Keeping It Real

Remember yesterday I shared my dresser that I painted?


 Yesterday, I had a leisurely lunch with my mom and sister at this fabulous bistro/bakery called Tracycakes {if you are ever in the Valley you need to go there}
After the said lunch, I come home, took out the gazillionth load of laundry and headed upstairs when I detected a slight odour. Going into the games room, I noticed that my dog peed on that dresser!

Yes, on the dresser and carpet.

What the #@&#*!!!!!! 

Not only did he have an accident in that room last week, he did it again. But this time on my dresser. 

So in reality, I spent my whole afternoon cleaning carpets, not so glamourous my friends. 

So much for having time writing a Christmas letter, finishing albums, ordering photos, baking cookies.....

I shouldn't get mad though, my dog is such a good dog. Most likely he had to go badly, and his bad owner {that would be me} failed to let him out

OR his 11 year old brain is starting to fail him.

OR his health is failing. Anyone's guess.

Yesterday after the second episode, I ran to the pet store and discovered this!

Holy smokes - it works!

So we are keeping it real here on the blog....

Hoping I can tackle the to-do list today. Wanting to start decorating for Christmas and bake cookies for this.

XO Barbara

Random Bits of Loveliness

I love it when a project I make inspires others to create! Recently Hannah, a reader from the UK sent me photos of a bulletin board she recovered inspired by mine!
She is the author behind relatively new blog, Hannah Sydney Creates

Gorgeous fabric! Love how she spaced out the upholstery tacks.

Thanks for sharing Hannah.

Also, if you have been reading my blog for a while you know what a procrastinator I can be. In the beginning of the year we re-arranged a few rooms in the upstairs and created a games room for the kids.

In the spring I managed to find a fabulous old dresser that was given new life with a fresh coat of raspberry red paint.

Here is how it looks in it's unstaged glory - really hate the printer on the floor.
 My husband's solution, ick, so bachelor pad.

The room is kind of "stuck", waiting for inspiration to hit! Slowly I am collecting art to create a gallery wall around the TV. Also searching for a coffee table and area rug to unify the space!

In fact my whole house feels like that - stuck. But I am feeling overwhelmed with all that is on my plate right now. So hopefully when the whole "new year" organizational bug hits, will be enough of a kick in the pants to get me motivated.

Life has a way of just keeping you on your toes....

What do you need a kick in the pants for?

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Tania LaCaria

I love finding Canadian designers living abroad! 
As a former expat living outside of Canada I can relate to being a "foreigner" in another country. My time away from Canada gave me perspective on what it meant to be a Canadian, how we are unique. But more specifically I saw that we Canadians have a different approach to design, a unique "stamp" per se, which is why I started this series!

My guest this weekis a Canadian living in Panama! I was excited to stumble across her blog and then her design site after discovering her on Twitter.
Ah - the power of social media!

Please welcome 

Tania LaCaria from TLC Design & Decor

She is so....

Tania is also the creative genius behind Passport 2 Design, a blog that chronicles her journey of design, her travels and all the gorgeous treasures she stumble upon!

Tania gave me some photos of her work, which I find stunning! But what I noticed is the way she has adapted her designs to suit the location she is in. The first three photos, which are projects she worked on in Toronto have a different vibe than the other spaces from Panama. In Toronto, the spaces has a traditional, classical elegance with more subdued colour schemes as opposed to the sparse yet vibrantly coloured rooms of the Panamanian homes. A sign of a truly gifted designer, one who truly "gets" the space.








I am so thrilled to have been included in the So Canadian, eh? interviews! I love HodgePodge and love what Barbara is doing to help keep the Canadian design scene on the map.

  • Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood?

Well, in a word, "yes".  Throughout high school, I knew I wanted be in the arts, but I actually thought I would pursue a career as a print-maker or painter. I went on to study Fine Arts at York University, and after graduating, decided that my true passion lay in design and architecture, but I didn't really know what kind of schooling would be best suited to me. I started my own decorating company in 2004 but soon realized I really wanted to be an interior designer and needed more schooling.  I have since graduated from the interior design program at Sheridan College, and funny enough, found an old yearbook the other day from grade 6, in which I had written "interior designer" as my future ambition. I guess I knew from a young age, but it took a bit longer to get to the finish line than I would have guessed.

    •    How would you describe your design style?

