I just moved into a new condo with my spouse, and although the layout is perfect, it's a bit plain, a tad boring, and a whole lot of basic; the perfect blank canvas! We were on a tight budget but still wanted to add some personality to the space. A kitchen or bathroom renovation would have been out of our budget, and the condo isn't old enough to need an overhaul in those spaces, so we started with a bedroom makeover. (Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV!)
The walls were "primer white", the carpet was wall-to-wall "dirty ivory", the ceiling had a popcorn finish, and the window covering, well, it was downright offensive: a faux marble pattern on vertical blinds — enough said! Here's the before photo:
We managed to change all of the above on our tight budget, with plenty of DIY projects. Here's how:
After emptying out the room, the first thing to go was the carpeting. The apartment was a rental before we purchased it, so it was quite dirty, plus we have a cat, so I didn't want wall-to-wall carpet. If you live in a condo, be sure to check with your condo board regarding the rules — some condos require you to have flooring on top of the concrete. I wanted to leave the concrete floor exposed, so the carpet tacking along the sides of the room had to be removed once the carpet was up. I used a crow bar to remove the strips and nails in the floor. Then I cleaned and scrubbed the gunk and spray paint off the concrete — leftover from the condo's original construction — with a wire brush, trowel, soap and water. You can use a chemical concrete cleaner like this one from The Home Depot, but I found I didn't really need it. I did, however, need a lot of elbow grease! This is what the floor looked like before I scrubbed it clean:
Once cleaned, I filled the holes leftover from the tack strip nails with concrete filler — wear goggles if you're going to attempt this! I forgot to put my goggles back on after taking a small break and some of the filler splashed into my eye, resulting in a wonderful half hour spent with my face under the tap flushing my stinging eye out with water — not fun! Safety first!
When this process is finished you can leave the floor as-is and put a rug down or you can take it a step further and seal the floor with a concrete sealer, to protect the porous surface from staining. I layered an affordable jute rug from Ikea and a cowhide right on top of the concrete and I'm really happy with the industrial feel that it gave the room.
I've heard so many horror stories about scraping popcorn ceilings that I was really dreading the task. Luckily, the ceiling had never been painted and the popcorn came off with very little effort. I simply picked up a spray bottle, filled it with water, and sprayed a 2-foot by 2-foot area at a time, waited about 30 seconds for the water to absorb and then scraped off the popcorn texture with a large trowel. The trick is to not oversaturate the ceiling or you might damage the drywall underneath (I'm guilty of a few gouges in our ceiling). Be sure to use safety goggles and a dust mask. Also keep in mind that this task is extremely messy, and appropriate prep is a good idea. If your flooring is not being replaced, cover it with a plastic drop cloth and use painters tape to tape the edges of the drop cloth to the walls so that there are no gaps. If you don't plan on cleaning and painting the walls, use plastic to cover your walls, too. If your home is older, you'll want to test for asbestos in the ceiling texture and/or call in a professional to get rid of it. Once you've finished scraping, wipe the ceiling down with a damp sponge — I used a handy drywall sponge from The Home Depot. It has a textured side that will scrape any remaining rough parts off the ceiling easily and quickly. Then patch any gouges, sand and prime the ceiling before painting or covering in wallpaper. Treating the freshly smooth ceiling with a fun paint colour or patterned wallpaper is a good way to celebrate the removal of the popcorn! We splurged on a bird print and finished the look with crown moulding. It's an inexpensive material with minimal installation costs, and really made the wallpaper pop.
After much deliberation regarding lighting, I chose to hang an oversized drum shade fixture from Ikea. I really loved the look of their new Nymö shade with copper on the inside, but the perforated detail felt a bit busy against the wallpaper. With a few modifications, I was able to achieve the look that I wanted using their original large white Nymö shade spray-painted with a copper finish. To prevent the blotchiness of the paint from showing through the shade when the light is turned on, I gave the outside of the shade a quick coat of white paint. Something dramatic like black would also be a great choice. To hang the shade, I used a cord set found at a local hardware store. I love an oversized pendant in a small space because it draws the eye upwards and can actually make the space feel larger. I made mine for a fraction of the price that higher-end versions sell for.
My existing nightstands lacked character and were too small and boxy. I found an old nightstand at a hotel liquidator with a traditional shape, which I sanded, primed and painted matte black. I paired it with a modern, marble top tulip table for an eclectic look.
The art above the nightstand is a photo I took of a contemporary art installation at Centre Pompidou in Paris while we were on vacation. I made some colour modifications to the original in Photoshop, printed and framed it in an awesome square brass frame from CB2. A unique piece of art for around $50!
