Shutter Bug

Check out our latest venture – the styling of a photo shoot and photography for Cottage Industry. We had a wonderful morning gadding about the store shopping for wonderful pieces to style the shots with. Craig was the photographer, Jennifer head-stylist, and I, the assistant to both.

The focus of the shoot was the new John Robshaw bedding line they now carry in the store; now one of a few gorgeous bedding lines they have. We had a blast and can’t wait to do it again.

Which photo is your favourite?

Reveal – Client’s Bedroom

“Finish it off” – this was the request from this client. This bedroom was halfway to being finished but not quite there. The wall colour, bed and bedding were in place but the extra touches had yet to be added.

An admirer of art deco, this client wanted that feel to her bedroom. We started with the custom headboard. The shape of the headboard offers visual interest while the plush cotton/bamboo fabric offers texture and luxuriousness to the room. The subtle grey piping helps connect the headboard to the bedding and the curtains. The bedskirt is made from the same fabric as the headboard making the bed appear as one unit – the focal point. With left over fabric we had a small kidney pillow made to complete the look.

With design there can be disappointment and frustration. For this project, it was the bedside tables. After looking high and low we decided to splurge on the perfect bedside tables. They were mirrored all over with a fine, tapered leg and angles that matched the repeating theme throughout the room. Bedside tables ordered, great. Bedside tables paid for, great. Bedside tables delivered, not so great. Too big. Much too big. Now, you ask, how did this happen? Well, unfortunately the measurements in the catalogue were not correct and the tables that arrived were much too large. We all spent a few days trying to convince ourselves they were ok but in the end we had to be honest with ourselves and admit they had to go back. Devastating.

The bedside tables you see, however, work perfectly. These vintage tables offer the perfect mix of practicality and interest. Their vintage shape works well with the room as does the colour they were painted. The creamy colour, with a hint of yellow, works well with the rest of the room. Complete devastation averted. The angular lamps on top are practical and offer  an excellent pop of colour.

The dresser was purchased from a second hand store and it too was painted. It is just a shade darker than the colour  on the wall. The new hardware mimics the angles found in the headboard and on the finials of the curtain rod. Oh, the curtains. These beauties are from Cottage Industry and give a grand feeling to the room. Other accessories in the room include a new, mosaic mirror and a grouping of wall hangings. These DIY wall hangings are scrap book paper popped into inexpensive, sharp looking frames.

Finished. The room is now finished, and the client has a beautiful, stylish and comfortable room to enjoy.

A few pictures of the room before:

And now some ‘afters’:

Reveals – Take Two

In preparation of listing our house to sell (for more details, click here) we decided to make some changes to the interior to focus more on the space and structure rather than the items, and paint colours, in it.

Perhaps one of the easiest, but most dramatic, changes was the paint colour in the entryway and hall. We change the wall colour from a Kelly green to a classic taupe. We were truly shocked with the change and how much brighter and larger the space seemed and how much more alive the floors and lights fixtures became. We left the mirror that was there, but painted black and switched out the marble top desk for a classic gate leg table.



Next up was the living room. The biggest change in this room was the major edit of everything in it. Most of the accessories and wall hangings were removed and the 7ft French Provincial couch was switched out for a more contemporary and versatile sofa (from Hambly’s). Otherwise, I think the changes in the room speak for themselves. What do you think?



The man-den. Oh, the man-den. It’s gone. No more bear skin rug. No more antlers. No more deep purple. Like the living room, this room was also heavily edited so as to showcase it’s size, versatility and brightness. The walls were painted a lovely light green that goes well with the neutral furniture.



The upstairs bathroom received a fresh coat of paint. The steel grey is more calming, more versatile than the previous colour. It works well with the counter-top, fixtures and accessories. Grey is such a lovely, inviting and versatile colour. One of our favourites.



So, comments appreciated. What do you think of the changes to 292?

Caveat Emptor

I grew up going to auctions and yard sales, and spent many a weekend afternoon out ‘running the roads’ with my mother and grandmother, a copy of the Saturday newspaper in hand and a picnic lunch in the back seat of the car.  In fact, I still remember the first thing I purchased on my own at an auction.

It was a house auction in a small community about ten minutes from where I grew up.  It was a beautiful summer morning, and the contents of the house were outside on the lawn for all the auction goers to view.  I can’t remember how old I was (perhaps 13 or 14) but for some reason I had money that was burning a hole in my pocket, and I ended up buying an old steamer trunk for $16.  Inside the trunk were a few odds and ends, including an old cast iron Christmas tree stand, and a small knife in a wooden sheath that was shaped like a fish.  It was the trunk that I wanted, and all of the other items just happened to go along with it.

