Paint Finish Cheat Sheet

Happy Wednesday! Although winter reached out and touched this past week, spring has to arrive sooner or later! When it does, we want to throw open the windows to the fresh air, embrace the longer days and refresh and update our homes. I know a number of you plan to paint and it truly is a quick, economical and relatively easy way to update and refresh your homes.

I say relatively easy as a trip to the local home improvement store for paint can mean you are faced with A LOT of questions and decisions. The first involves the type of finish you want: matte, eggshell or semi-gloss? Next is the type of paint: alkyd, latex, oil? Read on for time saving tips:

Paint Finish

Paint finish refers to the amount of sheen that appears on your walls once the paint has dried. The basic rule of thumb when choosing a paint finish is the higher the sheen, the higher the shine — and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be.

 ProTect Painters

ProTect Painters

  • Flat

Flat paint is a good choice for ceilings and low-traffic areas. It is also good for walls that are rough or damaged as it is the best paint for hiding imperfections.

  • Matte

A matte finish is very close to a flat finish and again is great for masking flaws on the surface to be painted. Generally matte paint is used on the ceiling where you don’t want any reflection but it can also enhance the richness of a colour when used on walls and can make your walls appear almost velvety.

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 4 Matte.jpg
  • Satin

A satin finish is a soft sheen that does not have any glare like a high-gloss or semi-gloss paint. It is still washable and is fairly durable, which makes it a good choice for most rooms in your home.

  • Eggshell

Eggshell has slightly more sheen than a flat finish, but won't leave walls ‘shiny’. It resists stains better than matte and can be wiped with a wet rag but note it is not scrubbable.

  • Semi-gloss

Semi-gloss is more durable than eggshell, so will show less wear. It will reflect more light than eggshell when dry and show imperfections on the walls so be sure to repair these before painting! Semi-gloss is the best finish for cleaning so is a good choice for a child’s bedroom or playroom, bathroom or kitchen and is also popular for trim, doors, and furniture. Also, if the room you are painting is north facing, doesn’t get much light or is small, a semi-gloss finish works well as it reflects light and makes rooms feel brighter and more spacious.

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 5 Semi Gloss.jpg
  • Gloss

Gloss paint is best for windows and trims. It also works really well for furniture due to its durable and shiny finish. Some also recommend glossy paint on walls for a glam look!

Paint Finish Cheat Sheet Pic 6 Glossy.jpg

Types of Paint

When I talk about the types of paint, I’m referring to the content of the product, not the finish and each type does have its use in decorating our homes.

  • Latex

Latex is a water-based paint that dries quickly, cleans up easily with water and produces very little odor. It is the most used paint these days because it is easy to work with and doesn’t require chemicals to clean up.

  • Oil/Alkyd

Oil or alkyd paint dries slower, has a strong odor and requires chemicals to clean up painting tools - and yourself! The advantages of oil or alkyd paint are that it has a very durable finish that is resistant to stains, fingerprints and scratches. It is well suited to rough surfaces, furniture and floors as it sticks to surfaces very well.


While it’s tempting to start right in once you have picked a colour and finish but preparation is key and you will be much happier with the results. First fill in any holes and repair any damage to the dry wall or plaster. Filler now comes pre-prepared in small tubs which is much handier than trying to make a batch yourself and mixing and remixing to find the right consistency and amount (I don’t miss those days!).

Once the filler has dried and you have sanded it smooth and even, thoroughly wash the walls with TSP (trisodium phosphate) followed by a rinse. TSP is available from local home improvement stores and works three ways to make paint adhere better to the walls: degreases; deglosses; and, cleans.

If painting is on your list of spring updates and projects, this information will help you achieve a beautiful result no matter what room is on your to do list.

Decor Updates for Spring

Hello and happy spring although there’s some debate here as we await one of the worst storms we’ve had all winter! It has been a while – life (good challenges) and health (not so good challenges) have kept me from writing for you but I’m back!

I love this time of year when we transition to spring decor. With a few simple and easy changes to your rooms, you can have a fresh new look that will take you well into the next season. Read on for some ideas and tips for updating and refreshing your rooms.

Remember less is more, especially in the warmer weather when we want to feel lighter and have a more relaxed approach to our lives. Decluttering tables, book shelves and fireplace mantels will lighten the look of your spaces and using glass or lighter coloured decor accessories will open up your space, making it appear lighter and more spacious. Using white or ivory coloured candles will bring a more relaxed vibe to your spaces while still allowing for the glow of candle light in the evenings.


One of my fav ways to bring a fresh perspective to my rooms is with spring flowers. A simple bouquet displayed in a vase, mason or jelly jar adds a touch of colour, texture and life to our rooms. So many varieties and colours to choose from!

Like flowers, new greenery is cheery and bright and gives us the hope of longer, warmer days ahead. I love the succulents available to us now and the range of shapes and sizes means there’s something available for every spot in your home.

Tropical plants are excellent too with sooooo many to choose from – colour, size, shape – these provide an instant update. Check out these plant ideas


Another of my best-loved ways for updating decor is changing out pillows and throws. (One can never have too many pillows regardless of what your other half says!) In the cooler weather we want throws and pillows made with heavier weight fabrics and rich, dark colours. As the weather warms up, freshen up by using lighter fabrics such as cotton, linen or silk and softer, lighter colours as well. Instant lift!


Changing the lamp shades is another inexpensive but simple way to refresh your space. A lighter colour and perhaps even different texture goes a long way to making your spaces feel energized and new.

What do you have planned to update and refresh the decor in your rooms? Be sure to share the pics – I love to see what you’ve been working on.

Interior Decor With Lift

This week I am thrilled to introduce another guest blogger! As mentioned previously, I have come across a number of fascinating, unique and interesting artists, ‘creatives’ and designers in my work. These are folks who are pursuing their passions and sharing the results with a broader audience in a number of different ways. Their creations align with my aesthetic that design and decor need not be complicated or elaborate to be tasteful, comfortable and livable and that decor should include a touch of whimsy – something unexpected and perhaps humorous or even cheeky!

