Giveaway Winner : Blurb Books

Thanks for all who entered the $35 Gift Card Blurb Books giveaway!

 We have a winner! 
Sara K- you won!

Have a great long weekend!

XO Barbara

So Canadian Eh? : Chania from Razmataz

Let me introduce you to another stupendous Canadian!

She is
Chania's blog, Razmataz has been a long time read of mine. Her blog is chock full of vintage  and design goodness. Her latest decorating adventure has her designing her home away from home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Her eye for pretty is evident in her spaces. I love the mix of relaxed fabrics, florals and chippy furniture. Yet her spaces don't scream frumpy shabby chic, but instead are refined and elegant. 

Chania also has an online shop where she sells linens, rugs and her vintage finds.
You must check it out!

Another fun fact is that recently Chania has started to foster Labrador Retrievers, why anyone want to hurt those lovely creatures escapes me, but I salute her for taking this cause to heart. As a fellow lab owner, I can attest to the loving nature these dogs exhibit, despite them testing your patience! 

I hope you are blown away by Chania's talent as I am!

Her Florida living room. Don't you just want to curl up on that sofa with some mint julep and lounge all day?

If you don't like your popcorn ceilings, then cover with bead board as Chania has done in her home in Canada.

Her dining room in Canada. What a fabulous mix!

Her bits of vintage goodies she collects {and on occasion sells!}

Her Canadian living room.

Tell us a bit about yourself? Has design been something you have always been drawn to? Or something you realized later in life?

I have always loved design, but never considered it as a career. I quit my job in banking to stay home with my kids, and took a few Interior Design Courses at a local college. When I returned to work full time 10 years later, I ended up in health care (oncology) which I loved, but after 10 years, I made the decision to leave it and go back to school full time. I was 42, so it was a big decision at the time, but one that left me with an opportunity to be self employed and set my own hours, plus devote some time to my mother who has experienced a catastrophic stroke.

How would you describe your design style? 

Personally it mismatched, messy, casual and unique. Very laid back…feet up and drinks on the table-no mats, piles of books and lots of what I call my “BITS”…collections, old things, found items. artsy pieces, wall groupings of art, beads, crosses etc.. From a professional standpoint, I would say my style is more polished, but with really well chosen pieces with some vintage and antique bits to reflect the likes of my client. I like to use the best key pieces (sofa, art) that they can afford and build from those. I’m not into “disposable décor” and trends at all.

Tell us one thing that would surprise us! 

I have lived in 20 houses in my lifetime…(17 before I was 26 years old……one of them was a Railway Car in Nairobi. My mother tells me that the car would get shunted in the middle of the night to another track and the 4 of us (all under 6 would be black with soot from from tracks.

What is your “day” job? Is it design related?

I work 20% of my time doing the receivables/payables for my husbands company, and then split the rest between my design client work and my online business selling rugs and linens, although the past few weeks, I have been working 95% for a very big client.

You have such a rich multicultural background, you are British, born in Africa, living in Canada and Florida; do you find having exposure to varied locations influences the way you decorate your homes?

 I love British Interiors with Aga’s and old pine floors, built in’s etc, and that general mix of vintage and casual comfort that the British do so well, but I am very drawn to ethnic bits, such as fabrics, baskets and other trinkets. I collect things like prayer beads from wherever I travel and hang them in bunches on old rusty hooks as art. I like to discover what clients “pick up along the way” and use it in their home. I also like to encourage people to buy really good wool area rugs with an artistic or ethnic vibe to add some personality. Good bones, a good sofa and a fabulous rug, and you have a really good start and need very little else. I really feel that a house has to be authentic though, so if you don’t travel, it’s much better to go to second hand shops and flea markets and pick up interesting things than it is to go to Home Sense and buy say “African” looking things that are mass produced in China. Look on Etsy, E-bay etc and let it evolve.

I love Canada, but I do despair of the sprawling suburbs with non descript architecture and the lack of conservation of our old buildings. So I do like to add some architectural interest to my projects. Making the bones of the house better, creating a better, more interesting canvas, then doing with less in the way of “stuff” to fill it. I also feel strongly about not making a house what it can’t and never will be…you just can’t bead board a 1980’s circular staircase hallway and get a farmhouse feel.

Florida has added a new dimension to my design style as I can use colours there that would never work in Ontario, and my house there is old and Spanish and has authentic charm. It has so much character that the furnishings are secondary, unlike a home where the décor has to hold the house up. Suprisingly in St. Petersburg, despite the tropical heat, I am finding the décor very traditional. Lots of dark oak trim and floors and dark rolled arm sofa…the North slid down to the South. There’s a ton of Dutch colonial and ranch style and formal houses. Not as beachy and Spanish as I had thought.

How long have you been blogging? Why did you decide to start a blog? 

I’ve blogged for 4 years, and began as a way to challenge myself to take better photos. And of course it is somewhat addicting. If I spent the same time and effort on building my business as I do blogging, I might have been published by now.!

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I read loads and loads of books…I try to keep to Canadian authors but I read pretty well anything I get my hands on. Cooking is another pastime, and I have just started as a Foster parent for Labrador Rescue, homing dogs until they find forever home. Drinks with friends, dinners with family, eating out and travelling are my fav things to do. I also dabble in hand made felt art.

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

 I would learn to paint…always wanted to have a studio, wear my hair in braids and smoking slippers all day. I’m a hippie at heart. And I would love to meet Ina Garden. She’s low key, under the radar, but a great business woman and talented chef. She could come and tell me all about Geoffrey while we eat her fresh baked cake in my studio!

You have such a great shop – Razmataz Vintage Market, where do you source the items you sell? How do you decide what to sell and what doesn’t make the cut for your shop?

My friend and I started the vintage market and found our pieces while on wacky day trips through the Ontario countryside, worming our way into backyards, barns, houses, and a few scary places. We tried selling online, but the shipping costs are crazy, so we gave that up. We looked for things that are white and chippy because that’s what everyone sells. We like the ethnic bits. We have loads in storage and had one sale last year and will do another later this year.

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?

Canadian Design, I think, has a low-medium profile in the world design scene. There is still along way to go to get international recognition. Look at Christiane Lemiuex for example…most people think she is American. We have such talented photographers and stylists here that are making names for themselves worldwide. I do think Canadian style is unique, but it is hard to define because we are so ethnically mixed. When I see great Canadian design, it almost always has a bit of an ethnic or vintage mix. I would like to see more ethinically inspired design in the design magazines because it would be so interesting. We have a huge Asian population…a thriving indigenous population, the whole French influence. We have much to build on and I am seeing it trickle into the mainstream.

One Room Challenge: Week One

I have been asked to participate in a 6 week room makeover challenge along with 19 other amazing bloggers from all over.....

I figured this was the good kick in the you-know-what to get something finished around here.

The room that I will attempt to zhush for the next 6 weeks is my living room. When we moved in 3 1/2 years ago and it looked like this:

I painted it and after arranging the furniture the best I could, it looked like this for the past 3 1/2 years.

Unstaged, unstyled, black blah......

But I have always been bothered by the darkness of the space. All the furniture that is in this space was in separate rooms when we lived in Virginia. Both rooms had tall windows with a southern exposure so the dark furniture worked nicely. But here it just felt so blah.

 All the furnishings were purchased pre-blogging days. But I am not about to get rid of anything so my focus is to reused what I have, to re-invent using paint, new hardware, fabric, and a few accessories. As most of you know we are renting so this is NOT our forever home, so I am making changes that I can take with me. 

These photos were sent to Anne-Marie from 10 Rooms for a colour consult and after a few emails back and forth we came up with a plan.

Here were the inspirational photos that I had sent to her as well to get the ball rolling.

I like the drapes, drapery hardware and mirror in this space.

Love the book shelves, ottomans and pops of blue.

Hello striped rug!

I am going for a casual yet classic look. Crisp and clean walls, simple accessories and with a few punches of colour!

I am also excited to partner with Benjamin Moore that has willingly provided some of the paint for this room makeover!

Here is my to-do list:
  • Paint sideboard, Caliente Red; add new hardware 
  • Paint bookshelves, Dove Wing and Black Beauty
  • Sew slipcovers for dining chairs
  • Paint large mirror, gold
  • Paint walls, Classic Grey {Anne-Marie suggested Wind's Breath but I went down one on the colour strip}
  • Re-hang drapery hardware and spray paint it brass
  • New drapes?
  • Add a few more throw pillows
  • New lamps for living room
  • Hang artwork/plates
  • Source round mirror for above fireplace
  • Source two additional dining chairs
  • Sew roman blinds for dining room {if there is time}
Hope you come back every Wednesday to see updates to the space. Fingers crossed it all gets done in 6 weeks!

Don't forget to follow along with all these other inspirational bloggers as they join me the challenge to make over a space in six weeks.

Lauren - The Cottage Mix
Lindsay - Everything LEB
Barbara - Hodge:Podge
Tiffany - Living Savvy
Jessie - Mix & Chic
Danylle - Nana Moon
Jennifer - The Pink Pagoda
Emily - Rue de Emily
Lindsay - Sadie + Stella

Ready, set, GO! 

Hop over to see weeks 2 and week 3 , week 4 week 5 and week 6!
XO Barbara

So Canadian Eh? : Kelly Anderson from Refreshed Designs

My guest has made an appearance twice on my blog in the recent weeks! Yesterday her Rast hack was featured, and she shared her rental tips in, Loving Your Rental.

Please welcome,

Kelly Anderson from

She is 

Kelly is a designer who makes her home in Calgary, a metropolitan city nestled between the edge of the Rocky Mountains and the Prairies. Calgary is booming city, an oil town, where there is a cutting edge design community. Kelly has decided to join that community but with a twist. She focusses on sustainable design, where her motto is to reclaim, renew, refresh.
But she does not create a frumpy space, reusing and refreshing items, her spaces are fresh and inviting.

Photos courtesy of Kelly Anderson

Tell us a bit about your background? Has design always been in your blood? How did you get into the design field?

I was always the kid who rearranged my room every week and I remember creating elaborate “snow fort houses” with many rooms and furniture in every one! I’ve always loved shelter magazines and have helped friends with decorating, but I never did it professionally until a year ago. I finished a design certificate program and started a blog and a part-time business in addition to my “real 9-5 job.” I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the past year about the theory and history of design. I’m much more confident now that I am gaining the knowledge to complement my eye for decorating.

How long had you been blogging? Why did you start a blog and what has been one thing you have enjoyed about blogging?

I started blogging just over a year ago, and I have to say I’ve learned so much from the experience. It has forced me to identify my style and things that I want to focus on, like sustainable design. There are lots of things I enjoy about blogging, not the least of which is the community it has allowed me to become a part of, but the thing I enjoy most is that it has allowed my creative side to flourish! I was an English major in university and have always loved writing, so now I get to write about a creative field. I’ve also learned photography, Photoshop, a bit of graphic design, started painting, and this year I’m committed to learning how to sew. I had no idea the right side of my brain was begging to be let loose!

Where do you go for inspiration for your blog?

There is such a tremendous amount of inspiration out there that I feel like I am only skimming the surface and wish I had time to devour more. Design and also lifestyle blogs are amazing sources of info, and I also read traditional shelter magazines (the Canadian ones are still the best!). I also pay attention to retail outlets, restaurants and office spaces - there are some really great cutting edge designs happening in Calgary.

Your blog and design work is all about reusing and redesigning spaces. What tips can you share in creating a space without tossing things away, repurposing what you have, etc?

There are often things that a person already owns that can really work when redesigning a room—you just have to think about how to use them in a different way. An old run-down dresser in a bedroom can be repainted and used as a cool new credenza in the dining room. Paint is your friend, and is easy and inexpensive. Whenever possible, I use paint on kitchen cabinets, furniture, flooring and things like lamps and picture frames. Almost anything can be saved and refreshed!

What would be some shopping tips you can give my readers when buying something used to repurpose it into their space?

I think that a bit of vintage adds character to a room. Scour yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets for picture frames, interesting bowls, boxes, baskets and trays, along with furniture with good clean lines. Look for classic shapes that will never go out of style. Even the ugliest brass lamp can look great when spray painted if it has a good shape. But one thing to keep in mind - just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you need it. Always stop and think: is it functional? Or is it absolutely so beautiful that you would pay a lot for it? If the answer is no, then it will just clutter your house (or your garage), and it is not a smart or sustainable purchase.

How would you describe your design style?

Modern-vintage, with some industrial thrown in. I love light, bright and usually white spaces. I like colour in moderation, and I’m really drawn to navy and soft pastel colours right now.

Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us!

