Archives For home decor

Greatest Hits, Volume 1

August 11, 2016 — 2 Comments

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Whoa guys! How ARE you, old friends? How has your summer been? (Or is it, “how has been your summer?” I really don’t  know. If you could explain the preposition rule to me, and THEN tell me about your summer, that’d be great).

Let’s pretend it hasn’t been 5 months since we last met here, and instead pick up right where we left off. Although, there’s one small hiccup with that plan: when we left off, I was 29. And now I’m 30! MeeeeOOOOOW! (…I don’t know what that was. It’s really hot outside. I’m rusty. It’s been 5 months!)

Back to it: I celebrated that milestone about a month ago today, and it really was such a great time, I said to myself many times since “I should blog about that.” And lo! Here I am. Blogging about it. Or at least I will when I eventually stop rambling and get to the point.  And the point is this! I thought a recap of my 30th birthday party would be a good excuse to get back to blogging because the whole event really served as a Greatest Hits Compilation of (most) everything and everyone I hold dear.

Were I to retroactively apply a theme to my party, it would be Classic Julie, because if there were ever Julie-themed Bingo boards (*GREAT IDEA ALERT*), this party dabbed every box:

My weird, vintage, handmade dress was thrifted for a song just a few days before the party (CLASSIC JULIE); the decor was an random explosion of every fun thing we could trade or buy (CLASSIC JULIE); the food was, honestly, anything I deemed delicious + much much cheese (CLASSIC JULIE); and all of it was pulled together and brought to life by my wonderful mom, who has the unique ability to make any space look and feel groovy-yet-classy, without a whiff of pretension. Lastly, and most importantly, the guest list was full of friends and family that I’ve either know for 30 years, or will certainly treasure for 30 more (SAPPY JULIE).

I’m not too sure how many of those years I’ll document on this blog, but I just renewed my annual WordPress Premium plan, so you can count on at least one more. And with a Greatest Hits album out of the way, it’s the perfect time to start working on some new material.

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

wesothirty7

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

 

Past Due

January 15, 2015 — 5 Comments

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater, knitted bag + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

I’ll be honest: I knew my previous post wouldn’t be my last one before D-Day. I had a real strong feeling this little fella/bella would be kickin’ around for, minimum, a few days after my due date. I’ve long expected to be a long-expectant momma, and that’s actually been incredibly healthy for my mental state. It means I’m less “GET THIS BABY OUTTA ME!” and more “I guess I’ll make brownies?” I’ve been assuming this babe will take it’s sweet time, and that a due date is just a marker to make sure you’ve done all the important laundry. So, here I am, two days after my due date, and still no strong signs of labour. But I’m good with it! Really! I’ve even kicked myself off of the “let’s read about the WORST CASE SCENARIO” message boards. The oddly-comforting reality is that there is nothing I can do about how this baby comes into the world, and anyway/time that gets it here safely is the right way/time. Whoa! Look at me getting all advice-y and evolved. Must be the brownies! (Also, remind of these words when I’m, like, 12 days overdue).

Anyways, seeing as I’ve had some time to kill lately, I’ve made sure to visit all four of the main thrift spots in Hamilton over the past few weeks (Talize, Salvation Army, Valu Village, and Bibles for Missions). The outfit above is 100% Bibles for Missions. I found the sweater for $6, the hat for $2, and the boots for $10. I was immediately pleased with the way the gray sweater and red and white stripes went together, but couldn’t figure out why. When I got home, I figured out why: It’s because I look like those socks, and, by extension, those sock monkeys. You call it a coincidence, I call it the easiest Halloween costume ever!