My design style is difficult to pin point - I find it constantly evolving with my latest design obsessions. For the most part, I adore modern and contemporary design that blends rustic, vintage and organic elements. Stark white walls, concrete floors and wood beam ceilings would comprise the skeleton of my dream house - but I know that I change my mind about my favourite design style as often as I change my socks, so I don't like to commit to a single design style.  I approach every project with a "less is more" mantra that nearly always works out in my favour, but I sincerely try to design for the client, and push the envelope only as far as I can within my clients' comfort zone. After all, they are the ones living in the space, not me.

    •    Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I would say that all of my inspiration comes from travel. I work in order to travel - it's more than a passion for me, it's a necessity. I've always joked that travel is my drug of choice, but the more I consider it, I'm not really joking at all. Travel has exposed me to different construction methods, unique building materials and a variety of interesting design and decorating styles. All these things come into play when I am working on a project, but it's more than just materials that inspire me, sometimes the ambiance of an exotic space can inspire me deeply. I strive to create a "feeling" in a space, more so than just a nice combination of finishes, and traveling the world has exposed me to many different inspirational environments.

    •    What tips do you have for aspiring designers to hone their skills?

Practice, practice, practice! Design is an art, and just like any other art or craft, it will get easier with time and you will get better with practice. A great way to practice is to re-decorate any room you can get your hands on. Offer to help friends out with re-arranging their furniture. Make your own bedroom your pseudo-studio and experiment with different wall treatments, colours lighting and furniture styles. Before you know it, you'll get a sense of what looks good and what doesn't, and you'll learn a lot of hands-on knowledge that school can't always teach you.

    •    What is one design faux pas that you wish could be banished?

Oh geez, where to start?! I'm going to say that colourful toilets and sinks are just as painful to encounter as berber carpeting in residential spaces. THERE, I said it. I hate berber, and I hate your pink toilet :)

    •    Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us!

I guess it's always surprising to people when they find out that I have been traveling and living abroad for over a year now, and as a result, I don't actually have a home! I'm homeless. Ok, fine, that's a little overly dramatic, but it's technically true. When traveling and working abroad, my fiance and I rent houses, and when we come back home to Toronto to visit, we end up staying with friends and family. While I'm so lucky that my family has always supported my lifestyle choices and has always welcomed me back into their homes with open arms, I find myself aching for a place to call my own *only* because I want to decorate and design it on my own terms :)

    •    What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time? What do you mean? ;) When I have a spare couple of hours, I like to write. I have somehow fallen into a position as a freelance writer and have been a columnist for Women's Post magazine and  ZOUCH Magazine and Miscellany for a while now. Writing helps me express myself and organize my thoughts, and it's a bonus that other people actually care what I have to say, because if I wasn't writing for magazines, I'd likely be journaling to keep myself sane anyways.

    •    What goals or aspirations do you have for your design business and/or your blog?

I want my blog(s) to continue to do well and grow in traffic so that I can continue to justify putting so much work and effort into it. My design business, TLC Design & Decor, is a one-lady operation, and while I have been busy with design contracts over the past year, my goal is to be able to maintain the same traction in the industry next year, no matter where I'm living. I'm really impatient, and like to see IMMEDIATE results, but I know that growing a business (and a blog, for that matter) takes time. The ultimate goal for Passport To Design or some of my other blogs would be that they are so successful that I can rely on them for a steady (and decent) income. Being a full-time "blogger" is a dream I'm sure many fellow bloggers share. I like to believe it's possible.

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

If I could meet anyone, I'd want to spend a day with the Dalai Lama - he's just so darn inspiring! If I could do anything (and I'm going to take major liberties with this answer), I would freeze time and continue to travel the world without losing time back home with loved ones.

    •    You live abroad in Central America, has living there changed the way your approach design? What challenges have you faced?

Absolutely. Living in Panama has been a wonderful experience, and working in Panama has been a real challenge, especially when it came to overcoming the "unknown". Initially, I didn't know where to source furnishings and accessories/lighting, and I had no idea how to find trustworthy tradespeople in a new country. Luckily for me, time, patience and a lot of hustling allowed me to figure things out in Panama; but the "bigger" challenge I face is working on professional design projects while conducting business in a foreign language. As a result, my Spanish is off the hook! (Ok, not at all, but my "design vocabulary" has come a long way in a year). I have the same challenges with construction and tradespeople here in Panama as I would in Canada, but communicating is always more difficult. Luckily, there is always google translate.

