It’s not wallpaper, it’s cabinet-paper!

We recently re-painted our living-room/dining-room from the super-dark green what was on the walls when we bought the house, to a nice beige/yellow. It makes a world of difference, and naturally makes the room look so much bigger and brighter, but I have to be honest, it’s a smidge more yellow than I was going for.  But given that it took 4 coats (yes, 4 coats!) to cover the dark green, I’m a tad unmotivated to put on another coat to tone down the yellow.

I really wanted to experiment with the room a little and try putting up some wallpaper on one wall, but hubby poop-pooped that idea outright. “Too 70’s”, he says.  Cleary he has not read a décor magazine in the last four years, and doesn’t believe me when I say that wallpaper is making a comeback. Sigh…

So I re-thought my wallpaper idea, and decided to ‘wallpaper’ the back of the china cabinet instead. It would be a little more understated, wouldn’t overwhelm the room and plus it would brighten up the inside of the china cabinet.

I initially thought I should just cut the wallpaper appropriately and stick/glue it to the back of the cabinet – easy-peesy, right? But that seemed like too much of a commitment. What if I didn’t like it – it would wreck the cabinet, and that would suck.   I gave it some more thought and decided I would stick the wallpaper to foamcore and then affix it to the back of the cabinet.  If I didn’t like it, I could just take out the foamcore.  Zero commitment.

I ended up buying 6 sheets of foamcore, since one sheet wasn’t long enough to cover the back of the cabinet from side to side. I measured, I laid them out, measured some more, cut them with a blade, measured again, laid out the wallpaper, measured, cut, measured again… there was a lot of measuring!

I had to remove all the glass shelves in order to get each panel in, but viola! They’re in.

I stood back and looked at the result… You know when you get that super-excited feeling, because it looks exactly how you hoped..?   Yup! I had that feeling.  Yeah!

I hate that “well it’s not that bad, I guess it will do” feeling (yellow walls, I’m talking to you!)

Then I showed hubby. He looked at it and then unenthusiastically said, “It’s still wallpaper”.  To which I said “No, it is cabinet-paper and it looks awesome!”  I don’t think he’s entirely convinced, but like any good husband he just gave me that ‘if you’re happy, I’m happy’ look and left it at that.


Drawing in Perspective

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking design classes at night to help release my creative side.  I took a Drawing class about two years ago and despite the $150 in art supplies we were required to purchase, it was actually a great class.  It was specifically for interior design students so two of the main assignments required you to submit a fully designed room interior completely drawn by hand.  It was a great introduction to drawing in perspective which is something I always thought artists just instinctively knew how to do.  As it turns out, it’s really just a bit of geometry and the ability to drawn straight lines.  Who knew?

With this new found genius (trick), my first assignment was a living room. Everyone had to draw the same room (two windows, fireplace on the back wall and at least 1 couch and coffee table), but how the room actually ‘looked’ was up to each person.  I decided to make the room into a rustic log cabin, set somewhere in the mountains.  I think it turned out pretty good, however the colours of the rug and other furnishings were more a result of the colours I had in my pencil case, than colours I would actually use in this room if it existed.

This is considered a single perspective drawing.
This is considered a single perspective drawing.

My second assignment was a two-perspective drawing, which is basically when you look into the corner of a room, not at a wall straight-on.  I chose to draw a baby’s nursery thinking it would be fun and a little more creative than a regular bedroom.  But then I had to draw the crib…  which was not fun.  All those straight lines, drawn in pencil, then black pen.  It was so tricky keeping all of the lines in order!  Although it turned out OK, I was definitely cursing my nursery theme at that point.  In the end, the room turned out nice, but perhaps not as creative as I would have liked.

Gotta love the fingerprint smudge in the middle of the carpet – curses pastels!


So recently we were over at a friend’s place and the topic of renovating come up.  They live in a 100 year-old home in a beautiful part of town.  There are tons of original features; the banister railing, the huge, old heating grates, the floors and they’re favourite part: the back staircase.  It’s not a huge house but having the back staircase is a super cool feature.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the kitchen is not original, it’s a ‘80’s classic that has suffered some over the years.  When they bought the place their real estate agent said it would be simple to knock out the back stairs and expand the kitchen.  But they love the back stairs, it’s one of the main reasons they bought the house.  I would hate for them to get rid of them too, they’re just so cool.

