Thursday, May 28, 2015

Open House Overhaul w/ Samantha Pynn + Winner to #DXDA!!

Hello Thursday! It's time for another Open House Overhaul, and this week Sam tackles a colorful home that is full of personality and reflective of the home owner's tastes.  You could tell the people living here are fun and full of energy and that makes it difficult for potential buyers to imagine themselves living in this home.  And Sam is here to the rescue!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
With lime green walls (or is it avocado green?), orange accents, bleached wood laminate, "ultra modern" leather furnishings, and a dated fireplace with a black TV on top, my initial reaction is: everything has to go! 

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
And that is exactly what Sam has done in this living room.  The walls are painted white, the furnishings now appeal to most buyers, and the space has a cozy, inviting, gallery-inspired look.  One thing I love the most is the addition of built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace.  By painting the entire room and the fireplace white, it no longer sticking out like a sore thumb.  In fact, it's now a huge selling feature in this house!

Love that Sam injected colors and energy back into the space through artwork and pillows to reflect the home owners' personality.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Here is the kitchen: classic 90s style with the mid-tone cabinets, dark granite countertop, white appliances and a basic faucet.  This kitchen also has me thinking: don't know if I want to cook here.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Never underestimate the power of paint! The cabinets are in good shape and the doors have the classic shaker style profile.  Instead of ripping everything out, painting the doors and the frames is a real money saver when you are trying to max out on appeal and minimize the renovation before your next open house.

The new wood countertop + the freshly painted cabinets give this kitchen a Scandinavian look.  The white appliances now fit right at home.  Add a hit of pattern through the roman blind, up the elegance with the gooseneck faucet, and say hello to beautiful stone backsplash! I adore the styling in the kitchen ... tips for me for my next photo shoot.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
I should actually give the home owner more credits to the original state of their home: they know what they love and they stick to the style + color palette! Not to many people can do that but then again, when you are trying to sell your home, your home needs to appeal to everyone's taste and a light, neutral palette is the foolproof colorway to success & top dollar!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
The pure white walls and the elegant white furnishings (I bet they were fab vintage finds painted white & I am loving those chairs!!) make the room feels light, airy, and it's now the perfect backdrop to accentuate the graphic patterns on the roman blind, the inspiring artwork, and that dynamite chandelier!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Thanks Sam for another great transformation! Now for you design lovers, the Design Exchange Auction at Design Exchange is where you want to be this Friday evening! Tickets are still available here and today, we have a winner for a pair of tickets to the Champagne Preview:  congrats Sophia!


Monday, May 25, 2015

DX Design Auction ~ Top Picks + Giveaway!

Hello Monday! Did you all have a fantastic long weekend? Garage sales were at every corner and I decided to join the party and put a few pillow cases online (check them out here).    Now if you are in the market for amazing design / rare collectible items and are looking for ways to support the local design community, you have got to come to the first ever DX Design Auction this Friday, May 29th, at Design Exchange in Toronto.

Co-Chaired by Tommy Smythe, Arren Williams, and Raymond Girard, the DX Design Auction includes donated items from the personal collections of local / international design stars as well as limited edition collectibles from top design brands around the globe.  

Here are a few of my Top-Ten favorites:

images via Design Exchange

Now if you are looking for an out-of-this-world vacation experience, how about a 2 night stay at the Fogo Island? I can get used to waking up by the ocean every morning.  Can you?

image via Design Exchange
My favorite local artist, Alanna Cavanagh, has collaborated with West Elm to transform one of its top sellers, Martini side table.  I've been collecting Alanna's art over the years (and only if I have more wall spaces to hang them all up), and this one of a kind table may just end up in my living room too!

images via Alanna Cavanagh / West Elm
If you are still on the fence of whether to join many design stars for the first DX Design Auction this Friday, let's hear from Tommy why you should make this event your priority:



Benefits from the live and silent auction will benefit education programs, curatorial initiatives, and permanent collection at Design Exchange.  Tickets are available here for Champagne Preview (5:30-7PM) and General Admission & Live and Silent Auction (7-10PM).