    •    What are your views on the role of Canadian design on the world stage? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

I am so proud to say that there are so many talented Canadian designers creeping up on the radar. At first I felt as though it was taking Canadian designers a little bit longer to break out into the design industry scene, but unlike some other Canadian industries (like Canadian film or music), our Canadian designers are featured on international design shows and are gaining the confidence of the international design industry.

I think Canadians' sense of style can be attributed to their ability to embrace diversity. Just like we have embraced our cultural diversity, we have embraced many different design and decorating styles. Canadian's love modern design and traditional design; we decorate with natural materials and man-made finishes; we love our rustic wood cottages and our glass-and-steel condos. While I can confidently pinpoint what some other cultures tend to prefer when it comes to design style (for example, most urban Panamanians love modern, minimalist decor with sleek lines and shiny finishes), I am happy to say that Canadians like a little bit of everything. I wouldn't expect anything else from such a culturally diverse country that accepts and celebrates cultural difference.

Wow, this interview was so much fun, thanks so much for the opportunity, Barbara! This was fun and an honour to be included in a roster of so many talented Canadians.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life and what is it like to live and work abroad. So jealous of your nomadic life - would love to just explore the world living here and there.

Tania not only do I enjoy reading your blog and all the wonderful tidbits you share but I love your blog design as well,
it is like a well travelled passport.

XO Barbara

Beautiful and Creative Headboards : Guest Post by Arcadian Lighting

Hello there! I'm Joanna, a writer for Arcadian Lighting, a go-to online source for all things lighting and light fixtures. I am passionate about my work, I spend my days gathering beautiful images and sharing
them via guest posts such as this one for Hodge Podge. Thanks for letting me share!

A beautiful and creative headboard provides a focal point for all of the rooms below. My favorites will always be the tufted ones, with their striking appeal and commanding interest. Which is your favorite headboard?

Fab Headboard

A turquoise headboard makes a statement with its ornate shape and bold black trim. I would have loved to see a different light fixture here though maybe, a fun and flirty black chandelier. How about you?

Fab Headboard

A lovely country bedroom boasts an unusual tufted headboard. This could be a weekend DIY project for anyone wanting to add interest to their decor.

Fab Headboard

A triptych of framed mirrors makes a beautiful headboard that brings light into the room from windows on the opposing wall. A lovely little light fixture illuminates the room from above.

Fab Headboard

An antique floor mirror makes for an amazing headboard in this European bedroom. This space works so well because the rooms more humble furnishings don't try to compete with the grandiosity of the mirror.

Fab Headboard

A monogrammed headboard in white with black outlines is crisp and tailored even though the rest of the room is covered in a soft feminine pink.

Fab Headboard

This bedroom gets its traditional styling from a stately headboard while the bed coverings and art give it a modern appeal. The little wall sconces bring the bright color up to the pure white headboard and provide ample light for reading.

Fab Headboard

A crisp white and pink bedroom seems quite casual especially with the loose fitted upholstered headboard in a large pink floral.

Fab Headboard

This guest room doubles up on headboards in a striking black and white traditional fabric. The soft lime green of the room is soothing and restful.

[ Images 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 ]

Design a headboard that suits your personality! 

Thanks Acadian Lighting for this post! Love the round-up of images. 

Who doesn't love a fantastic headboard.

But we can't forget the tufted headboards I made for my daughters' rooms!

XO Barbara

Fun Tuesday

Yesterday I met up with my gal pal Tracey for lunch. She is such a hoot to be around! Her talent for interior photography gives me pangs of jealousy - but she so kindly shares her tips.

Thanks darling.

 She is such a talented photographer, I said that already didn't I?  I interviewed for my "So Canadian, eh?" series {you can read that here} and yippee for her as she is shooting two spaces designed by fabulous blogging friend, Karla, for Style at Home magazine!!

I sure know how to pick friends, don't I?

 Tracey is also a stealthy surreptitious architectural salvage rescuer. 

So many historical homes in Vancouver are being torn down to make way for architecturally blah homes, which breaks her heart.

 So by the cover of the night, she grabs the gorgeous bits and pieces that would otherwise be put into a dumpster. Bless her soul because we get enjoy her spoils. She sold most of her "treasures" at the Fieldstone Vintage Market but saved her favourite for me.

You see her husband told her they needed to hoarding allowed.

Too bad for her.. but great for me.

Yesterday I picked these beauties up from her, for a sweet steal deal.