This month’s guest blogger is a unique company that not only produces furniture and decor that are works of art but that bring a whole new meaning to ‘upcycle and repurpose’. Mike and Carolynn at Craviations, use repurposed helicopter parts to create designs that “reflect your love of aviation and showcase your sense of adventure.”  (

Read on to learn more about this dynamic team of artists and aviators and the inspiration behind their story!

Have you always been an aviation artist?

Mike and I have always been of the philosophy “work with what you have” and what we have is helicopter parts, lots of helicopter parts. I grew up restoring furniture, and Mike grew up fixing helicopters, together we are masters of DIY. So, to answer the question, have we always been aviation artists? Individually no, but as a couple yes.

If not, what did you work at previously?

As I mentioned previously Mike has been fixing helicopters his whole life. I have been in the aviation industry for close to 20 years. We still operate a Transport Canada approved aircraft structural repair company, which we started 11 years ago.

What attracted you to aviation art?

Having the opportunity to see the insides of aircraft, the parts that most people don’t get to see. Seeing the beauty in the design and engineering of the structure of these parts has always been exciting.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

How did you make the transition to aviation art?

When our first Granddaughter was born, Mike decided he wanted to build a bunk bed using a helicopter. I thought it was a neat idea but who has room for a helicopter in their house (except, I knew we had a room big enough).

Are there skills from your previous work life have you made use of in your aviation art biz?

Both Mike and I have the ability to look at a part and see the finished product. We have worked together for almost 20 years, and we work well together, which is probably the most valuable skill that we bring with us.

Mike’s years of repairing aircraft have allowed him to develop many valuable skills, that he also uses when designing aviation furniture.

As a self-proclaimed DIY master, and a real “work with what you have person” I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have come in handy.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

What are the biggest challenges of your aviation art biz?

Getting people to want something that they don’t know exists.

What gives you the greatest joy and pleasure in your aviation art biz?

Seeing the finished product come together, the excitement in people’s faces when they realize what they are looking at. Sharing the history of the part with people, so they understand they aren’t just looking at a modern, industrial style desk, they are also looking at a piece of history.

 Copyright Craviations 2018

Copyright Craviations 2018

How/what do your aviation creations contribute to interior decor?

If I was to describe our designs, I would say they have a modern, industrial feel while maintaining a providence that makes each design unique. They are statement pieces that tell a bit about the persons character, they are bold designs that showcase an adventurous side, while maintaining a practical function.

So to answer how they contribute to interior décor, I believe they showcase your personality.

Our Craviations are Anything but Ordinary

And be sure to follow Craviations on Instagram ( and Facebook (

Easy Update With DIY Decor

This past weekend I did 2 virtual consultations! (Call me if this is something you’d like to explore.) Not sure if it was the weather or the time of year when we’ve been indoors A LOT and look around our homes and think, “Yep! It’s looking tired, time for an update.” Whatever the reason, they got me motivated and energized to make some small updates to my home too.

A while ago I purchased a set of white shadow boxes from Michaels to display some of my seashell collection (insert Ever Lovin’s eye roll here). I was going to hang them in the Master Bath which I finished updating last year but just hadn’t got around to completing the decor. So, I dug out the frames, selected star fish and sand dollars to display and got this project done.

Starfish & Empty Shadow Box.jpg

The shadow boxes did not have finished backs in them, so I selected a beautiful blue paper, cut it to fit and glued it on.

Paper Trimmer & Blue Paper.jpg

I then used Crazy Glue to attach the starfish and sand dollars to the paper. I did give this some time to set/dry before putting them in the shadow boxes to avoid any mishaps.

Blue Paper Starfish & Shadow Box.jpg

Once dried and secure I put the backs into the frames and voila! Quick and easy update for the Master Bath and I’m very happy with the outcome.

Shadow Boxes Completed.jpg

While my style is currently tending to be coastal, you could complete this easy DIY for any of the mementos or treasures you’d like to display – postcards, coins, ticket stubs, lace, sports jersey, etc.

Shadow Box on Cabinet Shelf.jpg

While shadow boxes can be and often are hung, they have a wide frame so can be placed on a shelf, dresser or table too. Once you’ve complete yours, be sure to share – I’d love to see your results and where and how you’ve displayed them.

7 Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer

Many people I talk to feel that hiring an Interior Designer is an indulgence they can ill afford. While it does add to the overall cost of a project, it’s not as expensive as you might think. When planning an update to your home, consider the following reasons you should hire an Interior Designer to work with you:

OB-Guest Bedroom.jpg

1. Saves Money

While this sounds a bit counter intuitive, having the advice and input from an Interior Designer will save you money in the long run and help you avoid costly mistakes such as the wrong style and size of furniture, wrong colour of paint, poor layout, etc. (we’ve all seen the pics on the world wide web!). In fact most Interior Designers are far more reasonably priced than you may realize and when compared with a costly mistake, it’s a worthwhile expense!

2. Objective Assessment

We all become ‘house blind’ (yep! Me too!) and don’t really see our homes objectively. We live on with the quirks and worn and tired elements in our homes and develop work arounds for the broken and battered. An Interior Designer not only brings experience and expertise but a fresh set of eyes that can quickly assess what is possible in your space and how even simple updates can bring a fresh new look.

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3. Training and Expertise

Interior Designers have education, knowledge and experience and typically belong to professional associations that require ongoing education to maintain their certification and designations. This keeps them updated on new materials, finishes and considerations in design as well as what is trending and available.

4. Liaison

Interior Designers not only develop a design and look for your space but are invaluable during the renovation/construction phase of your project, liaising with the contractor and trades to address any unexpected issues, resolve problems and communicating with you to keep you updated regarding any issues or concerns and answering your questions.

5. Budgeting and Planning

Interior Designers are very tapped into the industry and have a very thorough understanding of the pros and cons of various materials and finishes as well as their cost. They are also experienced project managers and can plan and sequence your project in partnership with the required trades. This knowledge and expertise is critical to your project as they keep the project within budget and manage the trades to minimize disruptions and impacts on your day to day life.

6. Sources

The relationships Interior Designers have with various suppliers and retailers is hugely beneficial as you can often realize designer discounts and have access to a range of products that aren’t typically directly available to the public.

