Thursday, January 25, 2018

Vintage Style Kitchen Runner Rugs

Consider this the part two of my previous post on the same topic, as my search continues for that perfect runner rug for my cottage kitchen. I am looking for something that's 

  • Stain resistant: hello, no-brainer for a high traffic area between kitchen counter and island. 
  • Easy to clean: I need a rug I can spot clean and quickly vacuum up when mess happens. 
  • Material: something that's stain resistant and easy to clean is unlikely made of natural materials such as wool or cotton. So polyester and polypropylene/cotton blend will do just fine for me. 
  • Cost: unlike a large area rug for living room or dining room where I splurged to make a statement, kitchen runner rug is intended for everyday abuse. To me, it doesn't make sense to spend a ton on it. 
  • Style: vintage-inspired of course. I am loving medallion and Bokhara patterns. 

Easy peasy right? These are the eight candidates I've narrowed down to. 

1. nuLOOM Traditional Geometric Herati Medallion Border Navy. This was the one I mocked up in my cottage kitchen. 

2. Feizy Katari in Taupe/Castle, so far the front runner. 

3. Momeni Afshar rug in copper/navy: so in love with rusty orange tones in a rug these days. It all started with this one. 

4. nuLOOM Vintage Freda Floral Garden runner in pink and navy. 

5. UniqueLoom Bokhara runner in grey: can you believe this is the runner version of the same Bokhara rug I love so much in my living room and my cottage dining room?

6. Mistana Blackwell Dark Blue rug: really love this one, the colours and the patterns, but I am a bit skeptical based on the reviews on Wayfair. A lot of buyers didn't find it as distressed as they hoped for. 

7. Surya Harput rug in pink and navy: this is the one that's now in my basement hallway

8. Nuloom Vintage Killian Gray Hallway Runner: this is another strong contender. It has a lot of blues and camels with a touch of pink on a soft grey background. 

So which one is your favourite? Which one would you recommend for my all-white cottage kitchen?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Vintage Style Rugs

I was in the market for a few pieces of area rugs and runners for home and cottage. While I do appreciate all colours when used in a right way, I gravitate towards neutrals and whites. Case in point, I loved this grey Bokhara rug in my cottage dining room so much that I ordered a much larger one for my home living room. Saturated and vibrant colours add visual interests to a space, when used with restraint and discipline. There is an ocean of choices out there when it comes to area rugs: different materials, pile height, woven techniques, origins, styles, and colours, and the list goes on. 

While I may have been taking my home and cottage for a more modern spin these days, I crave a vintage style rug for a more grounded and "always there" appeal. 

Picture below: vintage style rug Edessa Tribal Medallion Fringe Rug in rust from RugsUSA. I immediately knew this was the one when I first saw it. The rug looks even more stunning in person with different shades of rust, orange and navy hues. 

The best part is, similar to a viscose rug, depending on which way you run your hand over it (i.e. which direction the pile leans over), the rug appears more muted and pastel, see below. 

It's like getting two rugs in awesome is that, right? This has to be my favourite rug purchase to-date. 

RugsUSA has a "See this rug in your room" tool for certain rugs to allow you to play with different perspectives and incorporate a rug into your own space before you buy. I was pretty sure I wanted a navy with pink accent runner rug for my cottage kitchen, so I used this rug to see how it turned out. 

Looks pretty seamless right?

I ended up ordering this runner from Wayfair. 

Does it not remind you of Caitlin Wilson's ever-popular Kismet rug? 

Picture below: Runner rug in situ in my home basement hallway. 

In my guest bathroom. The pinks and oranges are a lot louder than expected. I think I am back to drawing board for a more subtle one. Any suggestions? 

Tips on Selecting and Maintaining Your HVAC

~ This is a featured post. ~

HVAC may not be the most interesting and sexy subject for interior designers alike. Home owners often put comfort and health, before style and layout of a home. Behind the wall and underneath your house in the utility room, HVAC is the unsung hero to keep your house machine running. 

