Posted by Cobi on Monday March 11, 2013 at 07:00 AM
When we renovated our house last year, I decided to throw in a little tune up to our laundry room.
We’re in an older home with a devoted laundry room in the basement and there was no way I could justify the cost of moving it upstairs (or find the space) but I had no trouble justifying the cost of some new tile, paint and decorative doodads to make me feel better when I’m doing the deadly deed.
God knows it needed it…
So - how to spruce up a yucky laundry room without a lot ‘a moula?
I started with the floor because it looked so sad and I wanted a more permanent solution than a new coat of paint. Tiles are cheap (if you stick to standard sizes and finishes) and they come in great colours. I knew I wanted to paint the room white (for brightness) so why not have some fun with colour on the floor? I went hunting and found this 8” x 8” tile for $2.36 each and remarkably it’s called the Monocottura “Happy Series” at first I thought I would just choose one colour. But when I told my daughter I liked both the Sky Blue and Apple Green, she gave me the obvious answer - “use both!”. So I bought half of what I needed in each colour, brought them home and laid them loosely out in a few different patterns until I came up with this enlarged checkerboard (less busy than a regular checkerboard) and told my contractor to lay them on the diagonal.
Once the floor was down it was easy to choose paint colours. I wanted a fresh, crisp white on the walls - whiter than the warm ones I like in living spaces. I went with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White #2143-70 in the Aura Bath + Spa formula and love it. The whole room was painted in oil originally and we found that Aura paint covers it really well. I’ve now used Simply White in our basement bathroom as well and find it works anywhere you want a really pure white with no undertone. I decided to paint the existing peg board and upper shelves in the same white.
Where I had some fun was on the lower built-in cabinet and sewing cabinet. I chose a lime green to match my tiles - Benjamin Moore’s Hibiscus #2025-50 - some might find it too bright and I likely wouldn’t use such a vibrant colour in other places in my home, but it’s clean and fun and I love it here - why not have a bit of fun in a room that only I ever seem to use? (grrrr…)
I like to hang clothes to dry whenever possible and so I installed 3 helpers…first this great drying rack made of hardwood, powder-coated metal and a rope pully system. It can move up and down if you have high ceilings (which I don’t) but it stays stationary just fine too. It’s from a website called www.urbanclotheslines.com
I also purchased an aluminum wall mounted extension drying rack to hang over my laundry tubs - really great for wet rags or anything dripping - at www.leevalley.com. I love it that it’s made in Spain!
And lastly, I had my painter mount and paint a standard pegboard sold at Home Hardware for ironed shirts and the like.
I wanted to replace the puny little shelf that was on the wall when we bought the house because I’ve always loved the idea of a mending area. Somehow it makes the whole idea of mending more probable. My hope was to find a cute old shelf and paint it up with my same pint of Hibiscus but after a summer of searching antique stores (there’s lots of forlorn spice shelves out there by the way, but they were too narrow for my needs) I caved in when I found this perfectly-sized craft shelf on sale at Michael’s craft store. It’s not fancy but it does the trick and thankfully it took the paint too!
Did you notice I have a little bank on the shelf? - very handy in a laundryroom for pocket change and one day I’ll crack it open and drive the kids at Starbucks crazy with my pennies.
I also bought this great little sewing machine for quick fixes - what a steal for $69.00 at Canadian Tire - another good reason to repair - not despair!
I colour-copied two pages off the internet (quick google search) - one defines laundry symbols and the other is from dear Martha telling me how to get out stains. They fit into no-money IKEA frames in exactly my blue tile colour (score!) and act as functional art on either side of the shelf.
Oh - and here’s a little trick. I would have liked to resurface the top of the shelf unit but I just couldn’t justify it. Still, the chipped Arborite did not say ‘happy’. As a compromise, I asked my contractor to skirt the existing top in a decorative wood trim (took him no time) and once it was painted, it added a much more finished look to the counter.
And so there you have it. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing hi-tech. But a happy little laundry room to call my own, even if I’m enjoying it alone (grrrr…)
…with my cobistyle fishies and lost socks.
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 05, 2012 at 06:59 AM
I’m so pleased to finally have my necklaces hung up and organized so I can see them!
I bought these hangers a long time ago and was waiting for our bedroom to be painted for me to hang them up.
I hung them behind our door which is in a small entry hall to the room.
The best part is that they’re out of the way but still visible. I’m terrible about buying things and never wearing them - hopefully this will help.
