What a Gem! Favourite Five

The end of June… Wow! I finally see what all the teachers and mums in my life are talking about. School BBQ’s, Father’s Day picnics, end of year parties, graduations, special dinners… Such a busy month. To all of you teachers and mothers reading, happy summer!

This week one of the bloggers I follow, Kirsten, from 6th Street Design School, posted a “Parade of Homes”. So many gorgeous photos that I just had to share a few. The crisp black and white styles were my favourites!

1. The first one that stood out to me was this kitchen.

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I love the crisp and modern lines of the white cabinets, industrial stools and chrome lamp against the warm wood floors. One day…

2. This clean and modern office:

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The fun pops of yellow are great against the monochromatic black and white scheme. It inspires me to see what patterns and lines work well with chevron too.

3. Continuing on with the black and white theme of the week…

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This one is from a fellow Canadian, so I’m of course intrigued. I love her styling here, especially because this is her actual home, not just a room styled to be perfect like the ones above.

4. I clearly have to throw a DIY in. This is a simple trash bin spray painted and turned into a side table. Clever, and you would never know.

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5. Not only is it the beginning of summer, but it’s also Canada Day Long Weekend up here in Vancouver. This shot reminds me of a quiet, comfy cabin nestled in the mountains here in BC…

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It inspires me to go outside and enjoy warm summer evenings. (Once our rain stops anyhow.) Hope you have a lovely and sunny weekend and to all you Canadians, Happy Canada Day.

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Clean Out the Clutter: My Purse

For the past little while, I’ve been on a mission to get rid of my number one clutter culprit: paper. I’ve tackled receipts, important memos, and mail. Who knew that organizing mail with a magazine rack could be so popular? It honestly thrills me every time I see it on another board on Pinterest.

Another area in my life that seems to clog up with paper is my purse. Is it related to our rental? No, not entirely. But, I’m writing about it anyway because it needs to be tackled in this series. You can see why:

Purse before

I dumped my purse belongings this afternoon, and this it what came out of it. Just keeping it real. I hate when my purse gets like this. I had too much in the first place, so it just piled up. I had my laptop, some receipts, teacher thank you cards, business cards, envelopes…It’s embarrassing having to rummage through all that, especially when I’m trying to find my wallet at the till.

What’s more, I have one main purse, but I still like to swap out for my little gym bag, a small across the shoulder purse, a slouchy summer tote… With all that stuff, I inevitably forget an item (often my work keys) in another purse.

As you can see, keeping my bag organized does not always come naturally to me.  I do follow a couple tricks to keep my purse and its belongings manageable:

1. Buy a purse you love. If it’s expensive, even better.

I’ve always purchased cheaper purses. I liked them well enough, but when I splurged on this gorgeous and classic Fossil purse, I was so much more inspired to keep it in tip top shape. I feel like the inside needs to look as put together as the outside.

Fossil bag

2. Use smaller bags to keep it organized. Not only can you find what you’re looking for, it makes it that much easier to switch up purses. Just toss in whatever bag you’ll need.

That idea started with this little make-up bag my lovely friend Laura bought for me in Thailand:

Essentials

It holds all my essentials: mints and a mini-tooth brush (as I am a coffee fanatic) and a comb to keep my bangs (somewhat) in check. This system worked so well that I picked up three more from the dollar store for only $1.25 each!

New makeup bags

One holds my hygiene items:

Hygiene items

Another my bottles and balms:

Lotions and balms

And the last one my practical items:

Practical bag

Yes, I keep a tape measure in my bag. Why? When I’m shopping for our place, I can easily whip it out to see how big a piece of furniture is. I have the dimensions of each room saved on my phone, so then I can easily refer to it to see if I piece is the right size or not.

3. Make sure everything has a home. The landing strip I created for my sunglasses, keys and umbrella a few months ago has helped enormously with that! I’ve hardly needed to yell “Shaun, have you seen my keys??” before I rush out the door for a while!

