Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Louis XVI...The Final Piece

Since I love both vintage furniture and finding a bargain, great pieces rarely come easily. As a result, many of the key items of furniture in my home have a story behind them. The bedside tables in the guestroom, the modern glass & chrome dining set, the kitchen stools and the coffee table in the living room are all perfect examples. Each piece took some time and effort, but in the end I got what I wanted and paid a fair price. My latest acquisition is no exception. After more than a year of searching, this, my friends, is the FINAL piece of furniture for the condo. The Louis XVI commode (learn more about the term "commode" here) is tucked into the corner of my bedroom to provide a bit more storage for accessories and off season clothing.

I previewed this piece at Empire Auctions, but I tried not to get too excited - this wasn't my first time at the auction rodeo, and I had been outbid several times before (including January's French Antique auction). I was happy to discover that this lot # would fall on an evening following a Blue Jays playoff game, so attendance would be low. Lucky!! The hammer fell after just a few bids and I finally had my coveted Louis XVI commode.

The plan is to hang artwork on the wall around and above the television (Gasp! A tv in the bedroom!!) to disguise its existence, but putting holes in the wall is such a big commitment that I'm hesitant. For now I've leaned one of my favourite photos by photographer Robin Waters behind a tray of colourful perfumes.

Can we pause for a moment to appreciate that stunning marble top? I love the veining of this natural beauty!!

So...no more furniture shopping. Now what?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Finally Found: Satin Brass Hardware

What's this? I have a design blog? For the past few months I've barely thought about blogging...I've been super distracted by work & this thing called life. You haven't missed anything. There haven't been any updates at the condo, and projects that I started in January (you mall recall this post about the front hall) remain in limbo as we speak.

I did manage to complete one quick project that I've talked about before. A year ago March I expressed my desire to swap the existing satin nickel kitchen cabinet hardware for brass pulls that would help tie the kitchen into the rest of the open concept space. With the gold highlight on the wall trim and multiple brass accents throughout my home, it just made good design sense. The biggest stumbling block was finding stylish satin brass pulls; there just weren't any out there that I liked. Plus with 29 pulls to replace, they needed to be affordable. The good news is that I finally found what I was looking for during a recent excursion to buy reno supplies at Home Depot for work. I picked up one of these Richelieu pulls as a sample and it turned out to be perfect.

I suppose "before" photos would have been a good idea, but I wasn't necessarily planning to blog about this little project at the time. Take my word for it - this is just a small change, but it's soooooo much better! 

Initially I worried that the brass wouldn't blend well with the stainless steel appliances, but to be completely honest, I think it looks just fine. And it really does help to tie the kitchen into the rest of the space. I especially like the way the new hardware looks on the multiple pantry doors:

The new pulls are more classic in design than the previous modern hardware used by the builder (see what I had here), but these definitely are more suitable to my personal design aesthetic and the architectural elements which I've added to the open concept space.

The added bonus of the new hardware is twofold. One: No more drawstrings, belt loops or pockets catching on the ends of the old hardware. That used to happen constantly and drove me bananas! Two: I have an extremely low pain tolerance and I once smacked the back of my hand so hard on the end of one of the old pulls that I had to lie down on the floor and talk myself out of fainting. Thank goodness that won't happen again!

What simple changes have you made in your space that made a big impact? Share your projects in the comments section below!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Character Homes of Milwaukee

I recently took a few days out of my not so busy schedule to visit my sister in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's a lovely city, sprinkled with great restaurants & shops, and tons of great architecture. I took a stroll through my sister's neighbourhood one afternoon and photographed some of my favourite homes within just a few blocks. These houses have so much character!!

These were my favourite brick homes; obviously I'm a sucker for Georgian architecture. Just imagine how these will look when the trees and shrubbery leaf out in the spring. The big home on the lower right is currently on the market, listed for $899,900:

There are also a lot of painted homes in the area, which reminded me of San Francisco. I imagine it must be expensive to maintain these exteriors, but they are all extremely well cared for:

My absolute favourite was this beauty on Shepard Avenue. Seriously, y'all, it's such a pretty shade of soft lilac. And notice the realtor sign on the front lawn? This 4 bedroom, 2 bath is currently listed for $349,900. Homeowners in Toronto and Vancouver must be losing their minds right now!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Oopsie DIY

I love reading inspirational blogs for new ideas and one of my absolute favourites is Jenny Komenda's "Little Green Notebook". Jenny takes on a lot of DIY projects; some are simple, while others are more complicated. Recently she blogged about an easy project where she dyed an inexpensive cream flokati rug to a lovely blush pink. I decided that I would like to do the same with my flokati - I would dye it a soft lilac to complement my master bedrooom.