The larger artwork next to the bed was made using a section of an old drop cloth that had been used over and over again for various painting projects. It had some really interesting and abstract markings on it. I was originally going to paint something abstract myself onto a canvas, but I felt the pressure of a blank canvas staring back at me. I toyed with the idea of different abstract painting techniques, but when I saw this drop cloth at the office, I knew it was meant to be. I cut off the best section and stapled it around a blank canvas with a wooden frame. It gave the space the right amount of gritty edge.
My least favourite part of the space was the marbled vertical blinds. I wanted a window covering that would allow for two different light levels in the room while providing privacy. Ikea had the perfect drapes at the right length, for the right price. I installed the Ritva drapes, which let plenty of light through, onto the existing track that was used for the vertical blinds. I manually made a pinch fold in the drape every few inches and wedged the fabric into the grips that previously held the plastic vertical panels. For the second layer, I chose the Sanela dark grey velvet drape for its rich texture and light-blocking thickness, and hung this layer from a curtain rod. Now I can use the first layer to let soft light in during the day, or I can shut the second layer to darken the room when I want to sleep in.
Last but not least, I should mention the wall colour, which is the change that made the most impact for the lowest price. I've been inspired by shades of oxblood in fashion shows for a while now, and I knew I wanted a deep and dark wall colour, so Benjamin Moore's Bewitched (CSP-450) in a matte finish was the perfect choice to add the drama that I wanted.
All in all the transformation didn't break the bank and I achieved the rich layers and character I was after. Now I'm contemplating which room to tackle next!
Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV, where you'll find a complete list of products, as well.
1-8. Jennifer Koper
We never really set out to renovate our bathroom.
And yet here we are with a new space that feels as breezy and fresh as a whitewashed summer cottage. A crisp white vanity is a definite upgrade on the old one (see 'before' photos below), and its style is echoed by the sweet shelf/towel bar — which also lets me have a display spot in this relatively utilitarian space. The big 12" x 24" slate floor tiles from Creekside Tile are chic and outdoorsy. The palest sky blue — Borrowed Light (235) by Farrow & Ball — on the walls is a bit more playful and vintage-y than white, and it's contrasted by the warm plum tone of the drapes in the hall outside. H&H senior design editor Sarah Hartill, who coordinated this charming makeover, finished the look off with some pretty flowers.
So how'd we get here?
Our bathroom was a small addition to our house, completed just 10 or 15 years ago by the previous owners, so it functioned fairly well — and it wasn't as dated as the adjoining kitchen. (It has a large, walled-in shower stall at one end, which we left as is.)
But in renovating the kitchen (featured in our March 2015 issue), we decided to run the new slate kitchen floor right into the bathroom — a natural choice because the two spaces were connected without a threshold, and it would have almost been harder to maintain the old bathroom floor than jackhammer it out when we were ripping out the kitchen floor.
In the process, our old vanity got banged up, and my husband, Scott, and I decided we'd replace our toilet with a low-flow version while it was removed from the room for the installation of the new slate floor.
The new vanity is outfitted with smart see-through Godmorgon inserts and organizers from Ikea, which helps keep this hard-working family bathroom operating smoothly.
A tailored linen blind (Sarah had it made by Tonic Living) replaced a fussy (and really hard to clean) plastic slat blind.
Because it was an unplanned expenditure, Sarah and I tried to keep the budget low and the look simple and timeless. We chose clean-lined white pieces, and just a few accents to add character.
Here's a list of what we used in the transformation:
Construction, installation, contracting, Ikea Installation Services; Hemnes/Rättviken sink cabinet with two drawers, Ensen faucet, Musik wall lamp, Ronglan mirror, Kolja mirror, Hjälmaren towel hanger/shelf, Savern steel lidded trash basket, drawer inserts, towels, flowerpot, garbage can, soap dish, towel hook (background), Ikea; trim and ceiling colour, Wimborne White (239), Farrow & Ball; drape fabric (background), blind fabric, drape and blind sewing, Tonic Living; painting, Vintage Fine Objects; toilet, Kohler.
1, 3, 5. Ashley Capp
2, 4. Katie Hayden
The Bloomsbury group was an informal group of intellectuals, writers and artists that lived and worked in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood of London around 1910. The group had a number "members" but the most famous perhaps is the writer Virginia Woolf.
Over the past 105 years, the Bloomsbury group and their work have inspired film, fashion, literature and decor. Charleston House, the Sussex home of painters Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister) and Duncan Grant is now a museum open to the public. It's often used as a location for photo shoots and film.
