Podcast Episode 3: Style Maker Cobi Ladner

I’m incredibly excited to introduce the guest of my latest episode of the Hunted & Gathered Podcast. Cobi Ladner is one of Canada’s leading design authorizes. During her 15 years as editor in chief at House & Home magazine Cobi helped develop the magazine into Canada’s source for design inspiration and information. Under her direction, readership increased from 600,000 to 2.5 million. Each month her editor’s page was the first place I flipped to when my issue of House & Home arrived. Style and design became accessible and attainable through Cobi’s warm, personal and insigtful editorials; as if what I saw in the magazine could truly be something I could create in my own home.

In 2008 Cobi left the publishing world to create her lifestyle brand Cobistyle, which now includes furniture, fabric, home décor accessories and more. Cobi has recently jumped back into publishing as the editorial director of Reno & Décor magazine, inspiring readers with the latest decorating and renovating tips and trends. I’m thrilled she’s back writing those wonderfully inspiring editor’s letters.

The self-promclaimed poster girl of pretty decor (and colour!) chats with me about her favourite Instagram accounts and how to create a comfortable and approachable home by infusing personal style and individuality (like she did in her amazing kitchen, pictured here).


Here are some of Cobi’s favourite Instagram accounts for fresh doses of decor inspiration.

Studio McGee


One Kings Lane

Feasby & Bleeks Design

Cobi has also written a beautiful children’s book.

Why is an Orange Called an Orange?

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did! To listen click here or on the link in the sidebar.



“Art is Anything You Can Get Away With”

Let’s talk about your walls for a few minutes. You may have painted them in a fantastic colour; and perhaps they’re the perfect backdrop for your favourite piece of furniture; and oh, what those walls would say if they could talk!       But just maybe, your walls are feeling a bit neglected? I know art can be pricey, especially original art. While I strongly feel that art is a great investment for your home, it could be that you have never found anything you’re crazy about or you just don’t have the money to make that kind of commitment right now. No matter, you can still have incredibly stylish and unique wall art that is personal and heartfelt. You don’t have to cave in and settle for that flimsy framed canvas from the big box store (unless of course that flimsy framed canvas totally speaks to you and is your art soulmate, then by all means – get it!) Read on for some creative ways to fill your walls without emptying your bank account.

In 2006,  Martha Stewart released a home decor/lifestyle magazine called Blueprint. It was like the quirky middle sister of Real Simple and Domino. It only lasted maybe two years but I loved each inspiring issue. One of my favourite articles featured budget friendly and easy to diy art. These giant framed playing cards are just enlarged photocopies of a standard card. The best part of this project is that it takes zero skill to pull off. All you have to do is walk into a Staples with a playing card and ask them to enlarge it to your desired size. Then you put it in a frame. I’ll bet the most difficult part of this project will be hanging it on your wall. I can never get my art to hang straight!

(When my husband and I were dating he gave me a single playing card – the ace of hearts. I was going away on vacation and he told me that no matter where I go I would always have his heart. Cue the fake canned “ahhhhh”. This would be the ideal project to display my memento.)


While you’re at the print centre, how about also enlarging something really personal like a handwritten envelope from a special friend or relative?


These next ideas come from one of my favourite design blogs, Tattered Style. While the blog isn’t updated any longer, it’s a treasure trove of amazing DIY and vintage decor ideas.

Vintage shooting range target.  

Slices of a fallen tree.

Special family recipes.

If these ideas have been too sentimental for you, how about some broken hockey sticks? Maybe you’ve been keeping all the old sticks your children used over the years.  This is a nice way to bring them out in the open and relive those memories. Sorry – I just made it sentimental again!


 The thrift stores in my city always have an abundance of these old wooden tennis rackets. This simple but striking display would make a great conversation piece in any sports fan’s home.


These blue beauties are from Pottery Barn. As you can image they come with a Pottery Barn price tag. But even those among us who are craftily-challenged could manage to recreate these fairly easily using thrifted handkerchiefs, vintage samplers or other bits of fabric. Bonus points if your framed textile is older than you.


I snapped a photo of this a few years ago at a store in Toronto. Unfortunately I can’t remember the store or the artist who did this, but isn’t this cool? And I’m pretty sure a few of you crafty vixens out there could totally replicate this using old books. I’ve been temped to try it myself but I haven’t worked up the courage to tear apart any of my precious books. Perhaps it will appear one day on this space as a DIY project. Or maybe it will appear on this space as a failed DIY project and cautionary tale. Stay tuned!

Whatever you choose to put on your walls it should be a reflect of you. Art should tell your story – whether it’s your accomplishments, memories or just a piece that you’re drawn to. So look around, you likely already have something special and personal that you could display. If not, hopefully one of these examples will inspire you.

Happy Hunting!