In any event, it got me thinking about how they could re-design their kitchen without losing the back stairs.  They’re still in the “talking” phase about the renovation, but for my own practice, I thought it would be fun to hone my newly acquired drawing skills and see what I could come up with.  I should also say that there is a large built-in shelving system in the kitchen that is also original and also something they love and wanted to keep.  I don’t have the dimensions of the room, but the layout below is a ‘rough’ before picture.

kitchen layout before
The two ‘windows’ on either side of the stairs are actually the entrance to the dining room (left ‘window’) and the entrance to the stairs (right ‘window’).


The original layout had a lot of wasted counter-space.  The L-shaped peninsula created a bit of a bottleneck near the back-door entrance and also had wasted counter-space in the corner of the L.  Additionally, the location of the sink ate up valuable counter real estate, creating another void in the corner.  Finally, the area beside the fridge was completely unused, so additional storage space could be gained in this area.

Below is my tweeked new layout:

Proposed new layout.
Proposed new layout.

I’ve moved the sink to the corner and added a pantry area beside the fridge.  Not discernible in the layout, but I would also eliminate the microwave shelf and instead install an over-the-stove unit, to conserve on upper-cabinet space.  Finally, I  changed the L peninsula into an oversized counter area, to mimic an island, even though it’s attached to the wall and is anchored by the beautiful, original built-in shelves.  Note: the back stairs are still there – yeah!  FYI – The window on the right is really quite low, so installing lower cabinets along that wall would be fairly tricky.

To see how my drawing evolved, I took pictures of the process and worked off of photocopies as I went.  I figured this allowed me to ‘change things up’ if I decided to take a different design direction.  But ultimately I went with one design and tried to select colours that would more closely represent what I would do, if this were my kitchen.

Here’s my initial pencil drawing.
iPhone pictures 1312
I started to fill it in with pen, and added some more details and features. My little stool didn’t turn out too bad.
Here comes the colour! And I actually made some progress on the stairs, which still look wonky, but at least they resemble stairs.
Viola!  The final vision!
Viola! The final vision!


All in all it turned out pretty good – though the stairs are a bit wonky and the main cabinet/island seems a bit off. My vision for the room included all white cabinets in a traditional style, but with a darker blue cabinet for the ‘island’ work area.  The original shelving system is intact, with the inside painted a very light blue.  I also envisioned marble counters, a nice herringbone backsplash, wide-plank hardwood and some glass display cabinets.

This little project was a lot of fun and really tested me on the skills I learned in the drawing class.  Only towards the very end did I actually notice two glaring errors, well omissions really.  I asked my husband if he could see the omissions and he didn’t.  I had to point them out.  So I guess it doesn’t take away from the overall effect.  I also have a feeling there are other errors/omissions that I haven’t noticed either… but let’s just keep that to ourselves.


Hooked on hooks


With two busy school-aged girls, our front entrance gets a workout. It’s actually fairly spacious, but since it’s the only entrance to the house (we don’t have a separate entrance area from the garage), it really needs to work and be functional. Years ago I installed hooks for each of the girls’ knapsacks. They have served quite well keeping the entrance and bench area fairly tidy. But as hooks-into-drywall go, they were starting to look a little shabby. In fact, a year ago, I had to move one of the hooks because it was peeling out of the wall.

You can see where the original hook used to be, and yes, even after a year, I still hadn’t patched the old hole. Sad, I know.

Opps – picture is a little blurry.

So now with the ‘moved’ hook pulling away from the wall again and the other hook starting to do the same, it was about time to re-think my hooks. I couldn’t just move them again, so I decided they needed to be mounted on something that was then mounted to the wall.   I thought barn-board would look awesome, and then it occurred to me, that I have no idea where I would get a small piece of barn-board. I don’t know anyone who has a barn… well anyone that lives close by who has a barn. And then it struck me! Pallets!

My husband’s work has tons of pallets lying around that can’t be used anymore.   Since I didn’t need a really big piece, he hacked apart an old pallet for me and then cut it down to the size I wanted. Violà – instant barn-board!

I decided to spruce up the edges a bit and enlisted the girls to offer their opinion: turquoise or yellow. Turquoise won. I patched up the wall and then re-painted it. Hubby helped me mount the board to the wall, drilling pilot holes through the board, putting in drywall anchors and finally screwing it to the wall.

barn board 1

barn board 2


hook done 2

It’s not rocket-science, and it’s certainly not super-fancy-über-cool-pintrest-worthy. But it works for us and looks a whole lot better than the two sad, dangly  hooks that were there before.


Kitchen Update 3: Backsplash & Sink are in!

Some progress on the kitchen in my dad’s rental has been made, but he has been side-tracked with the driveway at the moment and trying to get it completed before the snow flies.  Still, the sink is now installed along with the faucet.  The stove is in place and the back-splash tiles are going up.

