Art Under $100

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I had almost forgotten about the series I started way back when-Art Under $100-where I give you sources and ideas to fill your blank walls for under a hundred bucks (hence the title). After we switched up the office and master bedroom the art arrangement I had up just didn't fit with the calm and neutral vibe I knew we needed to sell the house. 

So I set out to use some of my own advice and create new artwork for the space for under $100. This is an easy D.I.Y that you can finish in a few hours (with drying time). I went out and bought two of my stand-by large format Ikea RIBBA frames. At $25, I'm fairly certain it's impossible to find a cheaper super large frame. While it's obviously not museum quality, it's a good fix for those of us not able to pay upwards of $500 to get things professionally framed. Once I had those, I grabbed two sheets of thick watercolour paper from the craft store. I love the raw edges of this paper and it stands up well to paint without warping. I can't remember how much these were but definitely under $30. I bought a paper size just larger then the opening for the pre-cut mat that comes with the frames. At home I used some of the left over wall colour as well as two other complimentary colours- all in a soothing ocean inspired palette. Using the wall colour in the painting is a sure way to tie it into the room. 

I'm going to pause here for a second because the artist in me cringes that I just wrote/did that. I'm not advocating that all your art should be made/bought to solely match a room/couch/rug because that would be boring. Art should be a creative expression and stand alone....BUT...sometimes you just need something to match/sell your house and I'm gonna just call this decor. At least you didn't go buy the frame and the poster at Ikea. [End rant]

I diluted all the paint by about 50% and then used a dry (slightly crusty) brush to dip in the paint and drag along the paper to create visible brush marks.

Once they were dry, I used a double-sided foam mounting tape to secure the paper on top of the matting that came with the frame. 

And VOILA! You now have two original 'decor items' that are framed in a modern way. They look expensive but cost you under $100. Hang up and sit back and enjoy! I'm going to pretend that these framed paintings are what sold my house.

A Trip to...Ireland (part two)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


In case you missed part one you can check it out HERE and since it was sooooooo long ago that I wrote part one, even if you did read it you may want a little refresher. My instagram is telling me that we went to Ireland 11 weeks ago, so bear with me if the details are a little less than fresh. In part one I took you along on our travels to Dublin and Kilkenny with the help of a million pictures of rolling green hills, a few sheep and a few drinks. Let's pick up where we left off and I'll show you the rest of our trip to see the Rock of Cashel, Killarney, Valentia Island, Waterford & Wexford and the Hook Peninsula.

From our home away from home (our beautiful guest cottage) in Urlingford we made day trips to all these locations. The only exception was our overnight stay on Valentia Island. It was "grand" to come back to our own space with a kitchenette and a lit wood stove (our friend's parent's are the best)!  First up, the Rock of Cashel:

Our next stop was Killarney National Park. The highlight for me was seeing Muckross HouseThis nineteenth century Victorian mansion is like being transported back in time, complete with original furniture and decor and the grounds of the house are absolutely stunning -right on the shores of Muckross Lake. Here's a little history lesson I got on our guided tour (via):

Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was responsible for its design. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843.      
Originally it was intended that Muckross House should be a larger, more ornate, structure. The plans for a bigger servants' wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house, are believed to have been altered at Mary's request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. 

The significance of the history lies in the amount of respect that was given to Queen Victoria. Despite her stay of only a few days, major renovations took place and were a burden on the owners even amidst their wealth. The Queen’s visit in 1861 is only one of four visits to Ireland, but it seems that each visit to Ireland was quite warm and welcome despite the animosity occurring between English and Irish. Lastly, the preservation of the estate displays historically how such wealthy people lived and the contrite contrast between the wealthy and poor, which we still see today. One should be reminded that the home was finished two years prior to the potato famine, which had devastating effects on Ireland, specifically those of the lower class.

We accidentally parked near the horse and carriage station (you can drive around the grounds and park in style) but it made for a lovely walk as we passed the lake, the abbey and then came upon the grand entrance to the house.

After we gathered tonnes of inspiration from the kitchen (okay maybe just me) we strolled around the gardens which very nearly looked fake they were so green.

