Archive for March, 2010

March 30th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !


Now is the time to stock up on the best Canadian condiment of all time. Maple syrup! A 500 ml can is now available in numerous fruiteries and grocery stories for only $6.99!!! Act now. In a few months they’ll climb back up to $10.99.


I love maple syrup in just about anything (salad dressing, as a glaze for salmon or pork, drizzled over granola and yogurt, or with fresh bananas and nutmeg, on crepes, pancakes and French toast, in a mohito, and sometimes, just by the spoonful). Obviously, I need to have a lot on hand and I actually start to get anxious when I’m running low.


I even love the can. (During my last trip to NYC, I visited a gift shop where they recycled Canadian maple syrup cans to make a candle holder — and it wasn’t cheap.) I’m thinking of giving some cans as Christmas presents for the FC’s family next year (my maple-glazed pork roast was downright exotic to them.)



The Ikea cabinets are officially purchased, and I’ve got the hefty bill to prove it. (Even with the 15 percent gift card rebate, it’s a big number to swallow.) I’m still very nervous about the choice. When surfing the net, looking for reassurance, I found a few design layouts using the Ikea Lidingo that turned my stomach. Awful, awful…. But I know design works in combination; a few good choices can set something off beautifully, a few bad ones can destroy a look completely. (Just like fashion. The same skirt on two different girls can look totally different.) I just have to believe we’re going to rock this style, no matter what.


It’s also a learning experience. Maybe on our next house, we’ll have all the contacts and know-how to investigate other options. We’ll also be confident enough to try a craftier, more recycled approach to kitchen design. Or maybe we’ll do exactly the same thing because we know it works smashingly well. We’ll see! But choices move us forward, that’s why we have to make them.


Next big decision? Countertop surface. (The countertops weren’t part of the Ikea sale so we’re shopping around for good deals and good ideas.) We can do wood (cheaper, something with a dark stain to play off the white cabinets.) Or stone. (The FC has a lead on a place for granite at a good price.) We could also consider a white tiled countertop, which would be very thrifty. As always, any good ideas or contacts welcome.


Dark wood sets off white cabinets beautifully and also reflects light. Love the light fixtures and vintage white stools.


White tiled countertop has a homey, country style vibe and is easier on the wallet. The rounded wood edge gives definition between the white tiles and white cabinet base. It also picks up the wood door handles. But maybe this look is a little too country for me.


Stone is costly, but durable and gorgeous. Love the gray and black speckled stone. It's a softer look than using black stone, which we're considering.


Uninspiring use of Lidingo. But maybe that's the icky light fixture's fault. I also don't like the countertop colour, or the microwave and stove area. We chose a sleek fan and a stove with the controls on the front. Both would help this kitchen considerably. Right now, it's just overstuffed with cabinetry. Nothing breathes.


March 21st, 2010 Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Since giving up coffee, I’m all about teas, and my collection is growing steadily. In addition to my organic peppermint and rooibos with almond, I’ve acquired a lovely green tea with rose and cherry, as well as a fruity green rooibos with mango and papaya that my friend Gaetano brought over the other day as a gift. Maybe that’s why I was so drawn to this DIY “tea shelf” on DesignSponge. I hope the new kitchen we’re planning will still leave enough room for little homespun details like this.



March 19th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !

The FC posted the old cabinets from the house we’re renovating on Kijiji (for free) and a friendly pothead with a cute white dog came by last night to take them away. I hope it wasn’t a mistake letting them go.  (Judging from all the DIY blogs I’ve been scouring, it’s truly amazing how a coat of white paint can completely revive a set of sad-looking cabinets.) My bohemiam frugal self never likes to waste money, or worse, be unoriginal. Let’s hope springing for new Ikea cabinets proves to be the right choice.


Farewell old cupboards. I hope I don't miss you. (They were hideous and not worth saving, right?)


Next salvage question? The wood floors.  To keep or replace?  Given that we’re buying a new kitchen, I think conserving money (and the environment) on the floors is a good idea. They’re solid maple, and with a bit of love they could be beautiful. We’ll see how this decision shakes down.  My main goal is to be creative and thrifty, but not shabby (a fine line!) I also don’t want this project to bring any financial regrets into my otherwise perfect relationship. Boy, do the stakes feel high!


March 17th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !

