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 If most of the fixtures are still in good shape and are not in an outdated colour, try this to make it feel like new again.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.

Tile Wallpaper on wall and in roll

Tile Wallpaper on wall and in roll

Worried about the cost of a custom-made tile back splash? With a little creativity, you can get the look of a tiled back splash for a fraction of the price of the real thing!

Tiled back splashes went out of style in the  70s when post-formed laminate counter tops had taken over the market from the then standard arborite counter tops with a metal facing. The new post-formed counter tops had a built in, 3″ high back splash. The wall between that and the upper cupboards was simply painted or wallpapered to match the rest of the room. It was a fresh, new, clean look.

In the last decade, that ‘new’ look became very old and outdated.  Solid surface and stone counter tops came into vogue, which did not have a built in back splash. So tiling the area between the counter and cupboards became commonplace. Limited at first to ordinary square tiles and subway tiles, recent years has seen a plethora of various materials and styles from mosaic to glass to stone and stainless steel, hit the market. And the price went up and up.

But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the look of an upscale back splash. You can get the look of tiles by using special tile-like wallpaper, or what used to be called ‘Tile on a Roll’. It is thick, heavy vinyl wallpaper that is embossed to look just like tile and grout. Note: It is not printed to look like tiles, it actually has raised tiles and recessed grout lines.

This product is available in oblong, square or even mosaic tile patterns. It looks like the real thing and is easy to apply and easy to change when you decide to redecorate. I like the plain, square tile pattern because you can turn the roll sideways and roll it out along the wall. This means you have few seams to come apart. Just cut it to size, with a full tile at the counter, wet it and start rolling it out. You have to do a little bit of adjusting in the area behind the stove, but other than that it is a simple job.

There is also a product that is sold in large 10″ squares that looks just like decorative square, mosaic or mini subway tiles http://www.homedepot.ca/catalog/wallpaper-wall-appliques/172799+4294934087.

A hint: I would not put wallpaper behind a slide in stove (one that has no raised area at the back for the clock and knobs)

The advantages of using wallpaper is that it is economical, easy to apply, easy to remove and can be changed every few years for the price of a roll of wallpaper. And lets be honest: very few people can tell the difference unless they look closely.

This type of wallpaper can be found at most stores that carry wallpaper, in-stock or custom ordered from a book.

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!

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!

beautiful 4 poster bedroom

Decorating magazines can be a wonderful help if you are considering starting a project.

#1 What’s the latest trend?

The primary reason anyone buys a decorating magazine is to find what the latest look in decorating. You want to see pictures of the latest styles and colours. What’s hot and what’s not is very important when you are refreshing or totally redecorating a room. A good example of this is the latest metal. In the 70s, wrought iron and copper were hot, in the 80s, brass. In the 90s chrome had its day and for the last decade or so, brushed nickel has been in. Right now bronze is hot and brass is making a resurgence but in an antiqued form.  Nothing is more dated than two decades ago styles! Five decades ago is vintage, two decades, just tired and old.

#2 Finding ‘your’ style.

Just go out shopping and hit the furniture store or the accessories store or the lighting store, and  you  are rapidly overwhelmed. Even hitting the internet can intimidate you with just too many choices. Get some decorating magazines and flip through them at your leisure. When you find a picture that speaks to you, you can look at it item by item and figure out what it is about that picture that you like. Collect a scrapbook of pictures that you can take shopping with you. The internet and Pintrest are great but a collection of magazine pictures is big and clear and far easier to use for visualization. This narrows down your style and colour choices to a manageable number.

#3 Source Guide

One of the most useful things in my decorating magazines is the Source Guide. This lists the stores or manufacturers of the products featured in the articles you read.

It is absolutely wonderful to suddenly spot ‘the perfect chair’, but it is of no use to you if you don’t know where to find it. There is nothing more frustrating that having a very specific thing in mind and not being able to find anything that is even reasonably close in style and/or covering.

A note: Make sure at least one of your magazines is published in your home country. The retail store information is only really useful if you live where the stores are. Prices and shipping and duty on imports can more than triple the price of a simple object. Ordering from another country can be surprisingly pricey.  I once ordered 4 – $10 chair legs online from the USA,  and they ended up costing $125! It is buyer beware and you never know what the extra international shipping charges,  the duty and the customs broker charges will be until you receive the item.
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.

Professional looking gift wrappings are really easy to do. You need scissors and clear tape (not magic tape, it shows too much), lots of tape and a little bit of patience (not a lot).

The first thing to do is put the gift in a box of some kind. This automatically makes it easy to do a good job. I keep my boxes from year to year to year, so I always have lots. I also use anything that is the right size. Shoe boxes, Tea boxes, cereal boxes etc are all grist to my mill. Whatever logo is on the box, usually has nothing whatsoever to do with the contents!

place your box on the paper

place your box on the paper

Place the box across the paper as shown. Place the edge of the box slightly less than the thickness of the box, from the edge. At the other side, fold the paper up along the side of the box and mark. Lay the paper down and roll the roll to the mark. Draw a guide line right along where the roll meets the mark, using the roll as a straight edge or ruler. Cut along the line and put the roll aside

start at the bottom

start at the bottom

Make sure the box is centred on the paper. Pull the bottom edge up to just past the centre of the box and tape into place. Then fold the top edge over so that when it is wrapped, it covers the first edge. Crease the fold with your finger. Make sure that the outside edges overlap evenly, if not shift the box a little (without untaping if possible) and try again. When the edges are even, tug on the paper a little so that it is nice and snug, not sloppy. Tape the centre down firmly.

Nice, neat ends are easy

Nice, neat ends are easy

Place the box so the seam is on top. Start at one end. Push the top edge down and crease, right to the sides. Tape it down in the centre. Make an angled crease at each end as shown and crease it neatly with your thumb and finger. (Always press every fold and it will come out so much more neatly) Each neatly creased fold makes the next step easier and neater too.

Fold the sides in and finger press

Fold the sides in and finger press

Fold in each of the sides and finger press, then tape into place.

Fold the bottom edge

Fold the bottom edge

Fold up the bottom edge so that when it is folded up the folds make a perfect triangle — see the next picture.

Triangle corners

Triangle corners

Tape each corner and the centre for the best result

Finished end

Finished end (bottom side is up in the picture)

Now to tie a simple bow properly

Take a dollar store spool of wired ribbon. Find the middle. Place that on the front side and bring both end around to the back. Before you cross them, measure them out with your eyes to make sure that one end is slightly longer than the other. Now cross them and bring them around to the front.

How to make the tie come out straight with the tails the same length

How to make the tie come out straight with the tails the same length

Wrap the shorter end so that it comes out behind the knot and the longer end is on top of the knot. Grab the shorter end and make a loop with the tail on top and facing you. Wrap the longer end around the loop from above (over your finger holding the other loop) going from right to left. Tuck it under the front loop but over the knot. Pull snugly. If the loops are too big and the tails too short, start again but makes the loops smaller at the beginning.

Puff up the loops and bend the tails into a pretty bend. Cut the ends into a V  and tape the tail to the paper with a little roll of tape underneath.

Ta-Da, one beautiful gift.

Ta-Da, one beautiful gift.