Things That Make You Go...Hmmmm...

November 9, 2014

We have been living in our new rental home for a few months already. Most boxes are unpacked, but I still have little bits to finish to make the house feel more "us". I have been busy with the family room as we spend most of our time in there. As much as I would love to toss everything out on the curb and start over, I am not. With a bit of rearranging, paint, fabric and some accessories I hope to create a fabulous space. More on that later.

When we first looked at the house it was under a cosmetic renovation, there were painters and carpenters in the house and I was enamoured with the space, the hardwood floors, and the kitchen. Upon moving in, I noticed little details that made me wonder, " What the ?#%*$?" 

There are niches in some of the walls, this one along a huge wide staircase is one that makes me think....why?  

When I first saw the fireplace, I loved the stone, but upon further inspection, I wondered, "What the....?"  The fireplace was covered in weird random concrete brick like pieces and odd pieces jutting out. What purpose do those jutting out pieces serve? They are random, some don't stick out far enough and others are slanted. Whoever revamped that fireplace should go to design hell. I am wracking my brain how I can cover up those jutting pieces.

Really? Let's just place a piece crooked and with stamped initials for all to see. 

And finally....the ever so lovely powder room. It was hard to get a good photo, but the WHOLE house inside and out was painted, new roof, new gutter, new topsoil, refinished hardwood, etc BUT somehow this wallpaper was deemed fabulous to keep?

I have been given permission to remove it. And by golly it will be gone! The landlords left me all the paint and I love the paint colour in the kitchen, so it will go into the bathroom. 

I am hoping to work on few updates in the next little while. With me working fulltime and Christmas/athletic activities beginning to fill the calendar, it is a challenge! Bear with me and my sporadic blogging. In the meantime, you can catch up with me via "real time" on Instagram!

XO Barbara


October 17, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram you would notice that I participated in Vancouver Home and Design Show's fundraiser benefiting Habitat for Humanity Vancouver in their Upcycle Challenge. 

We were given a chair of our choice, $50 from Habitat for Humanity Vancouver ReStore and products from Rustoleum, one of the sponsors of the Upcycle Challenge. We made over a chair using our creativity, imagination and a lot of spray paint!

When I spotted my chair at the Vancouver ReStore I knew it was the one! I made sure it wasn't an original Saarinen Tulip chair and then went to work. My original plan was to spray paint the front of the chair fluorescent pink, but that paint is not really meant for painting furniture and after 2 bottles, the coverage was awful. So I switched to glossy blue. But didn't like that either. So black it was. When I was given the Rustoleum catalogue to pick out the products I wanted, the Glitter spray paint called my name. The  base got glitterized. I LOVED how it went on and how it turned out!

Using fabric from Tonic Living and some leftover pom-pom fringe my chair went from blah to WOWZA!

My chair is ready for YOUR bids. Come to the Vancouver Home and Design Show this weekend from October 16-19 and make your bid. All proceeds go straight to Habitat for Humanity Vancouver. 

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that helps, along with various partners, in building housing, providing low cost mortgages that assists low income earners in putting a roof over their head when going the traditional route isn't affordable.

The ReStores are run by Habitat for Humanity, where through donations from corporations, businesses and people, sell furniture, building materials, etc., keeping things out of our landfills and at the same time raising money to assist those who need a roof over their heads!

So what are you waiting for? Head down to Vancouver all my local friends. Be inspired by what you see there and bid on a chair!

XO Barbara

I'm Featured....

October 10, 2014

The lovely Terry's Blinds from the UK asked me to be featured on their Designer's Insight page. I had to make sure they understood that I was not a designer, just a blogger who dreams design. They were fine with yours truly is featured on their blog!

Go check it out along with my 5 Top Stylish Picks for this season!

