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Saturday, May 21, 2016


In this edition of Project Spotlight, I'm sharing a completed project where I designed a total town-home gut n' renovation on a shoestring budget. I'll also be featuring this project in a future Save & Splurge article, where I'll dive into more depth on key areas to provide some tips & tricks to stay on track - so stay tuned!

My clients are a young, newly wed pair, that took on their first home purchase completely aware that they will need to pretty well demolish the space to bring it up to their standards. Their personal styled identified with shabby-chic decor but nothing too feminine and frilly, and they both dreamed of introducing country-like elements to create a warm and inviting home.

Every project has its challenges, and for these two it was facing their champagne taste on a boxed-wine budget. Thankfully they were willing to compromise on a major features and completely trusted me in bringing their dream home to life.

M A I N   F L O O R  -  K I T C H E N


When I'm faced with a full kitchen gut-job, naturally I make a b-line straight for IKEA. I used the LIDINGO series in Gray for the base cabinetry, and White for the uppers. This line is now discontinued. To save on costs, we couldn't move the stove (venting $$) and plumbing (trench into slab $$$) so I was extremely limited on what I could accomplish. After humming and hawing over potential layouts, we ended up choosing a full U-shape with an additional pantry-storage/Fridge cabinetry area. 

To complete this kitchen, we opted for a clean quartz countertop, and a fun twist on the standard subway tile with a herringbone-lay. A bit time consuming to start, but easy enough once you get going! It looks phenomenal, and is an unexpected surprise when you walk into the kitchen.

M A I N   F L O O R -  D I N I N G  R O O M

Off the kitchen area, we had a small dining room to work with. Keeping the flooring throughout the main floor (grey laminate, by the way) we wanted to have the space feel finished - but only to a certain extent. With both clients working full time jobs that go way passed the regular 9-5, they knew the dining room will (most likely) never be used. And with the tripled-storage introduced in the new kitchen design, we didn't have to worry about squeezing in hutches or buffet cabinets into the small space.

What we ended up with was a pre-fab dining vignette that's made up of 4 dining chairs, all different shapes and colours, and a reclaimed-wood dining table in a sundried finish (with butterfly leaf hidden within!). Choosing prefabricated furniture pieces did limit our choices a bit when it came to looking for the perfect shabby-chic-inspired pieces, but kept us comfortably under budget - and we even had room to purchase this gorgeous West Elm 5-Jar Chandelier.
M A I N   F L O O R - P O W D E R  R O O M

I couldn't forget this tiny closet powder room! We kept the original vanity cabinetry (this was not original to the home but was replaced by the previous homeowners - score!) and installed some cute hexagon knobs, quartz counter top with under-mount sink, and new faucet. We have a loner West Elm Jar pendant featured in an existing junction (we embraced the odd location) and a simple frameless oval mirror. 

The show stopper of this small space with big style, is the marble hexagon mosaic backsplash that I ran the entire height of the vanity wall. Go big, or go home! There is an existing bulkhead that you can just barely peak at in the photo, which brought the overall ceiling height down and saved us on square footage. I love how the knobs play into the splash! 
M A I N   F L O O R - L I V I N G  R O O M

Rounding out the main floor tour, the Living Room proved to be one of the more challenging spaces to space-plan. The not-quite-a-bowling-alley shape with three main traffic access points made for one awkward triangle. And with the cable outlet hidden along the brick fireplace, it was a struggle not to just stick a nice sized sectional at the veeeeeery back wall (where the desk/library area is now) to maximize seating. The main problem was that there was a dance floor between the TV and the sofa, and no matter how big these TV's get - it ain't worth watching it in a poorly furnished room. At least that's what I told my clients, who I assure you couldn't care less!

With biting the bullet on custom furniture. I was able to squeeze out every last inch of an apartment-sized sofa-chaise that could be placed well enough away from the TV viewing point. I finished off the space with a swivel chair to keep the space looking too formal, and also allowed me to easily move it about the space to keep it feeling open, and not over-stuffed with furniture. How cute is that chair, by the way? I know right!