I know it isn’t an original idea but I kind of thought it was a bit unique, until I went on the internet (of course), where I found necklaces hung on shower curtain hooks on drapery rods…
On fabric covered boards with tacks…
On all kinds of coat hooks…
On peg boards…
On an old rake head!…
And even as an artistic element in a room.
Oh well, I may not be unique but at least I’ll be wearing a nice necklace.
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 24, 2012 at 07:00 AM
September is a great month to get organized!
It’s also a time when we’re inundated with invitations, schedules, school papers, etc.
This is one of my favourite home office pictures and it’s the bulletin board that really makes it:
I love this one too:
It’s great to get all of those little pieces of paper and ephemera off the desk or counter and up on the wall.
I love the idea of making the bulletin board itself into a design statement.
Here’s an artsy version - I think it would be perfect in a teenage girl’s room - when she’s hanging up her clothes she can also hang up the papers!!!
Ribbon boards are my favourite though. These are new to cobistyle this fall. We did them in a blue and black caning design (24” x 29”):
I’m going to run them in a line in my new home office - pictures to come as soon as the plaster dust settles!
Posted by Cobi on Monday June 04, 2012 at 06:59 AM
• cobistyle products
My friend and colleague, Michael Penny inspired me a few months ago on his blog. He was writing about out setting up his office at home (since then he’s opened a fabulous shop in Whitby, Ont. which you should definitely check out). Anyway, he posted a picture of his pencil crayons and markers in containers :
It got the old wheels churning about how satisfying it is to make something visually pretty, out of things we already have around the house.
It reminded me of when Martha Stewart magazine did a beautiful story on jewellery storage and suggested using old teacups…
Although not always that elaborate, I do this kind of thing around the house all the time. For example, I had a cute unused honey pot and creamer filling space on the counter…
And one day thought - why don’t I get rid of those ugly plastic vitamin bottles in the cupboard and hide them in here…
I did the same with my rings (I have a thing for big rings)…I put them in a vintage bowl and now I wear them more…
Back in 2009 I blogged about using glass vases to hold bangles and I still use these…
I love it when people treat bulletin boards artistically to turn them into personal art pieces…
Part of the beauty of makin’ somethin’ outa nothin’ is that it doesn’t cost any money!
We’ve all got baskets and bowls and cluttering up the closets anyway. Just put 2 things together!
I had these french jam jars in the cupboard and use them for toothbrushes and eye glass holders…
When I entertain, I like to put pretzel sticks in milk glass tumblers or old jelly jars I’ve collected…
When I was working on cobistyle I was sure to put a couple of items in the accessory line that I knew would double duty like this drinking glass with a woven sleeve…
And these cute blue and white ceramic Chinese teacups…
Now I can admire them on my desk everyday whether I get my suggested servings of water and green tea or not!
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 07, 2011 at 07:00 AM
I once read about a study that was done on how to get your kids to read. Was the key, reading to them every night? Making them read to you? Starting them young? What was the key to teaching kids the joy of reading? The scientists were very surprised to find that none of that mattered as much as one very simple thing. Having books in the house. By simple virtue of having books in the house - not even kids books - children turned out to be the biggest readers. The adults in the house didn’t even need to be huge readers themselves - it was simply the number of books in the house that made the difference. That being said, I can’t imagine a house full of books without an owner who loved to read. I imagine it’s just another life lesson of ‘actions speaking louder than words’. Kids or no kids, books are a wonderful addition to any house.
They not only add depth and character, but beauty as well.
I’ve always loved the idea of a ‘dining room/library’. It’s a great way to give a seldom-used dining room more purpose, and what a rich atmosphere in which to dine!
Black shelving is dramatic…
…but I’ll always be a sucker for white.
Bookshelves make for a double-duty room divider if you’re short of space.
And they provide a natural backdrop for bringing colour into a room.
For some, that means serious colour!
But for dabblers, books make wonderful pedestals for objets on tables…
Or on chairs…
And of course, coffee tables…
Books can even make a coffee table!
Or side table!
Books are a great way to warm up a mantle-scape…
Or fill in a big empty hole!
Wherever you choose to display your books, they’ll help make your house, a home, and it’s probably the easiest thing you’ll ever teach your kids.
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 26, 2011 at 07:00 AM
I’ve often had people ask me about the open-shelves in my kitchen. There’s an understandable fear of dust and grease making them impractical. Well I can tell you that after living with them for 6 years, I don’t find that to be a big enough issue to over-ride the appealing look, and ease of use, they bring to my kitchen.
