Welcome to Harbour Mill Design. This blog was started to inspire your home. I believe all spaces can become both beautiful and functional. Your home will not operate on beauty alone, and a bland space is not personal or enjoyable to be in.

On this site you’ll find some of the latest projects I’ve been working on as well as inspiring ideas for common and maybe uncommon design dilemmas. Stay tuned for upcoming posts highlighting towns in Southwestern Ontario that are home to some of my favourite decor shops and eateries. You won’t want to miss checking out the list of services I’m currently offering for FREE too!  I’d also love for you to contact me if you want to ask a question, share some information or just say hi.  Also please spare me a little grace as I tweak this site over the next little while.  🙂

I’m so glad you decided to stop by!

Tour This Town – Tillsonburg, ON


Tillsonburg may be a town you haven’t heard of, but like most small towns in Southern Ontario, you probably will pass through it or near it this summer on your way to friends or the beach.  As the weather warms and we yearn to get outdoors and seek exploring new areas, why not take a morning to visit some of the unique and independent shops on your way to your next adventure.

I must admit, this town made my radar based on the first stop on my list. I was after some light fixtures for my home and had been following the shop on Intagram, browsing all of their inspiring posts. After purchasing the perfect kitchen pendants, I quickly discovered what more the town had to offer and hope you will be able to too!



J.D Lighting

This family owned and operated lighting and décor store provides an array of options both in-store and online. No matter your style, their knowledgable staff will assist you in selecting the best lighting for your needs. Don’t forget to gander upstairs and check out some of their adorable décor items as well!




Tillsonburg Antiques Plus

A collection of antiques and treasures for your browsing pleasure. This multi-vendor marketplace surely will have you taking home a little piece of history with an array of furniture, tools, books, art and home accessories to look through.




The Anchor Shoppe

This home décor and supply store will surly have you ready to set sail on your next project. Pick up some Fusion mineral paint for your next décor project or browse their large selection of beautiful home décor and furniture displays.  With a casual, beachy vibe, this shop screams summer living!



The Fox & Fawn

Unfortunately this little gem wasn’t open when I was in town but peeking in the windows led me to believe this shop has some lovely antiques and collectables. Lace and delicately cared for décor items seem to be beautifully displayed, waiting to make that perfect gift for someone dear of just for you.  Let me know if you get here and what you are able to find!



Pedlar’s Quay

A collection of unique and quality gift and home décor items can be found in this beautiful 1872 Heritage Home. Whether you are shopping for that hard to buy person or a little something to bring into your home, Pedlar’s Quay has something for everyone and for every room.




The Cup & Cake

This bright old home has been converted into a cheery place to meet up with friends for lunch or coffee and dessert. Be sure to have a lovely cup of tea here and some of their made from scratch British baked goods.


Photo source – Facebook

Dad’s Ice Cream

This seasonal joint is your next family tradition.  Described as having the best selection and offering the best ice cream in town, this cool stop is sure to satisfy every member of your family.


Take a scenic drive this summer on your way to the beach, stopping into Tillsonburg’s adorable home décor, gift shops and tasty eateries!


Did I miss a stop in Tillsonburg or perhaps you have a town to suggest I get to this summer – don’t hesitate to let me know!



Master the Mix

I bet you’ve heard style names ranging from modern farmhouse to mid century modern to shabby chic.  But what is your decorating style? Now days it’s more commonplace to incorporate multiple styles into your home decor than to stick with just one.  Although natural to be attracted to elements of various decor styles, it can be intimidating mixing elements that appear so different.  I’ve compiled some tips on how to get started in successfully mixing styles along with sharing some inspiring pictures.

Photo source – blogdecorador
  1. Start Small – The best way to get started in mastering the mix in home decor is to start small.  Pick a small surface area or corner (mantel, beside table, reading corner, shelf, entry table, etc.) and play around with items you either already have or collect some.  Going with a whole room right away can feel overwhelming whereas smaller areas let you experiment and see what’s working and what’s not, in a condensed version.

    Photo source – House and Home Magazine
  2. Take Clues – Use what you already have or what can’t be changed as a starting point.  If a space is feeling too put together, add something rustic.  If a space is feeling too new, add something vintage.  Have an old hand me down dining table but you want the room to feel cleaner and more current?  What about adding some bright coloured modern chairs and a simple geometric print area rug underfoot.

    You can add emphasis to a certain piece you have in a room by making it feel contrasting to everything else.  If you love what you have, compliment it with contrasting elements so it stands out, but if you have some piece of furniture you hate but can’t replace, make something else steal the show and draw the eye away.  It’s all in the mix.

