How to choose the right kitchen contractor in 5 simple steps

Photo credit Jeff LeMoine
Photo by J. LeMoine

“We’ve known since we moved in that the kitchen had to go,” said Jeff LeMoine.

Jeff, a long-time friend and colleague, is about to embark on a massive kitchen renovation in his 2-storey, Brampton home.

“I would describe my kitchen as square. It doesn’t flow well. It’s impossible for two people to be cooking in the kitchen at the same time without stabbing each other,” joked Jeff.

“It’s pretty tight. We want to open it up, turn it into a central place in the house where everyone can hangout comfortably together,” added Jeff.

Photo credit - Jeff LeMoine
Photo by J. LeMoine

The renovation is a gut job and includes replacing the floors, cabinets, ceiling and everything else in between. When all is said and done the ‘country-style kitchen with a modern twist’ will be double in size.

“This has been a real learning experience for us. We’ve been talking about it for two years now.” The much-anticipated demolition will begin in April and fingers crossed, the kitchen makeover will be completed in two months.

It’s been a long road for Jeff and his family, but he has this advice if you are about to take on a kitchen renovation.

  • Take your time, don’t rush any decisions.
  • Ask a lot of questions, check the contractor’s references and their work.
  • Meet face-to-face with each contractor.
  • Be patient and open with your significant other. (You’re not always going to get what you want, unless you’re Jeff’s wife.)
  • Budget extra time and money for the project.

For more kitchen renovating tips, check out these recommendations from Consumer Reports:

Have I missed any tips? What’s your advice for picking a contractor?


A cherished toy turns into a collection

Like many other little boys growing up in the 70s, my husband loved playing with his cherished Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars. His nana would surprise him with one car (sometimes more) on special occasions. Whether it was on his birthday, Christmas Day or a day he lost a tooth, he fondly remembers each event marked with a toy car.

Toy Cars
Toy Cars

Those toy cars turned into a collection. Not just any collection. Hundreds of toy cars from England filling four blue carrying cases dating back over the span of 40 years.

For years, those cars sat in the carrying cases, collecting dust. From time to time, he would break out the collection for his nephews to play with.

Today, his five favourites now sit in shadow boxes in our home office.

On Display
On Display

Here’s what you need to display your collection:

  1. Scissors
  2. Five shadow boxes
  3. Thin metal wire
  4. Five printed maps
  5. Cardboard
  6. Hammer
  7. V-nails

DIY Directions:

  1. Cut maps and cardboard to fit into the shadow boxes.
  2. Use the scissors to punch four small holes in the centre of each map and cardboard. Place toy car in the centre of the map and wrap metal wire around the car to hold in place.
  3. Place map with car in shadow box. Repeat for each frame.
  4. Choose a display location, hammer the v-nails into the wall equal distance apart and hang each frame. Voila! Your toy car collection is now on display.


Check out Real Simple for interesting and unique ways to display seashells, sock monkey dolls, salt and pepper shakers and other collectibles.

Let me know how you’ve displayed your collections? I’m always looking for creative and stylish ways to show off my treasures.

Which room in your home would you make bigger? Vote now!

Five easy steps to styling your shelves

Styling Shelves
Tips for Styling Shelves

Divide up your books and stack them on different shelves either horizontally or vertically. Use unique bookends to add visual interest to the shelves. Take a look at how Style at Home Design Editor Christine Hanlon put a simple twist on this concept and covered books in natural paper.

Add picture frames to the shelves. Choose different shapes and sizes. I like to use black or silver picture frames with a white matt board in a grouping.

Place baskets, boxes or tins scattered on shelves and store items, such as photos or other odds and ends. Stick to a similar style such as these simple, white storage boxes from IKEA to help unify the space.

Pick your favourite collectibles and display a few on each shelf. Don’t have any collectibles? Use vases, jars and figurines. Check out Bouclair for a mix of reasonably priced decorative accents.

Lastly, use a tray to group items together and help keep your shelves looking neat and tidy.

Let me know if I left anything off my list?

The results are in!

Here’s how you voted in the weekly design polls.

If money was no object, where would you spend your decorating dollars?

50% Kitchen

33 % All of the above (Kitchen, Bathroom, Living Room & Master Bedroom)

17% Bathroom

What are your favourite paint colours?

Paint Colours

17% Greens & Yellows

17% Others

When decorating a room, where do you splurge?


20% Light Fixtures

20% Area Rugs

Did you vote in my weekly poll? Stay tuned for the next survey.

Pretty in Pink Easter Décor ideas

Easter is two months away, but you would think it was just around the corner by the home décor displays at Winners.

While most of us are likely wishing winter was behind us, the first day of spring is still 40 days away.  In the meantime, why not brighten up your home and escape the February blahs with whimsical bunny rabbits, charming Easter baskets and pink or blue dishes.

Easter dishes
Easter Decor
Easter decor
Pink Easter Bunnies
Easter decor
Easter Egg Basket

Not ready to commit to Easter décor, yet? Try bringing spring indoors with pale-coloured flowers, porcelain doves, milky white figurines or decorative bird cages.

Spring flowers
Spring flowers

Have you had enough of winter? Are you ready to hang up your winter coat and trade in your boots for sandals?

How to get creative with your condo space

When Albert Pasceri moved into his one-bedroom, North York condo, he was faced with a storage issue. The first-time condo owner quickly realized the kitchen cabinets in his 700-square-foot space were not enough.

With little room to store canned goods and everyday dishes, Albert set out in search of a solution.

“A small space encourages you to be more creative. I had to look for other ideas for storage,” said Albert.

So, he decided on four open shelves in the kitchen to store and display mugs and bowls. This easy and inexpensive option also freed up other space in the existing kitchen cabinets.

With only a small nook in the kitchen, Albert would have to get creative to fit a narrow pantry.

“I took two red IKEA medicine cabinets and attached one on top of the other. Then I added legs and just like that I created a custom pantry to fit my space,” added Albert.

Customized Pantry
Customized Pantry, Photo by A. Pasceri

Another challenge he faced was what he described as a “builder’s quirk”. Light switches and an electrical box in the recently built condo were placed in the middle of walls instead of off to the side.

He wanted a place to store his keys and mail, as well as hang a mirror, but a light switch placed in the centre of the entranceway wall forced him to alter his plans. A solid mirror wouldn’t work because of the light switch. The solution was a strip mirror by UMBRA. The seven strips allowed Albert to customize his entranceway mirror and cleverly address the light switch obstacle.

Since the entranceway is narrow, he opted for two floating ‘L-shaped’ shelves to hold his keys, wallet and spare change.

Entranceway Mirror & Shelves
Entranceway Mirror & Shelves, Photo by A. Pasceri

When decorating a small space, Albert recommends the following tips:

  • Use a low tack painter’s tape on your floors to map out your furniture and help visualize what each room will look like before you buy.
  • Measure your space before you go shopping. Don’t forget to also measure the doorways to avoid bringing home furniture that doesn’t fit through the front door.
  • Look up in your condo and use your vertical space to create more storage.
  • Be creative and customize pieces to add your personal style to the room.

For more storage solutions and style ideas check out 11 tricks to add style to your kitchen by

Do you live in a condo? Have you ever had to get creative when it came to storage? What are some of the decorating challenges you’ve faced?

When decorating a room, where do you splurge?