How I designed and updated a log cottage living room on plan and on budget

Since lots of you had questions and wanted to see a bit more about our log cottage that was published in Ottawa at Home summer edition, I thought I’d share how I designed and updated the cottage living room on a plan and with a fairly strict budget.

Here’s how it looks now.

Log home living room with white sofas and blue swivel chairs

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

Since it is a large living room, I worked mostly with the furniture left behind and what we brought from our other cottage. By repurposing and reimagining a number of pieces I was able to keep within our budget.

Pictures do say a thousand words so here’s a quick breakdown of what changed in the cottage living room.

Before picture of log cottage living room with design changes

The sofa and love seat were great quality and in perfect shape, so I quickly decided to slipcover them in a white denim. Slipped off and washed at least once a year they stay clean and fresh. And putting throws where they are likely to get soiled helps keep them clean longer. I love that they make the room a little brighter as all wood interiors can get dark.

Donating the traditional area rug to a shelter allowed me to have a faux sisal wall to wall rug cut and bound to size. This is the perfect thing to do when you need a specific size or a very large area rug. It has held up nicely and it hides sand very well.

Removing the swag drapery treatments lets the view speak for itself. Privacy isn’t an issue and with the large roof overhand that is typical of log buildings, sun damage isn’t either. Simpler and more light, both big pluses in my book.

Even if the large clock and console were left by the previous owner, I would have removed both of them,  as there was far too much furniture in the space.

I relocated the existing occasional tables within the cottage and purchased an end table and coffee table from Urban Barn, with a lucky gift card win. Made from repurposed wood they have the rustic feel and look I was going for. Though they do strike a bit of a challenge when placing your drink on them, with their uneven surface.

My grandfather’s travel trunk from the early 1900’s replaced the other end table. I just had a piece of glass cut to fit the top and it has been the perfect thing. If you want to learn more about cottage decorating click here to read an Ottawa Citizen article that I contributed to.

Antique trunk fitted with a glass top to use as a table

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

And on the other side of the cottage living room.

Before picture of living room with design changes

We upgraded the wood pellet stove for a wood burning insert. Well worth the change both aesthetically and financially, as it has lowered our heating bills substantially in the winter.

The two pink swivel chairs were functionally perfect for the space. Even more so after I added the tv behind them, so now you can swivel to watch the fire or tv. With their threadbare pink fabric, they needed a makeover.  By raising them up a few inches (they were quite short) and reupholstering them in an exterior fabric they will be used and abused for many years.

log home living room with white slipcovered sofas

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

New foam and a durable exterior fabric completely updated the window seats. The pillows are a combination of ones I have made, knitted or picked up at various shops.

Adding my own decor items, like the large clock above the mantel, makes it feel more like us. Since this picture was taken this clock has been switched out for an even larger metal industrial one. Antique books, candles and other decor items are displayed on the mantel itself.  You can’t quite see them in these pictures,  but I used images from a great desk calendar and put them in inexpensive frames. By stacking them on top of each other, it gives them a bit more presence on the wall.

Originally this floor lamp was gold plated and very dated. I painted it black and bought a new drum shade to give it a new lease on life.

Cottage living room with stone fireplace

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

The cute little turquoise cabinet, a hand me down gift from a neighbour, got a fresh coat of paint. The swing chair lives here in the winter and in the summer it is enjoyed on the back deck.

Obviously, budget wise we didn’t do this all at the same time. Being one of our most used spaces, it was high on the priority list. I had a plan and as cash became available I just kept going down my list. That is really the key…to have a plan. You may find things as you go along that aren’t in the plan. That’s okay just as long as you have a good idea of where you are heading. That will also help you to avoid getting off track by spending more money then is necessary.

How can I help you design your living room?

Published and made the cover!

Published and made the cover!

Published and made the cover of Ottawa at Home magazine Summer 2018

Such exciting news for my small business!

If you are in Ottawa you can pick it up at Farm Boy, Bridgehead Coffee, Tagalong Toys, Tamarack Model Homes, Chapters, etc… and also apparently it is in the Globe and Mail as an insert.