The HVAC system is intended for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. Choosing a good unit and keeping your HVAC in clean shape can help reduce issues, making it more efficient and decreasing the possibility of lapses in its performance. Hence, it is quite important to obtain an HVAC from trusted vendors as well as follow maintenance guidelines. Here are some important reasons why you need to have your HVAC system selected carefully and occasionally checked on.

Finding an HVAC Contractor
HVAC contractors can found through advertisements and connections in the building and construction market. Nearly every HVAC contractor is an expert in a couple of related fields, so it is best to select the individual who has a background best suited to your situation. You can also search for HVAC contractors in the phone book. Whichever way you decide to get connected with a contractor, make sure to look at their past experience. Once you have found a great contractor, it will be much easier to work with them in learning about, installing, and maintaining the heating and cooling needs of your household, but if you are wanting more tips and recommendations on how to choose and care for an HVAC unit, visit

Working with a Contractor
Your HVAC contractor ought to have all the information you would need for a good system, including parts prices, guarantee data, labor expenses, and possible savings. The contractor should also go over all information with you in person and provide good documentation for you to read over as well. Before you employ an HVAC contractor, it is best to have an idea of the job what needs your home would have, especially if it is a new construction. If a home is old, an HVAC contractor should be able to tell what type of units work best for certain home styles, as well as any upgrades to ducts that could improve the heating, cooling, and ventilation you receive.

Keeping up with Maintenance
Standard maintenance is the secret to keeping your AC operating for the length of your HVAC system’s life.  Although your contractor can help with major maintenance issues your system experiences, it is also best for you to do some small checks and changes yourself.  Here are a few that can be once a year:
  • Changing Filters - it is always good to buy a new pleated and efficient filter, especially those with an electrostatic charge that will act as a magnet to grab tiny dirt and allergen particles. This is not only good for keeping the air clean, but also of removing bacteria.
  • Keep the HVAC free of debris - removing leaves, twigs, pollen piles, and other types of debris from the air-conditioning unit’s outdoor portion is vital to ensuring that the interior mechanisms do not suffer unnecessary environmental wear and tear.
  • Inspect Lines - Taking a look at the insulation is important to making sure leaks and lack of connectivity do not occur.
  • Prevent clogs - Pouring a cup of bleach mixed with water into the air-conditioning condensate drain to prevent clog build-up from mold or algae is another recommendation.
  • Keep Majority of Registers Open - It is prudent to not close any more than 20% of a home’s registers (the grates placed as covers over air ducts).  The reason being that any more than this would put too much strain on the HVAC system in its effort to ventilate the home’s interior. 

Got any more great tips? Let us know!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Loft Bedroom and Master Ensuite Design

Not sure if you remember, but my favourite feature of our summer home is the loft. It's the first thing to draw your attention to when you set foot inside. Growing up, I did my fair share of battlefield reenactments with my cousins in the loft of my Grandma's house. It was our hideaway place where we did all the fun things kids would do at the time, away from adults' prying eyes. To date, I still get the private and cocooned feeling when I think of a loft. 

Our loft is a good-sized space at 200 square feet, with a comfortable 7-foot vaulted ceiling and a centred window letting in abundant light. It would be a pity to use as a storage room, as most people would probably do. 

My plan for the loft is ambitious. I am seeing a platform bed with storage against one side of the angled walls, a MCM desk centred around the window, flanked by two bookcases/shelving units for additional storage. I threw in a rocking chair for the hygge factor and a Moroccan pouf for extra comfort. The design board looks like this:

The loft is going to be a multipurpose room, allowing us to host more guests at the same time, and using it as a library/office when we have to catch up on work. I already called dibs on this space.

Desk, chair, rocking chair and pillows: Structube. 
Moroccan pouf: West Elm.
Platform bed, bookcase: Ikea
Ceiling light: Crystorama. 
Art: Minted and Society6. 

