Wednesday, October 16, 2019

One Room Challenge Fall 2019 ~ Week 3

Hello Wednesday and welcome to Week 3 of One Room Challenge.  I truly have no idea where the time went and it's hard to imagine my rooms will be done in 2 weeks with finishing touches and ready to be photographed for the final reveal on Nov 7!

Week 1 / 2

I am sure many of us are feeling the heat right now but thanks to #OneRoomChallenge, we are one big supportive community both to inspire and to support each other in our makeovers.  Luckily I also have a dream contractor, Eagleview Construction (if you are in the Waterloo / Kitchener area), to keep all the madness under control so I could actually be here right now to share my project progress!

For those who have been following along, the first thing we tackled was installing the beautiful natural grasscloth wallpaper in the office / guest bedroom.  I have sourced a good number of samples (roughly 25) before decided on this beauty from the Magnolia Home collection by York Wallcoverings.  Here are by top three reasons of using grasscloth wallpaper:
  • 100% natural material: less chemical and since grass is a fast growing plant, this product is also planet friendly
  • instant luxury: magically elevate an ordinary room to a designer show piece
  • sophisticated glam: no other material can compare the shimmery effect of grasscloth in beautiful natural light 
Now let's talk about what I have learned from my 14-hour wallpaper installation marathon.

Step 1: make sure you have enough wallpaper to complete the job  

I measured the room a few times before I placed my wallpaper order.  However, the big windows, the bulkheads, and the corners made it very hard to nail down exactly how much we needed.  I thought I could get away with 5 double rolls (especially when there is no pattern match wastage with grasscloth) but my installer came for a quick look and said "you better get one extra roll just in case".  

If you happen to be in the same situation, make sure you contact your wallpaper provider with the batch number.  That way, they could order you the extra rolls from the same batch, and the color dialog would be a perfect match.   

Step 2: prep work

It's important to make sure the walls are smoothed out prior to the installation.  The walls may all look perfect to the eyes but if your hands could feel any imperfection, you probably want to smooth that out.

Getting the right wallpaper glue is also key to a successful installation.  Wallpaper comes in various weights depending on the materials and some require more heavy duty glue than what is available in your local big box store.  Be sure to read the instruction sheet comes with your wallpaper, especially the caution section.

Step 3: pick the first strip + how to cut it

Because visible seams are unavoidable when it comes to grasscloth wallpaper, the installer and I had talked about which wall I want to be the most "seamless" and then worked backward to determine where the first strip of paper should be placed.  In my case, the first strip actually went on the least visible wall (the wall behind the door) and with the 36" wide wallpaper, the first few seams actually landed right where the walls or door casing intersect.

Another item to consider is how to install the paper.  You could line them up next to each other and push them tight to each other to minimize seams.  You could also do the "double cut" technique where you would overlap the paper by a couple of inches, use a super sharp blade to put though the paper, pull off the cut paper from both layers and just like magic, you have created the perfect seam.

We experimented with both options and I went with "double cut" for a clean, crisp look.

Oh and one more thing, keeping the strips straight are utmost important as you really don't want the horizontal lines of your grasscloth wallpaper to look slanted.  Invest in a laser level if you are installing it yourself (you can use it for a wide variety of home projects) ... it's far easier than using the handheld level.

Step 4: tight corners

Inner corners, outer corners, bulkheads, windowsills, we have them all in one room and since I decided to cover the entire room with grasscloth, my installer had to deal with them all.  One thing about grasscloth wallpaper is that it's quite "stiff", meaning it was "not easy" for my installer to wrap around all the obstacles in the room.  

A quick YouTube search landed me with a life saver trick: cloth steamer! Handle with care, and I recommend testing it out first to see how the paper holds up to the steam and heat before going full force on installation.  I was so relieved this trick worked because my installer was ready to throw in the towel by the time he tackled the second window.  

All the hard work, sweat, and steam are so worth it because the room looks absolutely luminous.  I wouldn't be able to achieve the same result with just one feature wall.  Happily Chris agreed and was blown away the moment he stepped into the room ... the morning after.  

I was so excited I even tried out the wall out with my fabulous new art!

Now let's talk about the ensuite bathroom.  We've made great progress last week thanks to my superstar contractor.  The walls were all closed up (after a quick plumping fix), the shower niche was framed, and the entire shower received a coat of bright blue waterproofing.  The stage was set for tiling.   

I opted for large scale tiles for the entire shower to create a calm and serene look.  They were quite difficult to install and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  To play up the fun factor (and to add a little pattern to the space), I got creative with the use of simple stone tiles for a two-tone checker pattern: high visual impact with a reasonable price tag.  

In the light of day, this shower looks sensational and it's exactly how I had envisioned it.  The niche will need its surround (made out of Montauk from HanStone) and I can't wait to see the luxurious DXV Modulus shower system installed.

