Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Main Bathroom Reno Day 3

Main bathroom is one of the smallest reno projects we've done so far, yet it's nevertheless the most nerve-wracking one.


Firstly, we are working with a new contractor that we've never dealt with before. It takes as much time (by that I mean "never") for me to get used to his "bump-into-everything-in-his-way" type of free spirit, as it does for him to adapt to my "make-everything-perfect-to-human-eye" type of OCD.

Secondly, this morning just before the contractor tiled the floor, he wouldn't stop whining about the fact that he needed to be mindful of color/texture mix of the Carrara marble tiles. Our regular contractor always sorted the tiles for us to maintain a most consistent yet organic look. This time around we sorted all the tiles ourselves into different boxes ahead of time, and all we wanted our contractor to do is to pull different tiles out of different boxes for different areas in the room. But he wouldn't do it. So I had to offer my time (good that I was working from home today!) by handing him certain tiles for certain areas, and that calmed him down. Seriously, he couldn't afford my hour rates!

Lastly, this contractor nickle and dimed us on everything, or so as he explained, he didn't anticipate these costs. He would charge us an extra $150 just to put in the new baseboards; another $100 to buy PVC pipes for reconstructing the vanity faucet rough-in (our reno contract clearly states it includes all plumbing and installation of faucets!). When I questioned him on why the extra charge, he threw a tantrum by complaining how much time he had to wait to dispose all the wastes at the dump site for us and how I never thanked him for picking up the baseboards on our behalf. I don't mind paying petty cash like this (as a matter of fact, I always tipped my regular contractor), but in this case on principle I feel sick to my stomach that I have to pay extra.

If you are still reading up to this point, I thank you for sticking with me and listening to my rant. I will end my post with a picture from today's floor tiles.

I am traveling tomorrow so I won't be home early enough to take any pictures. I expect to be wowed by the time I get home. More updates to follow on Friday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Main Bathroom Reno Day 2

Today our contractor tiled the shower surround using the 4x16 subway tiles in a stacked pattern. After much debate I finally decided to give a more modern stacked layout a try.

The best part is...the useless bulkhead in the shower is gone. Why on earth would a builder build something that serves absolutely no purpose? I feel I could breathe again in the shower with the much higher ceiling.

Do you also see the off-centred recessed shelf? I would rather keep the middle wall clean so I settled for it. There was exhaustion pipe behind the wall into the attic outside of the house, so if at all possible, before you became fixated on a certain design, make sure all the plumbing and pipes behind the scene would support you vision, see here

This time around we didn't use our regular contractor. His father is ill so he moved down to the States to be with him for a while. I use another contractor a friend recommended, and I can't say I am all that thrilled so far. As much as I understand there's no such contractor that'd do "perfect" work, I still expect to see best efforts and necessary skills put into making sure tiles are "perfectly" stacked to human eyes. You probably can't tell from the pictures but I do see uneven gaps and surfaces. I can't help but wonder if I would probably do a better job than this contractor -- after all, I am a perfectionist. Another downside about this contractor is that he is not neat at all. The drop cloth must have been used for hundreds of times and never been washed. I think it trapped more dust into the house than the reno itself.

Enough said. The contractor is however very efficient. For a one-man shop, he seemed to have accomplished a lot within a day. Was my friend happy with his work? Yes. Could our expectations be different? Absolutely.

Tomorrow the floor tiles go in. It should be fun (and dusty) again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Main Bathroom Reno Day 1

When I came home early from a meeting this was waiting for me. It's only 3pm and our contractor has already finished gutting our entire bathroom!

This was what the bathroom looked like when I left home this morning.

And this is what it looks like now.

This is the annoying ventilation pipe that couldn't be relocated. The recessed shelf is going to be off-centred. :(

Some major work such as dry wall and tiling will be done tomorrow so I will share more pictures then.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

All Taped Up

Our main bathroom demo starts tomorrow so this weekend we spent some time taping up the stuff we wanted to protect. One thing we've learnt from our years' of renovations is that the onus is always on the home owner to protect what's in the way. Our contractors will put down drop cloth and tarp but nobody else is ever going to care more about your house than you do so it doesn't hurt to go a bit overboard.  

