Spring/Summer To-Do List

This worked so well for the winter that I thought I’d do it again! I love making lists, and the satisfaction I get from crossing stuff off of it motivates me just enough to keep going. Our summer is going to be mostly taken up by digging up and water proofing our foundation, which is pretty much the least exciting thing ever to blog about. So I might be kind of quiet here in the coming weeks, and will mostly be busy digging, moving plants, and making sandwiches for the horde of people helping us.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get done, in between resting my sore back. I reserve the right to add, subtract, or modify at will.

  1. Put the finishing touches on the kitchen. Do you recall from my One Room Challenge reveal post that our flooring didn’t come in on time? It actually came in the day after the ORC deadline. *shakes fist* Just imagine how good this will look with charcoal grey rectangular tiles!One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIYWe also need to install the last light fixture and order our new fridge, which we are super stoked about. A new fridge was not in our reno budget this year but my parents offered to foot the bill because they’re awesome (and would like somewhere to put a champagne bottle that dispenses ice when they come over).
  2. Finish our master bedroom. Now that our carpets are installed, our room just needs some pictures on the walls and the closet doors back up. Bonus points if we manage to find a new bed frame- I’m on the lookout for something with straight lines, but we haven’t decided yet if we will buy or DIY.
  3. Hem the curtains in the guest room and set it up for actual guests (not just my cat). No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu, this just never got done on my Winter list. It’s even worse now since we got the carpets installed, because everything had to come out of there and we had to take apart the bed to get it out the door, so that is currently in pieces in the middle of the floor with the mattress leaned up against the wall. Not an ideal sleeping position! I’d actually really like to have some sort of a desk station inside the closet where I can store all my sewing stuff. My mom always had her sewing desk inside a closet and it worked really well, for both organization and hiding the mess when you need to!
    closet sewing station

  4. Bring my style board to life in the living room and install window treatments- yup, this got bumped from the Winter list, too! One of my neighbors “casually” mentioned that she noticed we don’t have curtains up yet- welcome to small town Ontario! I love all the natural light that comes in since tearing down the old curtains but I’d like to put something up that will give us a bit of privacy without compromising the light too much. I really love the look of a natural woven fiber blind with white panels and will probably go that route.
  5. Restain the solid maple dresser I scored off Kijiji last year. My husband has been using a horrible small MDF dresser since I have known him (2007). His boxers and undershirts have to be folded in a specific way to fit inside it and it drives be bananas! I’m going to stain it with leftover Special Walnut stain from my dresser makeover.DSC_1622_
  6. This will probably get bumped off the priority list and might only get done next summer… but I’d love to do something with our sunroom. Right now it’s full of stuff that we moved out of the bedrooms during the carpet installation, but we’ve got our old sectional sofa in there along with a cute little table that I found at the ReStore and it has the potential to be awesome. It would be a great space to enjoy an afternoon nap or a cold drink- I can imagine euchre tournaments and board games happening here with friends.sunroom_bright

The one great thing about having a long list of stuff to do is that I can pick and choose what I want to work on, depending on my mood and productivity level! It really is amazing how much work there is to do around the house- any house, not just ours. I’m grateful that we only have 1100 square feet of space because we already spend so much time just cleaning and maintaining it, let along the time it takes to do all the projects we want to do!

Hope you come along for the ride,


One Room Challenge: Week 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I am a linking participant in Calling it Home’s One Room Challenge, and for my room I chose to focus on our kitchen. You can check out the Week 1 post for the photos of our kitchen from the real estate listing- it has come a long way!

Today I’m going to share some photos of how our kitchen looks now and my plan for the ORC. Our kitchen is not huge and it’s hard to take good photos from all the angles, but here is my best attempt.

The view from the dining room:

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

And the view from the hallway on the opposite side:

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Because I am a list-lover, here is the breakdown of my plan:

  1. What I’m definitely doing:
    – Painting the trim, ceiling, and walls
    – Changing out the light fixture
    – Pulling up that awful lino and putting down peel-and-stick tile
    – Hanging a curtain
    – Fixing the cabinet doors that don’t close properly
    – Organizing our sink with a soap dispenser and a holder for cleaning supplies
  2. What I might do, time/patience permitting:
    – Paint my fridge?!?! (Sadly, replacing it is not an option- ditto the old-school portable dishwasher)
    – Use Ardex to turn the faux-bois counters into faux-concrete counters (you didn’t think that was real butcher block, did you? Noooo, my friend)
  3. What I would love to do but am having a hard time convincing my husband probably won’t:
    – Replace the sink
    – Replace the faucet (complicated by the fact that it is super old and it will be hard to retro-fit without having a hole somewhere- one of the cold taps is hooked up to the softened water and the other isn’t. #hardwaterprobs #ruralprobs)

Note that #2) and #3) are interchangeable. Also, I am buggering off to Mexico in the middle of this so that might throw a margarita-drenched curveball at my plan!

