HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH LIFE AS A WORKING MOM

HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH LIFE AS A WORKING MOM

Hello my friends! I feel like it's been a while since I have shared what is going on in my family, so today I am sharing an update on what it is like to be a working mom of 6, and share a tool that has been really helpful in navigating through life as a mom on the go...

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HOW TO CREATE A DEPENDABLE LAUNDRY ROOM

HOW TO CREATE A DEPENDABLE LAUNDRY ROOM

As a mom, a lot of people depend on us. And this couldn't be more true for Alison, a firefighter and mom of 5-year old Gwen, who I recently had the pleasure of working with to totally overhaul her laundry room. At work, people depend on Alison to help save lives, and at home, her family depends on her for countless things – so creating systems and spaces that allow her to reliably get the job done was the name of the game in this space.

Alison and Gwen Maytag Lisa Canning laundry makeover

That's why I was proud to partner with Maytag on this space and install Maytag’s new Front Load Extra Power Washer and Dryer pair. If you're looking to create a laundry room you can depend on, here are my key elements:

Maytag Extra Power Lisa Canning laundry makeover

1. EXTRA POWER

What I love about these units is the Extra Power feature. 

For the washer: 

  • The Extra Power button fights stains that dissolve best in hot water and in cold – all in one load.
  • The washer offers the Most Powerful Cleaning in the industry driven by the Heavy Duty cycle.
  • The 16-Hr Fresh Hold® option keeps your clean clothes smelling fresh in the washer for up to 16 hours after the wash cycle ends thanks to its internal fan and intermittent tumbling that circulate air through the clothes.

For the dryer:

  • The Extra Power button helps get thick fabrics drier the first time by adding extra time to the cycle.

  • There are options for steam-enhanced cycles to help prevent wrinkles, refresh clothes and reduce static.

  • The Advanced Moisture Sensing feature monitors inside moisture and air temperatures to help evenly and fully dry heavy loads.
  • You can dry a small load fast with the Quick Dry cycle, which pairs nicely with the Quick Wash cycle on select Maytag® washers to get clothes ready in no time.

That's the kind of cleaning we all need at home.

 

2. TONS OF STORAGE

Alison's home is teeny-tiny, so every single square inch of this space needed to count. I went with taller than normal uppers in a high gloss navy blue for a look that is both modern and functional, allowing Alison to store detergent, cleaning supplies, towels and other necessities in arms reach.

We also incorporated storage on the other side of the room with multiple drawers, and decorative shelving. This space doubles as a desk for Alison's young daughter when not needed for folding!

3. TONS OF FOLDING SPACE

Whether you are a Netflix-and-fold kind of person or not, I think a dependable laundry space needs to have ample counter space. In this space, I used butcher block counters to provide a warm textural contrast against the blue cabinetry and marble wallpapered walls. Installing a counter over a front-load washer and dryer is always a design-must for me as it provides a durable surface and creates a more built-in look to your appliances.

​​4. SPACE FOR HANGING

I think one of the most overlooked functions of a laundry room is space for hanging clothing that needs to air dry. Whether you use a folding wire contraption that allows clothing to lay flat, a rope that allows you to hang clothing, or hooks like I did right here, you definitely need to plan for this element so the behaviour of air drying clothing actually happens! 

5. MAKE IT BEAUTIFUL

I am a big believer that when a space is beautiful, we are so happy to be there, and this makes us super productive. So we utilized all KINDS of strategies to make this space just gorgeous. We wrapped a marble wallpaper along all the walls, we added gorgeous crown moulding, we added all kinds of teal accents and just had so much fun with art, beautiful towels, and greenery.

Thanks to Maytag for partnering with me on this project! For more info on how to use their appliances to create a dependable laundry room, click here.

Cheers to creating spaces that help us moms to thrive at home : )

This post is a sponsored post by Maytag. I work hard to research and stand behind the brands I partner with as I want to provide content that will help make your life easier, and more beautiful as a hardworking mom.

TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR BUSY MOMS

TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR BUSY MOMS

A few weeks ago, I was so fortunate to speak at The BabyTime Show (now called The Baby and Toddler Show) here in Toronto. It was so much fun. I had an amazing weekend where I partnered with a few brands for my booth / live stage presentation, and I connected with several moms in one-on-one time management strategy consultations. So incase you missed it, I wanted to share with you some of the tips that I shared in my talk: Time Management Strategies for Busy Moms. 

Here's the thing about time: we all have the exact same amount of it, and how we use it will determine the happiness level of our lives. And while we cannot control how much time we have, we can control how we spend it. Here are my essential tips for managing time well in the business of motherhood:

1. CAST VISION FOR THE FUTURE

My first time management strategy is to cast vision of where you want to go in life. If we don't know where we're going, it doesn't matter to me how many time management strategies you use. You might be using them in the wrong places. The question you want to ask yourself is if you could live life like the most ideal version of yourself, what would that look like? And there are a couple ways that you can do this. One way I love is the rocking chair test that Tony Robbins offers at a lot of his seminars. Picture yourself at the age of 80, sitting in a rocking chair, reviewing your past 80 years.

What are you proud of? What did you do that you feel so incredibly grateful that you did? What regrets do you have if you had any? What do you wish you could have told your younger self?

Another exercise I really like is one that I found in the book Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt. It's the exercise of writing your own obituary, looking at the end of your life, and reflecting upon how you are going to be remembered. 

These exercises can help us to have a more clear, and intentional way of living. I really believe in my heart of hearts that a mom will be most happy if she can have a stance of where she is going.

2. WHAT CAN YOU DELEGATE?

We cannot do it all. And we definitely cannot do it all at the same time, and do it well. So I believe that a really important skill for a mom to learn is how to delegate. There are so many things in a mom's life that can be delegated. Can you break up who does school drop off and pick up? Could you delegate cleaning of your house to a cleaning service? Can you delegate who plans and prepares meals?

One of the ways I do this for my little guys is with Love Child Organics prepared pouches. These pouches are so convenient. Especially with the holidays approaching, it's so easy for me to be entertaining guests and conveniently give my children organic and nutritious snacks and meals without me preparing it myself. 

The Simple Firsts (available in apple, pear and prune for babies just starting solids) and Super Blends (available in 15 flavours, my kids are currently obsessed with the Banana, Carrot, Mangoe + Coconut blend) are all in convenient, resealable pouches that are perfect for small appetites. They can be safely closed back up again, popped in the fridge, and used later for the next meal or snack.

While I would love to say I had time to make my own organic baby food, these prepared pouches help me feed my kids in a really convenient way.

3. WHAT CAN YOU AUTOMATE?

This is a little bit different than delegation, but also along the same lines. For example, if you do something the same, or similar every week, how can you automate that so that you're not working so hard every time? The way I do it for grocery shopping is through a click and collect service where via an online platform you're able to literally use the exact same shopping list and with one button simply schedule when you pick up your groceries. It takes so much effort out of that exercise. Additionally, there are a ton of ways I use automation in my business. I use an email automation platform that allows me to collect emails, bill clients, even schedule appointments, all without me having to give any attention to it.
 

And have I ever told you about my obsession with Uber Eats?! Sometimes, a mom needs an extra pair (or a hundred pair) of hands to get life done. When I want a night off from cooking, Uber Eats delivers food from all my favourite neighbourhood restaurants- and there's no searching for where my kids placed my wallet, or where I stashed my purse when the delivery person arrives at the door- payment is completely automated via PayPal, including the tip!

With online shopping, and the holidays approaching, I have to be honest, sometimes I am doing it with a baby on my hip, a computer on my lap, my phone in my hand, and my wallet no where within arm's reach. So one of the ways I automate my online purchases is using Paypal. With Paypal, you have your credit card number saved within its online platform and it makes your online purchases literally reduced to a simple swipe and click. It's a way that you can automate your online purchases, all from the palm of your hand, often without having the leave the house!

Paying with PayPal saves on time and lets me get back to enjoying my family. Many of my favourite apps (Starbucks!) offer PayPal as a payment option which I love because it makes it easy to pay, it’s secure and I can do it right from my mobile phone.

For the full run down on how PayPal can help automate your holiday errands easily and conveniently, click here.

4. WHAT CAN YOU BATCH?

My next tip for time management is what in your life can you batch? So batching is a description for essentially taking similar activities and doing them all at the same time. So for example, I used to record one YouTube video a week and I would set up the camera on Thursday, get it all worked out, figure out my lighting, figure out my technology, often fail at some aspect of the technology, record my video, and then do it all again the next week. And it was always taking so much time because I would have to set everything up every single time. Now, I batch shoot several videos in one day.

Another example of batch creating is cooking all your meals on Sunday evening for example. You can create so many meals, and stick them in your freezer, and when you think about it, you've already got all the utensils out, you are already chopping, you're already dirtying your pots and bowls, and the process is so much more streamlined.

5. WHAT CAN YOU DELETE?

Another really important time management saving tip is what in your life can you delete? This is a hard one for me. I really hate disappointing people. I really hate saying no, especially to things that I care about. But what I think is really important to remember, and this is very much in Greg Mckeown's book Essentialism, is saying no to something is actually saying yes to something else. Saying no to something is actually saying yes to something else. It can be really hard to draw hard boundaries, but I believe if a mom wants to live her most fulfilled life, she can't do it all. She definitely can't do it all at the same time. So we have to have the courage and the strategy to say no to certain things so we can say yes to other things like our families, our own personal goals and dreams.

The show was so much fun, and if you go onto my instagram, check out the highlight from the show. I've got lots more things on there including products that I bought at the show, sneak peaks of the other vendors, as well as a full tour of my booth. My booth was outfitted by Buy Buy Baby and I had this really cool electric fireplace with Dimplex's Opti-myst technology. And I am grateful to The Electric Fireplace Shop who came and set the unit up for me. And you can see all of that by watching the highlight in my instagram.

So tell me, which of these tips resonates most with you, and which of these tips do you think that you could implement today? Let me know in the comments below!

Special thanks to Love Child Organics and PayPal for partnering with me on this blog post. I work hard to ensure the brands I represent help to make a mom's life easier, and enjoyable, and I make it a policy to work with brands that I personally use and enjoy myself.

 

HOW TO BE A GREAT MOM AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

HOW TO BE A GREAT MOM AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

The juggle, that is motherhood, is real. Between laundry, dishes, diapers and nap times, how do you fit in a date night, exercise, or anything else without losing your mind?!? We as moms juggle so much!

But what I have learned in almost 11 years of business, and seven children later, is that it is 100% possible to be a great mom AND follow your dreams at the same time. It takes planning, strategy, and a hard look at your priorities, but in the end it is so possible to do well.

I’m excited to once again to be speaking about the topic of work-life balance and how to design your life so you can be a great mom and follow your dreams at Toronto’s BabyTime Show! 

Come hear me share my Time Saving Strategies for Busy Moms on Friday November 16 at 2:30pm, and Saturday November 17 at 11:30am at Toronto’s BabyTime Show.

In addition to speaking, I am again going to be offering FREE STRATEGY SESSIONS FOR MOMS. Whether you are pregnant, or juggling life with little ones in tow, join me at the original baby show for everything prenatal to preschool. We can chat all things strategy, from time management, home management, ideas for a new business, or how to have a business or a blog with small kids in the mix, come join me at booth 268. Book your time with me here!

And you know it’s going to be the coziest booth at the show, right? Seriously. It’s going to have the most modern electric fireplace with the Opti-Myst technology I showed you before in this project, cozy gliders from buybuybaby, tasty and nutritious organic puree samples from my sponsor Love Child Organics, and we’ll chat how to save time this holiday season with my sponsor PayPal.

Plus, we can work through where you might currently be stuck in the areas of:

  • time management
  • work-life balance
  • balancing work and babies
  • how to start a blog with small kids at home
  • how to work during nap time
  • how to go on a regular date night
  • how to finally make progress on goals
  • how to not lose yourself in motherhood
  • how to feel like a confident mom

I cannot wait to see you.

The BabyTime Show runs from Friday November 16-Sunday November 18 at the International Centre in Mississauga. Book your strategy session with me here.

HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH LIFE AS A WORKING MOM

HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH LIFE AS A WORKING MOM

Hello my friends! I feel like it’s been a while since I have shared what is going on in my family, so today I am sharing an update on what it is like to be a working mom of 6, and share a tool that has been really helpful in navigating through life as a mom on the go [and today I am on the go with my youngest son in our new Bugaboo Bee⁵]!

Working mom of six… even when I read that I feel tired! But as I share often on my Instagram and my YouTube channel, navigating life with my large crew has been equal parts enjoyable, equal parts challenging, but most of all really, really fulfilling.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee

Motherhood, like anything, is a skill. It has a learning curve. You can feel like you have it all together one minute, and then feel like you are going to lose your mind the next moment. Add on to that the very real pressures that come with a job outside of the home, and it can all be a difficult space to navigate. As I have told many of my first time mom friends, I think having your first child is harder than having six children in a lot of ways! There is such a steep learning curve with your first child, and such a drastic change in your identity, your regular schedule and your body!

But with eight years of this motherhood gig now under my belt, and six gorgeous humans who I get to call my children, I have a little more confidence, I am way less hard on myself, and I have learned strategies that help me to persevere through the challenging parts of motherhood.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee Self Care
When people ask me, “how do you do it?” I honestly don’t always know what to say. But I will share this: one strategy that I have learned is an absolute necessity to thrive in motherhood is self care. And let’s just say I have failed pretty epically at it over the years. But what I have learned is that if we want to be good moms, good contributors to society, and generally nice people to be around [lol] we have to listen to our bodies, listen to our emotions, and take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.

This weekend I spoke at event [a really fun ladies tea event in Oakville on the topic of creating family memories at home] and I knew that I would be pretty tired after it. So I booked a babysitter, and made sure I would have enough time on the way home to do something I LOVE- which is to spend time on the waterfront in my home of Toronto, Canada.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee CN Tower

 

We only hung out for about thirty minutes- but boy was it restorative. There is something so soothing to me about water. I love how peaceful it is, how vast it is, and for me it is just so restorative. I live in a really busy city- and I just love how even in my urban dwelling I can escape to a scene like this for a moment of rest. [It doesn’t hurt that there was a pierogi food truck nearby- so yummy]

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee Dreamer

It can be really challenging to make rest a priority. For many years, I didn’t think rest was important enough to hire a babysitter for, and spend money on to achieve. But what I find is when I rest, I dream. I am a dreamer. I love having the space to just think. To listen. To recalibrate. And my spouse, my kids, and myself are all better off as a result.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee

With my large family of six kids ages eight and under, one of the ways we make our family work, and make it easier for me to have this self-care time, is to have more than one stroller. This way, if I am doing something on my own with the baby, and my husband or a babysitter is taking care of the rest, whoever is taking care of my other children has the flexibility to take my older kids out on their own adventure.

The Bugaboo Bee⁵ stroller makes traveling with my infant on my own really simple. It’s compact design makes it ideal for my urban neighbourhood- it’s narrow width is easy to navigate around crowds and shops and the suspension design makes for a smooth ride on my self-care trips to the water (or the mall, lol). 

It’s also incredibly flexible- it has integrated attachment points for things like coffee cups and a comfort wheeled board [no need for adapters], customizable colours on the faux leather handle bar grips and changeable wheel caps, and my favourite, the Bugaboo Bee⁵ has 700 possible design configurations- so you can customize your stroller to your heart’s content.

And speaking of heart’s content- how much fun is this bassinet fabric design? I love the denim and the butterflies (my three year old is a big fan of the pinks ones)! In my work as an interior designer I just love to have beauty all around me- and this stroller is no exception.

To learn more about Bugaboo and dream up your own design, learn more here.  And for more self-care strategies for busy moms, watch here

How do you take care of yourself as a busy mom? What tools help your family make this possible? Love to know in the comments below.

Cheers to designing your beautiful life,

xo Lisa

Special thanks to Bugaboo Strollers for partnering with me on this blog post. 

CHANGES COMING SOON!

CHANGES COMING SOON!

Very excited to announce new changes coming to the website- while I will continue to offer select interior design services, I am changing things around here to reflect my love of helping moms uncover and experience their most authentic life.

Stay tuned for more! To get a notification when the new website drops and to grab a copy of my free how to balance family and work download click here

WHAT NEW MOMS REALLY NEED TO KNOW

WHAT NEW MOMS REALLY NEED TO KNOW

She's here! She's here! 

I am so excited to share with you all that 2 weeks ago, we had our 7th baby, Phoebe Margaret! She is incredibly sweet, and so far the adjustment has been pretty amazing. The older kids have been champion helpers and my little guys adorably help in their own way (which means trying to feed their newborn sister their milk bottles and kissing her with open mouth kisses on her head, lol).

But even though I'm a mom with a fair bit of experience, let's just say the last two weeks have been filled with EVERY SINGLE EMOTION POSSIBLE. I have felt peaceful, elated, exhausted, inadequate, powerful, depleted, and on and on and on. 

And even though I have LITERALLY written a book on motherhood, and have worked hard at being self-aware, I found myself being INCREDIBLY hard on myself for things like the kitchen being messy, and then I found myself being hard on myself FOR BEING HARD ON MYSELF. LOL #thestruggleisreal 

So I created this YouTube video for all you new moms, soon-to-be moms, and new-again moms, who might need these reminders- because I need them myself! If you prefer to watch, press play below, otherwise read on below : ) 

When you are discharged from hospital after having a new baby, they have you fill out a form acknowledging that you will call your doctor for a 6-week appointment, that you have read the Caring for Baby information booklet, that you will call Public Health if you have more questions, etc etc etc. Well… that form isn't really going to help you friends once you are home and on your own. THESE ARE THE THINGS that a mom should really have to check the boxes on when she has a baby:

1. I UNDERSTAND THAT SPENDING EXCESSIVE TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA MIGHT LEAD TO ME FEELING SUPER CRAPPY ABOUT MYSELF.

2. I will not go on Pinterest for nursery decor ideas because it might make me feel crappy about how messy my house is.

3. I acknowledge, that if I spend time looking at skinny Instagram fitness models, I might feel crappy about my flabby, post-partum belly.

4. I acknowledge, there might be days I do not shower, do not brush my teeth, and all I accomplish is keepinbg my baby alive and myself alive- and I am OK with that! 

5. I WILL NOT EQUATE MY SELF-WORTH WITH HOW CLEAN MY KITCHEN IS.

6. I will not scream at my husband because I think he's not "doing" anything. (Side note, I legitimately told my husband in the middle of the night once "I wish you would grow a pair…" as in a pair of breasts LOL)

7. I acknowledge that I may want to eat an entire box of Oreos and that is OK (Nutrition experts, I am sorry. I think in the first 2 weeks a new mom has enough to worry about that they get a bit of grace when it comes to food. Healthy food is SUPER important for the record, but so is being not hard on oneself).

8. I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE WILL BE LOTS OF PEOPLE OFFERING ME ADVICE, AND I WILL ONLY LISTEN TO THE ADVICE OF PEOPLE I WOULD BE WILLING TO SWITCH PLACES WITH.

9. I acknowledge, that coming home from hospital everyone has different energy and I won't compare myself. If I feel like taking a walk, I will. If I feel like lying down all day, I will.

10. I understand that I have nothing to prove during this time. The most important thing is taking care of me, and taking care of baby. Anything else I accomplish on top of that is a bonus.

11. I acknowledge there will be things that will make me cry. Like literally, anything. And that is OK.
 

12. I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT JUST BECAUSE I HAVE BIRTHED A CHILD, ALL MY INTERESTS I HAD BEFORE HAVING A BABY HAVE NOT VANISHED.  I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR WANTING TO DO THOSE THINGS.

13. I acknowledge that I will receive unsolicited advice from strangers, and I will simply say thank you, and have a nice day. 

14. I acknowledge that this is an amazing time in my life, and I am going to try and enjoy it as much as I can be journaling, taking photos, and savouring quiet moments. 

15. I PROMISE TO NOT PUT SO MUCH PRESSURE ON MYSELF EVERY GOSH DARN DAY, AND NOT BE ANYTHING, OTHER THAN THE MOM OF THIS NEW BABY.

Was this helpful? Can you relate to any of the points? Let me know in the comments below : ) 

HOW TO CREATE A MODERN PLAYROOM- MY FULL BASEMENT TOUR

HOW TO CREATE A MODERN PLAYROOM- MY FULL BASEMENT TOUR

My friends, I did it! It’s done! This is the third home tour in a series I did of my #canningcabin, a new home for my family that I have spent the last 4 months renovating and decorating (all while pregnant with our 7th child LOL). You can check out my main floor tour and our master bedroom and closet tour (and yes, I put up shiplap in a rental!) 

If you’d prefer to watch the transformation (and see a real life work-at-home mom moment with my kids), click below. Otherwise, read on for how to create a modern playroom, and learn about the home office I created for my husband, and a “secret room” that was so much fun to transform.

Lisa Canning black and white playroom

1. KEEP THE PALETTE BLACK AND WHITE

I love colour, but I wanted to try something different and edgy in my basement. For a long time, I’ve been inspired by Scandinavian design for its austere, simple forms- but for a long time I had a limiting belief that it was just not possible to have minimal decor when you have a bunch of kids. But what creating this space has shown me is the power of a minimal palette of black and white. 

Lisa Canning basement teepee playroom

The way to keep things interesting is to vary your patterns but all within this black and white palette. Think stripes, geometric prints, painterly lines, and high contrast cabinetry. Speaking of cabinetry…

Lisa Canning basement Tailored Living cabinets

2. UTILIZE FLOOR TO CEILING CABINETRY

This is my secret weapon in playrooms. Honestly, THIS IS A GAME CHANGER. I know I call a lot of things game changers, but this is REALLY an important strategy for parents who want serenity, function, and a modern aesthetic in a playroom.  

Putting in floor to ceiling cabinetry allows you to HIDE ALL THE VISUAL CLUTTER AND CHAOS that comes with toys, books, Pokemon cards, florescent blinking plastic, and all that fun stuff behind beautiful, closed storage. You literally get to close the door on visual clutter and it is a big reason why I love spending time in this room.

I worked with Tailored Living on this space, and the big reason why I love working with them (check out this ultimate craft room I did earlier this year) is they make it so convenient for you to achieve organization and order by bringing you all the samples during an in-home consultation, taking all the measurements, working with you on a 3-D design that will be ideal for your family, installing the cabinets quickly and simply, and really just getting you where you need to go in regards to your organizational goals. With franchises across the US and Canada, there’s a solution waiting for you.

Lisa Canning basement Tailored Living storage

I wanted high contrast in the cabinetry so I went with white modern shaker cabinets on the perimeter of the room, and dark drawer fronts on this generous island that allows my kids ample room to spread out and get messy. The combination of drawers and tall cabinets is an important strategy- the tall upper cabinets are great for books and board games, the deeper lower cabinets are fabulous for large bins for toys and oversize, bulky toys, and shallow drawers are great for art supplies, paper, Shopkins and lego. We used laminate for its durability as well as its accessible price point.

Lisa Canning basement Shayne Fox Hardware Tailored LivingAnd to add a bit of sparkle to the space, I added these new pulls by Shayne Fox Hardware. I love the handmade, rustic element these bring to this cabinetry. 

But the biggest thing I argue cabinetry brings in a playroom is PEACE. Even if the contents of the drawers and toy bins are a jumbled mess, behind closed doors and drawer fronts, no one is the wiser. Like I said, GAME CHANGER.

3. KEEP THE BLACK MATTE

I chose to put a sink in this space as it’s so practical with my 6 little kids. In keeping with my monochromatic palette, I chose to use a matte black faucet and turned to one of my favourite partners Delta Faucets (I still mourn the loss of all the faucets in my old house!) with their new Esque faucet.

Lisa Canning Delta Esque faucet

The name Esque is inspired by the suffix meaning “in the style of” and a clipped ballet pose that speaks to elegance, grace and movement, clearly visible with its sleek pull-down design and modern innovations (watch my video above to see the ShieldSpray technology in action, watch how the water is dispersed in a truly unique pattern to clean up dirty dishes while containing mess and splatter- seriously, go press play on the video above!)

And I kept the matte black going with the wall paint colour which makes me so happy. I don’t think I would have been as bold to do this if I did not have so much natural light in this space- but I’m so happy with how this Wrought Iron colour by Benjamin Moore turned out. And whenever I use dark shades I like using it in a matte finish, as opposed to eggshell or satin. It’s rich, and lush and I love its modern look.

Lisa Canning basement TV space

4. USE LARGE SCALE ART FOR A GRAPHIC ELEMENT

I think this is my favourite element in my playroom. We went to Staples, paid $15 a print, and had large individual portraits of my children blown up to fit this inexpensive Ikea SILVERHÖJDEN frame. We hung them around our TV about 3″ apart and it creates a graphic element that makes me smile every time I enter the room. Keeping things black and white helps the TV to not feel like a major focal point of the room, and instead sort of blend in to the composition.

Lisa Canning playroom home office

5. CREATE A SPACE FOR THE GROWN UPS

Sometimes mom and dad need a moment to steal away, but still keep an eye on the little ones. One of the things this house did not have that my old house did (and we needed) was a home office space. So we actually put this wall up ourselves, including these beautiful doors I painted blue from Metrie. I love how the clear glass gives us the option to still peek in and see what is going on with our children.

Lisa Canning Dimplex fireplace

We put in this electric fireplace media unit by Dimplex in this space and I just love how it creates instant cozy with the press of a button. You can put an electric fireplace virtually anywhere you can run the correct power, and the results are fast, stylish, cozy and so comfortable. 

Lisa Canning Dimplex Tyson electric fireplace

There is something about a fireplace that promotes instant comfort and relaxation at home, don’t you think?

Lisa Canning secret garden room

Lisa Canning secret garden room plants

Lisa Canning secret garden room green chair

And if you watch my video above, you’ll learn about this crazy “secret room” we discovered while walking around our property- this room was literally full of garbage, and had been enclosed with drywall (complete with drapery still up!) inside the office. We tore down the drywall, cleaned up the room, and now enjoy a sweet little space that I am hoping forces me to slow down every day to literally smell the roses, LOL.

What do you think? Could you create a modern playroom somewhere in your house? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks to Tailored Living, Delta Faucet Canada and Dimplex for partnering with me on this post. I work very hard to research the brands I partner with to ensure they provide you my reader ways to make your life more beautiful, functional and effortless. Opinions are very much my own. Photos by Larry Arnal

FULL PRODUCT LIST

PLAYROOM

Tailored Living Customized CABINETS: http://bit.ly/2Hpill3

Cabinet HARDWARE: http://bit.ly/2tqLZAj

Wall PAINT colour: http://bit.ly/2K1DOp2

Delta Esque FAUCET: http://bit.ly/2KfGQpe

Gold picture FRAMES: http://bit.ly/2ttko1o  

Sectional SOFA: http://bit.ly/2Md4n7i

Bar​stools: Old ones from my last house we spray painted Champagne Mist 

Photo ledges: http://bit.ly/2tm0yFX

Teepee: https://amzn.to/2IigYnl

Accessories: http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7

​Media unit: http://bit.ly/2lpG3ng

 

Black Acapulco chairs, pillows, accessories, graphic play mat under teepee:​ http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7

JOSH’S OFFICE
Metrie DOORS: http://bit.ly/2MfyQBT​

Dimplex FIREPLACE MEDIA UNIT: http://bit.ly/2tiKcxX

Ikea DESK: http://bit.ly/2lphfff

​Red SOFA: http://bit.ly/2M9JcTy

“SECRET ROOM”
Green chair, outdoor rug, gold garden hose, garden tools: http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7

​Plants and planters are all from local garden centres

 

HOW TO CREATE A LUXE BEDROOM WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

HOW TO CREATE A LUXE BEDROOM WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

I don't know about you, but in all the houses I have lived in, I have always left decorating my bedroom for last. I'm not alone, right? I find its pretty common that people spend lots of energy, effort and funds decorating more public spaces, or their kids' rooms, but then leave their own bedrooms to be a collection of hand me down furniture and sheet sets from college.

In this house, I was determined to give my husband and I a luxurious master retreat- but do it in a way that did not break the bank. To watch the tour of my master bedroom and closet on my YouTube channel, click below. Or if you prefer to read the tips on how you can create a luxe bedroom and closet without breaking the bank, scroll on down below. And don't forget to see the full list of all the products I used in this room at the bottom of this post!  

Lisa Canning master bedroom

1. GO LUXE ON THE BED

I have always wanted a canopy bed since I was a little girl- and I just felt like the style of this piece fit in with my whole cabin in the woods vibe we have going on in this house (check out my living room tour here). I think the bed is a great place to begin the design of a bedroom as it really is the focal point of the room.

I basically had this bed in my shopping cart for 3 months, because I was a little shy to pull the trigger as I have never personally spent this much on a bed before for myself (for the record, it is incredibly well priced under $2000, I just never have spent this much personally on a bed for myself)- but I am so happy I did.

I love the drama the canopy creates, I love the natural wood texture, I love the upholstered high headboard that offers even more drama, I love that I purchased this online and that there were no surprises when the bed was assembled.  

So whether $2000 is cheap, affordable, or luxe to you, invest in your bed, you won't be sorry. 

Lisa Canning Dimplex fireplace

2. CREATE INSTANT COZY WITH A FIREPLACE

There is something so luxurious about a fireplace in a bedroom. I love the instant warmth it creates, the ambient glow, and how relaxing it is to watch flames dance in a pitch black room. 

I installed this Dimplex electric fireplace and mantel  and just love the impact it has on the space. 

Lisa Canning Dimplex fireplace close up

The beauty of utilizing an electric fireplace is that it really is plug in and go (although of course ensure you have the correct amperage for your electrical outlet so that your breaker does not trip every time you use it). I went with a unit that has a built-in mantel, as it was a simple way to add another design element, and gave opportunity to create a focal point at the foot of our bed with art and accessories.  

A fireplace-mantel combination is a great way to add a little luxury without breaking the bank, as the cost really is a fraction of what it would cost to run a gas line and install a unit. Plus, if you're in a rental like I am, it's the kind of piece you can take with you.

Lisa Canning Ikea Hack Shayne Fox Hardware3. SAVE $$$ WITH SMART HACKS

Due to some of the permanent structural changes we made in this rental (and the $$$ that came with those choices), I had to stretch my budget creatively and let me tell you, I think this is my FAVOURITE HACK I HAVE EVER DONE.

This is a $99 dresser. I added these Shayne Fox Hardware pulls that are worth more than the dresser itself! The combination makes me so happy. The night stands are a good scale compared to the large bed, and the handcrafted geometric pulls are works of art. 

4. KEEP TEXTILES NEUTRAL

A really easy way to make a space feel luxurious is to keep the colour palette of your textiles neutral, or analogous shades on the colour wheel. I stayed with neutral tones with grey-blue undertones on everything. I love colour and drama (have you seen my blue sofas?) but if you want a fool proof way to make a space feel luxe, keep things all within a similar palette.

And speaking of luxe, this rug is worth every single penny I paid for it. It is so soft underfoot, so inviting, and just worth it!

Lisa Canning NeatFreak Closet5. CREATE A CLOSET THAT MAKES GETTING DRESSED EFFORTLESS

One of the ways that a space qualifies as luxurious to me, is if it makes my life more effortless. And this closet transformation has been a GAME CHANGER. Getting dressed in this closet before was no fun at all. We were living out of boxes for far too long, and could never find anything without having to rifle through piles and piles of stuff. 

Our closet (and master bedroom in general) also became a pitiful storage room for items that we were too lazy to walk to the basement or the garage. 

So to create order in a space we start our day in is a luxurious element to me. I partnered with Neatfreak! on all the organizational elements in this closet, and oh boy do they help me feel less chaos and increase my ability to get dressed quickly!

Lisa Canning Neatfreak accessories

Being 8 months pregnant means my wardrobe is a little segmented- I have a bunch of clothing that is non-maternity and does not fit. I have a whole other set of clothing that is too uncomfortable / too small to wear at this stage of my pregnancy, and then my current rotation of clothing I gravitate towards everyday. I love how these bin drawers allow me to flip the drawers around for closed storage, and flip them the other way for easy view storage. 

Lisa Canning Neatfreak closet

Lisa Canning dressing areaAnd to further add harmony to my life, and create another area to help me be efficient in the mornings, I reused the table from the basement in my old house (reduced down to console size), and a shelf we had in our old office, as a spot to house a necklace tree, trays for jewelry, and bowls for accessories. 

What do you think? Would this bedroom make you feel restored and increase your peace both at night and when getting dressed in the morning? Let me know in the comments below. 

And stay tuned for next week's post on my full basement tour- so excited to share this with you!!!!!

Special thanks to Neatfreak! and Dimplex for partnering with me on this project. Opinions are all based on my authentic experience. 

FULL PRODUCT LIST:

CANOPY BED Wayfair Rachel Ray Highline: http://bit.ly/2JTEzzy

BEDDING, PILLOWS, Kate Spade LAMPS, ART above fireplace and nightstands, SHEETS, DRAPES: http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7 

$99 ASKVOLL NIGHTSTAND: http://bit.ly/2JRkOsn

PYRA SHAYNE FOX HARDWARE: http://bit.ly/2LOxXQt

Dimplex ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: http://bit.ly/2l5j94y

RUG: http://bit.ly/2JJKowp

CLOSET ORGANIZER SYSTEM: http://bit.ly/2JRD70I

BASSINET (similar): http://bit.ly/2LQwTvh 

 

HOW TO DECORATE A RENTAL LIKE IT’S YOUR OWN  – MY CANNING CABIN HOUSE TOUR!