XO Barbara

Why We Rent

September 19, 2014

A few have asked whether we finally broke down and bought this house, or are we renting. We are still renting. After moving back to Canada in 2008, we moved in such a hurry that we wanted time to figure out where we wanted to live. We liked the high school in this area, but didn't want to commit in buying. In 2009, the market had dropped a bit and we were seriously looking. We found a few, but then we thought, the next house will be the "one".

Then the market shot up, we decided to wait. My husband's work restructured and he was given a generous severance and a nice long paid holiday, which he enjoyed fully. With a possibility of moving towns/provinces for work, purchasing a home wasn't something we were financially comfortable with. Work was found in our area and we started looking again. Again, overwhelmed at the cost of home ownership and comparing what we could of bought back in Virginia, it was a hard pill to swallow. I remember being at the bank and when the banker told us what mortgage she could approve us for, I started having a panic attack. Felt like a noose around my neck was being tightened. So we decided to put it off until kids graduated. 

I am ok with renting because it makes economic sense for our family. It means we can live in an over-valued neighbourhood and live in a house for cheaper than owning it. We did the math and if we bought this house, our savings would be depleted for a down payment and with our mortgage payments/property taxes and repair costs it would be AT least $1200 more a month than renting. Sure everyone says we are paying down someone else's mortgage. We have investments elsewhere but we don't believe it putting ALL your eggs in one basket. If the market falls (which it did when we lived in Virginia and this area is not immune to that, contrary to what the belief is here), we won't lose it all. We have been there once before, purchasing a leaky condo and losing everything and starting from scratch. Hard to do with 3 little kids and one income. So we are wary in putting everything we have into a house in a market where no one bats an eyelash in taking on a $500,000 + mortgage. Combine that with the fact that in 2 years our youngest graduates from high school, which then means we aren't tied down to this school catchment area. It opens the door to moving elsewhere! So we are renting.

(Our old family room)

 I feel like we hit the jackpot with this house. It was only 2 streets over from our last place, and ironically next door to our real estate agent, who I am sure is tired of our indecisiveness! We are in the same neighbourhood and my son has a 2 minute longer walk to high school, going from 10 min to 12 min. Also, this house was given a cosmetic renovation before we moved in, so it feels fresh and "new". We also negotiated a lower rent (cheaper than our other place) to take care of the landscaping, which is overgrown. I love gardening, so it was a win-win for us and them! The kitchen looks pretty but in reality the cabinets need replacing. Which might be something the landlords are interested in doing next year. They had a bad, bad experience with the previous tenant, so they are hesitant as to how much they will renovate. Fair enough. I think I can cure them of that!

So in a nutshell, here we are. I am in a house with good bones and my creative juices are flowing!

XO Barbara

Snippets of our New Home

September 15, 2014

My intentions to blog more regularly keeps getting sidelined. 

More like I procrastinate. 

But my mother-in-law, who is my most loyal blog reader noted I had no photos up of our new place. I quickly snapped pics with my iPhone to send to her, and I figured I will give you all a peek. They are poor quality and were taken when my house was still in the midst of being unpacked. But I think they will make great "before" photos! Since teachers are still on strike, I have had time on my hand to get a few projects done. 

This house was freshly painted, so the wall colors will stay in the meantime. But I managed to hang up artwork and drapes!

I am also excited to be working with a few brands on some projects around the house as well! Can't wait to share.

Enjoy the snippets...and the mess.

The entry.

The family room.

The kitchen command center.

The kitchen, so nice and big. I think I will get lots of exercise cooking in this kitchen. So much bigger than my last kitchen, farther to go to get to the fridge, stove, over and pantry. I have a large pantry to the right, LOVE it!

The dining room, don't you love the chandy? Reminds me of the interrogation rooms you see on crime TV. I have a crystal chandelier from the other place to replace this lovely one.

The living room. 

Our master.

The games/TV room aka. My son's hangout room.

I fogot to take photos of 3 other bedrooms, nothing too exciting. And I have a doozy of a powder room. But that room is deserving of a post of its own.

