Enjoying Some Sun

For this past week our family has been enjoying some sun down south! Our summer in Vancouver has been so disappointing, cool, cloudy and rainy. We decided to escape to sunny California where we have been enjoying the sun!

Bear with me as I most likely won't be posting again until Sunday when another stupendously talented Canadian comes to visit! There are so many amazing Canadians, my list is long!

**edited Sunday, August 31. Finally got some free wi-fi and my So Canadian eh? post isn't quite ready. My family is waiting for me to grab breakfast so we can head on the road back home!
What a long drive home!

Hugs to all.

XO Barbara 

How-to Recover a Bulletin Board

Recovering a bulletin board is easy-peasy.

 My son's bulletin board has been recovered for the 3rd time. The first time, well, not so pretty. The 2nd time, with the ill-fated burlap. Now with chic black and white stripes, my favourite colour combo {I guess they aren't considered colours, but for simplicity I will call them colours}

What you  need for this project is:

  • A bulletin board, preferably one with a frame
  • Fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Hanging brackets

1. Measure your bulletin board {this one has been re-covered a few times, doesn't look pretty}

2. Cut out desired fabric 3" larger than the board, on all sides.

3. Lay the front side of the board on fabric. Make sure it is centred.

4. Staple one side.

5. Staple opposite sides, then top and bottom. Making sure fabric is lined up and taut, leaving corners free.

6.  Fold in corner {see photo} and staple.

7. Fold over each side, like you are wrapping a present. Staple.

8. Using the frame of the board as a guide, push upholstery tacks along the edge, making sure they are evenly space.

8. Hang up using desired hanging brackets.


XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Nancy Marcus

My guest this week has to be one of the sweetest people I know.
Not only does she have one of the prettiest blogs on blog land, but is such a pretty person, inside and out!

Please welcome

Nancy Marcus from Marcus Design

She is so

When I met Nancy over a year ago we started chatting and realized our lives were similar. She and I went to the same elementary, high school and university!! 
We both have science backgrounds but design and art is our passion. Eerie
The only difference is that we are a decade apart.
{ok, maybe a little bit more than a decade}

Nancy is also one of the coordinators of the Canadian Design and Lifestyle Bloggers Network that we started with two other bloggers, Karla and Victoria. That means we have fun brunches where we get together to chat and plan! 

For those of you who haven't stopped by Nancy's blog Marcus Design, you are missing out on a visual treat! Nancy uses her fabulous research skills to put together such fabulous posts, highlighting designers, design syles, furniture, accessories or just pretty things.

But that is not all....

Not only is Nancy almost Dr. Nancy {she is just finishing up her PhD in Biochemistry}, she is a talented artist and can whip up a great DIY!

It drips of glamour.

Nancy and her husband are redoing a 80's rancher not too far from where I live! They have done such a fabulous job. Nancy has such an eye for design, channeling the Hollywood Regency look, full of bling and glamour.

 {More of her artwork in the background}

Her artwork: 

{Recently she gave away a print of this art, sadly I didn't win....}

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, your education? Where you always interested in design?

Well, let's see ... I am a 29 year old graduate student completing a PhD in Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry, and though science seems as far away from design as you can get, I have definitely always been interested in all things art and decor-related. My Dad actually was the one who encouraged me to explore my artistic abilities, I still remember sitting at the table with him for hours coloring and learning to properly 'shade' with pencil crayons to create beautiful images. I took art in university to help maintain this hobby while I focused my studies on science. I learned a lot about decor from my Mom, who has a nature flair for it. I have always had the opportunity and freedom to decorate my own room growing up, and even got the chance to help my parents out as they built their last 2 homes.  

See? It all comes right back to genetics, lol!

You are finishing up your PhD in Biochemistry and you are the author of the most delightful and gorgeous design blog, Marcus Design. To most they seem like such polar opposites, yet you seem to make the two worlds connect. How do you balance and mesh two seemingly opposite passions?

Creativity is SO important to me. I love art, and my favorite hobby is to paint, and I think science and art go together so well as they both require a good dose of creativity. Think Leonardo Da Vinci: he melded science together with art perfectly! Scientists need to be open to inspiration and new ideas from other work around them as much as designers do.

And to be honest ... blogging about decor & design can also often be a perfect escape from my work and study-related stress :)

What made you decide to start a blog?

This is directly related to my answer above!! It had to do with stress & procrastination actually. I was preparing for a big scary presentation at a university about a year and a half ago.  I had been reading decor blogs for some time already, and had thought that it was such a perfect way to chronicle my home renos, my likes & dislikes, and save all my inspiration photos. So the night before the presentation, when I should have been prepping and practicing, I welcomed any possible distraction and on a whim started up my blog! And since then I've never looked back ...

