If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home. Malala Yousafzai Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/search_results.html#8HwcgX0cwyb0zYsr.99

My Secret Obsession – okay, if you know me, it’s no secret!

The Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, British Columbia has offered a lottery prize home since 1934, long before the latest trend of hospital lotteries began offering their multi-million dollar homes as prizes. Even as a kid, I loved going through the prize home to see the “home of the future” gadgets and gizmos. Jetsons HouseWe are nowhere near what the creators of the Jetsons envisioned our homes might be but you can learn a great deal by visiting show homes. And unlike crashing real estate “open houses” with no intention to buy, it’s perfectly acceptable to take pictures or video of decorating ideas that catch your eye and a great way to see upcoming trends. I’m glad I no longer have to wait for the annual fair to view over-the-top decorating and mansion-like homes because the BC Children’s Hospital Lottery prize homes are open for viewing now.

I’ve been twice.  Once with my daughter when they first opened and most recently with my Mom.  We wouldn’t miss touring them and it’s amazing how different they can be from year to year. There were a few trends that I noticed were still strong and a return of some past decorating trends that (ugh, oak everywhere! Floors, trim, walls…) might be returning.

White Kitchens

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/lottery-homes-4-of-12.jpgThe biggest difference I noticed was the addition of colour through backsplash tile and counter tops. All the homes we visited had patterned counter tops throughout the home but it was very noticeable in the kitchen where previously you had only seen neutrals. The counter in the picture was very heavily patterned in a marble design. Thick counters covered all surfaces with a waterfall profile rather than the straight or bullnose profiles that have been popular recently. I like the softness of the profile but I think I would grow tired of such a busy pattern. The backsplash tile had a very soft green hue and appeared to have a crackled glass finish. Very pretty but unusual to see green in a kitchen. Lighting was dramatic with several light sources and options for brightness. The chandelier over the island added a modern touch to an otherwise traditional cabinet design. The perimeter of the cabinetry was white and the island was a soft grey which is a trend that we’ve seen for a few years now.

Cove Ceilings

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/southpoint-langley-dining-room.jpgIf you want to take a room up a notch, use the 5th wall to achieve it! All of the lottery homes showed a great deal of attention to the ceilings in each room. The formal dining room in the Southpoint Langley home had a beautiful cover detail with a more traditional looking chandelier in the centre. Cove ceilings are also a great way to divide up a very large space into zones like a kitchen and great room, for example. Cove ceilings make me swoon! Mom even remarked how the crystal teardrops were making a comeback. Sure adds a bit of glitz and sparkle to a room.

Extensive Moldings  

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/south-surrey-great-room1.jpgThere has been a movement in recent times to simple straight moldings, no crown, profile baseboards, or wall treatments. That seems to be changing, at least in the lottery homes, where I saw lots of cove ceilings, crown moldings, door trim, and panelling. I love the grid pattern treatment that has been done to the fireplace in the great room. https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/traditional-moldings-doorframe.jpgFireplaces can be intimidating when they span two stories of a home but this molding treatment breaks up that broad expanse of space. Love it! I already had plans to add this to the eating area in our kitchen but now I’m even more excited about how it is going to transform the space. I’ve also been considering adding additional moldings to our door frames and I like the stacked look that adding different profiles can create. A winter project, maybe?

Home Office

The home office is still popular as more people choose to either extend their work day at home or telecommute. https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/traditional-moldings-doorframe.jpgThis one’s location in the lottery home was adjacent to the Master Suite so not really ideal to entertain clients but I could have spent hours in here. It was a really elegant space with lots of natural light and it was tucked away on the main floor so if you were a “messy” worker, no one would notice.  So many home offices are located when you first enter the home so either they need to be presentable at all times or they need a door.


If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.

~ Malala Yousafzai

I love going through open houses to gather ideas and to see if what I’m planning in our home is working someplace else. It’s also fun to imagine life in the location, should your name be drawn.  But, I’m pretty sure that if I were that lucky, I would take the cash and continue to work on the home we love.

