So Canadian, eh?: Rambling Renovators

This week I am excited to have one of my favourite bloggers here at hodge:podge,

 she is...

Welcome Jennifer from Rambling Renovators!

I first discovered Jennifer's blog while browsing design*sponge many moons ago and stumbled across the nursery she designed for her daughter. What struck me was the creativity in that room from using Ikea bookcases and fitting them to look like built-ins, using vintage finds, granny chic artwork above the bed, the animal cut outs on the wall and bright and sunny fabrics, to create a beautiful space for their little girl. 

I have been a loyal reader since.

The rest of her home is just as fabulous. Jennifer and her husband are an amazing team, the ultimate DIYers, together they have renovated their kitchen, bathroom, office, and master bedroom, each room feeling so luxurious.

She has even had her house featured on the "House Proud" segment on the Nate Show, 
where she showed the world how to make a panelled wall.

 Jennifer, you are a real natural. 
HGTV Canada, are you reading this?

But....the fun doesn't stop there.

She is one busy gal, never ceases to amaze me; she has helped organize various blogger events in the Toronto area and is now co-organizing  Bloggers Give Back, where several Toronto area design bloggers are making over a garden at the George Herman House, a support home for women dealing with mental and emotional health issues. Make sure you check it out and help their cause!

Jennifer {does she ever sleep?} also authors a child-centred blog called " little folk design" Even though my kids are teens and a tween, I love reading all the amazing linked up ideas featured on that blog.

If you haven't stopped by her blog, you must, you will find yourself staying a while.

1.      Tell us a bit about yourself? What is you background? Your education? Did you study art/design? 

         I've been design obsessed for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would decorate my room and rearrange my Ikea furniture on a weekly basis. From my room in my parents’ house to rental apartments and my first home, I barely left a wall untouched. So my education in design is an informal one, learned over years of trial and error and lots of time watching HGTV. On the other hand, I have a BA in Finance and Economics and an MBA in Strategic Management. I find that I use both my creative and logic skills when I design; I think not only about the aesthetics but also the structure of things and the big picture of how it all comes together.

2.    What made you decide to start blogging?

           I’ve always enjoyed writing and thought blogging would be a good outlet for that. I started the blog in 2007, just months before my husband Sean and I got married, as we were starting our hunt for our first home.

3.    What have you enjoyed about blogging and what has surprised you along the way? 
T       There’s so many things I love about blogging. I’m sentimental so I love having this record of my life, as a newlywed, as a new mom. Someday I will get all these posts bound into a book! I also like seeing how my tastes, styles, and abilities have evolved over the years. Blogging also really motivates me to get house projects done too, which is a huge benefit. But the best thing about blogging is engaging with my readers. I’ve come to know so many nice people through the blog and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of them in real life. It’s great that we share a common thread, this interest in design and making our houses into homes. Blogging brings with it a real sense of community that is hard to find nowadays.

4.    Where do you go for inspiration for your blog and for your home?

          Inspiration can come from anywhere –something I’ve seen on TV; other bloggers; a great vintage find; my comical and entertaining daughter. Both in my blog posts and in my designs, I try to be original though so I may be inspired by something I’ve seen but I’ll reinterpret it so it suits me. There’s nothing more boring than seeing the same images reposted on blog after blog, or seeing the same popular items or projects copied.

5.    As a seasoned veteran blogger, what tips do you have for other bloggers? 

         Be yourself. As funny as that sounds, it takes time and practice. Be true to your taste, style and viewpoint. Yes, we all need to edit what makes it from real life onto the blog, but don’t be afraid to display your personality. On a more practical note, read other blogs and comment, comment, comment! It’s the single best way to get people to visit your blog and build your readership.

   One important thing I’ve learned is don’t settle for mediocrity. Treat every post like it will get you 50 comments. What I mean is resist the temptation to post “filler” posts. Post only when you have something meaningful to say. That is what will keep people coming back to your blog.

6.    Your husband is an intern architect, you an HGTV addict; clearly you two make a dynamic duo, are you the brains or the braun behind all your amazing home renovations? 

         Though I take the lead on most design decisions, it’s a pretty equal relationship. I usually come up with the design concept and have an idea of what the end state should look like. Then my husband and I figure out how to actually get it built. This involves us sketching layouts on napkins over dinner, Sean making CAD drawings, me researching products and fixtures, etc. Once we have a plan, we buy materials and start building. Sean does the bulk of the handiwork but I do jump in there too, using the hammer/chopsaw/paintbrush when my little toddler Chloe lets me get away!