    Photo source – Ballar Designs
  3. Go With Your Gut – Don’t shy away from what you are drawn to.  Maybe you have your eye on a modern light fixture but aren’t sure it’ll suit the space.  It’s better to love what you live with than to be worried about everything coordinating just so.  If it’s something you just can’t live without, chances are there are other corresponding elements you just have to have, to go with it too.  It’s easier to work in elements that you are drawn to than to start with nothing to go off of, so go with your gut and get that thing.

    Photo source – Harbour Mill Design
  4. Repeat Elements – The next way to master the mix is to repeat elements so that there is something to pull some aspects together in a mixed styled space.  Consider repeating something of similar shape, colour, weight or texture to a room or connecting room to help balance out something like that modern light fixture you weren’t sure would go.  Your eye naturally looks for patterns so when elements are repeating it makes a space look more harmonious.

    This can be especially important if you’re blending a collection of styles, working in an open concept floor plan or have some wild pieces to connect.  Don’t worry about being all matchy-matchy, but rather use one element to tie a few things together like in the picture above.  The light fixtures may be completely different styles, but using similar shapes helps create some unity amongst the mix.

    Photo source – Pinterest, unknown designer 
  5. Forget Design Rules and Titles.  Worried that your room doesn’t fall into a modern farmhouse or mid century modern style?  Don’t sweat it!  Rules are meant to be broken and titles limit a spaces potential.  Group things irregularly, hang art at unusual heights and combine elements that aren’t normally seen together.  Breaking design rules and combining elements from across various styles help create a space that’s both interesting to look at and fun to live in!

    Photo source – Bloglovin’
  6. Dare To Be Different.  The most intriguing spaces are ones that have taken risks and tried something different.  Combine things that have meaning to you, use textures and colours that fascinate you and mix up the scale of items in a space to add visual interest.  Have fun with it and if something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to switch it out and try something else.


If you have questions with this mixed style thing, don’t hesitate to ask for advice!  Contact me here with a picture and I’ll offer you some free expert advice.

Dare to be different with your home decor – it’s all in the mix!


Tour This Town – Stratford

Best known for its theatre and arts culture, Stratford is a tourist hotspot with some amazing shops and delicious eateries. First settled in 1832, Stratford really began booming in 1850 when the railroad came to town and the manufacturing district really took off.  This town is less than 30 minutes from my house so I tend to get there a little more than I care to admit after discovering some unique and inspiring stops.  With a population of just over 30,000 people, visiting Stratford means engaging and supporting hardworking small businesses and encouraging a prospering art community.

Whether you are heading to town for a Shakespearean play or to meet a friend for lunch, make sure you check out some of my recommended stops in this picturesque town:


Wills & Prior

Hands-down the most perfectly curated home shop I have ever been in. Owner Sarah has an amazing eye for mixing vintage pieces with modern accessories in a European-feeling design that will compliment any home or make for the perfect gift. Whether you are in the mood for a vintage accent chair, well-made Dash & Albert rug, complimenting basket or beautiful local-made art goods, Wills & Prior should be first on your shopping list. Pop back often as new items are constantly being added and seasonal arrangements and displays will be sure to inspire your home.


Got it Made

I only discovered this shop the last time I was in town and I cannot believe the creativity and craftsmanship that gets poured into each piece found here. A wonderful and unique collection of over 60 local artisan goods can be found displayed and prepared for your home or next gift.



Family owned and operated since 1895, this is the ultimate stop for all things functional and beautiful for your hard working kitchen and home. Enjoy browsing a wide range of kitchen tools, beautiful linens and don’t forget to pick up your next bridal registry gift while you’re there.


Stratford Antique Warehouse

The multi-vendor warehouse Stratford Antiques, is home to an afternoon of exploring and treasure hunting. Take your time as you look booth by booth at some one-of-a-kind items from days gone by.  Pick up a solid wood chair, a vintage serving dish or some framed prints to compliment and add history to your space.



I’ve compiled a large list of eateries for you to explore.  You’ll probably have to return a few times to hit every stop on this list (and I’ve probably missed some amazing ones as well):

(In order from top to bottom, left to right)
Sirkel Foods – homemade food in a cafe atmosphere, join for breakfast or lunch
The Red Rabbit – fresh take on fine dining, menu inspired by local ingredients and artisan producers
The Common – eclectic mix of food from around the world, theatrical beautiful interior
Keystone Alley – casual fine dining with an amazing patio for warmer months
Jenn & Larry’s Brittle’n Shakes & Ice Cream  – year-round offering of traditional cold treats and homemade brittle
Edison’s Cafe Bar & Inn – fresh, mostly organic and simple cafe fair.  Be sure to check out their gorgeous inn as well
The Pulp – high quality juices, smoothies and vegetarian food options
York Street Kitchen – the perfect spot for a casual lunch before a show or while shopping about
Soup Surreal – a hidden hole in the wall with the best soup ever (great take home options too)
photo credit – OpenTable 
Revival House – Ok so I’m dying to get to this old church turned restaurant/event space, and I can’t review it because I haven’t been there.  This multifunctional space is both restaurant/lounge and can also be rented out as an event space for weddings, parties or functions.  Call ahead if you’re heading to the restaurant because sometimes the place gets rented out.  If you have been – send me a message and let me know what you thought!