Click here to read it online.

I’ve also written a few posts with more detailed information on our renovation of the cottage. Click here to read about the living room transformation and here for the bathroom reno.

How to choose souvenirs that won’t become clutter

how to choose souvenirs that won't become clutter

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

It’s that travel time of year! The time of year when we dream about hitting the open road with clear blue skies above. I may be in the minority but I love a road trip! Well, let’s be honest I love any kind of trip. But I do not love clutter!

So regardless of where you are headed this summer, you will likely bring back a souvenir of some sort. But then you get home and that bright Mexican plate that you just couldn’t part with in the market, just doesn’t quite look as good in your very traditional home.

So what souvenirs can be turned into decor pieces that don’t just clutter up your home?

When I’m traveling, I think about these things before I pick up something that’ll also take up my precious luggage space.

  1. Where will you use or place it in your home when you get back? A colourful ceramic bowl or jug may be perfect thing to use at your summer cottage instead of your home.
  2. Is it useful or at least tasty? I often pick up speciality food products that are unique to the locale, it’s great to enjoy and share with friends or family when you’re back home.
  3. Picking up Christmas tree ornaments are perfect for remembering your vacation but they won’t add to your daily clutter quota. Plus they are usually tiny and therefore easy to pack.
  4. Textiles are another favourite, a tea towel with a cute local saying or image or perhaps, an apron, both are useful. When I went to Paris, I picked up fabric at a flea market and once home, I had it made into cushion covers.
  5. Perhaps you can pick up some seashells, sea glass or special rocks from your vacation spot. Once you’ve ensured you can remove them, collect away. By placing them in shadow boxes or displaying them in a bowl you can enjoy them year around. Kids of course, love to get in on this type of collecting and it’s easy on the vacation budget.
  6. Do you take a million travel pics? I must confess I am guilty of this. But it’s great to pick one or two of your favourite and have them blown up and either mounted or framed for your walls. I’ve also made a personalized calendar with travel pics from the previous year. It’s a great way to remember the special moments.

So where are you heading this summer?

6 design ideas to reduce anxiety

Reduce anxiety with some design ideas for your home.

Photo by Jen P. on Unsplash

Feeling a little overwhelmed? How about some design ideas to reduce anxiety? These six design ideas can help reduce your anxiety by targeting some of the smaller details in your home. If you have ever struggled with anxiety you know how hard it can be to manage and to overcome. It has a way of sneaking into every part of our life and we need to chisel it out out of there, little by little.

While these tips won’t cure your anxiety they will help soothe you and your family. They may be just the thing you need to get some calmness back in your life.

  1. Target your sense of smell. This is the perfect time to use an oil diffuser in your main spaces, or perhaps you’d prefer a scented candle. Certain oils such as lavender can help you relax and decompress and peppermint is great for relieving headaches.
  2. Fresh flowers or plants. A touch of the outdoors, especially colourful ones will instantly give you a sense of peace. So don’t you regret that impulsive bouquet purchase at the grocery store’s checkout line, it may be just the medicine you need.
  3. Keep your rooms open and airy. Feeling like there is space in your home, can make you feel more relaxed and calm. Removing a few pieces to give the remaining furniture a little more breathing room can achieve this and may give you more breathing space as well.
  4. Open those windows and drapes. Perhaps those heavy drapes have had their time. Light, airy drapes that will let the natural light in can go a long way to lighten your mood and bring the outdoors in.
  5. Remove clutter. I know this is a huge anxiety trigger for me, and my family knows this all too well. I actually feel a little claustrophobic when I’m in a cluttered space. So no more excuses, it’s time to remove the visual clutter and watch how much lighter and freer you feel.
  6. Use soothing paint colours. There is actually a science to colour therapy and it has been well proven over and over. Soft pinks, greens and blues are know to create feelings of wellbeing and calm, while colours like bright red, chartreuse and neon yellow can cause overstimulation and restlessness. It just may be time to get out the paint deck and contemplate a new colour scheme.

