In the upcoming months I will be officially launching my E-design Business and this site will be getting a refresh! Stay tuned for updates and exciting new information and projects I’ve been working on.
I cannot thank everyone enough for all the support and trust I have been receiving over the last few months that is enabling me to turn this hobby blog into a business! You all are amazing and I can’t wait to share what inspiring projects I get up to next.
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. 🙂
Elora is located about 30 min north-east of Waterloo in the heart of Wellington County, and truly is one of the most picturesque towns in Ontario. With a population of just under 8,000, this town is a tourist hot spot for the adventurer, creative spirit, foodie or eager shopper. Known for its amazing shops, thriving artist scene and incredible cliffs and caves belonging to the Elora Gorge, the town has and continues to build up, a warm community inclusive to all who want to wander about.
One of the most recognized architectural landmarks in Elora is the Elora Mill, which was built in the 1930s and is currently wrapping up a massive renovation to become a luxury Inn, complete with spa, dining and elegant event facilities.
When you’re booking your outing to Elora, I recommend you spend at least a half day in town and half day exploring the natural scenes of the Elora gorge, Elora Quarry and surrounding parks and adventures – including zip lining, tubing, kayaking and hiking (ok so you may need more than a half day for all that).
Here are the shops and stops I recommend exploring while in the area:
Pariscope – A delightful little French-inspired shop filled with fine linens, soaps and home decor items to beautifully dress up your table and home. Many of their fine products have been directly imported from Europe so take trip a little closer to home this summer and still bring back some wonderful keepsakes!
Karger Gallery – Truly a one of a kind gallery shop filled with handcrafted furniture, décor, fashion and jewellery with a flair for the unique. Items crafted from Canadian artisans as well as supporting fair-trade arrangements from international artisans around the world, Karger Gallery focuses on one of a kind, hand-crafted unique items for your home and body.
Honey Church Lane – A beautifully crafted vintage gift shop and furniture refinishing emporium. Carrying the full lines of Homestead House Milk Paint, Mill Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, Fusion Paint, FAT paint, as well as the tools and expertise you’ll need for your next furniture refinishing project. Don’t forget to peek at the unique light fixtures, mirrors and gift items for sale throughout the shop.
Mermaid Emporium – I don’t believe I have or ever will be in another shop quite like this one. If you need shelf brackets, door knockers, mail boxes, plaques, hooks or anything similar for your home, this is the shop to check out! The store goes on and on into themed corners and walls of the most interesting and unique collections.
The Queen’s Fancy – Located just outside Elora in the corner town of Salem, this warehouse style shop is packed full of vintage and restored furniture and accessories. There are also many handcrafted tables, benches, pieces of art and decor items that will surely appeal to the country or eclectic homeowner.
There are so many small shops and artist studios in town you really need to poke around and explore what the town has to offer. I really couldn’t include them all but I encourage you to explore the side streets, brightly coloured buildings and corner studios for a look at some amazing artisans and galleries.
Elora Brewing Company – Brewery, gastropub and amazing farm-to-table restaurant, this place is the perfect place to lunch, dine or grab some brews before heading back on your road trip home. The rustic and industrial touches of the pub make for a great contrast to the local fresh food and refreshing brews. Check out their local events and facilities for your next private event too.
Lost & Found Café – A vibrant and friendly cafe perfect for the start of the day or an afternoon pick-me-up. The cafe supports local and organic when possible, hunting down nothing but the freshest ingredients from local farmers and markets.
The Secret Garden Tea House – The sweetest little place for traditional English Tea with whoever you brought along with you on your day out. I’m thinking this would be ideal for a mother/daughter day out and I can’t wait to take my sweet baby girl in a few years. Also a place worth considering for any bridal or baby shower events you may be hosting.
The Cork – Casual fine dining in the heart of Elora, the Cork offers fresh and locally inspired menu options. Be sure to enjoy the patio during warm weather and check out their special events menus for that next special occasion.
The Desert Rose Cafe– Homemade vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cooking in their cafe, cooking classes, ready-to-go meals and beautiful event space. Ethnically diverse offerings and nothing but the freshest, the Desert Rose also has an award winning cookbook worth checking out.
Elora Mill – The Elora Mill is recently undergoing an extensive revitilization under the Pearle Hospitality Group (owners of the Cambridge Mill, Ancaster Mill & more). Although currently only open for special events, their dining, hotel suites and spa will surely be as impressive as what we’ve been able to see so far. Opening July 6th, 2018!