After touring the Muckross House we continued driving along the coast in a day of perfect sunshine and spectacular views (the oohing and aahing continued). We planned to spend the night on Valentia Island as our friend's parent's had become friends with the owners of a little B&B called Atlantic Villa. This little house was well worth the drive and ferry ride, it was perfectly quaint, had the best bedding, the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in and you got a gourmet breakfast.

Here's a little blurb from their site that is 100% true!

Atlantic Villa is right in the heart of Knightstown yet secluded within its own private organic gardens. Run by Jackie and Brian Morgan, the house itself is a spacious period residence built in 1873, overlooking the sea. The house was built for the cable master at the time of the trans-Atlantic cable that was laid from Valentia Island to Hearts Content, Newfoundland and Canada. Brian & Jackie have put their hearts into renovating this fabulous house and it shows!!

“Our guests tell us that they enjoy the breakfasts made using fresh ingredients from our own organically grown gardens, the homemade jams, breads and muffins. The free range hens (and ducks on the way) provide our eggs. We have bee hives and we  harvested our first crop of honey last year”.

The island is also home to Skellig Michael- A UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a remote hermitage perched on a rock and is one of the most spectacularly situated of all the early medieval Irish monastic sites. Unfortunately it was a day of true Irish rain and climbing the steep rocky terrain was out of the question.

Now I may have this out of order again, but at some point in our trip we also visited the Waterford & Wexford area. Our friend took us on this lovely hike to work up an appetite for fish & chips. 

Below was the Hook Head Lighthouse at Hook Peninsula. We found out that apparently this area is the reason for the saying "By Hook or By Crook". It is claimed that the phrase is derived from a vow to take Waterford by Hook (on the Wexford side of the Waterford Estuary) or by Crook (a village on the Waterford side) made by Oliver Cromwell. Well that solves that one then. We had a bit of tea to ponder this.

We also stopped in to Dunbrody Country House Hotel to have a drink and sit in their gardens.

The bartender told us about Luftus Hall 'The Most Haunted House in Ireland' which is just down the road. It was sadly closed but I would recommend trying to see it as it did look like it lived up to it's name.

I don't want to wrap this up with an image of a haunted house, so here's one more of rolling green hills and a few sheep...

How I'll actually wrap this up is by telling you about our nightmare trip back home, thanks to Aeroplan tickets. Who doesn't love to make a million stops and criss-cross their way through Europe to get home-thanks Aeroplan! The only blessing in disguise was the fact that we stayed overnight in the Goteborg airport in Sweden. Design wise, I now feel like the Swedes can do no wrong. We slept on a couch with pillows, in dimmed light and then had the best breakfast ever. I also could have bought up the entire gift shop. 
So thank you Ireland and thank you Swedish airport, we had an amazing time. Now I'm convinced I want to go and visit Sweden properly and maybe steel some of those airport lights! If you made it this far thanks for following along on my two part recap. Now I can dive into sharing the plans for the new house-stay tuned! 

Goodbye Old House, Hello New House

Friday, August 14, 2015


Well this certainly is not the next installment of our trip to Ireland. Would you believe me if I said it's almost done? Ha, I thought so! At least this time I have a valid excuse and some exciting news in the saga of our never ending house sale.......IT'S SOLD! I'm not angry at you anymore little house. You and your coziness and all of our blood, sweat and tears will be very happy with a new family. Happy with people who appreciate your new kitchen and 'paid more than I should have' light fixtures and black feature wall that nearly killed me while painting on a ladder. Now that I'm not angry at you, I can reminisce about how much we learnt about renovation, about design and about yard work (okay not that one). I thought I'd share my favourite set of before and after photos from our feature in La Presse  since they conveniently put them all together in a grid.



And just in case you aren't sick of the house, here is the full house tour along with some of the stages of the renovation.

