Finding art in unexpected places

Over the holidays we went to visit my Dad and stepmom in Prince Edward County - a beautiful part of the province on Lake Ontario which is becoming increasingly famous for its wineries and artistic community. I went out with him one afternoon to get maple syrup from one of the local farms and we stopped into a variety store in town. The owner of the store had found a bunch of paintings in her basement from the previous owners of the house, and she had them for sale in the shop. I saw this beauty hidden behind a box of chocolate bars.
I love all the colours that the artist used. The whole thing feels very Canadian to me. Maybe it's the snow! Ha!

Goes to show you that you never know when you're going to spot a gem. This painting makes me so happy every time I see it. I wish I knew where this was done. I've tried searching the artist but no luck so far.

Tell me, what's the strangest place you've ever found a special piece of art or trinket that you absolutely love?

Bold wallpaper from Ellie Cashman Designs

I have been so fortunate this fall having been able to work with some fantastic clients and designing some pretty great spaces (if I do say so myself), but sadly blogging has had to take a back seat. I can't wait to share pics of what I've been working on when they're finished.

I have one client that wanted help with her main floor - living room, dining room, and family room/great room areas. She lives with her husband and three young daughters in a lovely newer home in mid-town Toronto. The house has an open-concept living room and dining room immediately upon entry to the house, and in the back there is a large, gorgeous kitchen, a family room and eating area.

I think many families are moving further and further away from the traditional living room/dining rooms of the past and instead are choosing open spaces that allow all the living to happen in one area. I like the casualness to this mentality, and admit that it's how I live in my own home, but for those clients that do have the formal areas in their homes it's a great place to have some fun and do something a little 'out-of-the-box'. These rooms don't get used as much so when there are young kids in the house, it's a good spot to put your more precious furniture and accessories.

This particular client of mine was all for going bold in her living room and dining room and I was so excited when she wanted to go ahead with a gorgeous (but not subtle) wallpaper from Ellie Cashman. Have you heard of her? She's an American living in the Netherlands and she designs spectacular wallpapers and cushions. The image below is the print we used in the dining room on a small wall that you see immediately upon entering the house. Gorgeous! Even the paper installer was smitten!

If you're interested in making a bold statement somewhere in your house, I highly recommend her designs. It's printed to order so installation is incredibly simple and you get exactly the amount you need without having to worry about pattern repeats, etc. All the work is done for you. I was so impressed by how quickly we received it and how easy it was to install. But mostly I'm just so in love with how it looks and the impact it has.

I will post pictures of the house as soon as I get organized and have them taken, but in the meantime I wanted to share this! Here are a few of the other patterns. Tell me, would you go this bold in your house? What room would you put it in?

Simplifying at home and the appeal of the tiny house

Have you guys heard of Tiny Houses and the Tiny House Movement? We recently watched this documentary, and I can't stop thinking of the freedom that living in a small space would bring. I would find the idea of living in 100 to 400 square feet TOTAL quite terrifying, but every evening I stress out about all the tidying of 'stuff' I have to do. Sometimes I think most of my time is spent cleaning or tidying my house and I can think of a million things I would rather be doing. The idea of simplified living would mean not being a slave to 'stuff'.

People seem interested in this movement for three reasons: environmental, financial, and time management. For me, learning about how these people live has inspired me to do a thorough purge of our belongings. If they aren't useful, functional or beautiful, they're gone to charity or recycling. I may not be ready for a Tiny House, but the idea of simplified living has me swooning. What do you think about these homes? Could you ever downsize your life to fit into one?

This house has incredible views and at 300 square feet is on the larger size for a tiny house.

This 196 square foot house is home to three people and a Great Dane!

This home  in California houses 2 people and a dog. It cost $30,000 to design and build.

This lovely home in Washington State provides 400 square feet of living space. Palatial in the tiny house movement!

This private house in Northern California has no electricity or hot water. It is completely self-sufficient.

What do you think about these homes? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Creating a gallery wall to disguise your tv

Let's face it, televisions are ugly. They're getting better, but they're still just big black boxes that are getting bigger and bigger all the time. The good news is that they are getting to be so slim that they don't require giant cabinets to house them, and better still, they're often wall-mountable.

Do you ever wonder how to integrate your TV into your living space without it being the focal point? I personally like a gallery wall just about anywhere, but when it helps disguise a TV, even better! I've rounded up a few images to help give you some idea of what I mean.

Images: one/two/three/four/five/ six

A quick, easy and budget-friendly bedroom makeover for a little girl

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and photographer-extraordinaire Emily asked me to help her revamp her daughter Georgia's room. She takes beautiful photos of kids, and she had one in particular of her little girl that she had blown up onto a 3' x 4' canvas that we thought would make a great statement in the room.

 The execution of this project was done quickly - like in 3 hours quickly - and the transformation was so great. And little Georgia was pleased too! Best part, all the furnishings and accessories for the whole room was less than $200 (excluding the photo).

I think there is a feeling of intimidation when it comes to hiring a designer. Sure, it's more of a luxury purchase, but it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. The more thought that a homeowner can give to the look they're after before meeting with a designer, the better. This is particularly true for kids' rooms because you don't need high-end furniture and accessories to make them happy. A child's room makeover is a great opportunity to play with inexpensive fabrics in bright bold patterns, and experiment with DIYs. Trust me, children are so happy to have all the attention on their own personal space that they aren't going to scrutinize every detail.

I asked Emily to 'shop her house' before I came over for things like art that was tucked away, empty frames, lamps, cushions and fabrics. I did some shopping in advance at three of my favourite go-to's for budget furniture and accessories: Ikea (of course), Target and Homesense. Together, Emily and I were able to pull a good amount of stuff together.  Have a look at the photos to see the transformation.

Here are a few shots of the room before we started and of us gathering our materials.

Building a gallery wall shouldn't seem intimidating. Just lay out the frames before hand on a bed or the floor to make sure you have the right balance and overall size. 

Doesn't the large print of Georgia make the most amazing statement! She loves looking at it and the colours set the tone for the whole room. If you want more great family photo inspiration, definitely check out Emily's site. She has lots of great ideas.

Tinker Bell stays.

What do you think? Do you have a space in your house that could use a quick, inexpensive makeover?  I'd love to hear about it.

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