HOW TO DECORATE A RENTAL LIKE IT’S YOUR OWN – MY CANNING CABIN HOUSE TOUR!

You're here! We made it! We have at long last put the finishing touches on our #canningcabin, our brand new (to us) property that we moved into 4 months ago.

As many of you know, we sold our house earlier this year for a few different reasons, and we've spent the last four months unpacking boxes, decorating, and doing some small renovations in this rental property- and I am so excited to share our main floor with you today! If you prefer to watch the home tour, click below, otherwise, read on! And make sure you scroll down to the end for the full list of items in the room. 

Decorating a rental was a challenging task for me. There were so many things I wanted to do, and I constantly had to weigh my decisions against my not unlimited budget. In the end, I am so pleased with the balance we struck in terms of making this space truly our own, making it functional for the unique needs of my large family, and making it a space that is beautiful and inspiring! I love it so much and I hope these tips on how to decorate a rental like it's your own help you in your decorating pursuits, whether you own, or you rent.

Lisa Canning Canning Cabin Living Room

1. UPDATE YOUR TRIM

This property is old and when we moved in, it was literally like stepping back in time to the 1970's. One of the biggest things that gives away the age of a property is trim (baseboards especially)- and so one of the best updates you can do to make an old rental look new, is replace your trim. 

Now this is an option that will cost some $$$ and might not be in everyone's budget. But because of the impact trim (especially baseboards!) make, I argue it should always be a consideration when moving into a new space.

I took this one step further of course and added shiplap everywhere that made sense in my main open concept space. And as I share in my video tour, I struggled with this decision BIG TIME. The installation for the shiplap, and the material fee, was not a small one. But as I really wanted to embrace the cabin in the woods feeling this property has, and the fact that I am slightly obsessed with the textural quality that trim provides, we simply decided to make installing shiplap, new baseboards, crown moulding, and casing, a priority in the budget. 

Believe me when I tell you I considered other options- I looked at temporary wallpaper for renters like this and this, and I really wanted to like it, but in the end I wanted the look of the real thing, and boy am I happy with the results.

I partnered with Metrie, the largest North American supplier and manufacturer of solid wood and composite moulding. I used their pre-painted shiplap, which snaps together so easily. I love how innovative the design of this product is, and I finished the shiplap off with baseboards, casing and crown from their Very Square collection.   

We also updated the doors. The doors were originally all louvered- as in, you could hear everything through them! And with soon to be 7 children in this house, let me tell you replacing the doors to solid core doors was a NEED not a want! It also gave us an opportunity to do something fun with paint, and I embraced pink in my entrance way with this soft pink called Pleasant Pink by Benjamin Moore on this solid door from Metrie's Very Square collection. 

So while it did take up a significant portion of our budget, it was a priority for me in this space, and one I definitely do not regret investing in for the beauty and the function it has created! 

2. BE BOLD IN YOUR FURNISHINGS

Another easy way for a rental to really feel like you is to be bold in your furnishings. I had been eyeing these Sven sofas from Article for a while, but was extremely hesitant to buy something like a sofa online. Honestly, the designer in me that needs to sit test things was really, REALLY reluctant to do this. But after reading several reviews online, and reviewing Article's return policy, I decided to go for it and happy to report they are really lovely.

I have always loved velvet and navy blue, and have made similar furniture pieces like this for clients for $$$$. So when I discovered I could get two sofas for just over $3000 it was not a difficult decision to make.  

They are beautiful, but they do require maintenance. I find everything- dust, stains from leaky baby bottles, sticky fingers, etc. shows up on the navy fabric. The great news is, every single stain has come off with soap and water. The bad news is, it's another chore to add to the list of cleaning chores- so while I would 100% recommend them for their comfort, style and quality, you need to be prepared to wash stains regularly if you want them to look clean! But honestly, if these sofas can stand up to my 6 children ages 9 and under, I am pretty sure they can survive anything.

Lisa Canning Cabin Dining Room

3. BE BOLD IN YOUR COLOUR CHOICES

I know I already talked about pink, but we must talk about it again- because I just love how this pink door looks in my dining room! In an old space, I think a small hit of a trendy colour is just fun and unexpected. This was one of the easier decisions for me in this space- for some reason, knowing the space is temporary as it is a rental made me more bold in my paint selections. And the fabulous thing about paint, is that it is changeable- if I change my mind on this colour, in an hour and a half I can have it changed to something else. 

I love this hit of pink in this velvet pillow

Lisa Canning Cabin Home Sense Tray

And how sweet is this colourful tray (and pom pom paperclips!) from HomeSense?! 

Lisa Canning Cabin Home Office

4. LET FUNCTION BE YOUR GUIDE

One of the things we always have to have top of mind in design is function. A space needs to make a family's life EASIER, not harder. So consider areas you need to increase function, and don't skimp on those areas! 

For me, I had to increase function in how I store paper and keep my business life organized. While I am a big fan of the concept of deep work, and locking myself away in a quiet space to get focused stuff done, there are lots of times when I am paying bills while my children are around, sorting receipts and paper work, and filing things that they come home with and I come home with. In the past, I have had a dedicated office space in an area away from the main commotion of the house. But what I found was that filing of everyday paper just wasn't happening as it was too far away and I never really developed the behaviour to keep paper organized.

Lisa Canning Cabin Shelving

In this house, I was determined to figure out a system that would work and YOU GUYS I THINK I FINALLY FOUND ONE. Having this office space attached to my main living room makes it really easy to find a home for school permission forms, library book reminder slips, crafts that come home from school and all my business correspondence as soon as it comes into my house. 

And watch my YouTube tour for a clip board system that has SERIOUSLY CHANGED MY LIFE! Organization makes me SO HAPPY! 

5. STRETCH YOUR DOLLAR BY INVESTING IN SECOND HAND

As I mentioned at the top of this post, discerning where to spend money was really challenging for me. I basically had to get really comfortable with the fact that I was spending money on things like trim, shiplap and mouldings that I would definitely not be taking with me. 

To make this decision more palatable, I chose to be really savvy with items I purchased, and this included shopping on the online platform Kijiji. I am a big supporter of the 2nd hand economy. In my line of work, I acquire LOTS OF STUFF, and I enjoy selling items I no longer need. To me, I just don't see the need to hang on to things I might need in the future when it could be bringing someone else enjoyment today (and money in my pocket today)! And for this project, I was able to pick up an amazing light fixture from a seller on Kijiji for $50 (check it out in my YouTube home tour) and a few other items for my home which really helped to stretch my budget. 

The other thing I find helpful about supporting the 2nd hand economy is that it offers less pressure to keep items you do purchase. While I am a big believer in investing in quality and things you might own for a lifetime, I am also super comfortable with the notion of changing your mind, or simply wanting new items in a new space. For example, I really love my velvet couches, and if it turns out that I own them for 15 or 20 years I will be very happy to have them! But I am also super comfortable with selling them, or giving them away in a year, or two years time, if that simply made sense for me. 

Finding creative ways like shopping second hand can really help get you closer to making your rental, your own. 

I hope this tour and my tips made you feel a little inspired today- and come back next Friday for the reveal of my master bedroom and master closet! Scroll to the bottom for a complete list of everything in this space, and thanks so much for spending a little time with me in my living room, office, dining room and entryway.

Special thanks to Metrie and Kijiji for partnering with me on this project, opinions are 100% my lived experience! 

Photos by Larry Arnal.

 

Here are some helpful links to the products I used in this space! I hope they are helpful in your decorating adventures:

LIVING ROOM:

Article Sven SOFA: http://bit.ly/2LAApde

$219 ARMCHAIR: http://bit.ly/2LywBZW

Colourful PILLOWS: http://bit.ly/2JABvJl

Green OTTOMANS: http://bit.ly/2sWHihg

SHIPLAP: http://bit.ly/2l4ndoW

Rug: http://bit.ly/2sSHvlJ

Ottomans (I used 2 together): http://bit.ly/2HBzUx7

Tray on ottomans: http://bit.ly/2l1ewIX

Side tables, sideboard, patterned blue Shibori chair: http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7

 

OFFICE:

SHELVING unit: http://bit.ly/2kYWlDF

PRINTER: http://bit.ly/2JlSkaM

CLIP BOARDS: https://amzn.to/2HA26QT

FILE FOLDERS: http://bit.ly/2JJiYKo

STORAGE BOXES: http://bit.ly/2Md1Vi6

$45 Sconces: http://bit.ly/2kY4B6N

TRAY, RUG, ACCESSORIES: http://bit.ly/2HrbuY7

 

DINING ROOM:

TABLE: (my table is discontinued, here is a similar one) http://bit.ly/2sIHul3

CHAIRS: http://bit.ly/2kYX87B

PINK DOOR: http://bit.ly/2ss28pn

Pink PAINT: http://bit.ly/2LAeqDn

 

ENTRYWAY:

CONSOLE, ottoman, baskets: http://bit.ly/2B9NVm6

LAMP: http://bit.ly/2JCC7NN

DIFFUSER: (mine was a limited edition one from here) http://bit.ly/2JqCWWG

SECOND HAND LIGHT FIXTURE: http://bit.ly/2sTeg23

MIRROR (similar): http://bit.ly/2JFnyJf

 

HOW TO INCORPORATE A HOME OFFICE IN A MASTER BEDROOM

HOW TO INCORPORATE A HOME OFFICE IN A MASTER BEDROOM

When you are an entrepreneur, work happens everywhere- in the car, at the kitchen table, even in your bed! But there eventually comes a point when it is time to create a dedicated office space for everyone's sanity and productivity- and that is exactly what I did for entrepreneurial mom of 2, Jennifer Pike.

To know Jenn Pike personally is to constantly be inspired to be more healthy (she is an incredible women's health and wellness expert). So of course in her master bedroom, we invested in amazing materials to increase healthy sleep habits, proper spine alignment, and more- and I am so excited to share it all with you! If you prefer to watch, click on my YouTube video below, otherwise read on!  

1. START WITH A BEAUTIFUL BED

I'm a big believer that all hard working mamas DESERVE a beautiful bed. After a hard day of raising kids, working outside the home, working inside the home, whatever it is you do- MOMS (AND DADS) ARE TIRED. So let's invest in a BEAUTIFUL bed.

And this Wayfair bed does not disappoint. Both Jenn and I are pretty time strapped between our entrepreneurial and family activities. So the ability to shop online, and have delivered quickly a major design element of the room, is so strategic for us! This bed is soft, plush and elegant- I love the tufted headboard and the drama the wingbacked headboard possesses. And as I have shared in my past projects I have done with Jenn (check out her laundry room and her kitchen), this house has such limited storage (no garage, no basement). So any opportunity I could find to give her additional storage I did- including in the bed!

And finally, of all the pieces in the room, this one for sure is my favourite in the category of value obtained for dollars spent. I have spent upwards of $4000 on custom upholstered beds like this with storage- and so get something like this for less than $2000 all in is just fabulous.

And of course a beautiful bed needs a quality matress. For the mattress and sheet set, we used The Casper Mattress. Again, ergonomic health is a major priority to Jennifer- so selecting the right mattress for her and her husband was really important. This mattress offers ZonedSupport, an innovative foam framework that contours specifically to each area of the body for incredible comfort, ideal anatomical support, and focused spinal alignment. This award winning mattress boasts four supportive layers of high-density memory foam to provide balanced support. 

And for the pillow, sheet set, and duvet cover, we used Casper as well. Casper’s pillow-in-a-pillow was designed for all-night comfort, for every sleep position. With just the right balance of squish and support, the inner pillow is supportive, while the outer pillow adds a soft comfort. And when it comes to sheets, I am really picky. I like a cool, crisp feeling to my sheets, and these totally fit the bill. Casper’s cotton percale sheets are smooth, airy, and get softer with every wash. The breathable percale weave sleeps cool all night long, and we went with white to keep everything serene and peaceful.

And again, convenience. The mattress and sheet set showed up within days of ordering, to Jenn's front door. So convenient. 

2. Designate a spot for the office

Once your bed is taken care of, designate a spot for the office. This could look like a stand alone desk, or like we did in Jenn's bedroom, custom millwork. I chose to go custom because I wanted to give Jenn every square inch of storage I could, and so fitting her desk in this nook by the window, and taking shelving to the ceiling, was the best plan for this space. The other amazing thing about going custom, is that we were then able to paint the desk this gorgeous turquoise colour, Benjamin Moore Waterfall 2050-50.

When planning your storage options, definitely consider a combination of closed and open storage. Closed storage is essential for hiding visual clutter, and in a bedroom this is so important. You need to be able to end the workday, without a chaotic mess next to your bed, and closed storage makes this possible! It's also important to have open storage, as this allows you to display the motivational elements and decorative items that remind you of your purpose, and keep a positive energy around you! 

And can we talk for a second about these brass, hand cast cabinet pulls? They are designed by a local Toronto entrepreneur Shayne Fox, and they like jewelry on this desk. I love them so much.

And for the chair, let me tell you did I get educated on ergonomic health. Being almost 8 months pregnant, I basically suffer from low back pain all the time. And even more so when I am at my desk for long periods of time. THIS CHAIR IS A GAME CHANGER YOU GUYS. It literally felt like a hug for my low back and pelvis. The CoreChair is an ergonomic active sitting chair that provides optimal support while introducing movement into your workday- i.e. you kind of wiggle when you sit in it, which keeps the muscles active which is how we avoid all the low back pain. The low back support combined with an aggressively sculpted seat embraces your pelvis, positioning you to sit tall with optimal posture. With four levels of resistance, the tilting mechanism allows you to move up to 14 degrees in all directions, loosening up your joints, promoting blood flow and relaxing your tight lower back muscles in order to reduce pain. 

Seriously, this chair needs to be in homes and offices everywhere! And for someone like Jenn who promotes mobility and healthy living as much as she does, this chair was such a good fit.

3. Add your personality

This is an important aspect of design to me, regardless of the kind of space you are creating. The space has to reflect you and your unique personality. Jennifer's personality is so vibrant- so I just had to add elements like this Metrie door painted Benjamin Moore Yellow Highlighter 2021-40. To ensure that this really was like the exclamation point at the end of a sentence, we kept the adjacent Metrie sliding closet doors in white to ensure some balance.

And again to ensure the space didn't feel too overwhelming with all the vibrant pops, I wrapped the room in Metrie's tongue and groove paneling and painted it out Benjamin Moore Decorator White CC-20. It's no secret how much I love interior mouldings. They provide such a beautiful textural element to a space. Metrie has been my go-to partner for architectural elements for years-their passion for design and innovation has allowed them to become the largest supplier and manufacturer of solid wood and composite moulding in North America.

And of course a bedroom needs to feel cozy and comfortable, which is why I added ample blankets and pillows in a variety of textures – all within our colour palette to stay harmonious – and displayed them on this ladder from Bouclair. Lighting also makes a big impact in the room, with a stunning modern chandelier from Bouclair adding an architectural element.

And of course you can add your personality in all the fun accessories. I picked up this tray and yellow pen holder at Bouclair, where it's not hard to come home with a carful of fun, well-priced accessories for your home. I love the painterly element of this tray and on trend rope detail. 

What do you think? Would you be productive in a space like this? Love to know in the comments below!

Special thanks to all the brands mentioned who partnered with me on this project by providing products. I love working with brands who care about families thrive at home, and I do ample research to ensure and products I use will provide value to you!

Photos by Dann Tardiff.

 

MAY LONG WEEKEND FAMILY FUN ESSENTIALS, AND MY PATIO DESIGN REVEAL!

MAY LONG WEEKEND FAMILY FUN ESSENTIALS, AND MY PATIO DESIGN REVEAL!

It is the May long weekend here in Canada and I am excited for some REST and RELAXATION at home with my family! To do this, I have given my back deck a bit of a much needed makeover, and I am sharing some fun products that are going to help save me time and allow me to really relax (AND PUT MY VERY PREGNANT FEET UP, LOL) with my crew of 6 kids.

To watch the whole reveal (the before of my back deck was pretty sad looking) click below.

I've also summarized my long weekend family fun essentials below if you'd prefer to read!

1. TIDY UP YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE

We FINALLY have some beautiful weather in Toronto and all I want is to spend every single second of it outside. But my back deck was incredibly dirty and full of debris from the many trees on my property- so start with a good clean. Shake off all the dust from your patio furniture, wash cushion covers as needed, tighten any screws that may have come loose in your furniture and get ready to add the pretty.

2. SET A BUDGET FOR NEW OUTDOOR ITEMS AND BRING THE BEAUTY

I like picking up new outdoor entertaining items every season because I find parts of my sets inevitably get lost or damaged every year, and let's face it, outdoor stuff is just fun and whimsical. I find I am way more adventurous in my outdoor decor than I am for items inside- anyone else like me and are more brave in their decorating decisions as they seem more temporary? 

I always look for on trend pillows (pom poms and tassels!), colourful planters (I find these ones sell out super fast), and cute glasses / food accessories. This year I SCORED the cutest outdoor food cover cage that is adorned with POM POMS. The cutest. 

3. PLAN SIMPLE, FAST MEALS

I am no chef- I appreciate that some people LOVE to whip up elaborate meals made from scratch with ample chopping and preparation, but it is just not my idea of fun. I like my meals to be delicious, healthy, and convenient to prepare. So when the team at M&M Food Market invited me to try some of their prepared meals I jumped at the opportunity. The prepared meals make you look like a culinary genius, and it makes preparing a meal whether it be on a weekend when you want to put your feet up, or on a weeknight when time is at a premium, crazy easy. Plus with their real food promise, there are no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners so you know what you are feeding your family is good stuff.

4. SAVE TIME SO YOU CAN PLAY

For me, long weekends are for RELAXING and creating family memories. My impetus for saving time in meal planning, meal prep, and other areas of my life, is motivated by wanting to be available and attentive to the little people in my life and be able to get down on the ground and play.

Little Tikes sent over some fun toys as gifts for my kids recently, and we had a blast. We got sent the Fun Zone Fountain Factory Table which has provided HOURS of entertainment for my kiddos large and small. I love how my little guys get to play, imagine, and build their fine motor skills, and my bigger guys get to fill the toy with water and help my younger babies out. We also got to try the Fun Zone Dual Twister, which fits one or two children and can be played with inside, or hooked up to a hose and played with outside! Watch my video to watch my little guy spinning away : ) 

5. PUT YOUR FEET UP!

I know I talk about this all the time, but I am such a believer in REST FOR MOMS. Whatever adventures your family finds itself on this weekend, make sure there is a little bit of rest factored in there for both you and the kids. 

So make sure there's time to put your feet up, and relax. You will 100% find me on my outdoor sofa this weekend with a (non-alchoholic) drink in my hands!!! 

What are your essentials for a fun family long weekend? Love to know in the comments below : ) 

Special thanks to M&M Food Market and Little Tikes for partnering with me on this post.

 

WHAT I WISH ALL MOMS KNEW

WHAT I WISH ALL MOMS KNEW

It's Mother's Day, and I have been reflecting a lot on my journey as a mom. Oh my word, it has been a journey full of ups, downs, pivots, spins. There are so many things that I know now, after 9 years of experience, and almost 7 babies later, that I wish every mom knew. Click below to watch the video, or read on below:

I wish all moms knew that children are not a burden. There are things about motherhood and raising kids that are inconvenient, for sure. The amount of pee and poop I have cleaned from all kinds of surfaces, let me tell you. But these things, these things that might not be pleasant, might require us to give and give of ourselves make us better people. Children are not an inconvenience.

I wish all moms knew we could beat to our own drums. It is so OK if you want to do life differently than your mom, your sister, your best friend, your work colleague, that girl on instagram, that's alright. You want to know why? Because your life is yours. It's YOUR LIFE!!!

I wish every mom knew that if you want to quit your job and be with your kids more full time YOU SHOULD DO IT. Don't just go back to work because a bunch of people are telling you you should. Don't go back because you are afraid that you won't have a job if you take some time off to be at home- heck, you are probably GOSH DARN TALENTED and can get a job again regardless of how much time you invest in being home. 

I wish all moms knew that making decisions from a place of fear is usually not the best approach. It might provide a solution for your family, but it probably isn't the best solution for your family.

I wish all moms knew that success as a mom is so possible, but that success just might look different than how you originally pictured it.

I wish all moms knew that it is a far better strategy to measure success by looking inward, rather than looking sideways and comparing yourself to others.

I wish all moms knew that becoming a mom does not mean you sacrifice your dreams. You can be a great mom and follow your passions. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SQUASH ALL YOUR DREAMS AND TELL THEM TO BE QUIET JUST BECAUSE YOU BECAME A MOM. I believe that ALL MOMS CAN DESIGN THEIR LIVES SO THEY CAN PURSUE THEIR PASSIONS AND GOALS BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR FAMILIES. It is possible. 

I wish all moms knew that your life is yours, and yours alone to live. Which means that sometimes when people give you advice, you need to nod and smile, but not take that advice. 

I wish all moms knew that motherhood does not have to be lonely. You're not in it alone. If you are feeling sad, insecure, or no one is experiencing what you are experiencing, that is a lie. Talk about it, ask for support. We are not meant to do this alone.

I wish all moms knew that motherhood is hard sometimes, but it does not have to be hard ALL THE TIME. We can design our lives so that our schedules include time for friends, time for self care, time for hobbies- it does not need to be hard all the time.

I wish all moms knew that kids will fail- and that is ok. Let them fail.

I wish all moms knew that when kids don't excel the way you pictured it, THAT IS OK. IT IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU AND YOUR ABILITY TO PARENT. It is simply a reality that we all have different gifts and talents. AND THAT IS A-OK.

I wish all oms knew that you don't have to enroll your child in multiple activities for them to become a great person. If they have an interest, foster it. But it should not be at the expense of your sanity, or your child's sanity.

I wish all moms knew that motherhood is not a competition. Who cares whose kid is the smartest, whose house is the nicest, who can bake the best cake. WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL. THERE IS ROOM FOR EVERYONE TO EXCEL. 

I wish all moms knew what a joyful noise the sound of small children can be.

I wish all moms knew that motherhood can be fun! You get to revisit your own childhood in so many ways, you get to play, your get to become a kid again. It can be so much fun.

I wish all moms knew that the toddler phase is kind of like a choose your own adventure book- and they choose the adventure, you don't, by the way!

I wish all moms knew that giving your child a sibling is an incredible gift. It might seem like there is no way you can give anymore of yourself, but the gift of a sibling IS A GIFT TO EVERYONE.

I wish all moms knew that sometimes motherhood can make you feel like YOU ARE LOSING YOUR MIND. But THAT YOU ALWAYS GET IT BACK, I PROMISE.

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mamas who are working hard, sacrificing lots and following their dreams at the same time.

Cheers to designing your beautiful life. 

GUILT FREE ME-TIME FOR MOMS

GUILT FREE ME-TIME FOR MOMS

As a busy working mom of 6 (soon to be 7!) children, time out times are really important to me. Taking moments to myself (even if they are just a moment) are so important to me as they allow me to recharge, and provide the attention and energy necessary to give to my family and my work. Today I've teamed up with Green and Black's Chocolate and developed this recipe, designed for moms who are on the go, where a time out might happen in their car waiting to pick up their kids from school, or on a quiet break from work.

YOGURT PARFAIT WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

Ingredients:
– vanilla Greek yogurt
– roasted walnuts
– granola (optional if trying to stay low carb)
– berries of choice (strawberries, blueberries, whatever is in the fridge)
– Green and Black's Dark 70% Chocolate 
– sprigs of mint for garnish
– glass jars with tight sealing lids

Directions:
1. In a glass jar, place a layer of yogurt, followed by a layer of nuts, granola and berries. 
2. Repeat until jar is approximately 3/4 full. Set aside.

3. Take four squares of Green and Black's Dark 70% Chocolate and chop into small pieces.
4. Sprinkle the chocolate on top of the layers of yogurt, nuts, granola and berries, covering the surface completely.

5. Add a few berries and a mint leaf for garnish.
6. Enjoy your time out treat! I like to make a few of these at a time, seal them up and have back up time out treats in my fridge, ready to go when I need one!

 

Making time for yourself as a mom can be a challenging task at times. Amidst competing demands of work, family, friends, hobbies, and taking care of your own personal needs, it can seem like an impossible task! But it is possible! If you're struggling with how to make time for yourself and not feel guilty about it, here are my tips:

1. Schedule it    

I cannot tell you how important it is to schedule in time out time the exact same way you would schedule a dental appointment, or soccer practice for one of your kids. Sometimes I think we give more priority to the needs of our teeth than we do our own mental and physical health!!! So literally put it in the calendar as a recurring appointment, schedule childcare for that time, and think of it as a necessary investment in you. 

2. Make your car a place of rest

Depending on your season of life, it might not be possible to schedule a great deal of time to self care. Sometimes a time out can only happen in your car before you pick up your children from school- and that is OK! So think about ways you can make your car a place where you can take a little breather just for you. I like to ensure I always have an audio book on my phone that I can listen to as I wait to pick up my kids in the school parking lot, current magazines tucked into my glovebox, an essential oil spray in the car at all times that I can use for my body and my car for a quick refresh, and a tasty treat to consume all on my own (check out my super simple yogurt parfait recipe that is a go to time out treat for me!)

3. Put your phone away

In today's digital age it can be so easy to whip out your phone any second you get a moment. But what I have learned is that sometimes it is just more beneficial to keep the phone in your purse and sit in silence. It can be an uncomfortable feeling at first to just sit- but in the quiet is where I often get my best ideas, and feel the most refreshed. So the next time you find yourself with a moment alone and you are tempted to pull out your phone, try closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and just sit in silence. 

How do you make time for yourself in the midst of motherhood? Tell me in the comments below.

Special thanks to Green and Black's Chocolate for partnering with me on this post! 
 

MEET ME AT THE BABYTIME SHOW!

MEET ME AT THE BABYTIME SHOW!

If you've been following along on my Instagram, you know I've been talking quite a bit about coaching and life design lately. In fact, I am kind of obsessed! I am obsessed with the concept of moms designing their lives around what matters most, and helping moms to understand how to make their schedules work for them to combat overwhelm and promote progress on goals. 

So I am SUPER EXCITED to let you all know that I have a very special speaking engagement coming up at The BabyTime Show, Toronto's biggest and longest running show of its kind. The BabyTime Show is the perfect place for new parents and parents of young children to learn from the top experts, try & buy from local vendors and top brands, and walk away feeling confident in their skills, prepared with all the essentials needed for parenthood.

Celebrating its 20th year, The BabyTime Show and I have teamed up for two very special presentations. 

On Friday April 27, 2018, at 8:30am, I will be hosting a special pre-show, 1-hour presentation, on how to conquer your calendar, balance it all, and design a life you love. 

In this special presentation, I am going to walk you through my 6-step framework to help you identify what matters most to you, put your unique priorities into your calendar, and the habits and strategies that I use every day to make everything stick, and give you a life with less overwhelm, more balance, more time and more freedom. Essentially I am sharing the process that has allowed me to build a 6-figure business while raising my 6 children!

PLUS you get access to the show as soon as it opens, a bonus Essential Oils presentation from The Oil Girls, and a gift bag with a really fun time out treat just for you from my sponsor Green and Black's Chocolate. 

Grab your tickets right here.

AND THEN!

On Sunday April 29, 2018, at 2pm, I will be hosting a 30-minute encore presentation of my life planning presentation, followed by 6 EXCLUSIVE 20-MINUTE ONE-ON-ONE COACHING SLOTS WITH ME!

You'll get all the benefits of my 6-step framework condensed to 30-minutes, plus one-on-one time with me to strategize and get assistance on making progress toward your goals. But act fast- there are only 6 spots and they will go quickly. To book your time and view the remaining spots, click here.

If you.ve ever wanted to do a coaching program with me, but have felt like time or money have not been on your side, this is a great way to get a bit of clarity on your goals and MOVE FORWARD!!!!!

 

  

HOW TO KEEP YOUR HOME RENOVATIONS SAFE & SNEAK PEEK AT MY MASTER BEDROOM DESIGN

HOW TO KEEP YOUR HOME RENOVATIONS SAFE & SNEAK PEEK AT MY MASTER BEDROOM DESIGN

As I shared previously, we recently moved our family from a 2000 square foot semi-detached home to a 6000 square foot cabin in the woods (that is walking distance to a Starbucks)! I still cannot believe we have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful space.

We are also very excited to make our space our own. I have so many fun décor projects up my sleeve and I cannot wait to share them with all of you! But before we can get to the pretty, I wanted to make sure the house was safe. Today, I am teaming up with the Electrical Safety Authority, the administrative authority mandated by the Government of Ontario to enhance electrical safety in the province, to highlight some of the things you want to keep in mind when you are making your home your own.

With a family as large as mine (I don’t even want to tell you how much my family of 6 kids spends on groceries every week), I have to make very careful decisions with my budget to make every decorating dollar count. For me, this includes DIY-ing whatever I have the time, the energy, and the skill for- which often includes things like painting, hanging art, and assembling furniture (I painted my laundry room ceiling at 2am while 7 months pregnant to finish it for a photoshoot!)

But there are a few things I will never mess around with from a DIY point of view, and this includes anything electrical. Electrical work is complicated and, in most cases, it is an important part of any renovation plan. But did you know that if you hire an unlicensed electrician and something goes wrong, you’re responsible? And, if an insurance claim can be traced back to work that was performed by an unlicensed electrician, the claim may be denied. If you are hiring someone to do electrical work in Ontario, by law they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor.

So, one of the first things we did in our new home was to have my Licensed Electrical Contractor in to tidy up the MANY random wires that were very precariously hanging in multiple areas. Our new house, while new to us, is over 50 years old and has plenty of evidence of that fact. In the area I am going to use as an office, we had a bouquet of wires sprouting from the wall with zero knowledge of what was live and what was not. My Licensed Electrical Contractor was able to tidy them up safely.

Good bye messy cables! Come back soon for the after! 

Another project I am so excited about is installing an electric fireplace in our master bedroom. The house is surrounded by so much nature, and has incredible natural light. Unfortunately, with the age of the home and the windows, it means drafty rooms are a reality, and the warmth and ambiance an electric fireplace will bring this space is really going to increase our comfort. When planning for your fireplace, either electric or gas, there are specific electrical requirements. Under the advisement of our Licensed Electrical Contractor, we are going to have a dedicated circuit for the fireplace installed. This will help to ensure that the the circuit breaker won’t trip when the heater is operating. Here’s a peek at what I am thinking for the bedroom:

I can’t wait to share this finished space with you so soon! It’s a bit of a departure for me design wise, embracing the whole cabin in the woods aesthetic, but I’m pretty excited about it!

While I love the beauty a new renovation can bring, what’s most important to me especially where my family is concerned, is the safety and integrity of what’s behind all the beauty. With this sentiment in mind, I was excited to see my long time mentor and friend Kimberley Seldon (remember her beautiful magazine Dabble that I was a regular contributor to?) partner with the Electrical Safety Authority for its Power Your Reno program. It’s an online resource that provides homeowners and design enthusiasts with the tools they need to create beautiful -– and safe -– home renovations.

On March 17th, ESA is hosting a panel discussion titled “Behind the Walls” at the National Home Show in Toronto featuring designer Kimberley Seldon, CityLine host Tracey Moore, and electrical safety expert Steve Smith. Kimberley and Steve will share tips to achieve a home reno that is on-trend and powered to perform. To learn more about the panel, click here.   

Thanks to the Electrical Safety Authority for partnering with me on this sponsored post.

TOP RELAXING SPOTS FOR TIRED MOMS IN TORONTO

TOP RELAXING SPOTS FOR TIRED MOMS IN TORONTO

Self-care has been big time on my mind as we have been recovering from moving houses- and I am soaking it in in all forms! As a mom of a bunch of small kids (and pregnant on top of it) I must say I need to sit down at least ten times a day! 

In my pursuit of my own self-care I've been thinking a lot about why self-care is important when you're a mom. 

I used to struggle with the concept of self-care so much. I felt so bad leaving my kids with someone else, I felt bad "abandoning" them, I felt selfish for doing small things for me. In the past, I basically let the lack of paying attention to my own needs pile up for so long I would snap and then my husband would send me on an imposed time out ????

But here are my two cents and please feel free to disagree with me:

What I have learned in nine years of motherhood of 6 young children, is that for me to be a good mom, I need to pay attention to what feeds my soul and restores my energy.

It doesn't need to be a weekend away, or a full day at the spa or what have you (although these are obviously nice from time to time if logistics allow it!) but small things, like a coffee alone, or a quick mani/pedi while my parents watch the kids for an hour, or 15 minutes on the treadmill, or even just strapping the kids in the car and getting the most decadent coffee possible, these small, regular things are so important. But the key is that there is regularity- not just stockpiled until we crack. What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Struggle?

So in the pursuit of making time for self-care more of a priority, I have compiled my list of my favourite spots to relax in Toronto when I am tired and really need a break. Like I said above, if you can budget a full spa day that's amazing. But if you can't, a 30-minute manicure can be really helpful too- it doesn't have to be all or nothing!!!

On to my favourite spots (and please add to them in the comments below!)