We’re deep into the second week of our cottage renovation and so far the relationship is holding strong. I especially love seeing the excitement in the FC’s eyes as the new windows go in (they’ll be finished tomorrow) and the pride he shows when he accomplishes a task, like tearing down a wall, or ripping tiles off the bathroom wall. The cottage is his “baby” and as co-owner, he treats it differently then my apartment where we live now. For one, the FC actually cleans!! At the end of every work session, the FC is the first to reach for the broom, carefully sweeping up the dust and debris. (At my apartment the FC rarely touches a broom unless I ask, and when he does, he treats it like an alien relic, unsure quite how it works. )


So if co-owning a house brings out the FC’s inner clean freak, I’ll be a very happy woman. Maybe this renovation will make our relationship even better! (But talk to me in Week 3.)


Actually, the FC looks more like a confused snorkeler then a hunky construction worker, but hey- he's still my man!



Here’s the kitchen cabinet layout the FC created using the Ikea software.



The total cost is a bit higher than we hoped, so we’re wondering if we should trim back or stick.  Options for reducing include; 1. getting rid of the corner cabinet on the upper right and replacing it with some sort of custom bookshelf we make ourselves, and 2. removing the cabinets above the fridge. The latter is a key question because we want the fridge to feel connected to the kitchen. Without that white cabinet linking it into the scheme, will the fridge stick out like a stainless steel-clad sore thumb? And if we do lose the fridge cabinets, what do we do with the space on top of the fridge? Any ideas? It’s important because this is the view one sees looking into the kitchen from the living room. (See below.)



Designing a kitchen scheme is almost as hard as writing screenplays!


March 15th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !

I’ve been to Ikea so many times I’m turning into a Swedish meatball.


When we couldn’t find the Shaker style cabinet I’d been admiring from Rona (they have a 6-8 week order period) once again, Ikea proved to be our best option. But I was nervous. The more I looked at Ikea, the more it all seemed the same. And I didn’t want a kitchen out of a can or feel like I was living in Ed Norton’s apartment in Fight Club. Though clean lines and a high gloss modern style used to feel right to me, finding true love has made me more romantic and I want that vibe for our new coachhouse.


For me, the best way to avoid the Ikea cookie cutter was to go with the white Akurum Lidingo. If you choose some of the narrower width cupboards, in the tall format (39 inches) you achieve the same kind of effect, despite the slightly raised moulded centre. This look should pair well with various modern and vintage non-Ikea accents (for which we’ve left plenty of room ) and also our sleek stainless steel kitchen fan. (More on this skin-saving miracle later.)


Choosing Ikea cabinets also means that when we’re feeling flush and want to add a new element (like a pull-out track for the garbage under the sink or a lazy Suzan for the corner cabinet) they’re always in stock.


Here’s the cabinet style.


Ikea cabinet door, "lidingo" style.


Here’s a few other inspirational photos I found from and Southern Kitchens.


I like the blue element here. It reminds me of the FC's parents' kitchen in France.


Good example of how painting the inside of a cabinet can change the look. (Though can you paint the inside of an Ikea cabinet?)


I like the chandeliers and stools. Another example of how stunning a narrower cabinet can look.


Butterfly backsplash makes the modern flat white cabinet (which I'm not going with) seem less generic.


March 11th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !


Here’s a kitchen cabinet look I’m digging for our new house. (I found the image while browsing the Rona website.) Though initially I was considering modern high gloss white cabinets, I think a hint of country might be more fitting for a humble coachhouse. But I’ll definitely want different handles, something chunkier and metallic. (I like a door handle I can really grab onto. Plus, no one wants their brand new white cupboards dotted with greasy finger prints!)


I also love the backsplash in this picture. The gray-blue grout gives the classic subway tile a dreamy vintage look.


March 9th, 2010 Uncategorized | 1 Comment

With fearless determination, the FC demolished the wall between the living room and kitchen in our new cottage and already we can feel the flow of space and light. Though it’s still hard to imagine the final product, we’re certainly a step closer. Besides figuring out appliance placement (a daunting Rubik’s cube) the biggest challenge is deciding whether to reuse the existing cabinets by painting them white, replacing them all with new ($$$!!) or doing some combination of the two. It’s stressing me out, that’s for sure, and the FC and I are clocking in at least one argument a day. (Amazingly, the Sunday afternoon wall demolition was stress free. I think it’s because actually doing the work is easier than thinking about the work.)


Right now, I’m most excited by the “breakfast bar” that the new opening between the living room and kitchen leaves room for. This is where all the action’s going to happen; friends (Gigi, Brent, Alexandra, Gerardo) sitting around with a cocktail in hand, watching us cook or sharing a morning coffee and a gab. It’s going to be the heart of the house and we want it to be beautiful. The counterop material, the height (counter or bar height?) and the kitchen stools (we want something vintage, not Ikea) all have to be perfect.


Here’s some inspirations I found on Apartment Therapy. (Please share any ideas you might have on the topic.)





The FC is one sexy handy man!


Ugly wall be gone!