Whether you are in town for a theatrical show, meeting up with a friend or looking for that perfect gift, be sure to check out the amazing shops and eateries Stratford has to offer.  Did I miss one of your favourite stops in Stratford?  Message me and let me know.

Furnishing & Decorating a New Home

If you’ve recently purchased a new home like myself, or planning a move in the near future, it can be daunting to think about how you’re going to furnish and decorate the new space. Downsizing likely also includes purging or simplifying your belongings. Moving into a bigger home comes with extra tasks such as purchasing or collecting more furnishings. But even moving into a home of similar size can mean redistributing, purging or purchasing new pieces.

Since I’ve moved several times, I feel like I’ve streamlined my process to create a more stress-free transition. Creating a plan ahead of time is the most helpful thing at such a stressful and busy time. Here’s what I recommend:


  1. Figure out your budget.
    If you’ve downsized or moved to another city, perhaps you’ve made some extra money and can set aside a healthy budget for new furnishings. Congrats – now’s the time to spruce up your furnishings or invest in some new pieces. If you’ve purchased a more expensive home, perhaps your budget isn’t as large and you’ll have to get creative on how to stretch what you have.   Whatever the case is, know what you realistically can spend and plan accordingly.

    If the budget is minimal – invest in staple furniture and add secondary pieces at a later date
  2. Decide if you’ll be hiring help.
    Maybe you love design and are looking forward to this process – great! But if this process seems daunting, you don’t have a design eye or you’ll be tackling some larger renovations, be sure to hire the right type of help for your budget and project. Decorators, designers, contractors, trades people or architects may be some of the help you’ll be looking for. Make sure you do your homework on whom you’re hiring by asking for referrals, looking at customer reviews and looking at certification when necessary. If you can, I do recommend living in your space a little before finalizing plans for any renovation so you can get a true sense of what your family functionally needs from the space.
If you don’t get a layout of your home, check builder sites for blueprints or draw one of your own on a walk through
  1. Get a floor plan.
    This step is likely one you haven’t thought about but can save you a lot of headaches ahead of time by ensuring what items you are moving or purchasing will fit in your new space.  If you’ve just built a new house or purchased a newly built home, you’ll likely get a floor plan when you are designing or purchasing the home. If not, ask your builder or realtor if this is available to you or check the builder’s website to see if they have floor plans posted. As a last resort create your own floor plan. On a walk-thru, bring some graph paper, a pencil and a measuring tape. Taking lots of pictures can also help.
Travel is a great way to source inspiration for your home – Drake Devonshire Hotel


  1. Find inspiration.
    If you’re purchasing a lot or even a few new pieces, you want a new style or some new ideas on what to do with a space, looking for inspiration may be necessary. Take pictures during your walk-thru if you like the way the previous owners arranged their furniture. If you need some fresh ideas, click here to check out the post for my top 12 places to find inspiration.

    Home must haves include everyday essential items to make a functional living space.
  2. Create a list.
    What do you need? Create a detailed list of all the pieces you see yourself needing in the new space. Go through what you’ll be bringing over and what will be lacking or needs to be replaced. Think of everything from window coverings, rugs, appliances, organization and seating to artwork, paint, wallpaper or lighting. If you’ll be doing a renovation, this list will be more extensive to include other items like flooring, tile, electrical and more. Then prioritize the list if your budget is limited.   I like to create 3 groupings. What are the essentials to have when you move in? Think functional items like appliances, somewhere to eat, sleep, sit, safety (especially if you have kids or pets), and something to create privacy if there aren’t already window coverings. What are your next important items? Maybe side tables, coffee tables, dressers, side chairs or storage pieces. These are items that will likely impact your function of the home but aren’t as necessary as your first list. And finally your third column will include most things that are decorative. Area rugs, new light fixtures, artwork, pillows, etc.

