Loving Your Rental : Dubai Edition

Love how fellow renters come up with creative solutions to work around the limitations of renting no matter where in the world one lives. 

Meet fellow Canadian blogger, Lisa Roy

Currently residing in Dubai and renting a high rise apartment, Lisa loves to share her life living abroad and her design adventures of turning a blank and blah rental into a fabulously inviting space.
A whiz with the sewing machine and armed with some DIY gutso, she has created a beachy space high in the clouds among Dubai high rises. Without being able to paint OR put holes in the wall,  Lisa uses ingenuity to create a splash!

If you want to follow her adventures of life in Dubai, make sure to to add her blog to your daily read!
And if you want to read my "So Canadian, eh?" interview with her, you can read it here.

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Danielle Hardy from Urban Walls

You may recognize her wall decals that have been circulating around the web, been pinned and featured on various website and blogs but maybe you don't know the creative genius behind Urbanwalls. 

Let me introduce you to the beautiful......

Danielle Hardy, founder, owner and designer behind Urbanwalls, where "walls become your canvas"

She is

Danielle, famous for her amazing decals, is not only a fabulous graphics designer but involved in the local blogging community as well. I met Danielle in the fall and have had many opportunities to get to know her at various blogging get togethers. We are also practically neighbours! A passionate and creative soul, Danielle is not only uber talented but can dress to kill.(I think she needs to come shopping with me some time to give me some pointers).

Her sense of humour and positive outlook on life are infectious. She is incredibly fun to hang around with. When you first meet her you'd never know that she is the face behind the successful wall decal business, Urbanwalls. But her work is not all she focusses her attention on. She is also passionate about human trafficking and works hard in being an advocate and creating awareness about the awful truth behind it.  And somehow she manages all this while raising two boys with her husband.There doesn't seem to be a dull moment in her life.

Let me show you a few of my favourites from her shop....

And photos of her amazing home.

Tell us a bit about yourself? Did you study design in school? Where you always drawn to design growing up? 

I have always loved pretty things and making things look pretty. My mom would have been the first person to tell you that I spent more time making science projects look pretty then I did on the actual science project. After years of doing odd jobs and traveling I really wanted to settle down and find something that I loved to do and could do at a desk - sitting ;) I finally decided to go back to school to receive a diploma in marketing and communications. From there I continued on in my education of graphic and web design. All of the programs were extremely helpful to this day and I am continually amazed at how much they all go hand in hand for my present position. 

You are the owner and creative genius behind Urbanwalls, a wall decal business. What made you decide to start a wall decal business?   

I get asked this a lot and I can honestly say that it was something that came to me. I didn't set out to do it and it just all happened very naturally. I had been working in the graphic design field for about 7 years at that point and was kind of bored but happy to have a job. I had seen wall decals once and thought they were so cool and I had the machines in my home already for other purposes. I  realized it was something that I could do with my creativity and resources. I heard about etsy through a friend and put a few listings up and I remember my first sale the very next day. I was shocked that it worked. Since then I have been so excited to create new designs, tackle the beast of social networking and meet many amazing people along the way. 

Where do you get inspiration for you designs? 

With the initial design process of my decals I spent the majority of my time thinking and dreaming of what I would like in my home and then also what I see as being something that people would like or need in their own home. I also am very blessed to be surrounded by some of the most amazing, talented and creative people and I find that it just sort of rubs off and inspires me as well. 

Pinterest helps too ;) 

As a mother to two very rambunctious boys, how do you balance your business, life, blogging and parenthood? 

This would hands down be my biggest challenge in life. I am very thankful that I have been able to work from home and be with my boys at the same time. I get the best of both worlds. However, it is a constant juggling act and every day looks very different. I realize that I only get this time with my boys once and it remains at the forefront of my priority list so for now, I try to do the majority of my work when they go to bed. It makes for some very late nights and early mornings (these kids don't sleep in!!) but I know that it's a season in my life before they go to school so for now I do the best that I can and try to have fun with it all. 

