Category Archives: Decor

A look at style at home.

Window Shopping in Snohomish

Snohomish, to me, seems like quintessential small-town America, with its picturesque views, mom and pop shops, and quaint diners. I recently took a Sunday drive to Snohomish with Mr. Jean of all trades so we could window shop.

white and denim
Shirt: Bébénoir
Shorts: Calvin Klein
Boots: MIA
Bag: Matt & Nat
Necklace: Elma Blint
Ring: Silk Wire Jewelry
Cuff: Lauren Harkness

I’m still on my boots and shorts kick, so I paired my new white shirt from Bébénoir in NYC with my faded denim shorts and caramel boots. My shirt works for both big city looks and small town outfits.

neutrals and denim

Today, my jewelry is all so special. I got the cuff at a craft fair in Seattle, my ring at a flea market in Harlem, and my necklace from another flea market in Brooklyn. All three pieces are one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces by local artisans.

jewelry detail

I liked getting design ideas from the beautiful window displays. Seems like an eclectic shabby chic look dominated the designs this season.romantic

shabby

I found a clothing store called the Natural Clothing Company and found a couple of cute, sustainable dresses (blogged about one here). And we stumbled across a pub that served Schӧfferhofer, just like I had at the Harlem Tavern. Hubby and I each had a glass to remind me of my fun trip to NYC.

quaint

garden

I’m joining Style Elixir, The Pleated Poppy and Transatlantic Blonde for linkups. Have a look at what others are blogging about!

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Filed under Crafts, Decor, Fashion

Bathroom Makeover

When I bought my house last summer I got it because of the potential. You could call it move-in ready–but it wasn’t current and fresh. Case in point: the main bathroom. It was a good size but it was tired. I hated it so much that I don’t even have before pictures. This shot of the old vanity tells the story though:

old vanity

I had three contractors quote me for a bathroom reno. The prices ranged between $4,000 and $17,000 USD. No thanks! This room just needed freshening up. My dad transformed my kitchen and I knew he could improve the bathroom on a budget too.

The shower doors opened up the space and let light in from the window over the tub.

bath after

A round mirror and a new, taller vanity were inexpensive replacements. My mom surprised me with a neat soap dispenser cover at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

new hardware

Latté-colored walls freshened up the room, and silver spray paint turned the wood medicine cabinet into something funky. Brushed nickel hardware took the room from the 70’s to the 21st Century.

mirrors

The icing on the cake was a custom wall decal by Write At Home that lists a section of the subway stops on the Bloor line in Toronto–the very stops I traversed when I lived in Toronto.

wall decal

I made sure the Castle Frank subway station was included in the list. It’s what John Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, named his cottage. He named the humble structure after his son and–tongue firmly in cheek–called it a castle. The “castle” is long gone and a subway station is in the location now (in a neighborhood called Cabbagetown).

Castle Frank is also the name I gave my house. It’s a nod to my roots in Toronto, references my own humble abode, and honors my dog, Frank, who frankly, runs the place.

So there’s a history lesson and a walk down memory lane in my bathroom. Priceless.

bath collage

Speaking of prices, here’s the rundown of the costs:

  • Shower doors:  $150 (Home Depot)
  • Sink and vanity: $200 (Home Depot)
  • Faucets: $40 (Home Depot)
  • Towel racks: $20 (Ikea)
  • Round mirror: $40 (Ikea)
  • Extendable mirror: $15 (Ikea)
  • Wall decal: $50 (Write At Home)
  • Wall paint: $20 (Fred Meyer’s)
  • Spray Paint: $6 (Home Depot)

At just over $500, this is a far cry from what the contractors wanted. It goes to show that with a little creativity and sweat equity (or in my case, an awesome dad willing to dive into the project), you can breath new life into a room that once looked past its prime.

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Getting Over Sticker Shock

My dad taught me a neat trick and I am so impressed with it I just have to share.

Have you ever bought something with an annoying price tag that you can’t peel off? Maybe you peel off the top layer and the sticky backing stays behind? It happens to me a lot, and I’m left picking at the remnants or looking for nail polish remover to clean up the mess.

The remedy? A hair dryer!

dryer and sticker

My parents and I were at the Habitat for Humanity store a few weeks ago and they picked up some neat artwork. The sticker was smack dab on the front of one of the paintings. My dad pointed the dryer at the sticker and slowly peeled it back. It came off clean with not sticky residue left behind.

painting

He says it works on a variety of surfaces: wood, metal, plastic. If the material can handle a bit of heat, give it a try.

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Shopping in Kirkland with my Mom

My parents visited me from their home in Canada recently. They were here for a workshop: my dad worked while my mom shopped! You might remember the kitchen remodel post I shared last week. Here’s a “during” shot of my dad hard at work.

dad at work

One afternoon while he was working, my mom and I went to Kirkland, Washington, a small city just east of Seattle. Kirkland has a lot of neat shops, including one of my favorite consignment stores, Ragamoffyn’s.

