Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cottage Progress and My 2017 Summer Garden

Past few weeks has seen major progress made to our cottage construction. Not only did we have a roof (woohoo), the interior drywall was also hung and mudded. So this was what our cottage looked like as of last Friday. 

The interiors: guest bedroom door overlooking the dining room: imagine to walk out of the room every morning with that view! The bigger hole in the ceiling to the left is our central AC vent - I specified that location so we wouldn't have cold air blowing over our heads while lounging or sleeping. 

My favourite feature of our cottage has to be this cute loft! Or is it the screened-in porch? The loft can be used as a bedroom but I haven't decided what to do with it yet. 

And this is the view from our porch, straight into the woods. All the photos were taken by our sweet neighbour. They bought the cottage next to us so they will be our cottage neighbour as well! 

Below is the final version of the porch design board. You can see the previous versions here. I took advantage of a summer clearance sale and picked up this navy outdoor Allen + Roth rug from Lowes Canada. The vintage style patio table is from Wayfair. 

I've been searching for stylish nightstands for our cottage master bedroom, but decided take it upon myself to hack the ever-popular Ikea Rast dressers. I am so in love with them!!! The paint colour is BM's Pigeon Grey. Brass bin pulls are from Martha Stewart via Home Depot. 

And the Florence Knoll style sofa was finally delivered last weekend. It was every bit I was hoping for and more, so comfortable and timeless! 

Now onto my 2017 summer flower garden. You can read about what it looked like in the past seasons here. While this constant rain has slowed down our cottage construction, it has been good to all the flowering shrubs around our house. That's just life. We win some, we lose some. This Blue Satin Rose of Sharon grew by at least a foot upward and outward this year! 

See what I meant? 

I failed to turn the LA Dreamin Hydrangea blue this year. I applied the high-phosphorus fertilizer after flower buds came out - maybe that's already too late so I will need to try early in the season next year. 

Not only did they not turn blue, they were pinker than ever, in this vibrant hot pink shade all summer! 

I can always count on my Limelight Hydrangeas to bloom non-stop into the late fall. I kept trimming them so they can focus on growing upward. Both of them are now about 8 feet tall. 

And this was my backyard in mid August - I admit I photoshopped the sky to appear bluer - other than that, everything else you see was what the real thing looked like. #greenthumb

This weekend we are going up to the cottage to do our pre-completion inspection, so I hope to post more progress photos afterwards. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Decorating Ideas That Take Less than Two Hours

~ This is a featured post ~

If you like DIY but are short on time, this post is ideal for you. Below are a few decorating projects you can usually complete from start to finish in under an hour.

Customised artwork for your walls
The right pictures can make a huge difference to how a room looks. It is a fast way to give your home a fresh look. Modern print firms make affordable for you to produce customised artwork for your walls.

It is now really easy to print your own photos onto a canvas background. All you need to do is to find a good high-resolution image, crop it to your liking and send it to the print firm. Within a week or two you will receive your print in the frame you have chosen. All you need to do now is hang it on your wall, which normally takes less than half an hour.

Hang new doors
Hanging a new door is something you can easily do in less than an hour provided you choose the right kind. The hinges and latch need to be positioned in the same way to enable you to swap one door for another quickly.

Shelve out an alcove
If you need more storage and are lucky enough to have an alcove next to your fireplace you can potentially shelve it out in under an hour. The trick is to buy the shelves pre-cut to size and use an adjustable shelving system. Doing this means that you do not have to install brackets for every single shelf which will save you a lot of time.

Paint a wall
Provided you are organised and use rollers, you can usually paint a wall in an hour or two. If you are really short of time, doing one wall each evening is actually a good way to get the decorating done.

Put down new flooring
If you have a small room that needs new flooring provided you choose the right materials you can often do it in less than an hour. Vinyl flooring or carpet is surprisingly easy to lay once you get the hang of it. Provided there are not too many fiddly bits you can also lay new laminate flooring in just a couple of hours.

Draft proofing
Using draft proofing tape you can improve the seal on a window or door in about half an hour. It is a simple task that will make your room far warmer and potentially save you a lot of money.

Poco a poco gets you there
For most home improvement tasks the little by little approach is extremely effective. Often, doing an hour or two each evening for a week is enough to get a small room fully decorated.

You just need to be organised. Ideally, you want to be able to leave your tools out, so that you do not have to waste half an hour setting things up to start the task.

More inspiration
If you want more ideas, this post is great. It contains 10 cosmetic upgrades that are quick and easy to do, and most are extremely affordable.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cottage Life: Screened-in Porch Design

How is it already late July and we still haven't moved into our cottage?! This year's constant rain is to blame for the slowdown in construction. Right now we are looking at mid August so fingers and toes all crossed for no further delays. 

A key reason for picking our cottage model is the huge screened-in porch. I would be surprised if this didn't turn into the most used space. We will have a lounging and a dining area. As usual, I came up with a few design boards. 

Below is the one I think I am going with, sans the hanging seat. We have mature trees with high canopy surrounding our cottage, so I am trying to keep the overall colour theme to a minimum so it doesn't compete with the view. 

I also really like the plaid rug in the design board below. 

This blue rug adds a touch of colour to the overall neutral space.  

