How to create a gallery wall as unique as you

How to create a gallery wall as unique as you

I love a good gallery wall. They can tell a really compelling story, and for this reason I love putting them in the homes of families I work with. But creating a gallery wall can be difficult- what goes in one? What colours do you use? Or do you do them all black and white? Do the frames all have to match?

So today I thought I would tackle some really basic principles on how to create a gallery wall- with a small twist. As a busy mom who runs a business and a household with a ton of kids, I am prone to feelings of overwhelm on the regular. So for a gallery wall in my own home, I wanted the wall to act as a motivational center of sorts- an area where I can quietly recollect, re-connect with my why, and feel empowered and focused when the demands of life are hard. So if you're looking to create a gallery wall as unique as you, here are my top strategies:

1. Create a motivational statement that connects you with your why

This wall is in my home gym- where let me tell you is a room that hears me complain A LOT. Whether it be in exercise, or in life, we all get discouraged and need to pick ourselves back up from time to time. This statement, on how I define success, really helps keep me going when I am feeling unsure: success is life designed around what matter most.  Your statement might come from a phrase you say a lot, a religious scripture, a famous quote, or a favourite poem. Dig deep within yourself and think about something that will help you gain clarity and focus when you need it. 

Now to display your quote so you can be reminded of it when you really need it. Once I figured out my text I used CanvasPop's Word Art Maker and with the help of a template I plugged in my phrase, changed some fonts and colours, selected the frame colour and material and voila- I've got my personal motto framed and on the wall to enjoy. It gives me so much clarity when I stand in front of it and read it!

2. Select images that remind you of your why

As per my motivational statement above, I design my life around what matters most. And right up there on the most list is my family. So I selected a few images of my crazy cookie family of 5 kids ages 7 and under to display in this gallery wall. When our fifth child was born, we did a really special family photoshoot with Toronto based photographer Katherine Holland. The family shot in particular really captures the unique personalities of my children. These photos basically just hung out on my computer enjoyed by no one (although a few made their way onto my instagram feed), so the ability to have these in the flesh, printed on canvas to enjoy was so special to me. I may have shed a tear when I opened the box. 

For the family shot I used the CanvasPop photo editor, to upload the image from my computer, and then opted for the canvas wrap option along the edges, and for the lower image of my 2 boys, I selected a white frame to surround the edges of the canvas for some variety and to make the wall feel polished. 

Depending on the space, I am a believer in mixing it up- while there is something wonderfully classic and demure about matching finishes on frames, I can also equally get behind the mix of all kinds of finishes. In this space it was important to me to let the photographs do the talking so I kept the frame finishes to black and white.  

3. Use a unified colour palette

I did not want the gallery wall to be too overwhelming colour wise since my home gym isn't that big, and it has a seriously graphic carpet. So I used photos from the same photoshoot as I knew the colours would all coordinate, and kept the rest of the wall text based for a graphic element. 

Whether you play it safe and go all black and white (which is classic and more traditional), or you mix your colours (a playful and modern approach), keep to a unified colour palette to keep the look cohesive. 

I hope this post has inspired you to create a little motivational area in your own home! Special thanks to CanvasPop who partnered with me on this post and provided these beautiful canvases. I must say, for someone like me who does not have a lot of time to "tinker" with things, the design process and image upload procedure was nice and swift- and I had my prints delivered to my door in a matter of days. 

Gallery walls can really tell the story of you and your family- and I would love to know yours! Please tag me in any of your social media posts sharing your unique gallery wall so I can cheer you on : ) 






Well 6 weeks certainly flew by! So excited to share this little cottage kitchen project I have been working on for the 6 week #oneroomchallenge hosted by Calling It Home. I had so much fun working on my home gym, and my laundry room in past challenges, I thought I would give it a go with this cottage kitchen- a sweet little retreat that has become such a special place for my family. My 5 kids absolutely adore this space- so it was wonderful to give the kitchen a little bit of love.

Here is the before (check out that tin backplash! boob lights!) 

