August 31, 2009

The anti-me room

I was looking through my inspiration folder this morning and came across this picture:


I have no idea where it’s from or what I was thinking about when I saved it. It’s totally opposite from the kind of decor I like. There isn’t even a single touch of purple in it!!

But then I took a closer look, and realized that even though the overall look of the room is too busy and neutral and kinda frou-frou for me, there are lots of individual elements in the room that really appeal to me… the tufted sofa, the wood floor, the twisted twig base of the coffee table, the birch logs in the fireplace, the mirrored wall above the fireplace… and check out the blue butterflies scattered across the mirror. I love how they add a touch of colour and whimsy to the room :-)

Even though this living room has quite a formal look to it, it also somehow manages to look relaxed and welcoming to me.

What do you think??

Have you seen a picture of a room that’s totally anti-you, yet there’s just something about it that appeals to you?? If you have, tell us about it :-)

And on a completely different note… a special thank you for all the wonderfully supportive comments on my back to school post :-) I’m always amazed by how supportive bloggers are of each other :-)

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It’s coming together!

ButterflyHi everyone! It’s time for a report on our front yard hardscaping project!!

Because our work is all about transforming our hideous front yard from a scraggly, dark, unsafe and just downright UGLY plot of land to an inviting, well groomed front-yard oasis (okay… I’m exaggerating my ability to keep plants alive!)… this report is a perfect fit for Susan’s Between Naps on the Porch “Metamorphosis Monday” blogparty!

If you’ve been following along you’ll remember that our front yard used to look like this:

[16Feb08] Exterior 1 DSC01606

The above two photos show the horrible hedge that we removed last summer and the mega-cedar that we removed earlier this summer.

Below: excavating the front (removing the stump was only one part of that excavation) and the beginning of our first retaining wall.

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I had to share this photo… in an early yard project update I shared that our cat, Scotty, supervises everything my husband does out in the yard. Here he is testing out the quality of Brian’s top-cap placement!

It makes sense that Scotty would supervise… this area is, after all, “Scotland’s Yard”!


And now, some photos showing you where we’re at as of this morning…

For Kelly 1 DSC02510

This is the third wall… Brian will be finishing the last row across the curve and then he’ll lay bricks across the front (below the stairs) to finish off the wall.


I love how the stairs are turning out!! As you can see, we curved the walls of the first set of stairs so that they invited people up… the second set of stairs is more simple.

Wee set-back… we’ve run out of the darker grey top-caps!! Trip to the landscape store…

DSC02539And finally… the walls face on. I think it’s going to look FANTASTIC once we have the yard landscaped! We’ll plant what we can before we move into winter – and I’ll share photos of that part of our project as we progress – but I’m sure we’ll have to wait until next summer for it to look really terrific… you know, with plantings growing in and filling out.

Anyway… thanks for dropping by and checking out our retaining wall progress! Next time I report in, we’ll be puzzling together our paved walkway. It’s never ending!!

Be sure to make your way back to Susan’s blog, Between Naps on the Porch, and visit other Met Monday participants… and we’ll see you back here at DesignTies another day!!


August 29, 2009

I’ve become Rodney Dangerfield

back_to_school3 I can’t believe I’m doing this, but no turning back now… I’m going back to school. Again. Crap!! Well, not really crap – but I wish I’d known back when I was in University that I would want to be an interior decorator one day. Then I wouldn’t have wasted 3 years at Uni for a BA in English. Which has been pretty useless as a career tool, let me tell you. And then I wouldn’t have wasted another 1-1/2 years going back to school to study Technical Writing. Actually, that could have turned out really well – I landed a job at Nortel before I even finished the program. It was a dream job – great pay, interesting & challenging work, good people to work with, pretty much every perk you could want… and then reality came barging in eight months later when Nortel started its spiral down the crapper. Thank  you, John Roth, for ruining my newfound career barely after it started. And then giving yourself a nice multi-million dollar bonus. Booooo!!

nortel tshirt zazzle(And if I’d planned it better, I could have gotten my awesome Herman Miller Aeron chair…)

So anyway, I have my first Basic Drafting Skills class on Monday. Since when does school start in August?? Ugh!!

drafting table dany seo

And then in two weeks, my Colour in Decor class starts.


I know I’m going to learn a lot, and I’m sure both classes are going to be fun – but it still feels weird to be 41 and heading back to school. I’m starting to see senior prom in a whole new way…

senior prom oregonlive

Now here’s a dilemma I’m having – what do I carry my school stuff in?? I want to buy a new cool bag

balenciaga-purple-goat-leather pursepage

Not for school, but this dog bag is just too adorable!!

houndstooth-bag mydesignerhandbag

Hubby says my Roots backpack will be perfectly fine…

roots backpackBut it just doesn’t scream “interior decorator in training” does it?? Oh well…

Check these out – over at Oops, I Craft My Pants {Off} (love that blog name!!), Erika created her own personalized notebooks and pens with paper…

craft pant notebooks craft pants pens

Pretty cute, eh?? :-) Much more fashionable than a plain old notebook and pen.

So in two more days, I’m going to officially be a student. And as much as I’m whining about going to school again, I’m really looking forward to it. And whether or not they know it, there are some bloggers who inspired me to do it…

Maria at Colour me Happy — Maria’s knowledge of colour is amazing. I share her love and passion for colour, and I want to learn everything about colour that Maria knows :-) So I had to register for Colour in Decor, even though it means having to give up my step dance class.