4. Count.

Before I leave, one little habit I’ve gotten into over the last number of years is counting my essentials. My number is 4: keys, wallet, phone and either my umbrella or my sunglasses. (My little grey and white shopping bag is a bonus that I like to bring as much as possible to be sustainable :). As my friends and family can attest to, I’m rather forgetful. This way, I’m far less likely to leave my cell at home!

My favourite items

So here’s how my purse is looking now. All of this:

An organized purse  

Is neatly tucked away where I can find it.

Purse on the inside

So pleased my tote is clean and organized! If only I could say the same about our patio

It’s Written on the Wall

New site update: I wrote last Thursday that I would only be posting once a week since I have a new site in the works. The main reason for that is, since my content has already been exported, I didn’t want to write a ton of posts that won’t be visible on the new site. Shaun then suggested I just post two copies: one on this site, one on my new one. Simple. All that to say, I’ll be posting as usual (2-3 times a week), starting with this one! #warningitslong.

As I’m sure many of you can relate to, sometimes, I can be a perfectionist. Clearly not all the time (this isn’t at all the case in my work life!) but when it comes to my home, I want everything just so. The way my place looks like in pictures? I strive to have it sparkling like that all the time.

Of course, I know it’s not possible because a) I have a huge dog. In a small CARPET FILLED apartment. (Why does a pet-friendly building insist on carpet? Do you know how many stains my puppy has caused in the last few months?) b) Cleaning standards are an issue my boyfriend and I differ immensely on. c) What’s more, sometimes I get too exhausted to clean, or too wrapped up in a project to bother.

This inherently irks me. It causes me daily frustration, and I don’t even have kids! It doesn’t stop there either. If I’m going to an event, I want my food to be perfect. My outfit to be perfect. My handmade card to be perfect. Why? Does anyone else really care if my brownies don’t turn out properly? (No. If anything, my friends of mine find my little homemaker ways amusing. :)

It struck me that this obsession with perfection butts in the way of enjoying the moment. If any of you have read the Happiness Project (love love love that book) you’ll understand what I mean that I want to cultivate happiness; make conscious choices to do things that make me happy.

I stumbled upon this quote recently. It sums it up perfectly. I knew I wanted to display it in my home.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.

Voltaire

(Plus, it’s Voltaire. After years of studying French, I just had to.)

It popped up again for me this weekend. I had helped plan a surprise party for my dad’s 60th this Saturday. The day of, I made a cake, bought his present, made a card, baked cookies for school, went to yoga, and organized and picked up my younger brother who came in to town that day. So when my great aunt scoffed at me and said primly, “Lauren, store-bought icing? Really!”, I decided that it can’t be perfect, and nor does it need to be. I’ve done my best. Why should I let the extra stress of making icing get in the way of just enjoying the evening with my dad? Isn’t that what counts anyway?

So here it is.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. -Voltaire

Wonder how I did it? Here’s a quick overview.

I found this frame amongst the free stuff in our building foyer. Great shape, but I prefer black frames. I had all my spray painting gear out anyway (you may have seen a little snap shot on instagram yesterday…), so I gave it a quick coat of mat black.

Frame unpainted

While that dried, I worked on my quote. I could have made it on the computer using pretty fonts, but, I wanted the piece to reflect the its meaning, so I did it free hand. I tried out a few different fonts…

Doodles

And landed on these.

Trial quote

On this page, I drew it to scale so I could use it as a guide for my final version. Since I was using cardstock paper, I couldn’t just trace it. Instead, pressed over the letters and lines with a pencil. From there, I followed the indent on the good copy using faint pencil to mark off where each letter would go, and finished it off in pen.

Voltaire quote 1

I used an opaque marker from Michael’s called Recollection’s Opaque Marker in Ebony, if you’re curious. Now it’s displayed it on the little wall of the closet in our bedroom.

Quote in my bedroom

I used my ever growing font collection on Pinterest for inspiration. There are things I want to correct (that line should be thinner, that letter should be thicker…) but again, I’m trying to let it go and just enjoy. It’s the whole point of having it displayed on my wall in the first place!

