Make a Cozier Home with These Three Tips

 

Dealing with the dreary weather and chilling winds of February can be a trying experience. With spring still in the distance, it’s up to your home to provide the warm respite you need to get through the winter. With these handy tips, you can make your home the cozy getaway you need to get you through to spring.

Bring Warmer Colours Into Your Home

Colours have been proven to have a huge influence on a person’s mood. Take refuge from depressing weather forecasts and cold mornings by bringing some warmer colours into your home. Yellows, oranges, and certain shades of red can really brighten a room and bring a cozier feel to your home.  Fortunately, there are a wide assortment of decor accessories that will bring these colours into your home, such as coloured blankets or accent pillows for your couch, a decorative centerpiece for your coffee table, or perhaps a new table cloth for your dining table.

Gray sofa with colourful pillows and throw

Layers and Layers Home

Try a New Lighting Style

It may be a small tweak that you have never thought about before, but the way a room is lit can play a huge role in creating a warmer atmosphere. Lamps are a great way to illuminate a room and create a cozy, welcoming setting. If you are using lamps in your home, be sure to equip them with “Soft White” or “Warm White” light bulbs. These bulbs feature a slightly yellower tone that can help give your home a little bit of extra warmth. 

Introduce a New Scent Into Your Home

Trying out a new comforting scent is a great way to make your home feel cozier. Scented candles, in particular, are a great option worth considering! Besides bringing a relaxing glow to your living space, scented candles or diffusers are a fantastic way to create a cozier feeling to a room. Some great scents to check out include woodsy aromas like the just-cut forest fragrance Frasier Fir Candles or scents that offer a hint of cinnamon. One of my favourites is from Vancouver Candle Co – The North. It’s subtle, fresh and does not have an overpowering scent.  

If you would like help to create these cozy ideas in your home, give me a call and or set up an appointment through my email.

Text by Chris Harcus and Nancy DeVries

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Bathroom Renovation Story: How My Husband and I Transformed our Vintage 60’s Bathroom into a Modern Spa

My husband and I moved into our rancher home 8 years ago—and while it had good bones and character, it was in need of some serious updates and modernization. We both agreed that a master bathroom renovation should be our first priority.

Before the Reno: A Tired and Out-of-Style Bathroom

The original 56 square foot ensuite built in the 60’s included a lilac coloured sink, bathtub and toilet. The grout and tiles on the countertop were stained and loose. The overhead lighting was inadequate and the bathroom lacked a door, making it completely open to the attached closet.

Ensuite before bathroom renovation on a budget

Shower/tub before

60's bathroom cabinet and lilac sink

Ensuite before reno

The dated tile in tub/shower enclosure desperately needed to be replaced, and not just for reasons of style. The dropped ceiling above the tub made the space dark and small.

The existing layout of the fixtures worked for us but instead of a bathtub, we preferred a barrier-free, (or curbless) walk-in shower with sliding glass doors.

During: The Process of Learning Where to Save

Putting in our own sweat equity for our renovations really helps with the budget, and an added bonus is that my husband is a carpenter. Our budget for this project was around $10,000 and I knew that was going to be tight.

The first savings that we had was purchasing our luxury shower kit on sale at Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware. Even before we had started the renovation we had purchased these pieces. I realize that not everyone is able to do this if you don’t know what the design is going to be, but since we were going to be tearing down to the studs in this bathroom, we could make this kit work in whatever configuration we came up with. Because we bought these items when we saw them on sale, the significant savings allowed us to purchase luxury pieces that we normally could not have afforded.

Dornbracht shower fixtures

Dornbracht rain shower and hand shower

The second savings I had was with the floor tile. Again, I purchased these tiles before we had started the renovation. I had received an email from a tile showroom that they were having a sale. Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for but I had a feeling that I would know what I wanted when I saw it. I went to the sale knowing the square footage of the bathroom floor so that when I found something, I could confirm there would be enough tiles— an important tip to remember when buying tiles on sale. There’s a reason why they are on sale; stock may be low and they want to move the remaining tiles out of the warehouse.

shower floor porcelain linear tile

A third savings was that I was able to keep my Hunter Douglas Vignette Roman Shade blind in the bathroom window since we did not change the window. I love that the blind operates by holding the handle on the bottom rail, eliminating the use of pull cords. This type of blind is energy efficient by keeping the cold out and blocking the afternoon heat in the summer.

Vignette Shade from Hunter Douglas

Vignette Roman Shade from Hunter Douglas

And finally, we saved by doing the labour ourselves—from the demolition to the final coat of paint.

After: The Reveal and Finishing Custom Touches

I fell in love with the wall tile right away when I saw it at another tile showroom. They are a porcelain tile that look like marble, but at a fraction of the price of marble—and without the long-term maintenance.

The custom-made wall niche was designed and built, keeping in mind the size of personal hygiene bottles. It’s very important to review the size and number of bottles that you will use every day to ensure you have enough space on the shelf for them all. You don’t want to be picking up bottles from the floor when you could have them right beside you.

