Friday, January 31, 2014

Kijiji Makes the World Go 'Round

To be quite honest, I'm a bit surprised that no one commented on the table that appeared in last week's post about adding character to the dining room. I'm going to assume that's because you were all too astounded by my DIY trim skills to notice ;)

I'd been on the hunt for a round glass dining table pretty much since the day I moved into this condo. The 3'x5' rectangular table I had been using (you can catch a glimpse of it in this post) was a great piece, but it crowded the island breakfast bar just behind. It was also a tight squeeze to get in & out the balcony door.

I've circled the dining area/breakfast bar on the floor plan below for better clarity. It's funny how the builder made it look as though there would be plenty of room for a 6-seater table plus stools at the kitchen island. Yeah, right. Maybe with doll furniture:

Over the course of the year, I searched on and off for the right table. It wasn't until I created my 2014 "To-Do" list that I started looking in earnest and found a near perfect table just four days later. I wasn't necessarily looking for a set, but this vintage chrome table, made by Liberty Ornamental Iron of Toronto (60's? 70's?), came with 4 beautifully designed chairs. It's perfect for the space and totally stunning!!

The 56" top being sold with the table was far too big, so I left it behind in exchange for a discount and purchased a 42" glass top from another Kijiji seller. My old rectangular West Elm table is now listed on Kijiji GTA. It's just like a merry go round!

The chairs will need to be recovered in a new fabric, and I'm obsessed with the idea of using a deep yellow velvet. Can you picture it?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why DIY?

This is my philosophy about Do-It-Yourself projects: If someone else can do it, I can do it too. I mean, since we're all human, shouldn't we all be equally capable? There are many times when this concept has served me well, and other times...not so much.

Since moving into this new condo, I've hired out on just 4 occasions:

(1) After I mangled the first strip of expensive wallpaper in the guest bedroom, I called it quits and arranged for a professional wallpaper hanger to finish the job. It wasn't worth ruining $300 worth of wallpaper to save $150 on the installation.

(2) I have always considered painting to be a bit of a chore, so I allow myself to splurge on a pro every once in awhile. Since moving here I've painted the guest room, the front entry door and the recently completed dining room accent wall on my own, but I hired a "real" painter for the master bedroom and both the ensuite & main baths.

(3) In my last home, my friend Jackie & I sewed all of the window treatements ourselves. What a job!! We joked that if anyone ever asked for a sewing quote we would tell them "one million dollars". This time around I hired Parallele Interiors to sew and install the draperies in both bedrooms. They're so luxurious and worth every single penny!

(4) Light fixtures are a fairly simple install, but sometimes you need to hire a bit of brawn. I called a licensed electrician to hang my dining room chandelier because (a) it was too heavy to lift on my own, and (b) the addition of a dimmer switch went beyond my electrical comfort level. You don't mess with electricity, kids.

Over the course of the past year, with the exception of the points above, I've created this home on my own (occasionally with help from friends & family). I've assembled closet systems, sewn toss cushions, switched out cabinet pulls & doorknobs, and added character to bare walls.

I have a point to make, it's just taking me a minute to get there...

Here's the thing about DIY projects: they come with a sense of accomplishment. Some jobs are simple, others are hard, but even the smallest successful DIY will put a smile on your face. Knowing this, when The Home Depot approached me a few months ago about a "Beginner" DIY project, I immediately took them up on their offer. I opted to switch out my Mom's basic old kitchen faucet for a fancy new Moen model. All of the necessities for the job were supplied in just one box:

Believe it or not, step two was the hardest: remove the existing faucet (by the way, step one is turn off the water!!). The nuts were rusted in place and it took a healthy dose of WD-40, strength and patience to get those suckers loosened up.  It must have taken an hour, but finally the old tap was out and the countertop got a good scrubbing before step three: installation of the new deck plate and faucet.

As often happens, there was one more snag; a wooden brace under the coutertop which had to be partially cut away before the new faucet could be inserted through the centre hole. That problem was solved with a quick Home Depot run to rent a drill and pick up a hole saw. Crisis averted, installation proceeded and the rest was easy-peasy!

