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Don't you love those last few weeks before your first-born arrives when you have time for little projects around the house? I realize my free time is fleeting, so I've been making the most of it by adding some finishing touches to the nursery. We didn't actually paint the room, since it was freshened up a year ago, so that left more time for the details. Read on for some easy DIY ideas while feathering your nest.

We finally found an affordable, simple white crib, which allowed us to splurge on a healthy organic mattress. And my sister passed her equally simple white change table on to us for $0.

These are old Ikea baskets I've had forever and they happened to fit perfectly in our hand-me-down change table. But I thought basket liners would make them more clothes-friendly. I didn't want a fabric that was too baby-ish, so I went with a simple aqua and white stripe. This way, these baskets could look right at home in a laundry room or basement, without having to sew new liners for them.

I have a very talented mother. No, I didn't sew these myself, but I did measure and cut the fabric for her. She spent the better part of a Sunday sewing these together. They're lined on all four sides inside, and then we attached aqua ribbon to hold the liners in place. Again, not too baby-ish or gender-specific.

I dragged my hubby to nearly every furniture store in the city looking for the perfect nursing chair. Gliders, recliners, rocking chairs... there are a multitude of options out there, but I didn't love any of them, and most were around $1,000. We thought maybe we could invest in an armchair that could be used in the living room post-babies, but again, we weren't sold on any one style. And I didn't think the modern shapes of most of them would suit the traditional style of the nursery.

Then we found this solid wood glider at a yard sale for $50. It was already painted white, but had two awful denim cushions that had seen better days. I gave it a fresh coat of white paint — although it didn't really need it — and picked up some inexpensive batting at my local fabric store to make some new cushions. (I didn't know just how old those denim ones were, so I thought it best to toss them.) My mom covered the batting in the same striped fabric.

There are several vintage gold lamps and frames in the nursery, so I wanted to tie in a bit of the gold with pillows, too. My mom had sewn these years ago for a bed, so I pulled them out of storage for the glider.

I hand-sewed the same ribbon on the back of the chair cushions to hold them in place. I love the traditional lines of this glider!

I come up with funny little projects from time to time, excitedly explain them to my husband, and receive a look of confusion in response. But once the bee is in my bonnet, there's no turning back. I was convinced this gallery wall idea would be great.

I still have lots of children's books from when I was young, but I couldn't imagine cutting them up, so my first step was to track down some old children's books. I headed to my favourite antiques market, Mizener's, and rounded up these gems. They're not so old that they're worth anything (most were around $1), but they're old enough to have illustrations that evoke that sense of nostalgia. You don't want to cut up books that are actually ancient, since their value increases, but most of these are from the 1960s.

I also picked up some old gold and aqua frames at Mizener's. (Okay, a couple might be from HomeSense, but I loved the colours.) I also had a few gold frames kicking around from our wedding last year, waiting in Rubbermaid bins to be repurposed. I played around with the arrangement until it seemed right.

Then I tore out book illustrations that reminded me of my own favourite childhood stories — this was the best part of the project! Narrowing it down to 10 was difficult, though.

I wiped off the dusty frames and inserted the illustrations. Most of these frames didn't have wall-hanging hardware on the backs, so I had to attach myself (tedious). I started hanging them from the middle of the arrangement and worked my way out to the edges (usually the easiest with a scattered gallery wall like this). I didn't want the grouping to look too tidy, so I played around with it a bit, but it's still a good idea to leave the same amount of space between each frame. The change table is at the bottom left (see the first photo above), so I had to build it up a bit higher on the left to make sure flailing arms wouldn't knock any frames down. Safety first! But I actually like how it swooshes from bottom right to top left. Now that the gallery wall is all put together, my husband has caught up with my vision.

And now my nursery projects are complete. What to do now?

I'm due in less than a week, so I suppose I should wrap up at work. Until next year, everyone...

Photo credits:
Gwen McAuley


Gwen McAuley

Stumped for a last-minute Father's Day gift? Check out our photo gallery of gift ideas, or make something yourself if you're feeling extra thoughtful. I came across this easy DIY project for leather card holders on the crafty blog Caila Made. (Visit Caila's blog for complete instructions and template.)

Dad can stash his credit cards and driver's license in one of these simple envelopes. Your local fabric store will surely have an array of colourful leathers, so choose a shade you know he'll love. You'll also need a sewing machine, leather needle and heavy-duty thread. Match the thread to the leather or choose a different hue that will stand out, like Caila did with hers.