WD-40 to clean stainless steel

House Hack #5 – Spotless Stainless Steel

I love the look of stainless steel in my kitchen. When it’s clean. Which is a challenge. There are people who live in this house and they insisting on touching these appliances LOL. And, there are two bassets who have been known to slobber… What’s a girl to do?Stainless Steel Fridge polished on left, fingerprints on the right

You may choose your words like a connoisseur, and polish it up with art. But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays, is the word that comes from the heart.   ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I came across this tip while out shopping for appliances for my office. We found a fridge in the appliance store and the salesperson wanted to give it a quick polish before it was packed for shipping. You’ll never guess what he came back with to clean it! WD-40 to clean stainless steelWhen I asked why he was using this product, he told me that stainless steel will “dry out” and that is what allows the fingerprints to show up and what makes it difficult to remove them. By using a little penetrating oil, you “nourish” the stainless steel and bring back the shine. Best of all – IT WORKS. So every couple of weeks, when the dish cloth is no longer doing the job to remove evidence of use, I bring out the WD-40, give it a spritz, and polish with a clean, dry cloth. It’s an easy, inexpensive fix and it always works. Happy polishing!

Using wax paper to prevent dust from settling

House Hack #4 – Dust Be Gone!

It’s spring and I always get the urge to clean. Not the surfacey kind of clean but the bring it back to new kind of clean. Cupboard Top Full of DustAnd there lies my shame… (LOL). I know no one expects me to climb up on the cupboards once a week to dust but at least once a year it needs to be cleaned. Unfortunately, being the kitchen, that dust is mixed with cooking oils and cleaning is a monumental task.

Using wax paper to prevent dust from settlingSo after a good cleaning, I looked around to see what I could do to reduce the job next year.  Wax paper seemed like a good candidateThis stuff happened to be in the clearance bin and I don’t think it matters that it has snow men all over it.

Laying down the wax paper on the top of the cupboardsI measured out lengths for each section of the cupboard and gave the top a light spray of water before placing the wax paper in position. The water will help keep the wax paper in place and prevent curling.

Next year is going to be so much easier!  Roll it up and throw it away and then lay a new layer of wax paper.

Ottoman Reupholstery

Ottoman Makeover – Before & After Upholstery

When you find a piece of furniture that’s well-made, it doesn’t really matter where you purchase it, does it?  Original vinyl upholstery on a storage ottoman

I was surprised to find this ottoman, marked down, at a big-box grocery store. Although the upholstery was vinyl, it stood up well for many years before a small tear on the side grew into a large tear that could no longer be ignored. Vinyl Ottoman ready for reupholstery

It is a large square piece that allows room to place a tray in the centre, to corral remotes and books, and yet still allows room for feet. It also has a flip top lid with fairly roomy storage inside. My family loves it and prefers it to the wooden coffee table that used to sit here previously. Here’s how I tackled the re-upholstery:



The first step was to remove the hardware. Remember the tip about saving all those little bits in a cup or container, it was really important for this project as there were many pieces to keep track of. I removed the base from the upholstered piece and set it aside. Frame from the Ottoman reupholsteryThe frame with my dog spokesmodel, Dexter

And another shot with my dog spokesmodel, Dexter (and people say little kids are underfoot when they are trying to work on a project)!


This would be a good time to paint the wood, if you so desired, but I intended to leave it in the dark finish. I find it helpful to take pictures of any hardware before I remove it so it is easier to figure out when it comes time to put it all back together.

Despite what you see on TV, Picture of hardware before disassemblyprojects rarely come together in Picture of hardware before disassembly60 minutes so it helps to have a visual reminder of what it’s supposed to look like.

This project has two parts to re-upholster, the top and the box frame. The top had a lining that I intended to re-use so I carefully pulled it back and removed the staples with a pair of pliers as I worked my way around the edge. If you can re-use something, why add the expense of replacing it? Removing the liner from the Ottoman topThe foam was in good shape, and foam can be expensive to replace, so I decided to re-use that as well. Once it was removed, I could take a good look at how they had tufted the vinyl. Removing the old vinyl upholsteryThe top had holes drilled through and straps attached to the vinyl had been pulled through and stapled to the underside of the top. Vinyl upholstery attached with straps to the ottoman topThis had worked for many years previously so I decided to duplicate the method on my new upholstery. Foam after removal of vinyl from the ottomanI removed the staples and pulled the entire vinyl piece off the top. You can see where the vinyl was attached to the foam.

I measured the along the outer edges of the old vinyl to create a new pattern.

Measure the only vinyl to create a pattern for the new fabricInstead of sewing a piece to serve as the sides of the top, I decided to keep it as one large piece and mitre the corners to make a snug fit.

Fabric tends to wear at the seams so removing the seams along the outer edge should help the fabric to wear longer.