7. Bring Your Vision to Life

We have all been down the rabbit hole of design and decor magazines and endless online sites that present overwhelming options in terms of design, style, layout, colour, finish, etc. While magazines and websites present possible ideas, Interior Designers will talk you off the ceiling and work with you to understand your personal style, project goals, timelines, local building regulations and budget and spatial constraints. (See #1)


Regardless of how small or large your next home update project is, consider the reasons above for hiring an Interior Designer to work with you to develop your vision and achieve it in a cost effective way. The result will not only be beautiful, but comfortable, livable, cohesive and functional as well.

Design Informs Art

In my interior design biz I have come across a number of fascinating, unique and interesting artists, ‘creatives’ and designers. These are folks who are pursuing their passions and sharing the results with a broader audience in a number of different ways.

They have caught my eye and attention as their creations align with my aesthetic that design and decor should be comfortable and livable, simple not complicated and include a touch of whimsy – a necessary element to any design.

I want to share their art, design and creations with you via a monthly guest blog post that will be presented as a transcribed interview. Through this you can come to know each one, understand what lead them to pursue their passion, realize the challenges each face in the pursuit of their creations and of course, see examples of their works.

The first guest is Wendy Parlow ( and who is a photographer from Ottawa ON Canada. Wendy has participated in a number of exhibits and is currently included in one at Oh So Good Desserts on Richmond Road in Ottawa. Read on to learn more about Wendy and the path that lead to her passion for photography.

1.  Have you always been a photographer?

I have always taken photographs, but it is only in recent years that I have defined myself a photographer

2.  What did you work at previously?

Prior to retirement, I was a senior manager in the federal government. I spent over 32 years as a public servant, working in several different departments.

3.  What attracted you to photography?

I have always needed a creative outlet and I was attracted to photography because of the immediacy and spontaneity of taking photographs. It is easy to carry a camera and I almost always have one with me. This gives me the ability to capture what I see, as I see it.

 Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

4.  How did you make the transition to photography?

My transition was a gradual one. After I retired from the government, I spend eight years travelling from Ottawa to Victoria BC to assist my parents during their later years. My camera became a lifeline, giving me respite from helping my parents deal with their failing health. During that period, photography became an integral part of my life – I was hooked. Once I had more free time, I started taking workshops, seeking opportunities to meet and work with other photographers, learning new techniques and challenging myself develop my own artistic vision.

5.  Are there skills from your previous work life that you make use of in your photography biz?

There is a discipline and focus that has carried over from my previous work life. Plus, the analytic processes and structured approach I used in my previous life have been a great foundation for editing photographs. Most importantly though, I had learned to challenge myself, to take risks and to promote myself – vital skills for any entrepreneur running a small business.

 Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

6.  What new skills did you have to learn/gather to develop your photography?

There is always something new to learn. Some of it relates to the technical skills required to get the results I want from the equipment and programs I use. The biggest thing has been learning to see – to see what is actually there and to compose images around that. The human eye is amazing in its ability to focus on one specific thing and to filter out everything around that. The camera does not filter; it captures everything that is in the scene.

 Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

7.  What are the biggest challenges of your photography biz?

Organization and bookkeeping are right up there, not to mention inventory control: how many prints do I have, where have I shown them, where are they right now? The biggest challenge is probably promotion, and that is because of the personal investment I have in my work. Every print I display is a piece of me: it reflects my choices, my skills and my vision.

8.  What gives you the greatest joy and pleasure of your photography biz?

There is sheer joy in being creative, in making something unique out of the ordinary, in celebrating the special and the everyday. On top of that, when someone falls in love with one of my works and buys cannot beat that feeling.

 Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

9.  How/what do your photos contribute to interior decor?

Like any piece of art, they can contribute in many different ways. They can make a statement, they provide an inspiration during the design process, they can be used to tie together and complement existing decor, they can convey a mood, and they can add a punctuation mark to a room or a display within a room. My photos can be customized to be as small or as large as you wish. Modern printing technology gives me the flexibility to produce works on paper, canvas, metal or acrylic depending on the image and the space they are intended for. I enjoy collaboration and, as a photographer, I can work with you and your interior decorator to create a piece, or pieces, specifically to reflect your taste and style.

 Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

Copyright Wendy Parlow 2018

5 Considerations For Choosing Paint Colour

When refreshing the décor in our homes a new paint colour is one of the easiest and most economical but can also be one of the most challenging and confusing decisions to make. To pull a look together the right tone, shade and hue can make all the difference. I know you are already overwhelmed but read on!

I bet like most people when it comes to colour you know the colours you like and seem to gravitate towards but when faced with the colour wall at your local home improvement store you freeze! Deer in the headlights! Overwhelmed with choices! Most men, my ever lovin’ included, see one shade of any colour (the men in the crowd are nodding) …. but believe me, there are countless options in every colour family!

color wheel.jpg

The following are 5 things to consider when refreshing the paint colour in your spaces:

1. What is the use of the room you are re-doing?

Different colours are associated with different activities to enhance, support and contribute to their maximum enjoyment. So, how is the room going to be used? Is it for dining, relaxation, socialization or creativity?

2. What direction does the room face?

Consider the direction the room faces and what time of day it will be used for its primary activity so you know how much light the space will get throughout the day. This will influence the depth of colour your choose.

 Paint chip from Benjamin Moore

Paint chip from Benjamin Moore

The direction also influences the type of paint finish you should opt for. For example, a north facing room gets less natural light so semi-gloss or high gloss paint is the best option as it reflects light and makes the room appear brighter. A south facing room will get lots of natural light so a matte finish works well.

3. What furniture or cabinetry will be in the room?

If you have fav pieces you want to use in the room, what colour is the finish or upholstery? The colour of finish on wooden pieces can influence the adjacent colour on the walls making it look much different than the paint chip.

Are you budgeting for reupholstering and/or refinishing the pieces or buying all new furniture? If you are, it’s the perfect opportunity to match paint, fabric and finish.

Hutch Restyling 4.jpg

4. Are there colour go/no goes?

Is there a colour you love and always find yourself gravitating towards? Perhaps a different shade or hue of your go to colour would be a nice update or a warmer or cooler version of your fav would be a perfect change.

