How to design and furnish a sunroom

Boy, it’s a hot summer here so far. So in honour of the season, I’m sharing my log room sunroom that I designed and furnished when we bought our log home a few years ago. So whether your sunroom is actually a covered porch, a screened in 3 season room, a Muskoka room or a free standing gazebo, these tips will help you.

Here’s how one side of the sunroom looks now.

Log home sunroom

And the other side.

Sunroom design

blue log cottage sunroom

Blue log cottage sunroom

This is what I started with.

Before sunroom

I bought more substantial and darker wicker furniture and had the cushions made with sunbrella fabric so that there was no worry about sun damage or a wet bathing suit. I chose blue fabrics that complemented each other but that were not the same for interest. Instead of a coffee table I went with an ottoman. It can be used for your feet, as an extra seat or for putting a tray on and using as a table.

Blue log cottage sunroom

The various throw pillows were made by me and I selected more contrasting patterns but with the same colours of blue as in the upholstery. I primarily used blue in this room but with little touches of a soft green. It shows up on the table base, on candle holders and on a few other decorative accessories.

blue log cottage sunroom

A small corner shelf adds a little display area and makes the corner interesting. A little round glass table holds a table lamp and in the other corner a larger table is for display and to place a drink or two. A floor lamp brings much needed light into this corner.

blue log cottage sunroom detail

My grandfather’s ice saw from the early 1900’s takes pride of place over the window. You can just see it on the picture below. An indoor/outdoor rug with a fun french poem written on it anchors the seating area.

blue log cottage sunroom

The little piano stool, from a barn sale, is painted a fun turquoise that matches the curio cabinet in the living room.

Turquoise piano stool used as table in sunroom

And here’s how the other side of the room looked like before.

before sunroom

First up we had to do a repair on the floor tiles right in front of the door. Since the existing terracotta tiles were not available nor would they have matched I went with a different pattern terracotta tile for this area, I think it makes it look like an accent rug.

blue log cottage sunroom

We also took out three of the six skylights as the lower ones were too close to the edge of the roof and leaked all the time. We kept it as an eating area and this is also where we often play cards. Removing the shelf allowed for a larger table and chairs. I also hung a black industrial style pendant light. And for a little bit of fun, I painted and placed some old oars as wall art on this wall.

log cottage detail

Log cottage sunroom

The other side of the room, which you don’t see has a large bookcase across from the table. And there are two sets of french doors which take up the rest of the wall space.

Sunroom detail

If you’d like to read about the other rooms in my log cottage, click on the links below. And stayed tuned, as I’ll be sharing more of the rooms throughout the summer. You can also read about my log cottage feature online in Ottawa at Home’s summer edition by clicking here. 

Log cottage living room 

Log cottage bathroom 

All photos except before pictures:  Melissa Kew Photography

Designing a modern cottage bath on a budget

This is the second in a series I’m writing about the renovation and makeover of my country log cottage. Here’s how I gutted and designed a new modern cottage bath on a pretty low budget.

Modern cottage bath with subway tile and repurposed library table as vanity

It is a little scary but it started out like this.

Before photo of bath with details on changes

If you look closely on the above picture, you can see right where the shower base meets the floor, there is a large crack.  That’s where the floor was totally rotten. Like I mean so rotten, I was scared whenever someone used the bathroom that they would fall through the floor. You could actually see the basement through the crack.  Yikes! Obviously we knew this before we bought. So, this bathroom was pretty much the first job we tackled once we had possession. We basically had to take everything out and start over. Even the side of the cabinet had significant water damage as well as the wall so everything came out.

Like the cottage living room post (click here to read it), I’m showing you on the before picture what the plan was and how it was executed. So, here’s a visual breakdown of what we did for our modern cottage bath.

After bath photo showing some of the changes that were made

First, we gutted everything. Next we put in a completely new subfloor, installed new water resistant drywall and used the Kerdi shower system to ensure that the shower would be completely waterproof. Hubby got to work on all this nastiness and I got to go shopping. Not quite fair, I know.

I wanted an interesting, inexpensive vanity that was open on the bottom to help make the tiny bath feel more spacious. I had previously used an antique dresser in my powder room at home so I thought potentially something like that but without the drawers, some kind of table. As luck would have it I found an antique library table when I went with some fellow designers to the Brimfield Antique Show (you can read that post here). I knew it would be perfect, once I figured out how to raise it a few inches since it was a little short.

Before of the antique library table used as a bathroom vanity

Once I found this piece, it all started to click together. I wanted to highlight the barley twist legs so I decided that I would paint the legs. I had recently heard about the Canadian paint company, Fat Paint, so I contacted Victoria the owner, and told her what I was looking for. She offered to customize a colour for me so I just needed to choose one.