It turns out that my Ikea sheepskin was the genuine wool version, meaning that it was much more absorbent than Jenny's acrylic version. The fibers took the dye much faster than I expected and after just a few minutes in the dye bath, the rug was already quite dark. The soft lilac I envisioned came out about 10 shades too dark. Boo :( Does anyone have any ideas how to soften the colour? I'm wondering if bleach would work or if that's a bad idea.

At least it matches, so I can live with it, but I wish it was the pretty lilac shade I was aiming for.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sometimes I Get Crazy Ideas...This One Leads Me to Georgia

Here's something you may not know about me: I love good tv dramas. So many people say that they don't watch television, as if they're too intellectual for such behaviour, but I'm pretty sure they're lying. The have been some amazing, extremely well written television shows recently, some on cable, many on Netflix: House of Cards. Orange is the New Black. Homeland. Breaking Bad. The Walking Dead. The best part of Netflix is binge watching a show non-stop and within those hours forming a hard and fast bond with the characters.

Which leads me to my crazy idea: I want to move to Georgia. More specifically, I want to move to Senoia, Georgia and open a little boutique on Main Street. (There really is a Main Street in Senoia, Georgia, isn't that perfect?) Why Senoia? Well, it's the small town near where The Walking Dead is filmed. Senoia restaurants, bars and shops are flourishing with the influx of TWD tourists. And real estate is cheap there, I could buy a 4 bedroom house there for significantly less than the price of my Toronto condo.

The most expensive of my choices & just outside town, a 4 bedroom, 3 bath asking $254,900:

This 4 bedroom, 2 bath house is listed at $249,900 y'all:

 Are you kidding me? The asking price on this 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath home is $199,900:

This house isn't for sale, but I found it on Google Street View and I want it. I mean, come on, it's PINK! Plus, it would be within walking distance of my Main Street boutique.

Sigh... These are the things I think about when the winter drags on too long. If spring doesn't come soon, who knows where I might end up.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Last of the Red Carpets: Oscars 2015

There were several lovely dresses on last night's Oscar red carpet, many boring dresses (I'm looking at you, Cate Blanchett) and surprisingly nothing terrible. All in all it was a pretty good year, but I expected a lot more from the big stars; after all, the Academy Awards are the place to bring out your very best dress!! There were a few fashions that I'm sure the so-called "experts" will love which I don't, such as Naomi Watts' "backsplash" dress and the pearl dress worn by Lupita Nyong'o. Those gowns, designed by Armani and Calvin Klein respectively, got no help from the famous designer labels - I  wasn't impressed.

Let's talk about my favourites. Looking at my list, I realize that when it comes to fashion I'm a fan of simplicity and fit. The perfect fit can make the difference between an average dress and a fabulous one. Most of my picks have very little embellishment, but the fit is impeccable and the fabrics are luxurious. So without further ado, my best dressed list for Oscars 2015:

Gwyneth Paltrow is the best of the night. A simple dress, perfectly tailored in a shade of soft pink that suits Gwyneth's complexion. Designed by Ralph & Russo Couture, that shoulder flower is everything. Her sleek hairstyle and statement earrings are just right.

Zoe Saldana in blush pink Versace. Wow! The fit is amazing, emphasizing her curves in the best possible way (less than 2 months after giving birth to twins)!! My fellow party attendees and I thought maybe the skinny straps were a bit too casual, but I can overlook that because the fit of the dress is perfection.

Another perfectly fit gown, this time in a slightly more vibrant shade that suits Anna Kendrick perfectly. The Thakoon design uses a tonal belt to emphasize her tiny waist. The necklace detail adds just enough sparkle to the simple design.


I only caught a quick glimpse of this Romona Keveza dress during the E! red carpet coverage, and I love this column dress on Jennifer Hudson. The fit is amazing, the length is perfect and the thin gold belt adds a touch of style. Plus I love butter yellow!!

Image via Oscars.go.com

Rita Ora looks beautiful in this midnight blue Marchesa mermaid dress. Lacy gold details at the bustline and a gold accent at the waist make this an absolutely stunning gown. Rita keeps the rest of her look simple with sleek hair and a dazzling pair of Lorraine Schwartz earrings. 

Image via Daily Mail UK

Rosamund Pike finally got it right on the red carpet with this strapless Givenchy Haute Couture gown. The white Vera Wang dress she wore to the Golden Globes was a disaster and she followed that up by wearing a black Dior to the SAG Awards that did not flatter. Thank goodness she got it together for the Academy Awards!! This perfectly illustrates my point about the importance of a good fit.