I am a bit embarrassed to show you this picture...we pretty much gift-wrapped the bath tub.

We also put down heavy-duty paint booth floor paper along the path from the front door leading to the main bathroom. Note we used the Blue Painters Tape for Delicate Surfaces for the hardwood floor, and cheaper Green Painter's Tape for all other surfaces.

Drop cloth will go on the staircase to prevent slips.

Dust and chaos awaits tomorrow, but considering in just over a week my main bathroom could look like this, it all seems worthwhile. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Love It or Leave It?

Today Mom and I spent some quality time together shopping at the Vaughan Mills. As I wandered into HomeSense, these glass decanters popped in my eyes. I've been looking for the right decorative objects to add colors to my dining room, and I think they might just be the ones. What do you think? Love it or leave it?

Plum/purple glass decanters from HomeSense in my dining room. They add a touch of fall colors, no?

What I would really love to have are the super stylish Joe Cariati Glass Decanters, each costs $795.

And this is the Ash & Lacquer Tray I purchased from Indigo.

This is a corner of the dining room. I hope the pink coral doesn't compete with the decanters. I am going to leave them where they are for a few days and see.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chinoiserie Decor Must Haves

Chinoiserie, according to Lisa Frederick, has become a fashionable top note in Hollywood Regency interiors, thanks to the fascination with Asian décor that arose in Old Hollywood. Whether it appears in the guise of wallpaper, furniture, art or accents, it features intricate detailing; traditional Asian motifs, such as birds, flowers and landscapes; and, as often as not, touches of gilt. It feels outré yet familiar at the same time. There's a difference between authentic Chinese décor and chinoiserie, which originated in 18th-century Europe. Chinoiserie represents a more flamboyant and whimsical interpretation of Chinese style, and this makes it especially well suited to a room with theatrical flair.

I've always loved a touch of Chinoiserie in my design, mostly to pay tribute to my roots.

Here are some Chinoiserie decor must-haves.

I. Blue and White Porcelain
1. My own collection; 2. Joe Nye Vignette; 3. Blue And White Porcelain Lamp from Finehomelamps. 4. Blue white porcelain prints by Driftwood Interiors via Chinoiserie Chic. 5. Jamie Meares of Furbish; 6. Blue white porcelain garden stool from Williams Sonoma Home; 7. Blue white garden stool with plum blossoms from Interiordesignpro; 8. Williams Sonoma garden stool; 9. Blue white porcelain ginger jars via Chinoiserie Chic.
II. Floral and Birds Wallpaper/Mural 
1. Kendall Wilkinson mural; 2. de Gournay; 3. Metallic Chinoiserie wallpaper via the Lennoxx; 4. de Gournay; 5. de Gournay; 6. Maison21 in Griffin and Wong wallpaper.
III. Faux Bamboo Carved Wood
1. Faux bamboo dresser from Nattybydesign; 2. Faux bamboo framed Chinoiserie print via Tatterandfray; 2. My own faux bamboo chair makeover; 4. Chinoiserie Pagoda mmirror from Horchow; 5. Faux bamboo tray from Highstreetmarket; 6. Jonathan Adler's faux bamboo dining chair.

IV. Mythical Creatures and Religious Figurines, Porcelain with Elaborate Paintings of Imperial Life
1. A heirloom in my family for four generations. I believe it's from Qing Dynasty. 2. Cobalt foo dogs from C. Wonder; 3. Another heirloom in my family, a Happy Buddha statue; 4. Blanc de Chine Kwan Yin statue; 5. Chinoiserie Decorative Birdcage from Cococozy; 6. Turquoise foo dogs.
If you are also into the Chinoiserie decor, here are a few sites that are very resourceful for both styling and shopping.
Chinoiserie Chic Blog is your one-stop shop for everything Chinoiserie.
Circa Who carries the most exhaustive range of Regency and Chinoiserie furniture and decor. Sadly it's in the US.

de Gournay, Chinoiserie wallpaper
Griffin & Wong: specializes in custom and hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper
With that, I hope you all have a fantastic fall weekend. Our main bathroom reno starts next Monday so remember to check back in for updates.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Shutterfly Photo Book

About a month ago I received an invitation from Shutterfly to create a free photo book. I've been wanting to compile a portfolio of all my design projects for a while, so the offer couldn't have come at a better time. The process is straightforward, and their photo book interface is very user-friendly. It's as simple as upload, organize and print, and you also have tons of templates to choose from. I actually spent more time picking which pictures to use than anything else.

