Archive for January, 2012

January 31st, 2012

Light Monitor

Today I can’t help but think about light. The sky is a mottled mixture of white and gray. Stillness echoes through the empty morning streets as January ends, and the light is pure. Unseasonable warmth has gathered and spread across the city and left a constant dripping, a melted slush, a quiet type of action. The light has started to stay longer, I monitor it by way of evening.


Last night on the way to the gym the sunset streaked all pink and blue, where a week earlier the night had already fallen. Here we are, beginning the upward ascent towards spring light and the coveted Alberta summer light. For those of you unfamiliar with our summers here in northern Alberta, it stays light as late as 11pm at the peak of summer. Oh, to dream of such a thing is like some type of blasphemy on this last day of January, but so be it. Today I will gladly settle for a few minutes extra light, weak or potent as it may be.


While the sun paints colour with a golden glow, this white light strips each shade down to its most basic, inherent hue. It is bliss to witness the transformation, indoors and out. As it falls through the windows and pours through the open door, the dormancy of winter and the hope of change spills out and languidly grasps at each surface.

January 24th, 2012

DIY Gallery Wall Ideas

I have wanted to create a gallery wall in my home for quite some time. I love modern gallery collections as they include more than photos and you can create something personal to showcase the style of your family. It may take some time to collect all you wish to add, but you can always start small and add more frames as you need to. This approach often results in an eclectic look you can build upon for years to come.


When designing your gallery wall there are a few things to consider. You don’t have to have a large blank wall for a gallery. You can create mini galleries in areas like the foyer, a bathroom or a hallway. Gallery placement is another thing you need to address. Will your gallery reside strictly at eye-level or will you hang your pieces from ceiling to floor?


Photo: Timothy Kolk


Check out Elle Decor’s Hang Art Like a Pro seen above. For darker walls, white frames might look best, while light walls can take on any colour of frame, depending on the look you want to achieve. Survey the area intended for the gallery to determine a plan that will work with the existing space and your ideas of what the end product will look like, and then…begin collecting!




Family photos are an essential building block of a gallery wall. Veer away from stuffy portrait shots and choose pics that offer a true glimpse of your family as a whole, and each individual member. If existing photos don’t feel quite right, stage a candid photo shoot to capture the images. Have each member of the family take turns standing against the same backdrop and take close-ups of each face. You can drape graphic fabrics on a fence for a backdrop to unify the collection of pictures.




Choose a few key pieces that will add something to the overall appeal of the gallery wall. Your kid’s art, reprinted pages from your favourite books, handwritten messages, love letters and other keepsakes can all be framed as art and hung as part of the gallery.



Monograms, question marks and ampersands like the one pictured above from sERINas Custom Shop, are a modern addition to quirky gallery walls. Choose a letter from your family name or choose a few depending on available space. Typography pieces can be found in many materials ranging from wood to metal, but you can also make your own. Paint a blank canvas in a colour to complement the room and add your own monogram. Either create your own font or make a template from a font found online.




Include an old family portrait in your gallery design to imbue a sense of history. Tone down a technicolour portrait from the sixties or seventies by scanning the photo and reprinting it in black and white. Create a family tree theme for the gallery by hanging the photos in a chronological order from top to bottom or left to right.




Personalize the gallery further and include an oddity that is relevant to your family alone. A guitar, a chalkboard, a quirky clock, a vacation themed shadowbox, an oar or any other visually appealing object can add to the design.



Create silhouettes like this one from Simply Silhouettes pictured below, of family members and frame them for the wall. Use a traditional black silhouette on a white background or play with the colour scheme to suit the room the gallery is intended for.

One idea is to use wallpaper remnants or scrapbook paper to create a backdrop for the silhouette. For a series of silhouettes, reverse the image and cut the silhouette from the wallpaper. Glue the wallpaper silhouette to a painted backdrop. Or head to Etsy for this silhouette at The Blackbird Sings.




Include a mirror or a couple of mirrors depending on the size and scope of your design. Paint the frames of small decorative mirrors the same colour as the picture frames. Rectangular mirrors can be used to create division between groups of photos.


