Category: resources

3 key habits to change to stay clutter free

Ok, so you feel really great about clearing out your clutter and want to keep it that way, right? If you don’t change a few key habits, you might find yourself back in the exact same cluttered place. Don’t let this happen to you!

3 key habits to stay clutter freeOne: Stop the retail ‘therapy’!
There is a psychology to purchasing – when you feel down or unbalanced and go shopping to make yourself feel better, you end up choosing things that are not really you and will not feel good to you once you are feeling better. This is where we tend to impulse shop, overspend and regret our purchases. Replace retail therapy with a healthier alternative; go for a walk in nature, exercise, talk with a friend, read a good book…you get the picture. Changing this habit will stop bad purchases from becoming future clutter.

Two: Be thoughtful about everything that comes into your home.
Yes, EVERYTHING! From junk mail to gifts, know that everything that comes into your home affects your energy in some way, so choose a positive influence. Get in the habit of asking yourself how something makes you feel and if has negative feelings around it, let it go immediately! Don’t put it somewhere to ‘decide later’, just let it go now.

Three: Be grateful for the things you have.
I have a small newspaper clipping in the bottom of my Christmas ornament box that I ‘find’ every year that says to be grateful for what I already have. To want what you already have is liberating! Being grateful in the context of clutter clearing simply means honouring what you have by keeping it clean, in good repair and ensuring it has a place. Organizing your belongings and tidying up each day will help to keep the peaceful atmosphere you’ve created.

This was meant to be the last installment of my clutter clearing series – but who I am I kidding, clutter clearing is never completely finished. As we grow and evolve, so should our living spaces. We will need to keep at it so our homes support our newest dreams, adventures and the lives we want to lead.

Here are a few of my favourite books on organizing and clearing clutter to keep you inspired! xo

clutter clearing and organization books




healing properties of crystals and how to use them in your home

I promised a while back to give you the inside scoop on shungite, the stone powder we mixed into the primer for our bedroom. Why did we do this? Being sensitive to EMF’s, we wanted to create a wi-fi free zone and protected space for sleeping. See full post here.

Shungite is an ancient stone found in northern Russia that has been credited with many healing qualities, one of which is to provide protection from the electromagnetic radiation that comes from computers, cell phones, microwaves, televisions and wi-fi emanations.

This stone is also used for healing purposes and considered a ‘miracle healing stone’. It is positive, grounding, calming, and associated with the base chakra.

I work on a computer a lot and find it helpful to wear a shungite bracelet. I also find it especially helpful when I am visiting Toronto. (Wi-fi in the subway cars? Are you kidding me? Let’s bounce radiation around a metal box with people trapped inside and see what happens over the long term. Don’t get me started…)

Other crystals that are wonderful for your home:

Amethyst – protection, overall healing, aids with sleep and dreams

Citrine – cleansing, creative, abundance, joy

Rose Quartz – calm, loving, peaceful energy

Selenite – comfort, peace, protection

Clear Quartz – cleansing, healing, balancing, amplifying

Tourmaline – grounding, protection, balancing

My go-to source for information on crystals, and the one I use in designing my healing bracelets and jewelry is The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. You might also find this great blog post helpful from The Luminous Spirit, titled Crystals 101: How to Use Crystals and Which Ones to Start With.

If working with crystals seems overwhelming, try just one. Go to a quality source, and see what calls to you, hold it in your hand and pay attention to how you feel. If it feels great, take it home, study it’s properties and place it in a location where it can greatly benefit.

If you are skeptical about their healing properties, the intense colour and beautiful geometric shape of crystals can simply enhance your home’s decor.

Once a year London hosts the London Gem & Mineral Show which takes place on November 18-20, 2016. It’s a great place to learn more about crystals and purchase something special for your home. Maybe I’ll see you there! xo

amethyst geode

add drama with architectural salvage

One of the joys of working with an old house is finding and restoring the home’s original elements; i.e. trim, doors, corbels and stained glass. In the yellow brick beauty, we are restoring what we can, replacing when necessary and taking the time to search for just the right piece of trim, door or window to honour the house’s history. The old bathroom sent us on a search for some reclaimed floorboards, just in case we could either save what we had (100 years of urine – not going to happen!) or to replace the entire floor with something similar to the original.

What a lucky day when we discovered Artefacts in nearby St Jacobs! It is certainly worth taking a couple of hours to visit the shop and if you have something specific in mind, the shop owner (Chris Blott) is happy to take you through room after room of trim, moldings, windows and more. This must be what decorator heaven looks like!