1. RH Courtyard Cafe, Yorkdale Mall

RH's new Toronto location just opened a few months ago at Yorkdale Mall and it is a work of art. Not only is the retail store a restorative place to dream big (with big price tags, lol!), attached to the location is an equally breathtaking cafe. I ate the scrambled eggs and avocado with a delicious Americano, to the sound of indoor fountains and basked in natural light. It's also a super fun place to people watch- it attracts all kinds, from high end interior designers hosting meetings with their clients, to older ladies who lunch, to younger ladies with their babies, to the millennial fashion crowd with all their Nordstrom bags. It's a fun treat for all the senses!

2. Her Majesty's Pleasure

In all honesty, in the rare times I do go to get my nails done it is at my local spot with florescent lighting, 30-minute service, adorned with posters of 1980's nail models. But if I really want a treat, I will venture downtown to Her Majesty's Pleasure, another treat for all the senses (sans florescent lighting) with its beautiful design, delicious cocktails and coffee, and ability to get your nails, hair, makeup, whatever will make a mama feel her best, done in one stop. Pair this with a date night downtown, or girls night on King Street for a fun couple of hours sans the kiddos.

3. Sugar Beach

This fairly recent addition to Toronto's waterfront is cute and quaint. Honestly, I come here for the pink umbrellas. This is a nice spot in the summer to bring your Starbucks, and a book, for a quick restorative break.


4. Indigo at Sherway Gardens

I love me any Indigo location, but I REALLY love the Sherway Gardens location, which opened last year, and was designed as an art-gallery inspired "cultural department store." And it really is so much more than a bookstore. It's another spot to just get lost in inspiration, with an entire section dedicated to gifts for her, from gorgeous scarves, to leather handbags, to the most incredible selection of paper products, to all the monogrammed mugs an Instagram mom can dream up. It's just a delightful place to retreat and recharge your inspiration battery.

5. HomeSense

So while it isn't exactly spa-like in its environment, a HomeSense location to me is such a fun place to unwind, not think, and hunt for treasures. I recently talked about the "thrill of the find" concept over on my Instagram stories, and it seems like quite a few of you agree with me- that browsing a HomeSense, looking for fun unique things at great prices is actually RELAXING.  I LOVE IT. And while it sometimes requires a bit of physical stamina to make it (I don't know about you but the locations I go to almost always have LONG lines), the thrill of the find and the fun of looking for beautiful things (and saving money all at the same time) is a strangely relaxing ritual for me.

What about you? Where do you like to go in Toronto when you need a little mom break? Let me know in the comments below.

All images from retailers websites, or my own! 

HOW TO SURVIVE A MOVE WITH KIDS AND NOT LOSE YOUR MIND

HOW TO SURVIVE A MOVE WITH KIDS AND NOT LOSE YOUR MIND

I recently moved my family of 6 kids from our 2000 square foot home that we lovingly renovated from top to bottom, to a 6000 square foot cabin in the woods (but steps from a Starbucks just ten minutes north of where I was before at the north end of Toronto, Canada!)

Let me tell you- it was difficult. REALLY difficult. I knew moving was going to be difficult, but I really underestimated how physically demanding, and how emotionally demanding it would be. I think being 4 months pregnant had something to do with the emotional element, but still, the last two weeks have been quite the emotional rollercoaster. 

So in an effort to help other moms lead more organized, intentional, beautiful lives (as I try to do in all my content), I bring you my top tips on how to survive a move with kids (and not lose your mind).

1. PURGE BEFORE YOU PACK

We decided fairly quickly it was time to sell our home because the timing felt impeccably right- so we de-cluttered, painted, repaired and staged fairly rapidly. As a result, I hired a moving company to pack up a lot of the extra toys, books and general stuff that wasn't essential and keep it in storage. I figured I would purge when I unpacked all my boxes.

THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE.

When you're in your new home, you're still trying to figure out systems, storage, and logical places to put things. You might have to put in shelving or purchase furniture that gives you better organization. It is so much easier to do this if you have an accurate sense of how much stuff you are dealing with.

And honestly, it is just a hassle to have a bunch of stuff lying around that you know you don't need when you are trying to get organized in your new space.

SO PURGE FIRST!!! Caveat: the only advantage I see to purging after you move is that you might have a bunch of cardboard, garbage and other debris from unpacking, and you can hire a disposal company like Just Junk or Got Junk to come take away everything in one fell swoop. But honestly, save yourself a bit of physical energy and packing materials and purge before you move.

2. MAKE A SCHEDULE FOR PACKING

I consider myself a very strategic person. Strategy is #2 in my Strengths Finder assessment. But because I hired movers, I kind of thought that I wouldn't really have to think about strategy too much- they would do that. So I basically put off packing to the last possible moment, and again this was a big mistake. 

The movers I worked with have an option where they can pack for you- but it comes with an additional expense and so I thought I could save some dollars and pack myself. This probably would have been fine, except that I simply kept putting off packing, mainly because it was an emotional ordeal for me to pack up the house I have brought all 6 of my babies home to. 

What I wish I had done, was to make a really achievable, realistic schedule- maybe spread out over the course of two weeks, for example. And essentially given myself targets for packing- pack the living room by Monday, pack the storage room by Tuesday, etc. etc. 

I found what happened with me was that I kept forgetting about areas- like my outdoor sheds, or the area under the stairs, or all the things on shelves behind the laundry room door. This slowed down the actual moving day quite a bit as the movers were waiting on me to finish all these random areas, and I literally ran out of boxes on my moving day (and since I had not hired the company for packing they did not bring any extra packing material!)

So set yourself up with a schedule with lots of buffer, and things will run a lot smoother on your actual move day! 

 

3. HIRE MOVERS

I have a big family with 6 amazing kids- but that means I have 6 of everything. 6 beds, 6 sets of blankets, 6 wardrobes of clothing, etc. etc. etc. For a move my size I opted to hire professional movers instead of asking family and friends for help. There are loads of bonuses to going this route- you can purchase insurance if you choose so if anything gets damaged in the move you are covered, and of course you don't have to do the heavy lifting.

But the biggest benefit I see to hiring movers is that when it's 10pm at night, and you still have a hundred boxes to move, and you have been on your feet since the crack of dawn, the movers will stay, and have smiles on their faces. I have used the same company for clients and myself over the last 5 years or so, and I hire them back again and again because of the professional and positive attitude of the staff. 

Moving is tough. You can be met with a bunch of decision fatigue REALLY QUICK! To have a team to say, "let's build the beds first, then unload the rest of the boxes" is just so helpful. Trust me, you will make so many decisions on the day of moving from where to put furniture to what to order for lunch, it is so helpful to have a set of experienced professionals who will take some of this burden off you.

And did I mention you don't have to lift heavy items AND they assemble your furniture for you at your new place, making it so much easier for you and your children to settle in to your new home that first evening.

4. PACK PERSONAL ITEMS LIKE YOU ARE GOING ON VACATION

This is another area where my strategy just flew out the window. Because I wasn't that organized with the packing up of my home, a lot of things got thrown into boxes at the last minute- and even though I labeled them appropriately, a lot of essential things got misplaced (for example: my husband's computer charger got thrown into a random box labeled "office", and it took us a good few days to rummage through all the office boxes to find it!)

So pack the way you would for a vacation for every family member, in their own small suitcase or backpack. Things to include:

– medications

– personal toiletries (makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste,  soap, hair brushes, etc)

– clothing for a few days (including underwear and socks! I literally had to go buy all my kids underwear and socks the day after moving because somehow they got put in a box we could not find immediately upon moving in- we eventually found all their stuff but it was after several days of hunting and unpacking!)

– personal electronics like laptops, iPads, cell phones, WITH CHARGERS

– any books you read regularly or access daily (Bible, journal, favourite novel, notebooks or folders for work, etc.)

– personal comfort items for kids like their favourite toys, blankets, etc.

– any regular items you might use in a two week period for work or personal (I YouTube weekly and of course put the charger for the camera battery in a random box yet again because it was plugged in the wall when we moved)

5. MAKE SURE ITEMS THAT GO TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER

This might not apply to everyone, but I bet you can think of a few things in your life that don't work if they don't have their essential partner. Here are some examples of things that we encountered that we really should have made sure were DUCT TAPED to each other : ) 

– I already mentioned my camera charger above- I should have packed that in the camera bag along with the camera (so logical!)

– the remotes for all your TVs, DVD players, etc. 

– the safety magnetic guard and plug to the treadmill 

– keys that open anything important. We kept the key to our safe, which houses all our passports, birth certificates, etc. in a small dish on the shelf above where we stored our safe. Probably should have duct taped that to the safe when we moved, it was a legit miracle that we found it

– cables to your essential personal electronics

6. HAVE AN UNPACKING PLAN

Similar to point number 2, have a plan for how you are going to unpack- and involve others. I ended up hiring the moving team for a second day as I really wanted to have the house in order as fast as possible. This was great, but I actually wish I had taken it a step farther and enlisted family and friends who like this sort of thing immediately after we moved in!

What I did not plan for, that I really want to share in hopes it benefits others, is just how tired we all were after we moved in. It was a long day, followed by another long day, and once the movers were gone there was still so much to do! Again, this might be the pregnant mama in me talking but the physical act of moving really took a lot out of me.

What I would recommend is you enlist positive, supportive friends and family who can help you unpack. There are people out there WHO LOVE THIS SORT OF THING (big shout outs to my friends and family who came and provided this kind of support over the last few weeks). I do not.

There is something to be said for objectivity, and someone else coming in and helping you decide what to keep, and what to get rid of. It made the process move so much faster to have someone else there to keep me accountable and just fly through boxes without as much sentimentality!

7. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF

Let me remind you that for ten years, I have made homes look beautiful as my profession. And for a good chunk of those years I worked on HGTV television shows where we literally did it in 2 days! LITERALLY. On Property Brothers shows I would literally take a house from post construction mess, to magazine image perfection, in a matter of DAYS. 

And I kind of expected I would do the same thing at my own place- but let me tell you, this was not the case. 

Upon moving in and actually using the house, we experienced all kinds of unexpected things. A toilet did not work, and when the plumber came to fix it, the pipe burst all over him and gushed all over the floor. 

Very unexpectedly, one of our children picked up a virus of some kind and had so much trouble breathing we went to emergency and thanks be to God after a good dose of steroids for her little lungs she was all better within a few days.

And on top of everything, my husband threw his back out and was basically immobile for a solid 2 days.

ALL OF THIS WITHIN THE FIRST WEEK OF BEING IN A NEW HOUSE.

So it meant that boxes remained in piles, and the home not set up for organization.

And I really beat myself up for it.

So the advice I would give another mom is that despite your best laid plans, things may not go exactly as you planned. Your spouse or children may not have the reactions you dreamed they would. You might be dissapointed in a few things, and wish things could go faster.

AND THIS IS ALL OK. 

And everything passes, and with time and intentional planning, your home will feel peaceful, and organized, and beautiful. 

EVERYTHING PASSES!!!! 

Things are finally starting to feel slow, and normal around here at our #canningcabin and I cannot wait to share a full home tour with you soon. I've been having loads of fun strategizing how to decorate this space, and how to make strategic budget decisions in a rental (did I mentioned we are renting in Toronto since we are planning to buy a home in the sunny state of Flordia?! I'll save that tale for another time).

What do you think- do you have nay tips on how to make moving easier on a family? Let me know in the comments below!

 

CREATING THE ULTIMATE CRAFT ROOM

CREATING THE ULTIMATE CRAFT ROOM

I wouldn't exactly call me a crafter (my lifestyle of 6 children and a business means I am more of a DIFM than a DIY-er), but I might change my ways after creating this space for my most recent sponsored makeover! I partnered with some incredible brands to create this craft room for the most gracious client who runs an essential oils business from home and boasts an incredible collection of ribbons, paper and paints for her various craft projects. We created a craft room that I think is pretty ultimate- here are some essential things to consider if you want to create your own:

1. KEEP IT COLOURFUL

If you can't have fun with colour in a craft room, where can you have fun? In this case, we went with a beautiful teal called Sylvan Mist by Benjamin Moore. It's soft and inviting but definitely saturated enough to be whimsical and playful! I think it's also a really fun accent to the MDF tongue and groove we applied to the walls from Metrie

And I had to add a bit of colour with the cabinet hardware. Shayne Fox Hardware is a newcomer to the Toronto artisan community and her hand-made in Toronto hardware really is a piece of art. We used her cast bronze knobs in bright bronze for a pop of contrast against the white cabinets. 

And again because it's a craft room and why not, we chose a bold colour on the chairs- these stools from Wayfair provide a fun pop against the white base cabinetry. And don't forget about accessories- even in stationary products you can incorporate colour like these paper clips and feather shaped pen holder (and pens!) from Home Sense.

2. KEEP PRACTICALITY IN MIND

A craft room has to be really practical- keep paint spills, sticky fingers, and general mess in mind! For this reason, I wanted a really durable, but beautiful floor. I used ErthCovering's Tivoli natural stone plank, which has the texture of wood but the durability and liquid resistance of stone. 

​ ​

And because it is a craft room, including a sink makes so much sense. We used the Delta Cassidy faucet, with Touch20 technology which allows you to simply tap anywhere on the faucet when the handle is in the on position. When your hands are covered in glitter glue, and the faucet is as pretty as this, you better believe that Touch20 capability comes in handy! I also love how the pull-down spout is integrated so elegantly in the design, and you can position elements like the spray toggle and handle as per your personal preference. Finally, I love how the Champagne Bronze finish looks with the SFH knobs.  

3. KEEP IT COZY

This room is in the basement adjacent to the backyard entrance and as a result, it is cold and drafty, especially in the winter. To keep it cozy, we put in the Celeste stove by Dimplex. My favourite thing about this electric fireplace is just how portable, and easy to install it is. It provides instant warmth, and a cozy atmosphere to a space, with very little fuss, mess, or expense. And this pop of colour in this carpet from Home Sense completes this cozy vignette!

And to help with that exterior draft, we replaced the window with an energy star rated, top quality vinyl window in white by Fieldstone Windows, and finished it off with Metrie's Very Square casing to keep the details contemporary. 

4. KEEP IT PERSONAL

Again, I feel like a craft room is where you can get really fun and personal. This homeowner loves the outdoors, nature, and essential oils! So I worked with Posterjack to create
all of the artwork in the room using personal photos to create unique pieces. With an assortment of styles and sizes to choose from including my choices Canvas Prints, Framed Prints, and Acrylic Prints you can really create a customized look featuring your own photos.
 

5. KEEP IT ORGANIZED

This is arguably the most important one! Keeping craft supplies organized (rather than jumbled in large plastic containers like mine currently are!) really is the key to an ultimate craft room. And the best solution to this, hands down, is strategic storage cabinetry. I partnered with Tailored Living on this project, a custom whole home organization company with franchise locations across Canada and the US. They provide all the tools to create effective storage solutions that will help you meet your organizational goals. In a craft room, this means a combination of shallow drawers for small items like essential oils and paper, base cabinets for tall bottles and jars, and tall cabinets for rolls of wrapping paper and banners.

Colourful baskets from Home Sense keep the interiors neat and tidy.

And the best part? Tailored Living will come and take care of it all for you. From free in-home initial consultation, to 3D design, quote and installation, you are guided through the process in a streamlined, organized manner. 

What do you think? Could you see yourself crafting up a storm in this space? Let me know in the comments below.

Special thanks to all the brands that partnered with me on this makeover. I work very hard to research the brands I work with- I love working with brands that will make your life more beautiful, organized and intentional. Opinions are my own. Photos by Dann Tardiff. 

If you enjoyed this blog post and seek even more organization in your life, why don't you join me and hundreds of others in my 7-day declutter challenge! Just enter your details below and you'll be on your way to a more beautiful, organized home! 
 

 

6 WAYS TO COPE WHEN YOUR SPOUSE HAS DEPRESSION

6 WAYS TO COPE WHEN YOUR SPOUSE HAS DEPRESSION

#BellLetsTalk is this week here in Canada, and this event, which brings awareness and raises funds for mental health initiatives in Canada, was what first got me talking about my husband’s struggle with depression and anxiety (you can read my previous blog posts here and here). 

Since opening up about how we deal with mental health in our marriage, I have received letters from people around the world (and from friends close to home), opening up about their struggle either with depression personally, or with their struggle in coping with their partner’s mental illness.

When you are the partner of someone with a mental illness, there is often a lot on your plate. You might be the recipient of a lot of negativity. You might be the person fielding questions you don’t know how to answer. And if you are a mom, you are the glue holding everything together for your kids.

It is easy to feel so alone and like no one understands what you are going through- and the truth is, it is a really hard thing to understand unless you have been there. 

So this year in honour of #BellLetsTalk, I’ve recorded a video on my YouTube channel on the questions I get asked most frequently on how I cope with my husband’s depression and anxiety. To watch it, click here or click on the video below.

Here are the top strategies that have helped us to cope with mental illness in our marriage:

1. REDUCE STRESS IN THE HOME

You might be thinking, Lisa, you have 6 little kids- how on earth do you reduce stress at home?!?! So of course, there are certain things I cannot control, like the noise or mess that my wonderful little people make. But I do control things that add to stress in our home, like how busy our schedule is, and how often / late I work. I found providing as much predictable stability as possible in our home life, especially in regards to our schedule, played a huge impact in coping with mental illness. 

2. WE DON’T MAKE PLANS TOO FAR IN ADVANCE

This one might sound a bit funny to the outsider, but it very much is tied to the first point above. We don’t commit to things too far in advance simply so that we have the flexibility to stay home if we need a quiet evening in. It does not mean we don’t plan ever (we book holidays in advance, doctor’s appointments, etc), but where social engagements are concerned, we simply prefer to be more flexible. We sometimes book visits with friends as short as the day of, and this has helped to eliminate unnecessary pressure in our home, which has proved to be so helpful for us.

3. I HAVE LEARNED TO LET GO OF CONTROL

This is a really tough one for me. I REALLY LIKE TO PLAN! And in the beginning, having to cancel plans because my husband was too anxious or overwhelmed to go out, was very difficult for me. But I have learned over the years, that being more flexible helped EVERYONE. Conflicts over what time we go to church, or preferences in how the dishwasher is loaded, used to bring about a great deal of stress. And now, I work hard to simply be more flexible with this stuff- and it has really helped us cope. It doesn’t mean I never express my preferences or become a “sacrificial lamb” so to speak- but not sweating the small stuff and being more flexible in thought and action have proved to help things immensely. 

4. BE KIND RATHER THAN CORRECT

When I did not understand mental illness in the beginning, I really thought it was something that could be “corrected” or “fixed” rather quickly. I have learned that this is simply not the case. Depression and anxiety is an ongoing illness that needs to be managed, by a combination of good lifestyle choices, medical professionals, and sometimes medication. In the past, I used to use phrases like “can you just make up your mind” or “can you keep up” or “just snap out of it” or “just relax!” But again, I learned that these don’t really work very well. What I find helps us both to cope in periods of anxiety and depression, are empathetic phrases like, “that must be really difficult,” or “wow, that must be really hard.” Of course, this is easier to type than to say sometimes in the moment, but experience has shown me it really is a more effective approach and helps us cope and thrive. 

5. GO ON DATES

Going on regular dates in an essential part of how we cope with mental illness in our marriage. I find it’s like medication in a way, and when we don’t do it regularly, we feel the absence of it. It might seem like an impossible task to add to the list, especially when it feels like you are juggling so many things already, but trust me when I say it is so important. The depressed person can sometimes tell themselves a viciously negative story: “it would be easier on everyone if I wasn’t around, I should just leave to make everyone else’s lives easier, I am such a burden to everyone I love.” I so badly want my husband to understand how UNTRUE this is when this story gets in his head. Having regular date nights I have found helps this narrative not speak so loud!

6. GET AND ACCEPT HELP YOURSELF

When you are carrying the heavy load of supporting your spouse, and it feels like too much to handle on your own, get your own help. There are loads of ways to support your own mental health. For me personally, I turn to prayer, non-judgemental friends who just listen and don’t try to fix anything, and the support of professional counselors and therapists as necessary. 

Accept help when it is offered- if someone offers to babysit, or cook a meal for you, take it. 

Finally, if you would prefer to speak to someone anonymously and just vent emotions you have that you might not share with someone you know personally, there are 24/7 distress lines available by region (here are the ones in the Greater Toronto Area). One day I was so overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, resentful and melancholic, that I spent a good 45 minutes with a very kind and compassionate woman on the Toronto Distress Line and boy did it help me cope. 

Finally, and I hope this really comes across in my YouTube video, what I wish everyone knew about mental illness and marriage, is that there is SO MUCH HOPE. You CAN live with depression and anxiety and have a healthy marriage, fulfilling work life, and joy-filled existence. It took us about three years to figure out strategies that work, and we are learning every day, but now we live on the other side of coping with mental illness. We have climbed out of the trench, seen the light, and when we fall back into the trenches again, we have the experience of knowing we have survived a bad experience in the past, and will survive it again.

To learn more about how you can participate in #BellLetsTalk, click here. And to read our full story on how depression has impacted our marriage, click here.   

I have developed a free resource that I hope will help any spouse supporting a person with mental illness. Just enter your email below to get my “Positive Self Talk Guide for Spouses of Persons with Mental Illness”

 



 



 




 

DAY IN LIFE: BALANCING WORK AND BABY

DAY IN LIFE: BALANCING WORK AND BABY

My life as an entrepreneur takes me to all kinds of interesting places, and can put interesting demands on my time. And with 6 kids at home, fitting everything in can be a logistical exercise to say the least! So today on the blog, I thought I would share with you how I sneak in individual time with my baby, and get a few practical things for myself and my family done at the same time. I've partnered with Bugaboo on this post to share how the new Bugaboo Donkey2 helps me do it all. 

Working from home requires a lot of discipline, and sometimes I just don't have it! So a hack I have to be more productive is to bring my laptop to my local shopping center, set a timer for no more than an hour, and be focused on a single task like writing an article, or updating my website. Limiting the amount of time it takes to complete a task, and thinking about the reward that will come on the other end is hugely motivating for me!

And baby James can keep a watchful eye on my progress sitting up in Bugaboo's newest iteration of their popular multi-purpose stroller, the new Bugaboo Donkey2. Versatile for children from birth and beyond, it's a stroller that really expands to the needs of your family (you can see what the stroller looks like as a side by side stroller for my two youngest children here). And I just love how you can customize the design to your taste, with three base fabric colour options and 11 different colour options for the sun canopy and side luggage basket cover.  

My treat post successful work session is a good old healthy green juice! It's a fast and efficient way to get some energy, and stay on the go. Plus, it makes me feel better about my regular consumption of poutine and chicken fingers.

Paying for my treats is made super convenient with the side luggage basket- the new basket has a small inner pocket for your keys, wallet and cell phone. Plus, the zippered basket cover keeps inquisitive little fingers from things you don't want to lose! 

After a quick refuel, it's time to make sure my family is fueled. A quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some essentials for my family is next on the agenda. 

I don't know about you, but grocery shopping with kids can sometimes be a hard task depending on the time of day and everyone's moods. So I like to keep it short, and sweet, and keep the shopping trip as efficient as possible to keep everyone happy. I like having a very clear list of what I need, and organize the list by aisle so zipping in and out is truly possible. 

With foam wheels and incredible maneuverability, I can dart in and out of grocery aisles pretty quickly. Ample groceries fit in the under carriage of the stroller (my family drinks a lot of milk so this is so helpful!) And the capacity of the side luggage basket has been doubled to now accommodate 22 lbs. of storage- perfect for delicate items like baguettes, grapes and eggs. 

As I have shared many times before on this blog, the balance of work and family isn't always an easy task. But with strategic planning, and building your schedule around your greatest priorities, I am such a believer that balance and fulfillment is possible. 

Special thanks for Bugaboo for partnering with me on this post. For more info on the new Bugaboo Donkey2, click here. 

WHY EVERY BEDROOM NEEDS A FIREPLACE

WHY EVERY BEDROOM NEEDS A FIREPLACE

Where I live in Toronto, Canada, we have had an incredibly cold winter. Like minus 30, freeze your toes, can't feel your face cold. And these cold temperatures have got me craving everything spring! But until then, it's cozy scarves, fur blankets, and doing everything I can to stay cozy at home.

So in the spirit of staying cozy at home, I am excited to be partnering with Dimplex, the leader in electric heating, and creator of some incredibly beautiful electric fireplace units. Now, I know what you might be thinking- an electric fireplace? Can you really use the word electric fireplace, and beautiful, in the same sentence?

In a recent project I have affectionately been calling A Tale of Two Houses, I designed two homes, for two neighbours, with totally different styles. The houses are mirror images of each other, and their styles are totally different (one more modern, and one more traditional).

So when it came time to design the bedrooms, I knew I wanted a fireplace in each of them. Fireplaces in the bedroom, regardless of what climate you live in, are so essential to me- so I want to walk you through why I think every bedroom needs a fireplace.

1. Nothing like that ambient glow

A fireplace provides an ambient glow that is just so cozy, and inviting, in a bedroom. I love making a bedroom feel like an escape, and a sanctuary. And an ambient glow does just that for me! 

In this bedroom, we used some pretty amazing technology by Dimplex called Opti-myst. Opti-myst is revolutionary ultrasonic technology that creates a lifelike flame and smoke look using water. Check out how the "flame" dances in my YouTube video here. The technology allows for some pretty cool installation opportunities, including 360 degree, free standing units, with no glass enclosure! In this bedroom I designed, the "flame" dances around in the open space in a truly magical way- and is a great option where little fingers that may get burned are a concern.

2. Controllable heat

While I definitely use gas fireplaces in my projects, one downside of gas is that it gets incredibly hot, incredibly quick. And in a small space, it can be overwhelming. A benefit of electric in a bedroom, especially those on the smaller size, is that you can control the heat really well. In this bedroom, we used the 34" Prism Series by Dimplex. Simple installation, a beautiful modern aesthetic, and controllable heat make this a winner for me, especially in smaller bedrooms.  

Don't get me wrong- when I am freezing outside and want to warm up, quick heat is essential. But I also don't want to feel uncomfortably hot- so I love how you can control the heat level with a remote control- even from bed! 

3. Easy install and instant results

This is the major benefit that an electric fireplace unit has over other options- incredibly simple installation. You can in many cases, in an afternoon, pick up and install your fireplace in your bedroom and have instant warmth in your space (caveat- you will need to make sure you have the correct electrical outlet to handle the amperage of the fireplace- but other than that, install can be very simple!) Warmth and ambiance can be only a few steps away!  

How are you staying warm this winter? Leave me a comment below and let me know : ) 

Special thanks to Dimplex for partnering with me on this blog post. I work very hard to research the brands I work with to provide info that will make your life more beautiful, and more functional.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017

A very happy new year dear readers!!! I hope the holidays were restful, meaningful, and full of joy. As I sit down to write this blog post, I am surrounded by boxes as we prepare to move our family into our brand new home!

2017 was a year of adventure and change, and today I thought it might be fun to look back at some key moments from the last year that had a huge impact on me and my family- so I invite you take this somewhat sentimental trip down memory lane.

1. I launched and grew my YouTube Channel

I had been dabbling in YouTube in previous years, but last year was the year I really committed to my channel. What I have loved about YouTube is the conversations I have started with other moms who are seeking balance and beauty in their lives- particularly, I have loved the conversations on my videos on Should a Mom Work and Should You Cruise With Kids. And I loved collaborating with Rachhloves on her kids’ rooms, and my reveal of my Tale of Two Houses project. Video is just so much fun and I look forward to more of it in 2018.

2. We sold our house

We always knew when we moved into this house our family would eventually outgrow it. And since we have expanded fairly rapidly since we have moved in (6 children in 8 years!!!) the time just felt right to move forward and sell. I will miss this house so much, and grateful I got to leave my mark on it in a meaningful way with all our renovations! Literally every single square inch was tackled. Here’s my living room and kitchen, my master bedroom and bathroom, my basement, my home gym, my laundry room, and my backyard. I think I am going to miss that backyard most of all!!!

3. I started coaching moms

As I shared in this blog post, it has always been on my heart to one day help moms beyond interior design. A quick background on this: when I started my career, when I would go to a cocktail party or even of any kind, people would find me and pick my brain about their kitchen remodel, or ask where to buy a good sofa. But as the years went on and I had 6 children in 8 years, the conversations at parties and industry events would always turn to how in the heck I managed to balance things. So I knew eventually I would do more on this but it was always a little foggy to me how.

I have just launched my first 6-week coaching program, and am excited to grow this new arm of my business. Stay tuned for more info in 2018!

4. I spoke to 1000 students at a major conference

This one will go in the books as a huge breakthrough for me both personally and professionally. I was invited to give the opening night keynote at Catholic Christian Outreach’s annual conference between Christmas and New Year’s called Rise Up. I spoke to 1000 Catholic University students from across Canada, and spilled quite a few things about myself I wouldn’t exactly voluntarily tell you if you know what I mean. But I did- and “all my secrets” as my 8 year old called them, are forever recorded here if you are interested in watching my talk on involving God in your plans.

5. I completed some really fun sponsored makeovers

I had the pleasure of working with a few brands this year on some amazing room makeovers, for some amazing homeowners. This bathroom, this laundry room, this kitchen, this kitchen, and more! So grateful for the partnerships I have made over the year, and how interior design can really transform a family’s life!

5. We celebrated 10 years of marriage

For our tenth wedding anniversary we decided to really do it up and celebrate. We renewed our vows, and gathered some friends together, and partied. My husband asked if I could live our wedding over again, or our anniversary party over again, which one would I want to do? And honestly, I would do our anniversary party over again! Because when you marry someone, you’re celebrating the promise, and the hope, and the joy in a new commitment. But in an anniversary, you are celebrating survival, you are celebrating commitment, and we got to do it with all our children present which was honestly just the best. Take a peek at the festivities here.

6. We are having another baby!

When we sold our house, we just felt so sure that it was the right time. Lots of people told us we were crazy for selling in the winter, right before Christmas, and that we would get so much more money if we waited until the Spring. But something kept telling me to keep on course- I had such a strong conviction that selling at the time was right. Well, God of course has the best plans, and His timing is pretty amazing. We found out we were pregnant with baby #7 the night before we signed the papers on our house sale- i.e. we had no idea we were pregnant when we listed the house for sale. Finding out we are growing our family again is probably my favourite gift of 2017.

It was a year of wild adventure, and I am so grateful to you for coming along for our journey. Here’s to a year of hope and more adventure for us all in 2018!!!!

DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS WITH KIDS OF ALL AGES FEATURING THE NEW BUGABOO DONKEY2

DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS WITH KIDS OF ALL AGES FEATURING THE NEW BUGABOO DONKEY2

I love Christmas, especially the decorating part! But involving a bunch of little people, of all different ages and abilities, without too many tantrums or feelings of being left out can be somewhat of an interesting challenge. Today I am teaming up with Bugaboo to share how I get my little squad involved in our holiday decorating.

This year, I did not think we’d be able to decorate for the holidays as we listed our house for sale and figured we would have to keep our house nice and neutral- but since the house sold, we’ve been having fun with all the Christmas things, including getting our outdoors prepared for the holidays.

My kids are 8, 7, 5, 4, 2 and almost 12 months. My older kids are very vocal about how our home is decorated, and my little kids love trying to keep up with the big guys. At first, I thought I could get away with the little guys staying inside and watching us work through the window, but a few protests proved this strategy to not be a winner! So I bundled up the little guys in our new Bugaboo Donkey2 to join us in all the outdoor decorating action.

The brand new Bugaboo Donkey 2 is a really versatile stroller that can grow with your family (there has literally never been a time we have not needed a stroller in my house!) From birth up to three years, the stroller expands from a single stroller with side luggage basket, to a side-by-side double with full storage underneath in just a few simple clicks. And when you have as many kids as I do, storage in a stroller is super essential- I can store so many things in the storage compartment, including Christmas wreaths and ribbons!

My favourite thing about our double stroller is how it provides our family the opportunity to maneuver through our activities (like decorating for Christmas!) as a crew. The new foam tires mean no filling the tires with air, and the stroller can navigate crowded malls or outdoor trails. The little kids don’t have to feel left out, and they do their best to “help” where they can.

And in true Bugaboo fashion, the stroller comes in a multitude of fabrics to reflect your personal style. Choose from three base fabric color options and 11 different color options for the sun canopy and side luggage basket cover.

The holidays are really about creating family memories and spending aimless time together. How does your family get ready for the holidays all together as a crew? Leave me a comment and let me know : )

Special thanks to Bugaboo for partnering with me on this post. To learn more about the new Bugaboo Donkey2 click here.

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM

Laundry rooms are on of my favourite spaces to design. I’m not sure if it’s because they are often dark and dingy neglected spaces where storage items go to die (anyone remember what my laundry room used to look like?!), or if it’s because it’s an area where so much care happens for a family (we do minimum one load a day for my family of 8), but whatever my attachment, I just love the opportunity a laundry room presents to do something fun!

In my newest sponsored makeover at the lovely Jenn Pike‘s home, we created a customized laundry room for her family of four. This space presented quite the design dilemma as it has to serve a lot of purposes. Jennifer’s home has no garage, no basement, and no outdoor shed. So this room has to fit off season clothing, sports equipment, paint cans, and random odds and ends. Plus, it has to function as a space to wash, sort and fold clothing!

If you’re looking to give your laundry room a refresh soon, here are a few ways you can add some custom elements to your space.