My mom and I did a bit of window shopping and had an impromptu photo shoot. When a passerby saw us taking turns with a camera, she took our photo as we posed by a neat bunny statue.

Jean and mom

A few years ago I took a picture of these two rabbits and painted a picture of them, which I call “Snuggle Bunnies.”

snuggle bunnies

I blogged about my dining room before I moved. Here, you can see the table and chairs in my new place, complete with the painting on the wall. I’m still deciding what color to paint the room.

dining room

One of the great things about hanging out with my mom is that I have my own personal photographer (and so does she). My mom runs the blog Fashionable over 50 and captures her stylish moments, shopping trips, and adventures too. It runs in the family!

black and orange

stripes with orange

Jacket: Jones New York
Top: Ross Dress for Less
Pants: Dickies
Boots: MIA
Purse: Crystalyn Kae

It’s a lot more fun to have a friend or loved one snap pictures. Posing with a tripod does the job, but an expert eye for composition goes a long way. I wish we lived closer together. Other than our yearly visits, I use a tripod or solicit the help of my husband–but he can’t always follow me around with a camera!

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Kitchen Style: Before and After

My parents visited me recently and while my mom and I were busy having fun and shopping, my awesome dad gave my house a makeover. My place is 50 years old–and was starting to show its age. I love mid-century design, but “worn out” and “old” was not part of the plan. The kitchen was renovated in the early 80s, but wasn’t looking fresh. Here’s what it looked like when I first moved in:

kitchen originally

Sink area before

stove area before

The first thing I did was replace the appliances. That was easy–except there was no dishwasher so I gave up 7 precious drawers so I could add one.

I lived with the oak cabinets for a few months, but soon realized that the color was too dark for a room with a low-ceiling. Besides, they didn’t have handles and the finish was wearing off.

I knew replacing the cabinets was a major undertaking–and not cheap! Lucky for me, my dad is a painter. Instead of paying for a major renovation, he painted the cabinets white, added brushed nickel knobs, painted the hinges to match the knobs, and together with my husband, replaced the white counter with a slab of wood block. One new sink and faucet later and look what I have:

new kitchen

The sink area

New deli block countertop

a new, round sink

view of the corner

stove and counter detail

white cupboards

nickel knobs

To make up for the lost drawer space, I bought a magnetic knife holder and a rod to hang utensils. Both were from Ikea and were really inexpensive. I moved the paper towers off the counter to open up space and tied in more black and nickel accents with the microwave, toaster, and electric kettle.

microwave and space to hang things

My dad even wallpapered the backsplash with textured paper made to look like stucco. It’s paintable too, so if I ever want to change the color theme, it’s a quick switch. And that little ceramic plate the bananas are resting on? My mom found that at a garage sale. It’s got a photo of coffee beans printed on it. It’s great for things like keeping fruit, cooking utensils or coffee mugs off the counter.

counter detail

Speaking of the counter, I love it! I treated it with a mineral oil mixture especially designed for wood countertops and cutting boards. Water beads off of it and messes wipe up nicely. That said, if I had a few kids and my kitchen took a beating, I might opt for a lower maintenance surface. While I can sand out stains and water marks, it does need occasional oiling and liquids should be wiped up in a timely manner. But with just two adults in the house it’s not exactly a water park in the kitchen so it’s perfect for us.

Cost rundown:

  • Primer and white paint: $40 (Home Depot)
  • Silver paint for hinges: $7 (Home Depot)
  • Wallpaper: $15 (Lowe’s)
  • Knobs: $45 (Home Depot)
  • Counter tops: $260 (Ikea)
  • Sink: $40 (Ikea)
  • Faucet: $70 (Lowe’s)

The appliances were all on sale at Sears and I used the Sears points I earned from that purchase to get the microwave. What could have been a messy, lengthy and expensive renovation turned into a weekend project that came in at under $500. Of course I had my dad’s free labor. Always a plus!

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Thanksgiving Feast Part One

I’m attending two exciting Thanksgiving dinners this year. The first was last night, on Thanksgiving. The second is tomorrow. Yesterday, I dressed in the colors of my meal: Cranberry jacket, pumpkin top, Field Roast necklace, chocolate pants, and whiskey shoes.

harvest colors

Jacket: Lulu’s
Tank: Target
Pants: Swapped
Necklace: Florida market
Shoes: Urban Outfitters

I brought a vegan pumpkin pie to the festivities. An easy recipe with a delicious outcome. When I got to the host’s place (my friend Lynn), I was astonished by the full bar–that’s the benefit of having a bartender for a friend. Lynn made drinks. I had a rye and ginger with my meal and a hot toddy with dessert.

Lynn's bar

Besides the pie I brought, we dined on spicy bean casserole, phyllo-wrapped field roast “turkey,” mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Lynn put the turkey adoption certificate from Farm Sanctuary on the table, where a turkey might otherwise be.

my meal and the turkey certificate

On the way out the door, after hours of great conversation, I noticed the unique switchplate cover. Wild Turkey. The theme continues.