Budget saving - build your own shower niche and edge with quartz

Tiling the shower niche. We edged the niche with quartz.

walk-in shower with custom built wall niche in bathroom renovation

Walk in shower | Stool Crate & Barrel

Bathroom renovation walk in shower

Walk in shower with rolling glass door

The shower controls are conveniently positioned by the shower entry for ease of use. It does not have to be right under the rain shower. A hand-held showerhead is perfect for cleaning the shower and for when you just want to wash off your feet. The slightly sloping floor in the shower directs the water flow to the trough drain located along the side wall. We chose a sliding glass shower door from RONA since it is a narrow bathroom and every bit of room counts.

In-floor heating was my personal request because my feet are always cold in the winter. I wanted warmth and comfort wherever I’m standing in the bathroom, including the floor of the walk-in shower. We used the Nuheat Cable System in this bathroom because of the larger area that we needed to cover and we didn’t want to wait for a custom-built mat. When we renovated our main bathroom, we used the Nuheat Stand footprint cause it was a smaller foot print that was the same size as a standard mat.

My husband had the idea to have the wall-to-wall custom floating cabinets and I loved the idea. I chose a walnut laminate for the cabinets. I love the mid-tone colour of walnut and I find it adds warmth to the space. The doors and drawers are touch-to-open for a clean, minimalist look. The upper cabinet offers additional storage for toiletries.

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights in bathroom renovation story

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights below

Underneath the floating cabinet is a motion sensor light, with an optional colour changing feature which is useful as a night light or for ambient lighting when using the shower.

The white quartz countertop with a rectangular under mount sink and single lever faucet add to the minimalist style of this spa-like bathroom.

Dornbract single lever faucet, undermount sink

Single lever Dornbracht faucet

As a supplement to the recessed ceiling lights, the mirror mounted linear lights from Sonneman frame the single under mount sink, allowing the light to land where it is needed most. Luxe chrome bathroom fixtures add sparkle and functional style.

Bathroom renovation: Modern lights mounted on mirror

Contemporary linear lights mounted on the mirror

Bathroom renovation by Urban Aesthetics

And a final detail worth noting is that a pocket door now separates the ensuite from the master walk-in closet.

space saving pocket door in bathroom renovation

New pocket door. A great space saving feature.

My favourite features of this bathroom renovation are the curbless walk-in shower and how bright this room feels, even though it is a narrow space.

Have you renovated your out-dated bathroom? What was your best cost-saving purchase?

If you are struggling with selecting materials and products for your bathroom renovation, book a consult with a professional who can give you tips and ideas that could save you time and money.

 

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Hire a professional to help you deal with an unexpected mishap in your home

There’s no such thing as a good time for a burst pipe or any other unexpected disastrous mishap in your home, but when you hire a professional decorator to help and assist in the recovery process, you can save time and stress! Let me give you an example:

Recently, a long-time client of mine woke up to flooding caused by a burst water pipe in an upstairs guest room. Although much of the damage was confined to the guest room, water also flooded into the rooms below, affecting family room, living room, dining room and kitchen.

Before_during

Family Room before and during the restoration process

I have worked with this client since 2005, assisting her to choose paint colours for her whole home, and select and purchase custom furniture, window treatments, light fixtures and other décor accents. Our professional relationship proved very useful during this stressful event.

Below is the redecorated family room with new silver drapery hardware from JF Fabrics, drapery panels made with fabric from Maxwell Fabrics, and new wall colour from Benjamin Moore Paints CSP 830 Peaceful Garden.

Drapery panels on FR windows

Drapery panels and window bench cushion after renovation. Photo by Tracey Ayton Photography

Insurance and restoration companies often aren’t staffed with decorators who are experts in design, fabric, paint, and how to oversee the making of custom pieces that reflect a homeowner’s style. My client suggested to her restoration company that they bring me on board because she knew I could make sure that the items that needed to be replaced would be of the same quality as those we had originally installed. She also knew I had her information on hand, had her style in mind, and could supply the original purchase paperwork to make this process faster and smoother.

For example, years earlier we had chosen a beautiful light fixture with a lovely amber shade, and my client wanted to replace it when it was ruined in the flood. I still had the product code and contacted the light company to reorder the same style and the same colour. The salesperson confirmed the product via catalog photo and model number. I was assured the same fixture was on its way.

However, after almost six weeks of waiting, the fixture arrived and the “amber” shade was actually a reddish colour! Also, the size of the crystals was different (see photo below – original crystals on the right). The numbers matched, but the product had been revised and the original amber colour was no longer available.

chandelier mismatch crystals

I handled the situation by returning the fixture and taking my client shopping to find a new light that she loves.

Chandelier

 

Situations such as the light fixture can be hard to for a homeowner to handle on their own. It can be difficult and stressful to deal with wholesale companies or manufacturers when something goes wrong. I can handle the stress and deal with the bumps in the road for the homeowner.

I have professional relationships with furniture and design companies and their salespeople. I’ll visit the workrooms, check on the fabric, re-order and re-do things on behalf of my client. I can help speed the restoration and redecoration process so that a client isn’t living with dust and grime for what can feel like forever. It comes down to having a history of experience with my clients and connections in the decorating business that representatives from a restoration or insurance company just won’t have.

