Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ridiculous or Fabulous?

In my browsing today, I came across something that I thought was pretty interesting.

Apparently, every year, Electrolux hosts a competition called Design Lab that is open to undergraduate and graduate industrial design students around the world. The mission: To create home appliances that will shape how people prepare and store food, wash clothes, and do dishes over the next nine decades.

Cool Huh??

Well, the winner for 2008 was this creation:

This is the Flatshare. Designed for people who live with roommates, the concept is pretty cool. It consists of a base station and up to four stackable modules. Each person sharing the home can have their own fridge space!!! Imagine not having to worry about sharing fridge space with your roomies' expired milk and moldy sandwiches!

The modules can also be customized with colored "skins" or you can upgraded with add-ons, like a bottle opener. They also feature handles on the side, for easy transportation, like if you're having friends over and want to bring your module to your room??

In addition to a cash prize, the designer one a one year internship. Awesome!

So, what do you think? Very cool or very silly??

What would YOU create??

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Smart-Looking Home!

Actress Amy Smart's home was recently featured in Instyle Magazine. Here are a few shots of her beautiful home.

Want a way to really personalize your front entrance? Why not add a stair-runner with pizzaz like this cheetah print? I also really love her front door!! Beautiful!

Her living room, which opens onto a sunroom that she uses for practicing yoga, and meditating, is a little too traditional for my tastes, but there are some great pieces, like the gold twig table and port-hole mirror, that I would use.

The Master bedroom is very traditional and feminine and I love the tufted headboard!

I would give anything for a big fireplace in the bedroom. A great place to cuddle up on a cozy chaise and read!

Wouldn't you love a garden like this??

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Counter Options

Since I have to run in next week on my lunch and choose new countertops to replace the DISCONTINUED selection I made.... I called the builder to find the manufacturer so I could peruse and see if I could find some good stuff online. The Manufacturer creates for like 6 different companies, so I have a lot of choices, provided they have they when I go in. Here are ones I like:


This very lightly grey-veined white Is Hiverna

Gaspe Grey Granite is pretty but might be too goldy.

Apalachian Stone doesn't seem to have enough white...


Flint Crystal is a nice mix of white and blacky tones.

White Brecia Marble might be too marble-looking, and fake...

The only dark one in the bunch, Perlato Granite has a nice look about it.

Pebble Envision is one of my favorites, as it's light, got a bit of sparkel, but not too stark!

If we can upgrade to a solid-surfacing, Biscuit Spex caught my eye!


Grey Fiesta has a nice amount of white, with plenty of darker bits for contrast with the floors and cabinets!

A less busy version of what we originally selected Rock the Boat is a strong contender.

Stuck on options? this great tool helps you coordinate your cabinet color, appliance color and even helps you choose by Color Family. It selected Crystal Topaz from the Wilsonart line, based on my selections (see below!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Family Compound

When I saw the exterior of this beautiful home in Traditional Home I fell in love. Upon further reading, I discovered that not only is it beautiful, but functional too!! Housing 2 adults and 6 children (4 full-time), the owner says there is not a room in the home that they do not use!! Which is rare for such a stately looking property.
Here's a peek into the gorgeous estate:

The living room features a beautiful fireplace and is decorated fairly formally.

The formal dining room is one of my favorite rooms in the house. Loving the ceramy, silvery blue tones. Also, how cool are those combinations of chairs?? The vases remind me of some lamps I have!

This kitchen is huge, which I guess is necessary when it's host to 6 plus people at anytime! There is a commercial sink, and a serious looking stove!

This family room is beautiful, however, I'm hoping there is a tv or something somewhere...

Off the family room, there is this family dining area. Originally I was confused, as there was a formal dining room.. but I guess this is their version of the "eat-in kitchen". Although, I must say, their casual dining is still fancier than my formal lol.

Outside the children's bedroom, the foyer sets for the mood for fun.

In addition to bedrooms, there's this amazing bunkroom (playroom) that's fantastic for playing, naps and would be perfect for sleepovers!!!

With 6 children, I'd imagine you'd want a calm retreat for yourselves. This beautiful bedroom is very serene.

Lastly, a master retreat isn't complete without a bathroom to die for. This one does exactly that!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leave it to me....

to hate every countertop selection but one... and then have it be the one the company decides to DISCONTINUE!!!!