Now onto the master bedroom ensuite. It's so dysfunctional and hideous now that I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture. It has a pedestal sink and a medicine cabinet - for a house so well built with many cool features, our builder definitely fell short on the master ensuite. Everything in it pretty much has to go. My plan again is to create a quiet, relaxing and functional bathroom, easy to clean and maintain as well. 

Mirror with shelf, vanity light, towel warmer: Wayfair. 
Vanity with sink, laundry basket: Ikea.
Shower curtain: Target. 
Wall hooks: Normann Copenhagen. 
Art: Minted. 

So what do you think of these two design boards? 

Best Budget Friendly Interior Design Tips

~This is a featured post. ~

Interior design always sounds expensive, but when you approach it the right way, you can reduce the costs considerably. The initial idea when being frugal is to see what you already have that you can keep and what should be adjusted, repurposed, or replaced. It not all about remodeling the home, but picking and choosing the areas where a small amount can be stretched a long way to make some interesting design changes.

Here are a few ideas on how to perform some bits of interior design without breaking the bank.

First, Focus on the Entryway/Front Door

Approaching and entering a property for the first time, people initially notice the door and the hallway area. The door should look new, or at least tastefully weathered; if it looks in bad shape, repaint it and replace the door knockers, or think about a new door entirely.

For the entryway/hallway, less is usually more here. The more furniture and unnecessary items placed there, the more cluttered and restrictive it will feel; this especially holds true for slimmer than average hallways where going minimalistic is best (and cheaper too). Add a long mirror strategically to reflect light and makes the space feel larger than it is. Use a slender table to house the essentials, and have a coat rack & shoe rack nearby. The lighting is also important to expand the space, so brighter lights make it more inviting when coming in from the darker exterior.

Be Bold with Paint Colors

When you’re trying to save money, but not on the fun factor, consider using bolder color choices than you usually would try out. You may not be able to afford antique furniture and expensive artwork that will impress the neighbors, so making some bold strokes with colors that complement the existing color scheme in the room makes sense.

While you may be considering the cost of moving to a larger home and could use the website to get some specific numbers, for now, work with what you’ve got. Colors can also be successful in creating instant separation from one part of the living room used for relaxation to a second part used for informal dining, without the need for a dividing wall or other expensive additions.

Bathroom Additions

Perhaps you have a bathroom that’s a few years old but doesn’t need replacing just yet? You’re after something that will add some new elements to the space and distract a little from the mildly dated décor? In which case, we’d suggest some bathroom mats with interesting patterns or colors that bring some zest to the space. Fresh towels in all the colors of the rainbow make even a towel rack look more fun than a couple of weathered-looking ones all the same hue.

If you think the shower rods and the pull around shower curtain aren’t up to scratch, these are the things to put your limited budget towards some tasteful replacements. Beyond that, repainting the bathroom if it’s not too large won’t be pricey to do if you study some YouTube videos and learn to do it properly yourself.

You can probably complete a few of the little interior design projects on spare weekends. None of the tasks should take longer than that. It’s advisable to use the weekdays to study up on How-To information for each task, so you’re prepared for the weekend.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 Recap and 2018 Project List

2017 was undoubtedly a game changer for me, as I embarked on a completely new decor style that's infectious beyond our summer home. Looking back on the 2017 project list, I think it was a pretty fruitful year for me. What's not on that list was our cottage/summer home - in addition to all the smaller projects completed at home, I also bought and decorated a cottage! 2017 was great to me, and 2018 is going to be even more kick-ass! 

Picture below: our cottage living room overlooking the dining room. You can read all about my design boards and choices here

I loved that Serge Mouille light so much that I ordered a floor lamp version for home. Infectious indeed! 