Are there ‘no go’ colours? If so, I recommend ruling them out right away; don’t waste time trying to make friends with these colours.

5. How often do you typically repaint/redecorate?

If the colour you are choosing is going to be changed out in a year or 2, you might be a bit more bold and experimental. If you are going to live with the colour for a few years, you may want to take more time selecting the colour and carefully consider your choice. If you are refreshing in preparation for the sale of your home, neutrals such as gray, cream, taupe or a rich shade of white are the best options as they will show your home in it’s best light.

I hope these considerations help ease your apprehension in selecting a paint colour the next time you find yourself standing in front of that intimidating wall of colour chips. With some consideration, selecting the perfect colour can be a fun and exciting venture and a way to express your personal style and taste.

Ideas for Simple Winter Decor

Happy New Year and best wishes for a year of fun and successful decorating plans and projects. I have a few lined up that I can’t wait to get started on – stay tuned for updates and pics throughout the year! In the meantime, it’s Christmas decor clean-up and the opportunity to sort through the Christmas items to decide what to keep, discard or donate.

And now that all of that is behind us, we often look forward to calmer, uncluttered spaces in our homes. While it is far too early to decorate for spring which is a loooong way off for those of us surviving the cold, snowy winter in the northern hemisphere, what can we do to decorate for the winter season now that the holidays are behind us? Read on for my ideas and suggestions for transitioning to winter decor in our homes in this post-holiday period.

Lantern with Spheres and Glimmer Lights.jpg

I love lanterns for their flexibility - they can be used anywhere in your home and the wide variety of styles, colours and finishes available make them suitable for any decor. The addition of candles brings a soft, warm glow; decorative filler adds colour, texture and pattern; mini lights around a candle or mixed in with the decorative filler add sparkle; and decorative spheres, like the filler, bring colour and texture to your space.

Frosted Tree Hurrican & Mini Lights.jpg

I can’t get enough mini lights! They add a bit of sparkle to any decor and can be used on wreaths, in lanterns, wrapped around candles or inside a bottle or jar for a simple and easy update. What a perfect way to add a bit of light, glamour and ambiance to your rooms!

Evergreen in Hurricane.jpg

Natural items such as pine cones, nuts, branches, evergreen boughs, etc. add an earthy element and ground our decor. During the shorter days and longer nights what a comforting way to bring the outdoors in and add an earthy, relaxed vibe to your rooms.

Plant with Snowman.jpg

The green of pine, boxwood or plants bring harmony and balance to our rooms and is a simple and beautiful way to restore ourselves after the busy-ness of the holiday season. A bit of green in your rooms is restful and reassuring – the promise of spring!

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Nothing says cozy comfort like a woollen or faux fur throw and pillows. They add instant comfort and warmth as well as a relaxed vibe to any room and are close at hand when the urge to nap and ignore the raging storm outside hits us!

And of course I love having a bit of whimsy in my decor so keep the snowmen on display long after the Christmas decor is packed away. They make me smile, are a nod to the winter season and remind me of the snowman building adventures we had with our girls.


I hope these suggestions are inspirational and give you some ideas for transitioning to winter decor. Enjoy the process!

5 Quick and Easy Christmas Decor Ideas

At this time of year time seems to shrink as our ‘to do’ lists grow and one of the ‘to do’s’ that can be the most overwhelming is decorating our homes for the Christmas season. This is often made worse by the pics we are inundated with of homes beautifully decked out – inside and out. Remember those mag pics and articles have huge teams behind them to pull the rooms together! I don’t know about you but I sure don’t have a team behind me; the elves I did have have moved out and started their own traditions and my everlovin’ is not the decorating type ;)

If you are short on time or inspiration, one of the quickest and easiest ways to bring a festive touch to your home is with the use of natural elements. These are plentiful, easily accessible, and a simple but charming way to add festive touches throughout your home. Natural elements do not require a lot of time and creativity to make a delightful display for those of us not inclined to compete with the Griswold’s and are not expensive, in fact most of them are free. Read on for some of my fav ways to decorate for Christmas using nature’s gifts!

Dec Photo 3.jpg


Pinecones are plentiful in the fall, are readily available and perfect for Christmas decorating. I love a bowl or small wooden tray of pinecones mixed with some small grapevine stars, cinnamon sticks, candles and even a few stones. Hurricane vases of varying sizes filled with pinecones, nuts and cinnamon sticks also make a beautiful display and can be used as a centerpiece, mantel display or on a coffee or side table. A small bowl of mini pinecones combined with nuts and a few cinnamon sticks also makes a lovely addition in your bathroom or guest room.

Dec Photo 1.jpg


Stones work any time and in any décor – just ask my husband! No vacation is complete without me finding some interesting stones or rocks that just have to come home! I love displaying stones in a dish, shallow wooden bowl or tray or a hurricane vase surrounding a candle and mixed with pinecones, nuts dried cranberries and cinnamon sticks. I sometimes add a few sea shells into the mix which provide additional texture. A small wooden tray or shallow wooden bowl also makes an interesting and simple container for displaying these items and is suitable as a centerpiece on the dining table or coffee table.


Today grapevine is available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Not only does it come in the form of wreaths but also in the shape of gourds, stars, etc. Grapevine stars look festive hung from the light over a dining table or from cabinet and drawer knobs. They also add a cheery note when set on the top of a basket of napkins or simply set along a window ledge.

A simple string of mini lights (which are available in star shapes) around a wreath makes a simple festive item and can be hung inside or out or set atop a cabinet or mantel leaning against the wall as the anchor of a vignette. In this instance it can be surrounded by hurricane vases of pinecones, jars of nuts and dried cranberries mixed with cinnamon sticks and dried anise. This makes for a lovely natural scent in your home too!


In our home, one of the first signs of Christmas is a beautiful yet simple red glass bowl with gold leaf embellishments that I fill with clementines - it provides an eye-catching splash of colour. When our girls were growing up, the appearance of this bowl with the clementines signaled the start of the Christmas season and a time of excitement! Pottery bowls or wooden trays are equally striking when filled with clementines, oranges, apples and/or nuts and can be placed on a dining table, kitchen counter or coffee or side table. And fresh cranberries are an absolute must have! Their rich red is beautiful and they are an equally lovely addition to a hurricane jar surrounding a candle or floating in a pretty bowl with candles.