After lots of demo, some Certainteed insulation, and more hard work- it was transformed. And here is the after!

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The first major change we made was with these laminate counters by Belanger Laminates. As the homeowners wanted to keep this space budget friendly and durable for renters going laminate was a great option- in this neutral grey it provides a lovely modern element to this cottage kitchen. We used the same material in floating shelves to add a textural element to the wall.

Another modern element we added was in the cabinet doors and drawers. As I mentioned in this post, while I of course could have designed a brand new kitchen from scratch, these cabinets were in great shape and knowing the long term plans of the cottage owners, it was in their best interest to reuse them. So we gave them a little upgrade with Grass quiet close hinges and outfitted the drawers with new quiet close glides. The original cabinet pulls got a hit of Krylon Oxford Blue.   


We used a very simple white long subway tile for the backsplash from Creekside Tile and organized the counters with some stylish vessels from Bouclair

A gorgeous new range from Maytag with a super easy to clean cooktop is a great option for this rental property. 


This Trinsic faucet in chrome is honestly a go-to for me for so many reasons. It is just so elegantly designed- and with a pull down spray that is so elegantly integrated into the arc of the faucet- you get great form and function in one. 

A mix of woods and metals was important to me throughout the space like in these counter stools by Bouclair.

And finally, I wanted whimsy in the accessories, including this cute water station (shaped like a chair!) and breakfast spread- how gorgeous are those patterned Ted Baker mugs- and that marble and blue serving board! All sourced from HomeSense

This one was another race to the finish line- but very pleased with the results. For me, this was a great experience in that you can create massive change, with great function, without having to do a large sale renovation or sink in lots of money. I'm grateful to the homeowners who worked extremely hard- and now we all get to enjoy summertime in this new kitchen space. 


If you're new to my blog- thanks for stopping by! Great to have you here : ) 

Source list:

Insulation- Certainteed

Backsplash- Creekside Tile

Spray paint- Krylon

Cabinet paint in back of cabients (colour matched to Krylon Oxford Blue)

Cabinet hinge and drawer quiet close hardware- Grass Canada

Counters & floating shelves- Belanger Laminate

Chrome lights, island pendants, counter stools, storage vessels, metal round tray- Bouclair

Faucet- Delta Trinsic

Range- Maytag

Wooden cutting boards, marble / blue platter, cake stand, Ted Baker mugs, water station, blue / clear water glasses, aqua bowls, kitchen linens, blue patterned rug- HomeSense

Lisa's shirt- Ted Baker  

Photos- Dan Tardif

Now go look at the amazing transformations everyone else did! Search the hashtag #oneroomchallenge on instagram (I have been highlighting my favourites all day!) and visit the featured 20 designers here and guest participants here.



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4 strategies for designing a space in a remote location: ORC Week 5

4 strategies for designing a space in a remote location: ORC Week 5

My friends, the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. Before I jump into my ORC post, I would love to share a brief personal update on where things are post my sabbatical. 

My recent break from work and social media gave me a lot of clarity on where I should be spending my time. One exercise in particular that I did while on my break, from the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, challenged me to examine how I live out my Catholic faith. After lots of prayer and some fun brainstorming, my husband and I and another friend started a membership site called UEvangelize. I'm grateful for the chance to use my skills to hopefully help people in their own faith journeys. 

Additionally, I've been navigating the dance of balancing work and family. While I write articles like this on how to get more done in less time, I am very truthfully a massive work in progress. "Balance" is hard. Really hard. If you're joining me here after watching my recent interview with Michael Hyatt on balance and you think I have it all figured it to perfection- I assure you I do not. I am writing this blog post at 11:34pm, after hosting a webinar for the first time for our membership site, in an incredibly messy kitchen with piles of laundry to be folded in the corner. I am a work in progress. I was encouraged this week by the words of Michelle Cuchatt on her own struggles when career and family collide.  