They weigh a ton.

 What I going to do with them, I have no idea??

Me saying "H...e...l...l....o.... babies, where have you been all my life?"

Tracey bidding corbies "adieu".

 I am such a sucker for old bits with so much character, so I treated myself for my birthday which means hubby can't say anything!

 Drat, this won't look good though, he wants a new bike.....


Carol from The Design Pages is hosting a giveaway where you can win a limited edition polaroid print created by Tracey!

Lucky me - I have one of her pieces.

XO Barbara

Winners of Novica Giveaway

Thanks to all who entered the Novica giveaway.

 Wish I had enough gift certificates for all of you. 

But I only had two $50 gift certificates.


The winners are:


 Congratulations Ladies!

Happy Shopping!

XO Barbara

So Canadian Eh? : Janis Nicolay

I met my latest guest this summer while we both had the honour of being jurors for the Fieldstone Vintage Market. When I saw her name on the list, I was so ecstatic to meet the photographer extraordinaire! 

Please welcome...

She is

Janis Nicolay is an amazing photographer whose work has appeared in countless magazines,

She has helped catapult many designers' names to the forefront. As an avid decor magazine reader I love to pay attention to who photographed the space, as each photographer has their own unique way of capturing a space. As a blogger who is attempting to photograph her own space and projects, I am in complete awe of those who make it seem so effortless, like Janis. 

Photography is such an art, and I feel Janis has mastered that art.

I have now met Janis on several occasions and not only is an uber talented photographer but is such a genuinely sweet and humble person. Her family owns and runs many amazing restaurants around Vancouver and she runs a very successful photography business, yet when you talk to her, she comes across as so down to earth. 

When Janis isn't busy photographing is writes a blog, Pinecone Camp
Her blog is such a visual treat! 
She loves to share snippets of her latest shooting project, bits from her travels, highlight unique shops around town and her baking adventures, the photos leave you wanting to whip up her latest creation.

Tell us a bit about yourself? What is you background? Your education? Did you study photography? Have you always wanted to be a photographer?

Barbara, you’re taking me out of my comfort zone! Not used to this!
I’m one of 7 kids, raised by our mom alone. Needless to say, we didn’t have much except each other and our imaginations. I was given a Polaroid camera when I was twelve, so that was my intro to ph0tography! I pretty much took pictures of my siblings, even if they didn’t want their picture taken, plants, and made little “displays” of things to shoot. 
I was a bit of a wanderer, so when I was old enough, I moved to Toronto with a friend, then spent time in Japan. I was a road trip girl too. Always taking off somewhere. I took photography courses at Focal Point, here in Vancouver, but didn’t do much with photography until I moved to Australia with my then boyfriend (now husband). I really got into black and white photography, developing and printing it myself. It also helped that I had a fantastic job on a late night talk show, and would take pics of guests waiting in the green room, or at the after parties in the host’s dressing room. So much fun. When we moved back to Vancouver, I started a wedding photography business with a friend of mine. After 100’s of weddings, we called it quits and I devoted all my time shooting for magazines.

What made you decide to start blogging?

A couple of years back, a few really great Canadian mags shut their doors. It was a strange time, business was definitely down for a bit, so I started blogging. I thought it would be a good way to link everything I do together. It’s definitely done that. I do love being able to work on my own little d.i.y.’s, published work, and baking, and sharing it all with anyone that’s interested. At first I had no idea what to do with it, but it seems to be working out now.

What have you enjoyed about blogging and what has surprised you along the way?

I think what I enjoy most, is meeting all kinds of fantastic bloggers from all over the world. Some of them feel like longtime friends, though we’ve never actually met. This is also what has surprised me the most. Bloggers can be a very supportive and encouraging bunch.  Yeah for humans!

As an accomplished photographer, one whose work appears in countless magazines worldwide, when would you say you got your big break?

I suppose it was when I went to Toronto to meet editors, Erin McLaughlin of the now defunct Canadian Home and Country (now at Style At Home) and Hilary Smyth deputy editor at House and Home. I started to work immediately. My first shoot was a house that had been designed by Rosie Daykin. Have to say it was a bit daunting. I felt like I had been shot out of a cannon! Thankfully, it turned out well and I continue to work!

Any tips for aspiring photographers? And aspiring designers who want their work published?