This is what DIY is all about - a shiny "After" photo. Another job accomplished (no leaks!!), and best of all we didn't pay a plumber to do something we could do ourselves. All in a day's DIY ;)


Saturday, January 25, 2014

IDS 2014: The Bold & The Beautiful

As a design blogger, it's an annual highlight to attend the Interior Design Show at The Metro Toronto Convention Centre here in Toronto. The show is open to everyone and continues until Sunday January 26th (click HERE for tickets). There are so many great ideas for kitchens and baths, which is great if you're renovating, but since I'm in a condo that's just over a year old, my personal interests lie more with the "softer" side of the show.

Which participants "wowed" me this year? Hands down the top award goes to Ikea - it was one of the few booths (#926) that made me gasp just a little. The ensuite/dressing room vignette had me swooning at "hello"...

The Ikea booth designers had a vintage daybed upholstered in a 
sweet combination of the Berta Ruta check & whimsical Algort fabrics.


The mirrored gold tile was a showstopper - it was all over Instagram.
We should all have the nerve to try something like this at home.


Simple & sleek, Ikea's white Dalskar faucet is a rare creature.

Above the space hung a celestial grouping of Stockholm chandeliers.
The Ikea booth designers really know how to "wow" a crowd.


Sebastien, the creative director at Urban Barn, obviously loves his job. His vision for the company's IDS booth (#2234) was visually striking, whimsical and amusing all at once. The colour, the vignettes, the all made me want to pay a visit to an Urban Barn location stat!!

Each vignette had a tagline, developed by the Urban Barn merchandising team.
Funny, right?

The bedroom vignette below was super feminine. I wish I had taken more photos.
Think creamy white with accents of soft grey & blush. Loved it!!

Cocoon Furnishings was another top contender for fabulous booth design (#1628). This interior design showroom has just launched the Aerin Lauder home decor & furniture collections, available in Ontario exclusively at their Oakville location. I wish I had more photos, but the booth was very popular and it was tough to get a good shot.

The Cocoon merchandisers always delight visitors with chic vignettes.
The green & gold scheme offers the promise of spring.

The entire Aerin collection is so chic, and yet so liveable.
On my wish list: That creamy shagreen tray. Love!!

With a small display (#SN18) in Studio North, Vancouver's Edgewater Studio always manages to make a big splash. Their glass tiles are enough to make me want to rip out a wall of perfectly good tile in my main bath and start over. Trust me, these tiles are just so good!!

The simplicity of this matte & gloss Honeycomb pattern drew me in.
This would be beyond amazing in my master bath ensuite shower.

I can think of so many ways to use this Maven tile.
Backsplash...Accent Wall...Inset niche...
Total showstopper!

 And how about this art glass Tiara tile?
So many possibilities!!

There is still so much inspiration at this show, even if you don't think you need it. Sometimes a small detail is just the spark needed to create warmth in a home.

Before I close off this post, I just want to mention a few others for beautiful booth design:

This booth (#740) had a special theme: Once Upon a Dream

Everything, and I mean everything in this booth (#1510F) was covered with
Sarah's new fabric collection for Kravet.

The team at SRD must have spent many hours prepping all of these details.
That's a studded & fabric covered ladder below.

I loved this creative corner of the Masco Canada booth (#710).
The sleek & modern freestanding tub filler is a work of art.

Enjoy the show!!

All photos in this post were taken by Pamela Graham (me)
for Cherish Toronto.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Project Add Character, Part I: The Dining Room

It was months in the planning stages. Not so much because it requires an exorbitant amount of preparation, but because I tend to procrastinate on intimidating projects, especially when it's something I haven't done before. I posted about the idea to add character by adding trim to my builder's basic condo in this early November post where I put together all of my favourite inspiration photos and came up with the preliminary sketches.

Last week I completed the dining room wall, and I couldn't be happier with the end result. The trim adds so much character, and the dramatic navy blue paint really sets it all off. Small details like the gold foil highlight along the ridges of the ornamental trim make it extra special.


I've put together a guide for anyone who wants to try this kind of trim project, and believe me, if I can do it, you can do it too! There were multiple steps and I tried not to do too much at any one stretch, which I think really contributed to the overall success.