Screened-in porch

Scandinavian and MCM styles really speak to me these days. I wasn't riding on any particular design trends. Instead, there's something inside me that craved for simplicity, practicality, and "hygge", a kind of style that's calm, timeless and effortless and suitable for everyday life. What good would a designer sofa do if it's so pristine and only there for show? I want everything in my cottage to have a purpose, to be useful, and can be used every day. 

2017 was a fulfilling year which set me up for clarity and happiness in my life. Over the holidays, I was able to start planning our 2018 projects, and yes, a lot of them involving our summer home. 

On the last day of 2017, we picked up this super cool vintage teak stunner from my favourite MCM furniture shop Furniture 1950. I needed a slimmer dresser for our cottage guest bedroom, so the 15.75" depth of this tallboy was a life saver. 

How amazing is this, seriously? When a room has small square footage, a taller dresser is the only way to take full advantage of the vertical space while providing ample storage. 

On the same day, I also ordered this MCM-inspired cone sconce for our cottage bathroom from Illuminate Vintage

So, my 2018 project list goes like this:

For our Cottage:
  • Furnish the loft bedroom. This is probably the most exciting project for me, as I've been wanting to design an attic-alike bedroom with sloped walls. 
  • Renovate our master ensuite. We have a pedestal sink right now and I can't tell you how much I hated it. I am a neat freak and absolutely can not bear the sight of clutter. They all need to go behind a cabinet door but a pedestal sink doesn't give me any of that. So it needs to go. I will be writing about a design plan shortly. 
  • Replace our main bathroom vanity light - the 4-light cone sconce goes here. As you can see from the picture below, the builder vanity light is very uninspiring. 

  • Kitchen backsplash: my plan is to add subway tiles all the way up to where the wall meets the vaulted ceiling. The inspiration comes from our laundry room at home. I am still debating if I should go with bevelled subway tile for more visual interest. 

  • And if we still have time and energy left, we may do some landscaping around the cottage by putting down paver stones. It can get pretty muddy during rainy days. 

For our Home:

I don't expect to undertake any major renos. There's just simply not enough time for us. But I do have a few projects on my wish list. They are all pretty aggressive undertakings and that's why I probably wouldn't be able to get to any of them in 2018. 

  • Kitchen: it will be a complete gut job. 
  • Dining room: everything in there needs to go. I don't like it any more. I have wallpaper and more modern furnishing in mind. 
So that's my 2017 recap and 2018 project list. I will be sharing some design boards (my favourite part of a reno) soon. Stay tuned. 

Before I go, I wanted to leave you with this. I received two sets of Saje Ultrasonic Diffuser as holiday gifts (what are the chances you think two friends had exactly the same gift idea in mind!). It definitely gave my 2018 a healthy kickstart. Saje's Refresh Blend is by far the best scent - and I must have tried 10 different blends before! Highly recommend Saje! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Iceland in One Week

Welcome to 2018! As the holiday break is quickly coming to an end, I figured there's no better time to catch up on the blog writing. It's been 4 months since we were in Iceland, so I'd better write the travelog before memories started to fade on me. 

Picture below: The majestic Gullfoss. 

We spent 5 days inside Iceland in early September. Our itinerary went like this:
  • Day 1: flew into Reykjavik. Upon arrival, explore the city. 
  • Day 2: Southern Iceland including Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Solheimajokull Glacier, Vik, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. 
  • Day 3: Gullfoss, Geysir and Strokkur hot springs. 
  • Day 4: Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon. 
  • Day 5: departure. 

Reykjavik is a very small city so if you really want to pick up your pace, you can see most sights in half a day. Hallgrímskirkja is probably the most iconic landmark in Reykjavik. The design of this Lutheran church is similar in style to the expressionist architecture of Grundtvig's Church of Copenhagen. 

Picture below: pipe organ inside Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik. 

Picture below: pipe organ inside Grundtvig's in Copenhagen. 

From the Hallgrímskirkja clock tower, you can get a nice aerial view of the Reykjavik city centre and the streets lined with colourful houses. 