What have you enjoyed about blogging, anything surprise you?

Barbara, you hit the nail on the head! So sooo many surprises! First, I thought no one would actually find/read my blog, so quickly gaining readership really surprised me! And secondly, the relationships I have made have blown me away! To be in a world where you can meet so many like-minded people, share inspiration and ideas, and literally just meet some of the nicest people I have ever met has been incredible. I think the people have been the biggest and most rewarding surprise. {Example: did you know that Barbara and I found out we went to the same elementary school, high school, and university?? What a small world we live in!}.

There have been some other unexpected benefits as well. Delving into this design blogging world has taught me SO much about decor, art, architecture, etc etc! Reading blogs is in some way like taking a class!! I can name so many historical pieces of furniture I never knew, recognize specific designers work in a heartbeat, pick out fabric and know exactly where it comes from ... it's like Design 101! Not to mention the fact that I also feel like blogging has helped me learn a lot about my own style, and what really defines my taste. Thank you, blogosphere!!

What hopes and dreams do you have for your future, how do your science and art pursuits fit in?

Good question! I am definitely still trying to figure this one out myself. In regards to science, I just adore teaching! I love working with students and could totally see myself being happy in a college or small university. What would I do with my free time? Work on my art for sure, I'd really like to give it more time and priority in my life. My hope is to open a little Etsy shop soon to begin selling my prints and see where that takes me. I'm itching to get my creative juices flowing now that my school is wrapping up, I don't want to let this hobby continue to take a back seat in my life!

Where do you go for your inspiration for all those amazing images on your blog?

Absolutely everywhere! Blogs, magazines, of course now Pinterest {addictive!!}, and even Google! I have to admit, I am always scouring the web, and because I am on my computer for many hours in the evenings with work, teaching prep etc., I 'take breaks' all the time to search for some serious dose of pretty that makes me happy. Ha ha, that's my whole procrastination thing popping up again!

You are also quite a talented artist, where do you find inspiration for your art? What is your favorite medium to work with?

I find inspiration in fashion and art photography for sure. I am drawn to vintage posters, pop art, and the like ... the colors are bold and they are oh-so-feminine! I also have a weakness for architectural renderings, there's an order to them that is so beautiful. My all-time favorite medium is chalk pastels, you can move them around with your fingers and change things to your hearts content. Oil paint is a close second since it takes ages to dry and you can fix any flubs.

If you could meet anyone or do anything, who or what would it be?

Oh man, this one's a toughie. I think if I could meet anyone, it may be Coco Chanel. She was such an influential and creative figure and I'd love to be able to sit and learn from her and understand what made her tick. If I could do anything, I think it would be to master several skills I am envious of: photography, sewing, design, architecture, and graphic design. To have all of these skills under my belt would be a dream come true!!! Too many things to learn, too little time ...

How would you describe your design style?

I would say I am most drawn to spaces with a lot of glamour, black & white with touches of colors, and an eclectic mix of old and new.  Traditional and timeless with a touch of modern flair. Think herringbone floors, tufted velvet sofas, and oversized colorful art!

Since you are an almost-finished-university student, what tips do your have in decorating on a budget?

Oh, do I know a thing or two about working on a budget!! First I would have to say: patience is a virtue! I have lived in my little rancher for 4 years now and there are still many undecorated spaces and renos to complete. My goal is to spend money on the pieces that matter to me {example: dining room chairs, I've been waiting for them forever!} and be budget friendly on items like throw pillows and accessories.  I DIY whatever I can think up, and hubby and I have tried to do a lot of the work in our home on our own. I've been lucky enough to be able to cut cost here and there by doing things like purchase scraps of designer fabrics from friends, and I've even done things like trade my skills for my friends skills; I swapped a small canvas painting by me for her pillow-sewing skills :) {er...Nancy, I can sew}

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 do think that Canadians have a very defined style, a bit more simple and conservative compared to the US. However, I would say Canadian design is playing a HUGE role in the world design scene! I mean, as a blogger, how many American and International blogs do you see reference photos from our fabulous Canadian magazines, such as Style at Home and House and Home?? I think it shows we have something to say about design & decor, and the world is obviously paying attention!

Thank you Barbara for including me in on your fantastic series, I'm really honored/kinda intimidated cause there are definitely a few hard acts to follow in recent weeks!! xo

No, Nancy.. thank-you!  I am so glad we met. I too agree, never thought anyone would ever read my blog, let alone comment and follow. And I never dreamed I would of made such amazing friendships, including with you!

I love how you explained the mixing of science and art, I feel that way too since my background is science as well! Leonardo Da Vinci is a perfect example!
I see a successful Etsy shop in your future :)

Thanks so much Nancy. Many hugs.

