I began my career as a DIY-er, and absolutely appreciate a project done with my own hands. However, in the last few years I have experienced and appreciated the skill, convenience and value that comes with hiring people who are expert and good at what they do. They do it 100 times faster than I would, and have way more joy doing it.

For my #canningreno, I left 75% of the project to pros. Demo, framing, HVAC, plumbing, electrical I entrusted to the very capable hands of my General Contractor Black General Contracting. But as a cost saving measure, I decided to take on flooring, tiling, painting, wallpaper, myself. I will definitely talk about the pros and cons of this in another post.

But for today- let’s talk tile!

I decided I would give it a shot. Put the Y in DIY. With the help of my extremely generous brother in law, I attempted my family bathroom.

Here she is, a beautiful random marble mosaic at the Home Depot.

So… I basically picked the most difficult tile to learn on. I always wondered why installers’ quotes were so much higher for mosaic installation… And now I know.

Do not be misled by my eager smile. My brother in law did most of it / all the hard parts. And this was hard! Mosaic marble is #1) heavy. #2) the random design means lots more cuts, and lots more precise cuts to get things to line up. #3) super heavy. Lots of time was spent massaging the tile pieces into the right position, only to notice the tiles would start to sag a bit due their heavy weight if spacers were not placed immediately.

I also did not anticipate how incredibly messy tiling is. The adhesive gets everywhere, and again, being precise I am convinced only comes with years and years of experience perfecting the skill.

I have never ever touched a tile saw before this..I literally held my breath with every. single. cut. Again, I understand why trade quotes for mosaic tiling are so much higher than a regular subway or other standard tile. Due to the random design of this tile there were lots of tiny precise cuts. Which equals LOTS of time and patience.

So in short- am I happy I attempted this? Yes. Am I beyond grateful for my brother in law who came after his regular work day to help me on this? OH YES. Would I recommend someone take this particular tile on as a first time project if you have never cut a tile before / installed a tile before / even knew what tile adhesive looked like / where to find it in the Home Depot? No.

BUT- I do think if you have time and a ton of patience tiling is a skill that can be learned with some guidance. Did I say I am grateful to my brother in law? Cause wowza I am. This took a ton of time. But truthfully, after being instructed how to not cut my fingers off (so scary), and the steps involved in sticking tile to a properly waterproof prepared wall, I feel empowered to take on more. It was a really intimidating project (especially with an incredibly fast rotating blade) and so daunting (I wrapped this tile all the way around the tub surround) but it was worth the effort. I actually can’t wait to get my hands dirty again and take on more. #letsdothis!

Work lights are so sculptural!


Here we are without grout- can you guess what I am doing this weekend?


Thanks to the Home Depot Canada for working with me on my bathroom!



As I approach the home stretch of my #canningreno (you can read more about it here) I thought it might be fun to show you what my house looked like before. Get ready for it… Shield your eyes!



SO this space we decorated- but then never took care of. There used to be three pieces of art- and when one fell down I never put it back. My light fixtures- one broke, and I never fixed it. Note the blue tape holding it up. Not good.



Ugh… So basically these were both a 1960’s mess. And as you can see, normal family with 4 kids crazy mess. My kitchen cabinets chipped every time you opened a door from the 5 layers of paint. And check out the yellow and black in my bathroom!!!!! So not glam.




So this is just embarrassing. As you can see it was basically a hodge lodge of mismatched items, leftovers from projects, and a closet bursting at the seams. I shudder just looking at this (although I love seeing my pregnant belly!)

And finally… Really shield your eyes…



Check out ALL THIS PANELING. We filled an entire dumpster with it! The space has come a long way since these pictures were taken it is crazy to see what it looked like.

There ya have it- crazy times in my crazy house! Can’t wait to share (and move in and live in) the afters!!!!

What projects are you working on this summer? Any crazy paneling in your house? Love to know 🙂


We have had a fun couple of days while my husband attended a conference in Steubenville, Ohio. While not exactly a tourist hot spot area of the US, it was very quaint, refreshingly quiet (I am always surprised at the difference in traffic in cities outside of Toronto) and fun to explore. Here is the quickest of glances at our whirlwind trip:



We visited the Good Zoo in neighbouring West Virginia. Small-ish, manageable zoo with a decent train ride and fun interactive bird feeding area. Best part was the robotic dinosaurs (note my son’s tentative expression! Had to explain they were pretend!) and the expansive model train set.




For 8 months in the late 1700’s Fort Steuben was erected to protect US surveyors from mapping out this area of Ohio. They have reconstructed the fort in great detail and as a bit if a history nerd (and lover of old interiors) we had fun exploring each part of the fort.