1. START WITH COLOUR

I think the laundry room is the perfect spot to inject a bold hit of colour- you can be more adventurous that you might typically be in a bedroom or living room. With all the natural light Jenn gets in this space, I knew we could go dark and bold- so I used Benjamin Moore’s Bermuda Blue 2061-30
on the custom cabinets and picked up the colour in this beautiful patterned rug from HomeSense, and these striped towels by Pamuk and Co.  Bright, bold colour in any application (but especially in painted millwork!) can really make a space look and feel more custom and original.

2. ADD ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS

Another way to instantly make a space look more custom is to add architectural details. We changed the swing on the original door to open against the staircase to maximize the space in the actual laundry room, and replaced the interior door with this beautiful Metrie Pretty Simple door with Millenium patterned glass. In addition, we wrapped the entire room in Metrie’s MDF tongue and groove to create a shiplap look. I like shiplap (and all mouldings, really) as it provides a subtle texture to a room. And I am all about wrapping it on every wall, especially in small spaces.

3. CUSTOMIZE YOUR STORAGE

Strategic storage makes me REALLY happy. Proper storage is essential to keeping a space clutter free, and a family from feeling overwhelmed by stuff! I designed the millwork here 36″ deep to give the family LOTS of space for large, bulky storage. But to make sure these large cavities remain really practical, I used a series of large, easy view bins by neatfreak .to keep things that require more frequent access like towels and cleaning supplies in plain sight.

This 3-Tier Home Storage Organizer by neatfreak  provides ample storage for Jenn’s collection of yoga gear and hides pool toys and sports equipment conveniently close to the backyard entrance. I like the portability of this unit- the entire thing can be picked up and brought outside for easy access.

With space at such a premium, I had to maximize literally every available square inch. This triple sorter laundry system with built in ironing board by neatfreak allows Jenn to create an additional surface area for laundry sorting and folding, and eliminates the need for a folding ironing board, saving precious storage space!

Lastly, we created custom floating shelves out of the same Belanger laminate counter we used to provide room for additional storage and decorative display.

They key to customizing storage is to think of the specific activities that need to be performed in a space, and then select the bins or systems that will make it easy for you to stay organized.

4. ADD SOME BLING

I love me some handcrafted cabinet hardware, and these pieces by Shayne Fox Hardware are my current obsession. These bright bronze pulls and knobs are made out of cast bronze, and are finished in what is called a “living finish”- they are going to oxidize, and patina over time. With Jenn’s commitment to natural living I thought this collection was such a great fit for her family.

And we continued by obsession with all things bronze with the Cassidy faucet by Delta in Champagne Bronze. A small hit of a warm metal is a really on trend way to provide a custom element in your laundry room.

5. CUSTOMIZE YOUR CLEANING

And finally, don’t forget you can customize the most important aspect of your laundry room, your washer and dryer. We selected a stackable washer and dryer by Whirlpool to maximize all available space. The front load machines offer a multitude of settings that allow Jenn’s family to wash and dry everything from well worn sports gear, to delicate dance costumes. The Load & Go system holds enough detergent to wash 12 loads of laundry, so you can fill it and forget it while the Precision Dispense releases the right amount of detergent at the right time so all your family’s clothes receive the best care. Available in three finishes, we went white as a bold contrast against the blue cabinetry.

Creating a space to provide the care for a family that laundry is so important- I hope this makeover gave you some ideas to try in your own space!

Special thanks to the brands mentioned above for providing product and partnering with me on this project. I love recommending products that will make a family’s life more beautiful, and easier. Opinions are very much my own! 

HOW TO SIMPLIFY HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE

HOW TO SIMPLIFY HOME AND AUTO INSURANCE

When I was a child, I dreamed of what my life would look like as a grown up. I dreamed up what kind of a house I would have (a red brick house with a white picket fence), the kind of car I would drive (my dream car when I was 12 was a pink convertible), and of course what my husband and kids would look like (I still pinch myself sometimes when I realize that I have 6 amazing kids!!!)

While my car isn’t pink, my adult reality has far surpassed my dreams:

But of course, what I never realized as a child was the amount of work that goes into taking care of a house or a car in your adulthood. From regular maintenance, to unexpected damages, to legal papers and getting home and auto insurance, the actual process of owning a home and a car can sometimes feel a lot less dream like.

As a busy working mom, I am always looking for ways to streamline my life, and save time and energy. So today, I am teaming up with the Canadian home and auto insurance company Esurance, to help make this important aspect of owning a home and a car a little less stressful.

While the “grown-up” realities of owning a home and a car aren’t always easy, getting the best home and auto insurance for your family shouldn’t be hard. Here are a few ways that Esurance makes the process of getting the right policy for your family an easy one.

1. It’s fast and efficient

With Esurance, you can get a car and home quote online quick and easy. There’s no waiting on hold for a phone representative. You simply fill out your information on their website, and are directed in a comprehensive manner the best options for you. Inputting your responses online means that you can do this virtually anywhere- on your phone, in line at the grocery store, or on your laptop while holding your baby. Sometimes my life can get really hectic- and filling out a form at a time that works best for me is just so convenient.

2. It’s competitive

Esurance is changing insurance for the better, leveraging technology to reduce some of the costs that encumber traditional insurance companies. With an award-winning website and innovative tools, tech-savvy consumers can save money with Esurance through a myriad of incentive discounts for those who qualify- check out 10 ways you can save on home insurance here. I also appreciate that the website does a really great job at explaining EVERYTHING in detail, in regular language, that I can understand. Being able to understand all of the options available to me helps me with feeling less overwhelmed, and takes away the stress of knowing where my money is going.

3. It’s reliable

As a part of the Allstate family, Esurance is a reliable choice for insurance, offering anytime, anywhere service just a click, call, or tap away. When you are dealing with things as serious and unnerving such as the theft of a car, or unexpected damage to your home, it’s comforting to know that there is is someone there for you who is going to have your back. So regardless if you’re a first-time homeowner, or a sawdust seasoned home owning pro, Esurance offers support and advice for all.

As an interior design professional, I get to help my clients realize a lot of dreams. From beautiful furnishings, to personalized art, I love helping families thrive at home, and design a life they truly love. And while I don’t like to dwell on some of the unfortunate things that are a reality of home and auto ownership, it is important to be prepared, and feel empowered in making decisions that will help your family thrive.

For more information on how Esurance can help your family thrive, visit www.esurance.ca 

A special thanks to Esurance for partnering with me on this blog post. I do a lot of research to ensure that any brand I partner with is going to help your family thrive- so please know opinions are my own. 

DO YOU NEED A BREAKTHROUGH?

DO YOU NEED A BREAKTHROUGH?

Hello!!!!! First of all, big time apologies for the lack of blogging over the last little while. As I have shared over on Instagram, my family is going through a brand new transition, and that has occupied quite a bit of my time.

We are moving. And our decision to move was not made lightly. We really discerned, prayed, strategized, and thought hard about our decision. It is scary to break what is familiar, and what is safe.

But in order to move toward our ideal lives, we must take action. Growth does not happen by wishing and hoping. It happens as a result of ACTION.

Do you have big dreams in your heart but aren’t sure how to do them amidst the grind of raising kids, running a house, and taking care of yourself? Do you want to make big changes in your life but have no idea where to start? Do you have goals that you have had on a list forever and FINALLY want to see completed? Are you overwhelmed, exhausted, directionless, and wish a fairy godmother could come and help you out?

I want to help you.

I have been thinking long and hard about how I can help more moms realize their dreams, feel less overwhelmed, and simply just live their best life possible. So I am happy to announce I am starting a coaching service, specific for moms who want to follow their dreams but not sacrifice their families at the same time.

To kick start this new chapter in my business, I am offering what I am calling a “Possibility Mom Breakthrough Call” (borrowing from the title of my upcoming book The Possibility Mom), and in this call I will help you:

  • clarify what is important to you
  • help you find more time, joy and freedom
  • assist you in designing a life with a lot less overwhelm

Calls will be 45 minutes in length and here’s the best part- they are 100% FREE.

But they won’t be free forever : ) 

To book your time with me, all you have to do is click here and answer a few questions to get you all set up. At the end of our call, I’ll be offering some options how we might work together further.

These calls will only be available until December 31, 2017. So don’t miss out- book your time here.

I want to help you live your best life possible, uncover and articulate what is unique about you, and help you craft your ideal story. So if you have ever thought the following:

  • I want to start a business but have no idea how with small kids at home
  • I’ve been a mom for so long and want to pursue personal passions but don’t know where to start
  • I work too much and want more balance so I can actually spend time with my family
  • I’m tired of being overwhelmed, there must be another way

I promise, I can help. As a working mom of 6 who for too long chased dreams that weren’t really mine, I have been in that uncomfortable place of knowing I needed to change but did not know how.

I promise, there is another way.

I am so excited to start this new chapter of my business, and if you’re with me, book your time right here.

HOW TO FIND YOUR FAMILY’S UNIQUE INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE

HOW TO FIND YOUR FAMILY’S UNIQUE INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE

Interior design to me is so much more than beautiful things. If you’ve been following my adventures on YouTube, you know how passionately I feel about families thriving at home, and how your home sets the stage for lasting memories.

But how do you actually do that? How do you create a home that is not only beautiful, but reflects your family’s unique personality and style?

As I share in my most recent video, I just wrapped a project I am calling A Tale of Two Houses, where I worked with two unique families, who are neighbours, who allowed me to work with them to make their homes their own. You can tour the more modern kitchen here, and the more transitional kitchen here.

If you want to find your unique style but don’t know where to start, here are a few steps to help start the process.

1. COLLECT IMAGES

Go on to a website like Pinterest or Houzz (or just grab plain ‘ol fashion magazines) and collect images without any judgement or filter. Just collect anything that sparks joy, anything that makes you feel good, anything that gives you a glimpse of what you want your future to look like. Collect atleast 50 images, and pay attention to any images that might come back on repeat a few times.

2. FIND SIMILARITIES

Now that you have collected a large grouping of images, look for similarities in the images. Perhaps you have collected lots of white kitchens, kitchens with generous islands, living rooms with applied mouldings, etc. Identify some common themes and place them in like groups/

3. GIVE THESE GROUPS NAMES

Find some words to describe these groups. Think of words like: farmhouse, modern, traditional, Scandinavian, retro, bohemian, transitional, etc. If you’re lost for the words, look at the article the image may have come from or the advertisement it appeared in for key words.

4. GO SHOPPING WITH THESE WORDS

Now that we have done a bit of research, and have a few words to guide us, test out these words on the market. When you walk into a store, what lights you up? When you’re in a kitchen showroom, what are the details that make you really excited? Do these items match up with the words you wrote down? If you’re stuck, work with a designer  to help you articulate your style in a really clear way.

Now your job is to use these words as your funnel, or filter, for all your decorating decisions. For some fun practical examples of what I mean, hit play on the video below!

TRANSITIONAL KITCHEN REVEAL: A TALE OF TWO HOUSES

TRANSITIONAL KITCHEN REVEAL: A TALE OF TWO HOUSES

If you have been following me for a while you know I have taken part a few times in Calling It Home's One Room Challenge. I have completed my home gym, and my laundry room in this mad dash challenge, and just this past spring I completed this amazing modern kitchen. If you've been following along, you know I attempted to complete not one, BUT TWO kitchens, for neighbours who built houses and both worked with me at the exact same time in this series I am affectionately calling A Tale of Two Houses. Due to realities beyond my control, the second kitchen didn't make it to the finish line. But now… I get to share it in its finished glory for you here! 

 We kept it tried and true and classic in this kitchen. A beautiful, classic grey on the island with all kinds of trim goodness, and white cabinets for the win. 

We used the Cassidy faucet collection by Delta on the island faucet, the pot filler, and the main sink on the back counter. The gorgeous curves of these pieces fit in so nicely with the transitional style of this space. 

And to keep things interesting we repeated the island colour in the pantry area for a nice pop of contrast.

I love creating spaces that reflect the personality and lifestyle of the people who live there. Interior design is so much more than paint and pretty things. Interior design sets the stage for lasting memories for families to make at home. It matters, and it's important- and designing homes for families so they can thrive at home is a job I take very seriously. 

What do you think? Are you more classic and prefer greys and whites, or could you bo bold with a blue island? Tell me in the comments below. 

Cheers to designing your beautiful life,

Lisa

Photos by the talented Arnal Photography.

WHY EVERYONE NEEDS A MENTOR

WHY EVERYONE NEEDS A MENTOR

I've been running my own business for the last ten years. (Sidenote: I honestly cannot believe it has been ten years. I feel like I have literally blinked and it happened). In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, Literally no idea. I just kept chugging along, trying things, failing at things, etc. And while I loved experimenting and figuring stuff out, I didn't love how I wasn't exactly making any money doing it! In the first years of my business, profit was non existent. 

With small kids at home and a husband who worked in ministry (i.e. money was not exactly growing on trees), we knew as a family we had to make some changes, especially if we wanted to live in the expensive city that is Toronto, Canada. 

Through mutual friends, I was introduced to a lovely lady named Candice who worked as a corporate strategist. At the time, I had no idea what that meant- but it had the word strategy in it and I knew I was lacking in it, so we embarked on a trade agreement where I decorated her house and she provided business coaching. 

The results were amazing. And as the years progressed, I continued to work with coaches both on a business and personal level, who helped me to understand my strengths, poke holes in my business model, and overall, make me a better person and business owner.

I really do believe that everyone can benefit from a mentor- here are a few reasons why:

1. YOU CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE

It is really hard to be objective about yourself and your business. Especially as entrepreneurs, where you essentially give birth to an idea and you raise it up like a baby, you can be protective like crazy just like a mama bear. This closeness to your business can make it hard to see gaps, holes, struggles or limitations. Sometimes criticizing a business can feel like criticizing you- so to have an objective outside opinion is really valuable.

2. YOU ONLY KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW

We grow from people who know more than us- it is simply just a fact. To think we know it all is just not a strategic position to take! To learn from people who have been there, done that, invested hours, have failed, have succeeded, and more is a much more efficient way to grow than trying to learn it all on your own! 

3. MENTORS OPEN DOORS

A mentor can open doors (and unlock doors that you may have glued completely shut or created barricades against, lol) to worlds you never knew existed. A mentor can help with a mindset shift that you cannot get out of, a mentor can paint the picture of possibilities that you never knew existed, and a mentor can open your mind to completely new ways of thinking. It's pretty incredible and inspiring what the right mentor can do for your life.

I am really grateful to the mentors I have had over the last ten years. If you're interested in finding yourself a mentor, or learning about the benefits a mentor may provide you, I am taking part in a really fun online summit called the Success Mentor Summit hosted by Claire Diaz-Ortiz! It features some pretty amazing speakers including Jeff Goins, Donald Miller, Jon Acuff and more. I'm speaking about "Failing Your Way to Success" and I am so excited to share this inetrview with you!!!!! To learn more, click here,

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING GUIDE

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING GUIDE

My friends, I did it. As I shared recently on the blog, I was really determined to not leave back-to-school shopping to the very last minute. In years past, I was the mom staring at empty racks of school uniform clothing, going to multiple stores to try and find Bento box lunch boxes because everyone was sold out- and you’d think I would learn from past mistakes but nope! Every Labour Day weekend you would find me in the exact same spot, scratching my head as to how it happened yet again #lol.

So this year, I wanted to make it simple for myself and happy to report that it was a grand success- I took my four school aged kids (and the baby) and we were done in an hour and a half. #momwin

If you are curious what we picked up, check out my newest video below! I share in it all the goodies and seriously- this year’s haul was awesome. 

If this was helpful, I’ve compiled where I got everything, plus some other fun treats I found in my travels in this neat little download below. Just enter your email and the list will be sent over! Happy back-to-school shopping! 

 

 





IS A CRUISE RIGHT FOR YOU?

IS A CRUISE RIGHT FOR YOU?

We recently returned from a week long Caribbean adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The ship was spectacular and my children had a pretty epic adventure. In my son John’s words, “it was literally the best thing ever!”

My husband and I, while we enjoyed various aspects of the experience a great deal, aren’t convinced that cruising is for us. There are things that I think every family should know before making what can be a fairly expensive investment- so I thought I would round up some of the things to consider if you’re planning a cruise experience. (And if you are looking for my candid thoughts both good and bad, check out my YouTube video here). 

To you decide if a cruise is right for you, here are some things to consider: 

1. DO CROWDS MAKE YOU ANXIOUS?

With six kids, getting from point A to point B anywhere in life is an accomplishment. So I really don’t like crowds and try my best to avoid them. By the nature of how a cruise ship is designed (like a mini city on water), crowds are inevitable, and I think unless you spend a ton of money and go for the exclusive level rooms / clubs / restaurants, expect to wait in line, deal with crowded elevators, etc. wherever you go. 

My husband is an introvert and I kind of feel like cruises are designed for extroverts! So do keep in mind your tolerance for crowds when you pick a ship- look for smaller ships for a less crowded experience.

2. ARE YOU A BUFFET PERSON, OR A SIT DOWN RESTAURANT PERSON?

Many cruises offer incredible buffets included with your ticket fee, with a great mix of healthy foods, treat foods, and cultural foods. 

I love me a good buffet, don’t get me wrong, but what I really enjoy is being able to converse at a languid pace with my family at the table and really just be present and have great conversation. It’s just not the same with a buffet with everyone getting up and down (and of course trying to balance kids plates and your own plates is a logistical experience).

While many ships have beautiful sit down restaurants, the sit down restaurants are often at an additional fee, so if you value a sit down experience be prepared to spend. Some ships offer value packages when you pre-pay for these specialty restaurants, so do look into that to save some money.

3. DO YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTS OR GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH? 

While at port at a destination, you typically have one or two days, depending on your length of cruise. The ships do a great job of curating various experiences you can do while on land within these cultures, but they are definitely the “highlight reel” so to speak- definitely offering value, but you can only experience so much in a few hours. 

If exploring off the beaten path is more your jam, I think you could still do that within a cruise experience, but there is something to be said of slow travel days, spending time with locals like other resort or Eco-tourist type experiences can gain you.

4. DO YOU GET OVERWHELMED IN MESSY, SMALL SPACES?

As an interior designer, the space I sleep in, and having a tidy space, is really important to me. I knew it was going to be a challenge to live in smaller quarters than we are used to at home, but thought that we would be ok for a week. 

We were not. Clutter really impacts my anxiety level and I found it challenging to keep our room clean and our stuff organized. I would definitely advise looking into the cost difference between a standard room and upgrading to a suite, as this can have a large impact on the way you relax.

As I mention pretty candidly in this video, I am not convinced a cruise is the right fit for our family, but I would be interested to see what a smaller ship experience would be like, or if we returned to a larger ship, if the cost of upgrading to larger accommodations would be worth it to me.

What about you? Do you cruise and love it? Or are cruises not for you? Love to know in the comments below and for more of my thoughts traveling with family, check out these posts here and here. And for lots more thoughts on cruising, hit play below. 

BACK-TO-SCHOOL WITH PLAY-DOH

BACK-TO-SCHOOL WITH PLAY-DOH

I literally cannot believe I just typed the words back-to-school [SUMMER DO NOT LEAVE ME], but if I am really honest, this is the year I finally learn from previous years mistakes and actually buy back to school stuff EARLY. [Side note: don't try to buy school uniform stuff the weekend before Labour Day because sizes are LONG gone thanks to organized moms who shop in May and June, no joke. All I am thinking in May and June is summer here I come lol].

This is THE YEAR I do my back-to-school shopping early in a calm, organized, not last minute manner [ok let’s get real again it will probably be last minute but a girl can dream].

On the list for me include new bento-box style lunch boxes [times four as I have a new little darling starting JK for the first time], all the pencils, sharpeners and erasers I can get my hands on as I swear my kids backpacks eat them, and this year a new addition on the list is Play-Doh.

As a child, I recall spending HOURS with my Play-Doh sets, loving that I got to use a plastic knife like a grown-up and having contests with my sister to create the longest rolled noodle ever.

Now that I have six kids, revisiting aspects of my childhood is just simply the best. And let me tell you, Play-Doh has evolved quite a bit from what I remember in my childhood. From dentist sets to elaborate pasta makers, there are so many options to spark a child’s imagination.

The number one reason that Play-Doh is on my list this back to school season is that it gives me an opportunity to interact with all my kids, at their various stages, at the same time, in a truly unplugged manner. It’s not always easy to find an activity that my toddler and my six year old can enjoy at the same time- but with Play-Doh, my kids can open their own cans of imagination and create based on their own level and interest.

And did I mention it involves no screen time? I myself can become so consumed in my own phone and my laptop that to truly unplug, and be with my children as we create is just wonderful.

My kids and I were invited to participate in this fun video where I share more about the benefits of Play-Doh and why it's a win for my family. Love for you to check it out and let me know what you think.

Play-Doh Lisa from The Co. on Vimeo.

Thanks to Play-Doh for working with me on this sponsored post.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SURVIVE A ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SURVIVE A ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS

You guys- we did it again. My husband Josh and packed our six kids into our van and drove 1,946 km to Southwest Florida from our home in Toronto, Canada. You can read about our past trips to Ave Maria and Naples, Florida here, and read my family travel tips here! Like in past years, driving that far, with so many children, including a nursing baby, is equal parts crazy, grueling, fun and exciting. With experience under our belt we know to expect the unexpected and just enjoy the ride as much as we can.

We got back yesterday and while it is all still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some new ideas we tried out this road trip that made the experience of traveling with kids so much easier.

1. ESSENTIAL OILS IN A CAR DIFFUSER

I have written about my love of essential oils in the past and how they help me with stress, anxiety and energy- and this little product was a game changer! I picked up this inexpensive unit that simply plugs into your car charger. You place a few drops of your favourite oil on a reusable pad and your car smells heavenly and you get all the benefits of the oil. When everyone is stinky, smelly, grimy, tired and grumpy, small things like this can make a big difference!

2. A PLUG IN CAR COOLER

This was a new addition to our car this year and I am so thankful for it. We purchased off Amazon this car cooler– and it was so helpful for keeping milks for the kids, monster colas for when we do the drive through the night, and putting used baby bottles in so that they don’t smell like death after a few hours left in a parked hot car!!! This particular one we got was smaller than I was hoping for so we’ll probably upgrade to a larger one at some point- but I did like that the compact size, and carrying strap, made it really easy to bring out for picnics, day trips etc. We attended a minor league baseball game on one of our breaks during the drive and Josh was able to take the entire cooler in to the park which made keeping cool and hydrated super easy.

3. A WATERPROOF PICNIC BLANKET

This one was another new addition to our packing list. When you are in the car for a zillion hours (our journey home was 36 hours with no hotel stay- that is a lot of hours in a small space!) the ability to stretch and lie down is so nice. Along the highways to Florida there are so many beautiful rest stops like this with tons of green space- and to lie down real quick while the kids explore is so refreshing. I like the waterproof backing as it just makes things easier- and this one folds up super small and is so compact.

Also- can I just add how much I love it when kids are just kids and do things like this? In this rest stop in Ohio my kids foraged the forest for every possible stray stick and made an un-lit campire that I think Bear Grylls would have been proud of.

4. AN ATTITUDE OF FLEXIBILITY

This is probably the most important item to “bring with you” on a road trip with kids, whether it’s an hour long or 36 hours long. The same way the rain in Florida did not stop my two year old from kicking off his shoes and literally walking in the rain, it’s most helpful when you can go into a trip knowing that some aspects of travel are going to be uncomfortable and challenging, but to embrace them with humour and joy where possible. I find it helpful to picture where I am going to be one hour from now, two hours from now,  three hours from now, etc. in especially tiring moments for a little motivation and push to get through!

And of course, picturing the destination is a really motivating factor too. I just love this colourful bike parked in the middle of the town square where we vacation.

What are your road trip essentials? Come back next week when I’ll share a bit more of our Southwest Florida adventure and how we also survived a family CRUISE! Yes, we are officially crazy, lol. I had about a zillion fears surrounding going on a cruise with my 6 kids but we made it out ok, with lots of learning that I can’t wait to share with you.

Wherever the summer is taking you, I hope it’s great!

PLAYING TOURIST IN MY CITY WITH MY SIX KIDS

PLAYING TOURIST IN MY CITY WITH MY SIX KIDS

With summer upon us one of my favourite things to do with my family is to play tourist in my own city. A tool that helps me do that, with my six kids with ease is my new Bugaboo Bee⁵– a customizable, compact stroller, perfect for urban city strolls.

Lisa Canning stroller toddler.

I love to explore my local neighbourhood on foot with my kids. There are so many local parks, shops, museums and historic landmarks I have never explored- and the summer, with my kids, is the perfect time to do it. 

Lisa Canning Bugaboo travel

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee

Lisa Canning baby peerkaboo

With the variety of ages I've got in my crazy little crew, a comfort wheeled board is the way to do it. I love how easy it is on these short trips for my little kids to hop on and hop off with ease [big time bonus that the new integrated attachment points on the stroller make it easy to click on Bugaboo accessories like the cup holder and this comfort wheeled board without adaptors]. And while we are on it, look at these wheels- the caps are just one of the changeable options in 700 possible design combinations on the stroller [changeable options include the handlebar grips, canopy and padded seat].

Bugaboo stroller Lisa Canning attachment

Aimless time with my kids is pretty much the best. I love being able to take impromptu detours, spend time in front of sweet historic houses like this one, and dream up what my neighbourhood may have looked like a hundred years ago. I love to dream.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo historic city

These kinds of strolls playing tourist in my own neighbourhood allow me to have aimless conversation with my kids, be a little less in my head thinking about work / household tasks / the regular lists that run through a mom's head, and be more present with the people I love most. 

My stroller helps to make these kinds of experiences easier and I'm grateful to Bugaboo for partnering with me on this post. To learn how you can design your own Bugaboo Bee⁵ click here. Happy summer!!!

Photos by Lucian Vasille. 

HOW A MELTDOWN IN MY MINIVAN CHANGE MY LIFE

HOW A MELTDOWN IN MY MINIVAN CHANGE MY LIFE

I’ll never forget the day- it was a brisk November morning. I was sitting in my minivan, staring out at a thin dusting of snow that had just blanketed the city. I was parked in front of a residential construction project I was working on, with my head on the steering wheel in utter exhaustion, because in the backseat behind me I had a brand new baby, less than a week old, our fourth child in six years. Also in my car, were goldfish crackers all over the floor, crumpled water bottles, grease stained bags from every drive-through chain in the GTA, and bags and bags of interior design supply type things for clients.

I was less than a week out of the hospital, with an infant in tow, and I was going in to work. It was that day that I was finally brave enough to look around at my messy minivan, and realize how messy my life, and my priorities had gotten.

Work-life balance is something I get asked about a lot- because with six children ages eight and under, and a busy interior design business, you would think I might have experience in this area.

But as I share in my newest YouTube video, what I have is experience failing at work-life balance. While it pains me to admit it, for the first five to six years of my eight year parenting career, life was not balanced. Work filled SO MUCH SPACE. And the people most important to me suffered.

If you desire work-life balance, I’d love to offer three strategies that have worked for me, post my minivan meltdown.

1. DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE TO YOU

As I share in my video below, I’m not talking about material success- but more like success where your relationships and your health are concerned. What does a healthy marriage look like to you? What needs to be made possible for you to have an awesome relationship with your kids? What are your greatest priorities? How does your schedule reflect that?

2. HAVE APPROPRIATE BOUNDARIES FOR WORK i.e. MAKE SURE WORK STOPS AT APPROPRIATE TIMES

My friend Mona Corwin says it best: “Balance is when attention is given in the proper amount, in the proper place, at the proper time.” The challenge before my minivan meltdown was that work NEVER ENDED. Work filled ever nook, gap and cranny. And it’s not that work is evil- it just needs to have it’s proper place, attention, and time in your life. When it doesn’t- when it bleeds into everything- it can be a real challenge on your relationships.

3. LIVE IN YOUR STRENGTHS

I know I talk about this a lot but I just think it is such a great tool for productivity- the wonderful assessment tool StrengthsFinder can really change how a person approaches work, and save valuable time and energy which can then be allocated to other priorities like your family and your health. I think if one can design their work-life around their strengths, they can have more mental and physical energy to dedicate to the important people in their lives.

I’d love for you to watch and leave me a comment on my YouTube video- do you think work-life balance exists? What does baalnce and success look like for you?

How to navigate through life as a working mom

How to navigate through life as a working mom

Hello my friends! I feel like it's been a while since I have shared what is going on in my family, so today I am sharing an update on what it is like to be a working mom of 6, and share a tool that has been really helpful in navigating through life as a mom on the go [and today I am on the go with my youngest son in our new Bugaboo Bee⁵]!

Working mom of six… even when I read that I feel tired! But as I share often on my Instagram and my YouTube channel, navigating life with my large crew has been equal parts enjoyable, equal parts challenging, but most of all really, really fulfilling.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee

Motherhood, like anything, is a skill. It has a learning curve. You can feel like you have it all together one minute, and then feel like you are going to lose your mind the next moment. Add on to that the very real pressures that come with a job outside of the home, and it can all be a difficult space to navigate. As I have told many of my first time mom friends, I think having your first child is harder than having six children in a lot of ways! There is such a steep learning curve with your first child, and such a drastic change in your identity, your regular schedule and your body! 

But with eight years of this motherhood gig now under my belt, and six gorgeous humans who I get to call my children, I have a little more confidence, I am way less hard on myself, and I have learned strategies that help me to persevere through the challenging parts of motherhood.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee Self Care
When people ask me, "how do you do it?" I honestly don't always know what to say. But I will share this: one strategy that I have learned is an absolute necessity to thrive in motherhood is self care. And let's just say I have failed pretty epically at it over the years. But what I have learned is that if we want to be good moms, good contributors to society, and generally nice people to be around [lol] we have to listen to our bodies, listen to our emotions, and take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. 

This weekend I spoke at event [a really fun ladies tea event in Oakville on the topic of creating family memories at home] and I knew that I would be pretty tired after it. So I booked a babysitter, and made sure I would have enough time on the way home to do something I LOVE- which is to spend time on the waterfront in my home of Toronto, Canada.

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee CN Tower

We only hung out for about thirty minutes- but boy was it restorative. There is something so soothing to me about water. I love how peaceful it is, how vast it is, and for me it is just so restorative. I live in a really busy city- and I just love how even in my urban dwelling I can escape to a scene like this for a moment of rest. [It doesn't hurt that there was a pierogi food truck nearby- so yummy]

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee Dreamer

It can be really challenging to make rest a priority. For many years, I didn't think rest was important enough to hire a babysitter for, and spend money on to achieve. But what I find is when I rest, I dream. I am a dreamer. I love having the space to just think. To listen. To recalibrate. And my spouse, my kids, and myself are all better off as a result.   

Lisa Canning Bugaboo Bee

With my large family of six kids ages eight and under, one of the ways we make our family work, and make it easier for me to have this self-care time, is to have more than one stroller. This way, if I am doing something on my own with the baby, and my husband or a babysitter is taking care of the rest, whoever is taking care of my other children has the flexibility to take my older kids out on their own adventure. 

The Bugaboo Bee⁵ stroller makes traveling with my infant on my own really simple. It's compact design makes it ideal for my urban neighbourhood- it's narrow width is easy to navigate around crowds and shops and the suspension design makes for a smooth ride on my self-care trips to the water (or the mall, lol). 

It's also incredibly flexible- it has integrated attachment points for things like coffee cups and a comfort wheeled board [no need for adapters], customizable colours on the faux leather handle bar grips and changeable wheel caps, and my favourite, the Bugaboo Bee⁵ has 700 possible design configurations- so you can customize your stroller to your heart's content.

And speaking of heart's content- how much fun is this bassinet fabric design? I love the denim and the butterflies (my three year old is a big fan of the pinks ones)! In my work as an interior designer I just love to have beauty all around me- and this stroller is no exception.

To learn more about Bugaboo and dream up your own design, learn more here.  And for more self-care strategies for busy moms, watch here

How do you take care of yourself as a busy mom? What tools help your family make this possible? Love to know in the comments below. 

Cheers to designing your beautiful life,

xo Lisa

Special thanks to Bugaboo Strollers for partnering with me on this blog post. 

How to spring clean your house like a pro

How to spring clean your house like a pro

Spring is FINALLY here and I swear all I want to do is throw all the doors and windows open, diffuse some essential oils and sing Alleluia [cause the Canadian winters are so GOSH DARN LONG]. But the amount of clutter that has accumulated in my house while we've been cooped up is kinda embarrassing. I seriously need to take my own de-clutter challenge

This week I am most definitely going to tidy up- and if you are too here are some tips that really help me and my family.

1. MAKE MONEY ON VARAGESALE

When possible, I like to make money on items that I no longer need. With the various ages and stages of my six kids, selling my gently used and new stuff that just doesn't work for me anymore helps to keep the clutter low, and put money in my pocket for new items they will inevitably need. But I have often stayed away from it from the sheer hassle of posting the item, taking photos, waiting for people who don't show up, or playing telephone tag or email tag forever. At the end of the day the inconvenience was just not worth it. But recently, I posted on my Facebook wall for recommendations on an efficient way to sell my no longer wanted items and someone suggested the online app VarageSale– and let me tell you, my efficiency woes have been solved. 

