Three simple ways to refresh your home

The One Room Challenge continues this month, and I’ve been inspired to revisit some of my previous ORC rooms.

I still love all of the spaces that I did through the ORC. But with any space, time can take a toll. Maybe your needs change, things get worn, or you can add something to make the room new again.

Here are my tips on easy ways to freshen up a room.

Clean

The laundry room was my very first One Room Challenge. The black and white colour scheme and shaker cabinets still feel pretty current. The pipe drying rack and towel bar work really well. I love the style and the function of the whole space.

Black and white shaker cabinets with chrome hardware in the laundry room

But there’s some lint gathering on the floor, cobwebs in the corners and detergent drops on the counter. A good cleaning will make the room feel fresh and make me like it even more.

I’ll also be spending some time in the guest room (aka my sewing room 2.0). My original office/craft room was the ORC project, not the guest room where my sewing machine has lived since Ellie arrived. But I need an excuse to motivate me to sort the paperwork that’s been piled on top of the filing cabinet.

Repair

The master bedroom was my second One Room Challenge. The DIY headboard, wallpapered closet doors and repainted dresser have all held up really well. But a few fixes are needed.

Audubon print of a heron in my bedroom

The guide fell off of my nightstand drawer, so now every time I pull out the drawer, it drops and will crash to the floor if I don’t catch it. Hammering the guide back onto the drawer should be a very simple repair.

The second repair comes from not doing things properly the first time. When I hung the Audubon prints on either side of our beds, I skipped adding a picture wire across the back of the frame, and instead simply hung the frame itself from nails tapped into the wall. The picture frames have bent from the weight–it’s not a good look. I’ll be adding wires and rehanging the pictures, and hopefully the frames will return to their rectangular shape.

Also on the list? Rebalancing the washing machine and a paint touch-up in the laundry room,

Tweak

Sometimes after living with a space–even one you love–for awhile you realize there’s something missing. Our dining room is our most recent ORC, completed just this spring. I hoped to build doors for the upper section of our china cabinet during the makeover, but ran out of time.

White china cabinet in the dining room

The ORC goes so fast that there are often parts of a makeover that don’t get done. Even though I’m not participating in the ORC, watching everyone’s projects motivates me to return to the dining room and maybe finally build the doors.

I also have some other ideas for simple updates. In our bedroom, I’m going to freshen up our bedding with some new pillow cases. And in the laundry room, I’d like to sew a faux roman shade for the window.

One of the best parts of the One Room Challenge and other room makeovers is that you end up with a new beautiful space. These simple updates can ensure that you continue to enjoy your space for years to come.

Are you revisiting any room makeovers that you’ve done in the past? What tweaks do you want to make in your home?

 

Advertisements

Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada. I’m thankful for many things. My husband, our daughter, our dog and our cat. Our families, this farm, good food.

The silo at sunrise in the fall

Most of all this year I’m thankful for time. We often feel that there’s not enough time. Or we wish we were doing something else with our time.

At the start of this year, I proclaimed my word of the year was “slow.”

I wrote:

“We have to do our absolute best to live a life that we are satisfied with. I want to feel good about what I do, who I am with and how I spend my time. And the word “spend” is important. Time is valuable. Time is precious.”

Over the past little while, I feel like I’ve found a balance of how I spend my time. I have time to work and create and relax. Time with my family and with myself. I treasure each of these moments and don’t take them for granted.

Every day is very full, and there is pressure. There are trade-offs and the balance doesn’t always look the same. But usually by the end of the day I feel at peace with what I’ve done and how I’ve spent my time.

I’m very thankful for that.

A few weeks ago I saw a sign on the side of the road that said, “You have what you need for this moment.”

This message was an affirmation that I have the strength, the skills, the energy, the ability, the support to face whatever comes. It’s also a reminder to live in the moment and not worry about what’s ahead.

Today is going to be full of moments with my amazing family at our lovely farm. I’m thankful for this time.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Imaginary One Room Challenge – Phase 1 bathroom makeover

The One Room Challenge kicked off last week. I’m not a regular participant in the challenge, but I wish I was. It’s such a good way to update a space and actually complete a project. I love the rooms that I’ve done in the past (check out the laundry room, master bedroom, my office and dining room). I also love following the ORC, seeing everyone else’s makeovers.

This fall, I will mostly be an observer rather than a participant (though I do have plans for a few updates this month that I’ll hopefully be sharing soon).

