I posted about Halloween awhile back, remember?

And after posting, I immediately went to Dollarama, bought some supplies and made a wreath.

It took all of 10 minutes, I swear.

Supplies:
1. Three black-feather boas (Dollarama, $2 each)
2. One plastic wall clock, black (Dollarama, $2 each)
3. Screwdriver

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I tend to use these plastic clocks for my wreath forms because they're cheap, light, and readily available at dollar stores (which means there's no need to visit a specialist craft place). To get at the black plastic hoop, just flip the clock over and unscrew the back. The other parts of the clock (face, hands, backing, glass cover, etc.) might be handy for other projects, so set aside.
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Method:
1. To get at the black plastic hoop, just flip the clock over and unscrew the back, as mentioned above.
2. Wrap the black plastic hoop in the feather boa... going around and around. You can secure it to the hoop with hot glue if you like, but I just wrapped and found that the boa stayed in position pretty well on it's own. It took three boas to cover the hoop twice. Tie the ends of the boas together as you go, so there are no gaps.
3. Done!

I personally think the plain black feathers work on their own. They flap in a disturbing fashion when anyone opens our screen door (and it really freaks people out... hee hee.) But if you like, you can decorate your wreath with ribbon or baubles. Just tie them on with black thread or use hot glue.

Here's my finished wreath. Total cost? $8.
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Over the next month, I may decorate it a little. Maybe I'll add some little birds, bats or baby skulls. Maybe not. Either way, this is a super-simple Halloween craft that takes all of 10 minutes and looks pretty darn good as is.
 
 
I really enjoyed the October 2011 issue of Style at Home, until I flipped to the piece on pg. 78 entitled "Modern primitive."

That title was emblazoned across this image:
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Photography by Leslie Williamson from Handcrafted Modern (Rizzoli, 2010).
The room? Beautiful. Gorgeous. I love it.

Using the word "primitive" in relation to a story about African-inspired style? Pretty darn offensive.

I tweeted about this and put a comment on Style at Home's facebook page, but no one responded.

Look, I'm not interested in being politically correct, but I am interested in the power of language and the idea that language does, in fact, matter. Educated, savvy young journalists (or just plain "staff" if that's what you want to call them) should have known better.

The web-version of the same story opens with the following lines:

"A fresh take on classic African style, modern global is a meeting place for natural materials, worldly finds and exotic textiles."

Note how they use the term "modern global" here. I'm fine with that. But the piece was actually called Modern PRIMITIVE. And global and primitive aren't interchangeable words.
It's a magazine, guys. Editorial concerns should really be paramount.

Let's do better.

I love the picture, but using derogatory, and yes, racist language in headlines is not chic.
 
 
Okay. I know I've dawdled on this, but it's finally time to reveal my new(ish) dark bedroom. If you remember, I was hesitant to go dark at first, but it's now been several weeks since I completed the painting and I have to say... I love it.

Special thanks to everyone who encouraged me to go for it, especially Amy at ABCD Designs.

I know you want to see it, but let's not dive right in. Let's start with my inspiration: the peacock feather. I woke up one morning thinking of peacock feathers and that's where this whole thing started. At first, I wanted to paint the room green. But that seemed impractical, or less livable, so I decided on a deep blue, like the very centre of the feather's eye.
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Feather photo by Neza Èerin from SXC.
I chose Behr's "Night Shade" #740F-7. On the chip, it looks near-black, but on the walls, it's a lovely, deep blue with a forest green undertone. It looks different in different lights and at different hours of the day, so I feel like it's a living colour. Like it can breathe.

My walls are textured - very old and bumpy plaster - so I chose matte/flat 'paint+primer in one' for coverage that would hide imperfections.

Here's the before shot. (We lived with the room this way for about two years.)
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When I committed to this makeover, the first thing I did was reorient the furniture. I moved the bed from the back wall to under the window. Now, when you walk into the room, you see the bed on your left and a straight path to the back wall on your right. Here is the reoriented furniture, before I started laying on the new paint:
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Next, I got painting.
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Working with a dark colour is emotionally daunting because initially, it looks like... crap. I was terrified after my first (patchy) pass, but after three solid coats, I felt a lot better. Next, I had to consider If I would paint the doors and trim.
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I decided to paint everything (except the ceiling) because I wanted the finished room to feel calm. The dark colour made the white doors, baseboards and moldings pop, but I didn't want pop. Pop was the opposite of what I wanted. So on went the paint. (I even painted the light switch  and electrical plates.) The result is a completely uniform envelope. Very serene.