Images via Star Magazine

Rene Russo still looks ah-mazing at 61, and this J. Mendel dress is another impeccable, figure flattering fit. I love how the layers of gauzy fabric draw the eye to her small waist which is accentuated by a tonal belt. Her only fault are those dark leather bracelets on her right wrist, she should have left those in the town car.

I'm a bit on the fence about this one, so I left it for last: Emma Stone in Elie Saab. I'd be willing to bet she was the only one on the red carpet wearing chartreuse, it's such a tough colour to wear, but she makes it work. I like the fit, I like the fabric, I like the sparkle, they are all good things. I just wish I loved it.

All photos via In Style unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Party Time: Academy Awards 2015

The fancy invitations were sent out to arrive just as this year's Academy Award Nominees were announced in January. RSVP's were received and party plans were made. The big day is finally here, party prep is in full swing and guests will be arriving soon. We'll watch the red carpet arrivals and cheer for our favourites during the ceremony.

^^ This is the beverage station - this year's theme is pink and gold, so I'm serving up cream soda & PC blood orange italian soda (so good!!). Guests are free to pour their own which takes drink duty off the shoulders of the hostess.

^^ And this is the ballot station, we don't mess around - ballots are available for $2.00 each. I think we can all admit that viewers at home don't have a vested interest in who wins for best sound mixing, but the small wager keeps things interesting. Whoever guesses the most categories correctly wins the pot!!

One of my favourite movies this year was The Grand Budapest Hotel, it is a beautiful film and is a shoe-in for Best Production Design. I also loved Whiplash, and I can guarantee that J.K. Simmons will win Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Fletcher. 

Watch for my red carpet fashion roundup tomorrow!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Trinket Tray

So, how many of you are "thrifters"? Do you stop into every Value Village, Salvation Army or Goodwill store whenever you get the chance? I wish I had endless hours to poke around, but luckily I'm close enough to a few good locations that some evenings I can hit 3 or 4 on the way home from work. I haven't found too much lately; either people are donating less or thrifting has become so popular that it's just slim pickins for the evening shoppers.

Yesterday I had a bit of luck. Here is the long version of the story: Just before the holidays I saw these beautiful porcelain trays with artwork by Caitlin McGauley. You may also remember that Caitlin is one of the talented artists featured on the Tiger Flower Studio website which I blogged about last year. (I also love her leopard wallpaper!!)  At $185, the trays were beyond my budget, but I loved the idea of a gorgeous trinket catcher on the bedside table.


Fast forward to yesterday at my local Value Village. I found an ashtray to use as a "seat filler" until my fairy godmother brings me that zebra^^^. Now I know the word "ashtray" sounds rather icky, but this one didn't look as though it had ever been used for such a purpose. With two fierce cheetahs and a touch of green trim, I thought it could be just the thing to hold a bauble or two on the bedside. Made in Italy by Borghi, I would even venture a guess that it's made of porcelain and that the trim is hand painted. Not bad for $1.99.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Another Red Carpet: BAFTA Awards

I've really been enjoying this year's awards ceremonies, particularly for the red carpet fashion. Today the BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts) Awards were held in London, England, and although they weren't televised here in Canada, the good old interwebs kept us up to date. Check out my faves below (click on photos to enlarge and zoom in for details).

Amy Adams in Lanvin.
Simple, sleek, stunning!
Photo via Hello Magazine

Reese Witherspoon in Stella McCartney.
The deep purple seems appropriate for British royalty.
Photo via Hollywood Life

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford.
She looks amazing in this dress, and it's appropriate for the cold London temps.
Photo via Hello Magazine

Jenna Coleman in ??
I don't know her, but she looks beautiful, and this dress is possibly my favourite.
Photo via UK Daily Mail

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Prada.
This shade of pale lavender gets me every time.
Photo via BreakingNews

For a change, I'm including the gents in this little fashion roundup, since they really brought their fashion A-Game to the BAFTA Awards red carpet.

Michael Keaton.
Love the charcoal grey jacket, and check out those velvet loafers.
 Photo via UK Daily Mail

Benedict Cumberbatch with fiancee Sophie Hunter, both in Alexander McQueen.
All class.
Photo via Hollywood Life

Eddie Redmayne in Giorgio Armani with wife Hannah Bagshawe in Valentino.
Navy velvet, oh yeah!
Photo via UK Daily Mail

David Beckham in Tom Ford.
He's not an actor, so I'm not sure why he's there, but I'm gonna let it slide...
Photo via Hollywood Life

Douglas Booth.
I don't know him, but I like that he took a minty green velvet fashion risk.
Photo via Hollywood Life