Elora Gorge – Nothing short of breath-taking, the Elora Gorge is part of the Grand River Valley with trails alongside the cliffs and caves reaching as high as 22 meters. Check out this variety of exploring opportunities below:
Tubing – explore the gorge with an adventurous and wet viewpoint.
Rock climbing & zip lining – ONE AXE PURSUITS – for the thrill seeker and adventurer
Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping and more! Visit here for more details on these adventures.
Elora Quarry – This local spot has become a busy destination on hot summer days as locals and tourists enjoy taking a dip in the refreshing waters and beautiful limestone cliffs reading up to 12m in height.
Homes & Architecture – One of my favourite things to do while in new towns is to cruise up and down residential and back roads exploring the architecture and homes of the town. Elora surely did not disappoint and I think I picked out a few homes I could see myself moving into.
Whether you pop into Elora for just an afternoon or have a couple of days to explore and seek adventure, the stunning nature and architecture are the perfect backdrop for the picturesque town of local artists, shops and fresh local eateries.
Colour can be found everywhere and selecting colours during a home renovation can pop up in more decisions than you may think. What stain should I use on this wood? What colour curtains would look best? Does this pattern pillow match my couch or what colour would look best on these walls? What colour grout should I use and is this colour of stone the best choice for my fireplace? Decorating a room comes with endless colour selections, and without proper knowledge, this can be very intimidating and overwhelming.
In home renovations and decorating projects, picking colours if often one of those areas that either is a last-minute, spontaneous decision, or one that is agonized over and contemplated endlessly about (such as my kitchen cabinet colour).
But I’m so glad you’re reading this because there is some simple information about colour that can help you embrace the colour picking process instead of shy away from it. So let me help provide some basic colour theory and suggestions to help you to get more colour confident:
Colour Basics & Terminology
Colour Wheel – A colour wheel is an organization of colours within a circle that displays the relationships and connections between them. An image of one can be found below:
Primary Colours – red, blue, yellow
Secondary Colours – When two primary colours are mixed together, it will create a secondary colour- green (yellow and blue), orange (red and yellow), and purple (red and blue).
Complimentary Colours – Colours opposite one another on the colour wheel are referred to as complimentary colours, example blue & orange. A complimentary colour scheme is often used in home décor to make something stand out or pop. Here is an image of room using the complimentary colour scheme of blue and orange:
Analogous Colours – Generally 3-5 colours beside each other on the colour wheel. Using a colour scheme with analogous colours creates for a harmonious and soothing space. See the example below that has used a violet blue, blue and blue-green colour scheme:
Monochromatic – Light and dark variations of the same colour. Monochromatic colour schemes are often used in home décor to create calm and soothing spaces, like this example of a peaceful nursery with many variations of yellow:
Hue – A colours main properties – or a colour more basically.
Tint –Mixing a colour with white
Shade – Mixing a colour with black
Tone – Mixing a colour with gray
Warm & Cool Colours – Usually we think of warm colours as being red, orange and yellow, and cool being blue, green and purple. But if we start getting specific, each of the basic colours have a warm and colour variation to it. You can have warm and cool versions of blue, green, purple, red, etc. Mixing warm and cool colours add variation and more depth to a space than just using all warm or all cool tones. Here is an example of warm and cool variations of red:
Neutrals –Also referred to as “Earth Tones”, neutral colours include black, white, gray and brown (and variations of those). This is one of the easiest ways to tone down a rooms colour palette or blend together many natural elements within a room. This dining space has layered many neutral colours allowing the textures of the materials and views from the windows to take more of the focus within the space:
Undertones – The underlying colour or undertone is most easily figured out by placing colour chips next to each other or referring up or down on a colour swatch. For example, some colours will pull more red, green, blue or yellow as you compare them next to one another. Check out the neutral colour swatches below and pick out which ones have blue undertones:
Meaning in colours
Throughout history, colour has and still does symbolize various meanings and feelings for people. Here are some of the most common meanings:
Blue – blue often invokes a calm and relaxing feeling like the water and sky, and symbolizes truth, trust, stability and faith.
Green – the colour of nature, green embodies fertility, growth and freshness. Green also is associated with safety and money.
