Office/Guest Room Reveal

My husband is my hero, my best friend and my greatest encourager.  I wish that I could give him the world and so much more – he deserves it all.  What I was able to do was design this room specifically for him.  It’s a place he can relax and rejuvenate or a place where he can hunker down and study through the night.

He has endured more in his life than most can imagine.  Coming from an impoverished country, paralyzed by politics and war, he fought his way to Canada.  Once here it was a long 12 years to finally get his permanent residency.  Those 12 years were full of ups and downs, and through it all he continued to believe that God’s plan for his life was bigger than every obstacle being put in his way.

He’s had a dream for years, to go to school and get a diploma in civil engineering.  I’ve watched him for the last 3 years work harder than anyone I know to get his english up to speed and upgrade his high school courses.  This fall he was accepted into the Civil Engineering program at our local school of technology.  My brief bio of him does not do justice to how incredible that achievement is.

It is simply unbelievable.

When we moved into this house two years ago I imagined the basement to be Carlos’ domain and that I would have an office/craft room on the upstairs floor.  While I was on maternity leave we rented out our two bedrooms in the basement to help with costs. That left one extra room upstairs to serve as an office/craft room/guest room.  I didn’t even really realize that he didn’t have his own space.  We constantly talk of home decor and we agree on what we both like in terms of style and decor but there was no where for him to put his things – mostly his school things.  I was getting frustrated with moving books and bags everywhere (I imagine in a few years I’ll be right back to that feeling!).  One day he said in response to my frustration, “I don’t have a space to put anything.” Just like that I began to brainstorm how to solve the problem.  There were two problems:

  1. I’ve never been satisfied with the office/guest room and because of that I continually let it get overcrowded and cluttered and MESSY.
  2. Carlos didn’t have any space that was quiet, calm, and inspiring to study.

This was the perfect opportunity to solve both of those problems!  It took me two days scouring the Ikea website for inspiration and to find the most cost effective way to design the office.  I kept with what we like best: black, white, gold and plants and of course minimalist – no clutter to be found.   We had a large black desk and a white futon already.  Once I decided what I was going for style wise it came together so fast! I was surprised and excited, I can’t believe how much fun it was to do! It brought me so much joy to design a space that I knew my husband would love.

I spent an afternoon purging and reorganizing, bringing the room to a clean slate before I began my decor brainstorming.  I think that really helped.  It gave me a fresh new perspective to look at the room in a way I hadn’t before. This is what it looked like before, sorry about the poor quality and crappy panorama abilities, but it gives you a good idea of what a mess I had let it get.

Yesterday morning Ezekiel and I went to Ikea and spent 1.5 hrs picking up everything.  It helped that I had saved a shopping list  on the Ikea website and I used the Ikea app to find everything.  Also I have to say one of the ladies that works at Ikea helped me out tremendously by trouble shooting a panel curtain idea I had to hide an awkward cubby/open storage area in the room – you’ll see it in the pics below. In the end I spent $100 more than I would have liked but I absolutely don’t regret it.

I’m not completely 100% done – I need to get large frames for the inspirational posters on the wall (I despise them but Carlos really loves them and it’s his room!).  The painting on the wall of the continent of Africa is a favourite of both of ours.  Although Carlos was driven out of his country, part of his heart will always be there.  For me, Africa has been a love of mine for years and years (how convenient to be married to an African!).  I think it ties the colourful inspirational posters in nicely and adds some nice colour to the black and white.  All of the plants were purchased at Ikea as well. I repotted them into pots I already had at home.  The frames contain pictures of my trip to Europe in 2012 – I will change them out eventually. I have some inspirational prints I want to print out and frame as well.

The closet is still in need of some organizing, but for now it’s nice and neatly placed out of sight.   I’m seriously in love with the outcome of this room and I am elated to be able to almost check that room off my to do list!

Not only is it a peaceful place to study/work/read/pray it also works so well as a cozy guest room!

Carlos also really loves it, we’ll see if he actually puts it to use. 🙂

DIY Log Planters

Hi Friends! Sorry I’ve been quiet this week, came down with the stomach flu, worst 24 hours in a long time.  Good news is I’m feeling 100% better and I’m ready to get back at it!