Here comes the super exciting part: 

You have a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Champagne Preview (value at $200+tax) for an exclusive preview of all the items available prior to the live and silent auction, to meet and chat with many design icons, and to spend the evening at Canada's Design Museum!  

For your chance to win a pair of tickets, check out the sneak peek section at DX Design Auction and let me know which piece(s) would you bid on this Friday.  To increase your chance to win, follow Design Exchange on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and leave me separate comments to let me know you have done so.  Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Thursday May 28th.

image via Design Exchange

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Open House Overhaul w/ Sam Pynn ~ Pure Serenity

Hello Thursday! It has been a short week thanks to the May long weekend and are you looking forward to another weekend soon to come? Chris and I spent some time walking around the neighborhood last weekend and I couldn't help but noticed the number of open houses in a few short blocks!

Spring is definitely in the air and if you are thinking about putting your home on the market this season, you will want to pick up some tips from Samantha Pynn of Open House Overhaul.

images courtesy of HGTV Canada
First impression is key to success when it comes to selling your home.  Experts say most home buyers have decided to buy or not buy a house within 30 seconds walking into space and if that's true, I probably would have said "no" to this tired foyer.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
It's amazing how a fresh coat of white paint can completely transform a space ... well along with a stylish light fixture, sophisticated bench, and a few pretty pillows of course to up the wow factor.  

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Most buyers can't see through your choice of furnishings or lifestyle and imagine themselves living in your home.  Not to say that this living room is full of personality but the mismatched furniture pieces curated over the past few decades (along with the celery green walls) have left potential buyers uninspired. 

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
What a breathe of fresh air and a mind-blowing transformation! I can't even imagine this is the same room.  With a smart furniture layout, some updated classic choices, and an elegant neutral color palette, buyers won't need to imagine themselves living here, they will want to live here!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Here is a short checklist if you are considering refreshing your living room before putting the house on the market:

images courtesy of HGTV Canada
Kitchen and bathroom sell houses and this robin's egg blue kitchen has left many potential buyers feeling blue after the tour.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Paint is truly magical and with a new lighting fixture, window treatment, backsplash, faucet, and hardware, this country inspired kitchen is charming and it feels like a brand new kitchen!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
The updated island works so much better compared to the original "fixture" in this kitchen.  Set on casters and equipped with open storage + butcher block countertop, this island now provides maximum flexibility for the next chef of the house.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Pine furniture set + a computer station at the corner maybe a classic scene up at cottage country (I am not recommending this set up at your cottage by the way) but it certainly doesn't fit buyer's appetite in this city's dining room.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
With new window treatment (love Sam's signature bands on the drapery panels), a repurposed piece of furniture as sideboard (painted white of course), classic spindle chairs in black, an industrial style chandelier, and a charming quality dining table, this dining room is now inviting and has a Scandinavian flair.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Love how Sam framed up the home owner's plates in shadow boxes.  They now look like master pieces straight out of an art gallery!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Here is a classic example of how to spruce up your bathroom for maximum appeal without spending a lot of money.

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Keeping it clean, simple, neutral for a spa-inspired experience.  One very important note: toilet cap & toilet pump are never appropriate at any open houses!!

image courtesy of HGTV Canada
Hope you enjoyed today's open house! Come back next week for another amazing transformation from Open House Overhaul!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#HDBlogSquad ~ Balcony Refresh

Happy Thursday! The May long weekend is almost here and with the days getting longer, the sun shining brighter, and the temperature reaching 30C at times, I think it's time for us to get ready for summer!

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I have been busy the last few weeks potting seeds, visiting the garden centers at The Home Depot, and getting the balcony ready to welcome the arrival of spring & summer!


I absolutely love all the colors in the balcony this year and before I show you how all the key elements came together, here is a flashback of the balcony from a couple of weeks ago: the dried mums from the last fall, the poor dogwoods that didn't survive our long and brutally cold winter, and the slightly faded floor tiles.