Here are some other beautiful examples of open shelves in kitchens…
Gorgeous! But what if you aren’t renovating and want to create the look in your existing kitchen? Try removing the doors on a section of your cabinetry and paint out the interiors for a similar look…
Open shelves are often the key feature to a country kitchen…
But there are very hip looking kitchens with open shelves too…
And even loft spaces…
Open shelving is a wonderful way to show off a collection and make sure it gets use!
If you can’t find a way to incorporate open shelves into your upper cabinetry, you may want to think about a section of the lowers…
Or creating an impromptu version in a hutch…
Or even on a basic set of shelves…
Wherever open shelves are, they’re a beautiful way to create displays and vignettes in your home…
Or bring in colour…
The lack of colour on these shelves creates a more calm, classic, almost utilitarian look…
But hey, if colour is your thing, don’t hold back…
Basically, this idea is for anyone who’s open to it!
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 28, 2011 at 07:00 AM
It’s wonderful to be given something that has sentimental family meaning. It’s a beautiful way to remember and honour people who have passed and to make your home unique and your decorating meaningful. However, we all know that many heirlooms don’t suit our current day interiors and often create clutter and well, ok, I hate to say it but simply collect dust and we find ourselves including them in our rooms out of feelings of obligation and sentiment while not enjoying the objects themselves.
Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate heirlooms into your interiors while creating beautiful rooms at the same time.
Use the heirloom as a jumping off point for decorating. Here, a few old pieces of red transfer-ware are made into a focal point by building on the look further with toile wallpaper in a pretty hutch. Clearly these pieces are treasured and enjoyed every day this way.
Photos go from average to amazing when massed together and framed in a collective way. They command attention when placed together and make a great conversation point for guests.
One heirloom can spark an entire collection and why not? If you love something you’ve been given, it may just be a collection in the waiting. Just don’t forget which one has the sentimental story behind it.
Don’t be a snob about pedigree - your home isn’t a museum - mingle special family pieces with new reproductions. They will be more apt to be used and enjoyed.
Turn something old into something new. Make a few adjustments with paint or in this case, hardware, and suddenly an old piece has a new lease on life. A solution that’s easy on the pocketbook too.
If you don’t have the room or desire to display something all the time, bring out heirlooms at holidays - they will make holiday decorating all the more special.
Decorate around an heirloom. If you love it - let it set the tone for an entire room. No decor theme could mean more than family history.
Change the function of an heirloom to suit your lifestyle. This silver tea service is allowed to tarnish without apologies - many people love the time-worn patina of tarnished silver - and it’s used to hold flowers rather than afternoon tea.
And these candy dishes hold shell collections and other natural finds.
Let family pieces work for you rather than just sit on display. Your tabletops and rooms will look much more unique for it.
I will be on Steven & Chris on the CBC this Friday at 2:00pm talking more about this very thing. Be sure to tune in!
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 20, 2010 at 06:59 AM
I will be appearing on the first show of the season of Steven & Chris today at 2:00pm EST on CBC. Please tune in if you can!
We’re featuring a fun little decorating project that I worked on with homeowner Susan Taylor.
It was so easy to pull together and makes a huge difference in her home.
Susan lives in a brand spanking new townhouse that has a landing space part way up to the second floor.
The space is about 7’ wide by 8.5’ deep with a ceiling height of just over 9’.
Susan hadn’t done anything with the space and mentioned to me that she had thought of using it to display her many finds from years of travel in the East. I jumped on the idea and could immediately imagine a cozy little ‘travel nook’ that would display her collection of elephant figures that were currently all around the house, other odds and sods picked up from her travels and related books and photo albums.
The first thing we did was line the back wall with a bookcase that ran the width of the space. Running it from one wall to the other gives it that built-in look. This piece from IKEA is extra tall which is important, and at $279, it fit not only the space but the budget. Here it is if you’re interested. The rug is also from IKEA and it was my absolute favourite at the store because of it’s lovely muted look - much more authentic than many rugs of it’s kind. I was so glad it fit! It’s called Kattrup and at $229 it’s a steal. As I said on the show, we could have used a rug that delineated the living space and left the traffic area bare - in some ways that might have been more practical - but this rug is a real beauty and at full size gives the space the feeling of being a real “room”. Wait ‘till you see the transformation……
The other large pieces we put in were all from Pier 1, which of course has built a business on this global look at a great price.
The chair we chose is nice and sturdy but covered in a natural banana leaf weave. The little tulip shaped table was just the right size for a lamp and to hold a coffee. And the red ottoman is a handy, occasional piece that will work anywhere and gave that perfect hit of colour.