Design Ideas


If most of your chosen photographs are black and white try coloured frames or vice versa. Paint the frames with spray paint for a monochromatic look. Modern hues like oxblood red, kelly green, turquoise, or lemon will brighten up any room. One way to organize the collection is to pick a frame colour for each person represented. For instance, paint one child’s frames blue including art and photos, and another child’s white and another one’s silver.


Shapes, Sizes and Frame Styles


For the best visual impact, choose a combination of frames in different shapes and sizes. Long thin rectangular frames work well with circular and square frames. You can use them to liven up rows of rectangular frames with a band of small circles or squares. Pair decorative floral frames with traditional wood frames, and sleek modern designs. When shopping for frames keep the overall style of your home in mind. If you choose a few frames with a different style it will create an eclectic look. Browse home decor stores, flea markets and garage sales for a balanced mixture of old and new.


Planning and Plotting


Once you have collected your images and assembled them into painted frames you can start plotting out your design. One way to do this is to use a length of brown craft paper to act as a template. Trace each frame in its designated position. Once ready, hang the paper in place and affix each frame in place. Peel the brown paper of off the wall taking care not to dislodge any of the frames. Or you can do a mock layout on the floor in front of the wall you will be using.


Did I miss anything you have added to your gallery wall?







January 18th, 2012

Decorative Throw Pillows

I love decorative pillows! What’s not to love? They come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in a variety of ways. On sofas, on chairs, on your bed, the guest bed, your kid’s beds, on a banquette, a bench and even in a corner for a casual, cozy reading area.


No matter what your existing colour scheme is, decorative pillows add additional hues, with pattern and ornate detail. They are a perfect way to introduce trendy patterns like ikat, damask or honeycomb, or on trend colours like lemon yellow and dove-gray, without the full on commitment of upholstery or drapes.






Use throw pillows to add a jolt of colour to a muted space or layer tone on tone texture into a room with existing splashes of colour. For instance, a room with a strong oxblood red influence will do well with a collection of oatmeal coloured pillows. Choose one silk pillow with ruffles, one light champagne damask pillow and one linen pillow with a vein of red thread running through it. Mix and match and tie in secondary or tertiary colours found elsewhere in the room to complete the look.

And why not choose a feature pillow in a fun pattern like the ones shown above?

1. Pride and Prejudice Chapter One by Jane Austen- Pillow Bookends by Two Stray Cats.  These pillows are stuffed with rice but would look fabulous anywhere!

2. Morroccan Peacock by Organic Shine Society

3. Red Decorative Pillow by Cody and Cooper Designs

Decorative slip covers can be collected and changed with the season, or as you see fit. Dress up white winter months with rich jewel tones or botanical prints. Quirky ideas include animal prints like leopard or zebra and kitschy animal faces, which you can make with a photo of your pet, a blank pillow case and a printer. Don’t forget to include the odd solid coloured pillow to tie everything together. Once you have collected a series, you can mix and match to come up with different combinations.


For those of you so inclined to make your own slip covers, the sky is the limit! Combine your favourite fabrics with ribbon and trim details to create original pieces. Design Sponge has a lovely tutorial on how to sew your own zippered throw pillows, right here. Use rubber stamps to add detail to a plain fabric or to complete a theme in a bedroom.

January 17th, 2012

The Great Milk Glass Incident

It was a party day, Thanksgiving in fact, which meant the house was a flurry of activity. When the boys ran upstairs while I was chopping, dicing, stirring, checking and, you know, all that ‘cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for fourteen people stuff ‘ I enjoyed the silence for a minute. Knowing they can’t be left long on their own, I told myself I would finish the task at hand and go up to see what they were doing.


And then I heard one of those earth shattering crashes that make a mother’s heart skip ten beats, followed by a scream. Upstairs, I found the boys, frozen, at the tail end of a good bed jumping session, fear in their eyes at the catastrophe all the jumping had caused. The boys were clearly fine, traumatized by the crash, but otherwise fine.


