Friday, 16 November 2012

Poll Results

Well the ballots are in, before we get into it though, we thought we'd share our answer to this question.


I picked Elegant because my dream house is the house from Clue, and if you have a ballroom, I'm pretty sure you skew elegant. (I'll have to put together a Friday post someday about this; I prefer a pretty literal approach to Clue house design, save for the huge hallways, and yes, I've spent time researching secret passageways.) I was just in the Ralph Connor House over the weekend taking photos with my brother's wedding, and that was pretty cool, although it doesn't quite compare with Toronto's Casa Loma (probably the coolest house I've actually been in).

But my compromise with Cass is contemporary, whose light simplicity I recognize seems like a big departure from the oft-ornate and visually rich nature of more elegant tastes. You see, my love of the latter stems from my love of history and literature, with its majestic hearths in wood-panelled libraries (where pulling at a specific book may cause a certain bookcase to swing open).
...of course, the book you pull out has to have a name like Through the Hidden Door or The Secret Passage.

But my love of contemporary style stems from my graphic design experiences and love of mathematical precision. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, "perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." And since contemporary is more compatible with Cass' tastes, I'm happy to explore designing our home in that way.

Until the financing comes through on my Clue house, of course.


While I definitely have primarily contemporary taste, I can feel myself being pulled into the eclectic. Philip is fighting it big time because I finally got him on board with clean lined simplicity and now I'm trying to convince him that we love all things owls and personalized art and tons of accessories. I am definitely still a contemporary girl, but I also want our home to represent us in the artwork, accessories, and other things that personalize a place. Maybe it's all the Pinterest and Etsy I've been browsing, but I can definitely feel my style beginning to shift. My hope for our house is that is can be contemporary and modern, but have a lot of "us" in it. Our condo was definitely my style, but was missing the decor elements that I hope to bring into this house since we'll be staying here a lot longer.


It seems that most people leaned towards the contemporary although there is definitely some representation into the other groups too! This is good because it means you'll hopefully like what we pick out as we start decorating this crazy house.

What This Means (not an official dictionary or expert definition by any account)

The photos are all from, I just selected the style category and chose from the pictures they provided for that category. I've tried to select photos that are our style from within each category, this way you can see what our style is like and 


To me, eclectic doesn't always have to mean cluttered and unorganized, but rather it contains a lot of visual interest, personality, and a mixture of textures, colors, and patterns. 
The way I see it (correct me if I'm wrong) a modern and conservative interpretation - and one I can get behind - might be the below. It's a mix of styles, colors, patterns to make a still cohesive look but definitely more visually interesting and has a lot going on.

Eclectic Bedroom design by Orange County General Contractor Patterson Construction Corporation


Contemporary and modern are often interchangeable, however, in my mind contemporary is a little bit less cold and can be a more lived in version of modern. To me it is almost like the difference between haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing, contemporary is like modern except more accessible to an everyday home. To me contemporary can also be a lot less cold.
There is also some solid overlap between these categories, for example the above photo is contemporary eclectic in some ways, and there is certainly contemporary country as well.


I think Country is pretty self explanatory, it can be just a little bit rustic, or straight off the ranch. I like this country style photo which is really cozy and sort of reminds me of my brother and sister-in-law's style, contemporary but rustic. 


The below photo is elegant in its glamour and some of the ornate touches. I chose this photo because while it is more ornate and detailed, the decision to stay within a very specific colour palette  makes it more subdued and beautiful.

For the next poll we'd love to hear from you about your blog reading habits, make your vote and feel free to comment with any thoughts you have! We'd love to hear about the blogs you read or write.

Also in the comments, let us know which of the above is your favourite look?

Also if you haven't had a chance to read Philip's post from this morning, you can find it here.

Of House Layouts and My Beautiful, Amazing, yet Measurement-Inept Wife

Welcome back to my weekly platform from which I share stories with 100% more Y-chromosome and dispense testosterone-enriched wisdom.