But I’ve been having fun doing an imaginary makeover.

I started thinking about the main bathroom and how I could update it in advance of our big gut makeover (which I’ve talked about before and is still a someday project).

Main bathroom

I’m not a big fan of phase 1 renos. I feel like they can be a lot of work and potentially a lot of money, only to be ripped out in a few years.

However, we’ve lived here for more than 7 years and the main bathroom still looks exactly the same as when we moved in. A few updates a few years ago could have made it a more enjoyable space. (Although we have added a baby to the tub, which gives a whole lot of joy.)

Baby in a bathtub

Here’s the bathroom as it looks now. It’s a big space with a nice window, lots of storage, counterspace and everything you need in a bathroom. However, it’s dated and some parts of it–tiles, caulking, faucets, even one of the sinks–are actually broken.

Main bathroom before

Main bathroom before

Bathroom Before Collage

To fix all of the issues, we will need to do a full gut. However, there are some simple updates that could make the bathroom look a lot better now. Here’s a moodboard with some of my ideas.

Moodboard for phase 1 bathroom makeover

Sources: Vanity | Mirror | | Floor tile

The biggest change would be simply painting the walls. They are fake paneling that was painted yellow who knows when. The yellow clashes with the purple-ish tile and the Care-Bear-esque countertop. Fresh white paint would help the tile and counter and would also make the paneling look more like on-trend vertical shiplap.

If I painted the walls, I’d want to take down the big sheet mirror. The silvering is deteriorating in a few spots and the mirror is very dated. I could frame it out, but I like the idea of injecting some wood tones and different shapes with a pair of arched top mirrors.

The makeover could easily stop here and I’d be happy. But if I was going to make this project worthy of the ORC, here’s what else I’d do.

Build wood shelves over the toilet. These could add some decor and storage. It would be nice to get the bins of Ellie’s bath toys, washcloths and soap off the counter.

To go with the wood shelves, I’d update the linen closet by facing the shelves with wood strips and covering the floral shelf paper with plain white.

The white cabinetry is looking a bit dingey. If the walls go white, the vanity might be a place to introduce some more contrast and make the colours of the tile and counter make more sense. (Aside: This photo shows how a frame can make a big mirror look more current.)

Grey bathroom vanity

Source: Juniper Home

The current floor introduces yet another colour to this room. Beigey taupe, which, of course, goes with nothing else. There are so many options out there today for simple peel-and-stick tiles, which could simply be laid over top of the existing vinyl. This could be a place to introduce some fun pattern, although I don’t want anything too busy to clash further with the counter and wall tile.

An alternative to new flooring would be a better rug. A nice runner that would cover more of the floor and serve the function of a bathmat could be a good option.

While I’m updating the floor I would also remove the terrible metal transition strip in the doorway. Not only is it ugly, it’s also not screwed down properly, so it rattles every time you step on it–every time for 7 years.

Alas, it’s likely going to be 7 years and counting for this bathroom. The dreaming is fun though and I know one day this room is going to be everything I imagine.

Are you participating in the One Room Challenge–for real? Or do you have an imaginary makeover happening as well? How do you feel about phase 1 makeovers?

Odds & sods

Happy last day of September. I’ve been hanging on to summer and the warm weather as much as possible, but yesterday morning, Baxter, Ellie and I went out for a walk and it felt very fall. The sun was shining and a cool breeze was blowing. But in the east field, it looked like spring as new seedlings have sprouted everywhere (just ignore the red tree on the edge of the field).

Baxter walking across the field

Grass seedlings

Getting this field ready for planting has been a full summer project, but over the last couple of weeks, our farmer did the final grading and even seeded. I’m pretty sure this is the start of hay for next year.

Living on the farm, I’m conscious that things are always changing and growing. Even as fall begins and we head to the quieter season of winter, life goes on.

Before I look too far ahead, here are some of the things that have grabbed my attention this month.

When I meet people they often call me Julie rather than Julia. I always feel awkward correcting them, so I usually just go along. At a party earlier this month Ellie was playing ball with a young girl who looked to be about 7 years old or so. I kept saying, “Throw the ball to Ella. It’s Ella’s turn.” After a few rounds of this, the girl said, “It’s Bella.” She was so confident and direct. I was impressed. It takes a lot to correct an adult when you’re a child, and this is something I struggle with even now. Next time I hear Julie, I’m going to try her simple approach.