In this look, I also fit quite nicely into the palette I set for our nursery. “Setting a palette” almost sounds too fussy for how I approached decorating the space. I just wanted it to be FUN, full of primary reds, blues, and yellows. And you know what? Fun it is! Matt, with the help of his Dad, cousin, and a few handy friends, really did all the hard work in prepping this space: He created a brand-new room out of our way-too-large living space  – walls went up, trim went down, and paint went on. All I had to do was fill the room with furniture and the fill the walls warmth and whimsy.

nursery12

The first decorative items I received for the nursery were these beautiful paintings by my sister Laura. Matt, ever the thoughtful one, commissioned some artwork from her for our fifth anniversary in the summer. Laura had heard a few things about my “vision” (again, that sounds too fussy) for the room, and she completely nailed it. I really did use those paintings as a launchpad for everything else in the room: the patterns and stripes, the golden yellows and punchy reds – it’s all there. I was able to take that influence, and fill the rest of the room with gifts from friends and family, items I already had, and new buys from Ikea and Target (I’ll miss you, boo!). OH, and so much Kijiji:

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

 

More pics and such below!
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Setting the Table

February 6, 2013 — 10 Comments

makingspace2

In my last post, I mentioned I was taking a little break from thrifting clothing. While I’ll be back to it very soon, I’ve made some substantial steps in terms of keeping the habit in check. For one, I went to the thrift store with my sisters with the sole intention of helping them find clothing, without finding anything for moi. And I succeeded! It was fun. I was like a personal shopper. Except now, every time Adele wears here cool new two-toned sweater with a zipper on the back, I stroke it and whisper “You could of been mine. She better be treating you right.” Minor creepy tendencies aside, that was fairly momentous. The other victory came when I went to Valu Village strictly for housewares. I blew right pass their many racks of clothing, and came out with exactly what I needed – a new look for my dining room.

The trip to Valu Village was a calculated decision. I find most of their clothing to be very overpriced, but they still have the largest selection of housewares, thus I knew I could get what I needed from them with minimal temptation to add to my closet. My mission came about after Matt and I invited some friends for dinner. Most of the time, when we entertain, I just assume they’ll be sated with wine and cheese like myself, and we avoid the dining room all together. This time, however, we were having an actual meal, so I needed to address the blank space that was to house our food, and that’s just what I did:

makingspace

First off, it’s a bit of a misnomer to call this space our “dining room”. It’s really just a corner in between our kitchen and living room, large enough for a table, with only two walls to call its own. I’ve neglecting this space in terms of decorating, so it was a blank canvas. Sure, one wall is blue, and one is taupe, but other than that, there were no motifs or colours I had to match. So, I searched through the table settings with a very open mind.

At first, I sifted through the table cloths, in hopes something would jump out. It didn’t, so I moved right along. Not long after, I picked up a brand-new (with tags) table runner. The lighter blue was a nice (albeit not perfect) match to the wall, and I loved the clean, retro print. I then found a whack of circular place mats (also with tags) in the very same navy as the modules on the runner. I loved that they not only matched the runner in colour, but also in shape.

makingspace4

palette

With those two items in place, I went back to the table cloths. I thought about searching for a solid white one, but then I remembered how much I spill on myself and nixed that idea. I was about to settle on a vintage seafoam one, as it was a perfect match to the runner, when this heavy striped cloth popped out. Not only did it have the seafoam from the runner, but all sorts of other purples, blues, and greens as well. I also liked how the stripes tied in with the runner. This table cloth would work with the pieces currently in my cart, and leave the door option for other coordinating pieces in the future. Perfect! From there, I did what I always do: Buy a bunch of flowers and a big loaf of bread.

makingspace3

This mini-transformation is perfectly reflective of the approach to home decor that I’ve already taken on this blog. I don’t have the time or the coin to do anything big or dramatic, so I focus in on the small spaces – the corners, nooks, and crannies. In this way, my approach to home decor is right on par with my approach to fashion. I don’t always have a grand idea or vision in mind, but I know what I like (and what Matt will let me get away with). So that’s the way I set my table – bit by bit, piece by piece, until something comes together.

Now I just have to figure out how to apply this formula to food, because a pretty table is only as good as the food that’s on it. Unless you’re in the movie Hook, in which case you could just imagine all your table settings, too. Bangarang!