Today I thought I’d show you a little project that my husband dreamt up and implemented.  Now I’m not sure if you realize how big of a deal that sentence is.  My husband is an amazing carpenter.  Years ago in his home country he was trained from a very young age in furniture carpentry.  He learned how to build beautifully ornate furniture, then he moved on to concrete forming and excels at that.  You’d think with having such a handy husband that I would be able to get lots of my hands on – power tools needed projects completed.  That is not the case.  While my husband is very good with his hands he really doesn’t like to do anything carpentry related at home – I can’t really blame him but sometimes that’s uber frustrating for me.  BUT this project was his baby and it turned out so lovely!


This is my new upright planter on my front step that is made from a hollowed out log and I adore it!  In case you didn’t notice we love to use things found in the outdoors to repurpose and decorate our surroundings – outside included.  We also LOVE flowers and plants.  I have no idea how Carlos came up with this idea but once it entered his mind he was obsessed with finishing it.

We started by sourcing out the stump.  We actually found one when we were camping in June but my parents also found two really great stumps and brought them for us to use so that’s what we ended up using.


Carlos was so obsessed with finding these stumps that while we were camping we drove off to the middle of nowhere and he got out and walked forever by the road farther into the forest to find trees that had already been cut down.  This is him after finding what we thought was a perfect stump – he’s obviously excited.


The next part was the most time consuming – hollowing out the log.  I don’t really know if there’s a better way to do this because this took a long time and was super hard on our power tools.  Carlos bought a large spade style wood bit and just drilled holes all around.  He did shallow drilling all the way around and then drilled deeper until he reached the depth he wanted.



He also drilled diagonal holes from the inside to the outside to let water drain through.  Then we simply planted the flowers!

IMG_8833He also made two of the long planters for either side of our steps and I’m so in love with those as well.  They make great conversation pieces for people walking by our house. The only problem I see with these is that eventually the wood will rot out.  The large stumps will last longer than the long ones for sure but I’m trying to brainstorm how I can make them last.  I may use some sort of epoxy on them next year.  Definitely we’ll have to store them somewhere dry over the winter but I’m not convinced they’ll last very long at all.

What do you guys think? Is this a project you’d be willing to invest your time in? It really cost us nothing but time.

Patio Lovin

When my husband and I bought our house there were so many things that made us fall in love with it but one aspect in particular that I’ve been dreaming about since we moved in is the patio just off our master bedroom.  I’ve been dreaming about morning coffees and evening conversations sitting on the patio.  I’ve been dreaming of comfy furniture and pretty flowers to decorate with.  Sadly up until this point we just hadn’t done anything with it, we could never justify the cost of the furniture.  I’m happy to tell you that we have remedied that!


More and more we are realizing that our decor style is “natural” lots of white, lots of plants and lots of reclaimed wood. For this space what we really wanted was a place to relax at the end of the day.  This was the easiest thing to do and it is unbelievably comfortable!  We got 4-4×4 pallets and stacked them two high and two long.  Then while I was shopping for groceries at our Super Store I noticed that all the outdoor and patio stuff was on sale so I searched for the cushions.  These are actually lounger cushions and are the perfect size to keep some pallet exposed on either side to act as a side table for drinks etc.  The best part is that they were all 50% off.  We did put an egg carton mattress topper underneath to add some extra comfort and now this pallet couch is more comfortable than my bed!  Next year this will be full of flowers as well.  Unfortunately it’s been raining since we did this and the patio is not protected from the rain so we haven’t been able to enjoy it.  Today is looking like it will finally be sunny and warm so you’ll find me laying on my new couch after work.

Slowly but surely we are checking things off of our “house to-do list,” but we’ve still got a long way to go.

Table Center Piece DIY

Today I’m going to show you a super simple, super budget friendly DIY.

I think I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I enjoy natural decor – lots of plants and wood, and white.  We have so many visions of what we want to do with our house and our decor and slowly but surely we are getting there!