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Fresh greenery, in particular pine boughs and dried dogwood branches, are very popular at Christmas and can be used both indoors and out. Fresh boughs are readily available at any Christmas tree lot and there are some excellent imitation pine boughs available today that are less messy and do not require care to make them last through the holidays. Dried dogwood branches can be found at farmers markets, craft stores and even some of the larger grocery stores.

The greenery and dogwood can be equally elegant in a tall glass vase with some sprigs of red berries and mini pinecones or stones in the bottom to anchor them. Also consider laying the greenery on a dining, side or coffee table interspersed with sprigs of red berries and/or the dried dogwood and pinecones and nuts or fruits tucked among the boughs. Ribbon wound through the branches adds another colourful dimension and can soften the look.

As we head into the last few days before Christmas I hope these ideas prove helpful and provide the inspiration to make some beautiful but simple and easy additions to your home for the holidays. Cheers!

Pillows for Christmas Decor

As we head into the Christmas season – the busiest time of the year and also the biggest decorating time – there are many of us who choose not to do a lot of decorating in our spaces:

  • we’ve downsized & don’t have a lot of room

  • we’ll be away for Christmas

  • we’re not into the Christmas spirit in a big way

But there are ways to add a touch of Christmas and celebration to our homes without a big fuss or big investment of time. One of these is the use of pillows. Now, no husband I know has ever said “we need more pillows”! But I’m here to tell you pillows are a simple and easy way in which to enhance your festive decor (and yes, you can quote me ;) It doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money either.

One of the first decor items I bring out are pillows. I have a foundation pillow collection that pretty much remains in place at all times. It consists of creamy white velvet pillows in the living room and blue velvet in the bedroom. Throughout the year and depending on the season or occasion these are combined with other pillows such as coastal motif pillows or Thanksgiving themed pillows.

Once Christmas arrives, these themed and motif pillows are stored away, the white and navy velvet remain and Christmas pillows are added. This year I have selected a white velveteen pillow with silver jewels in a snowflake pattern as well as burlap pillows covered in jewelled snowflakes. I particularly love these pillows because they aren’t Christmas specific and will be nice transitional pieces after the holidays are over.

Living Room Christmas Pillows.jpg

The texture of these pillows keeps the look from being too flat, the colours work well with the sofa and the neutral silver and white colour theme I have picked this year and the jewels add sparkle and glitz making the look feel more festive!

In the bedroom, I’ve included the same burlap pillows with multiple jewelled snowflakes – they work well with the coastal theme and the neutral colour is a rich and striking contrast with the navy pillows while the jewelled snowflakes work well with the few silver Christmas accessories and decorations I have placed in the room.

Master Bedroom - Christmas.jpg

This is just the start of my Christmas decor and I can’t wait to get decorating other areas of my home. Stay tuned for more updates and ideas for your own Christmas decor.



4 Steps to Hanging a Gallery Wall

Over time we accumulate pictures, art work, mementos and decor items that we’d like to display and enjoy rather than leave tucked away in cupboards and drawers. This is often best achieved in the form of a gallery wall. The gorgeous pics in design magazines and on decor websites make gallery walls look easy and effortless. But if not carried out in a planned and thoughtful way, we have to add patching and painting to our ‘to do’ list!

The following steps will help you achieve a beautiful look without creating more work and effort.

1. Size and Shape

The first step is consideration of the size of the space in which the gallery wall will be located; are you going to use a whole wall? A portion of the wall? What is the size of the wall or area to used – is the gallery wall going above a sofa or console table? What is the height of the ceiling?

The overall shape the items will be hung in should be considered too. Would a rectangular, square or circular placement of items work best? Would an eclectic, free form shape be more suitable? Is there a lighting fixture or other hanging item such as a plant that will dictate the shape?

You want the gallery wall to be balanced in the space in which it is located and you want balance within the ‘gallery’ itself. Take the time to plan the gallery so it appears balanced and cohesive and not like a random collection of items hung on the same wall.

2. Negative Space

Negative space is important as it allows for visual movement and keeps the gallery wall from appearing over crowded and out of balance. When hanging your gallery wall be sure to have each item far enough away from its ‘neighbour’ to allow for movement but not so far away that there is no cohesion. I find a suitable, workable distance is 1” to 2” depending on the size of the item - smaller items can have less space between them and larger items can accommodate more space.

3. Colour

In this instance I am referring to the colour of the gallery items themselves. Are the items a series of black and white photos or a collection of brightly coloured prints? Is it a mix of both art and decor items?

A series of black and white photos is simple but dramatic especially if they are all the same size and framed in the same coloured frames. This can be even more striking if hung in a very structured way.

If the items are brightly coloured prints, consider what order the items should be hung in to ensure the colours adjacent to one another coordinate not clash. If the prints are brightly coloured, white or off white mattes and frames will visually create more negative space between the items enabling them to appear more cohesive.

If there is a mix of photos or art and decor items to be hung, what is the most appealing way of structuring the wall to ensure the items complement and support one another. The items should be hung in a way that encourages visual movement around the display.

4. Test Drive

Before committing to the actual hanging of items, cut out the size and shape of each item from craft paper and using painters tape, attach them to the wall in the arrangement you envisioned. Place, re-position and place again. Play around with the placement and alignment of items until you have it the way that is most appealing to you and works best in the space. Once you have achieved the look you want you can start committing to putting each item up and not before!

We all get excited to see the finished result so immediately start putting each item up but if you don’t want the wall to look like it has been attacked and create more work for yourself, take the time to do this all important step! (Trust me, I ‘test drive’ all these projects so you can learn from my experiences!).

These steps will help you savour and enjoy the experience of gathering the items for your gallery wall and reliving the memories each item brings you as well as assist in the arrangement of the items to highlight each and every one in a beautifully curated way. And while patience is required to work through the process, it will also save you time and effort in the long run.


Colours of the Year 2018

Every fall Pantone announce their colours of the year which in turn is followed by the paint companies announcing their colour of the year (COTY). Many of us look at the colours, either love them or dis them and move along. Then there are those of us who eagerly await the announcement to see what is going to inform interior design and decor for the following year.