Almost everything else is Susan’s - of course! - including the hand carved floor lamp she carted back from India in pieces and had never put together. Here she is on my left and Melissa Coghlan, my segment producer from S&C on my right.
The landing really came together as we envisioned and hopefully Susan can use it to plan many more adventures in future!
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 06, 2010 at 07:00 AM
Labour Day. Kids back to school. Ready again for a more routine life.
Like clockwork, the Spring and Fall are the seasons to regroup, reorganize and reconsider all the crap we collect!
Personally, I’m a Fall person. I feel recharged from a wild and woolly Summer and ready to take on the world again.
Unfortunately my house does not feel the same way. It’s dazed and confused by what just happened over the past few months and it’s begging for help to see the light (at least enough that we can see the dust!).
And so, I present to you today, The First Annual Chuck-It Challenge! Trumpet please!!
Stay with me, here’s what I propose:
1 Room per Week. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
You get to pick the room. You can plan them out, or decide last minute - however the mood takes you - or in my case, whichever kid’s crying the most about holes in their socks.
You have 1 week to clean out that room - take a box with you!! - get rid of unused stuff and look after small repairs.
You can clean too if you want, but that’s not what this exercise is about, so don’t get bogged down by the usual maintenance.
If It’s a small bathroom and you get it done on Monday after work - great! - you’re done for the week.
But if you know you’re away next week, do two rooms this week. No excuses.
I’m really going to give this little scheme a try. I’ve counted up my rooms (including a outdoor spaces) and I have 16 tackle spots.
If I stay on track, I’ll be done by the end of the year. Hopefully I can work ahead so I can give myself the holidays off ; )
If you don’t mind, I’m going to list mine here so I have the added pressure of public scrutiny.
I think I’ll print it off for an official check-list on my bulletin board as I likely won’t do the rooms in this order.
1) Playroom - this has to be first so I can donate a bunch of toys to the school fall fair
2) Aidan’s room - very, very, scary closet
3) Charlotte’s room - oooohhh, that’s a biggy, better book a day off work
4) 4 Bathrooms - I think that’s doable as 2 don’t have much in them
5) Garage - help!
6) Storage sheds - book Bob
7) Mudroom - perfect timing to organize winter gear and see what fits
8) Basement storage room - ho hum, it’s likely going to be cold outside anyway…
9) Living room - looks good on the outside but I know what’s in those cupboards and it ain’t pretty
10) Dining room - pretty light one, do this on a busy week
11) Kitchen - can’t wait to get into those corner cupboards!
12) Master bedroom - yuk, so needs renovation, I’ll do this room very begrudgingly (like anyone cares)
13) Office - easy, I can do it when I should actually be working
14) Laundry room - interesting…can’t remember the last time I did anything in there other than laundry
15) Recreation room and basement bar/hall - better known as “the drop zone”
16) Gift room - yes I have one, I’m obsessed. By now the Xmas gifts should be out and so it’s a good time to do it
To be honest, the list may look long but just having the house divided up this way makes it feel easier to approach.
And lets face it, if I even get half way through the list it’s better than thinking I can’t anything done because the job’s too big.
And so how about you? Are you up for the challenge? Or do you just want to tell me to chuck-it? I know, I know…you’re a Spring person.
Posted by Cobi on Monday August 30, 2010 at 06:59 AM
I have a little collection of fishing tackle boxes at our family cottage.
Here they are sitting on a children’s chair I have. I love the colours of them.
Particularly the beautiful greeny blue on the bottom one. It’s the colour of water.
But any of the greens are lovely too.
If not pretty, there’s something charming about the rough findings of a well worn tackle box.
I have to admit, I have yet to find a function for my boxes, but here are a few ideas I found…
And so as summer winds to a close, and life becomes more organized, maybe I’ll tackle one of these ideas at the cottage in the fall. Or maybe I’ll just go junk hunting for another hidden gem of a treasure box.
Posted by Cobi on Monday June 07, 2010 at 07:00 AM
I was in PEI recently, opening our summer cottage for the season, and it occurred to me how much I used coat hooks to decorate the walls.
Coat hooks, and versions of, are a practical substitute for art, particularly at a cottage or country home.
They fill the wall space nicely and can be both decorative and useful.
I snapped a few pictures of mine to show you.
This is a piece in our master bedroom…
It’s made of reclaimed wood and vintage door knobs. So smart.
Here’s another version of it I found on the internet - a great DIY project.
On another wall in the same room I just used hardware store peg boards to fill a blank space…
Pretty cheap wall art.
