Friday, May 27, 2016

Spring into Summer

Heat wave in May in Toronto? What the what?! That's right. It would appear that we skipped spring and sprung straight into summer. Spring was short-lived this year - a mere ten days of sunny, cool and crisp air, and poof, we woke up to this hot and humid 30 degree Celsius weather. I am not complaining; I just wish Spring would've stayed for a bit longer. 

While the warmer winter, cooler & shorter spring confused the heck of some flowering trees such as Cherry or Lilac, the sudden heat wave has been good for other plants in our yards. 

Like these blue Catmints - they are the more ornamental cousin of Catnips. Smell isn't all that pleasant, but I planted them for that very reason. Its pungent smell can supposedly repel Japanese beetles. So I am hoping these Catmints will do the magic, and stop those suckers from devouring our Linden tree this year. 

Blue Catmints are actually very attractive perennials. 

I've always wanted a Rhododendron, and this year I finally picked up one from PC Garden. In case you haven't visited PC Garden yet, I would urge you to go ASAP. Everything there looks so healthy and lush; and they are all so fairly priced compared to other traditional garden centres. I've started to track the growth of this Roseum Elegans Rhododendron - couldn't wait for those super pretty pink flower clusters to come out. 

Another exciting new addition this year is the LA Dreamin Hydrangea. It claims to issue blue, purple, pink, green and white hydrangeas all in one shrub, regardless of the PH level of the soil! Hello gorgeous, where have you been all my life? 

This is what my LA Dreamin started out as. 

The Red Wine Weigela I planted last fall wasted no time to adorn itself with tens of bell-shaped pink flowers. 

And as usual, my reliable Dwarf Korean Lilac fills my backyard with this heavenly fragrance. 

Have a great weekend my friends! And best of luck to Raptors tonight! #WeTheNorth

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Popcorn Ceiling Removal and A New Chandelier

Popcorn ceiling removal is messy, dusty, and painful to clean up afterwards. There's no other way around it. The stucco company I hired is one of the best in the biz, yet the entire process was still stressful, and at times frustrating. They are probably one of the few to actually mask all the walls and floor with plastic sheets. However, the taping job was sloppy so those sheets constantly dropped which allowed a massive amount of dust to escape into the adjacent rooms. To make it worse, on the sanding day one of the crew opened a window. As you could imagine, air blew dust right back into the house! Next time I will make sure to keep those window crank handles out of sight. 

Did you see the ceiling medallion on the floor in the shot below? Why was it not on the ceiling you wonder? Because the crew only used glue and didn't screw in to secure it to the ceiling, so gravity did its job and the medallion plunged to its death. 

At the end I decided not to install the ceiling medallion. I always wanted ceiling medallions but it turned out I actually liked the clean smooth ceiling better. It's probably not meant to be anyways. Their boss came back the next day to finish the job - it was impeccable, smooth as a baby's bottom. 

So here's the before.

And this is the after with the new Paris Flea Market Chandelier in burnished brass finish. 

These seeded glass beads lend just the right amount of sparkle to the light. It's glamour with restraint. 

Now I can move on to tackle the other two things on my 2016 project list: switching up the coffee table and the draperies. I am eyeing this gold leaf square mirrored number on Wayfair. What do you think? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Why Architects Are Great at Designing Stylish and Accessible Homes

*This is a guest post*

It is becoming increasingly common for would-be homeowners to go down the self-build route. Buying real estate from a developer means you have to live with someone else’s design. This doesn’t work for everyone, so although designing and building a home from the ground up might seem like an expensive luxury, it can actually save you money.

You can build a home using a generic design – there are plenty to choose from – but if you want a bespoke design that meets your individual needs, the safest way to achieve this goal is to hire the services of an innovative architect such as Peter Marino.

What does an Architect Do?

Architecture is a highly skilled job. An architect doesn’t just draw an artistic representation of what a home will look like, although he will produce a schematic design for the construction team. He is actually responsible for a great deal of things, including deciding what materials will be used, planning the services and utilities, problem solving, and project management.

Architects don’t come cheap, but they offer value for money if you want an individual home of much higher quality than a standard piece of real estate constructed by a regular homebuilder.

Problem Solving

The great thing about architects is that they are skilled at coming up with creative solutions to the problem of light, space and function. It is not easy to design a home that works efficiently whilst being aesthetically pleasing. An architect’s job is to listen to your wish list, take it on board, and come up with a design that looks amazing, yet is entirely practical.

Sustainable Living

Many architects specialize in designing eco-friendly homes made for sustainable living. They are familiar with the latest developments in green technology and can design a property that is both aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient. Buildings don’t just need to be beautiful – they also need to be functional, so if you want to do your bit for the environment and reduce your carbon footprint, you definitely need an architect to help you build a modern home.

