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.

Best exterior paint colour and Benjamin Moore Room Visualizer

Somewhere along the line in the 120 year history of our house, someone thought it was a good idea to paint the exterior brick a terracotta/orange colour. I tell myself that they were trying to match the original brick and that's why they picked it, because I can't figure out why they would have chosen such a colour for the exterior of the house. Why paint the brick in the first place? Let this be a lesson to all readers - think long and hard before you decide to paint over your brick. Once you do, it's tough to go back. Focus on trim work instead.

The previous owners painted out the trim, and I think they did a nice job choosing a colour to coordinate with the brick. They opted of a shade of ochre and it worked, but it wasn't my fave. 

After many discussions about when we would get around to painting (should have done it before the babies started coming...oops!), we decided to go for it this year. 

I relied on the Benjamin Moore Room Visualizer to choose colours for the brick, trim and door. Have you used it? It's pretty great. It allows you to customize different paint colours for different walls or surfaces. In my case, I was able to play with a different colour for the brick, trim, porch and door.

We still have more touch ups to do so I'll wait to show you the finished product, but here are a few of the versions I played with. I'm curious, what's your favourite? Any guesses as to what we went with? 

DIY Sputnik pendant (ikea hack!)

I'm a big fan of Jenny Komenda's at Little Green Notebook. I'm pretty sure anyone who reads design blogs is familiar with her. She has a great design sense and the most amazing ability to create DIY's that are both easy and beautiful. I have been known to copy a few of them at our house (see here)!

We had a big box store fixture hanging over our dining room table that came with the house when we bought it 5 years ago, and it was fine, but nothing special. I didn't want to spend much on a new one so a DIY seemed like a good idea. Jenny created a Sputnik fixture that I thought brought just the right amount of modern for my living/dining room.

The best part? It's an Ikea Hack using the Ikea PS Maskros fixture. We opted for the smaller size for our dining room, and while it doesn't cast a lot of light, it gets a lot of attention! We find the amount of light is fine for our size space, and we usually have lamps on in other parts of the living room/dining room so it hasn't proven to be a problem, but we'll see what I say when it's dark at 5pm in January.

Cam and I made this together in one evening. The longest part is waiting for the spray paint to dry. This is one of those projects that comes together easily and quickly. I highly recommend it. Jenny hung a large one in her office, but I also think this would look great in a bedroom or an entry if your ceilings are high enough.

What do you think?

If you want to learn how to make your own, click here.

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