That's it for Week 3 and it's a tough one.  So much still to do over the next 2 weeks but we can do it featured designers and fellow guest participants! See you all in Week 4!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

One Room Challenge Fall 2019 ~ Week 2

Hello Wednesday and welcome to Week 2 of One Room Challenge.  Time truly flies when you try to get everything done at once and managing logistics (and a calm mind with no blood pressure issue) is key to surviving the six weeks timeline. 

I am happy to report back that the beautiful wallpaper has gone up on the weekend and it looks sensational.  The office is looking 100% better already and I will be back on wallpaper 101 next week. The Bathroom is prepped for tiling and once that's done, the custom glass shower enclosed will be measured pronto and countertop, surrounds of the niche will also be template by the stone fabricator. 

NO PRESSURE ... it feels more like no room for error!  After completing four ORC in the past, I should be able to do this .... at least that's what I keep repeating myself.

Joking aside, today is all about specific design elements I am incorporating into the home office / guest bedroom and the ensuite bathroom.  Let's start with the home office: 

image via Studio McGee
I wasn't kidding in Week 1 when I said we got a blank canvas from the builder in late summer.  It took 5 years for us to get to this point (the joy of preconstruction project) and the dust is just starting to settled ... literally.

Originally listed as the master bedroom, Chris is determined to make it his home office / guest bedroom the moment he saw the two incredibly bright windows and the spectacular views.  Keeping in mind that this will have to function as a master bedroom one day when we move, here is how I ensure all the investments we make today on customization could also become the selling features as someone's restful sanctuary in the future:

The cabinetry is designed to provide functional storage as a home office / guest bedroom but it can also be reimagined as beautiful wardrobe system. A dreamy combination of white wood veneer and solid white oak with slats detail will crown this room. What makes Chris really excited you ask? The 88" long solid white oak desk in waterfall style!

An investment indeed but we will celebrate the reward of a stunning custom vanity and wardrobe solution (far better than any builder would put in new condo projects) for years to come. 

image via Gubi
Montana Labelle wows me every single time with her every IG posts (you need to follow her if you are not yet a fan), and her home office project totally convinced me to grasscloth wallpaper the entire room.  The visual impact and the depth of the space could only be achieved through the shimmering grasscloth.  

image via Montana Labelle
Another design element I can't wait to see in real life is the arched open display unit for an otherwise not very usable space (sort of the dead corner of the room ... cabinetry speaking).  Inspired by the timeless arches everywhere AND what a gorgeous view by Studio McGee, fingers crossed my version will come to life as I'd imagined it in my head.

image via Studio McGee
Now lets talk about the bathroom.

Since the bathroom is really the ensuite to the master, it is important the two rooms feel connected with similar aesthetics + quality of finishes but different personalities and functionalities.  Here is our humble beginning (glad that the builder could hand the bathroom to us at this stage ... no need for demo and less wasteful) and I am loving the slim, streamline toilet from American Standard.  

The bathroom of my dreams features a monochromatic palette accented with beautiful natural white oak.  Key elements in this luxurious bathroom include: 
I fell in love with the Modulus collection from DXV at IDS Toronto: the Zen inspired design, the impeccable construction and material finishes, and the round silhouette echoes the arched detail in the office!    

Luxury can be achieved in many ways in a bathroom.  However if I could only use one element for for instant luxe, it's a wall mounted faucet.  In my opinion, the wall mounted faucet looks elegant, it frees up valuation countertop space, and you most certainly don't see it in every new condo (not even through builder upgrade).     

Natalie Chong of Nest Design Studio is another talented Toronto designer I absolutely love.  My takeaways from this fantastic bathroom are: mix metal finishes, substantial mitered countertop edge, matte black accent throughout.  Can you spot the similar approach in my design board? Thanks Natalie!  

image via Nest Design Studio
Only 4 more weeks to Reveal day (which means only 3 more weeks to go before styling for photography).  Best of luck to us all One Room Challengers and be sure to also check out the 20 Featured Designers and Guest Participants for Week 2 progress!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

One Room Challenge Fall 2019 ~ Week 1

Hello Thursday and welcome to Week 1 of One Room Challenge! Twice a year, over 200 designers, decorators get together to transform one space into the room of their dreams.  For this upcoming challenge, I will be tackling a home office / guest bedroom with an adjacent bathroom (freshly handed over from the builder) all within six short weeks.

You would think by now I should be less nervous on this 6-week process after transforming a few spaces in the past challenges:

As much as I've tried to get ahead on prep schedule, the reality of a preconstruction project is that delays are both unpredictable and unavoidable.  We were setback by the discovery of leaks in a couple of rooms after a horrendous rainfall, construction / cabinetry errors that needed attention, and two firmed closing dates later, we finally got the keys to the unit!