So... are you ready for the reveal? I'm not much of a photographer (as you know) so it was hard to get a shot that does the room justice, but here goes. This is a shot from the doorway:
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Next, take a look at the view looking straight in from the hall (which you can compare with the similar before shot, above). You can see the painted doors and frames on the right. Don't mind the cables. Still haven't sorted those out. You can also see the way the sunlight on the wall makes the paint look brighter.
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I love how the dark walls make everything feel special. Every piece of art, every object, stands out like a bright spot in a dark sea.

Next, take a look at our bedside tables. They are symmetrical, but not perfectly symmetrical. The paintings are from the late 1970s, and were originally sold by a local artist at the Canadian National Exhibition. The blue velvet drapes are from Value Village. The lamp is IKEA. The birds are a DIY makeover project I posted about recently, and the brass plant pots were inherited from my grandparents.
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On Nate's side, you can see one of my Budai figures (Goodwill), a vintage marble elephant (probably a former book-end), a bit of my midcentury orange floor lamp ($5 at a UofT prof's estate sale) and Nate's weird little nose thingy that holds his glasses.
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The back wall, which used to house the bed, now features my clothes-storage wardrobes.
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On the smaller wardrobe, I've displayed my collection of hand-thrown pottery and unusual vessels. (Plus weird bits and bobs like ceramic birds and marble eggs.)
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I've included hits of green (in the throw at the foot of the bed, for example, shown below), and in the plants, as well as some teal notes (in the Birk's boxes on top of the wardrobes) to stay with the peacock theme. As for the orange and rusty accents... that's just what I had on hand.
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The best part is that both Nate and I are sleeping better. A cozy bedroom is good for that.

Anyway, there you have it. I went to the dark place and it welcomed me with open arms. The rest of our apartment (with the exception of our tiny bathroom, which I made over in chocolate) is near-white. And this is cliched, but the bedroom now feels, in contrast, like a little jewel. It's currently my favourite place in the house.

So if you're considering going dark, I say: do it. Be bold. It's so worth it.
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Back in May, during our east coast road trip, I found these lamps at the Value Village in Fredericton for $1.99 each (including shades). They're a sort of white glass and I thought they'd make for a good (and easy) makeover. Here's the before:
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I covered the white bits with tape and plastic wrap and spray painted the shiny metal bits flat white.
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Then I hand-painted the paper shades with some left-over wall paint. Notice the brush strokes? That wasn't working for me, so half-way through, I switched to using a small foam roller and had much better results.
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Here are the finished lamps. For the moment, they live on the buffet with several other white pieces, and my grandmother's tea set.
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Decent little project, right?
 
 
So remember when I posted about wanting a door knocker? (It was just last week! You better remember.) Anyway, I posted about that because I really wanted to do a little mini-makeover on our front door. And I've done it!

We live in a rental and our front door was pretty ugly before, but thanks to a little paint and a heavy iron knocker from The Door Store in Toronto, I'm loving it now.

The Door Store was recommended to me by Jen at Rambling Renovators. I'd seen the place on TV, but never been inside. I LOVED IT. While a lot of the hardware they had was a bit out of my reach, price-wise, we were able to find something neat for only $35. And yes... it features a bird.

I put a bird on it. AGAIN. Deal with it.

Okay, so let's take a look:
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Good, right? The flat black paint hides the dings and imperfections of the old door pretty well, AND it makes the vintage hardware pop.

Here's a shot of the mail slot (at the bottom of the door, not shown in the first pics):
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And here's one of the bird-knocker, up close.
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What do you think? Good?

And for the record, I will never stop putting a bird on it. NEVER.
 
 
I have so many posts in the hopper right now, it's not even funny. But so many of them require just one more picture, or a bit of staging. So in the meantime, I'm going to tell you about the number one item on my current wishlist: a door knocker.

We live in a rental with an old doorbell. It's probably been broken since the 1950s. But people always push it, not realizing that it doesn't work. So I thought a knocker (perhaps with a little note telling folks to knock) would be a pretty solution. But I'm finding it really hard to find something!

