Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Garage Sale Table

I've reached my favourite stage in our family room renovations.

The walls are planked, everything has been painted, and almost all of the furnishings are in place. There are still a few details that I need to finish - put out the rug, hang my curtains panels, sew another small curtain for our entertainment unit and hang some art.

I'm so happy with how this room is coming together. It has a cozy, cottage feel to it which is perfect for this space. Toys migrate here from the den, it's where we snuggle up and watch movies together - it really is our family room.

But we'll talk more about that when it's finished.

For now, I wanted to share something I found this weekend.

While out on Saturday morning, I was forced to drive a different way home due to some construction. As I took the scenic way back to the highway, I came across a garage sale. It's a pretty general rule for me that if there's furniture, I stop. So despite the dreary weather, and my warm seat, I pulled in and did a quick tour.

I'm not sure what this little table would have been used for. It's high for an end table, but doesn't show any marks from hardware that would have made it a small kind of cabinet.

I was drawn to it's simplicity, and it's pretty little legs. And I liked the small shelf.

It was $20, but I only had $14.20 on me to offer. He happily took what I had and even loaded the table in my car.

So now it's found it's place in our family room. All of the furniture in this room is quite low, with the exception of two big cabinets on the other side. This dark and slightly tall table adds just the right amount of weight on this end of the room. It also is a convenient place to hide remotes.

If it didn't work here, I planned to use it in our master bathroom. I think it would suit some glass jars on top with soaps and things, and towels stacked on the shelf for easy access. I spent the rest of the drive home imagining ways to make it useful again.

I planned to paint it white, but I'm enjoying the dark wood for now. It's nicely worn and adds some contrast to a very light space.

The beautiful arched window was a salvage find that my dad has had stored away for quite some time. At our Christmas open house last year I leaned it against an old harvest table and added a swag of greens to it. I knew when I was arranging the display that I had to have this window. Finally I told him he couldn't sell it because I wanted it. It's going above the couch.

I'm nearly there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Laundry Area - After

I decided to make the most of a quiet day at home today and checked a couple of items off of my to-do list.

This is my laundry area which is one corner of my kitchen - the sunniest corner.

After seven years of doing laundry in the basement (though thankfully not a dingy basement), a main floor laundry was one of my few "list items" I wanted in the home we were going to purchase. And as it goes, it wasn't a feature of the house we bought.

However, in the kitchen, there was a small corner area that was being used as an office space. It was too small for a breakfast nook, so we had our plumber come in and see if it was possible to plumb in a laundry area. Because water lines were already running to this part of the house for the sink and dishwasher, it wasn't complicated to do.

Originally, I had wanted side-by-side appliances in a built-in cabinet with a counter top and nice shelves above. But, due to the size of the space, a pair beside eachother wouldn't fit. So, we settled instead on a stackable unit which allowed just a small space beside for sorting bins. We sketched out an idea for a narrow counter with a pull-out drawer for the bins to sit on (similar to what you would put in your cabinets for recycling bins). Then I could still add a couple small shelves above for character.

But, as renovations go, we ended up spending a lot more on other more important renovations and for the sake of staying on budget, I had to re-think this space. 

Was it necessary to have built-ins right now? No. 

Could it still be functional and pretty without them. Yes.

So my inexpensive solution?

I simply installed our old shower curtain and hung two panel curtains I had in our linen closet. 

You know, it may not be a gorgeous built-in laundry area, but for now, it's simple and quite pretty.

I slide the curtain over to use my machines, which I love, and then slide them back to hide everything.

And it's okay that it's such a simple space, because there's enough going on in the same area to give it character. These shelves are across from it.

So once I had the laundry space taken care of, I moved on to my cleaning closet right beside it.

Now, while I don't mind cleaning, it's actually my husband that is the neat freak in our home. I do however, like cleaning just a little more when my tools are pretty.

I know. Completely ridiculous. I just can't help it. It's like pretty packing or an old piece with perfect patina - I'm just drawn to it. And I'm fairly certain it's hereditary as my Aunt Jeanette suffers from the same problem.

Don't they just make you want to clean?

I've found them over the years at Homesense and Marshalls, and while they are beautiful, none of them are really more expensive than regular old cleaning tools.

And before you go thinking that I flutter around my house dusting everything with a feather duster, this is reserved for my chandeliers. I just use a plain old rag.

And while I admit, I love the smell of a cleaners, I do try to use just basic cleaning solutions when I can. Like for windows, a little vinegar and mild dish soap with warm water does a beautiful job.

These plain spray bottles from the dollar store are perfect for it.

One of the reasons I needed to clean out this closet, was that I needed to make some room for my vacuum. To be honest, I was quite disappointed to leave my central vac behind. But I've actually come to love this new one. The suction is fantastic and the canister detaches to you can carry it on the stairs. And it pivots. (Pivot! Pivot! - I know that you heard Ross when you read that!)

The fact that it's white had absolutely no impact on my decision making... none at all.

Different baskets are also used for other things like garbage bags and my laundry supplies.

Here you can see the closet once I fit everything back in.

Ryan later pointed out that it's not functional having the vacuum on the left, rather it needs to be on the right so I don't have to move the mop bucket to get it out.