The first step is to plan!! I can't emphasize this enough. I knew exactly which trims I wanted to use, but all of my measurements were sketched out before I purchased any materials. I decided to mix it up a bit and went with two different styles of mouldings - one half moon and the other ornamental. You need to know the dimensions of the trim before you can calculate the exact layout and lengths to be cut.

I purchased the trim in 8 foot strips from Home Depot, and took them home to get started by sanding and smoothing any rough edges and applying primer to each piece. You can purchase moulding that has already been primed, but I decided to use raw pine which meant that a primer coat was required. After that, it was time to start the cuts. I didn't want to invest in an expensive mitre saw, but I found this Empire Level precision mitre box for $55 which did the trick:

I did all of the cuts one Sunday afternoon, carefully measuring (measure twice, cut once!) all of the pieces required to form the inner and outer frames. When it came time to attach pieces to the wall, I started with the outside frame, referring to my original plan for the starting point. I decided to leave the bottom right corner for last, since it would be the least visible and any mistakes would end up relatively hidden. The cordless Ryobi brad nailer worked perfectly for this project and did most of the hard work. I can't imagine trying to hold trim, nail and hammer with only two hands.

Believe it or not, the trim went up in about 45 minutes - it was incredibly smooth. I attribute the lack of difficulty to the fact that a lot of time went into the planning and measuring stages. Using a 24" level, I marked points every few feet to keep each piece straight and aligned. Most of the nails went in perfectly, and any that weren't sunk far enough I tapped in a little bit further with a hammer and awl.

Once the trim was up, it was time to finesse the look of the finished product. I filled all of the tiny nail holes and small corner gaps with DAP Drydex spackling. Once dry (this product goes on pink and dries white) I sanded off any excess and "Voila!", the holes and gaps disappeared.


To ensure a smooth finish before painting, I needed to caulk along all of the inside and outside edges between trim and wall. You can see the difference in the Before (small gap) and After (no gap) photos below. I tackled this one night after work, but not before watching enough You Tube videos to give myself the confidence to give it a go. As it turns out, I'm not bad at caulking, but I am a bit messy. Because I knew I wanted to paint out the trim, I made sure to use a tube of paintable white DAP Alex Plus caulk.

With the trimwork done it was time to start painting. I was a bit relieved when I opened the can of paint and saw that Para's Marine Bay was the dark and dramatic navy that I remembered (I chose this colour last September), and once I got started there was no turning back. The rich, dark ultra paint in an eggshell finish covered perfectly in just 2 coats.

The final step was to add a gold leaf detail along the ornamental trim with a Krylon 18kt gold leafing pen. This small detail took just a few minutes, but it makes a huge difference to the overall look. I love this final flourish!!


Thank you to The Home Depot for supplying the Ryobi brad nailer for this project. This tool really helped make the trim application super easy!!
Thank you also to Para Paints for supplying the paint for this project. I was honestly so happy that their Ultra paint covered beautifully in just 2 coats - often a colour this dark requires a third coat.
I also want to thank everyone who "liked" my Twitter & Instagram posts along the way, especially Chris who offered encouragement and advice.

Next... Part II: Adding Character in the Living Room...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Set Visit: Canada's Handyman Challenge

Photo Courtesy HGTV Canada.

This past September I spent a few hours on the set of Canada's Handyman Challenge (evidence photo below), where I had the chance to meet show host Jenn Robertson along with judges Scott McGillivray, Paul Lafrance and Bryan Baeumler & guest judge Mike Holmes. What a fun group!! These guys really get a kick out of teasing each other, and they certainly like to have fun on set. But it's not all fun and games - especially for the contestants in this third season of Canada's Handyman Challenge. The ultimate winner of the challenge receives $25,000 cash and bragging rights as Canada's #1 Amateur Handyman. I'm already thinking about auditioning for Season 4 ;)


So many tools required!! It's no secret that there's a different tool required for every job, and I'm pretty sure they had everything available on set - it was tool paradise!!

Be sure to tune into HGTV Canada at 10pm this Tuesday, January 21st for the show's premiere. Until then, here's a little teaser of what's in store this season: