So Canadian eh? : Elissa Toews from Our House

This week we have Elissa Toews from Our House visiting!

She is...

Elissa, a local blogger who makes her home nestled in the Fraser Valley, is the creative genious behind her blog, Our House. I have been following Our House for over a year now, it is one of my favourite reads. What I love about Elissa is her love of fabric, her fabulous thrift store finds and her DIY spirit. A girl after my own heart! I love her carefully curated mix of Ikea, vintage finds, DIY projects layered with fabric in her house! Don't believe me? Check out how she works her magic!

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

I grew up in a “do it yourself” kind of family.  My mom was a seamstress and was always creative when it came to decorating and renovating.  In later years my parents built their own home doing much of the work themselves to save money.  I found myself pouring over design magazines alongside my mom and getting excited to be part of the process.    

I took the “practical” road when I went to university thinking I would become a teacher like my Dad.  But somehow I always found myself getting excited about design.  I was a history major, but tended to enroll myself in the classes focusing in on art history.  I also started working part time in the paint department of a home improvement store to pay for my tuition and became an “expert” in helping people select colors for their home.  After graduating from school I started working in university admissions.  As much as I loved helping students solves their transfer credit nightmares, I would always get excited to head home and work on a project in my own home!

What made you decide to start a blog?

I started my blog years ago when everyone started jumping on the blogging bandwagon.  Since I live far away from my family I thought it would be a great way to keep them informed of the everyday happenings of my life.  I took a blogging break when I was juggling kids and a full time job but when I began my maternity leave with my second child I needed a bit of a creative outlet.  I went from spending almost no time at home to being housebound with two kids.  The creative ideas started coming and I started getting so inspired to work on my home.  I started blogging again and began to share some of the projects my husband and I were tackling in our house. 

You have delved into design, what made you decide to start to take on clients? And do you work alone or do you have a partner?

When I started blogging about the renovating/decorating process of my own home people started asking me for help.  After deciding not to go back to work after my second child was born I figured it would be a great time to start up my own interior decorating business knowing I would need a creative outlet.  I partnered with a talented friend of mine, so we can share the workload when times are busy!  It’s also great to have another person to bounce ideas off of, and it keeps the work fun!  I also work alongside my husband who builds and designs kitchens for a living.  So far we’ve only done a few kitchens together but have found that we make a pretty good team!

What have you enjoyed about blogging?

Oh lots of things… the chance to connect with like minded people across the country, the ability to share about myself and be creative, the encouragement to finish my projects and take better pictures… just a few things…

How would you describe your design style?

I like a little bit of everything!  When making decorating/renovating decisions in my own home I tend to start with a classic look and find myself adding in a bit of rustic, some vintage touches, a lot of white with pops of color here and there, and some clean modern finishes too!

What is one thing you feel that one can do to inject style into their home without breaking the bank?

I really think the best way to create a beautiful home without spending a ton of money is to be ready to do things yourself!  Paint a piece of second hand furniture, frame a bunch of your own pictures and put together a gallery wall, try sewing a couple of throw pillows—if you don’t know how to do something, don’t worry… I can guarantee that there’s a tutorial to be found online!

Where do you find inspiration for your projects and your blog?

Inspiration is often borne out of necessity—the decorating/renovation challenges in my own home (storage issues, small budget, kid friendly solutions) often lead to middle-of-the-night revelations and inspiration that translates into blog content for me!  And, like so many people I find a lot of inspiration on other great blogs, pinterest, design magazines, and by shopping at some of the really beautiful home décor stores in the area.

What is one design faux pas that you wish could be banished?
Hard to pick one!  The overabundance of matching fake espresso “wood” furniture, corner fireplaces, boob lights, overstuffed reclining leather sofas complete with cup holders and TV remote storage compartments (although my husband might disagree with me on this one)… those are a few of my top pet peeves!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Well, free time is pretty hard to come by these days!  But I love nothing more than going out for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast with my husband and kids.  And on those nights when I need to get out of the house I love grabbing a coffee and shopping at Home Sense with a good friend.  Two of my favorite things would have to be good coffee and shopping… enjoying both with a friend sounds pretty fantastic to me!

Tell us one thing that would surprise us!

Hmmm…. Would you believe me if I told you that the first year my husband and I were married we formed a traveling band with my brothers/sister-in-law and a couple of friends and travelled across Canada in a motorhome for 2 ½ months?  True story.  One day when our kids are older my husband and I are totally plotting to pack them up in a motorhome or a great big van and drag them all the way across the country and back for a summer of torture family fun.  We will stop at every historical and educational point of interest… of course.

What goals or aspirations do you have for your blog?

Honestly, the only real “goal” that I’ve had for my blog was to have fun with it.  Having your blog recognized as being entertaining or inspiring is definitely an honor, but in the end if I can keep having fun with my blog and make a few new friends along the way I’d be a happy girl!

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

If I could do anything—I would travel!  My husband and I left our kids with their grandma’s and spent two weeks in Italy at the beginning of this year and now all I want to do is jump on a plane and fly somewhere!  I am totally inspired by other places and cultures and am so fascinated by the way people around the world live.  One day I’d love to travel and experience all the different food, languages, music, art, and stories the world has to offer.

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’m no expert (even though I have traveled across the country by motorhome J) but I really think our nation has been shaped and formed by its diverse landscapes and cultures.  Each province and each part of the country is unique—and so is each area’s general approach to design and decorating.   I love that our Canadian design magazines highlight the different design styles and trends that are happening across the country… it’s refreshing!

Ha, love that you formed a band! Wishing you all the best as you bring #3 into the world!
Hope one day we will cross paths.

XO Barbara


  1. Great post, Barbara! I need to start following this blog. Elissa and I have so much in common. Love her style-- mixing old, new, DIY, Ikea. Even our childhood inspiration is similar-- my mom and grandmother were also seemstresses and I was sewing dresses for my Barbies when I was about 7. Beautiful house!

    1. I started sewing the same thing around the same time as well! Glad you popped by Keira, and glad I found your blog. I added you to my Canadian blog roll and am a new follower too!

  2. I have loved Elissa's projects and design style for a while now. I have to say that I'm insanely jealous that there are grandparents out there that take children for TWO WEEKS!!!

  3. She does such a phenomenal job at keeping house with kids and a husband while still maintaining the things that make her happy. Taking off to go to Homesense with a girlfriend to get out of the house for awhile is always good for the soul. Good luck with #3 Lisa!!! Great interview B!

  4. Yay! I love Elissa's blog and her style!


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