Parlour – Reveal

We were recently hired by a local organization to redecorate and re-imagine their multi-purpose room, or parlour, as they call it.  These types of rooms can be quite challenging due to the fact that they have a variety of uses, and are required at times to be all things to all people.  Not an easy decorating feat to overcome!

In speaking to our clients, we discovered that the feeling they wanted the room to invoke was that of a cozy and inviting living room.  With that, and a few discussions about paint colours and upholstery fabrics, we were off to the races.

We chose Behr’s “Cornmeal” for the walls, and picked out some accents and details in the columns with Behr’s “Yam”.  We then chose a variety of fabrics in beige and blue to reupholster a variety of furniture pieces, drawing our overall inspiration from the two beautiful stained glass windows in the room.

We edited a lot of the furniture out, and are happy to say that everything we used in the room was there already with the exception of the coffee table and the 2 upholstered chairs at the head of the table, and the 4 wooden chairs.

A special thank you to two local artists, Rebecca Ford who donated the triptych above the couch, and Lorna Mullen-Gaudet who donated the lovely scene in the corner above the loveseat, both of which were painted especially for this space.

Without further ado, the reveal.  We hope you enjoy.

Even Jesus deserves a vignette.


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DIY Doris – End Tables

DIY Doris is back from Christmas vacation, and this time is answering a reader’s question about a pair of end tables that they would like to re-purpose for their cottage.

Dear DIY Doris,

I have this lovely pair of end tables, that I just can’t bear to part with, however; I can’t stand their present state.  I want to bring them to my cottage, but fear that instead of looking fresh, funky, and fun, they’ll come across as cheap, cheerless, and chintzy.  Can you help me?

Tableless in Tryon


Dear Tableless,

I have an end table almost identical to one of these! There are incredibly sturdy, and a great alternative to new tables. They have interesting lines, and would look great with a painted finish. I could really see these pieces painted white, or a pale beach-y colour like watery green or blue.  One comment I will make is that for some reason furniture builders of this era were keen on hardware! They went a little overkill on the knobs.

When one finds pieces like this, more often than not, the hardware, knobs, handles, whatever you wish to call them are unsightly, offensive, strange…any number of adjectives could apply. Sometimes changing them seems like a daunting or impossible task. Some older pieces have different dimensions than modern pieces, and modern hardware does not match up with existing holes. If you plan to apply a painted finish, this does not matter! It is easy to buy a small container of wood filler, fill existing holes, and drill new ones! Once the holes are filled, a light sanding will smooth out the surface, and after painting, you will have a blank canvas for whatever hardware you like!

Hard ware CAN be expensive! I know I always seem to fall in love with handles and pulls that are exorbitantly expensive, like $20-30 per handle! If you are trying to redo the kitchen on the cheap, and need 20 handles/pulls, that price is probably not feasible, at least on my budget. However, if you are doing a piece of furniture and only need one or two, splash out! The perfect handle or drawer pull can finish off a piece and make it look unique and expensive, like custom furniture, as opposed to looking like your Nana’s end table with a coat of paint.

After you have painted your piece, you may want to protect the top surface from scratches and nicks. One way would be to apply several coats of a non-yellowing water based varnish (only over latex paint, of course). Another would be to have a piece of glass cut to the size of the table top. Probably the most important step in avoiding nicks, though, is curing time. That is the little piece of information on the can of paint or varnish that we all read, and then decide to ignore. “What do the paint companies know? That is just foolishness.”

We are all so excited to have the piece finished and placed in its waiting spot, we touch it every ten minutes or so, and as soon as it is not leaving paint on our fingers, we move it into position, and immediately put a lamp or a few tasteful knick-knacks on it. A week or two later, we try to dust the table, and when we move the lamp, we lift a big circle of paint off with it! Curing time allows the paint to not only dry, but also to harden through all the coats of paint, not just the surface. Latex paint is like a pliable skin applied to a surface, and until it is cured, or hardened throughout, it is vulnerable to nicks, bubbling, and peeling. The extra drying time is well worth it to have a beautiful custom piece of furniture in your home.

In design,

Doris ♥



For so many people, when faced with renovations, remodeling, or redesigning a space, they have no idea where to start.  And unfortunately, this feeling of not knowing leaves them paralyzed to the point that they give up in frustration and continue to live in (and accept) a space that deep down, they really don’t like.  So, what’s the cure for this design paralysis? It’s inspiration I say.

Inspiration (or a ‘jumping off point’) can be found in a multitude of places.  It can be found in a fabric swatch, in a favourite painting, in a photograph from a recent vacation, in a paint chip, or a piece of wallpaper, or just by looking out the window.  Inspiration can also be found on the internet.

In today’s day and age, there is a multitude of design websites and blogs out there to give you endless fodder.  Here’s a listing of some of my favourite places to go for design inspiration. We’d love for you to add your favourites to the list also.


The Marion House Book

The Marion House Book is one of the first design blogs that I really started to follow.  It was started in 2010 by a very talented designer in Toronto named Emma Reddington and has recently been named one of the 100 Best design blogs.  We were lucky enough to have the stairway from our previous home featured in her ‘Cast Your Vote’ series, and you can see the submission here.


Houzz is a leading destination site for home design enthusiasts– professionals and homeowners. The Houzz site feature over 250,000 interior and exterior photos, thousands of articles written by design experts, product recommendations and social tools to manage the remodeling and decorating process. I particularly like the fact that you can search photos by style, and by space.

Design Sponge

Design*Sponge is one of my ‘go to’ places for design inspiration. This site gives readers sneak peeks into beautiful homes and shows inspiring before-and-after shots of home improvement projects.


With a focus on interior design and architecture, Freshome is the ultimate website for the design enthusiast. This blog shows off amazing design ideas in a wide range of spaces – from Scandinavian flats to New York penthouses. Fresh Home has categories that include places within a house like the bedroom, kitchen and living room, so it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy is one of the most popular and influential design blogs out there.  It speaks to a wide, enthusiastic audience because of its inherent belief that “simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive.” You can come here to find interior design inspiration from real homes in major metropolitan cities and everywhere in between.

Desire to Inspire

Desire to Inspire has been called by Martha Stewart’s editors one of the Web’s leading lifestyle blogs. Visit Desire to Inspire to peek inside modern homes, get to know interior designers and decorators or to find a home decorating style that suits you the most.


To be honest with you, I only recently discovered Cococozy, and I’m loving it more and more every time I visit.  Come to Cococozy to see a mix of great styles, from modern to traditional; but mostly, visit Cococozy if you’re a fan of that fresh and clean feeling.


Exciting news!

Our dining room design, and specifically our use of the Ikea Maskros light has been picked by one of the writers for for an ideabook featured on the homepage of the site.

For theottomanempire’s complete Houzz profile, click on the Houzz button on the right hand side bar of our home page.