I've personally been very inspired by this country house. So I was happy to use my own Toronto home as the backdrop for a Bloomsbury story that my colleague Stacey Smithers and I produced for the March 2015 issue.
Here are three tips for bringing a bit of Bloomsbury style to your own home:
1. Be creative with paint. The most striking thing about Charleston House is perhaps the paintings, and I'm not talking about the art framed and hung throughout the house. While those are certainly present, it's the murals on the walls, the painted furniture and various painted objects that stand out to me.
To achieve a similar feel, I suggest picking up a paintbrush and some paint. Now, Kai, you say, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were talented artists. What if I lack any artistic ability? I say, who cares? It doesn't matter. I can barely make a recognizable stick man. And while I happen to be married to a very talented painter, I have a hard enough time pinning him down to help with small jobs like changing light bulbs, never mind painting me a mural. Being creative does not require a skilled hand, thankfully.
To give my narrow stairway some interest, I painted brushstrokes of Farrow & Ball colours from sample pots and then wrote the names of the paint colour beside each with a Sharpie. Farrow & Ball seemed like an obvious choice for this particular story since it's a historical paint company (and actually one of the sponsors of Charleston House). And they have a curated selection of incredible paint colours with some terrific names: Arsenic, Elephant's Breath, and my son's favourite, Babouche, to name a few.
2. Embrace colour and pattern. You don't have to go overboard here or go too bold. Many of the paint colours at Charleston House have a dusty quality — this likely has more to do with age than anything else — but there's something in the quality of these paint colours that make Charleston House seem much more livable than, say, a bright blue and red Mexican hacienda. Pattern can be as simple as a lovely paisley throw over a plain slipcovered piece of furniture.
3. Live with the things you love. Curate and display treasured belongings. Artwork (whether it be professional or a child's finger painting), photos and keepsakes (your grandmother's clock or a memento from a special time) should be put out somewhere where they can be admired. Again, you don't have to go overboard here. Things can start looking like an episode of Hoarders. (I'll admit, I have to edit my home continually as things sometimes start to veer in this direction.)
The Bloomsbury look may not be for everyone, but it's withstood the test of time with its warm mix of classic and creative. Try it out!
Pick up our March 2015 issue for more on this style.
1-7. Charleston House
When the invite came to attend the opening of the first Muji store in Canada, myself and a few colleagues were very excited. We were all familiar with the Japanese brand, and love the well-designed, no-frills approach to quality that the company stands for and executes so very well. A trip to New York City was not complete without a visit to Muji.
The media party last November did not disappoint. We were greeted at the door by Mr. Matsumoto, the Canadian PR representative, and ushered into the new store with open arms and Japanese hospitality.
It's definitely a new staple in Toronto for well-designed basics, and worth checking out if you're in the area. It's located across from the Eaton Centre in the Atrium mall.
Here's a list of some of the items we picked up:
Margot Austin bought a great cream woolly sweater and go-to basic white T-shirts.
Lauren Petroff picked up a fab blue and cream duvet cover (which has washed beautifully). It has ties in the inside corners to keep your duvet in place and a zipper instead of the usual buttons.
Sarah Hartill stocked up on great office supplies, paper products and pens.
And I went a bit crazy and bought a ton of stuff including my new favourite wine glasses. They're stemless with a great modern shape and do well in the dishwasher.
Oh, and a hot tip: I will now and forever wear "right angle socks" — thanks Kai Ethier for the head-ups. They are amazing!
For more on Muji, flip to our Style Files section in the March 2015 issue.
The Kingdom of Thailand is often a great source of inspiration when it comes to creating exotic interiors that are both serene and luxurious. Discerning fashion and interior designers hunt for local treasures like traditional Thai silk, which has exceptional texture, motives and colours. Each piece of cloth is hand-woven, making it truly unique and non-replicable. And its remarkable sheen combines two colours, one for the warp and one for the weft, making the final result more like artwork than fabric.
It isn't surprising, then, that contemporary artist Pierre Bellemare was enchanted by this ancient tradition. So much so that he now imprints some of his colourful paintings on silk scarves. And we love his artworks that energize minimalist spaces and invite us to explore other worlds.
Along with music, travel is essential to Pierre who enjoys immersing himself in different cultures to renew his creative juices. While he travels for pleasure, Bellemare also exhibits and sells his artwork in several countries. He loves Bangkok so much that we were curious to discover his personal vision of Asia's Venice — a megapole that is deeply attached to its heritage while firmly embracing the future.
Corinne Cécilia: You seem to have a personal interest in Bangkok...