This Scandinavian style conversation set from JYSK was the jumping-off point. It's an extension of the Nordic cottage style from inside out. 

These rattan Paris bistro chairs will form a porch dining nook. I am still trying to hunt down a vintage style metal patio table to go with them. Any suggestions? 

Before I go, I will share some of the flowers coming out in July in my jardin de fleurs. 

Lavender Hidcote Blue

LA Dreamin Hydrangeas - epic fail this year for trying to turn them blue. They issued non-stop flowers in vibrant pink. 

DIY Petunia planters from PC Garden Centre. 

ZZ plant in my foyer is nearly 5 foot tall. Took six years to get to this size. I tried staking tall branches but they are still topsy turvy. Any idea how I can keep them growing upright?

In a few weeks we will be replacing our door sets with these gorgeous Emtek Richmond in French Antique Brass. Can't wait! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

4 Improvements To increase Your Home Value

~ This is a featured post. ~

While we’re all generally content with our homes, we’d all like to increase the value of our assets from time to time. Some might consider purchasing a second home, or maybe even investing in stocks and shares, but what about investing into your current abode?

By putting money into your current home, you benefit two ways by adding value to your assets while personally enjoying the benefits of your investment. As such, here we take a look at four ways you can increase the value of your home.

Extra bathroom
There is nothing worse than waiting around for the bathroom. To remedy this most will add an extra restroom downstairs. By doing so, you will increase the value of your home by around 5 per cent – meaning if your home is currently worth $200,000, you’ll boost its value by around $10,000. Costs can vary, from $4,000 to $8,500, so be wary as an overly expensive bathroom could end up costing you more than the benefits received – although they are becoming more and more popular. It is also worth taking into account the tastes of potential buyers and not just opting for the bathroom that you want. Go for something contemporary rather than anything wildly luxurious.

Adding a garage is a fantastic way to add value to your home while also being a useful way to store any expensive assets, such as vehicles or boats. There are many ways you can ensure your garage adds value, such as increasing storage space within, adding an integrated safe, or opting for one of the epoxy garage floors on the market to improve surface durability. While the average garage will set you back around $20,000, it could add $25 - $30,000 to the value of your home in the right neighborhood.

Adding an extension to your home, whether it’s a new kitchen, dining area or bedroom, can add some serious value to your home. With just an initial investment of around $20,000 - $25,000, you can increase the value of your home by around 11 per cent. With house prices rising, this initial investment could pay dividends in years to come, while also providing you with plenty of space in the meantime.

Extra bedroom
Adding an extra bedroom is seen as one of the easiest ways you can add substantial value to your home, relatively risk-free. One of the first things any potential buyer will ask is how many rooms a home has, with “the more, the better” generally being the case. It could cost around $20,000 - $40,000 depending on how much you’re extending by, or where you’re extending from. An extra double bedroom could add an incredible 10 – 20 per cent to the value of your home, or around $40,000 added to the value of a home worth $400,000. If you’re careful, work out your budget carefully and take into account the area you’re in and the demand for larger homes, you could be on to a winner. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cottage Life: Dining Room Design

June was off to a crazy start at work. A month flew by before I realized I was yet to finish the cottage dining room post saved in the draft status. Normally we would be somewhere else globetrotting in early June. Not this year. Busy at work was one reason; then there's the cottage to get ready for; and then there's all the Spring blooms I missed in the previous years. I am so happy that we pushed our travel schedule to later in the summer, because for the past month, I've been enjoying the fruit of my labour, my Spring jardin de fleurs. 
Pink Korean lilac from my backyard. 

Rhododendron didn't disappoint this year. Vibrant pink flowers adorned the tree - it looks like a giant bouquet from distance. 

 Blue Lilac Miss Kim issued super fragrant flowers for a good two weeks. 

Wine & Roses Weigela put on an impressive show with hundreds of small bell-shaped pink flowers. 

Blue Irises came out in mid June but only last for a week. 

Smoke tree in the backyard. Hidcote blue English lavender is about to bloom - they smell sensational! 

And then there's the white flowering Dogwood Kousa. I didn't know what to expect from it this year: a lot of young trees don't bloom for a number of years; and some of them may not even come back because GTA is really a stretch for Dogwood's hardy zone. Fortunately, our Dogwood didn't just come back; it issued hundreds of clean white flowers! 

Now onto our cottage dining room design. This is the design board. 

The jumping off point was these Elbow chairs I scored from HomeSense, for a fraction of their normal going prices. Gotta love the Scandinavian design which perfectly infuses style into comfort. You can find similar ones at Rove Concepts here

As for the dining table, I started the hunt with everything MCM and Danish, but then decided to go a more rustic yet still modern direction. A live-edge table with hairpin legs fits my vision perfectly. Picture below: the Reno solid Acacia wood dining table from Structube - that's a lot of table and style for the price!

I wanted to use a pair of the Ikea Almsta as host & hostess chairs but unfortunately they are not very comfortable and only intended for indoor use. 
I found this chair of similar style to the Ikea Almsta, an all black version of the ever-popular Paris cafe bistro chairs in rattan and aluminum frame. The best part is it's commercial grade and all weather proof, so I could use them in my dining room as well as porch dining area. 
So in love with them! They will be put to good use during family/friend gatherings and long chats around the dining table. I will be back to write about our screened-in porch design. 

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