Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Decoration Home Tour [ Halfway through ;o) ]

So It's now Saturday morning and I'm grabbing a quick 10 mins to do a blog post to let you all know how it's going.

I confess it was an enormous amount of work, and my friend Ali who owns Daduza, which you can read all about here who was going to help me some was rushed into hospital on Tuesday.
But she and the baby are fine !! so that's fantasic news, and her mum helped hugely by loaning me some lovely things from the store, which everybody loved.
I must say the shower curtain which I borrowed to warm up the downstairs loo looks so beautiful that I don't think it will be going back.

I thought when I was in the store that the colours would be good.. but they are perfect.. and everyone that's seen it has said..  'oh that HAS to stay'..
The towels she loaned me for the laundry look lovely too... and they're bamboo.. which is just sooooo soft and of course very enviromentally friendly..
Plus those soft greens and blues are absolutely my favourite colours at the moment.. so I might well be buying those too. ;o)

My wonderful husband even made cookies... which have gone down a bomb I must say..

Everyone yesterday was so nice.. and lots of them wanted info on aspects of our decor and the contractors we used..
So it sounds like there will be some nice feed back and maybe even some jobs for those guys too..

OK.. so I'm running out of time because the next tour starts in 10 mins, and it's throwing it down today so I'm going to run and get towels so people can wipe their feet..
I'll be taking more photo's of the other houses on the tour over the next couple of days so there's lots more to come.. plus of course I'll do a couple of posts on my house..

Have a great weekend all... more soon

Jo xx

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Decoration House Tour.. A look back

Well yesterday.. for the first time this year we actually woke up to snow.
I've lived in BC now for almost 10 years and this is by far the earliest that we have ever had snow.. in fact last year we got a dump of the fluffy stuff on Nov 30th and that was the earliest ever, so we beat that by almost 2 weeks.
Does make for a Christmassy mood though which is just as well since the Christmas House Tour is just next weekend.

Everyone loves Christmas decorations don't they ?? add that to our natural desire to have a look round other peoples houses and you have a recipe for a great fund raising opportunity.
Each year, in my home town, local charity Anderton Therapeutic Gardens organises just such an event.
In short 5 local home owners offer to have their homes Christmas decorated by 5 designers and then tickets are sold for a tour of those homes... and they sell like hot cakes.. let me tell you.
The people who follow my blog already know that this year I am taking part by offering up both my home and my services as decorator... and over the course of this week I'll try to do a post or two to show you how it's going.

One thing that did get done today is that my lovely hubby had a chance to put the outside lights up..

Blurry but you get the idea.
Inside I've had to wait for the painter to finish but he did today so over the weekend I shall pull all my bits and pieces out and have a sort through to see if I need to supplement my own decorations with a few new bits and pieces.  
Now.. having attended every one of these tours since they began 5 years ago, I was delighted last year for the first time to take part as a volunteer, helping to marshall happy visitors round one the the homes involved...
I was also lucky enough to be allowed to take some photographs of 3 of the homes... and one of them I have already posted about and you can see that house here.

So with only a week now to go before the 2011 event.. I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back at another of the homes that featured on the 2010 Charity Christmas House Tour.

I have to say that this was my personal favourite of the 5 homes on last years tour..  the house had a warmth and charm that many much grander homes sometimes lack.

This is the home of Karen and Andy and it's located in the heritage soaked village of Cumberland... about 3 miles inland from where we are on the coast. The village features some of the oldest homes in the area, since it was built in part to hosue the immigrant workers who came to Vancouver Island in the Victorian era to help build the railway.

Sorry 'bout the reproduction quality, but you get the idea.
Despite its rustic appearence the home is virtually brand new.
Karen told me the story of how she and her partner bought the home as a half built shell when the bank repossessed it from it's original owner in 2006.

There was no roof and the inside had no rooms, yet undaunted Karen and Andy [mostly Karen] finished the home off themselves despite having little building expertise or experience.

The kitchen opens into a large open plane living space.
So inspite of having a full time job at a local hotel Karen installed drywall and insulation, painted walls, worked on the plumbing and laid hardwood floors. She even helped install the roof.
Aside from the kitchen which they decided to have professionally finished, virtually everything else has had Karen or Andy's hands on it at some point.

Not that you would ever guess that the builders of this lovely home were anything other than seasoned pros. The finishes are beautiful and the details are extraordinary.... and Karen was largely responsible for the Christmas decor too..

Coming in through the front door I was greeted by an adorable model village meandering up the stairs like cottages creeping up an alpine slope.

