Creating home takes time. It’s lovingly curated over years with things that are meaningful and useful. Finding great second hand pieces is the same. It’s Saturday mornings spent at garage sales, hours combing Kijiji and Craigslist and a few late night covert missions smuggling curbside finds into the house without my husband knowing. “What? This chair? No, it’s always been there.”
We buy a lot of our furniture second hand. A brand new piece just doesn’t have the same soul as a previously used one.Here’s a few of our preloved beauties:
In these pictures almost everything is second hand. The only items that are not are the picture frame above the desk (but the art inside is) and the dining table (centre) and the handmade picture above the blue dresser. EVERYTHING ELSE IS! The best part is that each piece has a story; where we found it, who gave it to us and how it almost didn’t fit in our car and thank goodness for bungee cords!
(teapot, coffee table and dominos were all sourced from Goodwill)
Here are some tips for ensuring the used pieces you bring home are worth it:
Turn it over. Whether it’s a plate, a table, chair or rug, examine it well. Does it look as good on the inside as the out? If a piece is starting to crack (split, rip etc.) on the back or inside, it means that eventually it will make it way to the front.
Don’t collect projects. Buying used doesn’t mean you have to settle for items that need repair. Only buy things that you can actually repair or have repaired for a reasonable amount of money and in a reasonable amount of time. The longer a piece sits waiting to be finished the less likely it will ever be.
Of course you can paint wood! There are many people who still feel it’s sacreligious to paint over wood. It’s not. Here’s the proof:
4. Measure your space. Return policies at second hand stores and garage sales don’t exist. In my phone I keep a list of all the things I’m looking for and the dimensions of the space it will live in. It may take a year or more to find the exact thing in the exact size. Also, always carry a measuring tape.
5. Don’t shy away from textiles and soft furnishings. Most things can be washed. Rugs and upholstery can be vacuumed and professionally cleaned. Before you buy, look under chairs and sofas and examine the lining. If there are signs of insects or small unexplained holes – run away! Be cautious of odors. If it’s been sitting in someone’s basement it may just smell a little musty, deep cleaning can help this. But beware of mothballs, smokers and crazy cat ladies – there are some smells that will haunt you forever. Check in between the seat cushions and the back – stick your hand in there (wear gloves if you want) to see if the frame is sturdy. This is important since you can’t see the frame. Feel for loose joints, springs and fabric – take a pass if you find any of these. Most importantly sit on it! Is it comfortable? Can you imagine sitting/lying on it for an extended Westworld binge watching session?
Real-life preloved sofas bought from total strangers.
The popular 1970’s faux velvet is almost indestructible and can be found in some really fun colours!
Don’t be afraid to take a risk and shop out of your comfort zone.
If you love it buy it now. It may not be there later.
If you’re buying from a seller don’t be shy about asking for a better price. My favourite lines are “what’s your best price on this?” and “will you take less?”. The worst thing is you’ll be told no.
Learn the story of the piece, especially the unusual and the unique.
Now that spring is finally here (fingers crossed) if you’re like me you want to your home to reflect the changing season. Before you head to the home decor or big box store to buy some faux forsythia branches or ceramic bunnies, try these simple, stress free, clutter free, minimalist-friendly ideas to freshen up your space.
The perfect space turned out to be the main floor powder room in a house I’ve been working on. This bathroom is just off the main living/dining area so it needed to be a bit classy to fit in with the rest of the house.
The panelling is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White CC-40 and the space above the paneling will soon be covered with the most amazing wallpaper, but I’ll share that another day. The faux bamboo regency mirror was a Kijiji find, it still needs a quick coat of gold spray paint to tone down the 1980’s brassiness. The light fixture is from Lowes. This powder room needed a towel bar that added to the lux feel without looking too “bathroomy”. Know what I mean? Lucite to the rescue!
The plastic acrylic rod came from here but there are other suppliers from Canada that carry this and you may even be able to find it in your local hardware store. The most difficult part of this project is finding curtain brackets that stick out far enough from the wall. These are similar to the ones used in the picture. Gold spray paint classed these guys up a bit and tied them in with the rest of the room’s accents.
Don’t forget to paint the screws. A KFC bucket proved to be very helpful in this project. Styrofoam would also work.
Once the brackets were painted, the acrylic rod was cut to size and hung. We had enough acrylic leftover to make a toilet paper roll too.
Ta da! These new fixtures add a pop of colour and warmth, I love how this space is coming together.
The acrylic rods also come in black and white. I’d love to do a modern towel bar with a black rod and black brackets. But I’ll just have to file this idea away until I find just the right space.
We’re friends, right? So we can chat openly about the big issues. Just because I talk about decorating here doesn’t mean I endorse that you blindly follow or buy into every home decor trend that comes along (the 80’s reboot is just too much for me). Even some of the trends I blog about I don’t always love in real life or think they’re practical for my house or my family. I feel the same way about renovating. My husband and I have renovated three houses but this by no means makes me an expert. Sometimes I think it makes me a fool. HGTV, renovation blogs and Home Depot commercials make renovating look like a breeze. It is, in fact, not a breeze, but rather a Category 5 hurricane ripping through your house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think people shouldn’t renovate, but they should know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.
This week on the podcast I chat with Tiffany Pratt. During our conversation I kept thinking “Yes! This girl gets it!”. I was deeply moved by her passion for individuality in design and life. If your home is feeling lackluster and needs revitalization, this episode is for you. If you’re feeling unsure of how to inject your own personality into your space, this episode is for you too. If you love colour, authentic beauty and have your own defined sense of style then you will find a kindred spirit in Tiffany.
Is there any colour that speaks to spring’s verdurous rebirth more than green? I’m currently loving moss green, chartreuse and kelly green. These shades are a bit more warm-weather orientated than their trendy autumnal cousins, hunter, army or pine. Paired with unexpected partners such as coral and pink, these greens will inject spring time freshness into your decor.
This lovely bedroom by the talented Emily Henderson is the perfect balance of green and coral. The green is grounding while the coral introduces warmth. It’s soothing neutral backdrop keeps this space feeling calm while letting the colours have their say.
Chartreuse has a reputation of being hard to get along with and being too outspoken. But in the right dose, this colour can be outstanding in a supporting role. Chartreuse also plays nice with brown, grey, purple and teal. The best part is that you only need a small amount of this powerhouse colour to to make an impact.
This preppy combo scores extra points for being bright, happy and not too trendy. Using the green and blue (a classic colour palette!) as the foundation, fun accents like pink, orange or even yellow can be introduced into this room.
Fresh picked spring-like accents spring for your home:
On a recent trip to a well known home goods store I was overwhelmed with how disconnected I felt from the merchandise – it all seemed to be poor quality, plastic and uninspired. When I thought about the people who made these items (some maybe even the age of my own children) in terrible conditions, getting paid little for their long hours and hard work, I felt even worse. I want my home to tell a story, but I don’t want that story to include slave labour and hazardous working conditions. Which is why I’m so excited to share this post about the companies and artists who care enough to create ethical, sustainable and beautiful housewares. Continue reading →
While our house may be the place to be in the summer, it’s apparently much less fun in the winter. When I suggest to my daughters that they invite some friends over during the off season I’m told that our house just isn’t cool in the winter. Can you hear my eyes roll from where you are? Luckily for me, our friends made a giant skating rink in their backyard so they now have the coolest house in winter.