While each company selects a main colour, they also develop a number of related palettes building off the Pantone colours that include various tones and hues of the COTY as well as coordinating and complementary colours.

So just what goes into selecting the colour of the year? It is not a random selection made by a group sitting around a boardroom table colour palettes in hand. It is an extensive process undertaken by each company with consideration given to global events, architecture, technology, fashion, art exhibits, socio-economic challenges and trends, industrial developments and environmental issues. All of this information is researched and analyzed and informs colour choices.

It is clear from what has been announced for 2018 that pale pastel colours are behind us and the trend is toward more intense, bold colour - a reflection of the intense feelings and situations in society and among our communities at the present time. You will also see a movement toward interesting and playful colour combinations – think blue and orange, pale yellow and rosy hues, bright yellow and lime green and intense colours balanced with black and gold.

Metallics will also continue to play a large role in design and decor but instead of the bright shiny metallics we have seen over the past couple of years, the trend is toward more neutral metallics with translucent or pearlized finishes.

 Benjamin Moore Colour of the Year 2018 - Caliente AF-290

Benjamin Moore Colour of the Year 2018 - Caliente AF-290

There is a wide range of COTY from which to choose and one or more that will work well in a variety of decor styles. If a total redo of a room or rooms is not on your schedule for 2018, incorporating a COTY can be as simple as adding pillows or a colour block throw that incorporates one or more of the colours or including candles or a floral accent in one of the COTY.

With a range of colours and related palettes informing design and decor choices for 2018, there will something that speaks to each of us and will work well with the decor in our rooms. What is your fave and how are you going to use it? I look forward to seeing your choices!

4 Tips for Styling Stems

We all have those awkward corners and spaces in our home, those areas that cry out for a touch of decor and style. It can be challenging to know just what to tuck into these spaces – I know I have a couple that have challenged me!

For one of those corners I have a distressed ‘sap’ bucket that I use for faux stems that I update for each season and celebration.

I have used creamy white and blue/gray hydrangeas as the base element – I never remove them. The other stems are changed out according to the season or celebration and are in colours that coordinate beautifully with the white and blue/gray colour scheme.

For the fall I clear out the more summery items (sea grass and eucalyptus), leaving the hydrangeas.


Next I tuck in silk oak leaves with acorns and creamy white silk Chinese lanterns.

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These are followed by straw pumpkins for an added touch of harvest and Halloween.

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When I’m planning for and styling my bucket I bear in mind a number of design elements:


This is where the rule of odds comes in. Yes, it seems counter intuitive but odd numbers of items bring more balance to your decor look and provide a more full display.


A beautiful and visually pleasing vignette has items that are relative to one another in scale. While you want items of varying scale, do not make them too large or too small compared to one another. To avoid this, use a range of sizes scaled from smaller to larger so the difference is not so striking.


When working with a display of botanicals the overall height of the stems should not be more than 2/3 higher than the container they are in. If the stems are too short or too high the overall look is out of proportion and off balance.


My approach is to balance texture within my display. If the container I am using for a display of botanicals has a lot of texture, I tend to take a monochromatic approach and use botanicals that are all the same colour. And if the container is very plain and simple, I use botanicals with lots of visual texture in a variety of colours – typically an odd number of botanical types (in this case hydrangeas, oak leaves and pumpkins) and colours (in this instance creamy white, blue/gray and jute).

The most important part of creating or styling decor is to have FUN! Style, re-style, experiment, play with the display, try it out in various locations. It costs nothing to keep moving things around until you have a look you love and is stunning tucked into the chosen space. And be sure to share pics - I love seeing the results of your work!

3 Tips to Achieve Your Monochromatic Look

I’m sure you have witnessed the trend to monochromatic rooms – those serene oasis of calm and sophistication that grace the pages of design and decor websites and magazines. Many of us shy away from a monochromatic look, afraid that it will look boring, flat and uninspired. But it doesn’t have to be so!

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I love the pluses of monochromatic rooms:

  • sense of elegance, simplicity and harmony
  • easy to update because there’s no need to match colours
  • allows a loved treasure to stand out

A monochromatic look can be achieved by using tints (adding varying amounts of white) and hues (adding varying amounts of black) from the same colour family, that is, shades of blue, green, red, even neutrals. When developing your palette, think about how many shades you want to include in your room - what is your main colour, what are the accent colours? Where are you going to use the main colour - on the walls or walls and sofa? And where and how are you going to incorporate the various ‘accent’ colours?

When pulling together a monochromatic look it is about more than your colour choices. It is important to take into consideration principles of design as well.


Pattern gives lovely visual texture to a room and prevents the look from being bland. Depending on the vibe of the room, incorporate florals, stripes, plaids, polka dots, geometric shapes, etc. to create visual interest, depth and movement. Your room doesn’t require a lot to be visually interesting and attractive and pattern can be used in linens, pillows, lamp shades or an area rug.

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Scale is key to ensuring your room is balanced and can be achieved by using items of various shapes and sizes. This applies to furniture as well as decor items. Furniture that is too small for the room, pillows that are too small for your sofa, lamps that are too big for an occasional table and patterns that are too big or too small are going to make the room appear off kilter.

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Texture is both visual and tactile and creates movement in the room. Your visual texture will come from the patterns used in your room. But tactile texture is in the finishes you choose. It’s the wood grain in occasional or coffee tables, upholstery fabric, the material of pillows or throw or even a house plant. It can also be in architectural details such as cove ceilings, ceiling beams or window and door trims.

Decor Pics Jan 2017 065.jpg

Enjoy the experience of creating a monochromatic room – the colour choices are endless and it’s fun exploring the possibilities. And be sure to share pics of your room - I love seeing the results of your choices!




5 Steps to Styling My Hutch

Starting an update to any area of my home is typically triggered by a change of seasons or special occasion, i.e. Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sometimes it’s a special occasion called boredom that is the incentive and a new look is necessary to highlight a favourite item that has been out of sight for too long or I want to play “interior designer”.