It's an app that makes buying and selling new and used items really efficient, and super safe. People are rated based on their ability to communicate and show up for their purchase or sale, and all communication is done through the app so you're not chasing people so to speak on various forms of communication. I have bought and sold baby items, home decor items, even clothing.  And I have yet to have one person not show up, or haggle me at the door or anything like that. So clean out all your unwanted stuff, make your house loose a few pounds and make money at the same time : ) 

2. DEEP CLEAN AND PROTECT WITH CONCROBIUM MOLD CONTROL

Now that your house is a little lighter, let's deep clean it. I was recently introduced to Concrobium Mold Control Spray– this safe for people and the environment spray creates a protective layer to inhibit mold from growing on surfaces like wood, drywall, metal and plastic. I just used it to clean, and protect my plastic outdoor dining chairs, and used it to get rid of an unfortunate layer of mold that built up in my mini bar fridge that we turned off [but never cleaned- gross]. 

And then for all the winter items that you might be putting into bins for the season and storing in a potentially damp place like under the stairs, or your basement, consider using Concrobium Moisture Grabbers. These packets absorb moisture in a small space, which will help to ensure mold does not grow. Use it in bins, under the stairs, under sinks- anywhere moisture may cause mold. It uses the same materials found in diapers which I think it pretty cool. They can also help absorb gross smells in gym bags- love that. 

3. WASH YOUR DISHWASHER

We renovated our house a few years ago and put in a new suite of appliances– but lol, I learned the hard way that proper maintenance of appliances is important, especially in a house like mine where appliance run more than once a day. Do you know you are supposed to wash your dishwasher??? I did not- and apparently I am not the only one as only 27% of Canadians have cleaned the interior of their dishwashers in the last twelve months. From regular use, minerals build up on the interior of your dishwasher that can inhibit it from performing optimally. This can be solved super quickly by running a packet of Affresh in your dishwasher in a cycle [it's also sae to use with dishes in the appliance]. Affresh works with all major dishwasher brands and can be picked up on your weekly grocery run. 

4. BRING IN THE PRETTY

Now that the house is all cleaned, bring in some pretty. I am a big fan of the convenience Bouclair brings to my life. In one aisle, Bouclair curates on-trend, colour coordinated collections- which make bringing the pretty in after you have spring cleaned just so easy and efficient. Favourites for me include their marble serving platters, concrete candle holders, printed napkins for easy entertaining and coloured trays. 

IA great big thank you to these brands for partnering with me on this sponsored post. I love to work with brands that bring value, efficiency and beauty to my life, and I hope to yours as well. 

ORC WEEK SIX: MODERN KITCHEN REVEAL

ORC WEEK SIX: MODERN KITCHEN REVEAL

It's reveal time!!!! I am so excited to share with you this labour of love. 

For the last six weeks, I've been participating in the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda at Calling It Home. It's a friendly competition of sorts [we're all winners for finishing!] where you are challenged to complete a room in six short weeks.

I have joined in the madness before with my home gym and laundry room.  And this time, I tackled not one, but TWO kitchens. As I have shared in weeks past,  I got to work with two very special families, who live next door to each other, who decided to tear down, rebuild, at the same time, with the same builder, and the same designer [ME!] How much fun is that?!?! On top of everything, I just love these two families- so creating spaces where they can thrive at home has just made me so happy. 

It was a serious race to the finish- and while I had wanted to pull off two full kitchen reveals, integrity had to prevail. Kitchen Two, which was my more traditional kitchen, unfortunately had a few scheduling set backs including a countertop that had an imperfection that the fabricator insisted on redoing. While it impacted the schedule, and made it unable to reveal in six weeks, it is far better to have something redone and installed correctly- so come back in a few weeks to see Kitchen Two unveiled here.

But today… feast your eyes on Kitchen One in my Tale of Two Houses- this is a modern kitchen for a fun modern family and I hope you like it as much as I do!

Lisa Canning modern kitchen

I wanted this space to feel modern and family friendly, yet very current with a bit of edge. The navy blue island, gorgeous tufted and chrome counter stools, and modern prints on the textiles I think do the trick. The marble herringbone backsplash is another classic, yet modern element in this space, and I love the contrast in scale against the large veins of this Cambria countertop. 

Lisa Canning modern kitchen delta trinsic

Wanting to keep things really modern I opted to use Delta's Trinsic faucet with Touch technology. One tap anywhere on the faucet and clean up is a breeze. And I just love how the pull down spout is integrated so elegantly into the design of this faucet. We used the matching pot filler in chrome. 

​Lisa Canning modern kitchen delta

A full suite of Thermador appliances makes this a serious chef's kitchen. We designed a lovely little prep area [with a matching Delta Trinsic bar faucet]  to keep coffee, and bar prep mess contained.

Lisa Canning modern kitchen delta trinsic

It's no secret that navy blue is a really popular colour as an accent in kitchens right now. And I love how this shade [Newburryport Blue by Benjamin Moore] turned out. We wrapped the kitchen island, and the pantry shelving in this shade- and I love how it can read really modern, or really classic, depending on how it is styled. 

Lisa Canning modern kitchen delta trinsic

 

Lisa Canning modern kitchen

As a mom of six young kids, I know how much happens in a family kitchen- so many memories are made in the kitchen! And I feel so blessed to be able to help create a space for this family to make memories. I just love when families thrive at home. 

Thanks for joining me in this fun journey- and don't forget to come back in a few weeks to see a Kitchen Two reveal! Many thanks to Linda from Calling It Home and media sponsor House Beautiful for sponsoring this event. For a crazy amount of inspiration, check out the other challenge linking participants here.  

Photography by Larry Arnal.

How to survive a renovation

How to survive a renovation

Renovating is hard, yo! It is gruelling. It's costly. It can be the most exciting thing for a family, and the most challenging thing for a family. It is week five of the One Room Challenge, a fun blog challenge put on by Calling It Home. I am participating as a linking participant- go see what everyone else is doing here. In a nutshell, in six short weeks we are challenged to complete a space- and I am tackling not one, but two kitchens for lovely neighbours who have hired me to create unique spaces for their unique families. 

Tackling two spaces in six short weeks has been a bit of a hustle. And I am not entirely sure if we are going to make it! But I can promise that the results are going to be incroyable.

Here's a quick peek- I only have shots of House One because it had just been that kind of a week [lol]

 

As you can see House One is sooooo close. There are a few things that are still to be tweaked- but we are so close. 

If you're renovating, and feeling like you just can't survive- here are a few things I have told clients over the years:

1. Picture yourself in the house when the dust has settled 

A strategy I use both in business and in life when I am feeling overwhelmed is to picture myself when the dust has settled. When I am really overwhelmed, I will sometimes play imaginary "fast forward" on my life, and picture myself when the chaos is over, all the mess is cleared, and I am standing in a finished, beautiful space. I find it's a helpful strategy to get yourself out of frustration, overwhelm and things you cannot control [whether it's trades finishing up work or yet another mess to clean up by your toddler].

 

2. Make a punch out list

It might be a daunting task, but get out a piece of paper, or your phone, and make a big fat list of all the things left to do. The act of doing it will quell some anxiety, and then you can create a strategy for grouping activities together, delegating some or deleting some. 

 

3. Drink some wine.

This need no explanation. LOL

Come back next week for the FINAL REVEAL. I am pretty gosh darn excited. It will yet again be a race to the finish!!!

  

ORC WEEK FOUR: CREATING UNIQUE SPACES FOR FAMILIES TO THRIVE

ORC WEEK FOUR: CREATING UNIQUE SPACES FOR FAMILIES TO THRIVE

Welcome back- I am so excited to be taking part in the One Room Challenge, where Linda from Calling It Home challenges designers, decor enthusiasts, and DIYers to complete a room in six short weeks. I have done this a few times. Check out my home gym and my laundry room here.  

I have been tackling two [yes, two!] kitchens, for two lovely women, who live next door to each other, who are using the same builder, and hired the same designer!!! How much fun is that?! 

Week four is a pretty hard week in the challenge- as you are close, but not close enough!!!! Here is the update this week:

HOUSE ONE- GETTING CLOSE

As you can see, house one, my more modern house is getting pretty close. We were bold [and a little edgy] with the contrast of the herringbone backsplash with a JUST GOSH DARN GORGEOUS AND BOLD Cambria quartz counter with some pretty dramatic and gorgeous veining.

And look at the hardware- loving how the circular pulls look on the drawers!!!

HOUSE TWO- CAN'T WAIT TO SEE MORE

Just look at this yummy counter we've got going on. It's elegant and understated, and just the perfect fit for this house [the more traditional house]. There was a small issue with the counter island, so the counter was brought back for a re-do- which means this kitchen will be a significant race to the finish line… 

Designing two spaces, for two unique families has been so much fun for me. If you've been following me for a while now, you know how important it is for me to help families thrive at home through strategic interior design. It is so much more than counters and backsplash for me- it really is about setting the stage for lasting memories, and facilitating a place where families can be their most authentic selves. 

Come back next Thursday for more!!!! 

Cheers to designing your beautiful life,

Lisa

 

ORC WEEK THREE: MILLWORK AND WHICH ONE WILL FINISH FIRST?

ORC WEEK THREE: MILLWORK AND WHICH ONE WILL FINISH FIRST?

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! I've got some fun progress to share. I'm excited to be taking part in the One Room Challenge, a really fun six-week blogging experience where designers and design enthusiasts "compete" so to speak to the finish line [side note, we're all winners] to complete a room in six short weeks. I've done this mad dash a few times. Check out my home gym and my laundry room here.  

I'm designing two kitchens for two fabulous families, who happen to be neighbours, using the same builder, same designer, at the same time, and are my friends!!! You can catch up on week one here, and week two here

Helping families thrive at home through strategic interior design is such a passion of mine. And so much family time happens in the kitchen which is why I wanted to share these spaces with you on the blog. Here's the update for this week.

HOUSE ONE- MILLWORK

SO EXCITED- in this house, which is the more modern of the two, we went with grey custom cabinets with a modern double step bevel profile on the doors. Hidden under all this plastic is a beautiful navy blue island which I cannot wait to reveal. 

Counters are in, and I must say they are spectacular- come back next week to see them! But as you can see, since they are down that means the backsplash can go up. And boy is she a beauty. 

HOUSE TWO- MILLWORK

JUST LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY- This kitchen is classic in grey and white, and to suit its more traditional design we used a bevel profile on the cabinets. The counters going in this home go in on Monday and the backsplash we have planned is going to be just incroyable. Come back next week to see the progress.

It's going to be interesting to see which kitchen finishes first. They will be days apart from finishing- and very very close to the six week deadline. Very curious to see if we can pull off TWO KITCHENS for this challenge!  

Until next week!!! And go check out what all the other linking participants are doing here.  

ORC WEEK TWO: 2 NEIGHBOURS, 2 STYLES, 1 DESIGNER

ORC WEEK TWO: 2 NEIGHBOURS, 2 STYLES, 1 DESIGNER

Welcome back to another round of the ORC- the One Room Challenge, where designers / bloggers / design enthusiasts are challenged by Linda at Calling It Home to complete a space in six short weeks! You can see past rooms I have completed as part of this challenge here and here

Last week I shared a bit of the plans for TWO kitchens I have underway. That's right, TWO!!!  And today I want to share the story of how I came to design two kitchens for two lovely women.

I've been running Lisa Canning Interiors for ten years now- and I have been blessed with some incredible clients along the way. But this project is a first for me as I get to design for neighbours! These two clients are using the same builder, in mirror image houses, building at the exact same time. Which means when I do a site visit, it's two clients, back to back! 

What even more fun, is that they have basically opposite styles- and I get to tell the story of their personal style through the products I select. 

Here are a few of the pieces we know we are using to give you a sense of how an item that has the same function can have a radically different look.

HOUSE ONE FAUCET- DELTA TRINSIC

For house one, we are keeping things modern- lots of grey and navy blue, and really simple sleek lines. This faucet, the Trinsic faucet by Delta is one of my favourites as I just love its really simple shape and form. 

HOUSE TWO FAUCET- DELTA CASSIDY

For house two, we are keeping things a bit more traditional- hence the selection of the Cassidy faucet by Delta. Note the similarity in form to the Trinsic above- but then when you add the slight curves and ridges it gives it a bit more of a traditional nod.

HOUSE ONE CABINET HARDWARE- SLIM AND SLEEK

House one is getting these really lovely long and lean cabinet pulls.

HOUSE TWO CABINET HARDWARE- ELEGANT AND REFINED

House two will get some lovely, refined pulls. Again, note the added texture and curved form in contrast to the minimal, sleek one above. 

And for those of you who love a good under construction photo you can see above it is quite fun- under total construction at the moment. But as you can see, the houses are basically mirror opposites in a lot of ways, although of course lots of differences. Tun in next week for millwork updates and more fun. And go and look at what everyone else is doing for the ORC here. What fun : ) 

 

ORC WEEK ONE: A TALE OF TWO HOUSES

ORC WEEK ONE: A TALE OF TWO HOUSES

Hello hello and welcome. If you are new here, very happy to have you on my corner of the internet. My name is Lisa Canning, I'm a mom of six and I have worked for the last ten years both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on design television shows like Marriage Under Construction and Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers and I run my design company where I specialize in two-hour design consultations in Toronto, Canada. I am excited to be linking up to this year's spring One Room Challenge!  The One Room Challenge is this great blogging event hosted by Linda at Calling It Home, where designers, bloggers, DIYers, home enthusiasts are challenged to renovate, design, and style up a space in six short weeks. You read that right, six short weeks! You can see past rooms that I have completed as part of this challenge here and here, and see all the fun people who are linking up for this event here.  

For this season of the ORC I have a really fun project- I'm currently providing design consulting services for two lovely families, who live next door to each other, who have mirror image custom homes, in totally opposite styles!!!! As you can see from my images below, the first house has a more modern vibe, and the second house will have more traditional design elements. 

Join me over the next six weeks where I'll be sharing progress from both houses. Designing homes that help families to thrive at home makes me so happy- excited to have you along for the ride.  Come back every Thursday for new updates : )

 

How to save time and do what matters most

How to save time and do what matters most

While I love designing homes, I really love to design my life- with six small kids and a business, I have to design it very strategically! So I thought this week over on my YouTube channel I would talk about the important topic of designing your ideal week. This is important if you’re a full-time working mom, a stay-at-home entrepreneur, or a full-time raising kids at home mom. Using our time effectively is so important. 

The most common question I get asked when people find out I have six kids and I work, is how I find time to do it all. I spill it all, including giving you a peek at my ideal weekly schedule, in the video below.

If you too want to save time so you can do what matters most to you, I’ve got a fun download for you to help you plan your ideal week. Just enter your email below and I will send it on over! 

 

 





How to make your bathroom look like a spa

How to make your bathroom look like a spa

If you've been following my blog and my social channels lately, you'll know that self care has been on my mind! So when the photos of this bathroom project I recently completed came into my inbox, the timing was kinda perfect. Who doesn't love a long soak in a hot bath- especially when the bathtub is as gorgeous as this one! So if you're looking to make your bathroom a retreat-like experience, here are my tips:

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

1. Start with white

Nothing says spa to me like fresh white walls. This room gets so much beautiful natural light that these walls were practically screaming for it. We used Benjamin Moore Decorator White on the walls (my personal favourite white of all time). To ensure it didn't start to feel bland and boring we incorporated a lot of texture- mainly in the tiles. We used Daltile's Octagon & Dot mosaic on the floor, and their Florentine tile on the shower walls (ps, this tile is a glazed porcelain tile that has a marble design printed on it, so it is a great budget saving option). Having a mix of patterns and textures ensures a monochromatic colour scheme like this does not feel boring! We picked up the grey on the floor with the neutral grey in the Auguste vanity by Foremost.

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

2. Add architectural detail

Trim is one of my design secret weapons. The level of luxury you can acheive, for a very reasonable price point in material, is just incredible to me. Again, to ensure this white room did not feel too plain and basic, we added crown, applied moulding and baseboard in Metrie's Pretty Simple collection. Trim used to really overwhelm me- there are just so many options, sizes, profiles available on the market! But if you want to add a level of luxury through trim, but don't know where to start, Metrie has simplified the process with its curated Then & Now Finishing Collections. They take all the guesswork out by presenting coordinated lines. Each moulding element within each Collection has been meticulously designed, so every joint and reveal is seamless. I just love how it turned out in this bathroom project! 

tree stump spa bathroom lisa canning interiorsspa bathroom lisa canning interiors

3. Add natural, rustic elements

We needed some contrast against all the white so we incorporated some pieces from one of my favourite retailers Artemano. Artemano's buying team travels the world in search of modern solid wood furniture pieces, and other home decor accessories that add artisinal flair. This tree stump makes for a perfect perch for a wine glass or book while relaxing in the soaker tub. We added a small hit of a rustic wood shelf for candles adjacent to the tub. These little hits of contrast give the bathroom a grounded earthy element. And then let's talk candles- because no spa-like bathroom would be complete without them. Handcrafted candle holders in natural textures like concrete are definite essentials. 

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

4. Think of your plumbing fixtures like jewelry in the room

Bring on the bling with your plumbing fixtures. I like to think of plumbing fixtures like jewelry on an otherwise plain outfit- the jewelry makes it fancy. We used the Ara collection by Delta to bring a bit of a modern edge to this space with its geometric angles and edges. I love the contrast of the modern fixture next to the traditional soaker tub- it makes for such a bold statement! 

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

5. Add luxury wherever you can (without breaking the bank)

I wanted this bathroom to be as luxurious as possible, without breaking the bank entirely. We did this in a few ways. The first way was to build a custom shower with a bench. I love how grand it feels, and we kept costs reasonable by using pre-fabricated glass shower enclosures (as opposed to all custom glass) by The Shower House. In this same shower, we added body jets on the wall for a really invigorating shower experience. I added a decorative hamper, modern stool and this leaning towel ladder from Bouclair, which adds a gorgeous visual element and can show off plush, luxurious towels, and we heated the floors with a Nuheat flooring system for a little luxury on your feet post bathing.

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

Finally, my favourite luxury element in a bathroom are quality towels. I am a little obsessed with these striped Turkish cotton towels.   

spa bathroom lisa canning interiors

And let's talk about this tub! This soaker tub has been with the homeowners for years, literally sitting in the garage just waiting for the perfect bathroom renovation. With a brand new coat of Newburry Port Blue I think she's the star of the show.

If you're embarking on a spa-like renovation and need some help I am here– I hope these tips get you closer to your own little spa-like oasis.

Special thanks to the brands mentioned above for partnering with me on this project. Photos by the talented Dann Tardiff.

 

How to make more time for yourself

How to make more time for yourself

As a mom of 6 little kids and a business owner, time management is basically a necessary survival strategy! Without it I perish! OK, that’s a little dramatic but I definitely have had to increase my ability to manage my time as my family size, and business have grown. I wouldn’t call myself a master at time-management, but let’s just say I am an expert at failing at it! 

And that is the spirit of today’s post. Self-care and putting my own needs higher on the priority list has been on my mind a lot lately, especially after the birth of my sixth child. When my family size was smaller, and my business was younger (and maybe because I was younger!) it was easier in a way to not make myself a priority. I would kinda just tell myself to hustle harder, pull more all nighters, juggle more, and work myself to the bone until I would crash. It wasn’t pretty, and I sort of just told myself that it was the cost of doing business and being an entrepreneur.

Today, in my 30’s, with 6 little kids, with distinct personalities and individual needs, and a more mature business, I find that this strategy simply does not work anymore. I don’t like working myself to the point of exhaustion. I don’t like not being able to see my family for extended periods because I am running around doing a million things. It’s not that I am adverse to hard work- I simply want to work hard in a way that won’t leave me feeling pulled in multiple directions and completely burnt out at the end of it.

Here are a few strategies that have been working for me lately- I would love to know what works for you! 

1. Schedule self-care like a recurring appointment 

It’s as simple as the title suggests. Literally, create a block of time in your calendar, click the button that makes it a recurring appointment, and actually honour it in the same way you would honour a coffee date with a friend, a dental appointment, or other commitment that might require you to leave the kids at home.

Think of it like regular maintenance on your car, or regular check ups at the doctor- if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of the people who matter most.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom with a bunch of kids at home and you have no idea how you would make this work, I am confident you can find a way! I share some strategies here

2. Make it simple

Self-care does not need to be elaborate or epic by any means. It could literally look like a nap, a quiet cup of coffee alone, or a manicure. I would suggest being really strategic with the time. In my current season of life, I have very short windows where I can truly just be a alone and relax- but boy do I ever make the most of those times of relaxation. Just keep your options simple and manageable, and don’t compare your self-care to what other people are doing! Which brings me to…

3. Stop comparing

Comparison is the thief of joy. And what does this have to do with self-care? I believe 100% self-care starts in our heads. I still struggle with comparing myself to others, but in the past I REALLY REALLY struggled. There was a time in my life where I was honestly so paralyzed at times because I was so worried about what people would think. And I would allow this negative self-talk in my head to stop me from doing things I really loved. So stop comparing yourself, and just start living your own beautiful life. 

I’m trying something new on my YouTube channel and would love to know what you think- press play below for more on this topic and I would love for you to leave me a comment! How do you practice self-care? 

How to get over a bad day

How to get over a bad day

Bad days- we all have them. There are days when I get out of bed and everything seems to be against me from the start. I am sure you know what I mean- I’m talking about the kinds of days where things don’t seem to go your way, where disappointment and negativity creep into your thoughts seemingly unprovoked, where things just seem like a big fat mess. I have seen MANY of these days in the beautiful chaos of raising 6 little kids while running a business.

Thankfully, I have also seen many of these days turn from bad, to good. So if you’re having a down in the dumps day today, here are a few strategies I hope will help turn things around. 

1. Hydrate (and caffeinate)  

Water and coffee are essentially on repeat in my house all day long. Before you make any decisions about how bad a day it is going to be, drink a big tall glass of water, and I like to follow my water up with a beautiful cup of hot coffee. I honestly think a cup of coffee can fix almost any problem (at least in my head it does)! All kidding aside, no good things come when we are hangry- so eat something, hydrate, and in my house, caffeinate. 

2. Go outside and do something physical

Sometimes a bad mood is honestly just in our heads. So to get out of my head (and out of my negative thought pattern), I like to do something physical, preferably outside. Even if it’s just on your front porch, or for a short walk around the block, or an impromptu dance party in your living room, get up and get those endorphins working in your favour.

3. Listen to, but don’t believe your feelings

Raising 6 little kids has taught me A LOT about feelings (their, and my own!). You know how a toddler can cry one minute so hard but then you give them the toy they wanted and they miraculously snap out of their horrible tantrum? It’s because feelings are temporary, transient, ever-changing. This is such an important point to remember!!! We should listen to our feelings, but not necessarily believe them or let them define our day.

I share more of my personal strategies for getting out of a bad mood in my latest YouTube vlog. Check it out below and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel! Cheers to positive days : ) 

The best books I read in 2016

The best books I read in 2016

The best productivity hack I discovered in 2016 was audiobooks. The ability to consume information while cleaning the house, driving, and running errands has been a total game changer for me! Last year, I consumed a few books that really challenged me- here they are in order of how they have impacted my life today. 

 

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This book is first on the list because it has had a powerful impact on habits in my life- both good ones and bad ones. Through some pretty amazing stories he illustrates how we get into patterns- and how our brains crave these patterns- but how new patterns can totally be carved out if we are aware of what causes these patterns and are intentional about carving out new ones. This is a great read if there is a bad habit you're trying to kick like over eating or using your cell phone too much, or if you want to develop new habits like waking up early, or exercising! 

2. The Three Big Questions for the Frantic Family

Every family goes through struggles- what I am always so curious about is how they overcome them. This book, to be completely honest, was introduced to me at a time when our family was struggling big time this year. And I legitimately thought the author had bugged my house because some of the situations and words uttered by the family he uses to illustrate his concepts had totally occurred in my house. This book provided me a ton of comfort, and really quick strategies that don't need a ton of time or skill to implement. I think it's an essential read for any family that wants to live with intention! 

3. The War of Art bt Steven Pressfield

​I am a high achiever, and I love to get things done. So when I encounter resistance or set backs I can get REALLY hard on myself. This book looks at resistance in the creative process, and has changed my relationship with resistance- why do I feel like I have to check Facebook 100 times before writing a blog post? Or why do I feel like it's essential to clean my entire house before I publish another YouTube video? If you have creative goals, if you have a book in your soul you have always wanted to write, if you want to be more productive in life in general, this book is an awesome read.

4. Creativity Inc. by Ed Cadmull

This book made me pull out all my Pixar movies again to watch with even more reverence! This book is full of gems for leaders in organizations large and small- and even made me think about how I impact the creative process of my children at home. Ed Cadmull, one of the founders of Pixar, shares many lessons learned over the years of how to structure meetings, environments, training sessions and communication between employees in a way that will create optimum levels of creativity, to lead to success, towards a common goal. I love any book that pulls the curtain back behind an organization- and this one pulls it right open!

5. The Survivor by Kyle Mills, Vince Flynn

So fun fact about me- I have read every single book Vince Flynn has ever written. I am kinda obsessed with the let's hunt down the bad guys action thriller type genre. And who doesn't love a good hero? I had to throw this book into the mix because it's a fun, page turning thriller. And if you love action scenes, bad guys getting what is coming to them, and heroes standing up for what is good, this one is fun.

What was your favourite book of 2016? Love to know in the comments below. 

It’s a boy! Welcome baby James

It’s a boy! Welcome baby James

We are thrilled to share the news that just before Christmas we welcomed baby James, our 6th baby, into the world! It has been a whirlwind of an adjustment period- so much joy, so much chaos, so many children home from school (!!!) and so many cuddles with this incredible small person. 

We have now done this six times. Six times we have made the trek downtown to the hospital (almost always in the middle of the night!), six times I have laboured and pushed out of my body a brand new member of our family. Six times I have felt a joy that overwhelms my entire being and makes me love my husband more than I thought possible. And six times I have marveled at the miracle of life as I have held a tiny little person. 

The story this time, in true Lisa fashion, is somewhat eventful… (Side note: for more fun baby tales here are the posts for the births of John, EvelynLeo, Rose, and Joseph

Dec 20 7pm: Standing in line at HomeSense with a final stack of pillows to finish off a fun project in Markham. Absolutely started feeling contractions. In HomeSense. In a line up a hundred people long. Because everyone is buying Christmas presents on December 20. 

7:30: I am out of HomeSense and need to decide if I have time to drop the pillows off at the client's house, or if I should go straight to the hospital. 

7:45: At client's house and I am arranging pillows on the sofa (even though I texted ahead of time and said I was pretty sure I was in labour and would only drop them at the front). Client and I both agree I am crazy and it is time for me to leave, STAT.

8pm: I am definitely contracting and heading south toward the hospital. However, it is also my mom's birthday! And it was my idea for us to enjoy a really nice, relaxed dinner, just the grown ups (which is rare for us to do)! Do I pull off the highway and join them for a minute?

8:15pm: Fully got off the highway and say to myself I will only stay if I can get parking right at the front and will only sit down for a minute. 

8:20pm: Guess who found parking literally at the front of the restaurant entrance! It's a miracle! I waddle in to see my family who are all looking at me like I am nuts.`

8:30pm: I sit down and literally cannot decide what to do. I am so hungry, but I am also fully contracting. And it is an all you can eat thai buffet. ALL YOU CAN EAT. And I could eat all the things. 

8:45pm: My entire family agrees I am crazy, because I am fully in labour but am trying to decide if I have time to eat some popcorn shrimp or not. My brother-in-law very stealthily sneaks popcorn shrimp into my coat pocket and they all kick me out. I call my husband and tell him to pack the bags! We have no bags packed because it is a full 2 weeks before my due date. 

9pm: I get home, but I am in total denial I am in labour (I WANT TO EAT MORE POPCORN SHRIMP!), although I am fully contracting every 5 minutes. Because my doctor has put the fear of God in my that this baby will FLY OUT since it is my sixth one in eight years basically, I know it's time to make our way downtown.

10pm: At hospital, checked in, still in relatively little pain although I can feel the contractions are getting stronger.

11pm: Since I am not in a ton of pain I debate doing this whole labour thing without an epidural. Never done it au naturale before, might be fun to try?!?

11:05pm: I hear a woman screaming in the room next to me in a ton of pain. Debate over.

12am: Epidural comes and I slip into a wonderful, drug induced sleep.  

5:30am: I wake up fully dilated and it is time to push. 3 contractions later and we meet our baby boy!!!

The transition back home has been beautiful chaos. If you'd like to see what our first week was like check out my brand new vlog

Our hearts are full (as are our coffee mugs, lol!). We are so totally in love. Thank you for sharing in our joy!!!!!

HOW TO MAKE 2017 YOUR BEST YEAR EVER

HOW TO MAKE 2017 YOUR BEST YEAR EVER

If you've been following my blog for a while you know I love to plan. When you have almost 6 children, ages 7 and under, and you're an entrepreneur, it's not really possible to get through life successfully without a little planning.

But don't think I have things all together all the time. I fail at the whole balance gig all the time. I've talked about it really transparently, many times

One of those times was at the end of 2014. I was on a career high. I was working with The Property Brothers as Art Director on one of their shows. I was working on a ton of my own renovation projects at the same time. For the first time in forever, my business was making me money, instead of costing me money. On the outside, I was flourishing! But on the inside, I was so unhappy. 

I was coming home consistently well past my children's bedtimes. My relationship with my spouse was hanging on a thread of empty promises of "this period is almost over, honey." My car was literally covered with remnants of McDonald's, Harvey's and Tim Horton's drive through bags. And I had easily put on an extra 10 lbs as a result of all the drive through food and non existed exercise schedule. 

It dawned on me that no amount of money or career success would make up for failure in the home, or sacrifice on my health.

Thankfully, a lifeline was about to be thrown that would benefit me, and my family, in countless ways. 

Right in my time of intense hanging on to life by a thread / surviving not thriving at the end of 2014, I stumbled upon Michael Hyatt's course, 5 Days To Your Best Year Ever. And many thoughts went through my mind including:

– wow I really need this

– there is no way I have time for this

– I cannot possibly afford to do this

– I can't afford to NOT do this

– I am so tired and unhappy this better help me

After learning about how short and digestible this course is, and its reasonable price point compared to many other courses I had invested in previously, I punched in my credit card with literally an hour to spare before the cart closed. 

And it was probably the best thing I ever did for my family. 

My family had booked time at a cottage we frequent often between Christmas and New Years for some much needed quiet time. And with all my commitments now done, my husband and I settled in after the kids went to bed, next to a roaring fire, with wine in hand, to binge watch the course content and MAKE SOME PLANS. 

And in one evening boy did we plan. And we made plans that have had lasting results on our family, our marriage and our health. And while I do the course over every year, the changes I made to prepare for 2015 really made all the difference. 

Without a plan, it is so easy to flounder and say yes to whatever is most urgent, as opposed to saying yes to what is most important to you and your personal goals. Without knowing your personal goals, life can just "happen" to you, rather than you designing your ideal life.

This year I have decided to help promote the Best Year Ever Course as an affiliate because I am truly passionate about it, and I think if you enjoy my content on productivity, organization and family life, you will benefit from it immensely too. 

The cart for this course closes Thursday, December 15 at 11:59PST. And I really hope you know by now, that I don't just recommend anything under the sun- if I recommend something, it means I have tried it and I love it. And I think you'll love it too- get all the details here. 

I feel so strongly about this particular course, I am throwing in a BONUS JUST FOR YOU GUYS!!!!!! If you buy the course via my link, I would love to gift you one of the following options (you get to choose!): 

 

To book me for a 2-hour interior design consultation is currently $749 plus HST so the value of either bonus is just under $400 with taxes included. I mention this only to illustrate how much I stand behind this course, and how much I want you to see results, too. A reminder the course is only available until tomorrow, and if you use this link you get my free bonus. 

But wait, there's more! Watch this video for a bonus I am offering exclusively to the first 10 moms who sign up via my link. Click through to 5:33 for this special offer. This one is so exciting to me! 

Cheers to an amazing 2017 for us all,

Lisa

 

Last Minute Stress-Free Holiday Guide

Last Minute Stress-Free Holiday Guide

  • Are you overwhelmed and feeling behind with holiday prep this year?
  • Do you have a Christmas shopping list so long you don’t know where to begin?
  • Are you feeling the pressure of time as Christmas gets closer and closer?
 
Well I have your back! I have created a simple calendar called my Last Minute Planning Guide for a Stress-Free Holiday!
 
While I cannot promise the holidays will be stress-free, experience has shown me that overwhelm can be reduced a ton with a little planning.
 
Well I have done the planning- you just have to do the doing! And exactly the same way I tackle a renovation or interior design project, just start! Make one decision, take one action step at a time- and then just keep making ’em! You’ve got this!
 
Download my Free Last Minute Planning Guide for a Stress-Free Holiday here!
 




 
How to keep it simple and stress free this Christmas

How to keep it simple and stress free this Christmas

This year we are keeping things really simple for Christmas. Mainly, it is out of necessity as I am incredibly pregnant with baby #6 (36 weeks!!!). But it is also out of principle. I just want to enjoy the holidays, and not be stressed in the preparations for them! So if you're like me, and want to enjoy the holidays more than stress over them, here are my essential ingredients to a simple and stress free Christmas!

1. Decorate with the basics in an afternoon

In years past, I have put a lot of pressure around a "decorating day". And while I love traditions, I just found it got overwhelming. People fought over who got to put what decoration up, I always ran out of those little hooks you need for the ornaments, and in the end I was always more spent than excited. So especially where small kids are involved, I suggest you limit the decorating to a few hours on an afternoon. Put up the main things: tree, lights, tree skirt, a garland, a few stockings, and that is it. And then call it a day. You'll be happy as the house has a little Christmas in it, but not so exhausted that you can't enjoy it. 