    Check out my list for our new home:

1st Tier


2nd Tier

Accompanying Pieces

3rd Tier


Formal dining table & 6 chairs Foyer table, seat, mirror and coat tree Patio chairs
Family room sectional 2 additional dining room chairs Art work, decorative pillows, lights and plants for multiple rooms
3 counter stools Office desk Kitchen refresh items
Towel bars & toilet paper holders Bedside tables for kids Powder room refresh items
Blackout blinds for nursery & kids bedroom, washroom blinds Master bedroom reading chair and side table Area rug for dining room
Guest room bed and side table


Curtains for family room & dining room
Coffee table New curtains for master bedroom & kids room


Sourcing items can be fun as you browse style and prices at local and online sources – here I was sourcing our bed at Cornerstone Interiors – Cambridge.
  1. Research and source.
    Now determine based on your budget and needs, what you’ll be purchasing right away and what will have to wait. Going online to source items will help you determine costs for things and what may have to move from column to column.  For me, my first list was purchased before we even moved in or within a week. My second column was going to mostly be purchased within 6 months of living in the house and my final list will be an ongoing list as I work room by room, completing each space to my liking. If you need assistance sourcing, either email me for my assistance or to inquire about where some of my favourite places to shop for furniture and accessories are.
Before purchasing custom furniture, double check all room measurements to be sure sizing is correct.


  1. Purchase, store or furnish.
    I cannot emphasis enough that you need to make sure you’re checking measurements against your layout from earlier and factoring in taxes and delivery if necessary against your budget. I knew we were going to go for a custom sectional for our family room and I wanted it right for when we moved in. Having a layout of our space and specific measurements helped me build the perfect size and layout for this expensive purchase. If you’re purchasing ahead, you’ll likely need to store the items ahead of time. If you can arrange delivery for the day after you move in (try not to do the day of – as you can get delayed with getting your keys), otherwise order after you move in if you can’t store items or it won’t be convenient to do so.


IMG_4608 copy
Once your essential furnishings are in place, add in accent and decor layers for a personal touch!
  1. Arrange, decorate & remember your home is a living space.
    Place items in the most desirable layout. If it’s not working, rearrange or move to a different room. Once the base furnishings are in place, add secondary furniture, rugs, and finally accessories and décor. Don’t stress out if your home doesn’t seem complete. Homes are living spaces that will develop and change over time as you accumulate, purge or adjust to family needs and décor trends.


If you’d like specific help for your home, please do not hesitate to ask and I would love to assist you with your new home.

Tour This Town – Elmira, ON

Located 10 minutes north of Waterloo Ontario, Elmira is often described as traditional, friendly and hospitable. One day a year, Elmira’s population swells from about 10,000 up to around 60,000 people. As a true sign of spring, visitors from all over the region, country and even the world attend Elmira’s Maple Syrup Festival.

Come visit Elmira on Saturday April 7th for the festival and enjoy some fluffy pancakes drenched in syrup and other tasty maple treats. Or you could pick another day to get a true sense of the town’s offerings and fully stocked shops.  Click here for more info about the Maple Syrup Festival.

Other than the festival, here are some of my recommended stops while in Elmira (note they may not be open or fully able to serve you well if you do attend during the big Maple Syrup Festival):


Sip & Bite

Homestyle cooking in a classic diner experience at just the right price. Enjoy friendly service and delicious favourites such as a classic all-day breakfast plate, a turkey sandwich or fish & chips. You won’t be dressing up in your finest for this place but it’s clean, friendly and has great portion sizes!




At The Crossroads Family Restaurant & The Mercantile

One of the most popular stops in Elmira, At The Crossroads Family Restaurant is a common meeting place for some traditional home-cooked meals among family and friends. Their extensive buffet is sure to provide something warm and comforting for your hungry tummy. When you are done eating, don’t forget to check out their attached gift shop – the Mercantile, for some amazing home décor, house goods and gifts.



Chervin Furniture & Mattress

With their newly renovated 17,000 square foot showroom, you are sure to find something for your home at Chervin.  Focusing on traditional and contemporary furniture and decor, the friendly staff at Chervin offer personal design services as well as customized solutions for any space.



Maggie’s Mudroom

This little shop is tucked just off the main street and is a unique combination of coffee shop and art studio. Pick from a large selection of ceramics to sit down and paint while you sip on a warm beverage. I’m thinking this place would be the perfect date spot to enjoy with your child on their next P.D. Day.



The Window Box

This little shop can be easy to miss on the main street, but take a minute to stop in and see the carefully selected décor items and beautiful plants and flowers. I dare you to go home without taking something home to liven up your space.


Frey’s Flowers

This family owned and operated florist makes, arranges and delivers the most beautiful arrangements and gifts. This place may be personal to me (as they created our wedding bouquets and arrangements), but they prove time after time to be professional and stunning anytime florals show up at my home. 🙂 Creatively arranged or thoughtfully grouped, you won’t be disappointed in ordering or picking up an arrangement here.




If you love thrifting, Elmira should be on your list. Here are some places you’ll want to pop into:

MCC rePurpose Centre

MCC Thrift & Gift

WCS Thrift Shop


Whether you are adventuring to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival or up for a thrifting adventure, take some time to explore Elmira and all the warm and unique stops this town has to offer.

I’d love to hear your comments if you’ve been to town or feel like I’ve missed an important stop.