Simple yet thoughtful. And useful.

Happy Father's Day! If you're planning on hosting brunch or dinner, check out our Father's Day Recipes for tons of great ideas.

Photo credits:
1-2. Caila Made blog


Gwen McAuley

My husband and I are expecting our first baby this August, so we're on the hunt for a simple white crib. Infants are usually in their bassinets for the first couple of months anyway, but first-time parents often feel the need to perfect the nursery long before baby even arrives, and we're no exception. We've been busying ourselves with preparations since the first trimester.

Our spare room is already quite traditional — plenty of antiques and old furniture that have been in my family for decades. Since this will become the nursery, we'd like to decorate it in the same style. There are already two old dressers in that room that we'll use for the baby, and my sister is giving us her vintage change table (also white), but we're struggling to find a crib and accents that aren't too modern. Here are some of the cribs we've rounded up so far:

The Dylan crib from Duc Duc has that simple look we're going for, but I would prefer an open base and spindles on all four sides.

The Savannah crib, also from Duc Duc, is more my style, but I'm not sure about the wood panelling below the mattress. You can customize it with one of seven different colours, but I'm not crazy about any of them.

Bloom's Alma Max crib is a top-seller, but I think it's a tad modern for our existing furniture.

Oeuf's Sparrow crib is clean and contemporary — a timeless choice that could work in any style of nursery.

This Liberty crib from Franklin & Ben is a fresh take on the antique spindle crib, and I love the detailing on the legs and spindles. Also, priced at around $400, it's much more affordable than the ones above.

The Barcelona classic crib from Natart Juvenile is just as beautiful, but is made here in Canada. Also reasonably priced at $430.

And then there's the Gulliver crib from Ikea. I always go back to this one. It's simple and fuss-free.

What do you think? Will any of these more modern shapes work with our vintage white dressers?

Check out Katie Hayden's blog for more great ideas for kids' rooms.

Photo credits:
1-2. Duc Duc
3. Bloom
4. Oeuf
5. Franklin & Ben
6. Natart Juvenile via
7. Ikea


Gwen McAuley

Last October, my girlfriends and I stayed at a gorgeous bed & breakfast here in Toronto the night before my wedding. I booked it online without knowing much about it, other than its proximity to Allan Gardens for pre-wedding photos and a short walking distance to our wedding venue, The St. Lawrence Market.

Well, we rolled into the Banting House Inn and we were pleasantly surprised. For such reasonable prices, it was absolutely stunning. I couldn't resist snapping some photos of the perfectly appointed rooms before we headed off to the wedding. (Yes, I was even in my wedding dress at this point.) Owners Scott and Greg clearly have a knack for mixing styles, and injected a bit of industrial edge into each corner of this old Victorian home. They prove that even old homes with traditional bones can be decorated with both vintage and modern finds. Get inspired by their effortless style.

This connecting room is to the right of the entryway. I love how the black-painted walls make the original woodwork pop.

And here is the formal living room with crisp white walls and sky-blue ceiling. Nice touch! The dramatic tufted sofa balances the softness of the ceiling.

They even had stacks of design books and iPads for guests to borrow.

The ceilings in here were probably 10 feet, and this gorgeous mirror stands about 8 feet tall. It was a great photo op with me putting my lipstick on.

There was a mix of furniture in this room that just seemed to work. A Navajo-style armchair, a mid-century modern black chair, an ornate white bench and an industrial bookshelf made from raw wood and metal. Instead of over-thinking furniture styles, just invest in pieces you love. The owners probably collected these items over the years, and then worked them into this formal room with confidence.

I've always loved these brushed metal stools with adjustable height. They topped one with a lamp for use as a side table.

A vintage shelf is a perfect spot to display collections of vintage items, like these old cigarette tins.

And here is the dining room with rustic wood table and chairs. They paired the old wood chairs with two modern moulded plastic chairs to balance out all the wood. And how about that chandelier!?

And so we met at Allan Gardens park for our photos, which was right down the street.

And here we are inside Allan Gardens.

I'd like to thank Scott for being so gracious with us — a know bridal parties can be loud and giggly. But our stay really made the night before the wedding stress-free.