And thanks to a lot of help from The Home Depot, the balcony is now filled with fresh fragrance herbs and colorful, sumptuous blooms!


I know I want a herb garden this year since I was totally in love with this metal trellis from The Home Depot spring preview and my segment for The Morning, I have incorporated it into the balcony this year.  My herb garden journey started a few weeks ago with the pot seed starter, some soil, and a variety of seeds.  Not all of them have sprouted but I am excited to report that the coriander is happy and growing!


The garden centers are now open at The Home Depot and a little tip for you all, go pick your plants now before the best ones are gone!  The plant materials are fresh and there are lots of options to choose from.

Picking the right plants that suit the condition of your space is key to having a beautiful and low maintenance outdoor oasis.  The balcony has morning sun and is in shade for the afternoon, so I consulted the experts at the garden center and nailed down my options for sensational blooms throughout the summer to:




After picking the plants, I was ready to put them in the planters.  The hydrangeas fit perfectly inside the tall planters and re-planting was not required (yay).  As for the yellow begonia, here is my four-step process to transform a hanging basket into a stunning planter delight:

  • take out the dead dogwood and replace the top layer of old soil with the fresh triple mix to ensure the begonia gets plenty of nutrients 
  • turn the begonia on its side and gently squeeze the pot to loosen up the soil so I could easily take the plant out of its pot
  • separate the plant into smaller portions (usually there are multiple plants in one basket)
  • place the plants into the planter and allow some space between plants to encourage growth  



A couple hours of garden pleasure and the balcony looked a million times better already!


Here is my refreshed balcony for spring / summer 2015!


I just can't tell you enough how much I love all the vibrant colors, the mix of patterns, and the healthy, beautiful flowers I have in this city dweller's balcony. 


This balcony surely is my favorite spot for reading the morning papers, enjoying a light meal for lunch, and chatting with Chris over a glass of wine in the evenings.


Do you have plan to makeover your garden / balcony this May long weekend? I would love to hear your plans!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sarah's Rental Cottage ~ Bathroom & Kitchen

Hello Tuesday! We are down to the final two makeovers at Sarah's Rental Cottage and if kitchens and bathrooms sell houses in the city, this spa bathroom + beautifully designed kitchen will definitely have renters lined up to spend a week at this mid-century inspired paradise!

photo courtesy of HGTV Canada
Let's start in the bathroom.  It was small, dark, dressed head to toe with knotty pine, and the three medicine cabinets were crowding the sink & proven to be dysfunctional.

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
And here is the completely transformed serene oasis outfitted in a palette of crisp white and delicate minty green.

photo courtesy of HGTV Canada
The space feels so much bigger and brighter thanks to a fresh coat of white paint on all walls, a newly installed full height window (and some trees trimming), and say hello to the ming green mosaic floor! It's not an inexpensive floor option but it's relatively easy to install with not too many cuts, making it money well spent for a luxe statement without blowing the budget.

My favorite element in this bathroom has got to the be the glass shelves.  I love how everything is now on display and what a clever idea to make the most out of the space that previously housed the unattractive medicine cabinet.

The mirror is a sensation score and for those who would like to achieve a similar look, here are the key components for your makeover:

photo courtesy of HGTV Canada | products: sink / tile / faucet / paint
It's time to check out the kitchen.  It was tight, enclosed space with the appliances and storage all cramped into a tiny dark corner, and there was a bank of "upper cabinets" at eye level blocking the breathtaking view.   If you have to do the dishes in this cottage kitchen, wouldn't you at least want to cheer yourself up with the gorgeous sunset view of  Georgian Bay?

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
Well Sarah and Tommy have changed all that and hello to a delightful cottage kitchen of your dreams.

photo courtesy of HGTV Canada
Open concept, tons of storage, durable surface, and what fun with the two-toned kitchen cabinets!  The white washed ceiling complements the charming blue and white palette perfectly, especially when pairing with other natural wood accents such as the countertop and the wall clock.  Loving the pops of bright turquoise to echo the crystal clear lake water right by the deck.    