More communications tips: how to talk to your kids using nonverbal techniques.

“Food should be grounded in people and place… Growing and cooking their own food, making their own history, building their own economy.” Eat Like A Fish by Bren Smith is an interesting, motivating and slightly scary look at fishing, food and climate change . It has me thinking about the choices I make and my expectations around food.

I haven’t knit in a really long time, but I started again this month, and it feels really good. A little sweater for Ellie is taking shape. And one project is sparking so much creativity. I whipped up a simple elastic waist skirt for myself during one of Ellie’s afternoon naps and started sewing a dress for me as well. I also have two more sweaters planned for her, a pair of mitts, maybe a hat.

Sarah Richardson just wrapped up a makeover on her own cottage. I loved watching the first renovation that she did many years ago, so it’s been interesting to see how she updated the spaces. A highlight for me was the bathroom where she made it look new even though most things stayed the same. She shows the benefit of choosing timeless materials that you love.

My writing elsewhere:

What season does it feel like where you are? Have you been doing any crafting? What’s your favourite creative outlet? Anyone else have a name that people often mishear? What was the highlight of September for you?

 

Fall farm to-do list

Fall is officially here. I’m never ready to let go of summer, but the days are definitely shorter and leaves are starting to turn. I can’t deny it.

A long to-do list is the norm for life on the farm. But fall brings some extra pressure. We have to get thing done before the weather changes.

(Although have to might be a strong word choice. The farm will likely not fall apart if we don’t do these things, but I would feel like we’re more responsible caretakers if we did.)

Raspberries

Prune raspberries – The garden continues to be a disaster, but I continue to hope I can get just one part of it under control. Aside from the emotional peace of mind pruning the raspberries would bring, it would also set us up for a better harvest next year.

Double French light purple lilac

Transplant lilac – When we moved here, I brought a cutting from my grandmother’s lilac. It’s been doing well, but as it grows bigger, it’s obvious it isn’t ideally located. I’ve heard fall is a good transplanting time. Any tips for moving lilacs?

Remove screens – This is something I try to do every year, but it’s hit and miss as to whether I succeed. I feel that storing the screens for the winter protects them from the harsh weather, plus it sets me up to clean them and the windows every spring.

Spraying hose nozzle

Turn off exterior water – This one is non-negotiable. The water has to be turned off, the hoses need to be put away and pipes must to drained before the temperature dips below freezing. We’ve done this enough times that it’s usually not too difficult.

Clean the gutters – Before we turn off the water, we need to clean out the eavestroughs. Being surrounded by so many large trees mean that the gutters fill up with pine needles, leaves and other debris that clog up the downspouts. If they’re given a chance to freeze, troughs will back up and overflow, which could lead to water going where it’s not supposed to.

Ralph and Baxter supervising the oil change on the tractor

Service tractor – My super helpful cousin comes up to the farm every fall to change the oil in the tractor and check it over. Before he shows up, we need to remove the mower deck, clean and grease it. We’ll hold off attaching the snowblower until we need it. We also need to run the push mower out of gas.

It’s a relatively modest list. I’ve not added any big new tasks, just focused on a few basic things that we need… or things I’d like… to do.

Embroidering with my great-grandmother

Embroidered fabric cutlery holder

I am one of those people who loves my “nice” dishes. I picked out a china pattern when we got married and I was grateful to receive crystal wine glasses as a wedding gift. I love pulling them out when we have a family dinner.

Some day, I hope I’m able to add a set of silver cutlery to my “nice” collection.

Even if I don’t have the silver yet, I have a place to keep them.

Rolled cutlery holders

I’m not sure what these are called. They have little sleeves for the various utensils, and then they roll up to tuck in the drawer. They protect the cutlery from scratches and keep them organized.

Rolled cutlery holder

These holders were made by my great-grandmother and me, which I think is so, so cool. (My great-grandmother died before I was born.)

A few years ago I was helping my Mom organize some things in her sewing room, and we found these holders. The spoon and fork ones were done, but the knives was barely started.

I haven’t done embroidery in years, but I liked the idea of finishing the set. I also liked the idea of having a place to store extra cutlery. While we don’t have a silver set, we do have lots of cutlery for those family dinners, and my storage technique was not ideal.

Cutlery stored in plastic cups

I especially liked the family heritage.