In June we took a trip with some friends to Cypress Hills in Alberta, Canada for a weekend get away.  While there we did some scavenger hunting for some cut down trees and luckily for me I found a fantastic piece of driftwood.  I was actually looking for it for some baby shower decor for a shower I was throwing later in the month.  After the shower was over I brought the piece home and brainstormed what I could do with it now.  I got the idea to use it as a centre piece and put some succulents in it. I’m so happy with how it turned out!IMG_8829

First my husband used an electric planer to plane both sides so it sits evenly (for the baby shower I used it to place mini cupcakes on).  Then while my parents were visiting he used a large drill bit to hollow out 5 holes – three larger ones and two smaller ones.  At that point we needed to brainstorm how to now plant the plants.  You can’t just plant right into the holes – first it would rot, and second there are some holes in the side where the dirt would fall out.  My dad – being the mr.fixit and problem solver that he is, searched the house high and low to find appropriate sized containers.  Eventually he found pop cans that fit perfectly! Brilliant!

Next was to make the look acceptable.  He cut them down and then snipped all around the top and folded the metal in to make the edge dull instead of sharp – sorry I don’t have any process photos of that, hopefully that’s a good enough explanation!  In the photo below you can see the inside edge folded over


This weekend I spray painted two coats of white Rustoleum to make them look a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  I went to a small local plant shop that I absolutely adore and picked out some tiny succulents and airplants.  I repotted the succulents into the cans and placed them in the driftwood.  In the smaller holes I put a bit of preserved moss I had left over from a Terrarium I had made and put the airplants on top.

IMG_9077 IMG_9078 IMG_9079 IMG_9080I’m seriously so in love with the results! It’s taken a little bit of attention to make sure my toddler doesn’t touch, thankfully he’s used to momma saying “plants are to look at not to touch” and he’s fairly good at listening!  All in all this cost $20 for the plants and that’s it, the rest of the supplies I had on hand.  You could even recreate a smaller version, and I definitely plan too.  It’s amazing the beauty you find in nature that can accent your home decor! 

What’s Up

I really love these what’s up posts.  I love reflecting on the week and being reminded how great life is when you’re enjoying each moment fully.

So here’s what’s been up this week:

Fixing Washer
Fixing washers like it’s my job (also flooding floors like it’s my job).

Starbucks Gift
Being thankful for generous and thoughtful roommates.

Enjoying weekend breakfasts prepared by my husband.

Fall Decorations
Decorating for fall on a budget.

Fall Walks
Getting out for walks before the weather turns bad again.

Art work
Going to the Home Design Show and coveting every piece of art created by Brad Holt.

Fixing Deck
Being grateful for friends who are professional painters to fix really bad decisions.

Fall Photo Shoot
Doing photo shoots in my favourite place with my favourite people.

Tea, Scones, Editing

Enjoying tea, scones and editing photos.

Tea, Finger food
Celebrating small victories in textured food aversions with Ezekiel.

Erin Condren Life Planner
Getting ready to organize life as a working mom! (Full post on my life planner tomorrow)

Here’s to another week of enjoying the moments and finding simplicity.

Living Room Tour

We moved into our large (for us) house just over 1 year ago and for the last year I have been VERY slowly adding decor here and there.  I’m a minimalist by nature but I still enjoy having pretty things all over my house.  I want(ed) to be very careful with how I choose to decorate.  I want(ed) to take my time and have things that I really LOVE.  I also need(ed) to do it on a very tight budget.

I’m not sure how you would describe our style, we really love having antiques, but we like a modern feel as well.  So I guess our style is a mash up of both.

Apart from Ezekiel’s nursery, the living room/sitting room is the only room that is even remotely close to being finished, so I thought I’d take you for a tour and show you how we decorated on a budget.

Living Room TourLiving Room Tour

I really love that we went with white in this room, the color on the wall was there when we moved in.  The walls are a shade darker than I would like, and eventually the whole house will be painted in white (I’m serious about my white), but for now this works.