We spent quite a bit of our time inside Reykjavik near the Old Harbour area. It's highly recommended to take your time and take in all the otherworldly views from near and far. 

Picture below: Solfar The Sun Voyager sculpture

Picture below: not really sure if they are called Laufskalavaroa which literally means stacked lava stones, but you will see numerous stacks of them at the Old Harbour near Harpa. The porous volcanic stones make it easier for them to stack against one another. Some are so topsy-turvy that you wonder how it's even possible for them to still take shapes with all the winds and weathering. 

Pictures below: Harpa Concert Hall and its beehive-alike glass panels. 

Our first stop outside the city was the Skogafoss, about two hours drive from Reykjavik in the south end of Iceland. Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 49 feet and a drop of 200 feet. We arrived at around 11am, and thanks to the angle of the sun shining at the misty falls, we saw double rainbow! This was the first time in my life I was so close to a double rainbow, so close I could almost touch it. 

In the afternoon as we made our way back north, we stopped at the Seljalandsfoss. Guess what we saw again? Double rainbow! 

We took our lunch break in Vik, at the famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. 

The entire beach is covered with these small river rocks, so make sure you wear very cushy and comfortable shoes. 

I was able to capture the infamous "sneaker wave" in action from a safe distance. 

After lunch before heading to the Seljalandsfoss, we also made a stop at the Sólheimajökull Glacier. It was a very humbling sight to see how human beings compared to the size the Glacier. 

Day 3:  we covered the so called Golden Circle. Picture below: hiking down to the Gullfoss.  

Picture below: Iceland's largest fountain geyser Strokkur erupting. It took a bit of patience and luck, but don't worry, if you miss one, all you need to do is to wait for 5-8 minutes before the next eruption. 

Day 4: this wasn't planned but my bestie from Copenhagen, who rendezvoused with us in Reykjavik, suggested that we spent an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. I am so glad I went. 

If you are a foodie, you won't be disappointed with Iceland. 

We arrived into Reykjavik in the early morning so our first stop was Cafe Paris where we grabbed our first meal/brunch. We didn't choose the restaurant for any particular reason. Nor did we do any research on it beforehand. We went because it had tables available and was steps away from our hotel. 

It turned out that the service was excellent and the food amazing. 

I am sure you know how expensive things can get inside Iceland. Two bowls of these modest Pho would set you back by $50. 

If you found yourself in the Old Harbour area and needed a spot to grab a quick lunch, I highly recommend Ramen Momo. It's run by two Tibetan guys who took their training in Japan and ended up with a restaurant in Reykjavik. 

We went back to Cafe Paris for dinner with my girlfriend and her family. The French cuisine was pretty authentic, but I have to say all the dishes were on the greasy side. 

It was completely unexpected but my girlfriend brought with her a ton of Georg Jensen decor accessories for my Scandinavian style cottage! My heart literally exploded with happiness. She is a girl after my own heart! 

While in Reykjavik, we stayed at the Kvosin Downtown Hotel. The location was fantastic and the hotel room clean and spacious. Don't be surprised that a Queen bed means two singles pushed together - it's very common in the Nordic countries where practicality is key. It's also very common for hotels to put out two single duvets - they are firm believers of a good night sleep so single duvets serve that purpose. I appreciated all that but one thing I couldn't wrap my head around was the separation of a shower stall and a washing closet (it's literally the size of a small closet with a toilet and a washing stand). Picture below: our suite comes with a kitchenette with a pretty blue island like this. Those pendant lights are from Restoration Hardware. 

The hotel put out their daily complimentary colourful donuts for the guests, and guess who took full advantage of that and had these super cute donuts for breakfast almost every day?

Every other person I talked to these days told me Iceland is on their bucket list. I can speak from my own experience is that Iceland is a must-go for those who love to travel. The landscape left me in awe, and wanting to immediately go back for another trip. 

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