Pierre Bellemare: In my view, the more you know it, the more you learn to appreciate and observe the beauty of this city. We are used to Bangkok as an international transit place for travellers, but it is truly splendid underneath its treasures — the colours, the smells and smiles of all the local people. These hues have greatly influenced my recent paintings. Bangkok is colourful in so many ways!
CC: Where do you like to stay?
PB: At the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel. Nothing but refinement and beautiful design, and the breakfast is as sublime. The location is very central, near the SkyTrain, which is perfect for travelling through the city.
CC: Where do you like to have dinner?
PB: Bangkok is known for its quality and quantity of food, accessible everywhere. For lunch, I recommend Or Tor Kor Market. The food is authentic and top-quality. Furthermore, it's one of the 4 best food markets in the world. As for dinner, I would treat myself with a Kiew Wan Gai Phad Hang, a green curry chicken, at the Nara Erawan.
CC: Where do you like browsing?
PB: Bangkok is close to paradise when it comes to shopping for clothes or home goods. The Jim Thompson House & Museum is a place you mustn't miss. Jim Thompson was enrolled in the American military, returned to Bangkok after the war and decided to make silk his own passion. Located in the heart of the city, Jim Thompson's house has tours of the living space and garden and tutorials of silk production, from breeding and raising worms to weaving the most beautiful fabrics.
CC: Where do you go to relax?
PB: Bangkok is full of little parks and temples. Seeing the Wat Saket temple at sunset, on the top of a small hill, really touched me. To smell the incense, to see the monks, to hear the prayers and the bells, really makes it the perfect spot for a calming retreat. And nothing beats an evening stroll on the Chao Phraya river. You can enjoy the temples and the city without being in the bustle of the downtown core.
CC: What are some of your favourite places?
PB: Art is accessible everywhere in Bangkok but not always in its usual way. The ultimate experience is certainly the Grand Palace. So much delicate creative work in one single space is definitely breathtaking. Another absolute must-see would be the Wat Arun Buddhist temple: going up its 318 steps will take you to the top, where you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of the city.
CC: What would be your recommendation for local transport?
PB: The Bangkok SkyTrain, undoubtedly: it is easily accessible and has air conditioning, which gives you a welcome break from the heat of the city. You can also enjoy a nice view of the city from the top. I recommend taking the long tail boats and, as incredible as it may sound, a bike ride with Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours. A must do!! Finally, take a tuk-tuk: you can find them everywhere in Bangkok and they are really efficient. Great fun!
Corinne's travel tip: Visiting Bangkok during the dry season, from November to April, will spare you the heavy rains and moist heat of the monsoon season. Take a tour of some trade shows, such as the Thailand International Fashion Fair (from March 11-15, 2015 at the IMPACT Exhibition Centre of Bangkok). Closer to home, join the Thai community in your neighbourhood as they celebrate Songkran, the Buddhist New Year and Water festival from April 13 to 15, 2015.
For more on Thai style, read Gwen Matsell's blog post.
Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Hartill carefully crafted a British Eclectic–style kitchen with Joel Bray, and the results are simply stunning! Here's how they described the kitchen:
"Inspired by cosy panelled libraries, we layered soulful materials and rich colours that give the kitchen a sense of history and romance — white oak herringbone floors, matte black and brass hardware, a vintage stone-top table — then added a little modern quirk with statement lighting and accessories. Lots of smart storage solutions ensure everything is always at your fingertips: set behind clear glass doors, a walk-in pantry is far from hidden, and a classic rolling ladder makes it easy to reach the ceiling-height cabinets. High-tech appliances, a TV and an iPad deliver all the speed and convenience of the multimedia world, but the overall effect is warm and eccentric in a charming British way."
Get an up-close look at the kitchen this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (booth #926).
Here are a few of your photos on Instagram:
Visiting the show? Tag your H&H kitchen pics with @houseandhomemag on Instagram using #IDS15.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
- Eastern Promise Fez backsplash tiles Ann Sacks
- Silk Scarf wallpaper for artwork Porter Teleo
- Framing Soho Art & Custom Framing
- Peacock Garden wallpaper Zoffany
- Nolan pendants (over island) Arteriors
- Osgoode pendant (in walk-in pantry) Arteriors
- Waldorf-petit sconces Lambert & Fils
- Elektra espresso machine Zuccarini
- Space/DK stools Hollace Cluny
- Original artwork Art Interiors
- Television Samsung
- Baker’s counter Kantelberg + Co
- Antiques Context Design
- Antiques The Salvage Shop
- Bread, oils, etc. Forno Cultura
- Hague Blue (30) Farrow & Ball
- Oxford White (CC-30) Benjamin Moore
- Tuscany Green (2140-20) Benjamin Moore
1-3. via @IKEACanada on Twitter