I tried to pick colours similar to the ones my great-grandmother chose and mimic her stitch patterns, and I’m really happy with how the set turned out.

Rolled cutlery holders

 

Do you have a silver, china or crystal set? How do you store extra dishes? Any other embroiderers out there? What craft or organizing projects have you been up to?

 

Grapes and goodness in the garden

Red somerset grapes

We have grapes!

Three years ago I planted eight grapevines, and two years ago I added four more. Every year since then I’ve cut off any fruit that has appeared with the idea that the plants need all their energy to grow big and strong, rather than growing grapes.

This year, I let the grapes grow, and I was so thrilled back in August when they were finally ready to harvest.

Bunches of red somerset grapes on the vine

Ellie was delighted as well. Girl looooooves fruit, and grapes are a favourite.

Ellie picking grapes

It’s been so exciting to watch the grapes grow over the season. Seeing the big bunches of unripe green grapes made me feel like I’ve been doing something right.

Bunches of unripe green grapes

I have I’ve felt like I’m fumbling along with my grapes ever since I planted them. Figuring out where to plant them, how to trellis them, how to prune them, protecting them in the winter, even my decision to cut off the grapes the last couple of years were completely me winging it.

As I watched the grapes finally coming on this year, I was worried something would happen before I was able to taste them. Blight, birds, bugs. Something would get them instead of me.

But nothing happened. The grapes ripened, and they were beautiful.

Unripe and ripe grapes

In the end something did get them instead of me.

Blame it on the baby.

Ellie learned very quickly that anything purple or red in the garden was ripe for the picking. She would happily stand there and eat grapes by the bunch.

Ellie eating grapes in the garden

The flavour of the sun-warmed grapes was unmatched. They were so lovely and sweet. The pop as I bit into them, the stickiness of the juice on my hands, the sight of Ellie opening her mouth to ask for another and then the feeling of a little hand smushing a grape into my mouth in return make grapes a favourite summer memory.

Basket of sovereign coronation blue grapes

Odds & sods

I know summer is winding down, but we are still savouring every second. We’re having such a good time all together and really, really enjoying each other.

We’ve spent time with our extended families and also with our own little crew. There were lots of swims in Matt’s parents’ pool and a very special cottage week with my family. There have been tractor rides, hikes and harvests. Life is very full and very good.

Our rhythm is changing these days, but we make sure to treasure our time at the farm together.

Here is my monthly round-up of some recent happenings:

Dining room by Luke Havekes

The September issue of House & Home was over-the-top with a Milanese “guesthouse” (on the scale of a chateau), a Parisian pied-à-terre, and a large London flat. Completely out of my league. But tucked amongst all of the splendor was a home that felt completely attainable and identifiable by Canadian designer Luke Havekes. It was comfortable, colourful and personal. A few spaces even felt familiar, as they had elements that I’ve used here at the farm, like the white china cabinet with the arched tops.

Are you watching American Ninja Warrior? It is such a positive, uplifting show. The physical achievements are super impressive, but the competitors themselves and their stories are even more inspiring. Plus, watching two women finish the course last week was a great milestone.

“Resilience depends more on what we receive than what we have within us.”

I’ve been trying to recycle Ellie’s infant carseats rather than putting them in the garbage (they were hand-me-downs and are near expiry). It took awhile, but Atmo does recycling all across Canada. There is a cost (about $20 per seat), but there are various drop-off locations, which is more affordable than some of the other options I found that required me to ship the seats to a depot.

Chris Loves Julia’s kitchen makeover has been all over the internet–for good reason. It’s a great example of what can be done with DIY, creativity, some simple materials and paint.

My writing elsewhere:

Do you feel summer winding down? How are you wringing every last drop out of the season?

 

DIY toddler step stool – Ikea hack

As I wrote the title for this post I realized, wow, we have a toddler. Holy moly. Ellie turns 18 months old this week, but she’ll always be our baby.

Ellie is a smart, curious, confident little girl who loves to be included in whatever we’re doing–actually, she insists on being included.

Pretty much as soon as she could stand, I realized I needed a way to help her be involved and help me keep her safe and corralled.

I went looking for plans to build her a step stool and discovered the world of learning towers. One of the first plans I came across was a simple Ikea hack using the popular Bekväm stool from Happy Grey Lucky.

DIY learning tower from Ikea Bekvam stool

The plan is super detailed with clear instructions.