With today’s highly stressed and fast paced lifestyles a little anxiety reduction is always a good thing.  Implementing these small changes may help you create a more balanced and happy life and perhaps reduce anxiety as well!

 

 

 

Exciting news

 

modern cottage kitchen

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

This kitchen will soon be featured along with the rest of my log home cottage in a local magazine. I’m so excited. Once it’s published and available I’ll let you all know.

And did you know that it was an award winner? Click here or on the picture below to see the DDA video showcasing it.

2017 Silver award Kitchens DDA

Lisa

Kitchen Planning Standards – Class 101

Photo credit – Melissa Kew Photography

Ever wonder what standards there are for either a new kitchen or a kitchen renovation?

Well, I’m here to help!

These industry standards will help  you work out your plan properly so you don’t run into any unexpected surprises.

APPLIANCES

Standard oven width – 30 inches

Standard dishwasher width – 24 inches

Standard fridge width – 36 inches. Keep in mind that you should choose and order your appliances before building a new or renovating a kitchen, the cabinetry and countertops will be built around them for the most custom look.

CABINETRY

Standard upper cabinet depth – 12 inches

Standard base cabinet depth – 24.5 inches

Standard counter height – 36 inches

Standard counter depth – 25.50 inches

Standard distance between bottom of cabinet and your countertops – 18 inches**.  If you are installing under cabinet lighting, a must in my books, then you’ll have to give some consideration to the extra space needed for them and valances.  Also, if there is a special appliance(s) you would like to store on your countertop, be sure that the 18 inches will accommodate it.

**This height will change if you are putting in a gas cooktop. Please check with your contractor or designer with regards to your building codes and safety requirements for your particular kitchen design.

ISLANDS

Minimum distance between two working areas – 39 inches.  48 inches would be ideal but you can get by on the minimum of 39 inches.

Minimum island overhang – 12 inches with no brackets for support (depending on the counter material) or 15-18 inches with supports.

Minimum counter space on either side of the stove – 18 inches.  A stove should never be placed right beside a wall, as this could be a fire hazard.

STOOLS AND LIGHTING

Bar stool height – 30 inches

Counter stool height – 24 inches

Height for hanging light fixture over a table or island – Standard is 30-36″ from the top of the dining table, however this can and should be adjusted for individuals using the space and for sight lines.  I usually prefer to hang the light lower if it is a statement piece and if the table is large enough to accommodate it.  For an island fixture – standard is 60-66″ from the floor, but again this can and should be adjusted for sight lines and for tall individuals.

HAPPY KITCHEN PLANNING!

Lisa

 

 

How to properly light your kitchen

So how do you properly light a kitchen? I was asked this question recently in my Facebook group – Empty Nesters – Reclaim your Space (click to join). Here’s how to light your kitchen so you aren’t squinting when you are trying to create your gourmet meal.

There are three types of lighting:

  1. Ambient or  General Lighting
  2. Task Lighting
  3. Accent or decorative lighting

You really want to layer all three types of lighting so that you don’t get a spotlight effect in your room. And I always recommend dimmers for most lighting, even in a kitchen, especially if you will be entertaining.

For a kitchen, an example of all three types of lighting would be:

  1. Ambient or General lighting – This is typically potlights (and yes, put them on a dimmer), one or more large overhead lights or track lighting. This is the overall light for the room. If you are using potlights your designer, electrician and/or contractor will have recommendations for you on their spacing. This is dependant on the size of the room, placement of fixtures, work areas and the size and light beam of the potlight you are installing.
  2. Task lighting – this is lighting that directly lights your work area, think of a reading lamp. This would be your under cabinet lighting in a kitchen, or pendant lights over a sink, island or peninsula.
  3. Accent or decorative lighting – this can be wall sconces, glass cabinets with interior lights or a decorative lamp placed on the island.