There had been a large mirror resting on top of the dresser, with an oversized jewelry box in front of it and a milk glass pedestal bowl on top of that. Repeated jumping caused the mirror to kick everything off of the dresser. The mirror smashed (seven years anyone?) and the beloved milk glass dish shattered into many, many pieces.


This is the exact one that broke!!

Milk glass is elegant by its delicate nature and can be used to add contrast against a colourful backdrop, or used to add texture and detail to an all white colour scheme. It comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes, most commonly mixing bowls. Decorative pieces were commonly used for fruit bowls and planters. The one that broke rested against a stormy gray-blue wall in a room with white and silver accents. For more decorating inspiration check out Lily Jane.


I have other milk glass vessels, but this one was my favourite. The whole thing was beauty itself. Pristine white glass with ornate decoration. Tiny dots and tulips. It was large enough to hold odds and ends, but small enough to retain its small stature. Not to mention it was the same vessel Sookie Stackhouse has in the living room of her home in Bon Temps on the show True Blood.


Another fave, this one still intact!


I still have all the pieces from the catastrophe, but I am doubtful if it will ever regain some semblance of what it used to be. Has anyone had luck with gluing the broken? Looks like I will be heading over to Etsy to find a replacement piece at the Down East Attic. The original was a serendipitous find at a secondhand store, but it will be no less lovely if I find it again online!


January 16th, 2012

Winter Blues Cures: Glass Globes and Chandeliers

Winter has kicked in, with temperatures plummeting into deep freeze. Luckily we managed to get out on the weekend to see the Ice on Whyte Festival, before the snow blew in. As we were leaving the festival it started snowing and it snowed all night bringing with it a seasonably January chill. Buried are the icy plains we’ve had for weeks and weeks, covered by a fresh coating of pure white. Pristine powder in the trees. While we aren’t exactly snowed in, I would rather not leave the house on such a frightfully cold, minus forty kind of day!


Back to the Ice Festival, my favourite ice sculpture was a pillar with a round bulb on top of it. I think I could have stood there a long while watching the warbled traffic pass behind it, if the little ones weren’t off and running. It made me think of all the glass globe chandeliers and other lighting fixtures I have come across lately with clear glass, bulbous vessels. I love the simplicity and the sparkle this type of lighting conveys to a room.

Ice on Whyte Festival Ice Sculpture


Indoor activities are of utmost importance to ward off the onset of cabin fever. How long will the deep freeze last? Who knows!!! Here are some ideas that have brightened my wintered day:


  • Browse Apartment Therapy to look at said chandeliers.
  • And a trip to Etsy to gaze at this globular pendant light.


Image courtesy of Lucent Lampworks on Etsy


I would love to hang a light fixture like one of these in a room with a window so the light filters and reflects even when the light is off. For those of you with some fierce DIY ambition I found a lovely tutorial at Small Notebook on how to build your own Glass Bubble Chandelier.


  • I just started reading The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams, and I plan to pair it with many, many mugs of tea.
  • I will also daydream another scene or two for my novel, which is in stage two of editing.
  • Build pillow forts with the boys and wistfully dream of warmer months filled with gardening and outdoor entertaining.

Any ideas for winter blues cures for a blustery day like this?  What would you do?

January 4th, 2012

Dreaming of June

When I am dreaming of June, I dream of sunny green tree forms against a sullen backdrop of blue-gray sky. Diaphanous. Waiting for the storm. I dream the dreams of a true Gemini, complete with a divided heart. I also dream of my grandmother, June, riding in the backseat of an old car, wearing silver cat eye glasses, driven to some dreamy oblivion, her head barely visible above the window. And then she’s gone.


While I never had much of a relationship with June, I was born in her namesake’s month and hope to resurrect a few details to help her essence linger, if only in story now and then.


This is my homage to the beauties I come across and their many incarnations. Expect to see interior design inspired posts accompanied by random musings on fiction, objects that glitter, DIY projects, the occasional recipe or review and glimpses of my busy life all wrapped up with some colourful words. Thank you for joining me.