When you hire an architect, you get a wealth of experience. They have usually designed and supervised the construction of hundreds of homes and commercial buildings, so they know what works and what doesn’t. They have the expertise to be able to steer you away from an impractical design that just wouldn’t work, and come up with a design you love that will work much better.

Hiring the Right Person

Hiring an architect is an important decision. It is essential that you share the same vision for your home, so make sure you interview several different people and check their portfolio before you make a final decision.

Mistakes made when designing and building a home can be extremely costly. An architect’s job is to help you avoid expensive mistakes and look out for your interests from inception to completion of the building project. If you hire the right person, it could be the best decision you ever make.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Beautiful Mess

Well, for now it's more messy than beautiful, but I am sure it will get there. Last time our living room was ever this empty was probably 7 years when we first moved in. 

Oh wait, no, it was actually back in last November. We emptied the room in preparation for ceiling stucco removal, but my Dad passed away suddenly on the day when we were supposed to start the project so I had to cancel. As you could imagine, six months later, it was still extremely difficult for me to work up the courage to get back to the very same project. Every move we made was a constant reminder of the pains I felt back then. 

In a couple of days, I will bid this ugly popcorn ceiling farewell. Btw, the Edwardian lantern is now for sale so PM me if you are interested. 

Surprisingly, we managed to relocate everything from living room into our dining room. Does this picture below not remind you of a Nazi plunder? 

The living room is all masked by plastic sheets and masking paper. I can still get a glimpse of the mess inside, which makes me very nervous. What if the stucco removal company didn't completely cover up the floor and that the wet stucco stuck onto it? What if the worst is yet to come and the sanding dust got into the rest of the house? My OCD again is getting the best of me. 

Anyways, onto some happier thoughts. It was the first time after a long time that I visited a Value Village, and just as luck would have it, I came across this vintage 1950s? brass Stiffel lamp in perfect mint condition, for a whopping $8.99! I added a lampshade from HomeSense, so this is the $25 in all its glory! A brass Stiffel lamp this size would normally go for at least $400! 

I have to say, this cool and sunny spring weather is really agreeing with me. I brought back our landscaping contractor to add some finishing touches to our front porch, like this pillar to connect the retaining wall to our driveway. 

And added a retaining wall around the tree so that I can plant some beetle-repelling herbs inside. 

With luck, I should be able to check off not just one, but three items on my 2016 project list before we leave for our Baltic vacation. I will be back to post some pictures of our living room hopefully next week. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Style Your Home to Sell

I’ve worked really hard on our renovation, and don’t intend on moving any time soon. However, I know that when I am ready to move on, there are a few simple tricks to styling your home to sell. The first impression of a property has a huge impact on buyer perception, so hopefully my design expertise will give you the knowledge you need to make sure it’s a good one. 

1)      Do your research
It is vital that you understand the area you’re in, and visit other homes around you to get an idea of the competition. You need to understand the market, and comparing yourself to other houses or apartments in your area code might allow you to see what you’re doing wrong. Another great tip is to visit estate agents, as they can offer you guidance and help you identify how to add value.
Whether you’re looking for houses to buy in York or Estate Agents York, Linley & Simpson are the best people for advice. They’ve been in the business since 1997, so their knowledge is second to none, but they’re opening new branches all the time due to success, so they clearly keep up with current trends in the market and move with the times.
2)      Go for subtle colours
Even if you’re not styling to sell, you must always make use of the natural light within your home as much as possible by going for soft colours. Griege, cream, fudge and soft blues have a calming effect and instantly make a room feel airy and spacious. You can still add personality though, but picking up a bold colour in furniture and accessories around a room.

3)      Make your home unique
After you’ve visited other homes in your area, you’ll be able to pick up on what your street is missing, and how you can out-style the competition. Adding a feature to your home that no-one else has will give it that wow-factor the buyer has been looking for, so try to think about how you can make an impact. It could be open-plan living if everywhere seems to have smaller rooms, a designer kitchen for entertaining, or even an oasis in your garden when the other houses around you have back yards that are dull and concrete.
4)      Maximize on space
A buyer wants to get as much space for their money as possible, so any way that you can make them think they’re getting more than the house down the street is worth looking at. There are so many options these days for space-saving furniture (which you can view here), and it could massively help the impression that your home gives. Make sure you clear out rooms that have been used for storage, and show the person viewing your home exactly how they can use a space.
I hope these tips help you on your way to a quick sale – let me know if you have any of your own tips in the comments section.
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