Downstairs we have a lavender coloured room and I found this old piece of cottage green wood someone had used for coat hooks, the colours look great together. It’s been hung a few times as you can see by the holes but it’s got a lot of character and holds pjs, bathing suits and t-shirts with ease…
And in another bedroom we hung a traditional accordion coat hook contraption, which does the job…
Behind the front door of our place is a cool project from a few years ago when we took a canoe paddle and screwed drawer pulls into it. I forgot to take a picture of it but you can see a bit of it here….
Here’s another great front door shot I found…such an affordable solution and I love the look…
And how cool is this random idea…
Here’s a more controlled, modern look…
At a second entryway in PEI, we hung this vintage French piece. It’s an amazing colour and really handy for catching caps, keys and the dinner bell…
And check out this magazine article for a fun cottage idea….
No matter what you do, be proud of your hang ups. We all have them!!
Posted by Cobi on Monday October 19, 2009 at 07:00 AM
Here’s a quick organizing trick.
I loooove jewellery but really struggle with storing it.
Bangles are especially bulky, and take up a lot of room in my little chest of drawers.
Here’s my latest solution: we all have glass vases floating around that we don’t need….
I feel like I just killed two birds with one stone because by doing this I managed to get rid of two vases off of my stuffed vase shelf at the same time ~ oh bliss!
Yes, I do have to empty out the vase if I want a bracelet at the bottom, but it isn’t a big deal. The best thing is that by being able to see them, I find I’m wearing them more. It’s the worst when you have great stuff and forget to wear it.
I bet there are more uses for glass vases if we put our minds to it….let me know if you use them for other things!
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 28, 2009 at 07:00 AM
Can you guess what these dishes were originally used for?
If you can, you might be dating yourself
One of my favourite things to collect these days is old airline dishes. Yes kids, airplane meals used to be served on china! And even to regular humans sitting in coach!
There’s something romantic about the thought of flying through the air and eating (even airplane food) on Royal Doulton dishes. It’s just so much more special than plastic.
The first time I found these dishes I was at an antique show (the kind that goes to malls, etc.) a few years ago and I just loved using them and giving them as gifts. Since then, I’ve found them at flea markets, junk stores and even Value Village. Of course they’re on ebay too, just plug in ‘airline dishes’ and you’ll get a few pages of results although I have to say the prices are higher on ebay than I’ve had to pay in person (I think my cheapest was $2.00 and highest I’ve paid is $12.00).
I use them for all kinds of things…
• a place to put jewellery or a watch by the kitchen/bathroom sink or bedside table
• keys and change on the hall console
• soap in the powder room
• olives or pistachios when entertaining
• same goes for chocolates with coffee
• hair pins and elastics
• business cards, postit notes, paper clips on my desk
They would be great stacked with little Christmas cookies, candies or fudge and wrapped in cello for teachers gifts at Xmas …hmmm….maybe I should start hitting Value Village more often…
There’s something about the square/rectangular shape that looks neater than a round dish and they’re so strong, they can take the bangin’ around that happens in a busy household. And of course, who can go wrong with white.
So keep an eye out on your travels…it’s even fun to see who’s stamped on the back, so far I have dishes from Air Canada (by Royal Doulton), Canadian Airlines (by Noritake). USAir, American Airlines and United Airlines (by Pfaltzgraff). I’d love to hear if you collect them too!
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 14, 2009 at 07:00 AM
If you read decorating magazines, you’ve probably seen this idea before. With September organizing in mind, I just can’t help showing it again…
It’s a great way for anyone who has left a job (like moi) and finds themselves working from home and having to manage all of the paper and supplies that go with it.
You can pick up these old picnic baskets for next to nothing almost anywhere - garage sales are the best, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $`10.00 for one. I guess they just don’t get used now that coolers have taken over the world?
Anyway, what I love about them is their squareness (or rectangleness?) and the flat lid. That means you can put lots of paper work inside and stack. They can even make a great side table solution with storage.
As I said, I use them for work info. but also for travel info. that collects. Am I the only one that ends up with a plastic bag full of maps, brochures, notes, etc. after each trip? What do other people do with that stuff? Let me know if you have any ideas! I know magazine holders work well. I usually edit the info. down, keep it in a nice shopping bag or file folder and then keep it in these baskets or like ones. And I have to admit, unlike other papers I keep, I do tend to go back to travel information later - either for us or for others - and so it’s worth keeping. My ‘Paris bag o’ info.’ has made it’s way to at least 4 friend’s homes in that last year. Sadly, I haven’t had a need to look at it again :(
Anyway, if I haven’t made it clear, I love old picnic baskets. Cheap, useful and cute. It doesn’t get better than that.