I also measured the depth of the side so I could add it to the overall size of the upholstery piece needed to cover the top.

There are a few items that I found helpful during this project. Additional Tools for upholsteryFray Check is a product that you can put on raw fabric edges that will discourage fraying. I used it on the corner seams to lessen the chance that the seams would split. Tacky Glue is another handy tool to keep things in place while you work. The spray can of 505 is a temporary adhesive and I found this really helpful to spray the new cotton batting that I placed over the foam. It held it in place nicely as I tied off the tufting and covered the top with the new upholstery.

Adding the new straps to the upholsteryI used twill tape to create the straps that would tuft the new upholstery.

I measured out the distances from the old vinyl upholstery and applied the new straps to the new fabric.

Stitching detail on strapsI stitched each strap on by creating a square. This allows even stress on the fabric and prevents it from tearing or stretching out.

At this point in the process, I was still deciding if I would attach buttons to the tufting.Ottoman New Upholstery_1096

I marked where I planned to sew the seam to create the corners of the upholstery.

Ottoman New Upholstery_1098 The fabric was folded in half on the diagonal and stitched.
I applied Fray Check to the raw edges of the seam and added some twill tape to the wrong side of the fabric to reinforce the corner.Top Stitching detail on upholstery

This seam would be under stress from pulling it tight as I attached the new upholstery so I top stitched for extra strength.

Use a chopstick to poke the new strapping through to the other sideAlthough the foam was in good shape, the cotton batting that covered it was worn and patchy. I added new batting before applying the new upholstery and held it in place on top of the foam with a light spray of the 505 Temporary Adhesive. All the tufting straps pulled through to the bottom of the top

I used a chopstick to poke a hole in the new batting and to push the attached strips through to the under side of the wooden top. Staple the straps in placeOnce they were all through, I pulled them tight and stapled the straps in place. This created the tufting on the new upholstery.

Alternating sides as I stapled, I attached the upholstery to the underside of the top. First stapling in the centre of each side after pulling it taut and then stapling the opposite side in the same way.Stapling the upholstery to the underside of the top

Work your way back and forth until you have enough staples to keep it taut and leave about 6″ from the corners. Top completely stapledStaple the corners at the point and then fold the remaining fabric in and staple to create a nice smooth corner.

Re-attaching the lining to the topFinally, I re-attached the old lining that I had removed from the original upholstery and the top was complete. Then it was time to work on the box.

attaching the fabric to the boxI measured the side and cut four pieces of fabric, sewing them together to create a tube. I attached twill tape to those seams, as I had on the top, to reinforce them. I placed the tube over the box and lined up the seams with the outer corners of the box. attaching the fabric to the boxNow it was simply a matter of stapling the same way that I attached the upholstery to the top. The lining for the box was re-used and then it was time to re-assemble.

Ottoman ReupholsteryI am so happy with how this project turned out.Ottoman Reupholstery_1787






IKEA Furniture Refresh

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11352.jpgAs I promised in my last post, I’m going to share the “after” from my IKEA cabinet refresh.  I’ve refinished the outside but I’ve also changed the use and purpose of the piece although it remains in the same spot in the house.  I find that over time, everything needs to be pulled out of a storage spot, edited and returned to orderly storage.  Sometimes, once you edit, you realize there really is a better place to keep some of the things and this is what has happened with this cabinet.  I used to keep vases in the lower half of the cabinet but with two bassets running around the house, the noise of the glassware clinking together was a little disturbing.  I kept waiting to hear the crash which fortunately never came.  The cabinet now houses candles, candle holders, and some larger serving pieces like platters.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11431.jpgI started by taking the pieces apart and filling the screw holes with wood filler.  The base and the hutch were painted separately so that I have the option of using the base on its own in the future.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11441.jpgIf you are planning on taking your piece apart one day, you won’t want to fill the screw holes but as I have no plans to pack it flat again, I wanted to remove the look of the unsightly screws by filling the holes.




I used an Elmer’s Wood Filler, sanded once and refilled where the fill hole had sunk.  Make sure you get a nice smooth finish or it will really show once you paint.

It’s so easy to lose pieces when you are disassembling something to refinish.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11481.jpgI always grab a small bowl or plastic bag to contain all the little bits so they don’t get lost in the shuffle of refinishing.  If it’s a really complicated project that you are taking apart, use the camera on your phone to take a couple of quick pics of what it looks like before dismantling so you have a visual map when it comes time to put it all back together.

