Archive for the ‘Decorating Dilemmas’ Category


Shams used as headboard, pillows stacked, decorative throw cushions, in front, blanket across the foot of the bed and bedskirt covering the bed frame.

When you are decorating your bedroom, you need to do more than buy a new duvet cover, curtains and paint for your room.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see in decorating a bedroom is not finishing the bed. Unless you have a complete bed with headboard foot board and matching side rails, that stands all by itself, or a platform bed, you must cover up the box spring and the metal mattress frame.

An old fashioned bedspread that goes to the floor accomplishes this, but most people are using duvets or comforters these days. In that case you really need a bedskirt (also called a dust ruffle) to hide the not meant to be seen box spring and the ugly bed frame to give your bed a neat, finished look. A duvet/comforter is rarely wide enough and long enough to cover all of the above. Sometimes a size larger will cover the box spring, but rarely does it cover the bed frame too.

The other thing I see is the comforter/duvet pulled right up over the pillows. This is a no-no. They are not long enough to use like an old fashioned bed spread. This just does not look finished.

Pillows stacked, with decorative toss cushions in front

Pillows stacked, with decorative toss cushions in front

Place the duvet so that it covers the mattress – down to the box spring on both sides and the foot, like the picture at the top of the page. Then either fold the top sheet down over top of the duvet so the decorative edge shows or fold it down under the duvet so that it does not show at all. Then place the pillows neatly at the edge of the folded down top sheet  or duvet. Stack two on top of each other on each side or tip them up and stack them one in front of the other – two to a side. To finish it it, place a couple of throw cushions in front of the pillows. Lay a folded blanket or throw across the bottom.

Those shams that often come with the duvet cover can be filled with a permanent pillow (you never actually use it) and placed behind the pillows, if you wish. They can also make a fake headboard look, if you haven’t purchased a headboard yet.

Pillows leaning upright with toss cushions

Pillows leaning upright with toss cushions

photo 1 (2)

Bedskirt carries the look to the floor, covers the box spring and bed frame and also hides any storage containers that you keep under the bed. (and the dust bunnies)

So your bed should have a duvet cover, comforter or bedspread. If the cover does not come down to the floor, you need a bed skirt (unless the bed has a finished base, that is meant to show). You need a couple of co-ordinating toss cushions and throw for the foot of the bed. Two pillows on each side looks good, either stacked flat or stacked upright.

Then your room will have that ‘polished’ look that you are trying to achieve






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The coffee table is frequently an afterthought when decorating your living room. People often dash out to the big box store to get a matched set of coffee and end tables that they think will ‘do’ for the time being. This is a mistake.

The ‘coffee table’ is front and centre in your living room. It should make a statement, and be useful as well as a ‘decor piece’. The one thing it should not be is part of a matched set of coffee and end tables. In most cases, that look is dated and dowdy.

Your coffee table does not even have to be a table. We are now all familiar with the ottoman with a tray on the top, being re-purposed as a coffee table. I have a large wicker trunk that is my coffee table and doubles as storage space for extra throws and cushions for movie nights in the winter. It can also be used as a place for hiding the children’s toys instead of the usual open shelving.


Back in University, I lined up 3 old cheese boxes in a row. In our earlier homes, I had a cluster of little cube tables, that suited the small spaces admirably. At one point an antique 6 legged table with a brass tray for a top, served as my coffee table. Use your imagination. Almost anything with a flat surface and is not too big can be adapted and used.

One point here, I do not like low, low coffee tables, unless all the furniture is low slung. They look too 50s for one thing, but mainly their proportions are wrong and they are awkward to use for anything but a foot stool. You will find that something that is side table height is more useful and visually pleasing. 20″ high and up makes a good, useful coffee table.

21.5" h coffee table from Sears.caThis is a cocktail table from Sears.ca. It is nice and tall at 21.5″h. It would make a really nice coffee table and is a much more convenient height for your coffee. Its round shape makes it easy to get by (with no more barked shins) and will fit in with most furniture shapes and arrangements.

Put two together

Put two together

Conversely, this little cube table is 23.5″ h and is meant to be an end table but put 2 together and they make a nice comfortable height coffee table or put 3 in an L configuration in front of a full sized sectional sofa. They are also quite adaptable when you move. They can be end tables, bedside tables, etc.

So think outside the box and you will come up with a unique and visually pleasing coffee table that is both useful and decorative

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An affordable answer for the kitchen cabinet refresh/replace dilemma

Kitchen cabinets are crazy expensive but can become tired and dated looking after only a few years. You can totally replace them, if you have the budget for it, but you don’t have to. If the layout works for you and the cabinets are still in good shape, you can paint them to refresh your look. The problem with painting them is that you really should strip the old finish, sand them down, which is hard work and prime with a high adhesion primer. You need a top quality paint and even then the paint will only look good for a few years. Regular paint scratches and marks easily.

I have found a really interesting product, Rust-Oleum Transformations. I haven’t used it yet, but it looks like a really good product that is DIY  friendly. Check out the link below to see all about the product!

There are a number of ‘transformation kits’. There is one to refinish your cabinets with paint colour and one for stain colours. There is a transformation kit for counter tops as well. They even offer a kit for wood floors, tiles and furniture!

If you are willing to put in the work, you could refinish the cabinets, counters, backs plash and floor, all with a Rust-Oleum kit!

As I said in the beginning, I have not used these products yet but they looked so interesting that I thought that I should pass on my DIY find. I will be trying it out for myself in the near future, I think.

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Is your bathroom looking tired and old? If most of the fixtures are still in good shape and are not in an outdated colour, try this to make it feel like new again.
Go to your local big box store and simply buy a new counter top with attached sink. Home Depot has a granite counter top with an attached undermount sink in various sizes and colours for very reasonable prices. The one piece counter and sink made of cultured marble have been updated and are also an economical and stylish choice.