Spring Cleaning

With Spring comes feelings of renewal and being refreshed. Nothing helps a home feel more fresh than opening the windows and getting some Spring cleaning done. Not only is it good for the home, but it’s good for the soul as well.  For me, nothing feels better than spending a couple hours transforming a once jammed pack space into a well organized and clutter-free zone that will allow my family to operate smoother on a daily basis.

Maybe you have the time and energy to make a weekend of it, or perhaps you need to spread out the tasks over a few weeks. You can do it alone or get the whole family involved in the process. No matter your style or availability, spend some time organizing and sorting through your spaces as this new season invites us in.

I’ve narrowed down my top 10 places I’d like to tackle this spring that will refresh my home and make daily living more organized and functional:


Photo source – whoseideaswasittobuythishouse.com
  1. Bedroom Closets

This is for every person in the house. Pull everything out and go through it. What is out of season that can be stored? What no longer fits or hasn’t been worn in over a year? Purge and donate items that are in good condition but aren’t serving you any longer. If your kids have outgrown items, label plastic storage bins to keep for younger kids if possible. Get wicker baskets for small clothing to sit on shelves, hanging organizers to fold stacks of pants and t-shirts, and pretty laundry baskets to keep dirty linens closed off from the bedroom. Replace mismatched wire hangers with pretty felt ones for an inexpensive upgrade to your space.


Photo source – christinasadventures.com
  1. Bathroom Cupboards

It’s best to pull everything out and clean out the cupboard first. Wash down walls, doors and drawers of the cupboards with some multipurpose cleaner or some warm water and vinegar. If you don’t have already, get some pretty baskets or bins from the Dollar Store to keep bottles, linens and first-aid items organized.


Photo source – blesserhouse.com
  1. Pantry

Go through everything checking for ripped packaging, expired dates or items that have been opened too long. Wipe shelves and walls for sticky or powdery messes that have been left behind. For a pretty and practical way to organize pantry items, labeled matching baskets and jars look great displayed on shelves. Organize items by category – baking, grains, kids snacks, etc. for a well organized space and place items at lower levels that are soft or kid friendly. Toxic or harmful substances should always be out of reach for children or locked up (alcohol, cleaning supplies, etc.).


Photo source – blesserhouse.com
  1. Linen Closet

This small space seems to always pack way more than we expect. Organize sheets and towels by size and by use. Don’t purge old, stained or torn towels or sheets but keep them for painting drop sheets, rags for wiping up messes or cleaning. You can never have too many of these. If you keep other items like extra light bulbs, cleaning supplies or mending kits, ensure they are well stocked at this time and purge anything unnecessary.


Photo source – diyncrafts.com
  1. Garage

Another great seasonal area to go through, putting out of storage items (shovels, sleds, boots, decorations, etc.) up high or away for the time and make summer toys and gardening tools accessible. Sweep out the floor and stairs, clean out corner cobwebs and organize the tool area. Take the opportunity of turning on the outside hoses as a good time to clean out garbage and recycling bins too. If you still haven’t taken down your Christmas lights, this is your opportunity to include this as well.  Click here for some specific tips and ideas on organizing the garage.


Harbour Mill Design
  1. Junk Cupboard (yup I’ve got more than just a junk drawer :S)

This is my least favourite task. I tend to jam everything possible into this space for months, forgetting at some point I have to go through this too. Purge items you know you won’t use, reorganize or move items that have a functional purpose and store items worth keeping in another area (kids art, cards, important paperwork, etc.) Other then that, I have no rules for keeping this organized because it’s my messy zone.


Harbour Mill Design
  1. Mudroom

A new season is the perfect time to go through the previous seasons’ outerwear and footwear. Purge, donate or store items that won’t be worn in the upcoming months. Pull out spring coats and footwear and make a list of new items your family will be needing. Clean out the space while it’s empty and refill baskets at accessible heights for younger hands. If your kids can’t reach their hooks or baskets, there is no way you can expect their jackets and hats get put away properly. Now is the time to ensure you have sunscreen and bug spray stocked for the months ahead.


Photo source – hellobabybrown.stfi.re
  1. Playroom

I recommend doing this when the kids are not around (unless they don’t get attached to their toys). Purge broken toys and donate items that have been outgrown. Get appropriate bins or shelves for storing toys and materials based on function. If you have toys in multiple locations, rotate them to ensure things are not getting boring or pull out new activities that haven’t been seen in a while. Restock craft supplies if necessary (my son is forever using up all of our tape), and display finished crafts or greatly loved toys in visible spaces.


Photo source – sfgirlbybay.com
  1. Appliances

Clean in, around and under all major appliances if you can. You’ll be amazed at what’s living under your washing machine, behind your fridge and on the sides of your oven. YUCK! While you’re at it, give each appliance a major clean inside too.  Click here for a detailed description of how to clean your big and small kitchen appliances.