You can also check out my Pinterest board to get a more visual representation of what I’m scheming:
Follow Cathy @ Dear DIY’s board One Room Challenge: My Kitchen on Pinterest.

Be sure to check out all the other Week 2 posts from ORC participants, as well as the featured designers!


Chat to you in a week,


One Room Challenge: Tackling the Kitchen

I’ve always wanted to participate in a blog linking party, and the One Room Challenge sounds like a great way to a) get to know some other bloggers and b) give myself the kick in the pants I need to finish our kitchen. Since we moved in, we have painted the cabinets, removed the scalloped border above the sink, replaced one of the light fixtures, and installed new hardware; but it is still far from done.

kitchen during 2

The ORC challenge involves sharing progress of your room each week, from the planning stages to the failures, modifications, and (we hope) eventual triumphs. I’ll be posting each Thursday with my progress on our kitchen, so be sure to check back to see how I’m doing, and also check out some of the other linking participants!


I’ll be sharing more photos of what the kitchen looks like now in my next post- I’m in the middle of studying for a certification exam for work and I don’t have time to drag out my Nikon to do it justice.

To tide you over until then, here are the pictures of our kitchen from before we moved in:

kitchen 2 kitchen 1

I’m looking forward to getting this off my list and can’t wait to see how it looks in 6 weeks time!


My Winter To-Do List

Christmas is in 5 sleeps and I have 2 more work days until 1.5 weeks vacation! I am really looking forward to some time off, and time spent with family. I’ve had some health problems lately that have caused a lot of emotional and physical stress so I am totally due for a break! Looking around the house, there is a ton of stuff that hasn’t been getting done, mostly due to the aforementioned health problems. When I feel crappy, all I want to do is camp on our new sofa and watch Gilmore Girls (thanks Netflix!).

jess rory

Stop being so dreamy, Jess.

I’ve been baking like crazy too… it’s like therapy for me. Cookies, brownies, gingerbread, shortbread, chocolate bark, cakes, cupcakes… it’s been out of control. My husband was actually complaining that I’m baking too much. The other night I was in the kitchen and he actually said “Are you done baking yet?!” and it wasn’t because he wanted to eat the cookies.

Recipes: Espresso brownies | Candy cane chocolate bark | Rum cake

But it’s time to pull myself out of the funk I’ve been in and get back to work. As much as I still love our house, I am starting to realize why people buy brand new houses that need zero work; it kind of sucks living in a house full of half-started renovations! I was chatting to my mother-in-law and she said something that I’ve been thinking about. I had mentioned how we hadn’t put any pictures up in the house because it’s just another thing to dust, and we are generating a lot of dust while we work on various things. She laughed and said but then you’ll start the kitchen… and then the basement… and then something else. She’s right- I’m tired of living in limbo. Our basement is full of half-unpacked boxes that get opened when we need something (and can remember which box it went in…). We have pretty much only unpacked the essentials, like our furniture, kitchen stuff, and clothes. Realistically, it’s going to be 3-5 years before the big stuff like the bathroom, kitchen, and basement are tackled. I don’t want to wait that long to hang up the reclaimed wood picture frames we got as a wedding present from my family in South Africa!

gallery wall vignette with reclaimed wood picture frames

Reclaimed wood frame gallery wall

You know we are currently working on our plans for the bathroom– we’ve been to showrooms and have pretty much decided on the type of vanity and tub we want, we just need to commit to one and get it home so we can start knocking walls down. A lot of this will get done by my husband and maybe a friend or two if he does some arm-twisting. I’ll probably be helping more with the tiling, painting, and finishing touches than sledgehammer wielding and pipe installing, so here’s what I’m going to aim to get done this winter:

  1. Third bedroom: finish sanding and patching the holes left from the wallpaper removal, paint the walls and trim, and rip up the carpet.
  2. Kitchen: patch the walls, paint trim and walls.
  3. Guest bedroom: hem the curtains, put some pictures up and get it “guest ready” so we stop using it exclusively as a laundry storage room.
  4. Living room: touch up some of the paint, figure out window treatments, organize the front closet with a shoe rack, install the wall-mount for the TV above the fireplace, work on my shame shelf (I need to hang up the mail organizer that is still leaning against the wall… my shame has multiplied), and figure out what to do with this piece of furniture that came with the house.media playerWe can’t seem to find the right spot for it. It’s an audio cabinet that has a record player and radio player with built-in speakers. I wanted to turn the front wood panels into doors somehow with shelving for extra crockery and maybe a liquor cabinet?? But maybe we should just sell it on Kijiji.
  5. Master bedroom: finish hanging curtains, find a chair for the corner for the cat to sleep on as an accent piece.