Today I am proud to unveil our house layout drawing, which has been a long time in the making. Of course, telling the story of its creation is not complete without highlighting one of my dear wife’s shortcomings.

Cass is a wonderful lady, my best friend, and has many amazing talents and gifts. She concocts great meals without the aid of a recipe book. She makes me laugh with her oft-absurd antics. She is bright and wise and has a strong sense of character.

But she can’t measure.

Can’t is a strong word, but she herself acknowledges it, and it is the correct word in this case. Give her a lemon, she’ll make lemonade. Give her a crying child, she’ll pacify it. Give her a measuring tape, and she’ll alter the fundamental structure of the space-time continuum by making 18 inches into 7 centimetres and getting three drastically different readings in four different units of measure (including “seconds”) for the width of the same window. I exaggerate only slightly.

Of course, a house is a difficult thing to measure. In theory, the width of one wall in a rectangular room should be the width of the opposite wall. In theory, the corners of a square room meet at 90° angles (no, honey, we don’t have to convert that to Celsius). But in practice, walls vary in thickness, floors and walls curve and bow (usually imperceptibly), and if you’re looking for a right angle you’d be better off turning on FOX News.

So when it came to putting together a layout for our house, for both you our readers and for us to draw and dream with, Cass let me take this project on (although she was a big help in holding the other end of the tape measure in a lot of cases). I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Our main floor layout at the time we moved in. (Spoiler alert: It hasn't changed much since then.)
As always, you can click the image to enlarge it.

The final product is off by, at most an inch and a half either way. In the picture you see here, I haven’t inserted where the cabinets are in the kitchen or where the built-in entryway shelving unit stands living on borrowed time, but this gives you an idea of what our main floor looked like when we moved in.

I designed it in Adobe Illustrator, which is more popular among graphic designers than interior decorators, but it’s the best option I had and it worked beautifully. Since then, I’ve found out there are a few free home design programs that probably could do a pretty good job too, if you don’t have a career that requires you to know industry standard design products (and perhaps I’ll test one of them sometime to see how well they work).

We’ve also posted this as part of our new Take the Tour page, a companion piece to the To-Do List. As we cross off items from the list, we’ll start to update the layout so you can see where we make our changes, moving walls, wiring lights, placing furniture and the like. Hours spent in fruitless meetings as part of my corporate existence has caused me to hate the term “living document,” but if that’s something that makes sense to you, that’s what we’re going for here.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Master Bedroom Transformation: Part 1

As you saw here, we're getting ready to start and finish our master bedroom. 

Here's the To-Do list for completing this bedroom project:

  • Empty bedroom of all clutter
  • Remove old A/C vents in ceiling
  • Patch walls and ceiling
  • Prime
  • Paint
  • Trim
  • Sand & paint doors
  • New door hardware
  • New light fixture
  • New closet shelving system
  • Assemble furniture and arrange room
  • Hang artwork & accessorize
  • Curtains

Today I thought I'd share some before/after pictures of us emptying a room filled with clutter. We also emptied our office and plan to paint it at the same time but we don't have as many ideas yet about what we'll do, more to come on that soon. 

Warning: This post is photo intensive! There's not a lot to say about clutter removal, but hopefully seeing all this junk everywhere helps you to feel better about whatever room you have that's filled with clutter.

As you'll remember, we were storing all this stuff in the basement when we decided at the last moment to gut the basement in preparation for our forced-air system install.

Philip removed all the doors to enable our trim removal. Turns out it wasn't as necessary for trim removal as once thought, but we're planning to refinish them anyway, and living in a door-free house has it's perks. Like... ummm... less doorknob-related injuries? I'll get back to you on that one.

Why yes, that is a certified flotation device.  Why do you ask?

This is all you need to know about the story of "How Philip lost his new driver's license before it even made it into his wallet."

We started out by sorting the items in the rooms. The main categories were items coming back into these rooms, items we wanted to keep but just needed to store for the time being (e.g. memory box items, Christmas decorations, etc.), and last but not least items for the yard sale. We started trucking items downstairs with me putting them into the piles and Philip carrying them up and down the stairs.