My other exciting news is that in the same week we sold our house we also bought a house. That's right, we bought a house in Ottawa! Break out the exclamation points! While I'm slightly sad that I can't earnestly browse the real estate listing anymore (as evidenced by my Real Estate Room Reno series), I am thrilled that we found a house we could agree on. This is often difficult when one person likes beautiful stately old homes and character filled bungalows from the fifties and sixties and one person prefers characterless, soulless boxes from the eighties to present day. It's not to say I wouldn't like a brand new house, it's just the brand new houses I like are usually architecturally interesting, custom designed houses that cost a fortune. The house we compromised on, cause there are always compromises, is from the eighties but it has an interesting open plan design-win for both of us. Now this house does still have some things that are stuck in the eighties,like seashell sinks and kitchen cabinets that while appear to be modern in the photos actually have metal trim that dates them to I'd say at best the early nineties. All of this is workable and I think you'll agree that the bones of this house are good. Here she is in all her eighties glory:

I've obviously already started a secret Pinterest board that I'll share with you once all my plans are in order. Aren't you excited to come along on the ride of renovating this place? This time it will be at a slower pace as we have a few boring major fixes to do-ughhh windows- but boy do I have plans for this place. Glass railings, a hanging pod fireplace, oh and getting rid of that horrible red carpet and the eighties bathrooms and repainting the exterior-I'm thinking black! We are also super excited to be trading in yard work for pool maintenance. I'm going to have a long time to stew this over as we have three months between our closing date and the move in date. Get ready for my plans for every room and maybe I'll finally finish the round-up of our trip to Ireland.

Switching It Up: The Story of Dropping the Mattress into the Dining Room

Thursday, July 16, 2015


A few weekends ago I thought it would be a good time to take a chance on an idea Chad's Mom suggested when she visited a long time ago, which was to turn the office on the main floor into a proper master bedroom.

The main issue potential buyers seemed to have with our house was that the bedrooms and closets were too small. Unless we wanted to add an addition, the rooms and closets weren't going to be getting any bigger. Although the footprint of the office is not much bigger than the master bedroom upstairs, the closet in the office is significantly larger. 

Time for a quick switcheroo!

The office before: I stupidly forgot to save the old real estate pictures we had. We have a new agent who took new photos which obviously happened after we made the switch. The only photos I have are ones that don't show the full room. What you don't see in these before photos is a large wrap around desk and several computer monitors. For me the highlight of the room is the great solid wood built-ins. This is also the only room in the whole house I haven't repainted because I liked the colour (it's hard to like dusty rose).
In order to make this change my poor Dad and Chad had to figure out the logistics of getting our king-size bed back downstairs. If you remember from my moving in blog post here, we managed to do this:

Oh hello ugly carpeted stairs! This time we decided the best way to move it was to simply drop it over from our open hallway (balcony, gangway whatever you call it). There was debate over lowering it slowly with ropes or straps but in the end it was just a "one, two, three, let go" kinda operation. Thankfully nothing was harmed.

Chad and I trapped upstairs the last time we moved the mattress

After some re-arranging and hauling all the office things into the basement, here is the new office space, now our master bedroom:
I was worried that the bed wouldn't fit into the nook in the built-ins but I think it ended up framing the bed quite well. I also quickly whipped up some new artwork for the far wall that went with the lighter, tranquil, more relaxing theme I was going for in this room. I'll write up another post about that because it was a great, cheap way to fill up a wall using coordinating room colours. 

I'm not going to show you the new basement office because it's boring but I will show you our old master now staged as a third bedroom. 

Old Master Bedroom Before:
I will admit that my beloved king-sized bed did not really fit in the room but I think we made the best use of space by placing wall mounted reading lights.

New Third Bedroom After:
This room now has a double bed it in and there is definitely more room to breathe. I've put back in the old side tables and even managed to put my old lamps back in. Since I didn't just have another double bed lying around I rigged one up using storage bins and an air mattress. I also borrowed bedding and pillows from my mom (not throw pillows because Lord knows I have enough of those for two more bedrooms). Here's a picture of the bed underneath:

I had to restrain myself from adding too many layers and colours. Since this is for staging purposes I know a lot of people want things to look simple and clean. 

I'm actually enjoying having the master on the main floor and wonder if I should have done it while I still lived there full-time. What do you think? Do you prefer a main floor master or having all the bedrooms on the same floor? 

Also, just in case you're interested, here is our new listing. Feel free to pass it along to someone looking for a cozy cottage with a main floor master.

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