Here’s a visual showing all three types of lighting.

how to properly light a kitchen

So in this example, the ambient or general lighting is the potlights. The task lighting is the under cabinet lighting, the pendant lights over the peninsula and the fan light over the stove. The accent lighting is the in cabinet lighting.

To see more of this kitchen renovation click here.

Proper lighting in a kitchen is essential and should be one of the first steps when planning your renovation.

 

 

How to furnish and love a long narrow living room in 5 easy steps

Do you have a long narrow living room? Are you a little puzzled on how to go about using it to it’s full potential or at the least making it appear less long and narrow? These quick tips will definitely help you.

1.  First off, do not make the shorts walls a featured area. That is, don’t paint it a different colour than the other walls or put wallpaper on just this one wall. That will draw your eye right to the other end of the room and emphasize it’s narrowness.  So, no accent walls of paint or wallpaper, and if possible, do not put the television or fireplace there.

2.  Do try and place the television/fireplace or other focal pieces, on one of the long walls. This will redirect your focus there.

3. Place furniture away from the short walls wherever possible. So that they will be drawn more into the center of the room.  Creating two seating areas works well in a long narrow living room and enables it to be used to it’s full potential.

4. Built ins or shelving units are your friend.  They can be used on the short walls to create some additional storage and they will inevitably cause the room to be shortened in length. Especially if one of the longer walls has a focal point, as in the image below, the window wall will draw your attention before the shelving unit does.

5. Don’t be afraid of larger pieces of furniture, like sectionals, they work especially well for long narrow living rooms. They take up less space than a sofa and love seat and give you just as much seating, if not more, and allow you to stretch out to watch your favourite shows….hello, Netflix.

Recently, I did up a floor plan for a client with a long narrow living room and here are the two options I gave her.  There is an interesting closet like space at the end of the room that we needed to work with, you know….. old homes and all their character. The challenge in this long narrow living room was accommodating the two entrances and windows and the traffic flow. Also, keep in mind drawings are for design layout purposes only and not necessarily suggestions for colour or specific pieces.

Long narrow Living room Option 1 –  long narrow living room - layout

The alcove at the end of the room is brought forward by using it as another seating area. Placing a console with a piece of art above and two matching chairs in front make this space functional.  Having the television in the middle of one of the long walls allows it to become a feature.
long narrow living room - design option long narrow living room - design option

Long narrow Living room Option 2 – 

The left side of the room remains the same, with the right side accommodating a built in bookcases and storage.
long narrow living room - layout
long narrow living room - design option
So what’s your favourite Option for a long narrow living room?
Lisa

9 easy steps to go all the way with design

9 easy steps to go all the way with your design

Are you struggling with finishing or even starting to design a room. It’s something we have all experienced, even us decorators and designers. Life is so distracting sometimes and it can be hard to move forward. However, the key is to keep making decisions and to focus on ONE ROOM AT A TIME!!!

I know, I know, I always say that your home should be cohesive and it does, but trying to design a whole home can be hugely overwhelming. So tackle one room at a time and I think you’ll see that one room leads to another.

Here’s the way I design:

1.  Make a plan. Decide on how you will be using the room, who will be using the room and what you need to do that properly.  If it’s a family room and you will be using it to watch television and do crafts. You’ll need to have comfy seating for the tv and a large table with appropriate flooring and lighting for craft time.

2.  Plan your lighting. Lighting is so important to a room.  Just think how annoyed you are when you don’t have the proper lighting when you are trying to do something.  Make sure there is ambient lighting (the general lighting for a room) and the appropriate task lighting (such as table lamps for reading or pot lights set over the craft table).  Decorative lighting can be added for mood and ambience in the form of sconces, candles or a decorative floor or table lamp.

3.  Style and colour. This goes along with #1 in that you need to have an idea of what style you would like.  The best way to do this is with magazines – pull out pictures and keep a file or make a pinterest board. I’m eventually going to post some tips on keeping your pinterest boards on point.  After you have a bunch in the file or pins on your pinterest board, a clearer picture of your style will emerge. Tada you have your inspiration. Colour will also show up in these photos. The colour of the walls will be determined at a later stage once you have the bigger pieces decided upon.