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. -Voltaire

Any quotes you have read that struck a cord with you? Any times you have realized that striving for perfection is taking away from the experience itself?

 

The 36th Avenue

Blog Design Update

Hello!

If you’ve been following for the last little while, you may remember me mentioning my new blog design… I’m still super excited about it, but it’s harder to implement than I thought. I suppose there’s always a learning curve…

My design is just beyond the straightforward wordpress.com. Instead, I’m currently working on transferring over to my own domain at wordpress.org. In the meantime, I’ll be posting over here, but much less frequently. Probably about once a week, but we’ll see. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get the new site off the ground! I’ll be sure to share my new site with you all as soon as I can. Can’t wait to show you!

Lauren

Finally.

I finally did it.

I’ve been meaning to for ages, and I at last recovered our pillows. Why did this take me so long to do? It bothered me since we first got our couch over a year ago! Just one of those things that gets pushed to the bottom of the list when more pressing issues come up.

But really, it needed to be done.

Full couch before

These ones just looked so incredibly tired, like they gave up years ago. Which they did honestly… My mum recovered them in a stripe years ago before she handed them over to me, and this silver one is actually burned in one corner from my university days.

(No, nothing crazy, in case you’re wondering. I just had a ridiculously strong heater!)

So this weekend, I recovered them.

Full couch after

I’d love to show you a how-to, but honestly, there are way better tutorials out there, like this one from Chris Loves Julia. Not gonna lie, I was far too impatient and just threw these together!

New pillows

Out of respect for my boyfriend, I’ve got to take it easy on the pillows… One of the few decorating qualms Shaun has is an intense dislike of “too many” pillows. Seems common between men and women… I guess not everyone spends hours pinning pictures of pillows and sofas on Pinterest!

I love each one individually, but I was sceptical over the navy and teal pairing… But these accents really helped to tie both colours together. Eventually, I might add a few shots of fushia or blush pink.

Pillows close up

I also added a mini new one (it was literally a BUCK at Ikea) with some extra fabric on our poang chair:

Poang chair before

Credenza and poang chair

I realized I never added full shot of our mid-century credenza when I posted about it (because my living room was far too messy that day of course!) so here it is. We still have yet to manage that bird’s nest of cords in the back though…

Living room credenza side

I loved them so much I thought it was high time I picked it up a bit and styled a few corners of our living room.

Orchid and pillowsOrchid vignette     

Chair and credenza Credenza vignette

How lucky am I with all those flowers popping up around my living room? My boyfriend bought me the peonies (my fav!), my family the orchid, and a coworker of mine the lilies. So sweet!

Took me ages, but I’m so happy to finally have them done. What have you put off doing lately? Any projects you’re proud to have finally finished?

A Quick Kitchen Switch

The last time I blogged about our kitchen, it looked like this:

Progress Kitchen

I had added a cart for extra storage and counter space, our own open shelving, and pretty baskets for storage. But… the outdated pulls still remained.

Kitchen before hardware switch

Don’t get me wrong. I have full heartedly jumped on the gold trend bandwagon, but these will always look dated. With splashes of paint on the edges, these will always be an eyesore.

Kitchen pulls 2

I had been planning on swapping them out for a while, and when I saw a set of six pulls for 16 bucks at Target this past weekend, I was sold!

Silver pulls and open shelves

I finally tried using our drill for this project, and I. Loved. It. How have I gone so long without using power tools? Way faster, easier, and so much more fun! With a tiny kitchen like ours, the whole thing took less than an hour.

Care for some before and afters?

Gold pulls

Silver pulls

They may not be as trendy as some new modern brass ones would be, but I just wanted some basic ones to streamline our basic white cabinets. Don’t they just look so much cleaner?

Crate and barrel baskets

Baskets and silver pulls

So, once again, here’s how our kitchen looked shortly after move in day…

Kitchen Before

And here it is now!

Kitchen with new pulls

(You may have noticed our white and yellow striped rug has disappeared… My puppy ate it. Doesn’t it sound like a cliche homework excuse? I was not impressed.)