Slowly the rooms are coming together, I am re-arranging things and using artwork and accessories from the last place but in different ways. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen some improvements!

I do hope once I start working again, I can buy a nice area rug for the living room and some new pieces of furniture. Can't wait to share the updates!

XO Barbara


September 3, 2014

I have had an incredibly busy summer! It was jam packed with hustle and bustle. We moved houses, went away twice in the midst of packing, moving and unpacking. Managed to get two kids off to university within a week in the same city, which was crazy. Hosted a few impromptu dinners for guests that happened to be in town. Now I can sit down and breathe. 

Here are a few pictures taken from my last week and a half!

 Was thankful I could visit my in-law's farm after dropping off the middle at university, it had been 4 years since I last visited.

 Picked some crab apples to take home and made applesauce!

Came home to find this cheerful drawing by my niece who stayed over at our house while we were away. Note the unpacked boxes in the background. 

But I MUST share my latest project.  This past weekend, after I came home from dropping off the middle at university, I drove back with my oldest to help her set up her first apartment. With no furniture, we hit Ikea on Labour Day weekend - which was a ZOO! Her dad and I bought her a bed and dresser. She was lucky enough to move in with a roommate who had living/dining room furniture. Our daughter was gifted relatively new Ikea Expedit bookcases, so she is set up! But I spent 4 hours putting together a dresser and a bed. Now if anyone has ever put together Ikea furniture, they can relate to my agony. You have to read those darn instructions sooooo carefully. It would also help if you were an octopus, as extra arms are needed. My nephew and sister-in-law, who popped by to visit, came at the right time! Putting a bed together requires more that 2 people! My SIL ended up staying and helped me finish the rest, otherwise I would have not made my flight home in time. I look forward to getting some "after" photos to share with you here.

The dresser finished! And yes, that is a cucumber on top. She has two grandmothers with huge gardens who won't let you leave without taking a cucumber or two. That is how we roll.

Today I sit here, my head whirling from my crazy summer and am relieved that despite the teacher's strike (long story - but in BC, we teachers are on strike, not what I signed up for when I began teaching 7 years ago), I have a few days/weeks to breathe, collect my thoughts and spend time with my son, who loves the fact his bossy older sisters are far away!

This week, I hope to get some projects done around here. And I am homeschooling my son, teaching a bit of grade 11 pre-calculus math, a bit of a stretch for someone who teachers kindergarten. Wish me luck!

XO Barbara

Home Tour: Master Bedroom

August 18, 2014

I apologize for being MIA lately. We moved into our new rental home two weeks ago and are slowly getting settled in. Moving sucks all your energy! Then we had a planned camping trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is a trip I recommend EVERYONE do in their lifetime. Such an amazingly beautiful coastline -  moody and dripping with gorgeousness. Our kids surfed for 3 days straight. 

Now we are home for a bit and then off to take our second to university! YIKES! Glad I started having kids in my early 20's as I am transitioning to the empty nesting thing slowly but am still in my early 40's. In my mind I still feel like I am 30, but my teenagers like to remind me I am not.

 Here are some more photos of the home we moved out of, this time our master bedroom.

Our old landlords have put the house on the market, for sale by owner, and used photos that they took before I moved in. Maybe next week I can show you what a HUGE difference the right paint and accessories can make. The pictures they took make it hard to believe it was the same house!

Let's just ignore the Rubbermaid bin full of gift wrap under the bed, shall we? Keeping it real here.

In our new place, the walls are freshly painted and after moving I am just waaaay to tired to even contemplate re-painting. I will live with the paint colours for a while. They are neutral greige, so doable in my books. I have ordered some fabric samples from Tonic Living to make some roman blinds to replace the god awful mini blinds in the bedroom. Actually the whole house has them, slowly but surely they will be eliminated.

Stay tuned for a few more photos from the old house and then I will share photos from our new house!

XO Barbara
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