A couple of weeks later this showed up at my doorstep.
My Shutterfly Photo Book Cover

It came in a cute bright-orange box like this.

Let's take a look what else is inside, shall we?

Let me have my narcissistic moment...

Foyer and Hallway

Living Room

Dining Room

Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom


These are just some examples of what you could with Shutterfly. It's so neat to see your projects turned into prints. Call me a show-off but this photo book goes straight to my coffee table in the living room. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Restoration Hardware Fall Catalogue

I must be on Restoration Hardware's distribution list (I am not complaining) because today these fall catalogues showed up in the mail.

They are not only informative but stylish enough to grace any coffee table.

I am a big fan of their Bath products from faucet to glass shelf to cabinet knobs. Spritz is the one I used in my master ensuite. I like that you could choose from a variety of finishes from polished nickel to steel to bronze for almost all their hardware.

You can spot Restoration Hardware's style signature from afar: classic, muted, rustic, industrial yet warm and elegant at the same time.

Here are some of my faves from Restoration Hardware. Their lookalikes and knockoffs are everywhere.

From top left clockwise:
  • Brickmaker's Table. Urban Barn at a time carried a lookalike Lumex.
  • Martine Upholstered Armchair. Lookalikes and knockoffs are made by almost every major furniture makers. Janice from Life Begins at 30 has two originals in her living room.
  • Hutton Double Vanity Sink. Studio Bathe via Costco has similar design.
  • Lugarno Single Sconce. I used them in my master ensuite and basement bathroom.
  • Strande Knob in polished nickel.
  • Vintage French Square Upholstered Side Chair. I would have bought them if I didn't already spend an arm and a leg on my existing dining set. I've seen lookalikes at HomeSense on multiple occasions.
  • Foucault's Iron Orb Chandelier Rustic Iron Medium. Again lookalikes are everywhere but RH might not be the one to come up with this design.
  • Hutton Double Vanity Sink in Charcoal. I woof the charcoal paint!
  • Weathered Zinc Single Fez Mirror. I've seen similar-shaped mirrors at Lowes and HomeSense. Can one ever get tired of a geometric Moorish pattern like this?

Do you have any Restoration Hardware favourites?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cuteness Alert

Lately I've noticed more and more designers are incorporating cute animal figurines to lighten up the mood for their overall design. Be it for the nursery or those simply young at heart, cute objects have certainly made their way into a more serious side of the design world.

I couldn't help but crack up whenever I look at this Leo Owl Bank from Urban Outfitters. 50 bucks says you agree.

Or how about this sort-after Burberry Owl Cashmere Sweater since Kate Bosworth made its debut?

I will take this Brass Hippo by Jonathan Adler as my Christmas gift, thanks very much. (hint to hubs).

I would love to have this whimsical Octopus Tea Towel by Thomas Paul in my kitchen.

A more affordable version from Etsy will do too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Online Thrifting

Did any of your shopping experience ever end up with you walking out of the door loaded with tons of stuff that you weren't originally there for? I hope I am not alone. With the convenience of clicks-away online shopping, it can get worse for me.

Earlier tonight as I was browsing on Indigo web site for the latest Eyewitness Travel Guides, I came across this -- Metal Task Lamp in Dandelion. Its Seafoam Green twin has received so many mentions lately in design magazines and blogs. I am actually very drawn to this peppy shade of yellow, and of course I couldn't pass a price tag like that either! So it made to my shopping cart.  

It was used in one of Steven and Chris' episodes "Sexy Dens for the Single Gal". Love the pop!

I also picked up this white lacquer tray at 50% off. 

I am thinking of using it like this in our living room, or as a vanity tray in our main bathroom. It's so versatile and has so much potential, all for a mere $12.50! Love me a deal!


Do you do online thrifting? Have you scored anything fun lately? Btw, you should really check out Indigo web site often, under Lifestyle and Home categories. They have really cool and chic stuff on sale all the time.

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