow with each child, don’t you? I’ve never been one for themes, despite the chorus of pleas for Disney princess bedding each time we venture too close in a department store (mean mommy, I know!). I find spaces like these much more timeless, not to mention more affordable than redecorating after each passing phase would be. Do you have any tips on storage solutions for growing kids? We’ve got a couple of closets literally bursting at the seams, despite my regular purging. First things first though, I’m off to tackle my laundry…have a wonderful Tuesday!

Beds: Warm + Cozy

January 27, 2012

This week was too busy and I’m so glad that it’s the weekend.  The girls are off school today because of a Professional Day so that means we didn’t have to rush anywhere this morning or the next two.  Yes.  A long weekend.  I’m looking forward to sorting through some more boxes, tea with my mom and her granddaughters, a family movie night, maybe a few errands and some housework thrown in for good measure. Speaking of housework, I make my bed almost every single day.  It helps our bedroom look tidy even if it’s not.  And I like getting into a neatly made bed rather than an unmade bed.  How about you?

 The White Company


Lily and I stayed in at the Hotel Sierra in Redmond last year with a couple girlfriends and they had the most heavenly beds, I swear.  The pillows, the featherbed, the duvet, the feel of the sheets, and the weight of the blankets. Pure bliss.  We still talk about those beds.  If someone could tell me their secret, I would spend a pretty penny to have that every single night.  Is it just me or do the messy beds look cozier than the beds made neat and tidy?

House & Home

 Empire Village

 le souk

 Katrine Martensen-Larsen

 West Elm

 a few things from my life 

I hope you can indulge yourself with a sleep in or two as well and we’ll see you back here all refreshed on Monday.


An Organized Work Space

January 24, 2012

Rachel and I are about to delve into our year-end bookkeeping and, while we do keep our paperwork relatively well organized, it’s always slightly overwhelming when we repeatedly put it off for a few months at a time! But tax time is drawing near and ,with Rachel about to pull up anchor, it’s high time to put this tedious task behind us.

Ikea kindly sent us some photos of their latest organizational goodies and I am loving the look of these well sorted work spaces. My desk has six roomy drawers but it’s all to easy for them to become a dumping ground for mismatched paperwork, sticky notes and other office paraphernalia these days.We’ve spoken before about our dreams of having an actual room or studio to call our own but for now I must be content to type away at my workspace in the corner of our living room. Some of these simple yet stylish desk accessories would definitely help me keep my desktop clutter to a minimum…




Whether you work from your your kitchen table or are lucky enough to have a studio space to spread out in, it’s easy for bills and other paperwork to start taking over. How do you keep your space organized? Colourful boxes, vintage crates and baskets are some of my favourite solutions…

Livet Hemma (Ikea Sweden)



Do you like a perfectly clean desktop or do you like to have inspirational images and objects on display where you can see them daily? I like a bit of both and would definitely have an inspiration board nearby, if my desk wasn’t in our shared living space. I have three calendars always on the go and love the idea of a single large chalkboard calendar to fill in each month and help keep our family organized…

Janis Nicolay. Banquet feature for Canadian House & Home.

Rue. Photo by Matthew Williams. Design by Robert + Cortney Novogratz.


House to Home via Bright.Bazaar. Photo by Dominic Blackmore.

Neutral colour schemes are so visually calming and make great backdrops for artists and other creative souls but I find some pops of colour to be much more energetic and inspiring, myself. Which do you prefer? And vintage touches always help warm up a space and add personality…

Casa de Valentina

Weekday Carnival

Style At Home

Whatever your style, I’d love to hear your tips on how you keep your workspace sorted and paperwork filed. I think it all comes down to filing things away daily rather than waiting until desk drawers can no longer close. Hmm, guess I’d better empty a couple of desk drawers today!

From drab to fab…a kitchen renovation.

January 12, 2011

So, here’s our kitchen renovation that Lily mentioned yesterday!  I love before and afters, don’t you?  Especially when you happen to be the beneficiary!  I still pinch myself…I can’t believe it’s mine.