Yeah, our project manager called me with the news :( Thankfully, we have three things in our favor:

~ the company has brought a couple of other countertops in to replace the discontinued ones.

~ we didn't know we qualified for an "upgraded" selection, and made our selection from the "standard" pile.

~ we have some money back as a credit from the raised eating bar, we are opting out of so we can use that towards an even more upgraded selection possibly?

I really hope there is something I like as much as the original selection..... I was really looking forward to it, as it really would have popped with all the other selections we made!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mindful Money Matters

Since we've now signed away our paychecks with the mortgage and still have a couple more installments on our "downpayment" for the house, Cory and I are much more mindful of where our money is being spent.

Since we keep separate bank accounts, it's difficult for us to really do up a Budget and see where our money is being spent and where we can cut back. Since I am in charge of our household finances, I've been adopting some changes in our lifestyle to make home-ownership a much easier thing to manage. Here are some of my budget-living tips:

1. Shop with Coupons- I don't care that we live in a very affluent neighbourhood, and the people around us are tossing down their platinum cards for their cart-loads. I don't care that it makes me look like a grandma. Plus I don't care if it takes me a little (like seconds) longer to check-out, or if it makes people mad - Food has gotten expensive!! We noticed this a lot more, when we started eating better. With that said, any money we can save on the stuff we buy, it good. I go to sites like this Canadian one where I can choose the coupons I want off their site, and they send them to me. I also cut the ones in the flyers and direct-mails our grocery store sends to us. Lastly, we scan our points card at the door, and it prints out an arm's-length of coupons for the day! However, don't fall in the trap of buying stuff just cause it's on sale. We ONLY cut and keep the coupons for stuff we use.

2. Old Mother Hubbard System - I found that we were throwing away a lot of stuff, in addition to always having a full-to-the-brim pantry/fridge/freezer. Last month, I implemented a new rule, which I really only enforced this past weekend: we're not buying anything new until we use up what we have. It's now been a little while since we've been to the grocery store, and I must admit, we've been trying new things. Being forced to use what we have, has caused us to be creative and try new things. Monday night yielded a delicious dinner of white rice, a bag of frozen veggies; a box of frozen meatballs; paired with a salad I threw together. It was great and I'm sure we'll have it again!

3. Make it visual - In addition to sometimes shopping for stuff we don't need, we are both habitual card users (debit and credit). To curb my sub-concious spending, I took a post-it note, and wrapped it around each card. For each card, I've written something different. My debit says " Is this a necessity purchase??" One credit card says "Emergencies Only" with a little doodle of a house (our dream and latest purchase), the other one has the remaining balance written on it (it's almost entirely paid off, so it's a little reminder of how hard I worked to pay it off.) This works for us, the same way that a big picture of a goal posted on the fridge works for some.

4. Plan your purchases - This one is a two-fold tip. Firstly, I do mean, research any and all big purchases you make. Shop around, find the best deal, really list out wat features you're looking for, so you don't spend a ton of money for a product that has a long list of features that you don't really need. Plus, waiting to purchase something can really help you evaluate whether you actually need it or not. Sometimes, the inkling to buy, fades with time. In addition, I plan one day a week to do all my errands/chores/shopping. This works in 2 ways for me: first, I've planned out everything I need, and probably done my comparisons ahead of time, plus since I've got the whole day full of stuff, I'm pressed for time, so I'm not stopping and picking up stuff I don't need. In and out!!

5. Share your resources/Reap the benefits - I'm the first one to admit how cheap I can be, so if there is the opportunity to share the cost on something, I'm first in line. Whether it's splitting the cost of our Costco membership with my mom, or splitting the cost of appetizers with our friends at dinner, I'm in. I've also optioned doing a magazine swap with some girlfriends who love to read the same mags as me. Each of us selects 2 mags a month to buy, and then when we're done, we drop them off at our "buddy's" and so on, and so on.

6. Forgo Brand-new. I have no problem giving new life to something someone else no longer has use for. Just this past weekend, I graciously accepted 2 large shopping bags FULL of clothing from a girlfriend. I constantly search online sites for free or low-cost furniture and other items. Anytime my mother comes to town, she brings us a cooler full of food she's cooked for us. I also enjoy re-finishing and re-purposing furniture and other household items!