This year, I am obsessed with my new feather tree from Bouclair- I love the texture and white contrast in my living room! 

2. Add the ornaments slowly over time

We have a family tradition of keeping things simple during Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, and then adding all the colour and fun on Christmas Eve. This also has strategic merit- with toddlers in my house, ornaments don't stand a chance. But I did find these adorable pom-pom and bell combo garlands from HomeSense which the kids kinda went crazy over. They also make for a versatile ornament- even if they get pulled off the tree by little "helpers", they look beautiful even when just pooled on the floor in a heap.

The point of this tip is just to add things as you find time to- or as you pick up trinkets at the store. No pressure to do it all in one hurrah. 

3. Re-use fall planters

I was a little skeptical of how these would turn out, but I love the result. Again, out of convenience, I didn't want to spend time or money on brand new planters. When I realized my fall cabbages matched the purple ribbon I quickly tied around my faux fur wreath (picked up at HomeSense while shopping for a client), I decided to see if I could make them feel "holiday" with greens cut from my garden and the birch logs that have been sitting on my porch since last Christmas (eep)!!! I love the result, and love that it didn't cost me a single cent. I don't think this would work with every fall flower out there, but you can bet these will be on repeat next year on my porch! 

4. Throw some battery operated garlands in a vessel for an instant holiday centrepiece

I picked up this garland at Bouclair pretty inexpensively because I knew it would work somewhere in my house. I literally just put them in a candy dish I have (these would also look super cute in a cloche) and called it a day! If I have time I might go out and grab another one to fill the dish to the brim- I love how this sparkles and shines!

5. Embrace the chaos- especially around holiday pictures

We do our best to take a family photo for our Christmas card every year. And every year, I vow I will never do it again (just kidding…)! As the image above and this energetic photo of my daughter exemplifies, getting 7 family members to look at a camera at the same time is somewhat chaotic, to say the least. If these photos could talk, you would hear that 3 children had literal melt downs in rapid succession. So when one kid finally calmed down, the next one was upset about a totally new thing. In my younger years as a parent I would get so stressed about everyone looking / wearing the right thing and would have really limited (as in no) patience for this kind of thing. Now, I just embrace it and know that Photoshop works wonders and when that fails, oh well. Sometimes the images off the cutting room floor are better than the more staged ones. 

For some practical tips around family photos, I suggest you all wear outfits that coordinate somewhat, and if you can swing it, give kids 2 choices in what they wear (but limit their options to the ones in your colour palette). And not going to lie, we bribe with candy. #noshame

If you're feeling overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin in your holiday prep- download my Last Minute Planning Guide for a Stress-Free Holiday! Totally free for you : ) 

Cheers to a beautiful time of year,

Lisa 

 

Why You Should Write Your Own Obituary

Why You Should Write Your Own Obituary

I can remember the day clearly. I was sitting on my living room couch, reading Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkevy's newest book Living Forward on my iPhone. I had just finished writing one of the exercises in the book and I could not believe the words I was reading back on my screen. The tears were flowing and I was a crumpled mess. 

The exercise the writers ask the reader to complete is to write your own obituary. Sounds morbid, I know. But it is an incredible exercise in reflecting upon your ideal life – meaning, ideally, at the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave? What impact do you hope to have on the world? What do you hope people say about you as a wife, mother, friend, and world changer after your time here on earth?  

Staring at my screen I had written hopeful things. Hopeful things about how I help families thrive at home through strategic interior design. Hopeful things on helping mothers embrace motherhood, and discover what is possible in their lives. And hopeful things about my passion for my Catholic faith and the way I share it with others. 

As I sat there on my couch with my iPhone in my hand, tears blurring my vision and my chest heavy with emotion, I realized something huge. I realized there were a ton of areas in my life where I was simply not living in congruence with the words I wrote. I realized that if I wanted to actually hear the words I wrote spoken at my funeral, I would have to actually live those things out authentically. And doing that terrified me.   

There are reasons I think everyone should write their own obituary:

1. It's a wake-up call

I did not realize there were things about my life that did not feel "complete" until I stared at what I wrote that day. Writing your aspirational obituary can reveal gaping holes in your lifestyle, values and habits, and prompt you to change. Just read what happened to television character Dr. Frasier Crane when his obituary was mistakenly printed in the local newspaper

2. It can prompt immediate change

After I dried my tears and faced the facts that I was a little disappointed with areas in my life that weren't really lining up with how I wanted to be remembered, I got to work examining those areas. This is where the book Living Forward was very helpful to me. The book helped me to develop attainable goals to get me closer to where I wanted my life to be. And it was interesting how it did not feel like pressure- simple just realizations of my authentic self.

3. It helps you be the unique person you were always meant to be

I used to (OK I still do) struggle a lot with comparison – comparing myself to others and benchmarking myself against what others have going on in their lives. Experience has shown me that this is no way to live. It is exhausting and doesn't get you anywhere. Being uniquely you, and setting the world ablaze by being uniquely you is what I believe we are meant to do on this earth. Figuring out who we uniquely are is a whole other endeavor- and I think the exercise of writing your own obituary can help reveal some of that. 

If you were to write your own obituary- what would it say? What do you want your legacy to be? I would love to know in the comments below.  

How to pick the best appliances for your family

How to pick the best appliances for your family

Renovating is hard. Part of the reason renovating is so hard is the sheer number of decisions that need to be made – many of them costly ones. So to help you navigate one part of the decision making process and hopefully make renovating a little easier on you, I have partnered with Maytag to give a little insight into how to pick the best appliances for your family.

With almost 6 children (baby #6 is due in January!) my appliances need to be dependable. So when Maytag approached me to help another large family depend on Maytag, the Di Fonzo family, – a family with 6 grown sons living at home – I was thrilled. Fun fact: I grew up with the Di Fonzos! So it was even more meaningful for me to work on this project.

Rachel and Joe Di Fonzo and their 6 sons! 

So whether your family is large or small, if you're in the market for new appliances here are a few things for you to consider to make sure you make the right choice for your family:

 

1. Appliance size

Size is the first thing I would consider when selecting your appliances. Before getting her new extra-large capacity top load washer and extra-large capacity dryer, Rachel was doing laundry every single day. With the increase in size of the appliances (Rachel and Joe owned front load machines before), Rachel has cut her laundry time to every other day due to the increased load size. The extra-large capacity dryer has the space to dry 26 towels at once (!!!) to save precious energy and time. In some cases, where space might be an issue, stackable front loader units might be the best choice for a family. But hands down, the efficiency and time saved an extra-large capacity set will bring a family is pretty incredible. 

 

2. Look for features that will make your family's life easier

There are a ton of fun features available today with increased technology in appliances- but navigating them can be overwhelming. Look for features that will save you time and make your family's life easier. For example, my favourite feature in Rachel's new dryer is the Steam Refresh, which reduces wrinkles by using a fine mist in the heated dryer drum to refresh clothes with steam as they tumble. This saves time going to the dry cleaner, or standing there with a hand steamer and steaming clothing manually. Another example is Rachel's new fridge from the new fingerprint-resistant stainless steel kitchen line that resists streaks, smears or fingerprints. I have tested this myself personally- and it is pretty impressive how resilient the exterior of the appliances are, saving time cleaning up pesky fingerprints typically associated with stainless steel appliances. Look for the features that will make your life easier, based on your unique needs. 

 

3. Price

Price is a major factor to consider when selecting your kitchen or laundry room appliances. I don't have a formula or percentage of your overall budget that your appliances should take up- but my best advice is to spend as much as your budget will allow on appliances. Appliances are items that will work hard for your family, and do a lot of work for you. And when things do go wrong, look for a company that is willing to stand behind their product with a warranty and efficient service care.   

I recently hosted an event for Maytag where we introduced key media and influencers to the new lines of products. I wanted the space to feel as if you were sitting at Rachel's dining table- complete with lasagna and delicious Italian inspired treats:

And to learn more about Maytag's brand new product lines and my approach to helping family's thrive at home, check out some recent television interviews I've completed- click on the image to watch the clip. 

Special thanks to Maytag for partnering with me on this post.

How to make Halloween fun and stress free

How to make Halloween fun and stress free

I love Pinterest. I use it all the time for inspiration- however, my schedule doesn't allow me to do many of the labour intensive DIY projects that come up around the holidays. And in truth, even if I attempted them, I can guarantee that many of them would be an epic fail- I am not a patient person and the thought of waiting overnight for a decoupage project to dry just doesn't do it for me. Plus, I would probably forget to buy the essential ingredient needed, or buy the wrong kind of glue or what have you, and then be too lazy to go out and get it and I would be left with a messy, half finished project. 

But if you're like me and want your house to look cute around the holidays, but want to make the process as stress-free and fun as possible, today I have partnered with Delta faucets to give you a few simple strategies you can employ this Halloween (this entire list took me under an hour to do!) 

1. Create a candy buffet in glass jars

This is such a quick and simple hack- take glass jars (most of which I already had around the house) and fill with candy. My children thought this was the best thing ever. I used grey measuring cups and spoons with black handles that were already in my kitchen as serving utensils and let the kids have at 'em. To make it look Pinterest worthy, make sure each vessel is really full!

2. Stick pumpkins in anything to make it Halloween themed

I took a cloche with a black base that I normally have in my bathroom filled with soap, filled it with a $3.99 bag of white pumpkins and voila- instant Halloween themed (and kinda pretty) decor. Literally took me 2 minutes.

3. Unwrap store bought chocolate to make it look gourmet

I did go out and buy a spider web cake stand- and for half a second thought about making ghost themed cupcakes I found on Pinterest (chocolate base, white icing, and then add chocolate chip eyes and a mouth). But instead, I took Mr. Big small sized chocolates, unwrapped them, and put them on a platter. Looks pretty and saved me a ton of time baking!!!! 

4. Just use store bought decor 

Again, power to the moms out there who can create DIY tassels, use an icing bag like a pro and can spray paint like it's nobody business. For the rest of us- just go buy store bought, pre-made, made for you decor. These tassels were $3.99 at HomeSense, the BOO sign was $19 at Canadian Tire and most of the other decor items you see above I just had hanging around the house. 

 

Strategically I placed this entire operation on the counter in my basement kitchenette to make sticky finger clean up a breeze. My faucet is the Trinsic by Delta in the Champagne Bronze finish.

 

5. No stress face paint

Again, I had some lofty ambitions when it came to face paint- I had printed off templates to follow to create a gorgeous little butterfly face for my daughter. But she had other plans- so we rolled with it. 

Not going to lie, the perfectionist mom in me kept wanting to try to control the experience- but she was having so much fun making a mess I realized it was better to just let her do her creative almost 3-year-old thing. The results were spectacular.  Eventually we cleaned up our mess. In our family bath we have the Delta Vero single lavatory faucet in Champagne Bronze. 

 

How are you keeping Halloween fun and stress free this year? Love to know in the comments below. 

Special thanks to Delta Faucets Canada for partnering with me on this post. 

How to keep going when you have run out of steam

How to keep going when you have run out of steam

When you tackle a big project- like renovating a house, or creating a new product- you know you are going to face opposition. Regardless of how great your team is, or how strategic your plans are- it can still be really tough. Life can have a way of putting up obstacles at really inconvenient times.

The last three months of my life have been a real test of strength and stamina. During this period my family basically rotated a sickness from one person to the next. There was a period my husband and I were both so ill we literally just took turns napping in three hour increments. Being pregnant, there was very little I could take to get a little relief, so a terrible chest cold that made it difficult to lift my head some days just kept on keeping on.  

And somewhere in the last three months my husband had another period of mild depression.

So safe to say, the last three months have been a challenge. 

Thankfully, the coughs have cleared, Josh's period of depression passed (and he bravely shared about the upsides of depression so eloquently here), and we kinda feel back to normal. 

But when we were in the thick of things, nothing felt normal. Everything felt bleak. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Whether you're renovating the family home, or going through a time of personal stress, here are my strategies on how to keep going when you have run out of steam:

 

1. Sleep

Doesn't everything look different when you have had a good night's sleep? As I share in this blog post, I used to be a habitual night owl. I used to think that staying up late was better for all- I could spend more time in the day with my kids, working at night was simply just more strategic, etc. etc. But it meant I put sleep way on the back burner, and I know now it's just not worth it anymore. While I still find myself staying up late to accomplish tasks on occasion, I always feel better when I am in bed early, and wake up early.   

And I really believe in the power of a 15-minute nap. It might seem like it would be better to get through a few more tasks, or put out a few more fires with a 15-minute block in the middle of the day- but 15-minutes in the middle of the day can be a serious game changer for your mood- and I argue make it easier to deal with whatever crisis or challenge you must deal with. Got small kids at home? When I am desperate for rest I put the baby down for his nap, put on a television show for my 3 year old, and nap beside her. She's happy, and I get to rest, and world looks entirely different after a nap. 

 

2. Remember that everything passes

This is easier said than done, I know. But it's important to remember, that everything passes. Whether it's the epic amount of mould that was found when the drywall came down, a child being sick, or yes, even something as serious as depression, everything passes. The mould will be cleared, illnesses pass, and so do uncontrollable periods of mental illness. This is probably one of the harder strategies to remember in the moment- when I find it difficult to see the light I find it helpful to call a friend who is naturally positive- not someone who will try to fix me or who will criticize- but someone who will empathize and remind me that tomorrow is a new day.

 

3. Remember your purpose

I recently finished the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and let me tell you it was so worth the read. One of the many sections I found fascinating was why the Montgomery bus boycott movement was so successful. It was interesting to note that Rosa Parks was not the first person to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in the segregated south. In fact, many had come before her. But there was something unique about Rosa's deep involvement in her local community- both black and white- that rallied people together. People mobilized because they cared about her, and that investment had a ripple effect across the United States. The belief in the cause- and shared belief among a group of people- caused serious change to happen. People were constantly reminded of their purpose- to fight injustice- because other people around them had the same belief. 

So when you are feeling like you just can't go on, remind yourself of the greater purpose behind your goal- whether it be a new family home that will change the lifestyle and productivity of your family, writing a piece of content that will really help people succeed, or simply being the kind of wife and mother you want to be– remind yourself of your purpose and it might just put the bad times in perspective. 

 

4. Just do the next right thing

When tackling a big project or going through emotional stress where the to-do list or mountain pile of duties seems unsurmountable, just do the next right thing. Perhaps it is picking the finish on your counters, making one more meal for your kids or just getting out the door for your day- just do the next right thing. Don't worry about the long list of things that are still to do- the act of doing the next right thing is way better than worrying about a long list and doing nothing at all. 

 

5. Remember that change is possible

I have recently been introduced to speaker Dane Sanders who in a recent keynote gave me a phrase that I find so helpful: "up until this point, I did _______. From now on, I will ____________." This is another strategy that might not be easy to think about in the moment when things looks really bleak, but is definitely a great phrase to use when you can see through the weeds and perhaps want to make change. 

How do you get through things when you have run out of steam? Love to know in the comments below. 

For more strategies on how to balance “it all”, enter your email below: 

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How to create the coziest bedroom ever

How to create the coziest bedroom ever

The transition from Summer to Fall is probably my favourite- I just love how crisp the air gets and the changing colours of the leaves. It also presents my favourite time to swap out decor- when the furs, knits and cozy textiles come out. If you're craving a bit more cozy in your life, here are my favourite ways to create the coziest bedroom ever.

1. Start with a dark paint

It is no secret how much I love a dark hue in the bedroom. I think it's just so inviting and dramatic and can assist with creating an atmosphere for great sleep. So in this space (belonging to the son of Toronto Star writer Vicky Sanderson), we went with Black Sable by Delux. For added drama, go matte with the paint finish for a really chalky, rich, deep hue. When you go dark on the walls don't forget about the ceiling. Think about a textured or patterned wallpaper, or a ceiling paint tinted with at least 20% of the wall colour so the contrast isn't too harsh. 

2. Add textured wood

We worked with Artemano as a partner on this makeover and selected this incredible bed and pair of nightstands. The natural textures in the wood just scream cozy to me- and the handmade, artisanal quality of their products are just lovely and authentic. I am typically not a fan of buying a matching bed and nightstands, but in this case I wanted the species of wood to match. The natural colouring and texture of the wood provides ample variety in the pieces and since it's a fairly small room, the visual continuity of the wood bodes well in creating continuous sight lines. 

3. Create intimate display nooks

We carried the natural wood texture in this little study nook for Vicky's son. Made with inexpensive stained lumber, her son is able to display his favourite artifacts, memorabilia and photos on floating shelves over this sleek lacquered desk. For me, the accessories in a room tell a story and reveal so much about who lives there- so I always try to incorporate little vignettes in spaces I design. These little vignettes bring life and character to a room- and that to me screams cozy.

4. Add a mix of textiles

Coziness to me is all about textiles- and it is amazing how much impact changing out your textiles can make, in relatively little time. Add woolen blankets, a faux fur throw, heavy felt fabric pillows and knits for a really cozy mix on the bed. On the floor, a sheepskin rug or gorgeous wool patterned rug make all the difference- and again are relatively easy to swap out as the seasons change.  

How are you changing out your decor this season? Love to know in the comments below. 

Saying goodbye to summer

Saying goodbye to summer

It is hard to believe the summer has come to an end. For my family, it was summer of being stretched- I stretched my design muscles by redoing our backyard,  we were stretched to trust in God when our third child was in hospital for 5 days with a stomach virus that just wouldn't leave his tiny system, we took another month long epic road trip and enjoyed lots of aimless time with each other. 

It's the aimless time together that was my favourite. Towards the end of the summer Ford Canada gave us a Flex to enjoy some #familyflextime (check out that hashtag on my Instagram to see where we ventured). We were very spontaneous and took trips downtown where we were tourists in our own city.

With my three youngest kids in tow, we parked in the Yorkville neighbourhood with zero idea of where we were going to go! We walked on Bloor Street where we stumbled upon the cutest little flower pop up shop. We grabbed coffee, popcorn and cookies at Starbucks, and we climbed the big rock in the Yorkville parkette (where the pigeons were pretty darn interested in our snack spread! We even managed to do a little clothing shopping for mommy where I scored a gorgeous coat I had been eyeing! It was some pretty awesome, aimless, quality family time. 

I must admit, it has been several years since I have looked into car features (we drive a minivan with basic features that seats 7 that we are about to outgrow when baby #6 comes!) so it was pretty fun to drive a car with so much technology in it (like active park assist that essentially parallel parks the car for you!). And let me tell you this pregnant mama appreciated the seats were air conditioned. Yup, the seats! 

Speaking of flexibility, that is what this summer has taught me the most. That with a family of my size and work at the same time, flexibility is essential. If I tried to control everything, it just simply wouldn't work. I am trying to remember that today on the first day of school, with my three oldest off- the third one for the very first time. Despite my best efforts to be organized- clothes laid out, lunches packed, even shoes at the front door- it wasn't a seamless morning. And I am ok with that. 

This morning I wanted to start a new habit of my own- and if you visit my Instagram story today you'll see the hack I used to get myself up out of bed at 5am so I could have some time to myself- I used to be really good at this habit,  and then when my fifth child came I naturally fell off the wagon and kinda never consistently got back on. Today- I did it! Stay tuned for updates if the habit sticks : ) 

Wishing everyone an amazing start to September! Special thanks to Ford for partnering with me on this post.  

4 ways to be a better wife and mother

4 ways to be a better wife and mother

After the summer we have had (which included a sick child in hospital, a car breaking down on our way to Florida, altered vacation plans, increased expenses, and a general necessity to rely on God and be flexible), I've been reflecting a lot on what it means to be a good wife and mother. 

Because there are so many days where I feel like I am absolutely failing at both.

There are days when I scream. Where I nag. Where I am less than gracious. Where I honestly feel like giving up.

And then I take a page out of my own book. Literally- I comb through past blog posts where I discuss struggle and what it looks like when you come out of it and I am reminded there is always a new day. There is always a do-over. And to quote the lovely Cat and Nat from Social Commons, having a bad day as a mom doesn't mean you are a bad mom- you just had a bad day being a mom. 

So for today's post I am re-posting an excerpt from a past post. If you feel like you're having a bad day as a wife and mom this one's for you. 

Last weekend, my husband had a work conference in Montreal- so the kids and I decided to tag along for the ride. Smoked meat and poutine, cuddles in big comfy hotel beds and quality time after working like a maniac- so needed! I am so thankful for the weekend we had. I am most thankful for the time to recalibrate and be reminded of what my most important job is. 

I put in a lot of time developing myself professionally. Recently I was in Colorado for The Platform Conference, yearly I invest in business coaching of some kind, and I am pretty obsessed with reading and gathering info on social media strategies, good business practices and becoming a better interior designer and communicator in general. 

But how much time do I invest in being a good wife and a good mother? The honest answer is not very much. So in Montreal I brainstormed a few concrete ways I could invest in being a better wife and mom. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Do more the night before. 

This has proved to be pretty awesome for our morning routine, and therefore all of our moods heading out the door for school. And for those of you in Toronto or anywhere north of the equator it seems, you know how much more effort it was this week with snowpants, boots, mitts, hats, etc. etc. etc. So I am disciplining myself to attempt to lay things out the night before. School bags with letters / forms already filled in get laid out by the door, and lunches mostly packed saved for the things that are perishable and are pre wrapped in bags in the fridge. I have to work on getting them to lay out their clothes the night before- hoping to instill that habit in them (and myself!) too. 

2. Turn my phone off for uninterrupted, aimless time. 

Or at least put it away out of reach. I think I need to make a "sacred time", where the phone is away. In this time I want to invest in just being present and aimless. Ask my kids questions, be present to my husband in conversation, be available in an undistracted manner. I need to work on this. Update: since writing this post I did a 30-day social media fast which was life changing

3. Be more grateful, and verbalize my gratitude. 

This one is simple. I need to be more grateful for my spouse and my kids and let them know that. If I had a jar and I had to put a dollar in for the number of times I got irritated in a day with everyone, vs. the times I spoke grateful words to them it would be pretty sad to see how full that jar would be. 

4. Be more romantic. 

As a mom of small kids, romantic gestures of any kind are admittedly quite neglected at the end of a day full of demands. The relationship I have with my spouse supports the rest of the relationships in our house, and establishes a culture of care and kindness. My kids learn about love by watching the way I relate with Josh. I best treat him with some fondness ; ) 

In the fast pace of our life with 4 kids (update: now almost 6!) and busy work schedules, there are days that we feel like we barely survive. But there are also days that we thrive. I want more of the latter, and experience has shown me that if I put into practice some of the goals I set out above, like being more organized and more attentive and less distracted, we really do feel great. At mass last Sunday at the gorgeous and historic St. Patrick's in Montreal, this was read in the first reading: "Her children stand up and proclaim her blessed, her husband, too, sings her praises" (Proverbs 31:28). I hope to live up to this both for my own personal standard and for them. 

How do you invest in your job as parents and spouse? Love to know your best practices in the comments below.

How to make a small living room feel large

How to make a small living room feel large

Let me tell you how I live- I live in 1290 square feet on my main floor with 5 kids, one husband, and a baby coming in January! It is small- so if you live small too I FEEL YOU. And fear not, your living room can feel super large with a few strategies. Here are a few ways to do this:

1. Start with a great sofa

Note- it does not have to be small! I repeat- it does not have to be small. In my own living room, I have got a fairly grandiose sofa- meaning, it's got large rolled arms, lots of tufting, and I did not purchase it in the "condo / apartment size" section of a furniture store. It is big and bold and I love it. Make sure you leave enough room on either side of course for side tables- for example I wouldn't want the sofa to take up more than 3/4 of the wall, or determined space in an open concept living room. And why this works in a small space is reason #2…

2. Pair your great sofa with streamlined chairs

A large sofa can absolutely be successful in a small space as long as you pair it with smaller scale chairs. PLEASE DO NOT BUY THE SAME LARGE CHAIR THAT MATCHES YOUR LARGE SOFA. In a small space, this just isn't going to fly. Instea, choose pieces that have slender arms, have legs that elevate it off the floor so they appear not so bulky, or one of my favourite approaches in small spaces- use clear pieces like the ghost chair, or anything with metal mesh or negative space cutaways where you can actually see through the chair so the visual weight is reduced. I like putting a chair on either side of the sofa as per my image above- but of course if your small space allows consider adding small ottomans on the other side of the coffee table, o4 2 chairs on ether side of the sofa. 

3. Ground it all with a large rug

OK- you might think I'm nuts here- you want me to put a LARGE area rug in my SMALL living room? Go with me for a moment. A small rug that does not sit under all the furniture pieces breaks up the visual line. It creates choppy breaks, where your eye jumps from the foot of a chair, to the edge of the carpet, to the edge of the carpet again, to the edge of the sofa- and this is what we want to avoid. In a small space we want to create as harmonious of a visual sweep as possible. Think of how a camera pans across a room in a television show "reveal shot". Instead of interrupting the sweep with a bunch of broken lines that create visual chaos, your small space will feel so much more open and large without as many visual breaks- so go big on the rug and ensure it sits under all the pieces of furniture. 

4. Use pattern

Again I promise I am not nuts. Pattern in a small space? Isn't that going to be super overwhelming? I argue no- the key is to ensure you vary scale and keep things in a harmonious colour palette. As you can see in my own small living room, I went with a bold wallpaper- and kept other elements of the design like the carpet, and upholstery fabrics more neutral for balance. 

5. Use colour 

A harmonious colour palette, I argue, is a great way to ensure a space feels larger than it actually is. And yes- a lighter palette will help a space feel brighter and larger as well- but I wouldn't hesitate from using a dark colour in a small space as long as 1) it is your style and 2) your space is appropriately lit (large windows or sufficient layered lighting). Make sure you repeat a colour (like one of the ones you used in a patterned pillow or wallpaper) at least three times in a space to create visual harmony. 

5 EASY WAYS TO UPDATE YOUR KITCHEN

5 EASY WAYS TO UPDATE YOUR KITCHEN

We all strive to be healthy… right? If you're anything like me, you put working out and eating well on the goals list, eat healthy for a period and then it's right back to old habits again (poutine is my kryptonite). 

After working with the lovely Jenn Pike of The Simplicity Project on a collaboration on her kitchen, let me tell you am I motivated to get back to better habits again. I seriously want to be this woman when I grow up. Her simple approach to good nutrition, balance and harmony in the body is so inspiring- and we extended that same ethos to a kitchen and dining room transformation that I am pretty wild about. 

If you're embarking on a renovation, here are 5 easy ways to update your kitchen:

1. Add a rustic touch

This is a trend that is sticking around- and it a great way to update your kitchen without necessarily having to make a big mess. Some reclaimed wood floating shelves, some gorgeous wooden trays or even just a big beautiful wooden cutting board are easy, simple ways to incorporate this trend. 

We used this trend in Jenn's kitchen with this beautiful table and chair set, and hammered metal pendant lights from Artemano. Made from scratch from artisans sourced from all over the world, it's the handmade touch that makes this trend so popular. Look for items that have a handscraped element like this table and hand carved features like this gorgeous wooden tray set.

If you're tackling the kind of reno where mess is necessary, consider using a hardwood floor with this same rustic element. Again a trend that is super popular but I argue will be around for a while is a floor with a handscraped element like this engineered hardwood from Torly's.

2. Update an appliance or fixture

This is a really easy way to update the look of your kitchen without going through a huge reno. Usually it is fairly simple to replace an appliance of the same size, or a fixture like your kitchen faucet. In Jenn's kitchen (where she teaches cooking lessons and creates healthy recipes that are honestly to die for) we replaced her kitchen faucet with my favourite Delta Trinsic faucet and matching soap dispenser which boasts touch activated technology- so no fumbling with the faucet when your hands are covered in kitchen mess. You simply tap anywhere and water or a controlled amount of soap (magically) appear. The integrated pull down spout is my favourite aspect of the design of this faucet! 

And then when you've enjoyed your healthy meal make clean up a breeze with an efficient dishwasher. I honestly don't know what I did without a dishwasher before- they simply make life easier so you can get back to enjoying time with your family. And this Whirlpool dishwasher has an intuitive sensor that measures how many dishes it needs to clean, and how dirty they are, so it can intuitively adjust itself to the right wash and dry settings. Doesn't get more simple than that! 

3. Change your backsplash

The backsplash is one of the ways you can make a major visual win in the kitchen- on my design consultations it is usually one of the first things I recommend to swap out when you need a kitchen update. This Silver Fox backsplash by ErthCoverings provides another rustic element and just looks like a piece of art in Jenn's space.  Made of 100% high quality natural stone, and since the multi-height backsplash comes in large modular pieces (as opposed to individual small strips) installation is quick and clean.

4. Update your cabinet hardware

Updating your exterior cabinet pulls is one way to create an update in your kitchen. But why not think about updating your interior hardware as well? In Jenn's kitchen we used GRASS soft-close cabinet and drawer hardware. Again, you might be thinking- what's the big deal with interior hardware? No one will see it? Well friends, as much as I want to create exterior beauty, I also want to create AMAZING function in my projects. And quality drawers and hinges that won't bang, slam, or pinch little fingers when in use is great function for me.  

5. Add some colour

This is a fun, and really easy way to update a space and in Jenn's kitchen we had fun with the accessories. I think a space should really reflect the personality of its user- and Jenn is vivacious as they come! So we added pops of orange and teal in accessories from HomeSense. HomeSense is my go-to destination for home accessories at exceptional prices (also- fun fact- do you know they sell kitchen gadgets too? How cute it this orange toaster?!? If you're seeking smart design and great prices on coveted high-end small appliances, the exclusive HomeSense Privé Event launches September 15th at select locations with brand name appliances at prices 20-60% less than in specialty or department stores.).

Style a surface well by using a mixture of textures- I always try to incorporate natural woods and linens, shiny ceramics, sparkly glass, and matte concrete in a space for a modern, on trend look. And don't be afraid of colour- especially in a neutral space (the paint colour is a neutral Cabot Trail by Benjamin Moore), the pops of orange and teal are fun and lively. 

Kitchens really are the heart of the home- and it's a joy for me to help families thrive. If you're looking to thrive in your health goals, definitely check out Jenn Pike and The Simplicity Project.  And if this has gotten you inspired to do you own kitchen re-fresh, I'd love to know what tip you might employ in the comments below!

Special thanks to photographer Dann Tardiff, and to the brands mentioned above who partnered with me by supplying product for this kitchen makeover. 

 

If you’d rather watch me talk about how you can make easy updates to your kitchen check out my YouTube video below:

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How to decorate your room on a budget

How to decorate your room on a budget

I started my career designing a house on HGTV for a whopping $30,000 for the ENTIRE house including the kitchen. It was intense. I dove into dumpsters and flexed some serious DIY. Fast forward almost 10 years and it’s not difficult for me to spend $30,000 on a single room!

But good design doesn’t always have to cost a ton of money- and leveraging my many years of working with clients of all income levels and for a few notable tv shows where budgets are usually fairly lean- I share with you some resourceful ways to decorate your room on a budget with success!

1. Use paint

Paint is one of the easiest ways to achieve drama without a huge expense. For a really dramatic transformation, consider painting a room a really dark hue. My master bedroom is one of my favourite rooms in my house due to the cozy nature created by the dark navy blue that wraps every wall. It’s great for your budget as the drama created by the hue means you can be a bit more simple and demure with art. For $100 – $150 plus some sweat equity you can create some serious drama in a weekend. 

2. Use white 

I realize this is polar opposite to what you just read above. But do you ever notice how many beautiful home images on Instagram or magazines use a lot of white? It’s a really simple approach to make a sophisticated room. White is really easy to layer, and white is a simple staple colour to purchase at retailers of all price levels. I find when you keep a monochromatic colour palette the space can feel serene, textured and more expensive than it actually is.

3. Use Craigslist

I recently created an apartment space for an article for the Toronto Star where we sourced everything through the online sales platform Craigslist. While it takes some leg work (like contacting sellers and arranging transportation), it is a really great way to find beautiful items, from reputable brands, at a significantly reduced prices. 

4. Build slowly with a plan

Rome was not built in a day and neither does your living room have to be. You can do it in stages, and save for pieces you love. But do it with a plan- prioritizing buying some key quality pieces and fill in the gaps as your energy and finances allow you.

5. Make sure one item in the room is really special to you

Regardless of your budget- make sure there is something in the room that is really special to you. This might mean it is a sofa you have been eyeing forever, or a lamp that you tore out of a magazine years ago and have not been able to stop thinking about. Make sure there is something that you will love and think of fondly every time you see it.

What are your strategies for decorating on a budget (that don’t involve dumpster diving!)? I would love to know in the comments below. And if you liked this, you might like my top 10 decorating faux pas. Download that by leaving me your email in the box below and I will send it over 🙂

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How to plan the best family vacation

How to plan the best family vacation

As I have mentioned on the blog before, I love traveling with my family. It’s not always easy (I would not call 24 hours of driving in a car with small kids “easy” by any means), but the results are so worth it. If you’re itching to go somewhere with the remaining summer weeks ahead, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind. 

1. Decide what kind of vacation you want- what are you hoping to gain from your vacation?

This is an important consideration especially if you have limited time to take off work. Do you want the vacation to be restful? Active? Educational? Spiritual? Combo platter of a few of the above? Think about how you want to feel at the end of it, and what you want to get out of the time. In a recent podcast, Michael Hyatt expands further on this notion along with other great ways to vacation like a pro.  