These are the steps I follow to styling or restyling a display:

1. Clear the Decks

Whatever the occasion or reason, I start by ‘clearing the decks’ and cleaning the area (while dust bunnies are cute, they have no place in decor!). This enables me to see the space anew and clearly and allows me to consider the space I have to work with and what might fit.

Hutch Restyling 1.jpg

2. Shop for Display Items

Next I think about what treasures and items I have that will work together to create a fresh look in the space or best relate to the occasion I am updating for. I shop my home – the various rooms as well as storage – for items I want to use and can be re-located. Because I only keep or buy items I love and that bring me joy, it is often a challenge in deciding what to include from among my treasures, but hey, it’s going to change soon anyway :)

3. Balance

I place the larger items first as they are the anchors in the display. I use the ‘rule of odds’, that is, an odd number of items bring balance to the display. Typically this is 1, 3, or 5 but can be 7 or 9 depending how large the item is. For example, if you collect salters which are smaller items, displaying 7 or 9 can be attractive and not too cluttered or overwhelming. However, it you collect antique crocks, displaying 7 or 9 would be overwhelming and crowd the space. In the case of my hutch, I used 3 larger items as the anchors and built around them.

Hutch Restyling 2.jpg

4. Negative Space

In order to highlight or feature a particular item, it is important to have some negative or blank space around it so it stands out. Often we crowd our vignettes and it ends up drowning the display and is difficult to see and appreciate the items we have included. Remember that ‘less is more’.

 The addition of the grape vine wreath works well with the wrought iron in the bird cage and the hydrangeas and vine add texture and coordinating colour.

The addition of the grape vine wreath works well with the wrought iron in the bird cage and the hydrangeas and vine add texture and coordinating colour.

5. Texture

Texture is critical in design and decor, especially when creating a display. Without it displays (and rooms) look flat and one dimensional; layers of texture are necessary to create movement and interest and bring vitality.

 The sea grass and sea glass jar seemed a bit too much of the same colour so I added the star fish to bring a splash of white and an added dimension of texture.

The sea grass and sea glass jar seemed a bit too much of the same colour so I added the star fish to bring a splash of white and an added dimension of texture.

The most important part of creating or styling a display is to have FUN! Style, re-style, experiment, play with the display. It costs nothing to keep moving things around until you have a look you love and is gorgeous in the space. And be sure to share pics of your results in the comments section - I love seeing the results of your work!

Colour Explained

If you are like most people when it comes to colour, you have your favs and always tend to gravitate towards them. But if you want to make a change and step outside your comfort zone, the colour wall at your local home improvement store makes you freeze like a deer in the headlights! Right? The choices are overwhelming! Most men, my ever lovin’ included, see one shade of any given colour …. but believe me, there are 100’s of shades of the basic colours found on the colour wheel let alone all the other variations in between! In other words blue is not blue is not blue.

When refreshing the décor in our homes, colour is one of the easiest and economical but most complicated ones to make. To pull a look together the right hue, tint and shade can make all the difference. I know you are already overwhelmed but let me explain.

Hue and Value

The value of a colour refers to the amount of light it reflects or absorbs. A lighter hue reflects a lot of light and a darker hue absorbs a lot of light, so when looking at the colour spectrum (I only have a colour wheel, so work with me here!), the lightest hue is yellow and the darkest is violet. All colours in between the yellow and violet fall along the colour spectrum from lightest to darkest.

Tint and Shade

Colours are seldom if ever used at full saturation, that is, their purest, strongest colour. Typically we see a tint, shade or hue of the colour. A tint is a colour that has been made lighter by the addition to varying degrees of white. Whereas a shade is a colour that has been made darker by the addition to varying amounts of black. In the Benjamin Moore swatch below you can see the progression of colour from palest mauve (a tint) on the left to a rich, deep purple (a shade) on the right.

So if you are not ready for a full on, life altering change, perhaps a shade or two darker of the existing colour is all you need for a quick update. And perhaps there’s a deeper shade in your pillows, sofa or décor accessories that would make a good choice for wall colour.

Or if you are ready to shake things up a bit and want to take a giant step (or leap!) outside your comfort zone, selecting another colour all together could be just the change you need!

And now that you have a bit more understanding of hue, value, tint and shade, you will face that towering colour wall at your local home improvement store with less trepidation and more confidence. And be sure to share - I always love to see your results!

DIY Ensuite Makeover

I’m in love with white cabinetry, and have been for a number of years in spite of my ever lovin’ suggesting I would tire of it! Our current abode has lots of cabinets and the storage space is awesome. However, the cabinets throughout the house are clear oak (a bit dated for my taste!).

I recently updated the master bedroom and ensuite. The ensuite is perfectly fine in terms of layout and functionality but the cabinetry? Had to change! The large mirror was fantastic for day to day tasks but was a stock mirror and too large for the space. As a result the whole space felt off balance.

Being the thrifty, handy sort I looked at ways to update the space without breaking the bank. My research led me to the line of Rust-oleumTM products. I was pleasantly surprised to find out Rust-oleumTM isn’t just for spray painting rusty lawn chairs (ok, just dated myself!). There are a whole line of products to update and rejuvenate items around the home.

I purchased the Rust-oleumTM Cabinet Transformations kit at Lowe’s which transforms cabinets without stripping, sanding or priming. The kits will cover 100 sq ft and include everything required except paint brushes, lint-free rags, disposable gloves, painters tape and drop cloth (items a lot of us would have around the house).

After removing the doors, drawers and hardware, I deglossed the surfaces and wiped them clean. Once dry, the bond coat was applied. The bond coat is the colour you want the cabinets to be (I chose white) but it can be tinted a number of colours. I applied three bond coats and once dry, I applied the protective top coat. There is an optional decorative glaze but I applied it to one cabinet door and really didn’t like the look – I wanted a pure white, not an antiqued or aged looking result.

I am thrilled with the final result! The kit is enough to do two bathroom cabinets so the cost of the ensuite cabinet transformation is approximately $75.00 – excellent deal and way less mess and cost of having a new vanity installed.

For the vanity mirror, I looked for one that would better fit the space and be more balanced with the width of the vanity. I wasn’t able to find one that was exactly what I wanted at a price that I thought was reasonable.