Lots of quaint architecture and relics of the past like this sign on the Steuenville High front steps- revealing it as a previous Civic Defence bomb shelter in the 1950’s.

How is your summer going? What fun adventures are you up to?


Dear readers- forgive me. I have been away, and I have missed you. Thanks for bearing with me- as I have been slightly crazy insane busy.

We are sooooooo close to the finish line. After a couple of hiccups with waterproofing, scoping in a second bathroom we did not intend to touch (but bonus I get to decorate something else!) and the other regular insanity that occurs when you renovate with children, we were delayed. But I can finally see the light. And it is a gooood one!

We thought it might be fun to add to the crazy mix lots of travel with summer with our kids. It takes a lot of coordination to travel with small kids, but my attitude is that it’s either work hard at home or work hard in a new location making fun family memories- so we do it- and I am able to get pictures like this:

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I’ve got some really rewarding client projects on the go, plus some production design for TV work that really play to my strengths of strategy and love of getting this done! Here’s a peek of what I’ve been working on:

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Thanks for bearing with me in my absence- blogging gives me so much joy, and I have missed it- and you. How has your summer been so far?



The wallpaper that filled the length of my main floor is now gone. This paper, which I lovingly put up while 8 months pregnant with my second child (I am a crazy lady), and my oldest then toddler at 17-months thought would be hilarious to rip off as soon as I applied (so not funny at the time) came down today. In like a sliver of the time it took to put up.

I loved it in 2010 but am excited to move on in a new direction for my #canningreno in 2014! You can read more about that here.

It took no time at all (about 30 linear feet I got done in 2 hours, done in 30 minute blocks of time whenever I could steal a break between kids and work) and it truthfully was no big deal.

TIP 1: soak the paper like crazy. Like crazy. I used a dish towel cause that is all I had on hand but a massive sponge would be ideal. Wash the paper with lots of water, use more than you think.

TIP 2: work a section at a time. I would move my step ladder every 4-6 feet or so and work in small sections.

TIP 3: be patient and try to get it all in one full piece. After I got the hang of how much water to apply it flew. At first I scraped at little wee bits way more than I needed to- once I figured out more water was better it flew.

Cannot wait to get the new paper up and get this reno finished!!!!

What reno projects are you tackling this summer? Let me know in the comments!


Here I am in 2007 at the first house I ever designed on HGTV’s Marriage Under Construction.
When I first started out in the business of interior design I had very little confidence. With no formal training, other than the experience of designing and hosting on an HGTV show, I was just going for it- trying things out, making mistakes, working really hard until it felt right, looked right, made people happy.

I would say I did not feel confident as a designer until 2010- so 3 years into my business, after several client projects and after designing behind the scenes on 3 television shows (best experience was on For Rent, where our team designed 26 rooms in 8 months, in 2 countries). I would describe this confidence development in a few ways: a) I could make decisions faster. I could picture the end result and experience had taught me what patterns would work with what, what materials would be best, etc. b) I could express myself to clients / staff more clearly and articulately. Instead of saying “this is going to look so cute!” and then have to work for hours to build a plan to prove it would be cute, experience had taught me the right vernacular to be able to get staff to execute my plan, clients to understand my vision on the spot, and really, to create spaces that look a lot more than just cute (although I admittedly use that word a lot. Super cute, so cute, super super cute… )

And finally c) I valued myself and my time more. By year 3 of my business I knew I was committed to doing this for a living, that it gave me life and joy and I was good at it. I invested in business coaching that helped me understand my worth and communicate said worth to others.

Note that nothing above mentioned other people saying they liked my work (although let’s keep it real getting published and receiving compliments is always nice).

The issue of confidence has been a lot on my mind lately as I have embarked on the audacious project of my #canningreno. I have questioned my confidence a lot. Am I picking the right finishes, am I spending money the best way, will this all look good in the end etc. etc. And while sometimes my confidence wavers I remind myself: I love doing this. I have worked hard to get good at it. Creating spaces that help people live better lives brings me joy.

What do you do to build your confidence? How do you hone your craft? Love to know in the comments below.


My fried and colleague Meredith Heron asked me recently how my #canningreno is going. I responded, quite honestly, that I am the worst client ever. Like, the worst. Mainly because I keep changing my mind about finishes for my house ALL. THE. TIME.

Thankfully, we are approaching drywall stage so I am being forced to make a decision about things. But one thing that I have known I have wanted as the basis of the design of my house is this:

Meet Audrey by Graham and Brown. She is pretty. So pretty. I like that she is a little bit classic, but slightly edgy. And there’s going to be a lot of her going on in my house.