For this piece, I chose Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Aubusson Blue.  It was a really bold choice but the rest of the pieces in my home are primarily stained wood or pieces/cabinets I have painted in either White or French Linen by ASCP.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11501.jpgThe colour swatch on the Annie Sloan site looks like a dark blue but as you can see from the photos, it is more of a teal colour.  I added two coats of paint and then the Clear Wax.  The colour wasn’t as dark as I wanted so I then added a Dark Wax as the final finish.  Quite often you will use the Dark Wax to age and highlight but I used it over the entire piece to deepen the colour.

I am so happy with how this IKEA cabinet turned out!  The paint has brought new life to the piece and I am loving it once again.  Although the colour is bold, the dark wax mutes it a bit, and the new piece works really well to separate the Great Room from the Kitchen and Eating Area.  Open plans are a wonderful way to live and I wouldn’t want to go back to closed rooms but they definitely pose challenges when it comes to decorating.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-refresh_2288.jpgWhat I have found with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is that the colours differ substantially depending upon the project I am working on and where it is going to sit in my home.  I have started creating my own colour charts by painting the stir sticks I have been accumulating from my purchases at Home Depot.  I paint both sides of the stick with the colour, leave one side unwaxed, and on the opposite side, I apply Clear Wax and on the opposite end, I apply Dark Wax over the clear.  On the unwaxed side, I then write the name of the paint colour in Sharpie.  It’s a great way for me to compare colours for the lighting in my own home.

To me, decorating is always the fun part but shelves can be a challenge.  I knew I needed to added some light items for decor and that the dark finish would really make things pop!  I always try to add a mixture of textures, colour, and a bit of metallic or glass for some shine.  Natural elements are always a good addition as well.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-refresh_2280.jpgI found an easel at a home decor store that was in the clearance bin ($8) and thought it would be a great way to display some art on the shelf.  The picture is a print I picked up on a recent trip to Cannon Beach so it has some nice memories attached to it as well.  The piece is called “Rain People” III by John Ebner.  I love it because it is awash in greys but has some wonderful pops of colour to make it lively.  As a west coaster (wet-coaster?) it’s easy to get the blues with the drizzly weather but this just shows that bright clothing and umbrellas are a game-changer!  I framed the print myself but I’m not happy with the mat that came with the frame so I will cut a new one at some point.  For now, it is framed and protected from dust.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-refresh_2287.jpgThe candle holders are favourites that get moved around the house on a regular basis.  I have added small pebbles to the cups and topped them with an LED votive.  Because they are sitting within a shelf, a real candle burning could damage the cabinet.  LEDs are great because you can get the ambiance without the risk of damage.  The jar to the right is filled with larger polished rocks.

The lower shelf has an orchid which brings a bit of contrasting colour to the palette.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-refresh_2281.jpgThe remaining items are a serving tray on a plate stand, and a hydrangea arrangement.  The pears were bought a few years ago at a big box grocery store.  I typically have them out in the fall (when fresh pears would be available) but I needed something white to balance the space.  The wicker baskets on the top of the cabinet contain candles and jar fillers (like my rock collection) – not to sure about what the dust might be like over time and I may change them out but for now, I like they way they look.https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-refresh_2279.jpg

Don’t forget to shop your own home when you are deciding to redecorate an area.  You might be surprised at what you find and how great it looks in its new home!  Thanks for sharing this home improvement journey with me.









IKEA Furniture

IKEA from the 80’s. We have a lot of it. We purchased it when we were newly married because:

  1. It was affordable.
  2. It could be packed flat.  We moved – often.
  3. It was pine and at that time we liked pine.
  4. Much of it was made with solid wood, with the exception of the shelves.
  5. Who didn’t love those crazy names for everything in the store?Pie Safe Reinvented http:::ThroughTheCommon.wordpress.com.jpg 1019

Flash forward to 2015. IKEA. We still have a lot of it. We still have the pieces we purchased when we were newly married. And while many of our peers have replaced furniture more than once, ours is still going strong.

  1. It has more than paid for itself in 29 years of marriage.
  2. It can still be packed flat but thank goodness it no longer needs to be, we’ve lived here 15 years.
  3. It’s still pine but requesting a facelift.
  4. I’m glad our kitchen table was solid wood as it has been sanded and refinished many times.
  5. I still love all those crazy names for everything in the store.