For example- if you are looking for a restful vacation, Disneyland might not be the best option. However, Disneyland with the kids, coupled with a few days at the end where mom and dad go and do something restful just the two of them, might be an amazing combo. My husband and I were recently invited to stay at Viamede resort and if you are looking for a restful retreat from busy parenting life- that is a great place to do it. 

My husband and I are kinda nerdy about history and what not so we love taking our kids to local museums or war memorials when we travel. And as devout Catholics we sometimes plan a vacation around a religious shrine or landmark. 

My point is, when you have a sense of what you want to get out of the vacation, whether it be rest, education, crazy active excitement or spiritual growth, everyone will be happier having some kind of expectation of what they will gain from it. 

 

2. Commit to a budget

Elaborate vacations can be really costly, especially when you have a bunch of kids like me. For this reason we drive to our vacation spots (link to July 11 blog post). 

Family fun does not need to be crazy costly- but a trip is an investment. Here are a few things to ask yourself to help determine the cost:

– will we drive or fly?

– if we fly do we need to rent a car, and / or car seats? Or can we stay somewhere like a resort or villa that does not require us to drive? 

– do we want to cook our own meals, or stay somewhere meals are included? 

– is there a local babysitting service that we can hire a sitter for so mom and dad can get a break while we are down there, and / or is there a kids program available?

– can we stay in simple accommodations or do we desire something more fancy? 

My parents blessed my sister and I with lots of opportunities to travel as a family- I am so grateful to them for that. But in truth, it really did not matter what we were doing- whether it was a simple camping trip or a cruise in Europe- as cliche as it sounds as a child what I remember most was the time spent together.   

 

3. Are you more into a planned for you vacation, or a plan your own vacation?

I find people fall into two camps- a “planned for you vacation” like a resort or cruise where for the most part things are taken care of for you- meals, hotel space, shuttles if applicable, kids programming, etc. 

And then there’s the camp that wants to plan things on their own- like visit a big city full of tourist attractions, book their own hotel or rent something on air b &b, figure out their own local meals or cook for themselves, and / or explore off the beaten path. 

Both are super fun options with kids. Both I would say have their own sets of pros and cons. I would take into account how various members of your family handle change, stress, the unknown, and how flexible people are to determine what might fit you best at the various seasons of your family’s life. 

 

4. Ask friends for insider secrets 

If you are planning on going somewhere really well known (like Disneyland for example), definitely poll people who are frequent flyers of these locations because they will have the inside scoop to make the most out of the experience (and possibly save you money). 

I find people are so willing to share the good and bad about their experience at a local establishment- I love mom groups on Facebook for this reason as I know I am getting unbiased honest accounts! 

So ask around, ask online- and take advantage of the experience of others. 

Those are my top tips for planning a great family holiday- I would love to know yours in the comments below. 

Also, if you’d prefer to watch me talk about these tips on YouTube, click on over below!

 

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4 podcasts that will change your life

4 podcasts that will change your life

My work takes me all kinds of places- which means I spend a lot of time in my car. While I love singing along to some Bruno or some Taylor when it comes on the radio, I honestly spend most my time in the car listening to podcasts or books on tape. 

If the summer is bringing you on some long road trips or you just want something new to listen to while you are on the dock or hiking in the woods, here are few podcasts that have transformed my life- and I think will change yours too.

 

1. This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt

I have listened to Michael Hyatt's content for several years now and his content really has had a huge impact on my life and my approach to work. I have shared how his conference impacted me,  and why you should read his book. I think you'd like his podcast too.

Who is it for: Anyone who wants to live life with great intention, anyone who wants to succeed at work and at home, business owners and platform builders.

Why you'll love it: It's a weekly does of positivity, productivity and poise. I know when I listen to it I will always be uplifted and inspired. 

 

2. The Smart Passive Income Blog by Pat Flynn

I was introduced to Pat Flynn at Michael's Hyatt conference (see above) and I was so blown away by his tenacity and success. He is a young dad of 2 who figured out how to leverage the internet to help people in the most effective way possible- both for the end user and for his income stream. 

Who it is for: Anyone who wants to monetize their platform using the internet, anyone who wants encouragement to take bold steps both online and off.

Why you'll love it: Even if you don't run a business, I think people can benefit from how big and bold Pat Flynn thinks. He tells real success stories of ordinary people who had great ideas and were courageous enough to take one step and then another to make their dream a reality. 

 

3. Storybrand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller is the author of Scary Close (read my friend Sarah's great review of his book and then pick it up and read it) and he coaches business owners and marketers on how to best put the customer at the center of their marketing. He has just released a podcast which is pretty darn amazing.

Who it is for: I would say business owners and marketers will benefit most from his podcast, but anyone who hustles towards big goals in life I think would love it too.

Why you'll love it: The interviews with his guests are just so many nuggets of valuable, instantly applicable information to help you move the needle in wherever you need to go. I particularly loved the interview by Clair Diaz-Ortiz on how to plan your life and Scott Hamilton's interview on how he constantly strived for better. 

 

4. The 5AM Miracle by Jeff Sanders

I have written in the past why I value getting up early- even with little kids at home. So when I came across this blog recently I knew it was going to resonate.

Who it is for: Anyone who wants to up their productivity game and increase their impact on their family, their work and the world. 

Why you'll love it: I am just diving into this podcast but so far I love Jeff's positive approach to life in general. His approach to productivity is practical and pragmatic and it's hard not be inspired by his positive attitude. 

I would love to know your favourite podcast in the comments below. And you'd rather watch me talk about my favourite podcasts, catch my YouTube video here:

And for more tips on balance and productivity, I share my own take on running a business with 5 small kids at home in my PDF download How to balance work & family: My 5 step approach.

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Super Easy Ways to Make Family Road Trips Amazing

Super Easy Ways to Make Family Road Trips Amazing

I love to travel- and when I became a parent a part of me thought my traveling days were done. How do you pack for a baby? What if you forget something at home? Forget one baby, how on earth will I manage traveling with multiple babies?!?! Fast forward 7 years and 5 children later and happy to report that travel is a passion we have now been able to enjoy as a family. While we have not taken a flight longer than 4 hours with more than 2 kids, we have done the epic trek across the US to the wonderful state of Florida by car. Yup- 5 kids, in a minivan, cooped up for a really REALLY long time. It is as adventurous (and crazy) as it sounds.

Experience has shown me that with a happy attitude, some strategic planning and an ability to be flexible and roll with things as they come, road trips can be amazing and fun and great binding experiences. Here are some super easy ways to make your next road trip amazing. 

1. Pack individual toiletries bags per family member

Florida is like 24 hours away by car without any stops- add we have done it in this time driving through the night with out kids if you can believe it! Not an easy feat, so especially where multiple family members are concerned, I find it easier to pack an individual toiletries bag per family member (as opposed to putting them all in a single big bag that mom takes care of). I take a large, clear resealable freezer bag, and each child gets their toothbrush, travel toothpaste, one pair of pj's, a face towel, and diapers for kids who need it. The bag gets labelled with their name and gets placed in the pocket of the seat in front of them. Anytime we go to a rest stop or hotel, the child is responsible for their own bag- and it's one less thing for mom to worry about (hopefully). 

2. Pack individual activity bags per child

For the moments of "are we there yet?" and "mom, I'm bored" give your little people a sense of independence by encouraging them to look through their activity bag for their own treat. Favourite things to include are crayons, etch-a-sketch type drawing pads, and magnetic puzzles. For older kids, a scavenger hunt type book that they can fill in and record on their journey is a fun activity. 

3. Give wrapped gifts every few hours

My girlfriend Erika Veh gave this idea to me and I think it is brilliant. Basically go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of novelty items- toys, small games, snacks, etc. and wrap a bunch of small items in gift wrap for each child. Every few hours (or every hour if you're desperate!) bring out the gift wrapped presents and watch your children get excited by the mystery and surprise that each gift brings! I'm wrapping up things like granola bars, novelty candy, small board books, craft kits, silly novelty sunglasses and the like. Basically it's just a way to keep things interesting and fun- who doesn't love a little wrapped gift. 

4. Pack soap and a spray bottle and paper towel

Our first trip to Florida was last year and unfortunately, one of our little people got  sick on the way down. He basically threw up into a small bucket in his lap and we would pull over and stop to dump it out when it happened. What I didn't account for was the smell that would linger in the bucket as a result of no soap. So trust me when I say, soap and water in a spray bottle will be your best friend in cleaning up messy spills are you travel.

5. Bring your favourite essential oils

I am not an expert in them, but essential oils are pretty awesome. When you are in a car feeling grimy and gross, without a shower for long periods or simply just need a pick me up, there is an essential oil for you. They come in small vials and I love using peppermint on my temples and back of my neck when I want to feel more alert, and lavender at night time to signal my body it is time to sleep. You can also use essential oils to help with stomach problems, headaches, cuts and rashes and as a perfume. I find that they instantly elevate my mood- and when you are enclosed in a small space for so long, this can be so helpful.

What tips do you have to make travel with your family easier? I would love to know in the comments below.

If you'd prefer to watch me talk about these tips on my new YouTube channel click below! 

 

 

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How to plan your outdoor renovation like a pro

How to plan your outdoor renovation like a pro

My backyard! It is done! And I cannot wait to share the full reveal with you right here. 

I approached my backyard in a similar way to how I design my interiors- with strategic and practical solutions customized to my family's unique values and lifestyle. 

And I am so so thrilled with the results. And today I am letting you in on my design process so you too can tackle your renovation like a pro. Here are some really important questions to consider when planning an outdoor renovation. 

 

 

 

1. Determine your entertaining zones

Very similar to how I would plan any interior space, think about the "zones" or activities you want in your backyard. For example, do you want a place for lounging, eating, kids to do crafts, kids to play sports, space to prep meals, a pool, etc? Figure out your priorities and then divide your space accordingly. My backyard is really small (30' x 50') so I don't have a ton of room to utilize so we kept the layout fairly simple-  a 20' x 25' area for lounging, a 10' x 10' area for eating, and the remaining space for kids to play. 

We used black pavers to delineate the areas in a border with light grey pavers for contrast. If you have seen some of my other projects, you will observe I love a patterned floor- and the border gives just enough detail for me keeping in mind the minimal aesthetic I was going for. 

 

 

2. Determine your budget

When I meet with people for 2-hour interior design consultations and I ask what their budget is, I often get blank stares. But when I press them and ask if they have $50,000 for example to spend, it often reveals a concrete budget number.

Set an actual budget- because unlike interior design, I would say there is less variety in cost of materials in outdoor goods. Meaning, with a chair for example, you can search long and hard and find something you like that also might fit your desired budget. For outdoor materials, I would say you are simply more limited. So one must be even more strategic in spending their budget wisely. 

For my 30' x 50' backyard I was quoted as high as $100,000 dollars for my entire backyard and fence (eep!) and then as low as $15,000 for a very basic clean up. We landed around $30,000 in the end for complete excavation, new pressure treated lumber fence (cost saving option), black mulch, modern pavers (moderate option) and then all the fun decorative stuff (a mix of high and low- see full source guide at the end of this post).

Bottom line, whether your budget is $10k or $100k, actually set a budget because it will really determine the kinds of materials you can use and the professional services you can work with.  

 

 

3. Determine how high maintenance you want the space to be

I kill a lot of plants involuntarily- and my children are serious rough and tumble small people- so I knew that I wanted a basically maintenance free backyard. 

So we put in artificial grass, selected plants that will be really hearty and require little sun / water to survive, and really focused on using contrast of materials to define areas and create visual interest. 

So whether you love to garden or don't know your weeds from your flowers, pick materials that will serve your family best. If you want to mow your lawn in a really low maintenance way, check out this Automower by Husqvarna!

 

 

4. Create a colour scheme

The same way I always allow a pillow, drapery fabric, or piece of art work inform my colour palette in my interior work- do the same for the exterior. In my case, I wanted the space to read very minimal- so we kept all the materials very neutral and cooler in tone. And then with my accessories (all extremely affordable pieces from Walmart) we stayed with a palette of navy, teal and lime green, in keeping with some of the textiles and fun dish ware. The pop of colour against an otherwise neutral background is pop and youthful. Ensure you repeat a colour multiple times for the most cohesive look.

 

 

5. Consider integrating technology 

The final thing to consider to really look like a pro is technology. There are so many options for integrating sound into your backyard- but don't let sound be the only thing you consider. Consider bringing in wifi to make the space your outdoor office, a projector to turn any evening into a movie night, and where space allows a television integrated into a built in covered unit for real wow-factor. And regardless, make sure you run power back there so you can plug in an outdoor air cooler- cause how awesome is that for your guests!

I am so thrilled with the outcome of my backyard and so happy to share it with you! A massive word of thanks to the team at Heartscapes Landscaping who worked very hard (and were very accommodating to my picky interior design-y detail oriented requests) and to the brands who partnered with me by providing products that my family are thoroughly enjoying.

 

 

Source guide: 

 

Loveseat, arm chairs, coffee table, lanterns, decorative pillows, bar cart, blankets, towels, green planters, umbrella, carpet for picnic, outdoor cups, plates, platters- Walmart

Genesis gas grill- Weber

Outdoor air cooler- Honeywell

Custom outdoor table- One One Eleven Designs

Artificial grass- The Home Depot 

Black pergola- Lowe's

Photos by Larry Arnal.

 

 

If you liked these design tips and need some more, I invite you to download my Top 10 Interior Design Faux Pas- and how to avoid them. 

 

TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN
FAUX PAS AND HOW TO
AVOID THEM:

 

Why you should care about interior mouldings

Why you should care about interior mouldings

Special thanks to Metrie for partnering with me on this post. 

When I was just starting out as a young designer, I did not understand interior mouldings. Crown mouldings, baseboards, trim, chair rail- it was all very confusing to me. The vast number of options available when I would visit a lumber retailer would make me go cross eyed. I just found it really overwhelming.  

 
Fast forward a little while and I stumbled upon 90-year old company Metrie and their Then & Now collections. What they have done is reduced the overwhelm that can occur with making selections- and grouped their offerings according to style, making it simple for the designer and amateur alike to pick products with confidence. 
 
Following this crash course in interior moulding education I have fallen in love with the results that happen with gorgeous interior mouldings- and I think you will too. 
 
Here are a few reasons why interior mouldings make all the difference:

1. A TRULY CUSTOM LOOK

With interior mouldings you can design a truly custom look for your home. From French Country to Art Deco style influences, interior mouldings really define a space in the way furniture and art cannot. Mouldings can determine how casual or formal a space will be, and certainly leave the lasting impression of customized design. 

2. HIGH ELEGANCE FOR LOW INVESTMENT

In my own home, we applied crown mouldings, baseboards and very simple applied moulding in large windows in my master bedroom. The cost of the materials was inexpensive- but the results look like a lot more. Painted out all the same hue, it is incredible what a small amount of dimension on the walls can do to raise the elegance factor. Since we kept the moulding design fairly simple, we were able to keep the costs relatively low.

3. ADD POLISH TO UNEXPECTED SPACES

In my home gym, I wanted the space to feel polished and elegant- and not so much like a utilitarian home gym. We accomplished this by again using crown moulding, baseboards from the Very Square collection, as well as Metrie applied moulding, this time all painted out white to keep the space fresh and bright. The result is an unexpected level of polish in what could have been a boring utilitarian room. I also love if I ever want to swap this room into a bedroom for my growing family, the change will be fairly simple to make! 
 

4. ADD DETAIL TO THE 5TH WALL

I love accenting the ceiling- I have done so in the past with a painted stripes, wallpaper and contrast paint. But my favourite way to accent a ceiling is with gorgeous trim details. They sky's the limit to what you can do on a ceiling- from very formal, to very modern, to very whimsical. Interior mouldings are an excellent way to provide understated detail to the often neglected 5th wall.
 

5. THEY FINISH A SPACE

Even if it's just baseboards- interior mouldings are necessary to make a room feel complete. And always go big on baseboards- for 8' ceilings I prefer a 5" baseboard. 
 
As you can probably tell I am just a wee bit passionate about the impact interior finishes have on a space. If you are overwhelmed like I was, don't fret- start here. Metrie has even made it really simple by providing an online quiz to help determine your style.
 
Photos of my home gym and bedroom by Larry Arnal. All other trim detail shots provided by Metrie.

TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN

FAUX PAS AND HOW TO

AVOID THEM:




Essential Backyard Gadgets That Your Family Will Love You For

Essential Backyard Gadgets That Your Family Will Love You For

Exciting news! After living with a backyard that was essentially a mosquito haven and where you could barely distinguish the grass from the weeds, we are embarking on a fun outdoor renovation- and of course I am going to share it all with you here.

In anticipation for all the work ahead of me I naturally did a ton of research on what I would want to include in a modern, small space, outdoor oasis in the city. If you are about to take on an outdoor project here are a few fun outdoor gadgets your family will love you for!

 

1. WEBER GENESIS GAS GRILL

Outdoor entertaining really does begin with the meal, doesn't it? And in the summer, who doesn't love a barbecue. Now I am no chef- far from one- but I must be honest, I feel like I am Cordon Bleu trained cooking at this beast. Our family got the Genesis Gas Grill model, which has ample grill space for a large family like mine. Food cooks efficiently and evenly and my favourite thing about it is its stylish black colour.

2. HONEYWELL OUTDOOR AIR COOLER

In high heat temperatures, it can actually be a bit hazardous for some people to be outside. At 3 months pregnant, I basically need to live in front of a fan in the summer- so I am thrilled that we are adding an outdoor air cooler to our backyard. We have been using it inside while our backyard is an excavated mess- and it is a pretty powerful beast. Filled with water either from the tap or directly from your garden hose, it cools the air down by ten to fifteen degrees and can cool 320 to 800 square feet. We are placing ours right next to our seating area, which will be so helpful to ward off bugs as well- and keep my small kids and pregnant me cool in high summer heat.

3. HUSQVARNA AUTOMOWER

This is just a neat product. Yard work can be sweaty and exhausting- but with this little robotic friend it doesn't have to be. The Husqvarna Automower does as the name suggests- automatically mows your lawn for you while you put your feet up. You establish a boundary line, set the length of grass desired, and the lawn mower goes to work, designed to operate rain or shine. The unit also comes with an anti-theft device incase anyone tries to remove the mower off your property. 

4. WALMART SOLAR LIGHTING 

In a similar way to interior design, how you light a place can really enhance and highlight the design. We're putting in inexpensive pathway lighting that operates with solar power and automatically turns on when it gets dark. The result is ambient lighting where you need it. Solar lighting has also come a long way in its design with decorative pendants in clusters like this one. And of course, when your decorative accents are priced so affordably like they are at Walmart, that is always a bonus.

Stay tuned as I share the progress of my backyard- I cannot wait to get out there with my family!  

Special thanks to the brands mentioned above for partnering with me on my backyard renovation. After doing lots of homework in the area of outdoor renovations, they are brands I am enthusiastically excited about and happy to share with my audience. 
 

 

TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN

FAUX PAS AND HOW TO

AVOID THEM:




How to reduce overwhelm when you are a new parent

How to reduce overwhelm when you are a new parent

Today's post topic makes me laugh out loud because I really need to be reminded of this advice. If you follow me on instagram (or you heard it from my mother) you might know we are expecting baby Canning #6! New life in our house is a really exciting thing- I love what God is doing in our lives with this new baby.

But of course, pregnancy and child raising isn't always an easy task. This time around- very much a first- I am so incredibly nauseous at night time. Night time, incase you aren't aware, is sacred time for moms with small kids! It is QUIET, SANITY RESTORING, NO ONE IS WHINING TIME. So to feel sick when I typically recharge the batteries has been a bit of a transition. And a big time challenge. 

So if you are a new parent- or are currently pregnant and exhausted- I am with you. And you are awesome. And today's post is particularly aimed at new parents who are feeling overwhelmed- from a fellow mom of soon-to-be 6 who needs these reminders all the time. I hope these small tips help to reduce your overwhelm. 

1. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF

I think a big challenge that comes with being a new parent is feeling like you are in such unfamiliar territory. There is no rule book when it comes to parenting- but when you go online or join a motherhood Facebook group SURPRISE! there appears to be a million rule books that you somehow missed the memo on. 

Another big challenge today is that comparison is so easy in the land of digital perfect-ness. I find instagram particularly dangerous for this- as while everything might be glamorous and oh-so-put-tgoether in 9 little squares, it can be easy to forget that there might very well be a whole other story unfolding behind the camera lens.   

Parenting is a skill- and like any other skill, can take time to develop. Some people fall into parenthood with ease. For others the learning curve might be higher. The key takeaway here is to be gentle with yourself and not compare yourself too much to other people. You can do this. 

2. FILTER THE ADVICE

You will get SO MUCH ADVICE as a new parent, or newly pregnant person. Don't eat this, don't do this, this will harm your child, this will harm you, you're not doing enough, you're doing too much, blah blah blah blah blah blah. And while there is a lot of really great advice out there- I really recommend you filter it. As I mentioned above, when you are a new parent you are in unchartered waters. You don't have the confidence that comes from doing things with experience. So while advice is great and can often be helpful, my suggestion is to filter it. Take the advice, welcome the advice, but then filter it on your own.

At the end of the day it is YOUR child you are raising, and YOU, not a collective group of people, are responsible for their safety, development, and character at the end of the day. So the decision to act on advice is yours, no matter how loud the voices.  

3. TREASURE THIS TIME

The very early days of new parenthood can be a bit of a groggy mess. Your body is getting used to a new normal, your schedule is totally different, your entire existence has changed- and this is a great thing. You are now a mom. You MADE A PERSON. And that is pretty incredible and such an accomplishment. 

I remember talking to a friend of mine who lamented that they felt like all they did that day in terms of productivity was changed a diaper, took and shower and unloaded the dishwasher- and what a stark comparison this was to the fast-paced productive life they lived prior to having their first baby. 

Boy can I relate to this- as someone who has Acheiver in my top Strength Finder strengths I can attest that it can feel like your level of productivity goes way down. But this is simply not true. The mere act of bonding with your baby, being present to them, giving them the security, the comfort, and presence ONLY YOU CAN GIVE THEM AS THEIR MOM is being productive. Sure, it can feel like you did not do anything all day but let me assure you that being this babies' mother is the most important thing you are doing right now AND ONLY YOU CAN DO THIS. 

So treasure this time- it is so special.  

This is stuff I wish I had heard when I was a mom for the very first time. If you found this helpful I would love to know in the comments below. 



 

HOW TO HAVE KIDS &

KEEP YOUR SANITY
Five Strategies That Really Work:




4 essential questions to help you focus on what matters

4 essential questions to help you focus on what matters

At the end of 2014 I experienced a really low point in my personal life. My career was on a crazy high- I was earning money, I was feeling fulfilled, but the trade-offs were taking their toll. I was leaving the house before my children would wake up, coming home after they were fast asleep. I never saw my spouse and when I did I was always an irritated mess of exhaustion and impatience. I ate so much drive thru food and my prayer life was hanging on by a thread.

I kept telling myself this is only a season. I just have to get through the next few weeks and then I'll be OK. But what was supposed to be a season just kept going as I kept committing to things, saying yes to more opportunities, and all in all not designing my life around what matters most to me. 

Over the Christmas break that year we took our family to a cottage we frequent often and I can remember so clearly having a moment of clarity when I realized no one controlled my schedule but me- and it was me that was digging myself into the perpetual hole of "yes, I can do that."

2 years later, while I certainly still struggle with things, I have thankfully developed systems and boundaries that help me achieve more balance. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, like you just cannot keep up anymore- this post is for you. Here are a few questions that I hope can really help to clarify your purpose, save you time, and focus on what really matters to you.

1. What kind of legacy do you want to leave on the world?

In Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy's life planning book Living Forward, they challenge you to write your own obituary. I know it sounds kind of morbid- but it was a hugely challenging exercise for me and it made me examine the way I am spending my time. The exercise basically challenges you to think about how you want to be remembered- what impact do you want to make on the world? When your children or grandschildren google you, what will they find? 

As I have shared earlier, writing mine revealed a lot. I want to leave a legacy of helping families thrive at home. I want to help mothers find balance and fulfillment at home and in their careers through my content. And I realized that I really hope a part of my legacy is how I live out my Catholic faith in the modern world. With this in mind, my husband and I and another partner launched a membership site called UEvangelize to help Catholics share their faith more effectively. Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to start a membership site or some brand new venture to leave a great impact on the world- but when you take serious stock of your current activities, and figure out if they are in line with the legacy you want to leave on the world, some major revelations can occur. 

2. What fills you with energy?

My friend Lisa Ferguson of the 1000 Watt Life often shares this question when coaching people to figure out their true calling. What fill you up? What makes your eyes sparkle, your body language strong, your energy peak? What activities make you so excited and motivated to get to work and get things done? You might want to ask people close to you the areas they see you get most excited.

In my life, I get REALLY excited when I am living in my top 2 Strength Finder strengths which are empathy and strategy- and I use these strengths often in my 2-hour design consultations. Recently switching my business to focus primarily on 2-hour consults was the best thing I ever did for myself and my family- and I argue for the clients that this is a fit for! The clients I serve get me at my best- and being able to schedule my work in the compartmentalized way I am able to in consults allows me lots more margin for my young family.

3. What can I uniquely do? What can only I do that no one else can do?

Understanding this concept was another huge game changer for me, and it very much came from reading Greg McKeown's book Essentialism. This is an amazing question to ask yourself if you are trying to figure out how to spend your time. What are you best at? What "magic trick" do you have up your sleeve that people are always amazed at? What comes so naturally to you that others might see as arduous work?

Another way to frame this is- what do I do currently that someone else could do just as well, if not better? When I was a young entrepreneur, I did EVERYTHING. From book keeping to graphic design, to marketing to content creation. And that was pretty exhausting. Now, I really do stay within my strengths where possible- which means automating, delegating and deleting a bunch of other tasks from my plate.

4. What am I terrible at?

The final question I think is helpful when trying to determine how to best spend your time is to examine what you are terrible at. Literally, ask yourself what gives you no joy, what do you consistently procrastinate on, what is simply not in your wheelhouse of awesome strengths? And don't do them. Stay away! Your time is so much better spent in the areas you can create the most impact.

I hope this list of questions is helpful to you in clarifying where you should focus your time. I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

HOW TO BALANCE

WORK AND FAMILY
My Five Step Approach:




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 : ) 

TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN

FAUX PAS AND HOW TO

AVOID THEM:




REVEAL: COTTAGE KITCHEN IN 6 WEEKS

REVEAL: COTTAGE KITCHEN IN 6 WEEKS

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!

​ ​

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.

 

 

​ ​

 

 

 

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.  
 

 

 

How to dramatically improve a dated kitchen: ORC Week 4

How to dramatically improve a dated kitchen: ORC Week 4

I love designing kitchens- they are like a fun puzzle, especially when you get to start from scratch like I did in this recent kitchen above (photographed by the lovely Valerie Wilcox for Style At Home).

But it's not always necessary to start from scratch. Sometimes- like in this kitchen I am tackling for the One Room Challenge- all you need are small tweaks to take the most dated of kitchens and make it shine.

Oh boy- having done the One Room Challenge twice before (my laundry room and my home gym), week 4 is reliably a challenging week! It's usually the week I need to call in some crazy special favours- and while this time around I'm not working on my own house, the homeowners have been doing an incredible job of rolling up their sleeves! But there's still so much to coordinate and plan for in the next 2 weeks ahead. 

This dated kitchen at a cottage property that is very special to me (I recently began my month sabbatical relaxing in this space!) was really dated. But with strategic design and small changes this kitchen is going to be a gem.

Fast update: CertainTeed insulation is in- yay to a warm kitchen:

So much of the space has been painted white. Doors have been taken down, holes drilled, and prepped for their Grass quiet close hardware. And of course winter returned to the lake:

 

Will spring ever actually get here and stay? Fingers crossed by the time this year's challenge is over this lake is glistening in the sun. 

To see some of the incredible things that the featured 20 designers have cooking up check them out here, and the fun party that is the guest participants here

 

 

Why stopping social media was the best thing ever

Why stopping social media was the best thing ever

For the last 30 days I have been without social media. And I survived.

When my husband challenged me to the concept of a sabbatical that included zero social media for 30 days I knew it was going to be hard. And it was really hard. 

For the first 2 days I had literal shakes. I removed social apps from my phone, and when I kept opening my phone looking for the Instagram button I would tap the blank screen where it was. When I would open my phone and realize there was nothing on it to do I would sit there restless and unsettled. Kicking the habit of constantly engaging my mind and my thumbs was a really hard shift.

But then towards the end of that first week I got used to my new normal. I left my phone in my purse rather than having it on my body at all times. I read books with my kids without being distracted. I took walks without being distracted. I basically did normal things in life, that I used to do before I had a smartphone, without constantly being distracted. 

Doing things without being distracted. What a novel concept.

I am a high achiever- in fact, my second Strength Finder strength is Achiever. I have a ton of stamina and can get a lot of things done in a day.

But interestingly, my biggest takeaway from my social media fast was that by doing less, I actually achieved so much more. And the things I did give my attention to, got a lot more of me. 

Here are my top observations from my walk in the Internet desert, and why I think everyone should go on a social media fast.

1. IT HELPS CLARIFY WHERE YOU SHOULD BE SPENDING YOUR TIME

When my husband would nag me about how much time I spent on my phone, I would roll my eyes and in my head think, “Oh dear husband, how little you know about running a business. Don’t you understand I need to be connected at all times to respond to comments, answer queries, and remain relevant to my customers and growing tribe?” 

Since I also did a work sabbatical and did not want to fall off the face of the internet universe completely, I did pre-program a few things here and there. And I had staff monitor my email and continue to respond to leads and press requests. 

And what happened? Everything continued to operate. I still got comments on things. I still booked design consultations. I still got press requests. And while I did not personally respond to everything, they all got handled. 

The lack of noise and constantly responding to things really helped me see where my gifts could serve my customers best, and where my talents could make the most impact in both my family and my business. 

2. I BECAME A BETTER FRIEND 

This might sound a little grade 6 school yard like, but hear me out. I love social media- and I love some of the friendships I have made on my various platforms.

But the absence of social media made me miss certain people. And I picked up the phone and actually called them. And they called me. It was like when I was in grade 6, and what friendship was like back then- you actually spoke on the phone. And it was awesome. 

While social media is an amazing tool for connecting people, and I absolutely see its value 100%, the absence of it made me a more intentional friend, and that was such an unexpected bonus. 

3. I GOT MORE DONE BY DOING LESS

This is revolutionary- be less busy and you get more done! I really had no idea the firm grasp social media had on my life. I kid you not, I was probably engaging in non-intentional (meaning just random scrolling, tweeting, liking, hearting) social media consumption for upwards of 6 hours a day. Yup, you read that right. This 6 hours was not all at once of course- in line at the grocery store, waiting for my order at a restaurant, while my kids played at the park, as soon as I got out of an appointment, the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, and the last thing I saw before going to sleep. You don’t think those little moments add up to much- what’s 15 minutes, right? But string together those 15 minutes all day long and you get 6 hours. 

Imagine what I could do with 6 hours a day?!?

The absence of the constant checking meant my mind was quiet. I was able to think about ONE THING AT A TIME. And let me tell you, that bore a lot of fruit. I wrote. I schemed. I planned. I dreamed. I prayed. And some serious stuff came to the surface that will be key in charting my course moving forward.  

4. I WAS NICER TO EVERYONE AROUND ME

As I shared in my post on why I took my sabbatical, I had become so incredibly distracted all the time, and my family suffered. I was short with the people I love most and not present to the people with whom I can do the most good / the most damage. At the rate I was going, I was destined towards the behaviour described in this article on parents being distracted by their mobile devices. 

Without constantly feeling pulled in other areas, I was more present and more grounded, and I think everyone benefited from it. 

5. I DID NOT COMPARE MYSELF TO STRANGERS

The first observation I found when I started engaging in social media again was that I went right back into comparing myself to total strangers- and feeling envy. No good comes from envy, and I was super surprised how quickly the feeling came over me within seconds.

I write all this because I never thought I could live without social media. And I survived. And I think that you could too. Not cut it out completely, and not necassairly take as long abreak as I did- but to seriously examine the hold it has on your life and how much time you spend living life through your phone. 

SO.. what am I doing now that I have re-entered the social media landscape? 

– I will check social media twice a day, in the morning around 9am and in the evening around 8pm, for 15 minutes, and personally respond to things and engage with friends

– I am using CoSchedule to create all my social media content across all available platforms, and scheduling them automatically 

– I am spending more time focusing on creating content that will serve my readers, than aimlessly scrolling 

Maybe I’ve convinced you of the value of doing a docial media fast, but now is not the right time. Here are some things you can do today to re-evaluate the role of social media in your life:

1. Remove all social media apps on your phone and only use them on your computer.

2. Set hours for social media, like you would a gym class, at a set time of day.

3. Ask your spouse or those closer to you how they feel abput the way you use your phone (brace yourself)!

I’m not writing this post to make anyone feel criticized or to condemn social media as a medium. I wrote this post as a reminder that if we don’t design our lives in a way that reflects what is important to us, it can be so easy to veer off track.

If you found this post challenging, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. 

 

 

What happened to renovations being easy? ORC WEEK 3

What happened to renovations being easy? ORC WEEK 3

Every time I have renovated some kind of drama has ensued. Sometimes, it's happy drama, like how emotional I got when my new window was installed in my living room. (I cried, you can watch the waterworks here). Other times, it is dramatic drama, like how I was convinced the stress of renovating my laundry room in 6 weeks was going to send me into full on labour with my fifth child. And many times, you just have to laugh. I recall a time working on a Property Brothers Show where a light fell from the ceiling moments before revealing it to the homeowners and it literally took a camera man, a sound guy, and me some serious ingenuity to get the light to stay in place for the shot. Insert laughter here! 