For instance, Home Depot Canada has a 37″ granite counter with sink by Magick Woods for only $209! Then spruce up your old vanity with a new paint job. If it is looking really tired, purchase new doors for it, then paint the whole thing a new colour. Or, you could go all out and  buy a whole new, stylish vanity with attached counter top and sink for under $379 for a 37″wide one!

If you then want to continue with your economical remodel, you could replace your light fixture and mirror as well, purchase some new towels and shower curtain at an inexpensive store like Walmart, and give the room a fresh coat of paint and you have a fresh new look for your bath that cost you very little, all told.

The flooring & vanity were replaced in the bathroom shown, as well as what is described in the post.

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The first few years that I kept house, I thought that shelf liner was too ’50s housewife’ for me! I didn’t see the need for it, thought that it was just being persnickity. Boy, was I wrong. Most cupboard shelves are made from MDF or pressboard and need to be protected from damp dishes and everything else. Your cupboard shelves just get destroyed without it. And it makes them far easier to clean (when you finally break down and do it).

You can use anything you want for the job, as long as it has a relatively waterproof surface. Mactac is often used but kind of hard to apply neatly and the low tad shelf liners are really easy to use but pretty uninspired – but functional. Vinyl wallpaper works well. Oil cloth, cut to fit and laid in place can be a funky and colourful alternative. although it has no adhesive, it is heavy and stays put well. Even way paper is fine. That lumpy, non-skid stuff that you buy in rolls, works well, but you can’t  slide things in and out very well. In other words, anything that is slightly moisture proof, easy to cut and lay and also removable, is fine. (It is far nicer to wipe or replace than scrubbing out marked and bubbled shelves.

So the answer is that it doesn’t really matter if it is dowdy or cool, it is just plain necessary, so have some fun with it!

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Modest kitchen reno from Houzz.com

Modest kitchen reno from Houzz.com

Most people do not have the latest in kitchens and would love to have theirs look like a magazine shoot. Unless you have recently won the lottery, this is beyond a lot of us, but we can spruce up what we have without breaking the bank.

#1 Fresh Paint

Every 4 or 5 years, give your kitchen a fresh coat of paint in a different colour or colours. This alone will give your kitchen a fresh new look. You could paint it all the same or have a contrasting feature wall, it is up to you, Don’t forget to put a fresh coat on the trim and doors, as well. These do not have to be white, they could be the contrasting colour instead of a feature wall.

#2 Chairs

If you have a conventional matched set of table and chairs in your kitchen, take away the chairs and replace them with Parson’s chairs or modern, clean lined chairs, anything that is a contrast to the table (and hutch/sideboard, if you have one) This little detail alone will update the look of your kitchen. Remember, matchy-matchy is really out of date at the moment.

#3 Lighting

You probably don’t want to go to the expense of hiring an electrician to install pot lights, but you can get a modern multi-head style light to replace the old central fixture and install after-market under-mount lights or light pucks, under your upper cabinets. This will look up to date and give you far better task lighting in which to work.

#4 Cupboard doors

You can remove and replace the cabinet doors, instead of the whole run of kitchen cabinets. Consider just replacing the upper doors. You can buy just the cabinet doors in a clean, modern style in contrast to your lowers. A slab door will go with any style. Then paint all your cupboards one colour or paint the uppers a light colour and the lowers a dark colour. Preparation is the most important thing when painting kitchen cupboards. They must be completely free of kitchen grease and well sanded and primed with a high adhesion primer.

#5 Hardware

Change out all the knobs and pulls with something totally different. Change the hinges if they are visible. Although knobs and pulls can be very expensive, most big box stores sell some of the styles in packages of 8 to 12, which is much more affordable.

#6 Flooring

If your flooring is worn and tired, the most inexpensive fix is sticky tiles. These, unfortunately do not wear well, and I would consider some other do-it-yourself flooring such as Allure by Home Depot,  in which the strips of tile or wood look stick to each other and ‘float’ over the old floor or underlayment. (See my post ‘DIY Flooring Find)  Each of the Home Improvement stores has their own version of this product and it is very reasonable to install. Even laminate can be used in the kitchen if you treat the joints with a special sealer as you are putting it together (at least in the high damp areas, like in front of the sink)

You can do all or just one or two of the above suggestions to update and refresh your kitchen for a minimal outlay monetarily.

Happy Decorating!

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This is one of Para's delicious colour combinations for 2013

This is one of Para’s delicious colour combinations for 2013

Colour, colour is everywhere this year.  You see it in the decor stores and on the catwalk.

Bright, bold and beautiful colour is everywhere you look.

The pictured colour combination is straight from the 70s. Avocado green, melon orange,  harvest gold with a warm cream to leaven all that colour, is all the rage this year.

Brown and beige have been the colours of choice for the last decade. They were usually paired with turquoise or soft blue as an accent colour. You can give your room(s) a whole new look by simply removing the blue accents and replacing them with vibrant cushions, throws and a few other accent pieces in these bright, bold and very cheerful vintage colours.

If you are not enamored with this particular combination, try other brights and bolds together. Purple, lime green and gold make a striking statement or you could liven up your brown furniture with red and gold with a touch of just the right eggplant purple.

You don’t have to spend a lot either. Just change out a few pieces purchased at your favourite bargain store. It is amazing what you can do with a couple of new cushions, a throw, a vase and a bowl and maybe one new piece of inexpensive, unframed art. And don’t forget to update your lampshades. Lampshades are so often forgotten and they too get shabby and dated looking.

Time to go shopping.

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