4.  Large pieces. Now is the time to invest in the larger more expensive pieces for the room.  Such as a sofa, area rug, draperies and case goods.  These are the items that you will be keeping for the long term and they form the base of your design.  This is where you usually spend the bulk of your budget and because of this I usually stick with classics and neutrals for these items.  You can however diverge from this tract, if for example you love red and fall in love with a red sofa.  GO FOR IT!  This is what will make your room, you!

A note here about pattern, if the larger items that you have decided upon are all solids you may want to add some pattern either in the area rug or in a smaller upholstered chair or ottoman. This gives the room some pizzazz.  Otherwise I would consider adding some wallpaper to the walls instead of a solid paint colour.  The key with pattern is to ensure that the pattern sizes are not all the same. For example, if you have a large pattern on the area rug then have a smaller pattern on the ottoman, so vary the scale of your patterns.

5.  Shopping. Okay now that you’ve decided on the larger items and their cost, you can form a budget.  This will guide you as to where you can splurge and where you can save.  A great room always has some of each in it – that is what makes it interesting.  Remember to keep some money for paint and accessories (usually about 15-20% of the budget).

6.  Paint colour.  I look at all the major items purchased and the rest of the home and then decide what would be the best colour choice.  Paint is one of the most inexpensive parts of the design process and with so many colours, this works the best. Once I know the main colour of the walls, I can then go on to the next step, accessory shopping.

7. Accessories. I do up a list of what I think I’ll need. For example, small round end table, gold framed rectangular mirror approximately 24”x12”.  This is also when I check to see if there is an abundance of one shape in the room.  If there are lots of square items, I balant with some round smaller items and accessories.  Most decorators and designers will pick up way more accessories while shopping. Gives us a great bunch of choices when doing the final placement.  Just return the items that you don’t need. So be sure the store you are shopping at has a great return policy.

8.  Keep on track.  Now is when you’ll usually get distracted and start looking for items for another room in your home.  Try and keep focused and only purchase for the one room. Your budget will thank you and you’ll have one room done instead of all of them in progress.

9.  Put everything in place. If you have managed to hold off now is the time to put everything in place.  Of course, first off the room should be painted and then the larger items positioned in place. Then the smaller furniture pieces and accessories, such as artwork, mirrors and decorative pieces are added.  And Voila!! a perfectly finished design!!

Lisa

 

How decluttering can help you redecorate your home for free

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

So what do you do if your budget is tight but you’d love to give your home a fresh update for Spring? You may not realize it, but there is a way to revive and refresh all the rooms in your house – without spending a cent. Do you think it’s impossible to redecorate for free? Well, just keep reading and I’ll tell you how.

Take a look around the house for all of the accessories and artwork you own – including art work, sculptures, vases, candles, picture frames, even plants. Gather them all up and place them all on your kitchen table, this is now your own little decor shop.

Look at everything on your table with new eyes, as if you are seeing it for the first time. Just because that piece of art has always hung over the fireplace does not mean it wouldn’t look even better in the foyer. Or maybe the frame just needs a quick spray paint to be perfect over your bed. Perhaps that red vase that faded into the background in the family room will make your powder room pop.

Keep going, item by item and room by room, until you have redone your entire house. This is the perfect job for a weekend so take your time and it’ll definitely be worthwhile in the end.

Keep in mind that when it comes to decorating, less really is more. That means you don’t have to find a home for all the pieces. Inevitably, there will be leftovers that just don’t seem to ‘fit’ anywhere – at least for now. If you love some of the unused items, store them until you redecorate again, and if you don’t, then it’s time to say goodbye. You can give find them a new home or donate them, just don’t keep them around taking up your precious space.

Now with less items around you’ll definitely spend less time vacuuming and dusting and just think you did it all without spending a cent plus you’ll feel great giving some much appreciated things away for someone else to enjoy.

Lisa