What tips can you give other mom-prenteneurs out there? Anything you have learned along the way about being self-employed and working from home? 
I feel like I don't have tons of advise because I'm learning as I go but I can say that what I strive to do is put family before work. I can't count the amount of times that I am trying to design something and be creative but have a little one in the kitchen that spilled milk all over the floor and another one using the stairs as a slide. It's survival mode at this point and each man for their own. lol This would be why I wait to work when they are asleep. It just works better. 

Where would you like to see yourself in 2 years? Where do you hope your business to go in the next few years?  

I really didn't know that it would get to this point so I am totally open to whatever comes. I would love to expand with other wall decorating ideas that float around in my head, as well as continue to develop my blog and find ways to expose my product. 

Why did you start a blog? And what have you enjoyed about blogging? What have you not enjoyed? 

I started my blog because I felt like I wanted to reach people some other way then "check out our new decal" or "look where my decal as been featured". I actually very rarely (if at all) post anything about my decals on my blog. It's just been fun to write and share about everything that inspires me. I have really enjoyed the people that I have met from blogging... brilliant, thoughtful, beautiful people. The only thing I don't enjoy is when I'm stumped on what to write because then it becomes a chore rather then a creative outlet. 

What do you like to do in your free time?  {If you have any!} 

I love love love adventures with my family. Whether its riding our bikes through Stanley Park or a road trip to Seattle. We don't sit still and we determine to make memories that will last.

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

I'm not sure that I can pinpoint one person that I would want to meet (besides Jennifer Aniston) but  something that I would like to do would be to pack up the family and travel Europe for a few months. I am a junkie for exploring, learning about different cultures and just having an adventure. Many people would wait till their kids are grown and out of the house but something about chaos and whining would make for a perfect memory in my opinion. One day..  

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  feel like the ball in this area is just starting to get going. Canadians are too polite to shove their way to the top but I do know that our country is full of amazing talent, culture and backgrounds. We are very open to adapt to new ideas and ways of doing things and I think that very much sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Danielle, you are such an amazing woman. Loved getting to know you this part year! So looking forward to seeing you soar!

XO Barbara

Party at Ikea

I was one of the VIP guests treated to a fabulous evening by Ikea Canada - it was the Ikea Richmond grand re-opening preview night where we were treated to a cocktail reception, happening tunes, treats throughout the store and a special shopping discount!

I can't think of a better way to shop at Ikea than with amazing blogger friends to laugh with along the way, wine glass in hand, assistance on every corner, random food sampling {love those meatballs} and beautifully styled vignettes throughout.

My evening started off with a cab ride courtesy of Ikea and 3 other bloggers who "cab-pooled" with me. We had a good chuckle as the cab company picked us up in a Prius. 

We were then greeted by a brand new store, 3 times larger than the old one, which was one of the first Ikea's to open in Canada. I remember visiting that store as a child with parents!

The PR team for Ikea.

Then we were ushered up to the cafeteria which was beautifully decorated and were greeted by various PR people for Ikea, given a glass of "your-choice-beverage" and then the fun began.

After an hour or so of catching up, the shopping and touring of the store began. I bought a few Ribba frames and down inserts, one can't have enough Ribba frames and down inserts! 

My favourite scenes were the table settings.

And the icing on the cake was the swag bag we took home.  It weighed a ton. Not to shabby....

Gosh - thanks Ikea!

Grand Opening is tomorrow. Pssst, first in line gets a $10,000 gift card!!!!

My Weekend

My weekend started by taking my 16 year old to her Royal Conservatory Piano Exam and then a trip to Tiffany's to pick her sweet 16 birthday present.

For our daughters' 16th birthdays we gave them each an heirloom piece of jewelry from their great-grandmothers AND then they get to pick a piece of jewelry from Tiffany's!

Loved the bracelet my daughter chose, it spells T-I-F-F-A-N-Y with each petal.

Since my husband and oldest daughter were away at their perspective athletic adventures/races I enjoyed the sun, walked the dog, mowed the lawn, got my hands dirty in the garden, worked on a sewing project and a painting project!