The other factor we took into consideration is the fact that all of these items have been moved at least three times in the last six months and we're getting crazy tired of it. We tried to keep as much upstairs as we could, just moving things downstairs that we knew we weren't going to put back into these rooms right away or items that we just couldn't fit anywhere else for now. 

Hooray! From our condo to the basement to the main floor to the basement once again.

Philip's Michael Jordan poster is huge. You could measure heights in "Michael Jordan 'Wings' posters," as in "I am 1.1 MJWPs tall."

Clutter awaiting the Philip train down the stairs.

One day, when all this stuff is cleaned up, we'll marvel at the size of our living room.

For now, we're just thankful for a place to sit and watch Community.

Those are mostly Philip's movies, surrounded by yet more clutter.

This is where we're at now, piles of things in the living room (mainly books we didn't want to carry down or things we still wanted on hand like gift wrap), piles of things in the basement for the yard sale or being stored, and two empty rooms ready for patching and painting!

With this mess, you'd assume we'll be holed in here with the door locked so that no one can see - but we're crazy so we're posting it on the internet and inviting people over for dinner tonight!

Stay tuned as we get ready to patch and paint our bedroom in the next week or so! Can't wait to have a mattress off the floor and finally start decorating! 

Anyone else painting a room soon? Any ideas for us? Take a look back at our inspiration photo post and let me know if you have any accessories/light fixtures/artwork ideas that we could implement in this type of space.

Reminder: This is the last day to add your vote to the poll on the right side of the homepage. Tomorrow we'll analyze the results in what is sure to be a very statistical type way and start a new poll for next week.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Original Pinterest

In the words of Arthur the aardvark, having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!

Last Friday I took a trip to the public library and found a treasure trove of DIY resources. Some of the books I took out even had pictures I've seen on Pinterest since. There's something wonderful about flipping pages in a book and marking them with a good old fashioned Post-It note (or--not that I've ever done this to a library book--a folded page corner). Here are some of my favourite finds after just reviewing two books. I'm definitely going to go back!

Better Homes & Gardens 501 Decorating Ideas Under $100 

Ceiling Medallion Wall Art
I saved this first one because I originally saw it on Pinterest a few weeks back, and remembered it. Such a clever use of a typical item that isn't that pricey, it would definitely add some visual interest to a wall.

Chalkboard Paint
If there is one major trend on Pinterest it has to be chalkboard paint.
I loved the idea of a dresser painted with chalkboard paint in order to label drawer contents. Perhaps for a playroom or craft room?
Another chalkboard paint use that I'm definitely going to try someday is painting the top of a table as a games table or for a kids colouring/craft area.

Floor Cushion
Making some hassock pillows for the floor in my living room is an idea I love. We could use them for when we have big groups over or for watching movies. 

Knit Bolster Pillow
I'm dying to make a knit pillow of some kind, this one especially tickles my fancy and includes a pattern!

Anyone else rediscovered the library lately? I'll leave you with this, I don't know how I remember this song so vividly but it was from an amazing musical episode of Arthur forever burned into my memory. Easily the best animated hip-hop video about the merits of library card ownership.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Winterizing Wonderland

One of the main differences between having a condo and a house is exposure to the elements (and by elements I don't just mean "the personal lives of dozens of people who share the same exterior walls").  This fall we had a long laundry list of things to do in preparing for Winter. A couple of the main things that we did were already covered, including getting new windows and installing a furnace. However, there were some smaller items to be crossed off the agenda as well, and here's how we tackled some of those.

1. Seal cracks

"A baby seal walks into a club..." Okay, okay, I'll stop there. This is not about "seal cracks" as in jokes about seals. The first item we had on the list was applying some silicone to a few small foundation cracks. It was recommended by our home inspector and was kind of fun! Basically we walked around the house identifying small cracks and squeezing out some concrete silicone that we could spread out. We took pictures as we went in order to send them into our insurance when we're done a bunch of inspection recommendations to help our rates go down.