Wild Turkey cover

Besides being a mother, bartender, birder, and clogger, Lynn is also a crafter and makes unique, booze-inspired creations from upcycled bar industry leftovers. From bottle cap soy candles to beer case journals, Lynn’s shop on Etsy is a great place for holiday gifts.

How was your Thanksgiving?

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The Dressing Room

I moved into my house this past summer, and even though none of my decorating is 100% done, I might as well start showing you what I’ve been up to. The biggest luxury is my dressing room (aka the shoe room). We have a modest, three-bedroom ranch with smallish closets so I took the smallest of the bedrooms and turned it into my walk-in closet. How decadent!

my closet

This is where I blog, and on days when I work at home, it’s where my writing gets done. The best part: The bookshelves full of shoes! See, I bought a Kindle a couple of years ago and I sold most of my books. The few I have for reference (cookbooks and such), I keep in a closet.

shoe shelves

Having my shoes on display does make me seem a little like Imelda, but I find I wear them all more because I know what I have. And no, I don’t need to buy shoes for a while!

Bracelets, rings, and studs

dangly earrings and necklaces

Putting my costume jewelry on display makes it easy to grab a bracelet, necklace or pair of earrings in a hurry. The necklaces are hanging on simple nails, but I plan to upgrade to small, funky knobs soon. The screened-in vintage picture frame is from the Fremont Sunday Market but it would be a fun and easy DIY project.

I even found a neat way to display my sunglasses. I saw this idea in the Ikea catalog. I tied a ribbon from perfume packaging to the top of the hanger to finish it off.

sunglasses on display

I removed the closet doors and replaced them with purple curtains so I can open it wide and see everything at once. The soft fabric absorbs sound better than wood doors so the room isn’t as echo-y. Also because the cat box is in there–gotta be practical!

drapey closet doors

To balance all the dark wood ladder shelves (even my desk is a ladder style), I bought a lucite chair from Ikea. It’s fresh and modern and doesn’t impede light or sight lines.

lucite chair

The ideas in this project translate to lots of spaces. The book-turned-shoe shelves would look nice in a bedroom and would fit in an actual walk-in closet. No matter what your space, I highly recommend displaying jewelry (in my last place, I hung necklaces on my bathroom wall). You’ll wear what you own more often if you can see it.

All I have to do now is paint the walls. What color would you choose?

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Solaire Chairs for my Front Entry

When I bought my house, I thought of all the wonderful Mid-Century things I could do to it. The place was built in 1961 and is begging for a retro remodel.

One of my first projects was sprucing up the front (if you look back, the area to the left of the entry was soil, with a topiary-style tree and a yellow bush). I remembered an amazing style of chair from my childhood. I didn’t know the name of the chair, but several web searches later, I found out: The Solaire.

Solaire chair

Two Solaire chairs now sit in my front entry. As luck would have it, one of the few places in the country where I found the chairs was right here in Seattle!

two Solaire Chairs

I transplanted the tree and bush to the backyard, covered the soil with weed-inhibiting fabric from the garden store, and laid down a layer of pebbles. Now I have two sunny pops of color by my front door and a place for friends to sit. The backyard is quieter and more private, but it’s nice to people watch and catch the evening sun from the front.

orange and yellow Solaire chairs

I like the story behind the chair. The Solaire was designed in 1972 by Fabio Fabiano and Michelange Panzini. It’s a terrific representation of a clean, modern design. They were popular poolside in backyards and motels across Canada and the USA. I’m proud to have a piece of Canadian design history. And in case anyone else wants them, I chained them down! But if you’re in Seattle, you can buy them at Click! Design That Fits.

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DIY Cable Knit Pillow

Here I go again!

Last year I made a cream-colored cable knit pillow and over the summer I made an orange one. Both pillows sold on my Etsy shop so this past weekend I made another pillow.

pink pillow

This was once an Izod sweater that I found at Goodwill. I wore it for February’s “red and pink” challenge but I’d originally bought it with a pillow in mind.

pink sweater

I liked the cotton-candy color. I know pink draws a strong reaction from people. Give it a chance. It’s a fun shade.

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Outdoor Living Room in Ballard

When my friend Suzanne and I took Frankie to Equal Exchange Espresso to try Slayer-made Lattés, we made a detour to this neat little park. It’s the only park I’ve been to with a cement living room in it.

outdoor living room

We sat on the cold, hard, overstuffed chairs and sipped our lattés. It was better than it sounded. Rain and sun won’t damage this furniture. And Frankie won’t wreck it either. A+ for durability and creativity.

Suzanne

Suzanne wore a dove-gray jacket that she got as a Christmas gift. As cute as it is, she admitted that it wasn’t a good cold-weather coat.

Jean and Frankie

I wore my tartan rain boots and a jacket I got at a consignment shop. I was also ready for rain, but not cold. Only Frankie, in his black and white knitted sweater, was prepared for the elements.

Luckily the coffee warmed us up on the walk home.

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