After living in our home for about 4 years, we decided we could no longer put up with our kitchen.  It was original to the house and deteriorating quickly.  The counters were tile, not my favourite option for a countertop especially when they are about 35 years old.  They were chipped, cracked and the grout came out when I wiped them down.  I never felt like they got clean enough to put anything worth eating directly on them.  The cupboard doors would spontaneously fall apart and come crashing to the floor.  The particle board shelves were disintegrating and smelled a little funky.  And the sink leaked.  We went back and forth with our options.  Do we just paint the cupboards and put in new countertops and backsplash?  Were the cupboards worth painting?  Would the drywall survive the backsplash removal?  What about the floor?  A cosmetic makeover just seemed like we were settling and kind of  a”mickey mouse” way to go, you know.  So, we decided it was all or nothing.

My husband graciously spent his hard earned sabbatical tearing down and then building back up a new kitchen for our first family home.  Now, he will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t the easiest project but it certainly went without any major issues.  Besides the initial planning and prep work, I think it took about 8 weeks to complete.  The kitchen was stripped right down from the floor to the ceiling so that we could start fresh.  We upgraded all the wiring and lighting and tore down 2 walls.  The bulkheads above the old cabinets were ripped out for more cabinets space and to make the ceilings feel a bit taller.  With the space now opened up, we decided to replace all the flooring.  With no differences in flooring, which draw the eye, the seamless look lends itself well to open plan spaces giving the illusion of an expansive space.  And I’ll do anything to give the illusion of space.  We are so glad we went ahead and tore down those walls, it feels like a brand new house.

Now, I would highly suggest that you do your research before gutting your kitchen.  There’s a lot of planning that needs to take place and if you are on a budget like we were, you don’t want to make any costly mistakes.  We had a lot of help from friends and family who also happen to be in the business and who know other people in the business.  Drawing from this experience saved us a lot of money.  My husband is an electrician.  My dad is in the concrete business. My brother is a builder.  My uncle is a plumber.  Our friend installs flooring.  So, our Rolodex is full of resources and I’m not sure we would have embarked on this journey if we didn’t have this kind of support.  To stay within our budget, I shopped around…a lot.  Our cabinets are lovely but we didn’t go with all the luxury options that are nice, but they add up quickly and you can always add some of those extras later on.  My open shelves are from Ikea but I found them on Craigslist.  I lucked out on a great sale at Restoration Hardware for my lighting.  I bought all our cabinet hardware at Lee Valley, where if you buy bulk amounts, you will a discount.  I bought our apron sink and faucet at Ikea for a fraction of what they usually cost.  We waited a long time for hardwood flooring that we loved and happened to be in our price range.  We researched, formed and poured our own concrete countertops.  And some things are still on the to-do list, like the backsplash and a new set of appliances.

As Lily mentioned, she helped me with the design and layout and that part was a lot of fun.  Up until almost last minute, we had the stove situated on the end wall where the bank of drawers and glass cabinet is.  The stove wall would have been all pantry.  Lily and Trish came up with the idea because they realized that my corner cabinet would be made inaccessible by the stove.  So, the plan changed and I’m so very glad it did.   After the cabinet installers had left, I had to take a moment to take it all in.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Was this really my kitchen?

The feel of the kitchen is so much different now.  Before it was so dark and gloomy.  I did my cooking and got out as quickly as possible.  Now, it’s so bright and spacious, I linger.  I can now have a people help me whereas before we would be in each other’s way.  I have plenty of counter space to cook and bake with my girls right along side of me.  And when we entertain, I can set up meals buffet style and still have leftover counter space for cleanup.

Something on my wish list is a new table and chairs.  I dream of a parsons table made from reclaimed barnwood with a set of white vintage Eames shell chairs with the eiffel style base.  But I’m open to suggestions…please.  Another idea I have is to replace our coat closet bi-fold doors with a reclaimed barn door or maybe something more modern on a sliding track from floor to ceiling.  And of course, the front door has to go too.  There are always more ideas but ideas cost money, so sometimes the ideas must wait and I’m willing.  I think that’s just the fun part of creating a home, just happening upon that little (or big) something that fits perfectly in your space, especially if it’s at a great price.

Would I ever do it again?  Absolutely!  I’m not too sure my husband would say the same.