2. Tame the wild foliage

Next up we were on to using some of my parents' hand-me-down garden tools to trim hedges and get rid of a couple flower beds.

You may have heard us mention that Grandpa Joe moved into this house from a farm and so, his green thumb needing an outlet, by all accounts he spent a significant proportion of his time planting and maintaining a gigantic vegetable garden (by city standards) and at least a half-dozen good-sized flower beds.

In contrast, we moved into the house from our condo where the flora we tended to included a plant I got from my brother-in-law last year (still alive), a lucky bamboo we named--wait-for-it--"Lucky" (still alive), and an orchid (don't ask). That's it.

So while we love the look of flowers, in the name of easing our way into home ownership, we thought it best to take away a couple of the beds and allow for slightly less maintenance.

You'll notice on our to do list that there was also the plan to till our vegetable garden and get rid of a couple more flower beds. That just didn't happen before the snow flew (I moved those items to Spring 2013 on the list to keep it up to date). We did however manage to deal with our rain barrels and the removal of some vines and annuals that were almost as invasive as certain settings on the massage chairs at my nail salon.

3. Leaf it to the last minute

You know that picture we all have in our heads of leaf-raking, where it's a gorgeous fall day with every shade of yellow, red, and brown--no, not brown, burnt sienna--and a happy family in sweaters joyously sweeps their green-carpet lawn clean with light wrist-flicks while a mischievous puppy plows through the golden mounds?

Well, that wasn't us, and you may remember that from our previous post on the matter

A couple of other things that weren't on the list that we may have left longer than we'd like (but got done anyway!) were
  • move our patio furniture into the garage
  • drain the lawn mower
  • turn off the tap to outside
  • clean the eavestroughs (well, mostly)
  • get the extension cord ready to plug the car's block heater in (readers living closer to the equator are looking at us like "huh?" We live in a climate where our cars have block heaters to keep the engine from freezing solid and thereby preventing them from starting when we needed to be somewhere 5 minutes ago and oh-crap-why-won't-the-darn-thing-start-please-oh-please-oh-please...)
So long story short, we're feeling pretty prepared for what winter has in store for us!
A blizzard arrived this weekend so Fall clean up is officially on hold and waiting until Spring arrives! We're really looking forward to the snow melting away and having some great plans for our yard in the future. It was kind of fun to learn how to do a bit of yard work and have a nice big space to work in and have some campfires and gatherings of friends. 

That brings you up to date on our Fall To-Do list so far. We have a couple of things left to address but tonight we made some headway so we'll bring you an update on that soon! Remember to add your input to the poll and comment away with any projects you're working on! Anyone local starting to get inspired for Christmas since the blizzard made it a Winter wonderland outside?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Housekeeping at its Finest

This weekend was a very exciting weekend for our family as we welcomed a new sister into the Wiebe clan at my brother-in-law's wedding. It was a wonderful day, but came with the unfortunate side effect of a pile of dishes slowly piling up as we ate and ran continually through a very busy weekend. 

Housecleaning is the death of me, and so I've started the process of creating a home organization binder to keep things under control. I'm a list person, and so I'm hoping these lists will be just the motivation I need to get everything done on a regular basis.

I started by finding a binder in a pretty color to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing. Next up is a cover page, there's a placeholder currently made of a scrap piece of paper and some highlighter...this will be replaced at some point when our printer is properly set up and I don't have to go to my parents to print things. 

In the front pocket, I can keep extra papers that I'm working on. Currently I have a grocery list and a list of ideas for the December version of this binder now that I've learned a few tricks after a month of use. 

The first few pages are calendars of the month used for meal planning, event planning, and blog planning. 