Why does he always have to be right...

And there it is. My most inexpensive makeover in this house yet! If only it would go this way more often.

And on another unrelated makeover note, I was thrilled to see that our interior house colour - Simply White - is Benjamin Moore's 2016 Colour of the Year. To be fair, I discovered the colour through Catherine Burke who writes the blog In The Fields.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Brown Transferware Pieces

Ryan has a few holidays left to use this year, and as crazy as it seems, our opportunities to use them are getting fewer as the weeks go by. So we decided to take a couple of days to work on the house, and then spend a night out of town with the boys. We planned a small road trip to see the Fall colours and pretty towns within only a few hours drive from our home.

While out and about, we would stop in a small town or port and we'd wander around. I would pop in and out of shops, the boys would play on a playground close by with Ryan. Then we'd search out a cozy little spot to eat, or a charming bakery to grab something warm and sweet. We just took our time, and did as we pleased and halfway, stayed in a hotel.

I'll share some more photos from this little adventure soon, but for now, I just wanted to share a couple things that I brought home with me.

Our hotel was in Woodstock, Ontario, and in Woodstock, there is a very large antique mall. In fact, it claims to be the largest in Canada with over 500 retailers.

 Now, before you start to imagine this massive antique mall, with aisle after aisle of antiques and treasures, I'll stop you. It's not. In fact it's more like three floors of industrial warehouse housing every person in town's left over garage sale items... And occasionally some handmade items, or some very sparse spaces that almost had potential.

Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. There were a few good vendors, and despite all of the clutter, I did actually come away with a box full of items. In fact, I came away with a box full of fantastic items.

One of the booths had a small collection of brown transferware, most of which were beautiful Aesthetic pieces. Because I couldn't justify purchasing every one of them, I spent some time deciding on my most favourite ones.

I loved the different shape of this plate, and the darker brown on this gravy boat.

I loved the deer and swallows depicted on this dinner plate.

I also found two smaller plates, a luncheon plate and dessert plate,

And this coffee pot was a steal because it was cracked in a few places. The little ironstone tea cup was another steal at $2.

So, with a few new pieces to display, it meant I needed to do some rearranging of my shelves.

I find it so soothing placing things and rearranging them until I feel like they're just right.

To give you some bearings, this is doorway leads into the living room. You can see the couch, which faces the fireplace in the background. The kitchen is an addition the runs along the back of the house, so you have to step through the stone wall. I love all of the casings from past years. It's just an interesting detail. I even love the dark, worn treads.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Parlour Table and Giltwood Mirror

Two items that I've had stored away for months were finally brought out and used to continue furnishing the living room.

This gorgeous giltwood mirror from the early 1800's is probably one of my more exciting purchases. It had been hanging in a nearby antique store for quite some time and had been discounted a few times. I finally offered the owner $100 for it, not really thinking he would agree. To my delight, he said yes, and I'm fairly certain my excitement wasn't concealed as well as I thought it was.

This table was found on Kijiji. I just loved the legs - they have an empire feel to them. The top folds over and it pivots to reveal a hidden compartment. I think it was probably a games table of sorts.

Aren't the carved details just gorgeous?

It's a beautiful focal point for this side of the room. You see it when you walk into the living room from the front entrance.

I just finished telling Ryan the other night, while brushing our teeth and standing at the vanity, that I just love the feel of wood and the bit of gold and the white marble and fresh green. 

Add some crisp white sheets, nubby linen, ironstone, brown transferware, worm white wood, mercury glass and light pine and you've pretty much nailed my style.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Butternut Squash Bisque

I love cooking - but I especially love cooking in the Fall.

And as they days grow more crisp, a good pot of soup brings comfort and warmth, not to mention a house filled with it's savory aroma as it simmers and the flavors develop.

There are so many kinds of soup, but one that we enjoy throughout Autumn is a Butternut Squash Bisque. It really doesn't get any more Fall than that.

It's also brilliantly simple to make, and can be made quite quickly if you're in a pinch, or reheated for a simple dinner later in the week.

I don't really have a recipe, but it usually goes as follows:

- Dice a small onion and sweat in a medium pot with a little butter and oil.

- While the onion sweats, peel and remove seeds from one large Butternut squash. Cut into 1" cubes, add to onions once transparent and cover with chicken stock in a pot. This is usually about 1 container of broth.

- Cook squash until tender.

- In small batches, puree the soup in a blender, keeping the pureed soup in a large bowl until everything is smooth. Return soup back to pot and continue heating.

- Season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of pure maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne pepper and some fresh thyme leaves removed from the stem. Let that simmer gently for a while.

- When ready to serve, add about 1/2 cup of whipping cream.

- Garnish with small dollop of creme frais, or plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup and some fresh thyme. 

I like to serve this soup with some great bread and cheese, or a warm scone. The other day we had it with some Apple Walnut Sourdough from the shop, sliced Honeycrisp Apples, Walnuts and Aged Cheddar. I also love it with an Apple Rosemary Pecan Scone with sliced ham, cheddar cheese and spicy Dijon mustard.

I've even done this soup with a couple of apples or pears tossed in, and occasionally, some white wine if I have it open.

So delicious!