Monday, February 6, 2017

Powder Room Makeover

2017 was off to a pretty good start. Barely over a month in, I was able to check off a few things on my to-do list this year. 

Picture below: my powder room makeover design board

I had Katie install the Galerie English Florals wallpaper (in Charcoal Grey) for me in our powder room. Katie is a wallpaper expert who also did installs for shows such as Property Brothers. I was seriously jealous when she showed me pictures taken from when she worked alongside Jonathan and Drew. Her attention to detail was amazing, and the outcome was immaculate. This was my first wallpaper installation in our house, and I must say I am hooked! 

So here you have it, the vintage oval-shaped Venetian mirror and the soft grey floral wallpaper found their happily ever after in my powder room. The wallpaper choice was inspired by Anthropologie's ever-popular Smoky Roses. Although the wallpaper also depicts hummingbirds and butterflies, it still feels elegant enough and doesn't ooze country vibe. 

This vintage etched Venetian mirror was a last-minute lucky score from a local classified. It wasn't cheap, but it didn't cost me thousands of dollars which is what a mirror like this would typically go for. 

The last piece of the puzzle to this Parisian style powder room is to replace the ceiling chandelier. 

With something like this, the Crystorama Broche ceiling light. I like the antiqued gold finish which adds just the right amount of glam to the room. 

You may have noticed a "Best of Houzz 2017" badge was placed in my home page. I am so thrilled to have won in the Design category again this year. 

I will leave you with this shot of our stunning (but freezing) sky from this past weekend. I am the type of person who always finds a silver lining. Anthony and I always joked that he is like Mr. Bates, and I am like Anna: he sees problems; while I see possibilities. I guess we are meant to be together, sans all the drama of course :))

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tips for Felling and Replacing Trees

~ This is a featured post. ~

If you remember back in the summer I had a blue spruce tree replaced in my front yard.It took me a while to realize when a tree had outstayed their welcome, and when to enlist a professional to get the job done. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting for my readers to hear from The Tree Center on tips for cutting down and replacing a tree. 

Sometimes, a tree just has to go. It may have grown too large for your garden and the surrounding neighbourhood, or it may have a disease that means it’s dying and poses a risk to other trees, or it may already be dead and pose a falling risk to neighbors and yourself. 

It's not a decision to be taken lightly, and if the tree is particularly large, you shouldn’t fell it yourself – call in a professional; The Tree Center will be able to recommend an experienced tree surgeon. If the tree has a trunk diameter smaller than 10 inches and is under 20 feet tall, however, you could fell it yourself with a handsaw. Let everyone in your neighborhood know about your plans first, as some may feel the tree is partly on their property.

Safe felling
Look at the area around the tree for anything in the way – a car, wires, furniture – and move it to safety. Then look at the way the tree naturally angles – this is the safest direction it should fall in.

You should make sure that there are no big jutting branches that could trap you or break anything as the tree comes down; if you suspect that there are rotten areas in the trunk, stop immediately and call in the professionals!

Work out two escape routes – one either side of the expected line of fall – and make sure these pathways are clear. This is an all-day job, usually, so take your time. Rushing causes injuries!

The first cut
This first cut is the undercut and it’s a v-shaped notch – 90 degrees, ideally – into the trunk. The notch should be facing the direction you want the tree to fall in and it should cut into the trunk’s diameter by about a quarter. If the tree’s diameter is less than six inches, you may be able to cut all the way through, but make sure you have lots of people around to help.

The backcut
The backcut should be made about two inches above the hinge part (the point of the V) of the undercut. Never make the backcut lower than the undercut as you could cause the tree to fall in the opposite direction and this is dangerous! These two cuts help you to control the direction of the fall.

Once you see the tree beginning to bend and fall, move right out of the way. Falling trees can bounce, so don’t risk it!

This is where you remove branches coming off the main trunk, starting at the bottom of the trunk and working upwards. Stand on the opposite side of the trunk as the branch you’re working on so it doesn’t fall on you and don’t attempt to remove any branches that are propping up the main trunk.

Now you have your bare log! You may decide to use it for firewood, or you may just want your local authority to come collect it – it’s up to you!

Replacing the tree

If you’ve decided to have the stump ground out, be aware that the intricate root system will still be in place. This system could interfere with and block the progress of a new root system, so you may not be able to plant a new tree directly on the site of the old one for some years. Your best bet is to choose another location five or more feet away and then make sure you take extra care of the new tree until it’s completely established. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Life, Lately

Is it just me or this January seems so long that it never wants to end? New year was off to a super busy start after the holidays, but it's all good.

Lately I've expanded my art horizons - in addition to my typical go-to oil/acrylic medium, I've grown to appreciate photography and visual arts more. Here are a few of my favourite picks from Minted and Society6. 

"Time Stood Still" from Minted was the first one to arrive. Artist Maja Cunningham captured a perfect moment with ephemeral colours and lights. 

I was stunned by how unique and gorgeous these Iittala Festivo candle holders were when I spotted them at Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen

And again in the Iittala flagship store on Pohjoisesplanadi in Helsinki, picture below. I remembered telling myself that I needed to start collecting them. 

Picture below: Iittala store in Helsinki, Finland.

And collecting I did. I am now onto four pieces, and thankfully, you can still find some 1960s-1980s vintage signed ones in the aftermarket. 