On Sunday morning I lazed in bed and poured over the latest Domino magazine.

Tonight I head to Ikea for their media preview night before their grand re-opening - going to hang out with my fabulous blogging gal pals tonight! Yesssss.... and we get a bit of a discount, so I am heading there with a bit of a list. 

Can't wait!

XO Barbara

$100 Ikea Gift Card Winner!

Well I drew the winner via Instagram and Twitter.

The pictures say it all.

Congrats Rosa from flutter flutter, you won! Happy Shopping next week!

Thanks to all who entered. You can still score by being a coupon - show up at Ikea Richmond to become one!

Don't forget local Vancouverites, the grand re-opening of the Ikea Richmond location happens on Wednesday, April 25. Some of us are heading to the Richmond location on Monday evening for a media evening - can't wait - WOOT WOOT!

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Sundeep from Designwali

Another amazing guest is here at hodge:podge this week. Please give a warm......

{that's French for "welcome" - we are a bilingual country you know...}

 Sundeep from Designwali

She is.....

Sundeep, the author behind Designwali, a blog dedicated to design and all that's glamourous with a South Asian twist is not only one intelligent gal but has a flair for design. And I didn't think that someone else could adore paisley as much as me!

Despite working in a demanding job, and being a mom, Sundeep manages to dig up design inspiration and all that's pretty on her blog. She has a real knack for finding the most amazing jewelry! This girl sure knows her bling.

She definitely has an eye for design - check out her home! Love the whole "cool-girl-on-the-street" vibe it gives off!

I can't wait to meet Sundeep when I head to Blogpodium next month with my pal Nancy!

Tell us a bit about yourself? Your background? Education? Have you always been drawn to design?

I think I've always had a love for design. I used to spend all day drawing houses/rooms as a kid and enjoyed decorating my room {sure decorating meant Johnny Depp & Jen and the Holograms all over the place, but you catch my drift). So I suppose it's a little odd that my professional and academic life really has had nothing to do with design. Perhaps there is a cultural influence at work her, as the "arts" was always considered hobby material and not a career choice. So in some respects it was never an option and frankly, my 18 year old self didn't know any better. Fast-forward a decade or so later, and with a few degrees in hand I now reside in the Finance and IT world, but find myself constantly drawn to the interior design scene.

What made you decide to start a blog?

My sister. I think I chewed her ear off with all my ramblings of chairs, wallpaper and paint colours. She knew before I did that I needed a creative outlet and a connection into a community that would give me my design fix. She was right.

You blog has a fabulous South Asian flavour, do you find your heritage influences how you decorate your space and what inspires you?

Yes, it does. In my youth I never really thought about it and who knows, maybe I even denied it. But now, I feel I have to have those influences in my home, whether it is through art, fabric or colour. I have the need to make sure this part of who I am is present in my surroundings in some shape or form. I am very much Canadian as I am South Asian and I need these influences to keep my grounded and speak to who I am.

How would you describe your design style?

Depends on the day really, but most days I like a clean contemporary and modern aesthetic with a splash of South Asian flavour for good measure. A bit of gold glam keeps me happy too.

If you could meet anyone, who would it be? Or if there was one blogger you could meet, who would it be?

This is a tough one. Almost all of the folks you feature on your "So Canadian eh?" series are on my list. Huge fan of BG {Brian Gluckstein}. I've seen him live as a part of TV audiences and even at our last Canadian Design Bloggers event in Toronto..but do you think I have the nerve to go up to him and say hello? So sad really because I do have a backbone but with a BG in the house...it just disappears! Yep, I turn into a 13 year-old groupie. I also have similar design crushes on Tommy Smythe, Lynda Reeves and Samantha Pynn.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free what? Between kids, a demanding job, family commitments, blogging, attempts {and I really just mean a mental attempt} to exercise and volunteering to throw local galas I don't have much time to spare. If I have more hours, I know I would bump up my exercise regeiment, maybe a read a book or two and definitely play more with my kids.