After that I have a page for each week of the month. At the top of the page I have seven columns, one for each weekday, with the list of things I want to do everyday:

Wash Dishes

Make Bed

Put Away Clothes

Wipe Counters

Organize Incoming Mail

Tidy Up Any Clutter

Blog Post

Below that, I have a list of the things that I want to accomplish each week. This allows me to be flexible with which days I do things, but I know that by Friday I want all of the items checked off. 

Change sheets/towels, wash/fold/put away all laundry, clean toilets, windex mirrors, wipe down sinks/counter, clean shower, vacuum house, mop kitchen floors, dust, enter expense receipts in the budget, empty trash and recycling, clean out fridge, windex kitchen table, meal plan for the week.

I also write a few extra items that are specific to that week. I usually work on that Sunday night, or add things as I think of them ahead of time.

The last section of the binder are monthly maintenance items such as vacuuming out floor vents, cleaning out garbage cans, going through the freezer, and flushing drains.

Hopefully this plan will help me to get more organized and motivated on the cleaning front. I strive to be as domesticated as Martha Stewart but I am far far far from it. This whole housekeeping thing really takes a lot of learning on my front, it's not something I come by naturally and before I moved out I hadn't even done laundry. I'm getting there though!

What's your least favourite cleaning task? Most favourite? Any ways of making it more fun/engaging? Anything I should be adding to my list to maintain my home properly?

A Monday Morning Lesson in Blogging

Good Monday morning to you all! Today we have a short post, followed by the introduction of a new feature (we'll make you wait with breathless anticipation for that, realizing you can at any time scroll down to find out what it is).

But first, on behalf of Cass and myself, as relative blogging newbies ourselves, allow us to share a quick tip for all those who aspire to write a blog themselves, something we learned this morning the hard way:

Save your posts in more than one place.

Sound basic enough? Well, it isn't always. Sites like Blogger/Blogspot seduce you into using their own word processing utilities by making them so darn simple and being not-always-that-awesome at importing formatting from other word processors like Word.
But then you may run into a scenario where, just maybe, you send the post you spent time refining over to your husband for some last-minute editing, and perhaps he makes an edit and--realizing that he doesn't want to make edits to the original--attempts to undo the edit he just made by using the Microsoft Word shortcut CTRL+Z. And, who knows, what if he mis-hits (I realized this word needed a hyphen when spellcheck suggested something rather rude) the Z and somehow delete all the text.
And, you never know, maybe he doesn't realize that Blogger has its own built in Undo button. And maybe he'll try and close the document before Blogger autosaves, not knowing Blogger autosaves anyway when you hit "Close". And then you get a panicky phone call from your aforementioned husband with the fateful words "It's gone."
Not that that happened to us this morning. Noooo. That would be something that would happen to less experienced computer users than us.
In totally unrelated news, today's planned introduction of Cass' delightful system of organizing our household chores and scheduling regular maintenance here at Grandpa Joe's House will have to wait for the afternoon. We promise it'll be good.

And now, the new feature you've been waiting for... POLLS.

We know that now that U.S. election season is over, everyone's wondering where they'll get their weekly dose of statistics that mean oh-so-much to your daily life, right?
Leave it to GJH to fill the void with--to the right of this post--a new polling gadget.
Actually, we've put it up because we love to hear from our readers in the comments and this will be a great way to get even more interaction with you guys.
This week we're asking what your personal decorating style is. (As you may know from our About Us page, I had a lot of no trouble answering this question.) 
Then, alongside my regular Friday post (for which Cass is still hoping you suggest a better name than TGIP),  Cass will do her best Nate Silver impression and break down the stats and discussing our own answer to the poll question, so we're hoping to get lots of responses from you before then! If the four options available don't dangle your chad (yes, we're stuck in 2000), feel free to add your own individual response to the comments!

On a side note, we've heard some people have had trouble with commenting, if you can tell me what the issue is I'd love to get that figured out because we really like to hear from you! (For instance, let us know what you're using to access our page--PC, Mac, iPad, etc.--and whether you were logged in using a Google account, other account, or posting anonymously.) Thanks everyone, and have a great start to your week!