I know, this is where everyone wonders how did I choose a colour? It is actually quite systematic. I went shopping for flooring tiles, as I would need them sooner rather than later. I was also curious to see what I could find. The tile I settled on looks like wood but it isn’t, it is ceramic. We also ran it into the hallway outside the bathroom and in the nearby laundry room. Well, this floor went with the nearby slate floor and it had the slightest touch of turquoise in it, so it became the jumping off point for the colour scheme. I decided on a darker turquoise for the vanity that would really highlight the carved legs.

From here, I chose the shower wall tiles and the river rock coloration, then lastly I chose the wall colour, Benjamin Moore’s Woodlawn Blue, a soft version of the vanity’s legs. This is exactly why you always choose paint last in your renovation. So much easier to choose a paint colour to work with your fixtures, as there are endless colours of paint in comparison to tile selections.

Modern cottage bath with painted open repurposed vanity and square sink

Once I had decided on the vanity colour, I got in touch with Victoria and she automatically offered to mix me up a custom colour and ship it to me free of charge so I could try it out. Talk about service!

I found some prefab wood legs at my local Home Depot that I figured would work as extensions on the bottom of the table. So my husband, attached them and I set about painting the base. You can barely tell that the bottom six inches or so of the table is not original and I’m sure if I hadn’t told you, you would never have noticed. If you are thinking of painting a wood piece and want to do minimum sanding and prepping, check out my post here about how Fat Paint works. It saves you so much time.

Last but not least, I refinished the top with quite a few coats of durable polyurethane so that it would stand up to some splashing.

I loved that the library table had a nice little lower shelf as I was planning to pick up some baskets for storage. And those baskets would also help to hide the necessary plumbing underneath the sink. Since this is the main floor bath and acts as a powder room most of the time, I knew I wouldn’t need closed storage.

Close up of repurposed library table with painted barley twist legs

Next I chose a rectangular sink because I wanted it to mirror the shape of the table itself. I love this one from Kohler, it’s timeless, works perfectly with the square base of the Delta Dryden faucet and gives me that modern cottage bath feel I was after. BTW – Another great cost saving for me was Delta offered me the shower and sink fixtures free of charge for an honest opinion of them.  You can read my original post here.  

The lilypad artwork in the above photo is actually a photograph from a local artist. I love picking up original pieces from the area. My husband loved it and it was the perfect colours and feel for our modern cottage bath.

Library table turned bathroom vanity

Photo credit Melissa Kew Photography

For the shower I had my heart set on river rock tile. How perfect are they for it a beach front cottage? To offset the cost of them, I used simple grey matte oversized subway tiles on the rest of the shower walls.

Grey matte subway tile subway with bronze fixtures and river rock floor

I added a border of marble and glass tiles 2/3 of the way up that ties in the bath colours. My husband, figured out that he could run the subway tiles vertically above the border, so we did just that. This is called a soldier’s course, in case you are interested. This also has the added bonus of making a low ceiling feel higher. In this low ceiling bathroom that was a huge plus.

Close up of subway tile and border tile with bronze shower fixtures

I love the square Dryden fixtures and they add the right amount of masculinity to my modern cottage bath. Below, you can see the little niche for shampoo and soaps, he did with the river rock tile.

Shower niche with river rock tile

We removed the second shower head and raised the remaining one up to a proper height, since it was low. A great cost savings on the shower was the fact that we reused the shower glass and door. We just ordered new bronze trim and a handle to match the shower and sink fixtures. And thankfully we didn’t break it removing it and reinstalling it. We did sweat that alot!

Round reclaimed wood mirror with bronze bath faucet and lighting

Photo credit Melissa Kew Photography

A new toilet was installed and I sourced an oval mirror, to balance all the squares and rectangles in the space. It’s made from repurposed wood and has a nice rustic feel for a country bath. I had two sconce lights placed on either side of the mirror to replace the one hollywood strip. Did you know that being lit from each side is eminently more flattering than overhead lighting aka Hag lighting? The sconces themselves are simple and slightly industrial with a dark finish to match the fixtures.

Bronze faucet with repurposed antique library table vanity and reclaimed wood mirror

We also installed a few of these cute little deer hooks so that hanging up towels is quick and easy.

Shower with subway tile, river rock floor and bronze fixtures

My husband, was a huge part of this renovation. He did all the demo, all the tile work, all the installations except where we needed professionals. So obviously if you can do some of the work yourself that will be a great savings. Just remember though, that you should know what you can or cannot tackle. Sometimes DIY leads to even more expense when you have to call in the experts to fix a wrong.

All in, this renovation cost us under $8,000. Which is actually very reasonable as an average bathroom renovation costs around $20,000 and quickly goes up. Keeping everything in the same footprint in this tiny bathroom helped to keep the cost low. The majority of the cost was definitely the Kerdi Shower system. We didn’t want to skimp on that as we didn’t want a repeat of the water damage that had happened.

So there you have it, our modern cottage bath.

Modern cottage bath with unique vanity and river rock shower floor

So when can we start working on your bathroom renovation?

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 right 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. However, it was high on the priority list since this cottage living room is one of my family’s most used spaces. 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?