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
Planning to freshen up your cottage kitchen this season? Here are three smart tips from Sarah & Tommy:

  • simple cabinet door profile for a timeless look (don't forget to have some fun with colors & knobs!)
  • practical stainless steel sink and faucet in chrome finish for easy maintenance 
  • bar stools for casual meals (fab space savers as they are tucked right under the peninsula)

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
I have always admired and amazed by Sarah's creativity with kitchen layouts and how she repurposes IKEA cabinets.  Check out this kitchen plan for example:

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
By turning the corner cabinet facing "out" and setting back the three cabinets that form the island, Sarah now has full access to a traditionally dead corner with wasted space, and a sensational spot to dine.

Never lose sight of details! These brand new cabinets look like they were original to the cottage thanks to the wood panels installed on the wall and on the side of the cabinets.  Bravo!

photos courtesy of HGTV Canada
I hope you are as inspired by Sarah's Rental Cottage as much as I do.  Though I don't have a cottage of my own to transform, I am most certainly chatting up some friends to see if we want to spend a week at Sarah's cottage next summer!  And if you want to rent Sarah's cottage, now is the time to book! Check out the details here.

image via Sarah Richardson Design

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day Special ~ bluebellgray

Hello Thursday! With spring finally arrived in Toronto and Mother's Day is just around the corner, I am drawn to everything pastel and floral.  A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to meeting Wendy of bluebellgray for a delicious lunch at the fabulous Colette Grand Cafe (thanks Deb for having me!) and checked out their beautiful products in person at the launch party of the sixth floor at Hudson's Bay.

If you think floral is a dated design statement, well let me tell you these watercolor sensations at bluebellgray are definitely a breath of fresh air!

images via bluebellgray
Before I share with you my favorites, here is a fun video of the inspirations and the making of bluebellgray.


I love vibrant hues and playful mixes of textures and patterns.  So when I saw this picture showcasing the refreshing and colorful collections, I was immediately blown away by the bright fuchsia and the sophisticated teal for a bold, captivating first impression.

images via bluebellgray
And as I browsed through the collections, the delicate blossoms prints caught my eyes (it's cherry blossom season in Toronto after all) and this vignette filled with blues and purples is the perfect example of simple elegance.  I love how the structural elements of the table / bench and the teal landscape pillow offer a subtle hint of masculinity to balance the pretty floral. 

images via bluebellgray
I am also a big fan of pillows and have been addicted to trims for quite some time.  I believe pillows are the essential decorative accents that pull the overall look together.  The fact that you could give your room a completely different look simply by switching up your pillows making them my number one decorating allies.  These pillows with delightful trims in saturated colors as embellishment are certainly to die for.  I can't wait to get my fingers on a couple of them!

images via bluebellgray
Summer is short in Toronto and with the long dreadful winter we had this year, our gardens most definitely need a boost of colors and flowers right now! Although it may still take some time for the spring blooms to be in full strength, these trays and tables definitely give our patios / balconies / decks an instant pick-me-up!  

images via bluebellgray
And then I saw this! Why only have some floral pillows when you could have it as your bed? What a dramatic statement and I am a fan! Here is where you can pick your favorite fabrics by meter.

images via bluebellgray
To celebrate Mother's Day, bluebellgray is offering one of you this Tetbury shopping bag (only available in UK).  For a chance to win this beautiful shopping bag, simply check out bluebellgray and let me know which item you would love to add to your home this spring / summer.  For additional entries, leave me separate comments after following bluebellgray on instagram, Facebook, and twitter!

Contest open to US and Canada residents and winner will be randomly selected and announced on May 14th!

images via bluebellgray


Update (May 14, 2015): 

We have a winner! The computer has randomly picked Mel to take home this beautiful shopping bag! Congrats Mel and please contact me for your contact information!