My friends call me Monica (from Friends)! I’m a planner, an organization freak and a little bossy! Hey, I just call it being passionate. ☺

What do you like to do with your free time?

You can usually find me vintage seeking, but I also like to enjoy the Rocky Mountains as much as possible, so I hike and ski. Calgary is such a beautiful spot it would be a crime not to take advantage of it!

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

In the design world I’d love to meet Samantha Pynn and shadow her for a day as she executes a client design. I’ve always loved her style and she was the one who made me really think about sustainability in design.

Outside of that realm, I’d love to meet Stephen Lewis and ask him how to make a difference in third-world countries. I’ve followed his good work for years and hope one day to travel and help people who can only dream of having a home to sleep in, let alone one that’s decorated.

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 design is highly regarded world-wide and that may be because of Canadian designers’ wide range of design sensibilities. We are a country of significant geographical distinctions, and therefore our designs vary from coast to coast and reflect our surroundings. At the same time, we are a group that loves to constantly share and learn from one another, so we will include really great tricks that work into our designs and use them again and again. I think that our classic, natural, interesting and un-showy style is what sets us apart.

Kelly, I love how your friends call you Monica! I can't say the same for me. I try to be organized but always manage to do too many things at once! Love, love your space. Still can't believe that is removable wallpaper!

XO Barbara

Another Rast Hack Round-up

Inspired by some recent Ikea Rast Hacks circulating around the web, I have decided to do another round-up! To refresh your memory, I made one here, and rounded up a few here and here and here and here!

I know, I have a thing for Rast Hacks.

First up the amazing Kelly from Jax Does Design {who I met while at Toronto} just hacked this inspiring Rast dresser, using Overlays and gave it a zinc treatment {I was given a sneak peek before it went live  - thanks Kelly!}

 Then Kelly from Refreshed Designs {whose rental apartment I featured here} hacked this Rast to give it an industrial edge!

Then a campaign style hack made by Molly featured on Little Green Notebook.

And I spy two side by side at the home tour of Helena Del Rio at Everygirl! Gorgeous!
Even if they aren't, they could be easily hacked!

Know of any else? I love me a good hack.

XO Barbara

Blurb Book Giveaway for Canadian Readers

For my Canadian peeps I have a giveaway for you! 

Blurb books is offering my Canadian readers a $35 Promo Code to start creating your own book.

{Sorry US/International folks}

Have you ever wanted to publish your own book? Create a special family cookbook or family memories journal? A children's story? Instagram photo collection? 

Well Blurb books is a fabulous service where you can do just that.

The possibilities are endless. I can't wait to create something! is an innovative publishing platform that makes it easy to design and publish professional-quality books.

When I say books, I mean anything from a photo book outlining your last vacation to a full-blown novel. Blurb is especially useful for creative types who are storytellers by nature because it enables you to customize every last square inch of your book. From the photography to the fonts, the design is entirely up to you.

You can really do anything: design your own comic book or graphic novel, write your own cookbook, write a novel, publish your portfolio, create custom educational books for your kids, and of course, tell the story of your wedding or vacation. Plus so much more. Please take a look at some of these, I think you’ll see how impressive the results actually are.

With Blurb, there are three ways to design your book
1.       PDF to Book gives professional users full creative reign over the bookmaking process, offering blank Adobe® InDesign® templates
2.       Booksmart makes it very easy and lays out a template for you
3.       Bookify lets you unleash your creativity from cover to cover

How to Enter:

1. Simply visit Blurb books and tell me in a comment what kind of book your would create!

2. Tweet/Facebook about the giveaway for an extra entry, then leave a comment here telling me what you did. Address the tweet to cc:@hodgepodgeblog

Contest is only open to Canadian residents.
Contest is open until noon June 29 PST

Winner will be announced on June 30 on this blog!

Good luck.


A little scare.

If you follow my Twitter or Facebook  feed or you decided to pop by my blog yesterday you would of caught wind of my scare. Yesterday afternoon my blog URL was hijacked! Someone/something re-directed my URL to some cash/credit site in Russia. After a few heart stopping moments I went in and upped the security with my passwords. That seemed to restore it. 

Fingers crossed.....

But it was during that panic that I realized that I hadn't backed up my blog in a while. So, my husband said he will help me just that. When I find out the best way I will make sure to let you know!