Photo credits:
1, 3-7, 10, 12. Banting House Inn
2, 11, 13-15. Photography by Brittany Ross
8-9. Gwen McAuley


Gwen McAuley

If you haven't noticed, Target stores are popping up in Canada now! The affordable retailer steadily expanded from its small start-up in Minnesota back in 1962 to a booming business across borders. In Ontario, the Milton (Milton Mall Shopping Centre, 55 Ontario Street South), Guelph (175 Stone Road West) and Fergus (Gates of Fergus, 900 Tower Street South) locations are already open, with another 21 stores opening by by the end of the month (dates are still hush-hush). To find the location closest to you, browse their store finder.

In January, Target reps rounded up media to introduce their new product lines and collaborations, and I was lucky enough to check out the event.

It was held at Toronto's historic Evergreen Brick Works, and they tented off an indoor-outdoor area to keep guests cosy.

There was even an ice rink! I was waiting for them to start renting skates for us to try it out.

They had gorgeous new items on display that will be available in Canadian stores. This graphic lamp is from Threshold. The bird base is perfect for spring.

Target has some appealing collaborations with talented types like designer Nate Berkus, Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis and Roots co-founders Michael Budman and Don Green. This leaf tray from Nate Berkus's collection was just one of so many gorgeous items of his. Use it for serving nibblies in your backyard this spring.

This ombre-effect shower curtain is also from Nate Berkus. Use it in an all-white bathroom for a splash of fresh colour.

Giada de Laurentiis's stainless steel cutlery sets come in a sturdy bamboo block that would look great on any countertop.

Collaborators were even in attendance to introduce Canadians to their brands. Here is Target Canada's senior vice president of merchandising John Morioka with designer and TV host Nate Berkus.

And Food Network host Giada de Laurentiis up close and personal.

From left: Nate Berkus, Giada de Laurentiis, L.A. stylist-to-the-stars Kate Young and Roots co-founders Michael Budman and Don Green.

Turns out the ice rink wasn't for us, it was a fashion runway! The new collections at Target were modeled on the rink.


Be sure to check out your local Target for more home accessories that won't break the bank.

Photo credits:
1-13. Gwen McAuley


Gwen McAuley

In the magazine world, we get to view the fresh spring/summer collections while snow is still blowing around outdoors. I attended the HomeSense preview this past week, and spotted lots of items worth watching out for. In summary: colour, colour and more colour. It was so refreshing to browse a room full of robin's egg blue, mustard yellow and burnt orange. Some of these items are even in stores already, so be sure to check out your local HomeSense this weekend. Pick up one colourful, spring-y accessory, and the warm weather will feel that much closer. Here's a roundup of my favourite finds:

This muted robin's egg blue is a great way to bring subtle colour into a bedroom without braving a new wall colour or bedding. And the drawers are lined with this pretty Moroccan-inspired print. I wish I had stumbled upon this before wallpapering my own dresser drawers. What a chore that was. Two-drawer dresser, $200.

For a bold hit of colour, try a mustard-yellow console for the front hall or dining room. And check out the detailing along the front and legs! Console table, $250.

Two of these bright blue side tables would add a pop of colour to a ho-hum bedroom. Lacquered side table, $150.

This bench is small enough to squeeze into a condo entryway, and conceals shoes and storage boxes underneath. I love the Greek-inspired detailing at the sides. Fretwork bench with cushion, $250.

You could use this small bar cart for extra storage in the kitchen of a tiny rental apartment, then roll it out and top it with drinks and snacks while entertaining. It's also available in white. Lacquered faux bamboo bar cart, $280.

Speaking of orange, check out the fun, juice colour on this affordable sofa with a classic mid-century modern shape. Too bright for your formal living room? Use it in a basement media room or bedroom. Orange tufted sofa, $700.

This pale yellow version would surely help you beat the winter blahs. Yellow tufted sofa, $800.

I'm a sucker for anything teal, and I wanted to roll this rug up and throw it over my shoulder. I love the hints of green in it as well. Rug, $180.

Update your lighting this spring with a couple of simple glass pendants. Glass ball pendant, $70 each.

Need a place to hang your hat (or spring umbrellas)? This metal tree coat rack plays in with the nature-inspired themes we're seeing everywhere this year. Coat rack, $130.

Adorable. They have such amazing throw pillows at HomeSense — some are even down-filled.

The guava-coloured coverlet on the left would look beautiful against a charcoal grey accent wall. And for $70 each, you can afford to switch it again come fall. Coverlets, $70 each.

See more Top Trends Of 2013 in our photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1-13. Gwen McAuley


Gwen McAuley

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