The handrail was decked out with an impressive lit garland.
Rich blonde floors give an immediate warmth to the space.... with the entrance leading past the stairs into an impressive open living room.

The overall colour theme of the holiday decorations was red, white and green.. which are of course the traditional Christmas colours, but there was a freshness and lightness of touch... and it didn't feel in anyway, old fashioned.

The living room is dominated by a huge floor to ceiling stone and rock clad fireplace, with a wood burning insert in the grate... and the fabulous 7 ft tree at it's side.

More green white and red, but not stuffy.
The lounge leads through into the dining room, which was the one area of the home where Karen got some help with the decor.. a local floral artist helping with table arrangements and the greens for the chandelier, and the chair backs.

But the table was all hers and I thought it was gorgeous..
Just perfect for a huge family feast, it featured a sunny burst of bright yellow crockery, gold and red linens and cranberry glass dessert bowls..
It looked good enough to eat, and I am definitely going to take some inspiration from this for my own tables this year.

Beyond the dining room the rich mahogany [professionally installed ;o) ] kitchen is very much in keeping with the Arts and Crafts feel of the home's interior... but with all mod cons... including a huge mudroom off to the left complete with washer and dryer.

Do a 180* and you'll see the master suite..

Keren really had thought of everything, decorating their large comfortable bedroom with simple votives on the window cill, and red and white linens which gave a nod to the season without being cliched.
No Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer bedpsread in here. ;o)

She'd even put some festive red towels in the lovely Victorian inspired en suite.. perhaps my favourite room in the house... but then I'm a sucker for a claw foot tub and a bit of tongue and groove in a bathroom ;o).

Even the summer house got the Christmas treatment..

So there you have it.. a warm, rich, comfortable home with no pretentions to be anything other than what it is.
I hope mine turns out half as well next weekend.

Jo xx

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kitchen Reno [ Part 2 of MANY !! ] ;o)

Yesterday I started to fill you in on the second stage of our kitchen renovation, and today you get to see the tiles and worktops.

The existing worktops when we moved into the house were PINK !! and not just a pinky tone mixed into something else.. no full out Dusty Rose PINK !

Here's a photo of the original kitchen in all it's orange, pink and green glory. Yuck !

See !! I said it was pink.
This photo also shows the original kitchen island.. you can just see it in the bottom left hand corner.
It had a tiled counter, which believe it or not also had a pink undertone to it. Another of the reasons why we chose to switch it out for Bill's beloved Teak jobbie.

You can also see clearly the way they typically finish counters in this part of Canada .. which is to wrap the counter surface up the wall about 3 inches..
Once the Quartz goes in though it will look like traditional British counter with no extra back bit.

You can see that there are NO tiles between the worktops and the underside of the cupboards either... and of course that will change now too.
Butternut Rum laminate.

So obviously the first thing that had to go was the pink and as I mentioned yesterday I replaced it with a laminate called Butternut Rum..

I have to say it has been incredibly servicable, and was a great colour for hiding the dirt.. which as my sister will tell you is an impt factor in many design choices. Just kidding..  ;o)

Being a laminate it was also inexpensive, and since we chose a shiny finish.. which was newly available back then, several people who've been to the house even thought it was granite... 'Til they got up close.. ;o)

We used a local company called Colonial, who specialise just in worktops.  They have 5 or 6 branches on the Island and the BC Interior, and their service was super so I'm going there again.
All the local builders use them, and I remember when I was looking the first time I went to a local Kitchen company to see what they had to offer and the chap said to me.. 'you might as well go to Colonial direct, because if you order counters from me I'll just go to them to buy them'. What a nice man ;o)

I've picked a Quartz rather than a Granite because; it's harder wearing, I liked the colour choices better AND it's cheaper... so result !!
Cambria, the company that makes the range we chose from, call all their options after British place names.. but I didn't let that sway me.. Honest !!

Cardiff Cream... too yellow !!

We looked at several options, and brought 3 samples home. [ To see photos of all the samples I looked at, click on this link ]

The first choice 'Cardiff Cream' we dismissed straight away because it was too yellow.

The original idea being to use white subway tiles with a stripe of glass mosaic tiles through it.. so the tiles made the 'Cardiff Cream' look dirty.

One the pieces called Brecon Brown, was very similar to the Butternut Rum..  and in fact both Bill my hubby..  and Bill my builder..  liked this one best.
Of course they are both colour blind.. but that really didn't affect my decision. ;o)
I was tempted to go this route because the floor and the teak island naturally have the same warm brown tones, because the laminate was chosen to compliment them.. so it would have been the sensible safe option.