All this to say that it has been a heck of a month- and I decided to throw in completing a kitchen in 6 weeks for the wonderful thing that is the One Room Challenge, a blogging experience where a room is completed in 6 weeks, real time, and progress shared from bloggers and designers all over the world. It is amazing- but SO INTENSE. You can check out the featured 20 designers here and the guest participants here.

On top of the all the fun things happening in my life over the last month, I chose to work on a project about 2 hours away from my home in Toronto in remote cottage country. No "quick run" to the Home Depot or HomeSense- once you're up there, you're up there. 

So I thought for this last week I would share some strategies for completing a space in a remote location. I have many designer friends who take on clients all over Canada and the US and beyond. I have worked on television shows in the US and Canada but all were situated in urban settings. So here are a few tips if you're ever going to tackle a project in a remote location- all in the hopes of saving you time, money and stress.

1. Measure everything on day 1

And I mean everything! I learned from designing rooms for television shows, that short timelines mean you need all relevant info on a space at the get go- it's a waste of time to go back for that missing piece of information. Remote locations are similar- when it's a far drive down dirt roads and simply inefficient to make multiple treks, measure thoroughly. For a kitchen this includes: ceiling height, window dimensions, backsplash dimensions, counter run dimensions, openings for appliances, style of appliance if you are trying to match existing ones, height of pendant lighting if you need something cut to size, depth of upper cabinets if you are doing any floating shelving beside them, linear feet for trim around windows and baseboard etc., number of cabinet pulls, distance of center to center holes if re-using existing holes on cabinet doors, width of sink, etc. etc. etc. 

And of course take lots of pictures. There are apps like Photo Measures that conveniently allow you to record the dimensions right on your photo.

2. Batch create

Plan how you will spend your time so you are not doing unnecessary runs into the city. For this project, we had a couple messy things to tackle. Mainly, 1) replacing the cabinet doors and drawers with soft close hinges 2) replacing counters 3) replacing all fixtures 4) tiling 5) insulation and drywall.  When completing a project, think carefully about what supplies you need- can they all be purchased from the same retailer? What can be done on the same day? Can you create an online order first so you don't forget anything? The whole concept of batch creating essentially means to do similar tasks at the same time since you are already in the zone of doing it- I like to be strategic and get all the shopping done in one trip, then all the messy work done in one phase, so you aren't changing in and out of dirty clothes and wasting time with unnecessary travel. 

3. Outsource where possible

Massive love note to the owners of this gorgeous property- they have done an incredible job of rolling up their sleeves and doing a ton of this work themselves, good 'ol fashioned DIY sweat equity styles. But they have also been smart and outsourced a ton of the work as well.

For this space, the cabinet doors were fairly new so we decided to re-use them. I really wanted to add a touch of luxury to this kitchen however and went with a soft-close hardware from Grass Canada (an industry leader in developing soft close systems for drawer and cabinet hardware). 

We took the doors and drawers off, brought them to a cabinet maker who then drilled and installed the hardware. Then the homeowners were able to fairly easily put the doors and drawers back on and now the space has a completely different feel to it –  cupboards that slam with an ear-piercing bang, drawers that constantly jam or close too quickly, and lazy cabinet doors that won’t stay open are now a thing of the past for this family.

Also- this saved a ton of money PS. We weren't looking to do a big kitchen remodel here, but I did want to give them a small upgrade. Cost to replace the cabinets and labour / install to install etc. easily $15k. We spent $1500 on giving these a refresh.

4. Always bring more than you think you need

I once styled a photoshoot for a magazine far out in cottage country and I learned the hard way that it is always better to be prepared with more and return after the fact. When you're far away and the closest florist shop or accessories retailer is a far drive out and you have a camera crew and other people waiting on you- it is always better to just bring more than you think. I find this is true for flowers, small accessories like vases or sculptures, books and kitchen linens. Buy more than you need and you can return whatever you don't use (or if you're like me you keep it anyways #bahaha). 

I don't have many pictures of the space because, frankly, it is still a mess! Lots to do before the space gets gorgeous for photos. It's going to be an epic week- but I really cannot wait to share the results with you all.