Again I hit the information highway and found Fort Glass ( Not only did they trim the mirror to the required size but they rebevelled the edge after trimming it. And the price? Less than $30 including tax – awesome!

I am thrilled with the final result and of course the savings (who doesn’t like a bargain?!). I think a white frame around the mirror would be a lovely touch but that’s a project for another day!

Shelve the Accessories

While I love all things design and décor, the real fun (IMO) is the accessorizing stage. Like a classic outfit, a room is really pulled together with accents and accessories, and the whole look can be changed with new items or by rearranging what you have.

There are so many areas in our homes that are potential locations for accessorizing that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start! Mantels, the tops of hutches or book cases and shelves are ripe for décor. These areas are also easy to change when the mood strikes.

While I am often inspired at unlikely times (for example Monday morning with my cuppa) and like to change it up “just because”, at a minimum I refresh the accessories seasonally and for special occasions. This keeps the look of a room fresh and my ever lovin’ on his toes :)

I especially love working with shelves as it is easy to swap items in and out or totally redo the look. While they are tempting places to line ‘em up, the result is predictable, expected and uninspired. Shelves are ripe for self expression and provide an opportunity to display a few of your favourite things.

In this instance, the painting takes centre stage but rather than hung, it is sitting on the shelf and leaning against the wall. This makes the look more casual and is a bit unexpected as paintings are typically hanging on the walls.

The décor items on either side of the shelf continue the shades of blue from the painting as well as the bedding. The varying shades are just different enough from the painting and bedding to keep the look interesting and result in a less formal and more relaxed vibe.

And while it would be tempting to have identical items on either side of the painting, layering in items of varying heights and textures provides visual interest and keeps the eye moving across the display.

Groupings of décor items in odd numbers, in this instance three, bring balance to our displays; this is referred to as the rule of odds. Items displayed in odd numbers create a vignette that is more attractive, memorable and delightful.

As you look around your home, what areas are calling for an accessorizing update and refresh? What items can you repurpose or relocate to change the look and feel? Have some fun, create a look that is uniquely you and remember to keep it swank!

When Pigs Fly

I seem to have developed an attraction to flying pigs, yes, flying pigs! Is it the meaning behind them, “when pigs fly”, or just that they’re cute? I think it’s both. “When pigs fly” keeps me pushing towards goals, setting even more challenging goals and working hard to achieve those goals I have set for myself be it personal or business.

But flying pigs are cute; I have a couple incorporated into my décor. They’re fun, whimsical and add a touch of ‘quirk’ to my décor no matter what room or area of my home they are in. The one on my kitchen windowsill is a cute little one called Petunia that is a beautiful pale pink. As I do dishes or am moving around the kitchen cooking and baking, she reminds me to breath, see life as an endless journey of joy and laugher and reminds me of my goals, my future vision and that determination is the root of achievement.

Petunia Pig.jpg

The verdigris flying pig which is much larger has a delightful look of joy on his face. What a charming reminder that life should be lived, every action we undertake should fill us with joy,  and that we should surround ourselves with people and things that make us happy.

Verdigris Pig.jpg

As I decorate my home, I always use items that delight me, will always bring me joy and will always put a smile on my face every time I walk into that room. Despite the item’s colour, shape, texture or purpose, incorporating items that delight me make my space personal, whimsical, add a touch of the unexpected and make that space just a little bit swank.

What is in your décor that makes you smile, makes you happy and brings joy to your space?


Six Considerations for Styling Your Home

The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus), have often explained that being minimal doesn’t mean giving up your collections or treasured possessions or even acquiring new pieces, as long as the things you own are meaningful to you. I would further add that we hang on to things that are beautiful to us regardless of whether they are a perfect fit for our décor ‘style’ or not.

One of the things, okay MANY things, I love about being an interior decorator and working with clients is the challenge that comes with integrating their treasured and loved items into their décor. Treasured and loved are completely subjective but what a decorator brings is a fresh eye and a vision of how and where to use the items.

I recently worked with a client to style her bookshelves, fireplace mantel and coffee table that were in her living room. She is working very hard (so impressed by her ‘give away’ pile!) to live a minimalist lifestyle but had a collection of loved treasures from parents and in-laws, her travels and just because that she wanted to hang on to. It was a mixture of east coast folk art, a Chinoiserie jar, Inuit carvings, pottery bowls, coloured glass and photos – LOVED this challenge. So, where to begin?!

In considering the client’s treasured collections and the spaces to be styled, I kept in mind the principles of décor: scale, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, balance and harmony.

Fireplace Industrial Style.jpg

I found that despite the varied differences among the items, there were some commonalities. There was some cohesiveness among the colours and the furniture in the room (sofas and chairs were neutral colours and styles), there was good variation among the proportions of the items and there was great rhythm among many of the items.

Colour and Balance

So, how did we make folk art, photography, oil paintings, coloured glass, Inuit carvings, pottery and Chinoiserie work? First I put together items with similar colours but differing proportions and scale – of course remembering the ‘rule of odds’, that is, odd numbers of items provide balance. The coffee table display was comprised of a seagreen folk art fish, green sea glass Mason jar with candle and an Inuit carving that was a green based gold colour.


The mantel was narrow but had room for a few items so I went for items of various heights and items that reflected the coastal theme of the oil painting hanging above the fireplace. This was perfect for the folk art sea birds which served to draw the eye upwards and brought a playful air to the space.


The shelves came next with the blue, off white and cream coloured Chinoiserie jar together with a cream coloured Inuit carving and an antique brandy bottle. On another of the shelves I put together the three pottery dishes and recommended some river rock and spheres to add texture and rhythm to that ‘collection’. The client quickly got into the groove and realized that a number of her prized hand made quilts had similar colours could be folded and stacked on the shelves to pull the look together and be handy for those cold winter nights when being cozy in front of the fire was the order of the day!

So as you look around your home, what items do you have that you love, value and have meaning? What could work together and where can you display them? What is tucked away in a cupboard that could be displayed and bring great joy and memories flooding back? Shop your home, rediscover those forgotten treasures. Keep your décor fresh by moving items around from room to room and place to place.

Have an awesome weekend and remember to have fun and keep it swank!