It’s cleaner, less dated, and a little more me. Eventually I’ll add in some contrast colours… I’m leaning towards a warm grey accent wall like this one. What do you think?

The Red and White Megastore: Is Target Really All It’s Worked Up To Be?

Oh hello my fellow Canadians! This post is especially intended for you (or any others who wonder what all the fuss is about).

It seems like the major contenders I hear about in the design realm of blogland are popping up in Canada. West Elm, Crate and Barrel and now Target. It was impossible not to see their signs popping up around the city boasting messages like this one:

It honestly made the university student part of me feel vaguely uncomfortable, like it was just another wave of Americanization sweeping over our country (which, I suppose, it is).

However, I wasn’t strong enough to resist. Those marketing specialists have done exceedingly well for themselves… News about their Threshold line has been popping up all over my Pinterest boards and reader feed for months now!. Amazing deals, modern and stylish accessories for your home… I admit I was more than curious.

Clearly, when I found out they were coming to Vancouver, I was dying to go. This weekend I made the trip back out the suburbs to shop. (Can you believe it? I spent my teenage years trying to high tail my way downtown to avoid this mall, and now that I’m in the city, I find myself driving back there. Sheesh.) If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed this latest post…

Seeing Red

Honestly (and somewhat embarrassingly) when I got to their bold and bright front entrance, I was bubbling with excitement. Would it live up to expectations?

First off, as soon as I walked in, I was greeted with rows and rows of awesome natural and organic creams, shampoos, soaps, sprays…

Natural products

Let me tell you, I was impressed. If ever you’re wondering what all the fuss is over the natural product trend, read this article, The Dirty Dozen, from the David Suzuki Foundation and you’ll see why I try to go as natural as I can. Sometimes I wonder if beauty products will be the next asbestos or cigarettes with all their carcinogens…

Anyway.

Laden with a few new bottles of conditioner and exfoliant, I made my way to the stationary aisle, a close second favourite of mine after furnishings. They have a wonderful array of colourful notebooks, binders, organizing supplies… Even pretty wrapping paper for cheap!

Line a drawer with wrapping paper Wouldn’t some of those be make some lovely drawer linings?

Once in the home furnishing section and was positively gleeful! Their merchandise is gorgeous! In one aisle, I heard clamouring footsteps. I turned to see a little boy running frantically and screaming hysterically

“Muma! Muma! Muma! THEY HAVE IT!”

and thrust a toy box into her hands. All that to say, I understood how he felt. 

More than a few lovely white ceramic lamp bases…

Pretty white lamps

Though clearly not organic, I thought these soap dispensers could add a nice touch to a boring kitchen sink:

Lovely soap canisters

Baskets, baskets, baskets. So functional yet so pretty. I can’t get enough.

Pretty woven storage baskets

They were also rocking the gold trend with brass lantern candle holders,

Gold cage candle holders

sunburst mirrors,

Brass mirrors

and animal figurines!

Brass animal figurines

If you can’t really see how these could work and need some inspiration, check out how Dana from House*Tweaking decorated her coffee table a few weeks ago…

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(Do I spend too much time perusing blogs? Maybe?)

And… what got me most excited…

Cheap pulls

All their knobs and pulls, the cheapest I’ve seen them at! Even cheaper than Ikea. Plus, their standard sizing (unlike Ikea pulls), so I’ll be updating my kitchen with new pulls in the next few days… Check back later this week for the reveal!

After spending far too long in the store, I’d say it’s a bit of a cross between Walmart and Crate and Barrel You can get some great deals but you’ll also find some gorgeous contemporary furnishings (like patterns and colours that are actually trendy and what you want to buy!) though some were a bit steeper than I was expecting. All in all, I loved it. I’ll definitely be out there again sometime soon!

What do you think of Target? Really all it’s cracked up to be? Or would you rather shop at a store from your own country?

Target didn’t sponsor this post; I just thought it would be fun to share my thoughts with you all. All opinions are 100% my own!