Here are a few of the ones I've found (online). I like these, but I don't love any of them. And without seeing them in person and testing the heft, I'm just not sure I want to buy one.

What do you think? Do you like any of these?
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This "Sly Fox" knocker is from Anthropologie and is $24.99, but it looks a little small and I'm not sure about the tail.
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This vintage cast iron knocker is from JunkFromMyTrunk on Etsy. It's $28. But I don't think the seller ships to Canada (and that would up the price too much anyway).
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I love Victorian-style hand knockers like this one, but there seems to be a massive price range online (say $10 to $300). I can't tell what's real and what's reproduction. And I can't spend $300. (My budget for this is $50 max). Plus, as I said, without seeing the knockers in person, I can't be sure I like them.

Anyway, what do you think? Got any advice for me? Should I go with an animal, a regular knocker, or a weird shape like a hand? And I need local help: know any Toronto brick and mortar places with good knockers? (No strip club jokes, please.)
 
 
It's more than a month away, but Halloween is already in full swing in the retail sphere. I know this because I popped in to Dollarama this morning and was assaulted by a full aisle of spooky, mass-produced paraphernalia. Pretty intense.

But I love Halloween. (Spooky Halloween, not sexy Halloween, but let's not get in to that.) And In my mind, no one really does it better than Martha. Here are just a few of the projects I've seen her do that I think can be mimicked with supplies from the dollar store.
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Actually, just tooling around the Dollarama gave me a lot of original ideas as well. Their Halloween stock seems particularly good this year.
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I think really successful holiday decorating is about doing creative things (and sometimes, cutting corners by using pre-fab materials). I never like to do anything that's straight out of the box, if you know what I mean.

This year, though, there are almost too many options.

What are you thinking about for Halloween decor this year? (Or is it too early to be thinking about it at all?)
 
 
Sometimes I think I only want to have kids because I want to decorate their rooms.

There, I said it.

Kid's stuff is just SO CUTE. And I see things I want to buy for wee ones ALL THE TIME. But I can't. Because not only do I not have the space. I don't have the spawn.

(Now, before you flame me, let's note the following: 1. I'm kidding (kinda). And 2. You probably had some selfish reasons for having your kids too. So there.)

Anyway. I was in my local Goodwill the other day and I saw an awesome little mid-century modern desk, with a world-map top. It was kind of like this:
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Here's a different, similar one:
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I would have bought it in a SECOND (only $20!)... if only I had a kid.

Here's some other kid stuff I've been eying and/or wanting to make:

A teepee or tent like this one made by Lindsay over at the Little House Blog

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The LEKA CIRKUS mobile from IKEA:
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Or this EKORRE rocking moose (also IKEA)
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And for art, maybe I'd frame up some of my favourite vintage children's illustrations, like these, from Kartusch (Serendipity Books) by Stephen Cosgrove, illustrated by Robin James
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Or perhaps something a little less intense? Like these French Barbapapa illustrations!
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And while we're talking books, I'd stock the shelves with all my favourites!
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And I'd throw in some truly classic toys, just for good measure.
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Yes sir. I would have a darn good time doin' up a baby's room.

Of course, then I'd be stuck with a baby. And who needs that?
 
 
I know I've been flooding the chic blog with semi-boring posts about odd thrift store finds of late, but bear with me. I've been doing more  thrifting and less DIYing over the last few months in an effort to spend as much time as possible OUTSIDE of my stifling apartment.

Now that it looks like fall is here (or at least, imminent), the winds are sure to shift.

But in the meantime, here's one more post about a weird thrifted object: the lady's head vase.
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Popular in the 1950s, the lady's head vase is a kind of "florists ware." Often ceramic, in my opinion, the vases were kind of ugly and overdone, but nonetheless appealing in a kitchy sort of way.

And this weekend, I found one for $0.50 that suited me perfectly: A milk-glass version from around 1980.
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Not exactly gorgeous, I know, but it's a nice addition to my milk glass collection and I find it charming. And remember, it was only $0.50.

I've been thinking that this sort of piece may have given way to (or influenced) folks like Jonathan Adler. After all, he did all those Dora Maar vases. In a way, they seem to be of the same ilk.
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Hard to say if it's really evolution. All I know is that I like it.