U P P E R  F L O O R - M A S T E R  BA T H

The Master Bathroom was the biggest "win" of the entire project. Originally, the townhouse had a powder room as an ensuite, and a full guest bathroom with entrance in the upstairs hallway. By demolishing the wall between the two, and carving out a deep closet (located directly behind the heater you see in the picture above) to house a brand new side-by-side washer and dryer {heaven on the second floor!}, I was able to create a proper Master suite that is 100% drool-worthy. And as luck would have it, we turned a second floor storage room into a humble guest bathroom. Hello, equity!

Although it might look like a million-bucks, I still found ways to save to keep this part of the renovation on budget. Choosing porcelain tile (the gorgeous faux wood floor tile, and the shower wall tile), a prefabricated vanity from Costco (that included the marble counter top, hardware, sinks and mirrors) and a ready-made acrylic shower pan all helped keep the budget in check. I kept with the playful mosaic back-splash and introduced a marble accent strip in the shower to play on the staggered installation of the flooring. Everything flows, cohesive and quiet, in this tranquil and spa-like retreat.

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look into my completed designs. I would LOVE to know what you think! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!

Photography by Leo @ LionLight Photography
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

As you may, or may not know, I've just ended a lengthy unexplained hiatus from my cozy home on the internet. I've had a busy summer at work (which flowed into my Autumn and Winter..) - which is truly fantastic as I've practically doubled my portfolio in the span of 3 months!! For an Interior Designer, that's always a good thing.

So if you're ever wondering where I am these days, check out @rsmithinteriors to see everything from my latest portfolio shots, renovation updates, before & afters, and a plethora of gorgeous interior design inspiration.

For all you bloggers out there, have you expanded your personal Instagram, or have you created one specifically for your blog or business? Feel free to leave your  account below!

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Friday, May 06, 2016

As I perused the endless amounts of office decor and design, I started noticing a trend in the pins that interested me, and the pins that I ignored. This didn't mean the space was ugly or poorly designed, but it was the actual desk space and usage that either sealed the deal or lived to see another day, just on somebody else's inspiration board. Thus, the term Desk Etiquette blossomed into a full on exploratory investigation. Allow me to demonstrate;

Source: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

The Clutterbug - the obnoxious display of good design with a bunch of random - yet, "important" - junk. The majority of these rooms are esthetically pleasing to the eye, soft muted colours paired with white furniture, you really can't go wrong there. There's also some great ideas hidden in there, like magnetic chalkboard paint, or the brilliant use of IKEA storage towers to maximize office awesomeness. But then... there's all that stuff. Not to be confused with the general population of "The Mess" design practice, where junk magically accumulates in a blink of an eye and is certainly not intended, the Clutterbug fully intends to fill their spaces with endless amounts of magazine clippings and sticky notes until every nook and cranny is filled.

Serious sensory overload. I get enough brain activity from my computer screen alone, I couldn't imagine glancing up and staring at a busy scraps wall. Just thinking of it makes my eyes tired.

Source: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

The OCD Organizer - the oft times frightening display of obsessive rainbow coordination and meticulous bookshelf storage. These people run the design boot camp for organization, and get giddy when they look at perfectly aligned magazine holders. The Organizer tirelessly categorizes every single item in their office and finds a place for it. They enjoy admiring their hard work by having everything in your face at hand, with all their glorious organization exposed for the world to see. But if you ask me, those who are organized are just too lazy to look for things.

Another overload on the eye balls... I'm sensing a pattern here. I do not have the patience nor stamina to systematize my office supplies. I prefer to have a life. Translation: I prefer to spend my days laying out at the pool sipping a Corona or watching endless amounts of Netflix with a bowl of popcorn at hand. With such a demanding schedule, it's no wonder I don't find time to organize.