Here are a few pics of what you might find on your visit. Artefacts also has a workshop where beautiful furniture and decorative pieces are created with salvaged materials. Inventory is always changing, so if you see something you must have, snap it up! I’ll be making a trip back with a truck for some door trim (they have the perfect match for my house). I’d better hurry!

A few tips to make your trip even more worthwhile:

  • make a list of what you are looking for
  • bring your measurements and measuring tape
  • take pictures of the trim you are trying to match (there are very subtle details that you might not remember when looking at a large inventory!)
  • keep an open mind, items can be modified
  • look beyond an item’s original use, small bits of salvage make great art pieces
  • talk with the shop owner, he is happy to share ideas and help you problem solve
  • keep in mind they have much more than what is in the showroom
  • set aside enough time to really look, don’t rush this!

Maybe I’ll see you there! xo

clutter finds a new home

A big question that may come up for you when clearing clutter is: “What will I do with the items I no longer want?” You might feel it’s important to ensure that items, especially sentimental ones, go to a good home and that, as much as possible, items are kept out of our landfills. I hope the following resource list will be helpful to my fellow Londoners when you get to this stage of your clearing. Non-Londoners note: many of the sources are provincial or have locations in other areas (click on the links to find a location in your city). Here is a link to a downloadable version.

Helpful tip: Add your name to a regular call list with the Canadian Diabetes or Cerebral Palsy Associations. Their calls provide strong motivation and a helpful prompt to have a box ready for donation every month or two. Keep at it, you got this! xo

goodbye clutter

Donate Household Items
Who What / Cost Where
Canadian Diabetes Association


Free pick up of clothing, linens, toys, dishes, household items and small appliances.

Call 1-800-505-5525 to schedule a pick up

Habitat for Humanity ReStores Drop off windows, doors, cabinets, tools, light fixtures, furniture. May be able to arrange pick up. Contact your local store to determine suitability of donation.

317 Adelaide St S 519-659-1949 x281

5-40 Pacific Crt 519-659-1949 x225

Society of St Vincent De Paul Large furniture pick up (needs couches and kitchen tables). Drop off of smaller household items at either location.

585 York St 519-438-7071

1005 Elias St 519-433-9210

Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy Free pick up of clothing, linens, small appliances, books and household items.

Call 1-888-238-6327 or 519-620-0918 to schedule a pick up

Goodwill Industries Drop off clothing, books, household items and furniture.

255 Horton St 519-850-9000 and others

Freecycle Join a network of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free. Free to join, individuals will pick up items.


City of London Depots Will take mattresses, electronics, appliances, tires, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and more. Fees are related to weight.

519-661-4570 or email questions to

1-800-Got-Junk Things for which you have no other option.


Sell Household Items
eBay Sell almost anything. Easiest for smaller items, charges a small fee, you arrange shipping.


Craig’s List & Kijiji Free, online listings, buyer will pick up items.

bathroom afters: the big reveal!

Oh happy day!  We don’t regret for a single moment giving up a small bedroom to create this luxurious bathroom. It is the only full bath in the house and is functional as well as beautiful.
bath tub view 1

You may remember that we originally planned to reconfigure the old bathroom but decided to convert the smallest bedroom into the new bath. This greatly extended our timelines as well as our budget. Pictures of the befores (and in betweens) can be found here.


The bathroom is neutral and will work with a variety of styles. Being a decorator, I like to try out new things, so the simple black, white and wood envelope provides the perfect backdrop. Right now, I am loving the soft pink and feminine look to this space which balances out the masculine lines. The coolest piece was found in my grandfathers garage, an old mesh top to a wine press, repurposed here with a few flowers. The macrame wall hanging was made at the Craft Bee and the candles/holders are from Chapters and Homesense. And of course, no space would be complete without a few older items, the rug and glass bottle are vintage finds and the wood trim is original, carefully salvaged during demo.

splurges and saves

In every reno there are places it makes sense to splurge and places to make more economical choices. Here is how it played out for our reno.

Splurges: Brizio tub and shower faucets, glass shower stall, freestanding soaker tub, radiant floor heating, skilled tradespeople

We needed A LOT of help with this one!  Thanks to our drywaller, tiler, electrician and plumbers who gave this bathroom project a professional finish. And of course, we could not have done it without the amazing Shane!