XO Barbara

Guest Posting at Vintique Object

Today I am guest posting at Vintique Object, a blog I stumbled across recently and hit it off with Camille, the author! 

You can find me sharing my two bits in Camille's series: Stylish Living with Kids and Pets!

We both are renters and trying to beautify our homes while under the restraints of renting. She convinced her landlords to let her paint the kitchen cabinets.

These cabinets were a blah before. Now they are fabulous!

{I am hoping I can use these photos to help me convince my landlords to let me do the same!}

But I love her living room!

Hope you hop on over to visit!

Don't forget on Sunday I have another installment in my "So Canadian, eh?" series where another fabulous Canadian stops by!

Come back Monday and I will share how I recovered the bulletin board!

XO Barbara

Re-covered Bulletin Board

Things don't stay the same in our house for long. 
After re-painting my son's room, I realized I didn't like his burlap bulletin board anymore. 

The burlap trend is alive and kicking but I can't say I have taken to it. Burlap is a crotchety sort, tickling my nose, making me sneeze.

 So bye-bye burlap. 

Hello black and white stripes.

 If you have been following along you will notice my obsession with black and white stripes. I have recovered this, that, and made this with the same fabric. 

Yes, I love stripes.

Come back to see how I made this, just in case you are dying to know how.

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Tommy Smythe

I am beyond giddy about this week's guest!!

He really doesn't need much introduction. Known for his signature glasses and wit, he has worked alongside another fabulously amazing Canadian designer to create drool worthy spaces. 

Please welcome.........

Tommy Smythe, 


THE Tommy Smythe!

He is

Who doesn't know Tommy? He has worked alongside his design partner-in-crime, the fabulous Sarah Richardson ! I love watching the two work together,  their shopping escapades and design quandaries are always so entertaining. His remarks and comments always make me laugh. Not only does he possess wit and charm but has such impeccable taste.
 What is not to love?

I have gushed about his amazing design talent here and here. He is the design genius behind my all time favourite kitchen. I love his sense of style and talent for mixing classic pieces, high and low pieces and adding a dash of whimsy to create an elegant timeless space. 

In addition to his TV role he also contributes to Style at Home magazine each month,  sharing us his must-haves, favourites and design tips. 

I am envious of those lucky Canadian design bloggers wa-a-a-y on the other side of Canada, who had the opportunity to meet him when he came to speak at their recent meet-up. Well, wouldn't you know it, we on the west are planning a meet-up as well in September. 

Tommy, we love you too - **wink, wink, nudge, nudge**

Tommy is one of my favourite designers. I think he would fabulous to work with, there would be so much you could learn, sigh...maybe in another life.

Each space he decorates and styles is always a hit with me. My all-time favourite kitchen, one that has circulated around the net, is a Tommy Smythe original. 

Isn't it gorgeous?


More of his amazingly decorated spaces.


What is your background? Your education? Have you always wanted to be a designer?

Like a lot of people, I didn't know what I wanted to do until I was well into my 20s.  I always had an aptitude for creating beautiful surroundings for myself, but hadn't really considered it as a career until a little later on in life.  I briefly considered enrolling in design school but after consulting a few industry veterans I decided to just get started.  I actively sought out and developed friendships with like-minded designers who could mentor and guide me while I soaked up every bit of knowledge I could get.  
My grandmother was a designer and had 5 homes while I grew up, so the constantly changing environments of my childhood were a major influence as well.

Who would you say is your greatest influence/mentor when it comes to design?

I have many!  The great American designers of the 20th century have been a huge influence - Dorothy Draper, Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin and Mark Hampton to name a few.  My great Canadian design mentor was the late, great J.S. Manuel.  He guided my early career and was like a grandfather to me.  I still miss his guidance and his presence in my life.  Thomas O'Brien is also a very supportive and dear friend.  Sarah is a major source of inspiration and has been a compass for me in my work and in my life for 10 years now.

What did you do before you joined Sarah Richardson as her witty and fabulous co-host?

Good question!  I can hardly remember a time when we weren't cavorting around together...BUT there is always a past, isn't there dahling!!
I was a bus boy and waiter for many years prior to my foray into the world of design (and later design TV) - I'm very proud of that work and experience.  We are in the service industry - no matter how exciting and glamorous we consider our work to be - and my restaurant training is called upon on a daily basis in this work.  Managing expectations, needs, making people feel special and taken care of are all part of it.  I think restaurant training should be mandatory in our culture (like French military service!).

Where do you go for inspiration for your designs? What would you say is your design “style”?