Podcast Episode 2: Blogger Kim Power from Kim Power Style


It’s here! Episode 2 of the Hunted & Gathered Podcast. I’m having so much fun with this. I get to chat with designers, bloggers, DIYers, architects and renovators to find out what’s happening in the world of home design and interiors from the people who are making it happen. This week I’m talking with Kim Power from Kim Power Style.


Kim is the queen of serene blue and white spaces. Don’t you already feel more calm just looking at this room? 


Here’s a peek at her recently renovated office/workroom that she completed for the One Room Challenge. Beautiful!


I think my favourite part of our conversation is when we talk about how easy it is to feel discontented with our homes when we compare ourselves with what others are doing. Kim reminds us that what we see in the squares (the Instagram photos or the Pinterest pins) doesn’t show the whole story or even always the truth – like the messy kitchens and bathrooms. This is definitely a reminder I need! There is so much more happening in my home (and I’m sure this is true of your home too!) than just how it’s decorated. Right now there are piles of books in the living room, wet towels by the pool and a board game in progress on the table. But home isn’t about being perfect, it’s a place where family and friends feel comfortable and accepted. Which, to me, is better than a perfectly styled, photo ready house any day!

A huge thank-you to Kim for being on the show! She was lovely to talk with and her passion for creating home was so inspiring!

Click on the notes below to find more about Kim’s favourite decorators and the go-to decor items she mentioned in the show.

Life Style: Elegant Simplicity at Home by Tricia Foley

Atlanta Bartlett                                                                                                                 Keep it Simple: A Guide to a Happy, Relaxed Home

Easy Elegance: Creating a relaxed, comfortable, and stylish home

At Home with White

Sarah Richardson

At Home: Sarah Style

Sarah Style

 IKEA Lenda Curtains

 Curtain Clips

Produced by Valley Way Media

Rock Star Rip-Off

This super quick and easy DIY is 100% inspired (um, more like copied) by the amazing Tanya from Dans Le Lakehouse. Several years ago Tanya posted an art tutorial using framed agate rock coasters. Here’s what she did:

Gorgeous! I tucked this away in the back of head knowing some day I would have the right space for something like this.  Recently I was trying to find the perfect birthday gift for an agate-loving friend when I remember Tanya’s post.

I found my agate rock slices from the Etsy store, The Hollow Geode. This little shop has so many beautiful rocks, it was difficult to choose. I ended up selecting these:

and because I also wanted to make something for myself I bought these:

I picked up several of these frames from IKEA

and just attached the rock slices to a some white card stock and slipped it in the frame. Tanya’s instructions are so much better so please follow hers – I only snapped a few iPhone pics as an afterthought so the quality isn’t great. You can also see I took the easiest route to attach the slices of agate – double sided tape.

Here’s the ones I made as a gift:

and here’s what my completed project looks like:

(I never know what to do with the happy hour corner of the dining room, so I keep changing the artwork up)

This project turned out to be unassuming but full of character.

The pictures aren’t perfect; but let’s blame the lighting, not the photographer, okay?

I made four frames but I felt three was enough in the dining room so I put the forth in the bathroom.

This project was really easy, I worked on it while I made dinner. All six took me maybe 10 minutes. I promise the most time consuming part was unwrapping the frames!

Happy Hunting!




Mineral Experimentation 

I’ve been seeing Fusion Mineral Paint everywhere and been wanting to try it. I was given this beautiful campaign dresser which was just the right size for our front hall and the perfect opportunity to try out the paint.

Just for the record, I am that person who will take others people’s cast offs, go out of my way for a garage sale and slam on the brakes (often causing my coffee to spill) for a roadside find. This little guy came from a friend so no coffee was spilled for this project (but it was spilled on it – read on).

I follow Fusion Mineral Paint on Instagram and the makeovers they post are so amazing that I just had to try it. Plus it seemed super easy, which is just about my skill level. Every review I read said the prep was minimal and that the paint goes on like a dream.  So I was excited to try it myself. I was tempted by the colour Seaside but I ended up going with Midnight Blue. The colour collections can be seen here.

I did a light sand of the entire dresser, but I’ve read that if the surface isn’t too glossy you can paint right over top of the original finish without sanding. I’ve been painting furniture for lots of years so I just couldn’t bring myself to skip this step. The hardest part of this entire project was taking off all the brass box corners and the 38 tiny nails that held them on, plus all the pulls and knobs.  Once they were out I was afraid I would drop them and lose pieces so I wrapped each box corner and its nails in plastic. My inner David Suzuki was very unhappy at the wastefulness of this, but since clumsy is one of my more dominate traits it had to be done.

The paint really did go on so beautifully, it is easily the nicest paint I’ve worked with. My kids even helped with the painting and their uneven strokes just blended in once dried.