7. Bring it back in - so yes, we're spending wiser, but we're also saving smarter, which includes bringin money BACK INTO the home! We do the obvious things like recycle our cans and bottles for refund. We also usually have an online listing or two for our unused goods, for sale, for profit. I also sometimes sell some of the crafts I make - such as my greeting cards; they're nothing incredible, not are they expensive, but the money brought in, pays for supplies! Are you handy or do you have a special trade of hobby that could yield you a little bit of extra cash? Try selling your wares somewhere like etsy or post an ad in your local paper offering up your skills!

So the little bar/china cabinet thing that we saw in the showhome similar to our new home, is such a great little addition. We're in the process of getting it priced out, but we're pretty sure we're going to go with it! In addition to looking awesome, it will eliminate the need for us to have (and purchase) a separate sideboard. Plus, if we do it, we will most likely not use our barstools, and open up the dining area a lot more anyhow.....
These pictures aren't the greatest, but give you a good idea how it will look.
On each side there are a set of cabinets with glass shelves and glass doors.
(excuse the photo it was taken during construction and the shelves aren't assembled yet)
In the middle, there is a set of closed doors, with open pigeon hole shelving above. I could use this either for bottles ( as shown) or even for plates/platters (which I do have a lot of).

What do you think? What would YOU store in it?? Do you think it's worth the extra cost??

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sink into this!

In our new house, we had the option of choosing any of their pre-made "Upgrade Packages" for an additional cost, since I know that kitchens sell homes, I wasted no time in going with my gut: The Modern Chef Package!!

However, the items that were described on the sheet, and what was in the showhome, and what they were currently offering, were all different, so last week we had to do some negotiating on what it was, that we would be getting, since what they wanted to give us, didn't jive with what I wanted.
I just received the final paperwork today on what we'll be getting in our "upgraded" kitchen:
~upgraded cabinet selection (premium wood, premium stain )
~upgraded countertop selections (upgraded colors)
~raised eating bar with supports
~full height upper cupboards
~open rack (suppossed to be a wine bottle rack - we are leaving it open as we don't drink much wine and since we may get a bar built into the island, it will have one!
~stem rack ( we may last minute ask them to leave this open as well, if we do go ahead with the bar)
~upgraded cabinet hardware
~full depth upper over fridge
~corner appliance garage
~under cabinet lighting c/w valance trim
~ceramic tile backsplash
~rough-in vac pan to Kitchen
~upgrade sink**
~upgrade faucet**
~upgrade appliances
~1/2 hp garbeurator

You may have noticed some asteriks next to some items on the list... these were items we had no idea we would get. We weren't even too sold on them, until we were told they were FREE!!! Yup, they were throwing them in for us.


Like this photo, we chose a black one. I think it will nicely pick up the black flecks in the countertop we've selected.

And since a $500.00 sink can't have just any old faucet, they're giving us this lovely option, the Contempra Pull-down faucet from Price-Pfister .

With a full down spray and built-in soap dispenser, this one suits the look of the sink much better than a standard (read: small) builder-grade faucet would have.

I know all you hardware snobs are scoffing at me now and I'm fine with that. As long as it looks sleek, clean and shiny, it works with me. That said, I certainly appreciate a beautiful faucet, I just wouldn't spend my own money on something so small if I didn't have to...

Pretty Patio Possibilities

Talk about Alliterations! :)
Anyhow, remember a week ago when I mentioned that I had found my dream Patio Dining Set? Remember how I was without a camera, and unable to find it online? Well, as luck would have it, I tracked it down today!!

This fantastic set is the one I want. In powder coated steel, these six chairs feature deep-seat cushions in the most amazing blue color!! (the picture doesn't even capture the true color). They also include these pretty, chocolate floral back cushions! The table features a faux-slate look finish and the 9' market umbrella finishes it all off!! Love it!! I am even trying my best to overlook the price tag!!!! In fact, I may go and buy it this week and hide it somewhere in the basement so I don't have to think about it ;)

However, I have looked at some less expensive options:

This slingback option still offers a fair-sized dining table and 6 chairs; plus the market umbrella. Donwfalls: the slingback lowers it's attractiveness and the glass table get gross-looking fast when it rains!

Up next we have this slightly more comparable version, however I don't love the color as much, plus it looks nowhere near as comfortable!

Coming in at a close second is this ultra-modern Metro set. It has a lot of the same features that I like in the other one. Including the lovely table.

Another option is this set, however while I like the wicker, I think that's the only part of it, that I like!

I did go to some other sites and price out creating my own set, individually, and it ends up costing just as much!!