Pie Safe Reinvented http:::ThroughTheCommon.wordpress.com.jpg 1046If you have been a long time IKEA fan out of price or necessity, it’s time to stop hiding those pieces in the spare bedroom or basement! Bring them out into the light and give them some love. Many of the most popular pieces of furniture right now are painted and distressed. I’m a big fan of the painted and conservative on the distressed. To each her own. What the paint has done is let me love those pieces again and enjoy incorporating them back into our living space. I treasure my antiques but the painted pieces make our home more livable. It says we respect the old but hey, we’re also kinda fun.

I shared a Pine Pie Safe that finished in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I have completed another item that is now sitting proudly in our Great Room.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11351.jpgThe unfortunate part about IKEA is that items are often discontinued and that was the case with this piece.  I had intended to have this piece, along with two others, side by side for dishes and storage in our dining room but after purchasing the first piece (about 1988, I think) the line was discontinued 3 months later.  This piece was used a lot in our home, in a variety of settings, but the colour was starting to turn a bit orange so it became an ideal candidate for a make over.  Originally, there were double doors on the top as well.  I removed them before taking the “before” picture (I’m still getting the hang of documenting everything I do around here!) but you can still see the hardware from where the doors hung.

https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11412.jpgI’m also sharing my candle/candle holder/vase table of shame with you. Can you believe that all of that came out of this cabinet? Like an episode of Hoarders, this has gotten way out of control!  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11402.jpgIt’s amazing what you can stash away behind doors but without the doors on the top, that couldn’t continue.  I promised you an honest progress on my quest to update and simplify – warts and all.  I sorted through everything creating a keep and a donate pile.  And then, I went through the keep pile again.

I took the cabinet apart so I could easily paint the pieces that make it up.  I did this so I could remove the hutch at some point in the future if I want just the base to use somewhere in the house.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/ikea-buffet-makeover_11431.jpgAnd of course, there’s my little dog photobomber, Dexter.

Next time I will share the “after” pictures of the IKEA cabinet and how I’ve styled it for the room.  Thanks for sharing this home improvement journey with me.



Sea Glass Art

I love to create art with found objects.  https://throughthecommon.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/board-and-batten-powder-room/The pictures I showed in the refresh of our Powder Room were created using Sea Glass that I collected on various vacations.  I have collected Sea Glass for years but hadn’t found a really good way to display it other than in a glass bowl.  By using a shadow box frame, you can showcase a variety of objects to bring some personality to your walls.  Here’s my process.

I purchased these frames in a multi-pack of four from Michael’s.  The frames were on special, buy one get on free, so the cost per frame worked out to be under $4 each.  I will save the remaining two in the set for another project.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2196.jpg

The first step is to clean the inside of the frame.  There is nothing more annoying than to assemble your masterpiece only to find a smudge or lint on the inside of the glass.  Take some time and really clean the inside so you’re happy with the results when you’re finished and only framing the item once.

I sorted through my Sea Glass and selected only pieces that were white, clear and pale or dark green.  I tried adding a few pieces of blue but they were really distracting so I removed them and stuck to a white/green theme.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2197.jpg

Because the frame back is not being covered as it would be when you frame a picture, these frames need something in the background to set off the contents. I wanted to be able to “audition” different types of backgrounds so I wrapped the frame in clear plastic wrap so I could see how everything looked against different prints and colours.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2198.jpgI grabbed several sheets of printed paper to see what they looked like against the Sea Glass and ones I thought would look great were simply lost against the multi coloured glass.

I finally found one that worked well and cut it down to the size of the frame back.  Sea Glass Art_2199I used double sided tape to attach the new paper mat to the inside of the back of the frame and then removed the plastic wrap from the shadow box frame.  https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2212.jpgI created a second frame using the same mat but varied the type of glass in this one by adding pieces that still had lots of texture and were varied in size.  The new art is hanging on the wall in our main floor Powder Room but a shadow box would look great standing up on a table top or mantle as well.https://throughthecommon.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2200.jpg


There are so many items that you could use to create similar piece of art in your home.  Think of things or mementos you collect – marbles, corks from wines you’ve enjoyed, coins and bills from foreign vacations, concert tickets, door keys from all the places you’ve lived, the list is endless.  If you’ve got unique items that this has inspired you to frame shadowbox style, please share in the comment section below.

Please follow Through The Common by clicking on the “follow” on the left side of the page.  You’ll receive an email letting you know each time I post on the blog.  Thanks for sharing this home improvement journey with me.