Tell us something that would surprise us! 

I used to work in a music store while I was dong my graduate degree in London, UK amongst DJs, writers, artists and musicians. Yes, I was the friendly Canadian IT geek in the store who blasted rock, house and Sarah McLaughlin music throughout the store speakers.

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 Canadian designers are mindful of their environment, nature and each other. There is a strong element of respect and diversity in Canadian design, which I believe undoubtedly, sets us apart. If anyone doesn't believe me, read all of Barbara's "So Canadian, eh?" series... and you'll see for yourself.

Thanks so much Barbara for having me {seriously, I'm chuffed that you would even think me and my itsy bitsy blog was even worthy to be interviewed!} It has been loads of fun and I only hope that one day my little design ramblings will land me in a place where I can be immersed in the Canadian design scene all day long!

Sundeep, loved that you were able to find time to participate. So glad you did, as I loved getting to know the woman behind Designwali! I can relate to not really embracing my heritage and truly understanding how it shaped the way I view the world and the way I decorate my home. I now find that those years pass by that it is what makes me me!

XO Barbara

$100 Ikea Gift Card Giveaway for Vancouver Area Followers!

*****Giveaway is now closed*****

Most of you local bloggers and Ikea fans know that next Wednesday, April 25 is the GRAND re-opening of the Richmond, British Columbia store. The store moved across the parking lot into a bigger location that is more eco-friendly as well!

Here are some sneak peeks inside the new store!

Ikea Canada is releasing LIVING BREATHING coupons all across the city, some valued up to $1000! All you need to do is show up! You could end up being a coupon.

The more people tweet with the #IKEARichmond hashtag the more coupons they will release.  

Ikea Canada has generously offered my local peeps a chance to win a $100 Gift Certificate that is valid ONLY at the Richmond, BC location, you have to use it at the store, not online or any other location. It is only VALID from Wednesday April 25 until closing Friday, April 29th.

Want to win the $100? 
Tweet to win!

Here is how:

Tweet about your favourite Ikea product or favourite Ikea memory BUT   @hodgepodgeblog AND the #IKEARichmond hashtag MUST be in the tweet! 

ie. My favourite @IkeaCanada product is..............cc:@hodgepodgeblog #IKEARichmond

Remember that gift card is only valid at the Richmond, BC location between Wednesday, April 25, Friday, April 29!

The contest is open until noon Friday April 20, 2012 PST.
I will draw {from the tweets} and announce the winner, Friday, April 20, 2012 in evening PST!

We will need an address so your gift card can get couriered to you on Monday morning!

GOOD luck and Happy shopping!

XO Barbara

A Little Kitchen Spruce Up

Living in a rental home has its ups and downs. The one major downer is the kitchen. Despite the size and layout, which I like, the cabinets, backsplash, appliances, countertops and flooring is less than desirable.

I have lived with it for 3 years {yup, still renting, long story} There isn't a whole lot I can do with that space, unless I can convince the landlords to paint their precious oak and replace the appliances. 

This kitchen has a fabulous window over the sink that faces west so I get alot of afternoon sun. For the past 3 + years I have lived with venetian mini-blinds that have collected dust, have bent and the cords have discoloured. Everytime I washed dishes I would stare at those blinds and think evil thoughts, hoping those blinds would feel how much I loathed them.

{Excuse the mess! Tried to find a tidy before photo - sadly no.}

Finally I decided enough is enough. So after an order to Tonic Living. A weekend of sewing, using my roman blind tutorial.

My window looks 100 X better!

I think the next thing to do is change the paint colour. I painted the walls in Benjamin Moore's Buttercream when we moved in, but it casts a greenish hue that I am getting tired of. 

Speaking of sad kitchens......

I loved this article written by Camille at Vintique Object, another fellow renter living in San Francisco. She has such a keen eye for details and wrote how to style an less than ideal kitchen to detract the eye away from the ugly and bring in the pretty. Inspiring!

XO Barbara