Six ways to spruce up an old kitchen

New Kitchen
New Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether small or large, old or new, it is where family and friends gather to share dinners, celebrate special occasions and make lasting memories.

After three decades of cooking in the same kitchen in her Etobicoke bungalow, my mother decided the hub of her home needed a “refresh”. Without breaking the bank, she was able to update her dated kitchen in two weeks.

Kitchen Refresh
Kitchen Refresh

Here are six ways to spruce up your old kitchen:

  1. Replace your old and worn kitchen countertop with a new quartz one. Quartz countertops are durable and easy to keep spotless.
  2. Remove dated backsplash with a more contemporary mosaic or glass tile. Check out these tiles from Home Depot.
  3. Install a stainless steel undermount sink. Consider a double sink for multi-tasking.
  4. Choose a functional kitchen faucet, but keep style and finish in mind.
  5. A fresh coat of paint can change the look and feel of the kitchen.
  6. Lastly, accessorize with new tea towels, placemats, oven mitts and artwork from HomeSense.

How would you reinvent your kitchen space?

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The votes have been tallied!

Here’s how you voted in the design polls:

How would you describe your style?

Preview

16 % Coastal

16 % French Country

16 % Other

What would you add to your backyard if space was not an issue?

IMG_0174

20 % Deck

20 % Outdoor Fireplace

20 % All of the above

Which room in your home would you make bigger?

Three-way tie between Master Bedroom, Kitchen and Mudroom.

Did you vote in my latest poll? 

Change the look of your living room in an afternoon

The fireplace mantel in my living room was feeling a little bland. It was in need of a refresh. So, I now had a project for Saturday afternoon. I hit Moss on the Danforth in search of accent pieces.

I found these two stainless steel lanterns. They’re modern looking, but evoke the feeling you get during of a seaside vacation. Just what I was looking for. I added two white candles to finish the look.

Coastal Lanterns
Coastal Lanterns

I headed home. No need to spend any more money. I have a kitchen shelf full of vases. I pull out three similar glass vases. These will do just fine. Now, I’m on a mission for seashells and rocks to keep with the modern coastal design. I know I have both from a trip down south years ago.

Seashells
Seashells

I fill the vases and add them to the mantel. I stumble across more filler in the dining room credenza. (You just never know where you’ll find filler.) I head back to the kitchen where I keep my tea lights and candle holders. I grab two of each.

Tea Lights
Tea Lights

 

I add each of the items to the mantel, but something is still missing. I make my way up to my home office. A quick scan of the room and I spot a small, silver clock and a white, dove figurine. They’re the finishing touches I was looking for. I think I’m all set.

 

Small Clock
Small Clock

 

After rearranging the items a few times, I step back and exam the display. I call up my husband from the basement, where he was watching TV, to give me his opinion. And there you have it. I spent very little money and two hours on a Saturday afternoon to change the look of my fireplace mantel.

Fireplace Mantel Display
Fireplace Mantel Display

 

What do you think? Any other quick and inexpensive home projects you can do in one afternoon?

Six tricks to help de-clutter your bathroom

Is your bathroom small, cramped and disorganized? Well, you’re not alone. Better Homes and Gardens has the following storage solutions for tiny bathrooms:

Here are my space-saving ideas:

If possible, try to incorporate storage into the design of your bathroom. Add built-in shelves to your shower to hold your soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and razor. Check out Leslie Rocha’s clever use of an “L” shaped, shower shelf (photographed below) in her recently renovated bathroom.

Bathroom Storage, Photo by L.Rocha
Bathroom Storage, Photo by L.Rocha

Install floating shelves above the toilet for additional storage or to display decorative items. Use a tray to keep similar and small items together or display items in clear containers such as soaps, brushes or swabs.

Floating Shelf
Floating Shelf

Consider a mirrored medicine cabinet for make-up and other toiletries. IKEA has many different styles to choose from.

A vanity is a great way to hide cleaning supplies. Stack bins on the shelves or hang organizers on the cabinet doors to keep items neat and tidy. Check out the latest trends on bathroom vanities from Interior Designer Jane Lockhart.

Place pretty baskets or bins on the floor or on shelves to store extra rolls of toilet paper or clean towels.

For additional storage, add a stylish shelf above the bathroom door to help keep loose items out of sight.

There never seems to be enough space in my bathroom? How do you de-clutter your bathroom?

Read this before you redo your bathroom

Leslie Rocha and her husband are renovating their 1,500 square foot, semi-detached home north of Danforth Avenue. The couple’s first project was a one-month bathroom remodel.

“We started from scratch. It was a full gut job. The renovation included new plumbing, reconfiguring the layout, expanding the footprint and installing a new window,” said Leslie.

The house was built-in the 1920s and with older homes it has its share of challenges.

“The first challenge was the plumbing. We had to relocate pipes in the bathroom to make it work. Then the stack was in the way so, we had to design around it and decided to cover it. We also removed the low ceiling in the shower to allow for more natural light and to open up the space. The flow of the bathroom was cramped, so we decided to extend it by a foot into the third bedroom,” added Leslie.

After living in a construction zone for over a month, dealing with contractors and a messy house, the couple ended up with their “dream” bathroom.

The renovation was a learning experience for the newlyweds. In the months to come they will start to redesign the main floor of their home, but before they do they have these bathroom renovating tips to share:

1. Plan it out thoroughly. “We spent three months researching and planning out every single detail. We left extra money in the budget, so that we would have some wiggle room in case of unexpected surprises especially with such an old house.”

2. Pay attention to the small details. “Think about where you want to place the vents and outlets. Our contractor put an outlet above the sink and on the same wall as the mirror. Looking back now, it should have been placed on the opposite wall.”

New Vanity & Lights
New Vanity & Lights, Photo by L. Rocha

3. Look at your lifestyle and your needs. “I love the bathtub, but in the future it may be difficult to bathe our kids once we start a family.”

New Bathtub & Window
New Bathtub & Window, Photo by L. Rocha

4. Make it as functional as possible. “You want to have enough room to store your everyday essentials.” For more tips, consider these suggestions from the Style at Home experts.

Tell me are you thinking about updating the look of your bathroom? What’s the one must-have item?

If space wasn’t an issue, what would you add to your backyard?

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?

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?

Furniture

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?