I explain this to clients all the time- it’s important to start somewhere. Start with a fabric, or a rug choice, or even an amazing print on a dress that makes you feel like a million bucks when you wear it. Let something inform the design for a cohesive look.

In other news, big thanks to Jacklyn and Michelle who invited me to be a part of their media panel at the first #communique101 PR conference at the Spoke Club this week. It was a fabulous event chatting with new entrepreneurs.


Like in design, when running a business you also have to commit- what is your value, what do you offer the market place that is unique and exciting?

I hope everyone has had a great week- and an even more fabulous weekend.

Photos courtesy of Graham and Brown and Jacklyn Denise


Canning kids Buffalo selfie!

Happy Memorial Day to my US readers! I am happy to report I contributed to the US economy this Memorial Day weekend (aka I went shopping) via a quick road trip to Buffalo, New York.

The family and I decided somewhat impromptu to take a quick trip south. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in downtown Buffalo, which was super clean, friendly staff, with free breakfast and happy hour snacks / cocktails (cocktails are always so appreciated).




The kids and I decided to explore downtown Buffalo on a Saturday afternoon- and architectural highlights we saw in the form of old, character filled buildings. But people- and stuff to do- we did not. I learned pretty quickly that downtown Buffalo isn’t exactly a happening place- so our little exploration afternoon consisted of riding the free trolley 3 stops south and then 3 stops north 🙂


The highlight for me was exploring the nearby Fatima shrine in Lewiston, New York. The kids had lovely time exploring the grounds, finding their patron saints, and getting the vitamin D we have waited so patiently for!!! And the grounds basically confirmed I need to have a pond in the backyard of my next house (no wait- I did not just say that! My #canningreno needs to end and then I am never moving…)

I hope my US readers are all having a wonderful long weekend! How did you soak up the sun?


This weekend we had some guests over so I went through my usual get ready in a frenzy clean up routine. It felt amazing to have clean surfaces, disinfected floors, flowers on the table.

The amount of effort I went through made me realize that I wished I was a guest in my own house! Why only save all the pomp for guests? So I am going to make the goal, although somewhat ambitious with a house with 4 very small people in it, to as much as possible, feel like a guest in my own house. Here are my new found top tips for hosting guests / making yourself feel like I guest that I will carry over to my house after my #canningreno is completed, and actually stick to (I promise!)

Every day, I promise to do a 15-minute tidy. I am going to keep an attractive basket in my living room (and when I say basket I mean BIG TIME wire bin) that will be the catch all for all the toys, papers, crap that does not belong in my pretty living room- the basket will get hauled around to all the appropriate rooms where things have a place to live. Maybe if I am lucky I will make encourage my children to do their share!
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I find cleaning such a chore (tell me I am not alone?) So it makes me so happy when I have products like my Rowenta Delta Force Extreme Lithium 18V Stick Vacuum that make cleaning easy with its cordless capability. And somehow I feel stylish doing it when it is this happy shade of teal. And I try to stay natural with the cleaning products with brands like Method or Seventh Generation. I am also going to make a schedule for cleaning and put it as an appointment in my iPhone. With a really loud obnoxious alarm!
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My #riverdalereno clients, without fail, have had fresh flowers in their home every time I have gone over since they moved in. I don’t care how much this costs, even if it’s $10 tulips at the grocery store- they just feel special. Maybe I will even take up floral arranging classes?!?!?!
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I want to eat with cloth napkins, not paper towel ripped up haphazard. I would love to drink out of beautiful mugs or tea cups and actually try to enjoy my cuppa rather than leave it to get cold on a shelf. The same way the guests get the gorgeous plates- let’s make everyday gorgeous plate day.

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How do you make your guests feel special? And what do you do to feel special too?







Hat & pants: Gap. Jacket: Bluenotes. Scarf: Ardene(!) Bracelet: Niki and Lola. Shoes: Michael Kors. Purse: Indigo.

It’s the long weekend in Canada and I spent the majority of it relaxing with my family- tomorrow I will squeeze in some work but for today it’s still the weekend! Woooooo hoo!

I have wanted a big floppy hat like this one forever. I love how it screams summer and hats are just so much fun. And can we talk about this bracelet? It is a piece of art, and handcrafted by a talented husband and wife team from right here in Toronto. And these pants! I couldn’t resist the whimsy and energy printed pants bring to any outfit (or room, for that matter).

How are you spending this long weekend? I hope whatever you are doing it is fabulous.