Michelle at A Schematic Life — Michelle does the most amazing renderings. She also creates fabulous interiors and exteriors with her pens. I’m not expecting to be able to draw anywhere near as well as Michelle draws after one semester of Basic Drafting Skills. But it’ll be a step in the right direction :-)

michelle cabin

Donna at dh designs — Donna recently graduated from the same part-time Residential Decor program that I’m taking. We got together a couple of weeks ago, and babbled for hours-literally!!—about everything from the decor classes to dogs to daiquiris. And freak us both out – Donna was best friends with one of my cousins years ago when they both lived in the same part of Montreal!! Donna takes fabulous flower pictures…

donna daisy

Paul at Kitchen & Residential Design — Paul is just the nicest, most generous guy. He’s been helping me redesign my kitchen via e-mail for months. He sent me tiles samples. And he isn’t afraid to tell me that my cabinet colour sucks!! His amazing generosity inspires me to learn as much as I can about decorating so I can pay it forward like he does :-) Check out this cool floor transition he designed…

paul flooring

My blog partner Victoria — She started the DesignTies Smackdown a few weeks ago. So seeing as she wants a competition, I’m going to take more classes than her and get smarter that her!! ;-P

And really, ALL of the wonderful designers and decorators and decor lovers and bloggers we’ve “met” since we started DesignTies eight months ago have inspired me. Your talent and kindness and generosity have encouraged me to follow my dream to be an interior decorator :-)

So to all of you, a big Thank You!!

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August 27, 2009

Hooked on wood decks

BHG 7 Better Homes and Gardens contacted us a little while ago to let us know that they have a lot of resources on their web site for building decks. They asked us if we would be interested in sharing these resources with our blog buddies. Seeing as my deck has been a work in progress for about 5 years (I’m sure it’ll have a railing eventually…), and Victoria and her hubby are planning to add a deck to their home soon, we decided that we would most definitely be happy to not only share BHG’s info about backyard decks, but put some of their info to use ourselves!!

So that’s why this for this week’s Hooked on Fridays—hosted by the summery Julia at Hooked on Houses—I’m hooked on wood decks :-)

First off, here are some helpful links on the BHG web site:

These are just some of the beautiful decks at BHG…

BHG 2 woodsBHG 5  BHG 9BHG 1BHG 8BHG 6BHG 3

And now let’s take a look at some beach decks, contemporary decks, and traditional decks.

I don’t know about you, but my deck has to have at least a couple of Adirondack chairs. OK, these ones aren’t actually ON a deck, but they set the mood for summertime lounging, don’t you think?? :-)

adirondack adirondackchaironlineAdirondack Chair Online


And how about an Adirondack chair on a deck by the beach (pics from Completely Coastal)

beach completely coastal 1beach completely coastal 2

Artist Daniel Pollera creates amazingly realistic coastal paintings. Wouldn’t you love to be sitting on one of his decks right now…

daniel pollera softwinds

daniel pollera serenity

This deck is practically in the water!!

beach southern accents Southern Accents

An apartment might have a little balcony deck…

balcony greayerGreayer

…and some houses have lots of decks, like this house in Chile called Metamorfosis 1. It’s a renovation of an existing wooden house by architects José Ulloa Davet & Delphine Ding. Can you imagine having to stain all that wood?! (pics from and

wood house 1wood house 2wood house 8 archdailywood house 5 archdaily

And not to be outdone, here’s an intriguing Japanese house with an equally intriguing deck. It’s the Shell House designed by Kotaro Ide of ARTechnic Architects. That’s one cool deck!!

shellhouseinjapanhousedad1 japanese garden deck greayer 2

Some big traditional houses with big wraparound decks (well, OK, porches)…


south front porch ideas and moreFront Porch Ideas and More

Decks in the woods (or woods in the deck!!)…

contemporary-patio houzzHouzz

deck forest desck design picturesForest Deck Design Pictures

log deck herhomeHerhome

traditional howstuffworks How Stuff Works

Contemporary decks by Amir Schlezinger in the UK…

contemporary amir-schlezinger

gw_image amir-schlezinger

kn_image amir-schlezinger

london-contemporary-garden-amir-schlezinger trendir

And this contemporary deck is by Blasen Landscape Architecture in California…

p blasen landscape architecture

One more contemporary deck. I like the combination of wood & stone & water

contemporary-garden hollandscapes co ukHollandscapes

As cool and sexy as the contemporary decks are, there’s something so appealing about more traditional, weathered grey decks with colourful flowers

traditioanl DeckFlowers lesleysbooknookLesley’s Book Nook

traditional celticanamcara Celtic Anamcara

traditioanl flowers artsquadgraphicsArt Squad Graphics

Sort of a shabby chic deck…

traditional romancing the blingRomancing the Bling

And we can’t forget Susan’s deck! Those of you who are regular readers of Susan’s blog Between Naps on the Porch have likely read about the building of her wonderful deck & porch… and if you haven’t, be sure to make your way over there for all the before and after photos! Here’s a peek at the end result… love it!


And finally, a couple of pretty front porches… love the painted ceilings :-)

south americanpacAmericanpac

south southernaccentsSouthern Accents

I hope these pictures and the BHG links have inspired you to build or renovate your own deck. Don’t let the fact that it’s almost September stop you — start planning now so you’ll have a great backyard (or front yard) deck to enjoy all summer long next year :-)

Now go see who’s hanging out on Julia’s deck back at Hooked on Houses

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With some assistance from my sidekick Victoria :-)