Purple – historically purple is a royal colour displaying wealth and bringing drama to spaces
Red – associated with energy, strength, danger and love, red is an emotionally intense colour that invokes dramatic and passionate feelings
Yellow – the colour of sunshine, happiness and energy
Orange – orange is a fun and happy colour most often associated with the tropics, enthusiasm, creativity and attraction
White – symbolizing innocence, purity and cleanliness, white is often used as a blank slate allowing other elements to take center stage
Black – often represents mystery, power, elegance and death
Suggestions & tips for creating a colour scheme
Pick a feeling you want your room to have or invoke and start looking at tints, shades and tones of that colour.
Consider the undertones of a colour before selecting it for your walls. If you have even slightly orange wood floors, using a cool white with blue undertones will make the floor appear even more orange (complimentary colours).
Work off colours in elements that you already have in a space, example wood floors, furniture, architectural elements, etc. If you want that element to stand out, consider a complimentary colour, if you want it to blend, use a tint or shade of the colour.
Find a fabric, image or pattern you love and work off the colours found within that for your colour scheme.
Use a classic colour scheme such as complimentary, analogous or monochromatic for a safe and sure to work combination.
Making colours pop – The best way to make something stand out is to use complimentary colours. For example, if you have a beautiful collection of red teapots that you want to stand out in your dining room, paint your walls or back of the cabinet green to ensure the red really pops.
Add neutral colours to tone down a bold colour scheme.
What else to consider when selecting colour for a space
Natural light – colours can look different at different times of day and in rooms that receive different amounts of light. Generally, rooms that receive more natural light can handle a darker colour whereas rooms with less natural light will feel smaller and lighter colours should be considered.
Other light sources – even if a room has little or a lot of natural light, the type and amount of other light sources can alter colour in a room.
Size of space – dark colours make a room feel smaller and lighter colours help open up smaller rooms.
What’s going on outdoors – highlight your fantastic view by using light or neutral colours on your wall, or boldly frame out the view with a complimentary or dark surround. If your view is less than ideal, make your interior space steal the show by drawing the eye to interesting colour combinations or bold colours.
Surrounding spaces – even if you don’t use the same colour throughout your home, use a connecting colour in some way between adjacent rooms. For example, your entryway has light gray walls, a bold blue runner and gold accent pieces. Your connecting living room could include warm yellow walls and blue accents as a way to connect some of the same colours between rooms.
There are millions of choices of colour to pick from, but with understanding some basic colour theory, the decision doesn’t have to be so scary. Think about what you want the colour to accomplish, the feeling you want it to invoke as you also consider what else is going on in the space, as you are looking at your options.
Don’t be afraid to coordinate without matching everything. Think tints and shades of a colour as you layer a space and fill colour into your home. Start with a basic colour scheme and add your personality from there. Finally, don’t be afraid to try colour and take a risk in areas that are easy to change, and if it’s not working for you, pick another colour.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Formal dining table & 6 chairs
Foyer table, seat, mirror and coat tree
Family room sectional
2 additional dining room chairs
Art work, decorative pillows, lights and plants for multiple rooms
3 counter stools
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
New curtains for master bedroom & kids room
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.
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.
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.
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):
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Convert specifically designed rooms back to formal dining rooms, offices or guest rooms.
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).
Paint all rooms a neutral or light colour.
De-clutter everything (including closets, basements and storage spaces – rent a storage unit if you must).
Simplify furniture and create ideal layouts in rooms.
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.
Place fresh flowers and bright accessories in rooms to provide a fresh and clean look.
Give your home a thorough clean before photos, showings and open houses.
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?
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.
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?
The perfect combination of surface space for and closed storage for toys and games
This crib transforms from crib to full bed when the baby has grown
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.
A Kijiji table was a steal and perfect for the basement craft space
A set of these leather club chairs were a splurge but will be durable and last
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.
A large master suite calls for a large king bed frame
2-story foyers demand furniture that can hold it’s weight in the space
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.
These Homesense stools were picked right up while the custom made table had to be waited on
The custom sectional for this space was worth waiting on as it is a perfect fit for maximum seating in this open floor plan
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.
Antique pieces can add charm and history to a modern space
This corner mixes traditional, modern and industrial elements together
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:
Comfortable and durable, these chairs were found as floor models and able to come home right away!
Functionality for wee ones is essential for furniture selection
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!