Category: design lesson

book review: The New Bohemians

For a free-spirited, break-all-the-rules look at decorating, pick up The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes, by Justina Blakeney. It’s filled to the brim with gorgeous saturated colour, patterns and texture. I know I could use a dose of this bright, happy decorating style here in Canada, especially during the last throes of winter. Most of the homes are in sunny California, and granted, maybe the decorating is a little freer, “hippier” and inventive. What do you say we throw caution to the wind and get inspired to use odd combinations and collections to create our own unique living spaces. To display a little more of ourselves in our homes. After all isn’t that what decorating is all about?


“Today’s bohemians seek to erase the distinctions between work and play, and our living spaces reflect that lack of boundaries. The new bohemian home is a multifunctional playground¬† for exploration and experimentation…Our new bohemian lifestyle is rooted in freedom: free-spirited, free-form and free of rules.” Justina Blakeney

This riot of colour and pattern is definitely not for everyone, but if it resonates, you will appreciate that at the end of each house tour is a section called “Adopt an Idea” which gives practical and simple ways to add Bohemian chic to your home. Fabulous!

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What I like most about this book and the homes it showcases (besides the textiles and inventiveness!) is that style isn’t about how much money we have, but about how much individuality, creativity and care we put into our homes. And no matter your decorating style, that is something we can all agree upon. xo


design lesson: small bathrooms

Small spaces can be the most challenging and often the most creative to design. Every inch matters. A benefit of small spaces – with smaller amounts of materials needed, you can splurge a little without breaking the budget. Some things to keep in mind when designing small bathrooms.

  1. Keep the number of finishes to a minimum. Limit the number of different tiles, paint colours and metal finishes.
  2. Take careful measurements before you shop, and stick with your design plan. A few extra inches can make a huge difference in a small space.
  3. Build clever storage options i.e. recessed shelving between studs, hooks for towels instead of bars or rings, a recessed medicine cabinet, a basket tucked in the corner for toilet paper rolls…
  4. Consider a floating vanity. You may lose a bit of storage but will gain visual floor space.
  5. Add radiant floor heating and eliminate a water radiator or vent which take up space and could influence fixture placement.
  6. Ensure there is ‘breathing room’ on your walls. Do not fill every square inch, leave empty space for the eye to rest.
  7. Add a small pendant light instead of wall sconces if space is tight around the vanity.
  8. Repetition is important i.e. all chrome hardware, all black accessories, all walnut cabinets.
  9. Limit the number of accessories.
  10. Add one really cool feature to give your small bathroom some personality! For example, tile a whole wall floor to ceiling, paint the ceiling black, hot pink or sky blue, add stunning artwork or sculpture, brightly coloured geometric printed towels, or a colourful kilim rug. Have fun! xo

small bathroom design

inspired home reading list

I’ll bet you instinctively understand the connection between the state of your home and the state of your well-being. Our physical environments are often a mirror for our inner environments. Look around your home, what is it telling you? Is it messy? disorganized? overflowing? empty? boring? tidy? peaceful? inspiring? A little care and attention for your home can do a whole world of good for your mind, body, emotions and spirit.
Here are some easy ways to improve the health of your home (and yourself):

  • a thorough cleaning (physically and energetically)
  • decluttering (one of my favourite things!)
  • display items that are meaningful to you
  • ensure your home appeals to the senses (smell, touch, visual, auditory, taste)
  • provide a beautiful focal point in every room
  • express gratitude for what you have
  • create space for meaningful activities (see previous post on this here)
  • bring more warmth and light into your home (candles, good friends, flowers)
  • and seriously, nothing shifts stagnant energy like a good vacuum cleaning!

Here are a few of my favourite books and authors on this subject. I hope you will find them helpful. xo

inspired home book list

Karen Kingston, Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui & Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui
Xorin Balbes, SoulSpace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life
Denise Linn, Sacred Space: Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home
Kathryn Robyn, Spiritual Housecleaning
Anne Marie Holmes, Earth Spirit Living
Josephine Collins, Your Home as a Sanctuary

design lesson number two: flexibility (repeat until learned!)

This reno started with the best of intentions, I aspired to tackle one room at a time, from start to finish…really? I should know better. I didn’t want to live in a house in which every room was in a state of construction/reno/mess. Keeping this in mind, a wonky blind got me started on the living room window (was I just supposed to put the new blind up without filling holes, priming and painting the window first?) This is turning into an exciting side project because of the original stained glass window that was hidden in the basement! It will be a labour of love to clean this up and figure out how to mount it in the window (Adam? Shane? Byron? any ideas?) The living room is supposed to wait until the upstairs is done but I fear this might turn into a ‘might-as-well project’. As in, might as well paint the walls, might as well replace the sconces, might as well, might as well…hey, we’ve all been there right?¬† At least the neighbours won’t see me fighting with the blind anymore. xo

look a the original dentil trim!

notice the original dentil trim!

design lesson number one: be flexible

We thought we’d be a lot further along and have at least one room completed. But nooooooo. Life and renovations don’t actually work like that. Although we are sleeping in the master bedroom, it is far from finished. And until the bedframe comes at the end of January, there will be no beautiful before and after pics for you! I may however, entice you with a few sneak peeks as we move forward…

Guess what we started instead? Adam’s woodshop! The beautiful December weather inspired us to get him a proper work space so he is not sawing inside the house over the winter, sensible no? And there is also the fact that I wasn’t ready to start the bathroom (the real reason). Here are a few pics of the progress so far. I am actually a bit jealous as I can already see how fantastic it is going to be. Can you see it too? Here are the before pics, just click on an image to see the gallery close up.


And here are a few of the in between stages. Keep in mind, like all renovations, it gets worse before it gets better! And yes, the siding has a slight pink tinge – just lovely.


And just for fun and because it’s a little gross, here are some inside shots!


We look forward to finishing the window installation before the snow comes and sharing the next phase with you. Until then… xoxo