This picture below was taken using my new Canon EOS M10 camera, a lightweight bridge camera between DSLR and Point-and-shoot. It's going to take some getting used to for someone like me who's been using DSLR all my life. The camera takes pretty decent pictures I must say. It's slightly noisier than DSLR under the same lighting, but it's lightweight and agile so I am going to use it more for interior photos. By the way, I don't think I can live without this Diptyque Eucalyptus candle this winter. I am obsessed with this single-note scent. 

In a few days this wallpaper will be installed in my powder room. 

Still debating what type of mirror would go with this charcoal grey and white floral wallpaper, but I am thinking something like this, a Venetian piece?

This was also on my 2017 project list, to replace the island light in the kitchen. Since I don't have the time or energy to do a complete kitchen overhaul, I decided to splurge on this Roll & Hill's 10-light Agnes chandelier. I could hardly wait for it to go up. 

Don't gasp if I tell you I never watched Downton Abbey before. We just started watching it, and half episode in I was immediately hooked. Isn't Downton a heaven for OCD people like me? 

I will be back to write about the powder room and kitchen light. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Get the Best Quality Photos

~ This is a featured post. ~

As an avid photographer, I take my prints seriously. They’re an expression of you and what you think is important in life, and if you like to scatter them throughout your home as I do, you want people to be viewing the best quality you can provide. Not everyone can afford to go to a top-quality printers though, and why should you when it’s just as easy to do it yourself? So, here are some top tips for printing the best photos to wow your guests. 

Camera vs Computer
Many cameras these days have the option to print straight from the device, rather than having to upload them to a computer first. Surprisingly, both approaches can produce very different results, so it’s a good idea to test the different settings available first, so that you don’t print out dozens of images only to find that they’re of a very poor standard.

Choose an InkJet printer
Printer manufacturers have caught on to people’s desire to print their own images at their leisure, so if you can, invest in an InkJet printer. These have been made specifically to cope with the demands of photograph printing, and will give you a far cleaner and more professional image with little bleeding of lines, when compared with a standard printer.

Are you using the right settings?
Of course, every printer is going to be different, so make sure you have all the right settings selected before hitting “Go!”. For example, under the quality section on most printers, you’ll have an option to print for media or magazine; while quality is usually automatically selected for you at “good”, you have the option to change this to “best”. These are very simple settings that can make a huge difference.

Follow all the rules!
You’ll find that most manufacturer’s give guidance in their manuals about obtaining the best results, so it’s always a good idea to check the handbook. However, if that’s too technical, consult their websites instead. They may have blog posts or other guides available online that are written in brief, how-to formats.

Buy different samples
Other factors that can make the world of difference are the materials you’re using. Try different paper samples to see if there’s a difference in quality, and make sure that the type of ink you pick is the correct one for the job, and for your model of machine. As this can end up costing a fortune if you go to the wrong place, always buy from a specialist website for these supplies, such as

Try photo editing software
Finally, if it’s the image itself that’s bugging you, there are tonnes of free photo editing software downloads that you can use to increase exposure on shots, reduce blur and so on. It’s worth doing your research on the best one for your needs, but you can check out a good guide here.

How do you use your family photos? Let me know in the comments section… 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Best of 2016 and 2017 Project List

2016 was undoubtedly an interesting if not challenging year for a lot of people. The uncertain political climate and outlook has certainly dampened spirits. It seems like a norm that working days only get longer and jobs get more demanding. Alas, the world still spins so might as well take whatever life throws at us with a smile. To quote the Hamilton Musical: Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now. 

As we enter 2017, in the design world, it's also high time to reflect on the projects we did or did not complete in 2016. The #2016bestnine below from Instagram didn't quite sum up what I was up to last year. 

Turns out I was pretty good at sticking to my 2016 Project List. Here's a recap of what got done and what didn't. 

This is what my living room looks like now after a series of changes. 

  • Laundry room:
    • Tiled the walls with white subway tiles and dark grout all the way to the ceiling. 
    • Replaced the pendant light. 
Here's a sneak peek of my mini laundry room/mudroom makeover. More on that later in a separate post.  

  • Master Bedroom: 
    • Replaced the chandelier in my master bedroom with this

Didn't Complete:
  • Foyer:
    • Replace the foyer floor with black, white, and grey marble tiles. Don't think I will be taking on this project anytime soon. 
    • Paint the walls above the wainscoting in the same shade of white; or extend the wainscoting to full walls and paint them in white. 

Now for the 2017 Project List: 
  • Ground floor powder room: what other better bathrooms to wow your guests than the powder room, which seems to be the only bathroom your visitors would ever use. My idea is to create a Parisian style bathroom using the following elements:  
    • Wallpaper the walls above wainscoting. I've already picked a floral wallpaper, more on that in another post.  
    • Replace the mirror with a minimalist round or oval-shaped one. 
    • Replace the chandelier. 
  • Kitchen: 
    • Replace the light over the island. 
  • Foyer:
    • Paint the walls above the wainscoting.
As you could see, my 2017 project is a lot shorter and seems more attainable. That's also my new year's resolution: to try to enjoy life in the slow lane, nurture my mind by reading/seeing the world more, and being with positive people who can add happiness and support to my life. I also want to invest time in a healthier diet by cooking more at home. Design wise, I am going to challenge myself by going with choices out of my comfort zone. 2017 is the year to "invest in myself". I hope it will be a fantastic year for you too! 

Picture below: me and my snowman Aaron Brrr :D

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