Photo source – Better Home & Gardens
  1. Windows

Inside, outside and in between. Get the most of your increased natural daylight by having some sparkling windows to showcase it!  Click here for detailed ideas to get those  windows looking like new!



How have you done? This list isn’t here to make you feel overwhelmed, its purpose is to give you some suggestions on how to up the function of your cramped spaces with increased cleanliness and organization.

Good luck and happy Spring!

When It’s Time To Move On

It’s almost Spring which means 2 things – Spring cleaning (we’ll get to that one next) and real estate season!

In February we discussed ways you can fall back in love with your home, but there are times when you know it’s just best to move on. There could be many factors that lead you to this decision, some of which could include:

  • Space has become too big or too small
  • Location isn’t right for your lifestyle
  • Finances have changed
  • Relationships have changed

Deciding when to pack up can be a difficult decision to reach for yourself and/or your family. Emotions can run high and there can be a lot of fears in relation to letting go, making the best financial decision and fear of the unknown ahead. I am not a Real Estate Professional, but I know a little about moving, as I have moved 12 times and have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here are my suggestions on ways you can minimize the stress of this time and things to pay careful attention to:


  1. Hire the best – don’t try and sell your home yourself unless you’re a Real Estate Agent. It’s such a large legal investment that it’s not worth saving the money with all the potential risks involved. Let the professionals educate you, help you price well and know what the best moves are.



  1. Get real about your finances – if you are barely making payments on your monthly expenses now, chances are moving to a higher priced home isn’t the best decision for you. Sit down with your bank or mortgage expert ahead of time to get your financials in order so know what the budget is before emotions get tied to potential new homes.


  1. Know your timeline – do you have a hard and fast date you need to be out of your home or do you have some room bridging dates with a new home? Will you need time to complete some renovations before you move in? Do you want the kids settled before school starts? Knowing this head will help you stay firm with conditions in offers, closing dates for the new purchase and general preparing for the big move.


  1. Staging – the general public has a hard time picturing potential in spaces, so it is your job to stage your home to showcase a generic idea of what life could look like for the general population. If you don’t have the eye or time for this, hire a stager to complete this necessary task.  Here are some specific ideas:
    1. Convert specifically designed rooms back to formal dining rooms, offices or guest rooms.
    2. Remove all personal photos and objects from rooms (basically anything that would make a potential buyer think of they type of people that own the house instead of picturing themselves living there).
    3. Paint all rooms a neutral or light colour.
    4. De-clutter everything (including closets, basements and storage spaces – rent a storage unit if you must).
    5. Simplify furniture and create ideal layouts in rooms.
    6. Take care of general maintenance you’ve been putting off – touch up dings in the walls, replace burnt out lights, broken handles, leaky faucets, chipped trim, etc.
    7. Place fresh flowers and bright accessories in rooms to provide a fresh and clean look.
    8. Give your home a thorough clean before photos, showings and open houses.


  1. Create a moving plan – Writing out everything ahead of time that will need to be taken care of can relieve last minute stress. Think ahead and consider the following: Do you need to hire a moving company? When do you need to start packing? Who will you be asking for assistance on the day? Will a great distance be involved in moving and you need to book overnight accommodations? Make arrangements for pets and kids if necessary for moving day. Contact Canada Post about forwarding your mail. Where do you need to contact for a change of address once you have moved?


  1. Prepare the family – Including kids in the process of selecting a new house and preparing your house for sale can help them greatly in processing what this change means. Answer fears they may have but let them know about what exciting opportunities lay ahead (will they get to pick a new paint colour for their new room? Will they be living closer to relatives? What parks are close by they may enjoy?). Have kids help pack up their rooms and toys allowing them to decorate boxes with their names and pretty drawings. (If you need to keep kids busy while you pack, a box with markers or a roll of bubble wrap can buy hours of fun!) . Allow them to visit any walk-throughs of the new house if possible so they can know where their new home will be and plan out how they want their new room to look. Walk the neighbourhood or visit local parks and restaurants so they get a feel for what their new neighbourhood is like.  As something special for kids to look back on, take a family photo in front of the house on or just before moving day, and allow them to take something small with them, like a rock from your garden, they can put at the new house.
    If you have pets, walk the neighbourhood together, visit parks and let them smell out their new neighbours.



Once you get the keys to the new place, a whole new ballgame begins. Stay tuned for the April’s blog post about Making A New House A Home.



The Art of Furniture Selection

Furniture shopping can be intimidating with the abundance of options available and trying to narrow down what the best fit for your space is.  I’d like to help take away some of the stress by providing you with some insight into what things you should consider before you begin this task.  I’ve narrowed down this fine art into 5 elements that need top consideration when selecting furniture for a space.