The couch is something we had been dreaming about for years, and people always have something to say about it. Everyone loves it, but everyone also thinks we’re a bit on the foolish side having a white leather couch with a baby in the house, and more babies to come.  I have never regretted the decision, and honestly the couch was the same price as any other sectional, so we didn’t spend a small fortune on it.  I always make sure to have blankets available to use when someone is wearing dark jeans, and I try not to leave pens laying around.  We’ve already had some mishaps including jeans and pen and pop, BUT it all got cleaned off and the couch still looks great.  So say what you will, but we will always love our white couch.

That painting on the wall is an oil painting done by one of my closest friends specifically for our space.  She even painted it right by the fireplace.  It will always hold a special place in my heart and home.  You’ll notice as we go on that she and her husband have played a huge role in decorating our living room.  When I can finally convince them to open an Etsy shop I’ll be sure to let you know!

Living Room Tour

The fireplace will always be a work in progress but I think for now I’m happy enough with it.  We had a lot of discussion over (not) placing a TV there.  I was (am) very against it because I feel like TV just adds another distraction in life.  I really wanted this space to be peaceful and calm.  Having a TV over the fireplace would inevitably lead to having the TV on anytime we were in the room.  I’m against screen time for my kids and didn’t want to be constantly having that battle.  So far I’m winning! My husband has conceded and also agrees with no TV for Ezekiel, so for now we are a no TV family.

Living Room Tour

I love this gold foil print.  I purchased it on an online deal from ThePaperShoppeCA.

Living Room Tour

This ampersand is definitely a favorite! I purchased it from one of my favorite bloggers Elise Blaha Cripe.  Each month she releases a limited edition hand made item.  When I saw she was releasing this one I knew I had to have it, so I set my alarm to make sure I got one.  I think it’s perfect here.

The hurricane candle holder behind the ampersand and the clock were both purchased with a gift card I received from HomeSense.

The vase, Whiskey (?) bottle, and the three arm candle holders were all purchased a few years ago from a thrift store.  I spray painted them to match the space.

Living Room Tour

These planters were standard terracotta planters purchased from the dollar store.  I spent a day or two painting them white and gold.  Unfortunately I also painted them with a gloss finish so that I could easily wipe them clean, and then they yellowed.  Also the flowers I planted in them died.  Just an all around disappointment! It’s easy enough to fix, I just haven’t mustered up the energy to do it.

The red lantern was purchased years ago at winners for $10.

Living Room Tour

The book ends were bought at a thrift store for a couple bucks and spray painted white.  Most of the books on the mantle are thrifted as well except the Pride and Prejudice.   That copy of Pride and Prejudice was given to my grandmother from her uncle and has now made it to my hands.  My grandmother was an English teacher and loved literature.  I inherited that love, so having a copy of one of my all time favorite books that is a family heirloom is pretty special to me.

Living Room Tour

Both my husband and I love plants and are aiming to collect many more.  This orchid was given to me for my birthday.  I’m not totally sold on it being in the living room, but for now it adds some cheer.  The flowers on the coffee table were also given to me on my birthday.  I’ve diligently changed the water and clipped the stems to try and preserve them for as long as possible.  Having fresh flowers in the house is a luxury I can’t afford on a weekly basis, so I’m taking it all in.  Living Room Tour

This is a close up of the birch pedestal candle holders (with no candles on them yet!) that sit to the right of the fireplace.  My friend and her husband went birch hunting specifically for this purpose.  We peeled away a few layers of bark then screwed them securely together.  This metal strap was found by them in an abandoned barn and was a perfect addition for it.

Living Room Tour

These smaller birch pedestals were done at the same time.  I’m going to dowel out the center to fit tea lights eventually.  Right now they are a baby safe decoration.

Living Room Tour

These coasters were made by the same friends.  They made them for my baby shower and I fell in love.  Everyone who sees them comments on how great they are and I couldn’t agree more.

So there you have it.  My incredibly budget friendly living room with many thanks to great friends who made it possible!  I still have a few ideas I want to try.  I feel like it’s not quite finished but I do love the space so much already.  More than anything, I’m happy I have achieved the peaceful atmosphere I was going for.