Yes I did watch paint dry. . .and photographed it. (in our garage with really poor lighting)

This is the finished dresser with only two coats of paint.  I did wait 24 hours in between each coat even though it was dry to the touch in about an hour. The paint dried to a gorgeous matte finish that is wipeable- I know since I’ve already spilled coffee on it.

I’m so happy with the results – I’m already looking for something else to paint!




Podcast Episode 1: House & Home Senior Editor Sally Armstrong

I’m so excited to launch this new podcast series! I’ll be chatting with designers, bloggers, DIYers, architects and renovators to find out what’s happening in the world of home design and interiors from the people who are making it happen.


My first guest is Sally Armstrong. Sally has been with House & Home magazine for over a decade and has overseen some the magazine’s most famous and well loved features. Sally’s own beautiful house remodel can be seen here and here.

I’m especially in awe (and really jealous) of her amazing mudroom.

Click the link or player to hear the entire interview with Sally and her simple styling tricks to get a photo-shoot worthy kitchen!



All the Moms

Mother’s Day is this week and if you’re like me, you want to give your mom (or that special mom-like person) something that shows you really care. I always struggle at Mother’s Day to find that perfect something that says “you’re the best, sorry about my teen years, thanks for helping me become a decent human and all you still do for me even though I’m a grown-up”. Somehow a bouquet of flowers or a gift card just doesn’t cut it. So I’ve rounded up a few goodies that I think will be loved by all the kinds of moms in your life.

needs-some-self-love mom:

Sarah’s Soap

Small batch, handcrafted soaps, body butters, balms and lotions from pure ingredients. I love this line of body products and have some serious feelings for this and this.

bag-lady mom: Grace Bohemian Bags

Hand sewn shoulder bags, clutches and pouches made from  Moroccan, Turkish & Peruvian carpets and cowhide leather.

mom and her mini-me: GIFTOLOGIE Cuffs

Matching aluminum bracelets. Available in custom designs.

loves-to-share-photos-of-her-kids mom: LePapierStudio Silhouette Jewelry

Custom silhouette art and jewelry.

keepsake-loving mom: Marguerites Main St Printable Art

Downloadable DIY Dandelion Fingerprint Art. Also perfect for the last minute shoppers. Just print this and have your child finger paint the pods.

great-sense-of-humor mom: Just for Keeks Glassware & Clothing

Customizable cute and cheeky quotes on everything from wine glasses to socks.

needs-to-be-caffeinated-to-function mom: Parachute Coffee

This subscription coffee service delivers fresh roasted (in Toronto) coffee right to your door. The idea of not having to get out of your pajamas to get amazingly fresh roasted coffee is a gift that gives back. Imagine how much more cheerful and on her game your caffeine loving mama will be with this gift.

home-body mom:

Mother’s Touch Candles

Soy candles infused with pure essential oils.

An finally for the has-it-all mom: a tattoo

What mother wouldn’t be proud of this!

Happy Mother’s Day!






Patio Season

Spring is definitely here and we’re so close to patio season! The last few years have seen retailers and patio furniture designers finally up their game when it comes to the style, variety and affordability of their offerings. You no longer have to blow your vacation fund to get a stylish looking patio at home. Here’s a round up of my picks for well priced patio furniture at stores and online retailers this season


Along with more traditional feeling patio furniture, Target has some great outdoor pieces with a more modern vibe. Super affordable and stylish, it’s a win-win for those who find that wicker doesn’t speak their design language.



Everyone’s favourite go-to for well priced and well designed home goods, IKEA has some beautiful outdoor options this year. What I love about this season’s collection is after the warm weather fades you can bring these pieces indoors and they’ll play nice with your existing furniture since they don’t scream patio.

I’m in love with this gem of a bench! This would also look great in an entry way (mine specifically) with a cozy throw or a cushion or two.

See how this guy looks great indoor and out? I told you!

Serena & Lily

For a little more money (okay, a LOT more money) you can shop the stunning Serena & Lily outdoor collection. Here’s a peek.

Patio Lanterns

I doubt Kim Mitchell had these beauties in mind when he was singing his iconic song. So while Kim goes and mixes up some more lemonade, take a look at these pretty lanterns to light up your patio this summer.

All lanterns from Canadian Tire

And speaking of lemonade, what would patio season be without patio drinks!

Mel’s Hard Lemonade

Strawberry Peach Wine Slushies

Living in the heart of the fruit belt and Niagara wine country I think it would be downright unpatriotic if I didn’t make these!

Strawberry Limeade Gin & Tonic

Definitely a new favourite for Gin & Tonic Tuesdays! (or Thirsty Thursdays, Firewater Fridays,  Sippy Saturdays . . .)

So cheers to a great patio season!  With stylish furniture that doesn’t break the bank and spending time with good friends even if you don’t have the biggest patio or all the summer shade. 