Source: 1 / 2 / 3

The Minimalist - the ultimate form of self control. The Minimalist is an artist, painting the perfect picture of simplicity. They are pure in their design esthetic, only introducing pieces of necessity, requiring every single item to coordinate and flow together. If you ever need minimalist inspiration, look no further than Scandinavian/Nordic design, or my Tumblr.

I have had many failed attempts at pulling off the Minimalist, so at this point I've pretty well given up.

In conclusion, I've found that I'm none of the three radical Desk Etiquette's. I'm drawn to inspirations that have a little dose of all three mixed together in a delicious stew of office design. After all that dissection, I still can't figure out where I fit in.

I would love to be able to keep my office space completely clutter free, but I do appreciate the slight pops of colour, a funky lamp, and an array of plush toss cushions. The colour palette I'm loving right now is cream, white, soft pink and gold. Gold has always, and forever will be, a design obsession of mine, and it would be simple enough to switch out the hits of pink when if I tire of it.

What is your Desk Etiquette?

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Clean, minimalistic, and drop dead gorgeous; these were the top requirements from my client's during their 70's split-level remodel. For over a decade, they lived the lives of generous clutterbugs. To be fair, this bustling family of four focused their lives on spending time together outside and traveling to visit family,  rather than paying any attention to the ever-accumulating amount of 'stuff' inside their home. However, when they signed on to uproot their daily life and undertake a huge renovation, they also agreed upon starting their next chapter clutter-free.


After viewing the kitchen and the basement laundry room 'before' photos in previous posts, you can already imagine what the main floor great room looked like. I have one cheeky look back at the biggest eye sore in the room;

TASK #1 -Demolish the Existing Fireplace

The fireplace monstrosity was really something else. Classic lava rock, what a great idea, really. There was a wood burning fireplace {that didn't work} somewhere in there, layered behind a random cabinet, general junk, etc. I have a new found respect for the gentlemen who had to knock this puppy down.
Solution: Re-invent the fireplace with a new gas insert, large 12 x 24 marble tile application, and a floating limestone mantle finished to mimic concrete.  Since they have a gas Dryer, adding an additional gas line did not take a blow on the budget, so we were able to splurge a bit on the actual unit with all the fixings.

TASK #2 - Maximize Seating

 Uprooting their life of clutter and mayhem, we chose a very minimal, streamlined look with the furniture pieces to really keep the momentum going in their new clutter-free lifestyle. To keep the space from looking too cold, I played up the textures to make the space feel more welcoming than formal. Additionally, I sourced and extra-long sectional with "bumper" arms {large enough to actually sit on - which the kids love!} and two generous swivel accent chairs to give the space a touch of playfulness.

We didn't stray far from the original plan, only swapping out the coffee table. What we ended up with, was a space perfect for a family of four enjoying movie night, or a group of 10 preteens for a birthday party.


{Let's all just breathe a sigh of relief.}

The dining space completes our tour of the main floor, showcasing this gorgeous live-edge acacia wood table and bench, paired with white leather chairs that are a breeze to keep clean and look great. Behind the table is a cheeky peek at an IKEA PAX wardrobe slider {white with frosted glass doors} flanked by two kitchen cabinets for a legit built-in look and half the price. Now if the clients relapse on the clutter-front, they will have plenty of room to hide it!

Are you loving this series? Catch up on what you've missed:

 Stay classy,

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Oh boy, do I have a treat for you today! As I've mentioned previously, last year I embarked on a full home renovation, and I couldn't wait to share with you the final result.

My client's J & J's kitchen was the run-of-the-mill mid-70's style U-Shape kitchen, complete with gray tiles with a purple undertone, yellowing cabinets, and less than desirable linoleum floor. The kitchen was barely 140 square feet, and on top of the minimal amount of kitchen storage, there was a small table and four chairs squeezed in for good measure. This kitchen was definitely not the heart of the home, but I aimed to change that.

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