7.    You have co-authored a book together called: "Design City Toronto", what was the motive behind the book? 

         We were spurred by the idea that you don’t have to be an architect or designer to appreciate architecture or design. The architecture industry can be notoriously elitist. Our book was written on the notion that you are entitled to have an opinion on architecture no matter what your background; we live, work, and experience these buildings afterall.

8.    Is there any one accomplishment that you are proud of? 

          A few moments stick out, like having Mayor David Miller present at my book launch and appearing on The Nate Berkus Show. But those are momentary. The one accomplishment that brings me joy daily is creating this life with my husband, Sean. We’re blessed with a wonderful daughter who brightens every day and get to live in a home we love.

9.    If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone or do anything, what would it be and why? 

         I’m going to have to say I would want to meet Oprah. She is successful on so many levels – career, financial, and on a spiritual level too – and yet she keeps striving to be more and better. She’s really used the talents she’s been given and lived a very full life. That’s what I strive for.

      As a mother of adorable Chloe, how do you stay sane and balance life and blogging? 

          It’s not easy to do! Luckily, I have a great support system and Chloe is becoming more independent so I do get some time away for myself. I try and make room for all those things that make me happy, so I plan dates with my husband, go out with my girlfriends, spend time alone, and play with my family.  

      What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart? 

          I think Canada is such an accepting and tolerant nation that that comes through in our designs as well. Canadians design spaces that are livable and comfortable, that are stylish but not ostentatious. Look at Sarah Richardson; I think her spaces epitomize Canadian design. They are classic, friendly, welcoming spaces. And slowly, I think the rest of the world is starting to see and recognize that we put out consistently good design.

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer and giving us a glimpse into your world. 
I am positive that your influence in the Canadian design blogging world will be far reaching, opening up doors that haven't been opened yet, changing the way the design world views blogging and the role it plays. You are truly a pioneer.

XO Barbara


  1. I love this interview. Jennifer is so sweet & talented. Her appearance on the Nate Show was great - she's even more lovable onscreen. And her rooms . . . . gorgeous!

  2. One of my favorite bloggers too! She was one of the first people to follow me and welcome me to the blogosphere! I love love love her bedroom:)

  3. Awesome article, great questions leading me to rethink & refocus. A creative shot in the arm!

  4. Another great interview Barb. I'll have to pop over and check out the great blog.

  5. Jennifer is one of the most supportive and talented bloggers out there and I loved learning more about her here. I had no idea she had another blog or wrote a book- just when I thought I couldn't be more impressed with her- fabulous interview!!

  6. Fabulous!! Will definitely check out her book! So cool that a Canadian was on the Nate Berkus show :)

  7. Jennifer is such a breath of fresh air! I love her blog, both for the design and the viewpoint. I agree, she is enormously talented and has a bright future.

  8. I never knew about Jennifer's book! She really is the greatest and is, obviously, super talented! Great interview!

  9. Thanks so much for the interview, Barbara. It was a lot of fun - your questions were so thought-provoking!

    And thanks for your very kind comments everyone. I'm very flattered that you think that of me. Bloggers really are the most support people! xoxo.


  10. Bravo guys, great interview Barbara and wonderful, thoughtful answers Jen. I also just learned about the other blog and the book - Jen I am endlessly impressed! You do all of this so, so well, and with a big smile. Thank you!

  11. Lovely interview. I am a huge fan of Jen's blog and her design - she is such a sweetheart too!

  12. Great interview, Barb! Jennifer's personality and talent really shines via your insightful questions. Jen has it all together - an amazing blogger, DIYer, mom, wife and career woman! I think we all have something to learn from her when it comes to time management.

  13. This is my favorite blog series right now! I love getting to know our Canadian bloggers a little bit better! Jennifer is fabulous. Great interview!

  14. I loved learning more about Jen!! She is amazingly talented, I adore her home and her little sweetie is a doll! I just loved watching her segment on the Nate Berkus Show, she is definitely a TV natural :)
    Nancy xo

  15. Do you think we could convince Jennifer to give up her terrific home and move out West with us?! I don't know... sounds like she's a die-hard Torontonian :-) So great to learn a little more about her though!! Your series is fantastic, Barbara... looking forward to your future interviews!!

  16. Great interview...and great blogger advice!!! Thank you so much for the series!


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