Full Circle

June 1, 2012 — 12 Comments

I think I’ll officially feel like a grown-up when I care as much about my house as I do my closet. Don’t get me wrong, I love flipping through Style at Home, and I’m a Sarah Richardson devotee, but if I find myself with extra cash in my pocket, it usually goes towards a sparkly dress before it does an ottoman. But every so often, the home decor bug sneaks up out of nowhere, and I go all Tasmanian Devil in reverse. Way back in January, I blogged about this phenomenon at work. A few days ago, I caught the bug again. As it was with my vanity project, I was spurred on by one really great piece, and everything unfolded from there. This time, my catalyst was this super-awesome Dr. Evil chair:

My mom bequeathed this chair unto me as a thank you for a recent string of favours. (some say it with flowers, Mom says it with home furnishing). I LOVE this chair. But it looked downright silly next to my sagging Kijiji couches. Our living space is much like a bowling aisle – saggy couches with TV on one side, desks & computers on the other side, with a wide expanse of space in between. Next to our computer stations sat two Bermuda chairs (also from Mom) They are very nice, but they always looked a little lonely and lost in the back corner of our living space. In front of them sat a large coffee table gathering dust and unopened mail. These Bermudas matched the aesthetic of the circle chair perfectly. So, off to the corner it went!

That’s when things got real. These three nice chairs still looked lost and lonely, and they deserved better. So, I channeled my inner Nate Berkus, and attacked this corner with everything I had. I pulled the rug from our kitchen, the lamp from our TV space, the coffee table books from our shelves, the clock from our dinning room, and it just took off from there. The biggest “aha” moment arrived upon the realization that I could actually pull the large coffee table apart, and use it as two separate end tables to frame the space.

If you ever feel lost when trying to pull a room together, stick to matching basic shapes and textures. I basically echoed the circle-shape through the space for most elements, and the square for the rest.

Check out those neat iron circles on the ledge: They’re a gift from my mom-in-law, an old floor grate she recovered. In fact, everything in this space is either thrifted or gifted.

The artwork on the right is a wedding gift from my friend and mentor Petra, and within it you can see almost every motif for this space at work – circles, squares, clean black edges, even the lines from the floor grates and candle lantern.

As I added more elements to the space, more visual connections arose. The glow of the candle lantern picks up the flecks of gold in that wicked retro clock (thrifted gift), that clock faces a wall of other clocks (gifted), and the gold lamp (thrifted) lights all of it up.

Oh, and all these clocks tie back to the circle chair. Full circle. (How many more times will I say circle in this post? Circle circle circle!). Even the little mirror tucked behind the candle lantern plays a part – the pattern reminds me of the button placement on the Bermuda chairs, and it has some flecks of gold, too.

When I originally posted pictures of my mom’s thrifty home decor, I mentioned that she never sets out looking to fill a particular space all at once. Rather, she “buys little bits and pieces all the time, until, voila! A vingette comes together.” That’s exactly what happened in this corner. I already had everything to make this space come alive, it just needed one element to bring it all together.

One final tip: Coffee table books are one of the easiest ways to add character to your living space. They immediately tell people about your passions. This table is great because it showcases many of my favourite reads. Some of them came from my parents’ used book store, and others have been collected over time. Show them off! They communicate a lot more about your personality than a Kindle display would.

There is only one foreseeable danger to my new corner: One I was finished with this space, I made myself a rye n’ ginger and enjoyed it in my Dr. Evil chair. My cat settled in for some snuggling, and I suddenly had a strong desire to take over the world and get myself a pint-sized henchman. Just promise you’ll intervene if I start losing my hair.

Pinsanity

February 21, 2012 — 13 Comments

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little ho-hum about my kitchen. It’s really the plainest space in my house – white counters, white cupboards, plain tile and old appliances. Matt and I know that someday we’ll give it a grand ol’ makeover, but we hadn’t given much thought to what that might look like. Not too long ago, I headed over to Pinterest to gather up some kitchen decor ideas.