Fingers crossed it's all going smoothly from here on now that we have contracted a fantastic local renovation team to look after the trades / project logistics, so yours truly just need to make sure all the materials required for the project are onsite when required.  

So today, I am sharing with you some of my favourite home offices and bathrooms from previous One Room Challenge.  I absolutely love this stylish and serene home office and I couldn't agree more with the sign: Remember Why You Started!  

image via Waiting on Martha
A solid desk surface, plenty of functional storage, and an inspiring display area are my key requirements in a home office.  I love the modern aesthetic and Scandinavian appeal of this work space, especially with the use of natural wood table top, chic black and white floral backdrop, and a touch of camel.        

image via Making Joy & Pretty Things
I've always tried to make my spaces "multi-tasked".  As this home office will also double as a cozy lounge spot + relaxing guest bedroom, I looked to my last ORC makeover for inspiration, particularly in the d├ęcor and artwork department.   

From inspiration to design concept, here is my vision for the home office / guest bedroom:

Originally a master bedroom, this office comes with an ensuite bathroom and we will be tackling it at the same time.  Because we have two bathrooms in this condo, I have the opportunity to leave the ensuite unfinished when we got our keys.  I want this bathroom to feel serene, relaxed, and luxurious through the use of materials and intricate design details.  Here are a few key elements I would love to incorporate in my bathroom: 

Black Sophistication: I love how the strategically use of black accent adds personality and sophistication to a light and airy space.    

image via Casey Keasler
Tile Play: creative use of simple tile to stunning effect ... all you need is a little creativity and safe huge on the pocket book. 

image via Design Manifest
image via Ollie Pop Design
Simply Luxury:  as little as a handcrafted soap dish and small patched furniture, their presence completely elevates the luxe factor in any spaces.

And here is my game plan in my true plain Jane bathroom: 

Six short weeks and my renovation is scheduled to start next week.  This will be the tightest One Room Challenge timeline I have ever embarked in ... wish me luck!  Be sure to also check out the 20 Featured Designers and Guest Participants!

Monday, July 29, 2019

#ProjectGarment ~ Balcony Edition

Hello Wednesday and I am so excited to be back!  The past couple of months have been incredibly busy with work + lots of site visits and other considerations at the new condo.  A delay in closing on our unit means Chris has been living in a temporary home for the past couple of months.  With August being just around the corner, we decided to embrace our temporary living arrangement and transform the balcony into our summer oasis with lots of fabulous finds from HomeSense.  

Before I show you the before and after (by the way it only took me less than an hour to put it all together), let's check out the beautiful plant selection.  Keeping it all simple and low maintenance, we opted for hearty herbs (rosemary, basil), some strawberry and tomato plants, and a couple of trending Mandevilla for vibrant blooms.

Of course I also couldn't resist and scored myself two white lavender plants.  A little side story on that:  I spied a white lavender at Igor's balcony in Munich (via IG) and wished I could find it in Toronto.  Literally a few days later when I walked by a little flower shop and there they were, 2 white lavender plants!  The store lady told me it was her first time receiving white lavenders and she only had 6. Someone picked up four plants the day before and I snatched her last two.  They are perennials so I will try to keep them healthy and happy in my planters but may plant them in the ground at the end of the season.

Back to the makeover, here is the bare but spacious balcony at our current living arrangement:

And here is how it looks like in 45 minutes! 

To be fair, I have most of the items at home already since we were going to move into our new place a couple of months ago.  From chic planters to the amazing bistro set (Samantha Pynn Collection) + the coastal inspired floor cushion and rug, I simply couldn't be happier with how it turns out.  

AND YES, they are all from HomeSense!  Another view of the Before and After: 

I love real plants.  I may not be able to keep them super happy but I am surely happy to see them throughout the summer, specially on those raining days.  This summer I have tapped more into the edible / fruit producing category and prove that you can still nurture them without a garden.  In this case, they all sit in their original containers and I just pop them in planters.  Easy peasy and I am ready for a glass of cider on the rocks!  

The star of our outdoor oasis is the stylish yet easy to care outdoor bistro set.  Its aesthetic reminds me of the beautiful afternoon I spent in Vienna last summer.  The black and white weave is solidly constructed and the chairs are so comfortable! I love the faux bamboo look without the maintenance of real bamboo (especially in our climate) and the side table comes with a glass top as well for easy cleaning.  

I am thrilled with how the space turned and it is hard to believe this makeover was really completed in less than an hour with all the items I already have in the house!

Hope you love this balcony makeover as much as I do and now are you ready to give your outdoor space a facelift?

This is not a sponsored post.  HomeSense has provided the Bistro Set.