Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Project Recap

2018 was undoubtedly another busy yet very satisfying year for me. Besides three out-of-the-country trips (Portugal in March, Switzerland in July and Hawaii in November), I managed to complete decorating three rooms, and eight refresh projects at home and cottage. Time passed by so quickly that I often felt déjà vu moments. Didn't we just pack away Christmas tree not long ago? Weren't we at this restaurant this time last year? These were the questions we kept asking ourselves throughout the year. As we age, each year becomes a smaller percentage of our life hence time tends to leap forward at a faster pace. As time seems to move at an accelerating rate for me, I learnt to slow down and enjoyed some nothingness from time to time. For someone as tightly wound as me, I would call that a huge accomplishment. 

Here is a recap of my decor projects from 2018:

At Cottage

Kitchen: we had counter-to-ceiling subway tiles installed at our cottage kitchen. You can read about it here

Loft: we turned a supposedly storage loft into a multi-purpose room, link here

Living room floating cabinet: I highly recommend a floating cabinet for smaller space. 

Bathrooms: for our master ensuite, we got rid of the impractical pedestal sink and had a vanity with storage installed. 

For the main bathroom, we replaced lighting fixtures, mirror and faucet for a more modern look. 

At Home

Master bathroom: I finally bid farewell to our two-handle faucets and opted for an easy to operate single-handle ones. As a result, I had to replace the counter, of course then mirrors then vanity lights. You can read all about it here

Dining room: our dining room gets the least amount of natural light all year round, so I brightened it up by painting it white (BM's Chantilly Lace is my go-to white paint. No yellow undertone whatsoever and very livable). I also replaced the dining chairs. It never ceased to amaze me for something that I once vowed I'd love forever (like those solid mahogany dining chairs), I could easily get rid of in a heartbeat when they outstayed their welcome. Link here

Kitchen diner: I refreshed this room on a whim but it turned out to be my favourite project of 2018. 

This shelf has all my heart. 

I will be back to write about my 2019 projects. Happy New Year to you and yours! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Nature-Inspired Holiday Decorating with Brian Gluckstein

Can you believe Christmas is one week away? I for one can't! It's like I blinked, pressed the fast-forward button, and we are already there. I've been feeling equally excited and panicky about this year's holiday decorating. Time is a scarce commodity for busy people like us. Besides the usual hectic work schedules, we've been busy searching for a winter home south of the border in a warmer and dryer climate (more on that later). It's been harder and harder to find days when I could get myself in the zone where my creative juices could run free. It's also the self-imposed pressure that this year's holiday decor needs to be more unique than the last year's. All that unnecessary obsessing aside, at the end I went with whatever my heart desired: a more simplistic, cozy and nature-inspired holiday decorating theme for 2018. 

Picture above features a few of my favourite things this year: faux fur pom-pom stockings by Glucksteinhome, wooden bead garland, antique brass candlesticks with black taper candles, and wispy long-needle pine garland. 

My 2018 holiday mantel. 

Now onto the dining room. Besides kitchen, dining room is where all the holiday fun and memories were made from holiday gatherings with family and friends. After a recent makeover, this space feels more current and more us

This is my 2018 holiday dining table setting based on the Darius Silver collection from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox. Its neutral colour palette and striking geometric patterns create a calm and cozy ambience without looking boring. 

I actually created two versions, one with a blue dessert plate for a pop of colour; and the other with the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Darius bread/appetizer plate

Blue above, Darius silver below. 

At the end I went with the Darius silver. The tablescape looks so much more put-together this way. 

I also used Leyland Cypress boughs, and Glucksteinhome LED mercury glass tree candle, together with a few glass Paz trees from CB2, to create a simple centrepiece. 

I am really loving how this year's holiday table setting turned out. I went through a few iterations to get to this point, so here are a few tips I would like to share:
  • Start early, so you have time to make adjustments and acquire missing pieces. 
  • Pick a theme, or not. Either way, don't go overboard with accessories, so you can create a more calm and cohesive appeal. 
  • Use natural materials as much as possible, for a more sophisticated yet not over-the-top look, for example, fresh greenery and organic linen tablecloth and napkins. 
  • Serve your guests with the best quality dinnerware possible, like this bone china set from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox

I will be back in a bit to show you the rest of my 2018 holiday home tour. A 2018 project recap list is also long past due so that's coming your way too. Stay tuned and festive! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas 2018 Home Tour

After a few weeks on the road, we are finally back to the comfort of our own home and ready to celebrate holidays with family and friends. And of course, all the halls were finally decked, with only one short week to spare before Christmas. Without further ado, let's start my 2018 holiday home tour. 