For the rock-dwellers among us,  Pinterest is an online bookmarking system that houses, well, everything – clothing, recipes, home decor, memes – you name it, they’ve got it. It’s wonderful for wasting time under the guise of “finding inspiration”. More often than not, though, I head onto Pinterest looking for something particular, and before I know it, an hour has passed and I haven’t found anything that I originally set out looking for. Rather, I’ve made 113 new pins, and am suddenly certain I need some leg warmers, I should make something out of old mason jars, Joseph Gordon Levitt sure is handsome, blue is the new yellow, orange is the new blue, I should wallpaper my face, make an infographic about it, and then watch tutorials on how to make my hair look awesome with using only a fork and a single bobby pin. You get the idea – Pinterest is an amazing way of connecting with other creative women, but it can all get just a little overwhelming if left unbridled.

So, I put my little kitchen makeover in the back of my mind and stepped away from the Pin board.

I hadn’t really though much more about it until I thrifted the sunny H&M tunic you see here. I was instantly drawn to the retro print, and more so, the palette. Within this tunic, I saw the safe, neutral tones that would get my husband on board, and the warm, saturated hues I think a cozy kitchen needs.

I wore it with my thrifted Zara jacket and my leather ballet flats – I was a big fan of all the taupes and grays at work in this outfit. It was the perfect platform to return to Pinterest with a vision.

First, I started looking for patterns and palettes, using my new tunic as a reference.

From there, I broadened my search and began looking for rooms that worked in this colour family. I instantly found it much easier to navigate the murky waters of Pinterest with more defined search parameters.

I’ve since gathered up all these pieces and placed them on one board. They are now all hanging out together in a simple, organized, curated collection. So, if/when we decide to turn our attentions to the kitchen, we’ll at least have a place to start arguing, and that’s something!

As an aside, you’ll notice in the above pic I’m perplexed by the abundance of zippers, buttons, and pockets on my jacket. Who needs six tiny pockets on one jacket? A candy smuggler? A penny collector? A chauffeur to The Borrowers? So many questions! But perhaps these are queries better left for another day. I’ve solved one mystery today, I’m not sure I can handle another. Until then, happy pinning!

In my own little corner

January 6, 2012 — 26 Comments

Warning: I’m about to show you something gross. Okay, not really gross, but sort of pathetic, and a little embarrassing. Are you ready?

 Gah! My eyes! The combination of the automatic flash + my racoon cat makes this look like a crime scene photo, when in fact it’s the sad, sorry little corner where I sat to get ready for the day. Objects in the photo include, but are not limited to: books, a box of golf balls, dirty laundry, clean laundry, printer paper, lady products, and canadian flag in the window. Every morning, in the midst of this hodge-podge, I would plop down on the floor, blindly shove my contacts into my eyes, plug in my blowdryer and slap on some makeup. Usually in that order.

While the rest of my house has, fortunately, moved away from “university student” decor over the past few years, a few leftover clues remain (our bedside table is a rubbermaid container with a scarf over it). This corner still looked like it was inhabited by a 20-something college kid who was either jacked up on coffee or hungover from a night of smoke machines and dollar beers.

Over the holidays, I was newly inspired by my mom’s thrifty solutions to decor problems, so I decided to attack this corner with the same strategy. The result:

Much better! Wouldn’t you say?

The room renovation began with a hunt for a vanity. My first stop was the trusted Salvation Army. I didn’t come home with a vanity. I did, however, come home with the cute lamp and big mirror you see above. Both $4.99. A few days later, I paid a visit to the Bibles For Missions Thrift Store. They usually have a larger selection of furniture, and lo, they had this charming dressing table! The vanity cost me more than I wanted ($35 plus a delivery charge of nearly as much). However, when you’re shopping at a place that exists only to further missionary projects run by the Bible League, you can also consider your purchase a donation – and that should make anyone loosen their purse strings.