I did suggest to my dad a nice subway tile backsplash with a nice glass accent tile running through it, but he wasn’t convinced.  He apparently has some aversion to subway tiles.  Ultimately he chose a nice smooth, stone tile that is actually very similar to the floor tiles, so everything actually ties together quite nicely.

backsplash 1
Still waiting on the grout, but it’s looking good.


Love the nice deep sink, the faucet (that dad picked) not so much. Would have preferred one that was brushed nickel vs. shiny chrome. Ya win some, ya lose some.
View of the kitchen from the living room. You can just see a glimpse of the sunken dining room on the right. Wait! Is that a boob light still over the sink?

Would appear that I must remind dad about our talk regarding the presence of the ‘boob’ lights…


Kitchen Upgrade: Things are moving quickly!

Goodbye 1967 and hello 2014!  My dad has been making great progress on renovating the kitchen.  And did I mention, he’s doing all the work himself?  He’s so handy.  After we finalized the new kitchen layout, he didn’t waste anytime getting to work.   So here are a couple of pictures of where we are now:

The upper and lower cabinets are mostly installed.  The new fridge is even in place.
The upper and lower cabinets are mostly installed. The new fridge is even in place.
The sink is on order and the countertops are in place, but not fully installed.
The sink is on order and the countertops are in place, but not fully installed.
Goodbye yellowing stick-on tiles.  Hello beautiful polished tiles.  Though due to the construction they're a little dirty looking in this picture.
Goodbye yellowing stick-on tiles. Hello beautiful polished tiles. Though due to the construction they’re a little dirty looking in this picture.
photo 3
Yikes! Are those the inner workings of ‘boob’ lights I see? Hmmm… must talk to dad about those…

Things are really coming along nicely.  Among the things left to do are:

  • Install the sinks/faucet
  • Install the hood vent/fan
  • Select and install the backsplash
  • Select and mount the cabinet hardware
  • Hook up the dishwasher
  • Paint trim
  • Install transition strips for flooring
  • And talk dad out of those crappy lights…

A part of me is a little sad that it’s not the same kitchen from my childhood, but time marches on.   I’m excited to see it all coming together and how more spacious and big the kitchen now feels.  Can’t wait to style the room soon!


Kitchen upgrade: From 1967 to 2014

I’m currently studying interior design in the evenings as it’s been an interest of mine for some time.  So when my dad asked for some decorating advice on re-modeling the kitchen in my childhood home, I jumped at the chance.  Of course, he didn’t ask until he had already demo-ed the kitchen, so I’m a little short on before pictures.

My dad no longer lives in my childhood home, but he rents it out, so many of my selections were largely based on this fact.  Thus high-end appliances and top-notch finishes were not on the menu.  In fact, my dad had recently seen a similar home in the neighbourhood where the owners had removed the wall between the kitchen and the living room and made the main floor largely open-concept with an extra-large island in the kitchen.  I agreed it looked good, but I really didn’t see the return on investment versus a straight re-do of the kitchen.  The added cost couldn’t really be re-couped in charging a higher rent.  The house was built in the ’60’s and it still lacked other amenities like an ensuite bathroom, walk-in closet and even a powder room and thus couldn’t warrant a higher rental price.  That said, it still didn’t mean we couldn’t maximize the kitchen space and make it look fabulous and more functional.

Floorplan 1960s
This is the builder’s floorplan from the 1960’s. It’s a split-level home so the rec-room area beneath the bedrooms is not shown here.

The original kitchen was a California-style kitchen with a penisula-shaped counter, with uppers and the fridge and another small counter on the opposite wall.  The eating area has patio doors and there is a nice window above the sink.  And if you can believe it, that dotted-line circle that is in the corner of the penisula, was a circular dishwasher that you had to load from the top!  Crazy!

My parents added a dining room addition onto the house when I was 8, the pantry that is shown in the floor plan is no longer there and that is now an opening to the living room.  The dining room addition is basically behind the garage.

Secord model update

The peninsula portion of the kitchen was the first thing we agreed had to go.  It really blocked the flow and view into the eating area.  We also decided to re-position the stove in the corner.  With this simple re-configuration, it would create a really large, open kitchen.  We also decided to extend the cabinets on the living room wall closer to the entrance of the kitchen.

Secord model update_new kitchen layout

From the new floorplan it may look like we actually lost cabinet space. However, the 196o’s cabinets didn’t go all the way to the ceiling, so by taking the new cabinets all the way up, I think we actually maintained the same amout of space and eliminated all the akward corners.