You know the most angering part of this, I could not find out how to contact Blogger! No easy feat my friend. 

Hmmm...makes me wonder if Wordpress people have that issue? 
I have a Wordpress account set up as an option but do you Wordpress folks ever have a hard time contacting the host? Any issues like us Blogger folks do?

Anyone else ever experience something scary like this with their blog? What did you do?

Now onto something a bit more exciting.....
Tomorrow I am having a giveaway for my Canadian readers! It's a fun one!

XO Barbara

Feelin' the love....

On Friday I was thrilled to see my Star Wars Eyechart Art  {it's a mouthful} featured on Canadian House and Home's blog as a great Father's Day DIY

Thanks House and Home for the love!

Oh but the loving doesn't stop there. My blog has been added to their design sites we love list.

Yup, that's me!

Woot! Woot! 

A good start to my week.

This week will be another busy one. I have family arriving at the end of the week. I plan on cleaning my house, baking treats, planning a graduation family dinner and picking up/ordering food for the After Grad event next week, and the list goes on. 

As much as it is an exciting time, I can't wait for all to be over. Looking forward to summer break because I have a few projects up my sleeve. One will be announced on the 27th!


Later this week I have another Rast Hack round-up. I have spotted a few more around the web.
Just love me a good Rast hack.

Any plans for you this week?

XO Barbara

Friday Musings

I have postponed my So Canadian eh? until next Friday. 

It has been one of those weeks. I have so much on my plate right now that frankly I am behind on scheduling guests for the series. I have been teaching-on-call, which surprisingly has been busy since the school year is almost over. Then I am on my eldest daughter's After Grad committee, in charge of the food for the event. For those who don't know what an After Grad is, it is the all night party after the Prom that parents put on in an alcohol free environment. We put together all sorts of entertainment, dancing, prizes and have a car to give away!

And with that comes the graduation itself, I have family coming to celebrate the event, final dress fittings, hair appointments, food prep, etc. Weepy moments in Walmart while trying to pick a card for her. 

Sorry peeps.

Another random item but yet so important....

For my regular readers {and any new ones - welcome!}, if you saw your blog on my blog roll and now you don't, well.....don't think I did that on purpose. I didn't. When I got a custom domain name, and the blog transferred over, I lost my blog roll.


 I have been building it up slowly.

I love keeping track of all the Canadian blogs that are out there, so if you are a Canadian blogger {and American too} and you think your blog should be on my blog roll, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to add it to the list! 

Also I am always looking for fabulous Canadians to feature in my So Canadian eh? series, drop me an email, markovadesigninc{at}gmail{dot}com, if you think you would be a good fit! I would love to feature you.

We finally have a sunny day, albeit short-lived as the rain comes back tonight.....
I am tired of the rain and chilly temps, but the slugs are having a partay in the garden, two cucumbers gone.

Hoping for some sunnier weather so I can take photos of my son's room which is pretty much finished.
No room is ever done, always an evolving process, but I figured I'd start sharing some rooms in the house.

And last but not least, just to add more busyness to my life...

I am heading off to run errands as I volunteer at a track meet ALL weekend.
No rest for the weary.

Have a fab weekend.


XO Barbara

Summer, Summer Where Are Thou?

Anyone living on the "wet" coast can attest to our absolutely awful June......lets just say the weather stinks. So when Style at Home sent me their recent summer trends report it brought warmth to my day!

Here are what they see as top three trends this summer.

Aegean Blue

Love, love blue {ok, red is my favourite but blue is a close second} Just the name Aegean feels summery, anything from the Mediterranean brings warmth, don't you think? 
I have been noticed blue popping up everywhere, which I love. It is a fresh change from black, also a nice classic colour but blue brings freshness to a space.

Country Colours

Country colours brings that feeling of relaxed summer living into a home. The crumpled chintz, pale linens, florals and pastels all give home that airy fresh feel, prefect for those lazy summer days.



Hailing from Turkey, kilim rugs bring personality and colour to homes. Bright and crisp, they add that extra layer to a space. To me it evokes the feeling of warmth and relaxation, something we all crave throughout the summer months.

 I am on the lookout for one for my entry - hoping to create a warm and inviting entrance.

Hoping it is feeling summery where you are. My local pals can attest to the fact that we are itching to feel warmth on our skin and to get outside! 

XO Barbara