Saves: Vanities (Adam made them! click here for details), wall sconces, subway and hex tiles, accessories and artwork, we did our own design, demo, trim work and painting



For some items, no matter how much we looked, we couldn’t find exactly what we wanted. So we made things ourselves and customized standard items. For example, we purchased a shower kit in a chrome finish and had it powder coated in glossy white with a matte black handle. H & G Powder Painting did a flawless job of painting all of the little bits and pieces, and are a great local London resource. We couldn’t find a mirror in the size we wanted, so we made one from the same walnut plywood as the vanities and ordered the exact size mirror we needed, with polished edges, from Provincial Glass and Mirror. The blinds were originally measured and made to hang from the top but we didn’t want to block the view of the trees and sky, and since we don’t need privacy from the birds we decided to shorten the pull chain and hang the blind so it covered the hardware in the middle of the window to give a permanent view of the sky. If you don’t have room for a built in shower seat, a ceramic stool works well and looks amazing. This one is from Urban Barn. Even the towels have  been customized with little loops for hanging.

shower full view


view of back yard


We found some amazing local sources for our bathroom reno (and some familiar Toronto sources too!) I hope you find these resources helpful in your own renovations.

London Bath Centre: We sourced our tub and shower kit from this great showroom on Wharncliffe. If you have ever sourced a modest sized tub with a centre drain and two sloped sides, you know it is no small feat. Thanks Wendy!

Household Plumbing: Were great at getting us the products we sourced online and at good prices too! The matte black Brizio shower and tub faucets are perfect in this space. Thanks Janet!

Ciot: This large Toronto tile retailer has a great selection. The simple white subway and 2″ black hexagon tiles are classic and on trend. Thanks Sasha!

The Lighting Shoppe: The simple black and brass industrial sconces are perfect mood lighting for the space! The Edison bulbs create a warm glow that is quite flattering.

Rona: We scoured the big box stores trying to find matte black faucets and were lucky to find the two vanity fixtures at Rona (one found in London, one in Brampton!)

IKEA: Long, shallow depth trough sinks were a great find in a beautiful ceramic (I love the feel).

Homesense: Plush new towels make any bathroom feel fresh and Homesense is my go to place for linens and home accessories.

Home Depot: We sourced the edge drawer pulls for the vanities online, and since Home Depot carries other products by the same manufacturer, we asked for them to be ordered for us. Yes, you can do this too!

Trades: I’m happy to share contact info for the great trades that worked on this project. Send me a message and I will get you their info.


We thought a short video might explain the layout of the space a little better. Enjoy!

As always, thanks for following along. I think we’ll be puttering outside for the next little while! The workshop completion is next…xo


Leo approves :)

small refinishing project

I am loving this product we found in a sweet, little shop called Stan Portley’s here in London. It’s usually used as a natural sealer for Van Gogh chalk paints and is made in Canada (in BC).


Our old outdoor furniture was revived with a palm sander and this product. We love the results! Don’t you? xo

outdoor chairs

your basic toolbox


Here is what you need to keep on hand for basic home maintenance and repairs. I am not talking about renovations, but about items that will come in handy for most day-to-day needs.

All of these items can be purchased at your local hardware or home building store. Most are modestly priced.

Tools and supplies for your basic toolbox:

  • cordless drill (with drill and screwdriver bit sets) – your most expensive item
  • screwdriver sets: Robertson (square) and Phillips (star) and Slot (flat), various sizes
  • claw hammer
  • adjustable wrench
  • pliers set
  • picture hanging kit
  • level (torpedo)
  • tape measure
  • variety of nails & screws
  • utility knife
  • safety goggles
  • caulking gun and caulking

Cool additional items to keep on hand: a putty pencil or DAP, magic eraser, stain markers, goo gone and glue.

Tools and supplies also make great housewarming gifts! xo

design lesson: lighting, an interview with Matt Leslie

Every project needs good lighting and probably none more than the bathroom. We all want our bathroom lighting to do little miracles for us; flatter us each morning, give us good light for grooming and low light for soothing baths. Lighting considerations include function, safety and of course, aesthetics. To get the scoop on the ins and outs of lighting options we asked Matt Leslie from Copperline Electric (who is working on the electrical for our bathroom) to weigh in on some of the most interesting and concerning lighting issues of the moment. (Note: ‘lamps’ are the industry term for light bulbs)

 urban farm girl: What is the most significant change in the lighting world today?

Matt: That would have to be LED lamps. Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) are a very efficient form of lighting. These lamps normally aren’t much bigger that 11 watts, yet can produce more light than that of an old fashioned (incandescent) 100 watt light bulb. LED’s have a large color range, which provides many options along the color spectrum, from warm yellow to cool blue-white as conventional lamps do, but are also available in virtually any color. Due to their large blanketing flood, LED’s are often able to replace existing lamps and light that same area much more effectively for a fraction of the cost in hydro.

urban farm girl: For those gadget minded folks, what are some high-tech lighting options?