The final choice, Newcastle, has an off white base with flecks of chocolate, smoke, black, cream and mocha colours in it.
It was my favourite sample almost from the start.. but I was still drawn to the safer Brecon Brown, if only because we already knew that the colours and tones in it worked with the kitchen..

So what did I choose ??

Drum roll please ;o)

Yes.. no surprise really I picked the New Castle.. actually this photo makes it look more yellow than it is.. hang on I'll get a better one..

There that's better...

I went for this in the end because: 
1. the contrast between the Brecon Brown and the white subway tiles was a bit too sharp for my liking, and
2. because our kitchen faces north west and is surrounded by 100 ft pine trees so it can be quite dark.
I think the lighter counters will help to lift the light level in the room.. Hope it does anyway.

So having picked this we took the other samples back and set about trying to find a glass mosaic for the stripe through the subway tiles.

Lots of tiles sheets were bought.. and lots were returned.  Sigh !!
Some worked beautifully with the tile..
Some worked beautifully with the worktop.. but nothing worked with both.
We did have a stand out favourite.. but it didn't work with the subway tile..
Mostly because in some places.. like behind the sink for instance.. there is so little backsplash ['cos of the window] that there wasn't enough room to fit a stripe.

Then hubby had a brainwave.. Yes !! it does happen !!
Scrap the subway tile and have all glass.. so that's exactly what we're going to do..
and here's the tile..

It's got a mix of watery blue and green glass tiles, and a tumbled marble that matches the tone of the base colour in the counter exactly..

The light from the undercabinet halogen spots make them glitter like jewellery.

I LOVE them !!!

So I've ordered the counters, which will be about 6 weeks, what with Christmas etc... and that suits me 'cos Bill the contractor's tied up 'til Jan anyway.
The tiles are a stock item at Home Depot so I'm going to wait to buy them because about once every 3 months HD has a tile sale.. and I might get a bargain..

I've hired a painter [ a guy Bill Larson uses ] to repaint the walls in the kitchen and breakfast nook, plus the ceiling in the kitchen, nook and family room.
I normally do all my own painting but the idea of 'cutting in' the walls to the ceiling above the cabinets was more than I could stand, so I'm going to pay a pro to do it.. and then if it's no good I have someone to shout at.
He's coming in the morning actually..
At least that way the walls will be tidy for the Christmas House Tour which is rushing towards me.. more on that tomorrow.

And there you have it.. still not fully decided on the sink.. but I'll decide over the weekend.

Have to go take all the breakables off the shelves before the painter comes..
See you all tomorrow

Jo xx

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kitchen Renovations [AGAIN !!]

When we first moved into our house the kitchen was VERY typical for the age of the house [1990] and the area we live in.
Oak cabinets, pink.. yes PINK worktops, shiny lino, and a mish mash of second hand appliances that came with the house. [That happens quite commonly here.]

I did a fairly major reno over the course of the first couple of years we lived here, new floors, new appliances, new island, painted the units, light fixtures etc etc.
I will show you all of this I promise in a series of posts in the new year.. there's an awful lot to see.

It was clean and big, but needed to be introduced to the 21st century.
But for now I'm in the process of doing the second [and final I bloody hope] phase of the renovation... which involves tiling the backsplash and putting in quartz counter tops.

Now we've already changed the wortops once, as part of the original update, but at the time I chose a laminate called 'Butter-nut Rum'.
It was a cost thing really.. I needed to change the counters in all 3 bathrooms too [YES they WERE also PINK !!] and what with all the other expenses something had to go..
Plus my other half fell in love with a free standing kitchen island made from 450lbs of reclaimed Indonesian teak.. and it cost the same as the granite... so it was an either/or thing.

Took five guys to get her into the house..
I loved the island too.. plus to be honest I'm not all that prescious about granite counters.. so it wasn't that hard a decision.
Now though, 7 years after we did the initial reno, and with an eye on maintaining the value of the house we've decided that we should just do this last thing to really push the kitchen from nice to spectacular.

It was really the great job that our contractor Bill Larson did on the family bathroom that convinced me that it would be worth doing.. I have absolute confidence in Bill and that made the decision to spend the extra money on the kichen a much easier one to make.
I can't stress how important it is to have a builder you can trust before you commit to renovations this expensive, if only to relieve the stress of it all.
When you know it's going to look great, it feels more like an investment and a little less like just spending money ;o)

So I've spent the last 6 weeks looking at granite options and tiles... plus I'm going to invest in an under mount sink and a new tap.