I also picked up a small stool for $10, and a whack of stripey yellow fabric for $2.50 (I originally picked out a totally awesome hippy-dippy paisley pattern, but when I asked my husband how much he hated he, he said “I hate it so much”. If he had responded with “I hate it only a little” I would have taken it).

So, once home, I recovered the seat with the stripey fabric. Note: I don’t sew, I don’t craft, I don’t even staple – I used thumb tacks. Don’t judge. It worked! I also had enough fabric to make a neat little jewelry board out of a frame I picked up from a church garage sale. You might recognize it from this post. Now I won’t have to spend ten minutes unknotting my jewelry after pulling it out of a drawer. Small victories!

I grabbed a few other items from the house (a flower pot for my hairspray products, and a wicker box to house my makeup) and suddenly the forgotten corner didn’t look so scary.

Most of the miscellaneous items I listed before found new homes in the vanity drawers. I’m also hoping that since this corner no longer looks like a dump, I’ll be less inclined to treat it as one. The dirty laundry will go directly into the hamper, and the clean laundry will go to the floor of my closest (hey, I’m a realist). All in all, I’m quite pleased with my new space! I won’t be bursting out “I feel pretty” every morning, but I can at least give myself morning pep talks with some dignity. And I love my morning pep talks.

Any forgotten corners in your home you’d like to tackle?

I got it from my Mama

January 3, 2012 — 14 Comments

So often, I’m greeted with looks of shock and awe when I tell people just how many items in my house and closet are thrifted goods. They commend me, and say “I could never do that – I have no idea where to begin!” as if I’m practicing some advanced level of witchcraft of which they are ignorant. People, I appreciate the flattery, but it’s quite honestly undeserved! Thrifting is easy, if you do it right. And you know who taught me to do it right? My mom. The lady is a thrift machine! Her trick? Go early, go often.

Thrifting, whether it be for clothing or housewares, is best done in an open and relaxed state of mine. Don’t go in a hurry, frantically looking for a particular item. Rather, go when you have at least an hour, with an open mind. This is the way I shop for clothing – collecting items that make an outfit over  time, and the same goes for interior decorating – buy little bits and pieces all the time, until, voila! A vingette comes together.

I spent time at my parents’ over the holidays, and while I was there I snapped a few pics of this theory in practice – little pieces, thrifted from many different stores, coming together in a lovely, stylish way.

Those lamps and mugs? Salvation Army. The paintings and mirrors? The Humane Society Thrift Store. The hutch they sit on? Waste Wise. And you get the idea. Mom has amassed such a collection of thrifted artwork and mirrors, every month she can shift them around, put them on a new wall, pair them with a new item, and create a brand-new space. It’s just like remixing accessories & clothing to make a new outfit.

Look at the little touches in her kitchen: those chairs came from Salvation Army, and Mom waited for the right fabric to recover them. How awesome is the retro bread box? It sits next to a framed coffee ad from a 60s Life magazine. It’s about the little things!

In the kitchen, there was this awkward space between the pantry and the heating radiator for months after my parents moved in. When the above little sofa came up at one of her usual spots, she stuck in it in the car and took it home. Fits perfectly. Observe the wall of frames – she didn’t buy those all at once from Ikea. She collected them over time, and they all spent time in different parts of the house, only now they make one elegant statement.

Another sweet find by Mom is the vintage wallpaper above the bed in my parents’ room. While my husband would have a heart attack if I put something this bold in our room (or anywhere – he’s allergic to wallpaper), my Dad is pretty chill about the whole thing. And the end result is pretty darn stylin’.

So, there you have it: Mom’s rules to get your house looking beautiful on a budget: Thrift everywhere, thrift often, with eyes always open to the little things.

I recently attempted my own mini-room makeover, compiling items from Bibles for Missions, Salvation Army, and the church garage sale. Look for it on the blog later this week. In the mean time, try to find it in your heart to forgive me for using a terrible Will.I.Am song in my title. I’d promise it won’t happen again, but I’d be lying. Titles are hard.