The first thing you need to consider when deciding on furniture for a space is what your need is. How does the room need to function and what furniture pieces will allow it to perform those functions? In addition, consider if the furniture needs to have specific features for functionality.  Think specifically what is needed – how many seats do you need?  How much storage?



For example, you determined you need a sofa for your family room for lounging and conversing with family. It needs to seat at least 3 people and have some sleeping capabilities for guests. Here you’d be looking at a full, oversized or sectional sofa likely with a pullout bed option.


The second thing you need to figure out is what the budget is. Even before sourcing items, it will be hard to narrow down some of the next elements until you know what money you have to spend. Consider how long you picture the piece lasting (is it a short term piece while you’re temporarily renting or something you’d like to last for decades in your forever home?) when deciding how much money you can fork out.


If you are purchasing pieces for multiple rooms at one time on a set budget, consider the pieces that will get the most use to begin, and wait on supporting pieces if need be.   You can also consider well-made secondhand or antique pieces that can come at a fraction of the cost.

Be sure to consider taxes and delivery, if necessary, when browsing at prices and sources.



Scale is something I have found often gets neglected when considering furniture for a space. It’s important to measure a space before furniture shopping so you know how much room you have to work with. Pay attention to appropriate distances for walkways, door openings and legroom for guests when using furniture.


With the room available, you’ll want to proportion furniture so it isn’t too big or too small for the space.  Now days there are so many options of apartment size (smaller) furnishings as well as oversized or grand furnishings, that it makes no sense to invest in something that doesn’t suit the room it is being placed in.Selecting the right scale of furnishings can make a room more functional, feel cohesive and more inviting for yourself and guests to use.



Here we are referring to how quick you need a piece, as well as how long you want or expect it to last. If you need a piece rather quickly, you’re going to want to source from certain stores or online sources that have items in stock or on the floor. If you are deciding to go the custom route, expect that it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to be made and arrive.

When you are looking at the life expectancy of a piece, consider where it will be placed and the usage it will get. Typically more used items like beds, everyday dining tables, chairs and couches should be well constructed with a solid frame and washable materials that can stand up to ware and spills. You can get away with cheaper items that won’t get the same daily usage in less used spaces, like side tables, guests rooms and formal dining/living rooms. However if you have something you want to be passed to the next generation (a formal dining room table for example), consider going custom in solid wood to be sure it will last and be a desirable custom design worth passing down.

Overall, expect custom and more durable furniture to cost more and take longer to arrive in your home.



Think of style as the icing on the cake – so cliché I know! It’s the layer most visual and gives the cake its appeal and presentation. Many times style is the first thing people jump to when considering furnishings for their spaces, but for a smart purchase decision, style is one of the last things you should consider. It’s important to pay attention to all the other elements we’ve gone through first to ensure the piece is the most functional and wisest decision before picking out how the piece will look.

You may find you are drawn to a particular style, in which case it could be easier to know where to shop and what to look for. But you don’t have to fall into one set style for a room to come together and look great. Often the most interesting and beautiful rooms combine elements of a variety of styles, keeping the room from feeling dated and boring.

For the budget-conscious homeowner, I often suggest investing in staple furnishings in timeless styles and having more fun mixing other styles you are drawn to in accent furnishings and accessories. This way you can replace them as trends or moods change and haven’t invested too much money.

Overall though, the style of your rooms and furnishings should be a reflection of you and your lifestyle.

Here’s a fun quiz to take if you’re feeling lost about styles:




Furniture shopping can be a large investment, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.  I hope I was able to inform you about some of the things you should consider when selecting furniture for a space.  If you have any questions or need help sourcing or selecting items, message me and I’d love to help you out!

Tour This Town – Conestogo, ON

Just a short five minute drive northeast of Waterloo lies the small community of Conestogo, ON. Once a thriving mill community, this small town now is home to a few great shops (especially for the vintage enthusiast) and some quiet subdivisions. Conestogo is a wonderful stop on your way through to the neighbouring towns of Elora, Guelph or Elmira.


You should first stop at Rumbletum Café & Gifts for some delicious breakfast, lunch or just a morning coffee. Be sure to look around at their lovely gift shop while you’re there, and make your way upstairs for more vintage finds, décor pieces and adorable clothing for the wee ones.


Next you’ll want to walk a few minutes down the road to Pepper Pot Place Vintage Store for a sneak at the wonderful displays of quality furnishings and vintage treasures. From lamps and crystal glasses to globes, picture frames and hutches, you’ll be sure to find something with a mysterious history for your collection or display.


Another interesting shop you’ll want to explore (but unfortunately wasn’t open while I went through town) was Auburn Vintage Clothiers. A sneak peek in the windows revealed some unique looking clothing and accessories perfect for that special occasion or collection.