I’m proposing some simple white shaker-style cabinets,  a sleek and polish-looking extra-long beige floor tile and a countertop that will mimic granite (because the real thing is not in the budget.)  My dad is completely opposed to white subway tiles for the backsplash, but I think complemented with a stylish glass accent tile, I may be able to sway him.    I also think I’m going to have tough time convincing him to put something up other than those flush-mount ‘boob’ lights, so fingers crossed.

I’ll have some ‘reno-in-progress’ pictures soon.



Bathroom Reno-Reno

As you may have read on my About page, we’ve been in our home on our little cul-de-sac for close to 14 years now.  Over that time, we’ve reno’d pretty much every room in the house.  Not long after we moved in, we decided to add a shower stall to our basement bathroom.  I had to dig though the ‘actual’ photo archives, cuz pretty much no one had a digital camera back then.  So here is what our bathroom looked like back in 2000:


Yup - this is a picture of a picture.  Our bathroom circa 2000.
Yup – this is a picture of a picture. Our bathroom circa 2000.

It was an usually large bathroom for a basement and it actually seemed weird that it didn’t have a shower, since there was clearly lots of room for one.  It’s hard to tell in this really bad photo, but the floor was a very-yellowing vinyl that was curling up at the edges.  So when we installed the shower, we put in some new ceramic tiles too.  I wish I had pictures of the actual reno, but we basically hammered up the concrete floor, moved the plumbing for the toilet and added plumbing for the shower.  This is where it comes in handy to have a father who knows how to do all this stuff and a hubby willing to actually do it.


The toilet (purple seat-cover and all!) was  moved to install the shower.  Everything else... untouched.  Circa 2001
The toilet (purple seat-cover and all!) was moved to install the shower. Everything else… untouched. Circa 2001

So besides adding the shower and a new tile floor, we left everything else untouched, including the wanna-be-marble ’80s counter, sink and faucet and even the paint colour (the previous home-owners left all the paint, so we just used it to touch up the walls).

Fast forward to this past March and hubby and I were actually chatting about how the basement bathroom was the only room we haven’t renovated in the house.  (I guess in his world, adding a shower stall and moving a toilet 14 years prior no longer counts as ‘renovated’).  In all fairness, it was still feeling pretty ’80’s, right down to the cabinet handles placed in the middle of the cabinet doors.  So, the reno began.  Again, I wish I had taken some true ‘before’ pictures, but hubby had a day off work and didn’t hesitate with the demo, so when I came home from work this is the best ‘before’ I could get:

The floor tiles and cabinet doors are already gone.
The floor tiles and cabinet doors are already gone.


Almond sink, faux-marble-swirl counter tops and leaky faucet.
Almond sink, faux-marble-swirl counter tops and leaky faucet – oh my!

We basically decided to do just a good update, no moving plumbing this time.  So we started with the floors.  Beautiful, porcelain tiles that mimic the look of light, wide-plank hardwood.

With the toilet removed, the flooring is underway.
With the toilet removed, the flooring is underway.



The tiles are grouted.  It's amazing what just re-doing a floor can do for a room.
The tiles are grouted. It’s amazing what just re-doing a floor can do for a room.
Love-love-love the look of these tiles.
Love-love-love the look of these tiles.

Next we re-built the cabinet. The old one was just looking really tired and yellow.  Since this bathroom is the basement, and doesn’t get tons of use, we opted to keep things fairly budget-friendly and just went with laminate countertops.  Though I do like that this one ‘looks’ like a stone-finished counter.  We added a nice glass mosaic back-splash to add a little flair.  The tiles are in varying shades of grey with blue undertones, that would work nicely with the cabinet doors we selected, which were a darky grey with a hint of blue.

Old vanity and countertop is gone.  We kept one section and just re-painted it.
Old vanity and countertop is gone. We kept one section and just re-painted it.
New cabinet and countertop, things are starting to look good!
New cabinet and countertop, things are starting to look good!


Close-up of the backsplash.
Close-up of the backsplash.

We chose a modern square sink and some chunky chrome faucets.




We painted the walls a light grey (silver streak) and the trim and baseboards a nice, crisp white.  Even though I wanted to put up a new mirror, we opted to re-mounted the original mirror since it was a good size and really, there was nothing wrong with it.


It’s so nice to see it looking so modern, I don’t miss my 80’s bathroom at all.  I added in a few splashes of colour and viola – we’re done:


We’re pretty happy with the final product and it’s nice to have a bathroom from this millennium!