If you’re already a photographer, I think you should call up interior designers and see if they have any projects that need to documented. Nice way to start to build up your portfolio. You should be able to take constructive criticism too. You just might learn something! Once you’re feeling good with your portfolio, meet with editors in person, if you can, or email with a link to your portfolio. Just don’t give up. If you really want to do this, it will happen.

What would be one “must” that each amateur photographer should have or learn?

How about 2 things? I think good lighting and composition is crucial.

What goals or aspirations do you have?

I want to keep doing what I’m doing, as I love working with different people all the time, growing my stock photography, and collaborating on a cookbook!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Well, first thing I do is put the MacBook away, hide my phone, and relax. Hanging out with friends and family, is a great way to unwind and feel fresh when you get back at it.

Where do you go for inspiration for your photography work?

I’m inspired by travel, be it a road trip to the interior of BC, or cities like New York or London. You really can find inspiration anywhere. Walking through Vancouver, a beautiful park, or sitting in a café can trigger some fun ideas.

Is there any one accomplishment that you are proud of?

To be honest, it’s great to see your work in magazines, or on covers, but I love shipping out my own work to buyers all over the world. It’s kind of cool knowing that my prints are hanging in various living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens.

What are your favourite subjects to photograph?

Lifestyle stories are so much fun. That could be a cranberry bog harvest, or an outdoor entertaining story. I love having humans involved – brings the story to life, especially if it’s a home. Details are right up there too, for me. My number one fave subject has to be food. Love pretty shots of cookies, cake, muffins, even the baking tins they’re baked in!

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

I would love to meet Martha Stewart. What she’s done to change the idea of “home keeping”, and making it creative and enjoyable, is pretty incredible to me. Like her or not, she really is one talented and innovative woman!

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?

Ah, Canadians. We are a quiet bunch. Quietly confident, though. I think Canadians are getting more notice, slowly but surely, but we have lots of work to do. There is some incredible talent in this country. In B.C. alone, we have amazing work being done by Omer Arbel, Battersby Howat and Evoke. I think we all need to start shaking our own tambourines a bit more! I know, it’s hard sometimes ;)

***All photos are used by permission from Janis Nicolay

Janis, you are one who needs to start shaking your own tambourine! As a longtime admirer of your work, meeting you and having the chance to interview you has been such an honour!

I am sure I can speak for many bloggers, but I wish I had half the photography talent you have! 

Happy Sunday - what are you baking today?

XO Barbara

All By Myself

So I managed to hang a light fixture all by myself. 

Disclaimer: No husband was used in this project.

I was a bit hesitant about dealing with electricity. I really wanted to see my children grow up.

After watching a few Home Depot You Tube videos {they had a women install a fixture - smart marketing tactic!}

 I set to work.

I had so many attempts, thought I had it up and then had to take it down. 

Really wished I was an octopus...

The ground wire broke. 

Serious  $@#$&  glitch.

Went to Home Depot. Salesperson was useless

Wonderful stranger in aisle, who was an electrician saved the day!

Fixed the broken wire with a butt splice, impressive hey, my electrical terminology?

Finally enlisted help, NOT from husband but from oldest daughter, she was the octopus hands I so needed.

Good thing chandelier was only $38 on clearance and all plastic.

We can't stand the faux candle "drip" marks on the sleeves, need to find replacments.

But looks all sparkly regardless...

XO Barbara

Versatile Blogger Award

My blog has been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award, not once but 3 times last week.

Many thanks to:

Lisa Goulet of Lisa Goulet Design
Beatrice from The Crafty Bee

Feeling the love ladies....

I am supposed to share 7 things you may not know about me. You can read here some juicy tidbits about me from a past award post.

Here a 7 more....

1. My kids make fun of my small feet and toes...I like my toes but apparently they think they are hilarious. Sniff..

My photo

2. I love working in my garden. There is nothing more rewarding than getting dirt under your nails and watching your garden grow.

My photo

3. Two cities I would love to live in are New York City and Paris. Really need I say more?

My photo {ok, hubby took it}

4. I have horrible eyesight.

5. I love cooked mushrooms but can't stand raw mushrooms.

6. My family loves to ski, except for me. I find it unnerving going down an icy slope at fast speeds. I prefer sitting in the ski chalet with a book and coffee. Unfortunately my family won't let me :(
This was taken of me early this year while it was -18C. 

7. I am officially a mom to 3 teenagers as of this fall. All 3 are in highschool, yikes!

So who should I give this award to......think....think...think

Oh, I know:

XO Barbara