I was skeptical about Sina’s direction to drill through the full width of the 1X2. I thought for sure the pine would split, but I went very slow with my pilot holes and worked from a 1/8 bit up to 5/64″, and I had no problems when I screwed it all together–even though I couldn’t find #6 screws in the right length and was using fatter #8s instead.

The stool went together very quickly. Once I had the wood cut, Ralphie and I knocked it out in one naptime.

Assembling the stool outside with our barncat

Close up of the baby monitor

I chose not to paint it, as I like the colour of the natural wood. However, I do feel it may be helpful to coat the wood with Varathane or some other sealant, both to protect the wood and make it easier to wipe down.

We use the stool mainly in the kitchen for cooking and washing dishes. Between food spills and water splashes, I feel like it’s inevitable that the stool will become stained. (There is a coating of some kind on the actual Bekvam, but the upper framework is naked.)

Water spill on the Ikea Bekvam

I’m most interested in how the stool works as opposed to how it looks, and it is great.

Ellie loves her stool. She grabs on and tries to climb it whenever I’m cooking–she still needs help to get on it. She also drags it across the kitchen floor when she wants to wash dishes–girl loves water and is very insistent.

DIY learning tower from Ikea Bekvam stool

Ellie on her learning tower

We love it too. It keeps her pretty secure and occupied–we sometimes joke that it’s a standing baby jail. I say pretty secure because I would never leave her unattended in case she tips, climbs out or slips down.

I was hesitant about just one dowel at her back, worrying about her slipping out, but we only had one incident where she tried to get down on her own. It would be easy to drill a couple of larger holes so that you could slip an extra dowel in if you felt like it. The larger gap makes it easy for her to climb up herself, although she’s only figured it out once so far.

DIY learning tower from Ikea Bekvam stool

As she grows, I hope she will continue to want to be involved in what we’re doing–and more helpful in actually doing it.

Deer in the dining room

Hello. It’s been a little while. Thanks for your patience during my blogging holiday. We’ve had a lovely summer, and having this time all together is something I will always treasure.

Our days have been filled with all kinds of fun, including a few little projects. One of the projects was a final decorative touch in the dining room. Hanging two sets of antlers in the corner.

Two sets of antlers hanging in the dining room

This was always part of my original plan during the One Room Challenge this spring, but in the finishing stages it was cut.

The delay was mostly due to one set of antlers not being mounted. It took me some time to figure out how I wanted to mount them and how to do it.

The first set of antlers came from Matt’s Grandpa. We’ve had them for awhile, but haven’t had a good place to put them. They’re mounted and varnished and quite old.

Two sets of antlers hanging in the dining room

I decided to try to make our new antlers match the old ones as much as possible. I traced the mounting plaque, but made it a bit taller, as the skull plate on the new antlers was a bit larger. I know the skull plates are typically trimmed and covered, but I actually like seeing the bone. I’ve written about my (potentially strange) attraction to skulls before. If antlers are considered attractive, why can’t the bone be as well?

Covered skull on mounted antlers

Mounted antlers unvarnished and uncovered skull

I also decided to keep the antlers natural rather than varnishing them. I like the light tone of the antlers and wanted to highlight their natural beauty.

The next step was to try to match the colour of the plaque. I didn’t want to buy new stain for such a small project, so I tried blending a few different stains. I got close, but not exact. Part of that is likely due to a difference in the woods. The grain of the new plaque is much more pronounced than in the old one.

I was nervous about attaching the antlers to the plaque, but it worked out much better than I expected. Online tutorials prescribe bolting the antlers to the plaque. I simply drilled pilot holes in the skull and then screwed through the back of the plaque into the bone using regular screws. The skull seems secure, so I hope that it will hold.

The final touch was adding a picture hanger to the back of the plaque.

Back of mounted antlers

I put both antlers in the corner next to our deer painting. When I first photographed the dining room for the reveal post, this corner looked very empty. Over the last few months, I’ve gotten used to its emptiness–part of my draw to a bit more minimalism. However, since the antlers are a bit hidden in the corner, the room doesn’t feel too busy.

Two sets of antlers hanging in the dining room

I like that the antlers are finally on display. I feel like displaying them honours the animals. While my preference is always to see deer alive walking around outside, these deer in some ways live on as I appreciate their antlers every day.

Are you a fan of antlers in decor? Do you have any antlers at your house?