The current ones were also new when we first did the kitchen.. I do love our tap actually, but it's very traditional, almost Victorian, and I fancy something sleeker.
It came from a Home Depot bargain bin, and only cost about $60 [30 quid] so it was cheap as chips..

The sink wasn't much more and I'm donating them to Habitat for Humanity, so I don't feel bad about swapping them out so soon.

Initially I thought I wanted another tap of a similar style and I found this one at Home Depot --->>

It's a total bargain @ $129 but it's brushed nickel rather than stainless so it won't match the sink or the appliances.

Then today I was looking at sinks, and I have a couple of favourites.. both of which would work better with a crisper more modern line, so I think I'm settled on this tap from Delta's Tommy Collection..

It's hardly expensive @ $250 and it's a very nice quality so I think this is the way to go.

They only had a photo of the chrome version.. but it comes in stainless so I've ordered that.

OK.. so now the sinks..
I thought about a Butler [or Belfast] sink, but frankly they were a fortune.. even in just stainless steel I was looking at $2000 PLUS. Buggar that for a game of soldiers. ;o)
So back to a traditional double sink.

I've narrowed it down to two, so now it's a toss up....

1st this one from a company called Elkay, who do very high end sinks for builders.
They have a special deal with Home Depot though, so I can get this commercial looking one with deep straight sides for $399..

Not sure if the sharp corners will be dirt traps, but LOVE the look.

Or this chappie from Kindred.. which is a brand made by Franke, who any plumber will tell you make the best sinks in the world.

Seems these people went with a traditional tap, but the colours don't work do they.
It's a softer rounder look, which may well be easier to keep clean and there's not that much difference in the cost.. it's about $120 more than the Elkay.

I really haven't decided yet, so I'm going to sleep on it, and tomorrow I'll show you the new granite and the tiles we've chosen, and maybe share my decision on the sink..
If I've made it that is ;o)

Jo xx

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Yes.. yes.. I know.. where the hell have I been you say ??
Nowhere interesting I assure you ;o) But I'm back now and raring to go.
I have also been getting on with things in the house so I have lots of stuff to show you guys.

I've also been invited by the Anderton Theraputic Garden Society to take part in their Christmas House Tour this year.. both as a Home Owner AND as a Decorator. Read this post from last year and you'll see what it's all about.

A fat happy Snowman from my personal collection.
This year the event takes place on November 25th and 26th, with all the proceeds going to support the Society's work. I'm getting quite excited to be honest, although now and again I catch myself wondering what on earth I've gotten myself into. ;o)
Over the next 2 weeks I'll post about the 2 homes from last year that I took photographs of but never had a chance to blog about.. and keep you up to date with my progress on the decorations here.

I also want to fill you all in on what exactly has been going on with the house in general.. and will finally post some AFTER photos of some of the projects that you've seen the BEFORE photos of. I promise I won't keep you all waiting so long again.

One of the really big redecorating jobs we've done this year is in our family bathroom.
Here's just a little teaser.. but as you can see, this was more than just a spit and polish..
Where did the bathroom go ??

I love a bath.. it's the only time I ever can relax enough to just read a book.
Unfortunately as you will see from the before photos our bath was the size of Australia.
You think I'm joking ?? well think on.
It took 20 mins to fill it, used a whole tank of hot water, and then when I got in, my feet
couldn't reach the end without my whole body being submerged..
Not very condusive to reading since the book always got wet. As a result I never used it and that's such a waste, so after an initial makeover when we first moved in I bit the bullitt and
went the whole hog.
You'll see the results over the coming weeks.

We've found a wonderful local contractor called Bill Larson who's been working with me..
I'll tell you the story of how I found him.
He's done 3 jobs for us already and when he's finished basically building a house for his current client he's coming back to do our en-suite, tile and paint the kitchen and panel the hall.

So lots more to come, now my motivation is back.. with features on more of my favourite stores, hints and tips on how I make my decorating pounds/dollars stretch farther, and before and afters on the kitchen, the study, well pretty much every room in the house really.
Here's another teaser for you.. this is what the study looked like before we moved in..

Oh my God.. just look at the colour of that window frame !!
That's not our furniture I hasten to add.. it belonged to the previous owners. Although to be fair to them, the decor belonged to the owner before that. It looks very different today.. thank heavens. ;o)
So I hope I've whetted your appetite, and you'll come back tomorrow to see what's next.
Off to bed now.

Jo xx