All photos from Walmart

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Martha's Kitchen

As much as I like her domesticity, Martha and I simply don't share the same design esthetic in our homes. A lot of what she has, is incrdibly industrial/commericial looking/feeling. I guess perhaps, it's because she probably does have hired help, and the pretty rooms are pretty for guests, but everything else, is pretty plain.

Anyhow, when I came across photos of her Cantitoe Corner's Kitchen I had to post, cause let's be honest, who doesn't like to see how she lives. Here's another peek into her home:

Holy crow!! And I thought I had a lot of dishes..... However for that matter, I certainly don't have that many of one matching set!!

There are two kitchen islands, for storage as well as sitting. Or from the looks of it, one for eating at, and one for prepping at. Pots and pans are kept well within reach on the overhead pot rack!

Here's another view of the islands from the servery. This is apparently also the spot where she sometimes eats breakfast. I'm gonn have to say that personally, I find this kitchen pretty depressing. I don't know if it's all the Martha-grey paint, but it's just not my style. It's too commerical and screams "personal chef".

One area of the kitchen that apparently gets a lot of use is the Cappuccino Corner. It features a grand machine; two grinders for decaf and regular beans; cups and saucers are kept atop the machine to keep them warm. Everyday dishes are in the cupboards above.

A lot of people have been incorporating workstations into their kitchens in the last couple years, and Martha agrees. A big screen tv, stereo system with Sirius radio and computer makes this the ideal spot for catching up on emails or even just checking recipes.

I dunno about you, but I'm quite happy if my home has a double stainless sink. This however, is the "vegetable sink"???? As in, the place for washing produce.... It doesn't show, but are there more sinks??? This beautiful marble apron sink is lovely though... even if it only washes vegggies...

Last but not least, is the Servery. This room houses fridges and warming drawers, great for party prep. Two dishwashers assist with clean-up and glass storage is here, where I imagine help would make drinks. Must be nice....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friend-ly Furniture Finds

I don't know how I forgot about this, but I've never posted about a really great furniture store here in the city.
The wife of my friend Eddie, owns a great store downtown called Posh at Home. Featuring lots of ultra-sleek, ultra-modern wares, this high-end furniture store gets some pretty cool stuff in!
While contemplating what we should do for outdoor furniture in the new house, I remembered about some great pieces I had seen last year on their website.
Despite being incredibly expensive, and WAAAAAYY out of MY price range, I really wanted to showcase this fantastic set by Nuevo that they sell at their store.

This is the GOLF!! During the off-season, this little set packs up neat and tidy into a little golf-ball looking package, making it great for storing, and easy to clean off the deck for when snow comes. Come summer, it unravels to reveal 4 chairs and a little table. I really like it in the color selection below:Oh, and that little metal box mounted to the wall?? Yeah, that's an ethanol burning fireplace!! How cool and easy would THAT be to add to your outdoor entertaining??

If you're not quite ready to outfit your deck, here are some amazing pieces for inside:

These wall-climbing men are sold individually, and are actually very heavy and pretty tall (each man is 7" tall) What a great little visual interest for your walls!!

Home Renovation Tax Credit

I've been thinking a lot lately about our new house.... obviously. Which of course always ends up with my realizing that we are going to need to spend even MORE money to fully finish the house to the way we want. Yeah I know, you're thinking "Aren't you building a brand new house?". But what I mean by this, is all the additional things like landscaping, building a fence, and finishing our basement to become a beautiful family room, bathroom, laundry room and small storage space, that aren't included. Nevermind the initial cost of getting window coverings right when we move in....

Cory has indicated that he is in no hurry to get these things done, however, I AM!!

I've been hearing a bit lately about the HRTC (Home Renovation Tax Credit) that the Canadian government is offering, however, not knowing anything about it, I just assumed it was probably something for people fixing up older homes.

However, today while perusing the Ikea site, they featured a link about it.... here and I am happy to say, that we could qualify for this credit. Specifically, if we purchase and complete all the work by next January (laying sod, basement finishing, building our fence)

If you're Canadian, and thinking about doing some moderate renovations or improvements to your home, but have been putting it off.... it's probably not a bad time to do it. Or if you're like us, and just starting out, having a little help with those additions, is always a nice treat.

Plus, if you do, it will help stimulate the economy, and give those in some of those currently less-busy trades (like construction) a little bit of work, in this much-needed time!