Happy Hunting!






Backyard Makeover – The Before

Welcome to our 1970’s suburban backyard. When we bought the house almost two years ago the interior needed an complete overhaul. It was so bad inside that when my mom went through it she begged us not to buy it. The main floor bathroom had a shower that was being used a litter box. I don’t mean the litter box was placed in the shower, the shower was the litter box – that no one ever cleaned! From mismatched flooring, to moldy walls to electrical that looked like it had been done by a drunk orangutan, the house was a total gut job. Which is exactly what we did. We have completed most of the house and now just small things like kitchen backsplash and some decorating are left to tackle. The backyard, on the other hand, wasn’t so gross, so last summer we really didn’t do too much to it except repair and rebuild a fence. But now that spring is here and we’re excited about spending time outside again, it’s time to focus on getting the backyard in shape. While it isn’t terrible, and definitely doesn’t need the same amount of work as the inside,  it’s time  to make this  space a little more pretty.

Here’s the plan:

The shed that houses the pool pump is old. But we store the pool chemicals here so we need to have something ready to replace it before we tear it down. So this year it will just get a new coat of paint. The air conditioning unit is in the least convenient spot- it’s big and noisy and on prime patio real estate. But it was just installed before we moved it, so it has to stay. I’m thinking of a DIY project – maybe something like this

or this

When we moved in to the house this garden was full of lush ornamental grasses. The problem was the garden was a bit too lush; the grasses weren’t maintained so it was an overgrown mess, and the fence was falling down on top of it. I want to plant a bush that will be low maintenance, drought tolerant, can thrive close to the pool and not have flowers or berries that may drop into the water. I’ve been in love with American Beautyberry Bush for years and I think it will look perfect in the long, narrow garden. The purple berries stay on the plant long after the leaves have fallen off and look spectacular with a light sprinkling of snow.


The shed is sturdy and stores all the pool toys and giant pizza and donut  floaties (an obvious necessity if you have a pool!). But I just can’t handle the brown trim any more! I can’t wait to paint away the boring brown with this nautical navy. I’m so excited! (It doesn’t take much).

Can we also talk about the light on the shed? The weird off-centre flood light is pointed directly at the diving board, for what I can only imagine were the high stakes, nighttime diving competitions that the previous owners held all summer long. The light will be replaced with a pair of these:

Customer Image Zoomed


The lumpy brown jumble in the middle of the picture is new patio furniture that we have yet to properly set up. Also hoping to add a few strings of these.


 At some point, one of the previous owners thought the lawn needed a in-ground sprinkler system. Not sure who they hired to install it but I sure hope they got a discount because I don’t think this is what it should look like if it’s done right. I love the scraggly grass they planted in front to try to hide the pipes and wires! This garden also takes up precious patio space. All of this is definitely going!

Neighbourhood lore is that once upon a time the gardens in our front and backyard would win prizes in our city’s annual summer gardening contest. By the time we bought the house the gardens had been long forgotten and all that’s left was overgrown weeds and the occasional perennial plant that fought to stay alive. In the fall we had to cut down a struggling pine tree. We left the debris in the garden. Believe me this wasn’t my choice. The reasoning was the other pine tree also has to come down and it made more sense to take all the brush to the dump at once. But all I can think of are the rats that have certainly been building little rat houses and inviting all their rat relatives to live with them in their magnificent rat city. I will not be helping to clean this up.

Here’s some shade loving plants that will hopefully (if I don’t kill them) thrive in this garden – once the rats are gone.

Related image


Blue Hydrangea 

Japanese Snowball

It looks like we’ll be pretty busy for the next few weeks. So if you need me I’ll be in the backyard. And who knows, maybe I can train the rats to help with the gardening.

From Basic to Brilliant

I love the look of a white kitchen. It’s classic, clean (clean looking anyways, how often you actually clean is your business) and a great starting point for decorating.  But while white is wonderful, sometimes it can be challenging to know what to add to take your kitchen from basic to brilliant. So whether you have a white kitchen that could use some style or are thinking of redecorating, here are some ideas to infuse personality into an all white kitchen.

Moody Monochromatic

White Globe Pendant • Palm Leaf Print (similar) • Canisters • Tiles • Shelf Brackets

Contemporary Farmhouse

Black Pendant Light • Sign • Shelf • Frames (similar) • Vase (similar)

Polished Modern

Wallpaper • Light • Deer Head • Utensil Holder • Salt & Pepper Dispensers  Serving Tray

Rustic Country

Shelves • Light • Bowls (similar)Frame (similar) • Mortar & Pestle

Another great thing about white kitchens is that you can change the lighting, accessories and decor to give it a completely new look. In a few years and as trends come and go, it’s easy to give your kitchen an updated look by only making a few changes and without the hassle of a complete redo.