Travel is a constant source of inspiration!  As for my design approach...I don't consider a room complete until it has the right balance of vintage and modern elements.  Trends and whimsy are never really a focus - I'm mostly after a feeling of timelessness and elegance and gracious living.  Rooms should feel as though the furniture and art within them have been collected over time and curated with a sense of personal history.

If you could meet anyone, (or maybe you already have!) who would it be?

I would love to meet Albert Hadley - I think he is the greatest living interior designer.  He has also LIVED an amazing life.  I want to be him when I grow up!

What can homeowners do to their homes to get the most bang for their buck?

The only way to decorate inexpensively and WELL is to be patient.  Wait for the right thing...search the markets and garage sales for the BEST stuff at low prices...visit auctions.  I truly believe there's no easy or quick fix, but I also know from experience that slow and steady wins the race!

If one were to purchase an investment piece for their home, what would you recommend?

Buy the best art you can afford.  Nothing makes a more personal statement or brings as much long-term enjoyment as artwork.

What is one décor faux pas that makes you cringe?

Oh my!  There are so many!  I guess one of the worst and most common mistakes has to do with scale of furnishings.  Everyone seems to buy into the 'bigger is better' philosophy.  If you scale things to the size of the room you're designing, the furniture will look so much better and the room will actually FUNCTION.  I can't tell you how many living rooms I've encountered with two GIGANTIC chairs in them and nothing else.  Not good peeps.

What tips do you have for aspiring designers?

Work really hard.  Care about making home beautiful and functional for the people who live there - not you.  publish your work wherever and whenever possible - the world needs to share in your creativity!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Travel (when I can afford it - boy is it getting expensive to be me these days!) and reading are my favorite activities.  My family is a really big part of my after work life too.  I have three sisters and two nieces and a nephew as well as amazing and supportive parents - they all keep me pretty busy when I'm not flying somewhere. (reading this answer back, I'm noticing I don't mention dating anywhere...this is a problem! lol).

What are your aspirations for the future?

I have so many - I would love to do a book someday, a line of furniture, fabrics, lighting - I have a lot of ideas.  I've always wanted to have a shop too.  But that's my semi-retirement plan, so not for a while (let's hope!).

As a Canadian designer, do you think you have a uniquely "Canadian" perspective when it comes to your designs? What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene

The work of Canadian designers is absolutely on the world stage now.  I think we bring a unique perspective and point of view.  If you examine our culture and experience as a Nation - we bring influences from England, France, The U.S. and just about anywhere else you can think of.  Toss it all into the salad and you've got Canadian Design.  It's an eclectic mix, but when done right; isn't that everyone's favorite design style?  It sure is mine!

Tommy, you have no idea how thrilled I am that you were willing to be interviewed for my So Canadian, eh? series. I am truly honoured to have you here! You are an inspiration to us all! If you ever need a sidekick for your own design show, er...well..I can be funny too {and love to shop as well} 
{Did I just say that out loud?}

XO Barbara

Friday Musings

I can't believe how quickly summer is moving along. Unfortunately our summer weather is not cooperating. Here on the west coast, or should I say "wet" coast, our weather has been less than ideal. With cooler temperatures and more rain than what is "normal", it feels more like November than July.

Feeling sorry for me yet?

The only bonus is that I am at home and have been working on several projects, a few of which I gave you sneak peeks of. Come back next week for the fully monty. 

Here is one project I finished with an invisible zipper.   

I know, are you in awe? 

But as daunting as the whole invisible zipper thing sounds, it is easy! Next week, I will be so kind and share how to sew a pillow with an invisible zipper. Then you too can be the envy of all who come and admire your pillows.

Since the kids have been at home my Macbook has been occupied by my son, he has been having fun creating stop animation movies with his Lego, and is currently waiting impatiently for me to get off, hence the sad and sporadic post. Ok, who am I kidding, my posts are always sporadic.  

So this post will be short and sweet. 

BUT I have the most amazing stupendous designer visiting this Sunday!!!!! 
HE {yes, my first he}is a brilliant and witty designer who is on HGTV and works alongside another famous Canadian designer.

Come back Sunday to see who!

XO Barbara

Summer Fun : Camping

We enjoyed some family fun camping with neighbours this past weekend, not without some glitches along the way. Each girl took a friend and one friend accidentally had her mom's passport, which she discovered when we were about 5 cars from the border crossing. After that was resolved, I was driving along the I-5 when all of a sudden a bike flew off the bike rack. Thank God, it didn't result in an accident! The next day we all had a good laugh:)

Once our camp was set up, the fun began!

Hikes along the beach..

Gathering firewood...

Gorgeous views....

Amazing sunsets.....

Exploring the rocky shore.....


We had a wonderful time. 

Now onto folding 10 loads of laundry......

XO Barbara