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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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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Last year, I wrote a series of posts outlining a few key experiences through a large renovation. The first phase of the entire project was tackling the lower level Laundry Room & Bathroom. Feel free to peruse my old posts for more in depth detail of the beginning stages of the renovation.

Fast forward to present time, my client's home has now been completely overhauled on all three levels, and I've just received the professional photographs hot off the press! To complete my multi-part series, we're starting off today with a look at the completed lower level space.


My client's J & J were yearning for a change when we met back in May 2012. They had lived in their late 70's split level for over a decade, and where finally ready to uproot the old and make way for the new. We started with their lower level mudroom, laundry room and bathroom.


The image above pretty much says classifies a 70's special: vinyl wall paneling, ceiling tiles, patterned linoleum, and a yellow toilet. The space felt dark and uninviting, cluttered and disjointed. J & J are both bright, bubbly and full of happy energy, and their space definitely did not reflect that.

I knew I wanted to maximize every last inch of the misused square footage, and focus on maintaining a crisp and clean design scheme while keeping each finish family and budget friendly. 

Task #1 - Specific Storage: Hockey Gear

Mr. J is an avid biker, and a recreational hockey player along with his 11 year old son. When I was presented with two large body bags full of stinky gear, I knew I had to come up with something brilliant to hideaway the bulk {and the stench}.
Solution: To save precious budget dollars on custom cabinetry, I chose to build out a "Walk-In Closet" style room with a heavy duty ventilation system. Install white wire shelving along two walls, and keep the floor space open for the occasional use of a drying rack after each activity. Close the door, turn on the fan, and voila!

Task #2 - Bathroom Woes

The existing bathroom of this space only had a working toilet and sink, but had rough in plumbing for a tub/shower that just didn't exist.  I could have just used the wasted square footage for the revamped laundry area and stick to a Powder Room, but in this 70's split level - there was only one other bathroom to service the entire home, and that lived on the upper floor. 
Solution: Revamping the floor plan allowed for an efficient 3 piece bathroom that would not only look clean n' fresh for their guests, but also alleviate some traffic jams on the upper floor bathroom.

Task #3 - Giving Back

Mrs. J could also be referred to as Super Mom. Her list of accomplishments are endless, all the while taking care of house and home with two almost-teens running amok. Although she never asked for it, I really wanted to create the new Laundry space that would spoil her.
Solution: We saved a ton on the cabinetry budget using pre-made IKEA cabinets. I was able to create a mock-kitchen feel with a large island that would not only provide the space for laundry-esque tasks, but allow Mrs. J to spread out while crafting, roll out the dough for her mouth-watering baking {I was gifted her homemade treats for Christmas at it was divine!} and all in all offer a quiet retreat away from the family when needed.


Behold the brilliancy that is the new floor plan! I was able to complete everything off J & J's wishlist with a complete gut of their space. And without further adieu, enjoy the finished product;

Couldn't you see yourself actually enjoying folding laundry {while seated!} in this bright space? Even IKEA cabinet's don't look half bad dressed with a warm white quartz counter top and a playful glass mosaic backsplash!

The bathroom transitions seamlessly from the main laundry space, mimicking the cabinets  with a highgloss white vanity, a peek-a-boo style backsplash, and a stunning crisp white shower {with light grey grout - easier cleaning!}. We were able to splurge on a marble accent mosaic after our savings with a pre-made vanity {that even came with the sink, faucet, countertop and mirror!}, acrylic shower pan, and a one-stop-shop shower system.

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

Stay classy,

View my Portfolio overview for more projects
Photography by the talented Leo @ LionLight Photography
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Sunday, April 10, 2016

If you look hard enough, past the long stretch of pavements and flashing street lights and beyond the non-stop energy of a metropolitan city, you can find a little patch of heaven amidst the chaos. An escape from the hustle and bustle. Somewhere you can look out your window and only hear the ocean waves crashing in the distance or the call of a seagull. A place of peace and quiet.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

I'm not one to stray far from colour {haven't you seen my latest project?}. This may be the main reason why I absolutely adore Nursery design. You can throw out the rule book and pretty much get away with anything. Having a fun and playful colour scheme adds energy and life into a small space, which is just what some new moms need whilst raising their bundle{s} of joy.

But with all that said, I still find it refreshing to see a Nursery now and again that feels more like a peaceful retreat than colourful circus. And what better way to add fuel to my obsession, than to share a few styles that I'm currently drooling over. Which paints a super awkward picture in your head right now.  


A warm and soft colour palette can be a no-brainer fellow Nursery connoisseurs. Slap up a taupe or tan on the walls, layer on the textures like IKEA's Faux Sheepskin,  and a furry pooch and you're good to go. Natural wood tones mixed with white pieces of furniture complete the space.


Where a warm neutral Nursery is classic, a grey neutral Nursery is new age. Grey has been the heavy hitter in the design industry, taking it over by storm.

One thing I've noticed, is that I could only find one completely grey monotone design to share {above}. Anything and everything grey/nursery related, ALL has splashes of colour. My best guess as to why that is, since I like an explanation for everything, is that a cool-toned {blue undertone} mono-grey space can feel cold very quickly. Especially when you're not upping the texture count. Colour will distract from the cooler feel, by adding energy into the space. Then again, grey really just makes any colour look good!

I hope you've enjoyed my little slice of inspiration today! If you too are a Nursery design addict {because I swear that's a thing} feel free to follow along my own Nursery obsessions that I've shared so far on the blog.


Stay classy,

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's not everyday you get to paint an orange accent wall and get away with it.

To my great fortune, I had the opportunity to work with amazing clients, newly retired B & G. They handed me a blank canvas, their newly built condo in a gargantuan complex, with only two table lamps to their name. They were jumping into a new chapter in their lives, downsizing from family life and starting fresh with new furniture and a new outlook.

When you find clients who put their complete trust in you, you tend to keep them close to your heart. B & G were always light-hearted, good humored, and totally put up with all my crazy ideas during the entire pre-planning process. After working closely in the four months leading up to their move-in date, they chose a fun, fresh design plan without hesitation. For a look behind the scenes, click over to Designs & Tips for Downsizing and take a gander at some details on bringing B & G's space to life.

Here's a complete look at their finished space!


Photography done by the talented Leo @ LionLight Photography.

I'm still buzzing off this win, and looking forward to breaking down and analyzing each space to give you tools to create this look in your own home!

Stay classy,

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