First stop has to be the living room. Unlike last year, we moved the tree to the opposite side of the room for a change. I am used to having my first coffee while catching up on morning news in that chair to the right, so standing up the tree on the other side would mean I didn't have to compromise my daily routine during holidays. 

Picture below: my 2018 Christmas holiday living room.

My 2018 Christmas tree, unlit. 

My 2018 Christmas tree, all lit up. 

Mantel, wispy long needle pine garland, antique brass candlesticks with a simple DIY eucalyptus collar. 

Picture below: the only new baubles I added this year were these amber glass ball ornaments from H&M Home. 

Gifts wrapped in craft paper. 

Next step is foyer. Ever since we moved the tree from our usual spot (by the staircase) in the foyer to the living room, this space felt a bit lonely during holidays. There's no wow factor for our guests when they first came through the door. So this year I added a small but fresh Balsam Fir here to add a touch of festivity. The same long needle pine garlands draped over the staircase handrail. 

Along the wall on the opposite side of the staircase is this new Article BIOS sideboard which is now my favourite piece of furniture at home. 

I kept this wall simple. The reflection of the garlands in the mirror was a nice touch. 

So there you have it, my 2018 Christmas home tour. Dining room and holiday table settings are up next. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Home Improvements that Increase the Curb Appeal

~ This is a featured post.~

When it comes to renovating your house, there are numerous things you can do to increase its value. However, there are other projects you can undertake that aren’t worth the extra expense unless you’re not planning on selling your property ever.

If you can see yourself putting your house on the market sometime in the future, here are the top home improvements that give a good return on your investment.


One thing you should think about before spending a substantial amount of money on any home improvement is to address the basics:
  • Make sure the attic is well insulated
  • There are no leaking taps
  • Your gutters and downpipes aren’t rusty
  • There are no leaky windows

You might have become accustomed to all these niggly jobs, but it’s very likely a potential buyer will notice them first.

Essential renovations
The kitchen is the heart of any home, and it’s often the first place any potential buyers will look. It’s also the room where families spend a lot of their time together, but when you look around your kitchen, it can be confusing to know where to start. Installing granite worktops and stainless steel appliances will immediately improve the aesthetics of the room. In a kitchen, there are also lots of opportunities for adding unique details such as a shiny new faucet or unusual knobs on your cabinets.

The bathroom is another room that is ripe for improvements. If your toilet and vanity are looking decidedly tired and worn, change them for something that’s more eye-catching. Bathrooms are often damp and dingy, so consider adding a window to allow more natural light to enter the room. Bathroom improvements often require the help of an expert, as there are plumbing and electrical issues to contend with. Luckily, Focus Development is a Chicago real estate development company who can help. 

Not all properties will have a cellar or basement,  but if you’re lucky enough to have one, invest in transforming it into a living or storage space. It’s not that difficult an improvement to make either!

Think Energy Saving
A major selling point for anyone looking to sell their home will be whether it’s “energy-efficient.” We’ve all become very conscious of the effect we’re having on our environment, and not only that, an energy-efficient home is going to save money on energy bills. A house needs to be correctly insulated, and the windows should have low-E coatings. Changing your water heating system for a more up to date one is also a good improvement to make.

Aesthetic Upgrades

Landscape the Front and Backyard
An increasing number of people are appreciating the benefit of having a garden. Not only is it something nice to look at from your living room window, but it’s also very enjoyable to spend time outside. You don’t need to spend a vast amount of money on the landscaping, but it can potentially bring a return of as much as four times what you pay.
Many of the repairs and maintenance that need doing only cost a few dollars but have the potential to increase the value of your home by a few hundred. It’s a buyer’s market when it comes to selling your house; only those in the best condition get a second look. 

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