Aaaand if I get all of that done, I’m definitely going to deserve the trip to Florida that I am still working on convincing my husband we should take! Are you suffering from winter hibernation yet? Want to motivate me to get started at all? Leave a comment below!

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Front entrance shelf (aka clutter catch-all)

One of the features I first loved about our house was the large built-in shelf that spans the wall near the front door. I imagined that we could display some of our book collection there with some cool bookends, maybe add in a few handy storage baskets, some framed photos, and the driftwood candle holder that my husband said I would never use after our wedding (ha!)- sort of an eclectic mix that would work as both a display and a functional storage solution. Here are some inspiration pics for the sort of look I had in mind.

Google Image search result,  original source unknown
Pinterest under stairs shelf
From Pinterest, original source unknown

I worked really hard on prepping it, filling in all of the cracks with caulk and taping it off before applying several coats of white trim paint. And it looked really great when it was done, the bright white really popped against the wall colour. But then real life set in, and this is what the shelf looks like after purging all the junk currently.


Pretty boring and not very functional. I haven’t decided what books I want to unpack/display, and I haven’t come up with a solution to corral all the stuff we dump here after getting home. Yes, that is a wrench in front of the bowl. Figure I better burst the illusion that renos happen overnight and every room looks like a spread in House & Home all the time. Adding to the tools, stack of mail, pile of mittens, and overall lackluster appearance are a few noticeable blemishes. See, my husband works pretty early shifts and usually leaves the house before 7 am. He is also not a morning person and likes to stay in bed until the last possible second, so his “routine” involves a lot of frantic stumbling around the house while he puts on his work boots, makes his lunch, drinks his coffee, brushes his teeth, and gets dressed (in no particular order). After a few weeks in the house, I started finding a few of these on my beautiful freshly painted shelf.


Of course they don’t wipe off and are now an integral part of the finish. Add that to the fact that we both usually walk in the door and dump our keys on the shelf, since it’s the first available surface when you enter the house, and now we have scratches and chips in the finish to complement the coffee rings.


Witness my shame, Internet. Witness it!

Since the shelf is the first thing you see when you walk in the door, it doesn’t really give the impression of a clean, organized, and stylish home that I had envisioned. My plan is to repaint it with the same melamine latex paint we used on our kitchen cabinet doors, because that stuff is super durable once it has set. Since melamine is kind of smelly and we are officially past open window and door weather, that will have to wait until next spring/summer. In the mean time, I’m going to look out for some storage baskets that we can use to organize the clutter and try to find some cool bookends. Also, since I saw Brit’s post about corralling mail I’ve been on the lookout for an organizer, and the other day I snagged a sweet magazine rack from HomeSense that will totally work.


Man, we really have to put the quarter round back on the floors, that looks terrible! Don’t mind the shoe apocalypse and general detritus going on the in the background there, either.

[Side note-I’ve been holding back on blogging lately because I still don’t know how to use my Nikon camera properly (and it’s pretty old and outdated as far as DSLRs go) and I don’t have any gosh-wow room reveals to share. And everything I’ve read about having a successful blog says you have to post gorgeous, well-shot photographs. But you know what? I still want to post on my blog, and this crap doesn’t happen overnight. Lots of my friends have said to me “Oh I wish I had your skill/creativity/vision”, like it’s some kind of miracle or unique talent to decorate and renovate a home. It’s really not, and I’m not trying to be modest or humble- I think home décor mags and some blogs make it look easy, so people feel guilty or bad that they can’t or haven’t done something they read about. Don’t! There is no magic wand- all it takes is hard work and a lot of time. And it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t tell you how often I start something and then halfway through, I mess something up or realize I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew, but by that point I’ve committed too much time/money to give up, and if I’m one thing I’m stubborn, so I keep on going. And once it’s done it’s all worth it. So: persevere! You can do it too! My house certainly doesn’t look perfect all of the time, because we live in it, it’s not a show room. So in the future instead of feeling guilty that a photo isn’t perfectly staged, or I couldn’t be bothered to drag out and charge my Nikon so I grabbed my iPhone instead, or you can see into the messy closet in the background, I’m just going to post it and write about it. Ok, end rant.]

Do you have a “shame shelf”? Found any miracle solutions for clutter in a small entryway? I’d love to hear it!

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