Working with the same professional decorator over time also assures that when something is redesigned, due to a change in preference or an unexpected problem such as a burst pipe, it’s easy to keep elements of the previous design and refresh other parts, such as paint colours or window treatments, to update a room. We were able to do that in the guest bedroom. Originally the walls were yellow and had no drapery panels. Now the walls are BM AF 515 Exhale (ironic don’t you think?) and match the drapery panels that were moved there from the master bedroom.

Drapery by UA1

When designs are classic and true to the style of the home, updating here and there is much simpler. And it’s exciting for me as a decorator to see how a client’s style can change over time.

If mishap does happen, be sure you know your insurance contacts, and consider hiring a professional like myself to save you time and stress in the recovery period.

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2015, and may all your renovations be planned!

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Getting Ready to Enjoy your Outdoor Living Space

Each year it seems that outdoor patio furniture is becoming more and more functional and better looking. The styles are so vast, ranging from cast iron-looking aluminum dining sets, to weathered wood-looking metal tables, to woven wicker (plastic) sectionals, to colourful plastic molded stackable chairs.

Here is a small selection of furniture that outdoor entertainers, loungers and diners can be enjoying this summer in their outdoor living space:

PVC wicker lounge set with Sunbrella fabric – Villa Cabana.

outdoor living space ideas pvc furniture

 

This curved love seat with a ledge for books or an umbrella drink is the perfect furniture piece for any patio. The PVC wicker is lightweight and durable. But really when you’re curled up and engrossed in your summer novel, those two details are the last things on your mind.

 

 

Steel frame dining set with all-weather Olefin fabric.

Gluckstein dining set - Tudor

Gluckstein dining set – Tudor

This type of dining set is easy to maintain and will not get blown over in sudden summer wind storm. The neutral colour of the seat cushions is the perfect backdrop for any touches of colour in your accent pillows, table accessories or flowers from your garden.

Aluminium and faux wood 

CB2

 

CB2

Funky plastic stackable chairs like these from the Italian furniture company Calligaris. Of course this may not be everyone’s style of outdoor furniture, but for those of you who love a modern chair, you certainly do not have to compromise here. Both of these chairs come in bright colours (the new fashion trend right now) such as fuchsia, green, red, orange and white.

Area 51 Chair by Calligaris

Area 51 Chair by Calligaris

Hero chair by Calligaris

Hero chair by Calligaris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as a decorator, I would be remiss not to point out a few outdoor accessories to complement your new furniture.

1) Stylish accessories. Entertaining is a big part of our time outdoors during the warmer months. So not only do we need to have comfortable seating, but we also want functional, stylish accessories like these colour dishes from Brian Gluckstein that can be found at The Bay, Pier1 Imports and Pottery Barn. Colour is the new trend for outdoor dinnerware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pottery Barn outdoor dishes

Pottery Barn

2) Outdoor area carpets. You can have style and function when it comes to outdoor carpets. Most of these carpets can easily be hosed off and hung over the fence to dry.

Surya outdoor carpets

Surya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Umbrellas. This cheerful red two-tiered umbrella is from Pier1 Imports. It’s a great way to add colour to your patio.

Pier 1 umbrella

This modern parasol is the perfect sun shade but even in the evening, it can give you shelter from the elements while giving you overhead lighting.

Kosmos Parasol from Living Space

Kosmos Parasol from Living Space

 

4) Ambient Lighting. Real and flame-less candles encased in any of these pretty candelabras will cast a beautiful light to an evening outdoor party .

Gluckstein Lanterns

Oil Lamp from Inform Interiors

 

I just love these LED light planters. They add ambient light with style and function. You can use them as a planter or as a cooler for your summertime drinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right now retailers and wholesalers are promoting their outdoor furniture, and its a good time to start thinking about the kind of furniture you might enjoy so you’ll be able to purchase it before they are sold out.

What will you be sitting on when you are spending time in your outdoor area?

If you would like help styling your outdoor space, click here to send me an email.

 

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How to make the best first impression of your home. Part 1

2. Put down a new front door mat.

Whether you prefer functional or whimsical, refresh your entry with a colourful, humourous or just a plain new doormat that makes you smile when you get to your door.

3. Brighten up your entryway with a new light.

There is a good selection of affordable outdoor light fixtures in various styles.  Choose a fixture that matches the architectural style of your home.  Some lights are motion sensitive, while others can be put on dimmers, allowing you to control the mood lighting so you can enjoy your front porch at night without feeling like you are in a spot light.

Restoration Hardware

 

4. Seasonal plants in a stylish planter.

If you are not a green thumb kind of person, you can purchase beautiful premade planters and hanging baskets at your local garden centre or grocery store. For those who love playing in the dirt, get creative with your planters and recycle unused items such as old watering cans or teapots.

5. Match all your front facing window coverings.

This is one decorating must-do to make your home look put together from the curb. When all your windows are dressed the same, your home will look uniform.

 

Nantucket entry

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