Matt: One of the most exciting items we are installing right now is Caseta, by Lutron. This is a wireless switching system that can be controlled by your smart phone and the use of a hub via your internet router. Once a switch is installed to control a light you can then use wireless switches to control it from multiple locations. You can set timers with your smart phone for any time of the day, or to follow sunrise or sunset. Imagine pulling out your phone and telling Siri to “turn on the kitchen lights”. The system also offers an event mode. For example, you could have a party mode that would dim the chandelier in the dining room, turn on the kitchen overhead and valance lights and softly light the hallways all from one touch on your smartphone. Another option that I really like is geo fencing. You’re able to set a “bubble” around your house. When you come home, and your smart phone crosses the perimeter of this bubble, any lights that you have programmed will turn on. So you’re never coming home to a dark house outside or inside. One other great feature of this product is that it can be tied in with Nest products such as thermostats and smoke/CO detectors. In the event of an alarm the smoke/CO detectors will tell the thermostat to shut the furnace off as it could be causing the problem or feeding air to a fire. Any lights programmed will also be told to turn on so that you can see when trying to leave the house. So as you can see, this product has many benefits.

urban farm girl: There is a lot of press lately about the dangers of CFL’s. Why is it important to get rid of them and how do we dispose of them properly?

Matt: The big concern with compact florescent lamps is the mercury gas used in the process of illuminating the coating on the lamp. When these lamps are broken, which can happen quite easily, the mercury gas is then released into the air. This is not good because mercury gas is toxic. In the event of a broken lamp you should open the window and leave the area for a while to let the gas dissipate, before cleaning it up. To dispose of a CFL properly it must be taken to a recycling depot while the lamp is still intact. Do not throw them into the garbage.

urban farm girl: What are some of the basics of good lighting?

Matt: Good lighting to me means having a lot of it. I like to be able to put the room a little too bright and then dim it down to the right level. The big thing to avoid is shadowing. You could have enough lights to light up a stadium in your bathroom, but if you look in the mirror and your face is covered in shadow, they are useless. Function must work with design.

urban farm girl: We have all heard of folks who try to do their electrical work themselves. Why is it important to hire a licensed electrical contractor? I recommend homeowners meet with and check references for any tradesperson working on their home. What are the most important questions for a homeowner to ask before hiring a licensed electrical contractor?

Matt: It is important to hire a licensed electrical contractor for a few reasons. Wiring can be complicated and if done wrong, not only could it cause a fire or kill someone, there are also legal regulations that guide electrical work. What homeowners may not realize is there are many steps to becoming a licensed electrical contractor; starting with apprentice, licensed electrician, master electrician and finally licensed electrical contractor. Licensed electrical contractors, in addition to the homeowner, are the only ones that can take out a permit for electrical work on a house and all electrical work requires a permit and inspection from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). So when hiring, the most important thing homeowners need to ask for would be their ESA/ECRA number. This is the number issued to an electrical contractor by ESA. You can also go on ESA’s website to find a list of electrical contractors in your area.

Matt Leslie is a licensed electrical contractor and the owner of Copperline Electric. Since 2011, Matt has been a leader in the industry providing high quality, licensed residential and commercial electrical service in London and Southwestern Ontario. With proper electrical permits, you’ll feel safe in your home knowing your electrical work was completed with the highest quality, and is up to local code requirements. All that, and, in this humble urban farm girl’s opinion, one heck of a nice guy to work with. xo

a little more about us

In case you have been asking yourself ‘who is this urban farm girl?’ and ‘who is working on this project?’ and ‘where do these ideas come from?’,  here is a little more about us.

Rach_MG_1463 - Version 2el (urban farm girl) is an interior decorator, artist and craftsperson who has been in Toronto for 25+ years, working in both interior design and non-profit organizations. Rachel’s work experience includes: event planning, set design, residential interior design, television work, creating/selling her art and crafts, as well as non-profit management, quality improvement and evaluation work. She is trained as an interior decorator and ran a successful design company with partner Susan Abramson for over 10 years (2 Great Gals). Currently building a design business in London Ontario while renovating her 106 year old, yellow brick home.





is an artist, graphic designer, illustrator and craftsperson who has also been living and working in Toronto for the past 20+ years in the art and design fields. His laser-etched long board illustrations have been exhibited in Toronto and will soon be available via Etsy.  Adam is currently putting his carpentry and construction skills to use in the renovation of the home he shares with his wife Rachel (urban farm girl) as well as designing neighbourhood merchandise for local Wortley Village shop, Heist.





is the general contractor and owner of True North Renovations, and partner in True North Homes, specializing in the restoration of older homes. His approach brings houses back to their former glory and prestige while ensuring today’s conveniences and modern standards are met. The end product is a home that maintains its historic character with today’s lifestyle in mind. In addition to the yellow brick project, he is currently working on the restoration of a mid-century home in North London.