As you head on your way to your next destination, be sure to stop at Sittlers Home Baking for some goodies to go. Fresh baked breads, buns, cookies, loafs, preserves and granolas abundantly fill shelves of a small tucked away building just off the main street. Only open Wednesday-Saturday, be sure to go early for the best selection and freshest options! I highly recommend their short johns for just the perfect bite of sweet dough and cream!


Finally if you continue about 5 minutes northeast outward from Conestogo, you’ll end up at the intersection of Northfield Drive East and Line 86. A large orange barn off to your left should catch your attention and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a large selection of antique furnishings at the Country Antique Store.  With everything priced very reasonably, I would think you’ll have a hard time leaving this stop without stuffing something into your trunk or backseat.


Let me know if you make your way to Conestogo and tell me all about some of the wonderful treasures and goodies you were able to find!

Where To Dine With Your Valentine

I love a good night in, but with Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be looking for a different place to take a loved one for a special meal. Many restaurants offer specific Valentine’s Day specials, but remember you don’t have to get out on February 14th to celebrate time together. If the day doesn’t suit or you want to avoid the prearranged chaos, try a different evening, weekday lunch or weekend brunch instead. It’s about making the effort to arrange something and spending time with someone you love, whether it be child, spouse, friend or sibling.

If you’ve been checking out my Tour This Town posts you’ll know I love checking out and recommending amazing restaurants and cafes, so I’ve selected my top 10 independent choices in the area (many of which have not hit my Tour This Town posts yet). Here are my recommendations:


Photo credit – Yelp
  1. Easy Pour Wine Bar & Restaurant– Blair/Cambridge

This is my top choice almost every time. This converted heritage house is intimate and perfectly charming. The food is delicious, wine list is impressive and they have the friendliest service. You can also catch live music some nights. My must get dish is the mixed board to share over a glass of wine!


Photo credit – wilhelmskw.com

      2.     Wilhelm’s Café & Bar – Belmont Village

I can’t get over how gorgeous this new hot spot is. Casual yet sexy, meet up for an pre-dinner drink or some afternoon snacks with your loved one.  Snuggle up in a booth or grab a drink at the bar, you’ll feel the warmth of the space and the glow from the village.


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Photo credit – Mandy Blake Photography
  1. Timeless Café – Waterloo

This place holds near and dear to my heart because we had our intimate wedding here several years ago.  Rustic and charming, this converted hen house brings the relaxation of a country setting right through your meal allowing you to linger on flavour and conversation.  For something different, try a casual breakfast with a loved one to start your day or check out their usual date night with live music on Thursdays.


Photo credit – stillwatersplateandpour.ca
  1. Still Waters Plate & Pour – Paris

If you’re looking to impress with a spectacular view, this is your stop!  A large selection of options and some tasty combinations are found in their menu.  Enjoy the casual setting while taking in the breathtaking view of the Grand River.



  1. Imperial Market & Eatery – New Hamburg

For something new, try a small town treasure with comfort food in a farmhouse vintage setting. Reserve dinner in or simply enjoy a meal to-go, such as their rotisserie chicken meal, for a quieter meal at home.



  1. Casa Rugantino – Belmont Village

Nothing is sexier than fresh pasta and Italian wine. A classic choice with mouthwatering options in an freshly updated gathering place.  Gorgeous and delicious, you can’t go wrong taking anyone here and ordering anything off the menu.


Photo credit – theberlinkw.ca
  1. The Berlin – Kitchener

If you’re looking to impress and be impressed – this is your stop. Carefully curated dishes, the menu is always changing and sure to be a delight to your tastebuds. An unpretentious ambiance creates an approachable atmosphere allowing you to direct your attention to high-end, mouthwatering plates.



  1. Relish Cooking StudioUptown Waterloo

New location coming soon! If you’re looking to spice up your Valentine’s outing, try joining a cooking class together, or for the ultimate date, book your own private cooking class. Learn from the professionals, watch a demonstration or get your hands dirty, all while enjoying some delicious food. From pizza making to culturally diverse cuisine, you’ll be sure to find a class that excites your tummy and date!


Photo credit – Red House Instagram

        9. Red House – Uptown WaterlooNear the heart of Uptown Waterloo, this gem keeps their menu fresh and fun. You can’t go wrong with going for any meal, but I recommend mixing things up and taking your special someone for a Saturday brunch and having the crème brulee French toast!



  1. The Common – Stratford

Stratfords culinary scene just improved greatly with this new restaurant. A theatrical ambiance with a delishious approachable menu, this restaurant is sure to delight all the senses. If you’re going for lunch, I highly recommend the buttermilk fried chicken thigh sandwhich.


These additional options are on my list to try next:


Where will you be enjoying a meal for Valentine’s this year?