As we were all leaving the auction that afternoon, a man came up to me who had seen me buy the trunk and asked if I was interested in selling him the knife with the wooden sheath.  Having no interest in it I told him ‘sure’, and said that I would sell it to him for $15.  He hummed and hahed, and we negotiated back and forth.  In the end he paid me $12 for the knife, and I walked away that day with a steamer trunk that I ended up only spending $4 for.  I was hooked.

Many people are wary of auctions, and others find them boring.  I, on the other hand, could stand around all day listening to the auctioneer’s chant.  For those of you that are wary, here are some practical rules to follow when buying antiques (or anything for that matter) from an auction.

Rule #1 – Pick it up

First of all, if it’s an accessory of some sort, unless it’s very expensive and very fragile, pick it up. Examine the object from all sides. Look underneath. Look for dents, chips and dings. Look for signs of use and wear. Look for repairs. Look closely. Does it feel like what you think it is?

Once you get familiar with say, Fiesta ware, it’s pretty easy to tell when you touch a piece whether it’s the real vintage item or whether it’s a modern reproduction. Any one of these two categories might be of possible interest to a collector or someone who wants to simply use Fiesta ware on their table, but it’s important to know which it is that you’re purchasing.

If you’re buying a set of tableware, silverware or glassware, make certain that each piece is in good shape, or make an inventory of what is usable. A china set with eight dinner plates but only six dessert and five salad plates may be fine for your house, but make sure you count everything. And, because the set is not complete, you’ll probably have fewer people bidding against you.

Rule #2 – Start to think about what price you’re going to set in your mind as your maximum bid for this object.

You’ll probably refine that figure as time goes along, but it never hurts to start thinking about this early.  After all, when you shop in stores, either antique stores or supermarkets, there are prices “set” for everything. But at auction, most times the “fair” price of an item is set by what one bidder, the top bidder, is willing to pay for that object.

If you want to amass a collection, let’s say of pottery, perhaps Roycroft items, get familiar with the objects and prices by visiting dealers and antique shops. Check and see what condition items that are put up for sale are in. Get an idea of prices by going to lots of shops that carry the kind of thing that interests you. Consider these visits as research, and keep in mind you are there to learn, not necessarily to buy.

Rule #3 – For larger objects, such as furniture, make sure everything works.

Life is too short to buy a chest of drawers and discover after the fact that one drawer was poorly repaired years ago and sticks. Or that you can’t unlock two of the cubbies in that great roll top desk you bought. Or that those chairs that looked like they would be just right for your breakfast table are cute but very wobbly.

Open every drawer; check all the hardware. Pull out at least one entire drawer and look how it is assembled. Is it pegged, dovetailed, or nailed? If it’s really old, examine the cuts and turnings. Do they look like they were made by power tools or by hand tools? Always look at the back of every piece of furniture. Does the back look original? Does it show signs of repair?

With mirrors and framed prints, photographs, and paintings you can learn a great deal by looking at the back. If the back is new, there’s a good chance a mirror has been resilvered. There’s nothing wrong with that but you want to know what you’re buying. It’s the same with pictures – it’s often easy to tell that the frame was assembled years ago and hasn’t been opened since. Is the back an old piece of wood or a new piece of matte board? If there are multiple fasteners and evidence of holes from another era, the chances are something has been reassembled.

No matter what it is, take the time to look it over, and don’t be afraid to take your time.  Regardless of what you’re being told it is, it’s up to you to make sure it’s what you expect, as the most important rule of the auction is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

Today’s Treasure

Unbeknownst to me, I guess I’m a bit of a leg man, because all I had to do was catch one glimpse of the beautiful legs on this desk, and I knew I had to have it.

I bought it a few weeks ago at a local antique shop, but we only got it home last week, with the help of DIY Doris and her ever faithful mini-van.  We don’t really have a lot of room left in the house for new pieces of furniture, especially ones this big, so we had to do some shuffling around, but I think it looks quite nice in its new place in the corner of the dining room.

According to the man I bought it from, it used to have a leather top, but he said that it was in very rough shape, so he removed it and sanded the top down to remove the leftover glue and adhesive.  Therefore the top of the desk has this very conspicuous inner patch that is not walnut, which the rest of the desk is.  I love its simple style, its two pull-outs on either side to increase the usable area, it’s weathered and worn finish, and of course, its legs.

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