For this cottage project I am tackling for the One Room Challenge (you can get caught up on this fun design adventure here and here), I had a fun chuckle. Check it out:

 

As you can see there was a tin backsplash, and it came down super quick (which is usually a bad sign). The backsplash was held up with adhesive and it revealed little to no insulation behind it on what used to be an exterior wall (an addition was added to the cottage at some point as you can see through the window it has been turned into a bedroom). Moisture and the impact of Canadian cold winters and hot summers and the mix of heating a space on the inside when it is cold out and cooling with when it is hot out had done its damage and so unexpectedly, the wall had to be completely re-insulated. 

This is why I always recommend you have a reserve fund of at least 15-20% for the unexpected things that occur during a renovation.

Thankfully my clients had some CertainTeed sustainable insulation left over from a previous project. It’s called ‘sustainable’ because it is made with recycled and renewable content including a plant-based binder that is formaldehyde-free and contains no harsh acrylics, dyes or unnecessary chemicals. We used the highest R-value we could get our hands on (the rule-of-thumb on R-value selection is the colder the climate, the higher the R-value required- and it gets mighty cold on a Canadian lake in the winter!) and I'm thankful that we were able to tackle this now and set this family up for success as once the right insulation is in the walls it will last for the life of the home with no additional maintenance required. It conserves energy and saves you money- and that is always a good thing. If this was still an exterior wall I would have added MemBrane Vapour Barrier  and called it a day! 

Well- we didn't exactly call it a day there. 

We tried out these cute knobs we sprayed in Krylon's Satin Oxford Blue- cute, right?

 

And we're testing out these floating shelves that I think will look darling in place of the closed cabinet that was there originally. 

In my 8 years of renovating for TV shows and my clients in Toronto and beyond, I have learned that renovations are hardly ever easy- but they are mad fun and so rewarding to watch come together. 

Want to see more? Check out what the featured 20 designers are up to here and what the linking participants are up to here. Stay tuned next week for more progress : )

ORC WEEK 2: BUILDING A DESIGN SCHEME

ORC WEEK 2: BUILDING A DESIGN SCHEME

As I mentioned last week, I am taking part in the One Room Challenge, a really fun design experience where designers and bloggers create a space in 6-weeks and capture all the antics week by week. The whole thing is put together by the lovely Linda at Calling It Home

When designing a space I always think really hard about the overall look and point of view. In my living room and kitchen, I knew I wanted it to feel urban and polished but family friendly. For a recent client space in Aurora, I wanted it to feel really sophisticated and luxe. 

When I design a space I always pick 5 words to define the space, and then filter all design decisions through these words.

For this round of the ORC, I am designing a cottage kitchen- but of course I am going to put a modern spin on it. My 5 words for this space include: industrial, vibrant, rustic, whimsical and relaxed. I'm going to accomplish this in a few ways.

For a little industrial edge in this cottage kitchen, I'll be using these pendants and stools from Bouclair- love how budget friendly they are:

The cabinets in this kitchen aren't very old, and I honestly could not justify suggesting to swap them out as the layout works very well in this space especially given this is a cottage that is rented out for large portions of the year. But to give the cabinets a little upgrade we'll be using GRASS quiet close cabinet hardware on the interior hinges for that nice soft close. It's a small thing to add but to me makes a big difference in the user experience.

I want the space to feel really relaxed and not too fussy or polished, so I have chosen to go with Belanger laminate counters both for ease of installation and low maintenance, in a light grey.

Throw in a gorgeous touch faucet (I am a little obsessed with the design of this Delta Trinsic faucet) 

And this black Maytag range to tie in to the existing black appliances

And there's my relaxed palette! 

To add a vibrant pop, I'm going to spray out the existing cabinet hardware in a bright blue- and then I need to find a whimsical blue fabric to use in a window covering and maybe some table linens or a bulletin board? And I am thinking I might need to do something fun on the floor- because you know how much I love a patterned floor. Tune in next week while I figure that element out! 

In other news, it has been 1 week since I have re-entered the internet world after my month long sabbatical from social media. It is nice to be back, but I am also back with a less obsessive approach, which I think has been great for everyone in my house : )

I'd love to know what projects you've got cooking up and what you've been up to! Let me know in the comments below : ) 

Thanks to my lovely friend and colleague Jo Alcorn for providing me some inspiration with the image of a recent laundry room she completed pictured above!

ORC Week 1: How to renovate a cottage kitchen

ORC Week 1: How to renovate a cottage kitchen

If you've been following my blog over the past few weeks you know I just recently took a full month sabbatical from work and social media. You can read why I did it here.

It's great fun to return back to the land of the internet with another round of the One Room Challenge. The ORC is an amazing blog series where designers, decorators, bloggers, join up to complete a room in 6 weeks and blog about it weekly. The entire operation is the brain child of Linda at Calling It Home and it is seriously amazing. I completed my laundry room and my home gym through these challenges last year and am so excited to participate again.

This time, I am tackling a very special place. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I have just come out of a 4-week break from work and social media. I removed all social media apps from my phone, delegated stuff to staff, and spent a couple of glorious weeks unwinding. It was really hard, and really rewarding all at the same time. I will reflect on this more in a later post but will share I am the most at peace I have felt in a really long time. I have gained a ton of clarity, feel refreshed, and while I am excited to be back on social media, I'm going to be using it a lot more intentionally (meaning, not as much). 

I knew it was going to be really hard for me to detox during the first week (I was ghosting for the Instagram button so much the first 2-3 days!) so I purposefully planned a holiday for my family in a place that has become a very special retreat for us.

We've had the opportunity over the past few years to use an incredible little property on Stoney Lake near Peterborough, Ontario. It's nestled on a quiet portion of the lake, with breathtaking views. In the winter deer walk across the frozen lake to graze on the grass. In the summer, the lake is full of adventure and languid evenings by the fire. Growing up, cottaging was not something my family did and I truthfully never understood its appeal. But now, with 5 kids of my own, I totally understand the value in getting away from city life. As I've experienced over the last 4 weeks, slowing down is simply essential for healthy living and creative thinking. I have had some of my best ideas at this cottage and created some wonderful family memories. 

So when the owners agreed to let me tackle their cottage kitchen I was pretty darn thrilled. It's going to be great fun to create a cozy little space in a place I care so much about. 

This kitchen is going to get a nice little refresh- I invite you to stop in every Thursday to see what's happening. You can see what the featured 20 designers are up to here, and what the link up participants are up to here

 

Video: my basement and home office renovation

Video: my basement and home office renovation

My basement was covered in paneling and cedar shingles. Seriously- who decided putting roofing on a wall was a good idea?!? You can catch the third instalment of a video partnership I have with Style At Home, my basement and home office makeover here. The before and after is pretty dramatic! You can also check out the other videos in the series here and here

Looking back on my home renovation has been so much fun. When I came up with the idea to capture the entire renovation process through video, even I thought I was nuts- seriously Lisa? Add an entire video production on top of the already stressful experience of renovating your entire house?!? With a whole bunch of small kids alongside? Yup- nuts.

But to watch the transformation, and capture various ages of my young children on video, has been a delight. It was worth all the hard work. I’ve said it many times before, but a huge motivation for me in doing what I do is helping families to thrive at home. With my renovation complete and my home designed to suit my family’s unique needs, I now get to experience what I have helped my interior design clients to do- enjoy time at home with the people most important to you, in a space that sets the stage for beautiful memories and allows a family to thrive.

I hope this video series has been helpful to you. If you’re inspired to start a home reno or room revamp- let me help.

I’ve compiled all the items used in my house, PLUS a fun PDF on how to survive a renovation with kids to jump start your plans.

Just enter your email below to get all the goodies in your inbox. 





VIDEO: MY MASTER BEDROOM AND BATHROOM

VIDEO: MY MASTER BEDROOM AND BATHROOM

Wow wow wow I have to start this post with a great big thank you for the love and warm wishes on my video collaboration with Style At Home. If you're just joining me, I recently completed a renovation of my Toronto semi-detached home which took so long I had not one, but TWO babies in the process. And we filmed it, just to add to the general chaos. You can also check out the other videos in the series here and here

There were 2 aspects I found really difficult while renovating:

1. Indecision. I had paralysis about EVERYTHING, for fear of making the wrong decision. I over thought every single decision and carried around finishes in my purse everywhere I went. It was terrible. If I were to do it again I would have tried to be a bit more objective and treat myself like I would a client.

2. Exhaustion. Partially from the decision making, and partially from the regular displacement and lack of routine that can come from living through a major reno. 

But we made it- and the bathroom in particular really helps our family to thrive. Using a barn door and a wider than normal door opening allows us to make the hallway feel like the bathroom, giving us the extra space a family of 5 kids desperately needs. 

I've seen it with countless parents as clients- and we were exactly the same- parents often put themselves last. The master bedroom is way too often where stuff gets dumped. And as you'll see in the video our closet was a literal avalanche of crap. I'll let you in on a secret- the film guys asked if we made it look that messy on purpose cause we were filming. NOPE! THAT IS JUST HOW GROSS WE WERE!!!!!  

You can watch the transformation below or click here

 

I hope this video has given you some inspiration to put yourself first and tackle your own little oasis.

To help get you started I’ve compiled all the items used in my house, PLUS a fun PDF on how to survive a renovation with kids to jump start your plans.

Just enter your email below to get all the goodies in your inbox. 





Why I suddenly checked my relationship with social media

Why I suddenly checked my relationship with social media

For the next 4 weeks I am doing something I have never done before- I am taking a sabbatical. 

For 4 weeks I am taking a planned sabbatical not just from my work- I am also removing all social media accounts from my phone. 

If you know me well, you will know this is radical for me. My phone is literally by my side at all times. It is the last thing I look at in bed and the first thing I pick up when I wake up. I don't think I have gone longer than 2 hours without looking at my phone- probably shorter to be honest. 

I debated this decision really heavily- things at Lisa Canning Interiors are as busy as they have ever been. My online life is a beautiful one and full of really fun people I have loved getting to know. Even just moments before writing this post I almost caved and called it all off. 

But I am confident that this is the right time to be unplugging. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I was more focused on sharing my life than living it.

In the pursuit of growing my platform, there was a point recently where I was becoming obsessed with grabbing and sharing "the shot", writing "the post", and literally having anxiety from not posting something somewhere within a 12-hour period. Here is an analogy- we don't rest so we can work better, we work so that we can rest. Similar is true with life and social media. We should share beautiful things we experience in life, not live so we can can create more Instagram content. 

2. My phone has become an escape mechanism.

I used to justify this- I used to justify that my phone allowed me to be connected to the outside world, connected to a world of fancy high heeled grown ups when in the midst of the chaotic grind of messy mothering. While the connection is great, and social media a powerful tool for building community (and high heels are amazing!) it can also be really challenging. Comparison can creep in, jealousy can permeate, and for me I was spending so much time in rabbit trail after rabbit trail with no final destination in sight. It was also eating up a lot of my limited free time.

3. I am mentally not as available for my family as I would like to be.

This is a really hard one for me to admit. I have realized that while I am physically present to my husband and kids, there are too many times I am not mentally present. There are too many times I am just finishing up one last post, or checking one last comment, or irritated that I have to put my phone down one more time to tend to someone's needs that aren't my own. 

So I am going on a 4 week hiatus- with some things pre-programmed on my various social media accounts in my absence. I have handed my email and business duties off to my incredible staff, and if you're looking for me I will be "hands-free" parenting my 5 gorgeous kids.   

Taking a sabbatical might not be realistic for you right now, but here are some questions you can ask yourself to check your relationship with social media:
– How much time do I spend with my phone? Is it at the expense of my relationships?
– How much time do I invest in getting the "perfect" shot to share? Does it impact my relationships or schedule?
– Am I more concerned with sharing than I am living my life?
– Do my social media feeds make me feel more (or less) adequate? 
– How much time do I spend every day on social media?

Social media enables lots of good things- but part of designing the best life possible for yourself is about putting the BEST things over the good things. And that is why I am suddenly checking my relationship with social media during my sabbatical.

I'll see you on the other side.
 

Video: My living room and kitchen

Video: My living room and kitchen

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know we embarked on a pretty ambitious renovation of our Toronto semi-detached home in 2015. We started it when we were a family of just 3 kids- and finished it as a family of 5!

You read that right- designing and renovating my own space took FOREVER (enough time to have not one, but two babies!) for a plethora of reasons (read: indecision, procrastination, busy working on client renovations, more indecision, more procrastination, more babies, LOL etc. etc. etc.)

Well I am so excited to share that while we renovated- we also filmed the experience. I partnered with Style At Home.com, one of Canada’s leading shelter magazines, and brought cameras in to capture what it is like to go through a reno in the city, do it with a ton of kids involved, and come out the end with a family home we LOVE.

The transformation is kinda crazy- I’d love for you to join us along for the ride. Watch below or click here.

I hope this video has given you some inspiration to make your own home amazing for your family.

To help get you started I’ve compiled all the items used in my house, PLUS a fun PDF on how to survive a renovation with kids.

Just enter your email below to get all the goodies in your inbox. 





5 ESSENTIALS TO A MODERN HOME GYM

5 ESSENTIALS TO A MODERN HOME GYM

Physical fitness has recently become a big time priority to me, as I revealed in a blog post last week. So much so, that for the last One Room Challenge, I decided to makeover my home gym. If you're going to exercise, which let's face it, is hard work- and if you're anything like me, getting to the gym can be quite the endeavor (if my trainer did not show up at my house I would still be in the 3-poutine a week shape I once was in). So I chose to create a space that would make working out fun and inspiring. Here are 5 essentials to a modern home gym that you'll actually work out in:

1. A FUN PATTERNED FLOOR

I think a gym is a really fun place to try out a bold patterned floor. A pattern this intense might be a bit too much for a bedroom for example, but in a space where energy is literally required for exercise, I think it's a fun design decision. There are tons of ways to achieve a patterned floor- I used FLOR carpet tiles that come in pre-designed configurations (or of course you can customize your own!). 

2. ARCHITECTURAL MOULDINGS

When I think of typical gym designs, I think of clip on wall to wall mirrors, and not a ton of style. Consider adding details that would be applied in a residential setting- like crown and applied mouldings. The level of elegance and modern edge when painted out a uniform colour is so fun and unexpected in a gym I argue- and bonus, if you ever want to convert the space back to a bedroom, it will be one elegant space. I used Metrie's Very Square collection for baseboards, crown and applied moulding. 

3. A LEANING MIRROR 

Again, instead of a wall-to-wall mirror, I opted to go with a casual leaning mirror (picked up for a steal at HomeSense!). You can check out your form and bounce off some light- but again it feels more residential and decor based than it does a commercial gym. I flanked mine with some really adorable (and also crazy inexpensive) sconces from Canadian Tire's Canvas colelction. 

4. BAR FRIDGE

I was a bit skeptical at how much we would actually use this fridge (our house is not so big that you can't walk next door to grab a drink). But when you've got a hundred kids like I do, and your "you time" is precious and few, it is pretty amazing to lock the door, crank the music, and enjoy a beverage uninterrupted. Keep the fridge stocked with bottles of water, apples, and if budget allows fantastic pressed juices- I love Juice Matters.

5. INTEGRATED SOUND SYSTEM

This is an amazing element to factor in to your budget- the sound on our integrated Sonos system is so great- and so practical to exercise to as no cables or cords get in the way. Sonos players are controlled by your phone and we stream music off our iTunes account, Spotify or local radio. The sound is so robust and a fun addition to our mdoern home gym.

What are your essentials when working out at home? Love to know in the comments below. 

How to balance work around a busy family life

How to balance work around a busy family life

I posted this article to my Facebook wall that garnered some great discussion- the topic was balance, and if it exists. 

The article argues that of these 5 things: family, sleep, work, friendships and exercise- you can only do 3 well. The other 2 will suffer.

Based on observing my own life I would have to agree with this 3/5 premise. In my life currently sleep is always the area I let suffer, despite my desire to wake up early

So what gives? Are we doomed to always live lives that are out of whack? Does balance not exist and is the pursuit of it futile? 

After running a business for 8 years and having 5 kids during 6 of those years, I would agree- expecting a 50/50 split, or trying to pursue equal distribution of time between work, family, exercise, friends and rest is just not realistic. 

I prefer my friend Mona Corwin's definition of balance- which is that balance is achieved when attention is given at the proper amount in the proper place at the proper time.

This definition of balance resonates so well with me, and is definitely more attainable- there are always going to be seasons where work might need more attention, or family might need more attention. But even with adjusted expectations, the pursuit of balance and succeeding at it all can be pretty challenging. Here are a few of my strategies, to borrow Michael Hyatt's phrase, to win at work and succeed at life and balance "it all":

1. Schedule your most important priorities first, and actually keep those appointments

I have done Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course 2 years in a row, and exercise was on the list of goals for the year both times. I had high hopes to exercise 3 times a week, go to bed early and eat healthy. I would block off the time in my calendar to work out in the morning and put my clothing out the night before. But my challenge was, I would never keep the appointments. I would come up with a million reasons why I should not work out and cancel these appointments I had made with myself to get healthy. So towards the end of 2015, I took drastic measures and I hired a personal trainer who comes to my house. I can't exactly cancel on her when she is standing in my living room- and the results have been amazing. To illustrate this point in another area, every Tuesday morning I participate in a program for my three youngest kids at our local community centre. I adore the time I get to spend with my kids in this interactive play group we attend. It's marked as a recurring appointment in my calendar and I schedule work around it.

The key is to spend this time on paper before it gets spent for you. In an ideal world I would schedule components from each of the 5 pillars mentioned above- work, family, sleep, friendships and exercise, not in equal amounts but in amounts appropriate to whatever season of life you are in- with intention. And then actually keep the appointment, regardless if it's an appointment only you are attending. 

2. Remember the why behind the appointment

I think a big reason why things fall to the wayside, or items get pushed to the bottom of a never ending list, is that we forget why it's important to do it. I did not care about my physical fitness really, until I was forced to. At the end of 2015, I was doing the every day, routine task of putting my 2 year old in her high chair. I lifted the 18 lbs sweetheart of a girl out of the chair and because I did not lift using proper muscles, I threw out my back completely. I was in agonizing pain, completely immobilized, feeling like a total failure and moron for letting myself get so out of shape. That was the straw that literally broke the camel's back for me, and I was reminded if I don't take care of my health, I can't be there for my family. So whether it's being present in your kids' lives when they need it most, or making time for a coffee with an old friend, always remind yourself why these things are important and the benefits that come from keeping these appointments, 

 3. Delegate, automate, delete

I utter these three words almost daily as I am constantly reviewing the processes in which I do things. Because I have 5 kids, and I really want to be present to them as much as possible, I delegate a lot. Anything that can be automated with technology I automate, and anything that just does not need to happen anymore I delete. Some practical tips from my life include:

– Delegate: In my business I use this filter to determine what gets delegated: what am I not good at / is some else just as good or better than me at this? In my life these include accounting, anything related to my website aside from writing blog posts, shopping for products for styling days, graphic design, anything related to web marketing except fo the creation of the actual content. In my home life I have delegated house cleaning and laundry, still trying to figure out a grocery shopping option that isn't super costly (I just learned you can shop for groceries online and pick them up at Walmart in the GTA- next on my list of things to try to save me time!) 

– Automate: The way in which I book and take payments for my 2-hour design consultations is now automated. I am currently figuring out gmail tags that allow you to forward specific kinds of emails off, like invoices, directly to my accountant. My trainer and I work out at the same times every week, so I don't have to think about it too much. I have a friend who puts people into his calendar so he remembers to call them and stay in touch every other month. Love this "automated" approach to staying in touch with friends. 

– Delete: In my life, we keep the weekends pretty commitment free if possible to give ourselves tons of margin for unexpected plans. I say no to projects that won't fit within the number of hours I want to work. We are selective in the number of activities our children participate in. I limit the number of media previews or other work appointments in the evenings which is precious family time to me. 

These are some practical ways I strive for balance- I would love to know some of your strategies in the comments below. And special thanks to Anna With Love for the shot above with my third child, and an exciting batch of photography for some new content I am creating on motherhood and balance. #excited #staytuned  

WHY IT’S WORTH IT TO TIDY UP

WHY IT’S WORTH IT TO TIDY UP

I used to think I would always live in chaos. Hello- I have 5 children. But then I discovered what happens when you tidy up.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another blog post applauding the KonMari method (although don’t get me wrong, I am kinda obsessed with her tidy folded tees) but it is a discussion on why cleaning up is so worth it. 

I have decorated hundreds of rooms for tv and residential projects alike and supervised many renovations- and experience has taught me that you can put hundreds and thousands of dollars, countless hours into a project, hire the best trades, spend thousands of dollars in furnishings, and hire the best photographer for magazine swoon worthy images, but if your house is constantly covered in crap- it doesn’t matter. Your house- and life- will be in chaos.

This is why I love the title of Marie Kondo’s highly applauded book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”- because living without piles of clutter, living without hunting for something in a rush, living with the peace that comes with a space that allows you room to breathe and be at peace is life changing. 

Tidying up is not an easy task for me. I live with 5 small people who are basically experts at dumping every possible toy bin on the ground. I have a laundry room that currently has a pile of unfolded clothing that is 4′ high. And at the end of the day, after the regular rewarding duties of work and child rearing, all I want to do is Netflix binge. 

But here is why tidying up is worth it, and why it matters for you.

1. You deserve a clean house

After working hard for other people all day, I cannot think of anyone who deserves a clean house to relax in more than you. I used to think it was a fruitless exercise- I used to say things to myself like “I could never have a clean house with the amount of children I have” or “I’m just too tired to clean” or “what’s the point it is just going to get messy tomorow”. But when I forced myself to be disciplined and get over all my personal objections to why I should not tidy- and actually just did it- it was pretty amazing. I’m not saying every single room in your house has to be completely tidy every night before you go to bed. But I do argue the place you relax in at the end of the day should be- mainly because you will get so much out of it. So do it. 

2. It will save you time

While my house is far from perfect, I have developed systems to make things like the morning rush as efficient as possible- mainly because I have so many people to get out the door and I just don’t have time to look for things. So the art of tidying up- getting rid of things that don’t bring you joy, making sure you empty junk drawers on occassion- will streamline things so you’re not hunting through junk to find the one thing you need.  

3. It will decrease stress

I have never met anyone who just LOVES to search for things at the last minute. Let’s face it- especially where kids are involved, hunting for something right before you have to leave for a class, or trying to find keys as you are already running late for an appointment  is no fun. Tidying up and creating systems for storage will bring you peace and just make your life easier, trust me. 

4. It will keep your house looking beautiful

Again, you could hire me to design your entire house, spend a billion dollars on furnishings, accessories and art, and have a gorgeous space to be proud of- but if it is constantly covered in paper, clothing, “just-in-case” items, and general mess, it will look like a mess. And no one can fix that but you (or your cleaning lady)!

Are you convinced that tidying up is worth it? Want some help doing it? I’ve got a FREE 7-Day Declutter Bootcamp where you’ll get a 15-minute quick-win exercise daily (or a 60 minute deep dive if you have the time) to tackle key areas of your home and get you on the path to keeping your home looking beautiful. ‘Cause really- that the secret to keeping a beautiful home- an organized one. 

Love to know how you’re doing if you are currently taking the challenge in the comments below- happy decluttering!

 


Want the secret to keeping your home looking beautiful?

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Join me on my 7-Day Declutter Bootcamp where I’ll send you 7 days of super quick wins to help you declutter your home and keep it looking beautiful.
5 TRENDS THAT ARE HERE TO STAY: AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE 2016 TORONTO GIFT FAIR

5 TRENDS THAT ARE HERE TO STAY: AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE 2016 TORONTO GIFT FAIR

The Toronto Gift Fair, a sprawling trade-only show where store buyers purchase all the goods that show up on our retail shelves is on right now and I'm giving you the inside scoop on what will be hitting the floors the nation over this 2016. Show ambassadors Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander took me on a tour of the top spots- so grab a latte and stay while- here are the trends that are here to stay.  

1. Metals are meant to be mixed

As I shared in my live Periscope with Glen and Jamie (you can catch the replay here), metals are meant to be mixed. Rose gold is still a thing, gold is more brushed and antiqued than it is shiny,  and chrome can be thrown into the mix too as exemplified by booths like Bovi Home and Torre and Tagus.

2. Grey is still a big thing

Grey was everywhere at the show- which means that it is still here to stay. It's not waning- but what I observed is that is it is warm- by using warmer tones of grey / layering it with a ton of textures, natural fibers, mix of mattes and high shine. Indaba's booth was a master at this mix.

3. Text on anything is still in

While I am not a fan of using text in obvious cheesy ways, the trend of text in interior decor isn't going anywhere. Handwritten saying on pillows were all over the floor, as were the popular handwritten sayings on mugs, journals and other paper products. 

4. Natural woods among modern forms

The contrast of a live edge wood against a glass top or a metal leg was pretty huge. Jamie and Glen shared their favourite ways to incorporate wood into any decor style in this Periscope replay with me.

5. Retro throwbacks

Particularly at Canadian designed brand Danica, whimsical, fresh interpretations of very retro themes were all the rage. Think corningware like your mom had but in fresh bright colours and graphic patterns. 

My thanks to Jamie and Glen for the personal tour of the show, which is open to the trade until this Thursday. See all these trends hit the shelves of your fav retailers throughout the year. And of course, if you need help integrating these trends into your home, you know who to call

WHY MY HUSBAND’S DEPRESSION IS A HUGE GIFT

WHY MY HUSBAND’S DEPRESSION IS A HUGE GIFT

When I met depression first hand in my husband for the first time in 2012, I did not think it was a gift. We had 2 small kids, I was pregnant with our third, money was incredibly tight, I was hustling like crazy to build my business. And then depression hit. And it hit like a Mack truck. 

I hated depression. I hated that it made my husband look at himself in such an ugly manner. I hated that someone I loved so much, felt so unlovable. I hated that depression made it exceedingly difficult for my husband to get out of bed for days at a time, unable to enjoy anything. I hated that depression reduced a happy go lucky, positive man who loved family life so abundantly, to a shell of a former person who could barely smile. Along with hating depression I was angry with God, I was angry with other people who meant well but said things that felt judgmental and insensitive. They felt like salt on open wounds and I was angry that I could not do a single thing to make it go away quickly. I was terrified and felt completely alone. 

But we prevailed- and as I shared in a previous post on the topic of supporting a spouse who has mental illness, I now embrace depression. It doesn't define us, it has not beaten us, and while it was incredibly difficult to get to this point, I now see it as a gift. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It has made our marriage stronger and more authentic

If you've been reading along, you know I'm on a real authenticity kick. It's really easy to put pretty things out into the world, create beautiful rooms, write great articles and count the hearts, the likes, the re-tweets etc., and feel applauded. But feeling loved, for the real you, the one behind the lens and the filters is a whole other exercise. Let me tell you, when depression is active there aint no pretty filter. It's raw, and it's gross, for both partners in the relationship. We cried many times together in sheer desperation. But we also revealed more about each other through the tears- the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful- and I truly feel as a result I know Josh's authentic self pretty transparently, and he knows mine. And that is beautiful. And while I am not arguing that it needs to take a challenging situation like depression to reveal deep parts of ourselves to our spouses, a great gift out of our experience with depression both during and after, is that we both wrung ourselves completely out and loved each other back with full force.    

2. I trust in God's grace more

I have been thinking a lot lately about "hustle" and how it is celebrated so much today, almost as the recipe for success. Well let me tell you, you cannot hustle your way out of depression. Living through depression is like walking in sticky tar. It's not a fast journey in my experience and requires a lot of work to clean up after you're done. So while we were knee deep in the muck, there was a lot of relying on God's grace to pull us through. There were definitely times when I did not know He was there- but I can unequivocally say that it is with His grace that we prevailed as we have- cause grace does what hustling can't.

3. We fight less 

Ok, debatably we fight less, depends on which spouse you ask. When depression was at its worst, Josh hurt my feelings a lot. He never meant to, but in the beginning when I didn't understand what happens in the brain and body during depression (ie it is often uncontrollable- not the kind of thing one can "snap out of" or will yourself to get over) I would do things or say things and not get the response I was expecting. Josh was never rude, but it was challenging to me that things I would do, that normally brought him joy like a home cooked meal or a thoughtful gift would be met with disinterest. As a result, I learned to not take things so personally. I love the expression Brené Brown uses in regards to misses in communication: "the story I am telling myself is you don't appreciate me… Or the story I am telling myself is you don't value me…" I did not have this expression back then, but I was exercising the muscle of not taking things so personally- and that has had wonderful ramifications post depression in our rear view. While I am no doormat (ask Josh and he'll tell you!) I definitely am not as quick to take small things so personally. And with 5 kids ages 6 and under, if I took everything personally I would never get out the door of our house!

4. We can help others

When I wrote this post on how to support a spouse suffering from mental illness, more than 5000 unique people from all over the world read it in one day. To date I continue to get emails from all over the world sharing personal stories of their struggles and how our story made them feel less alone. And isn't that the most powerful aspect of the Internet? It allows us to connect with people we might otherwise not have met and journey with them. My journey with my husband's depression is an open book, and I am happy to share the ride if it will help.

5. It has helped me be proactive

I am no mental health expert, but experience has shown me that everyone has various thresholds when it comes to dealing with stress or anxiety. I believe my personal threshold is pretty high- I have Achiever in my Strength Finder strengths so I often persevere through things. My husband's, and I would argue others who battle with anxiety or depression on an ongoing basis have shorter thresholds that are impacted by things like stress, people, the weather, loud environments, etc. Experiencing depression so intimately has shown me what some common triggers are for us, and I have concrete tools to help manage stress in us both. Notably, the most important tool I have to be proactive is how we schedule our time. I aim for lots of margin. 

In Canada this Wednesday it's #BellLetsTalk Day, where this media outlet draws tons of attention around mental health in general. Watching some of the documentaries etc. when depression entered my life more personally in 2012 was very comforting. If you're reading this, and you or someone you love suffers from mental illness, and are struggling and cannot see the hope or any light, you are not alone. You do not suffer alone. You will get through the muck. You will arrive on the other side. You will be victorious. You have so much value. You are so incredibly loved.

Something that gave me a ton of hope that I cling to all the time is this verse from Jeremiah (29:11) "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for your welfare and not for woe, plans for a future full of hope." May we all find a little hope this week.

5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOME DECORATING MORE AUTHENTIC

5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOME DECORATING MORE AUTHENTIC

Last week I shared about my struggles to be authentic both online and off, and shared a concrete tool you can use if you'd like to meet your authetnic self. It's been quite the week, as I sat with the cotnent and actually did the Post-it note exercise myself. I even Periscoped it- which was crazy scary. From all my Post-its, I came up with a few sentences that in a sense summarize all the sentiments expressed in my exercise:

Family life at home is beautiful.

Motherhood is beautiful.

Speaking truth is beautiful.

Your home life can be well designed.

Your work life can be well designed.

Your life can be well designed. 

Those six statements really sum up the core of who I am, what I find easy to talk about and what excites me. So much of what fuels my interior design business is the concept of families thriving at home. Through my 2-hour consutlations, I use my strategy skills to ensure that this home is going to serve a family so well, set them up for functional success and set the stage for making memories and finding joy. I'm kinda obsessed with this notion! 

Sitting with all this content (and reading all these books on the content of vulnerability- Brené Brown you are amazing!) I've realized how much authenticity translates into home decor as well. When I look at my favourite rooms on the internet or in my portfolio, they all speak LOUD AND CLEAR about the people who inhabit it. Your home should really tell the story of who you are as a family- if you looked around right now what story are you telling? 

If you'd like your home to reveal more of you, here are 5 ways to make your home decorating more authentic.

1. USE MEANINGFUL PHOTOGRAPHY

  

Photographs are an amazing way to tell an authentic story in a space- and they are probably the fastest and simplest way to infuse originality and share something meaningful. This is a shot from our home office. Above the desk is a photo of the interior of the church we got married in, but from the 1950's. My husband stumbled upon this photo in archives and we both just love the reverence and simplicity of the image. This image depicts a part of the liturgy that is very sacred, and it's meaningful for us to look at when hard at work at the desk. Photographs are a great way to tell a family's story as you can print them as large scale or small scale as you like, and at a relatively low cost- this project cost about $75 for the oversize print and store bought frame. Also consider a grouping of shots that can illustrate family history or meaningful memories. 

2. COMMISSION ORIGINAL ART

My husband does a yearly trip with university students to areas in south and central America, working with local communities to do volunteer initiatives. It's amazing work, and changes lives, and when our first child was 14 months we had the experience to go alongside Josh and a group of students to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was an intense time- I was very challenged by the poverty I saw, and completely transformed by the faith I witnessed in people who had so little. I knew I wanted to have something in my home to remind me of the experience, so I had my friend Becky Simpson create this encaustic painting of the Rio skyline. Original art is, as the name suggests, original! And if budget allows is a beautiful way to tell your story.

3. USE HEIRLOOM FAMILY FURNITURE

This dressing table belonged to my grand mother, my mom, to me and now to my daughter. There is something so beautiful and meaningful about a furniture piece that has passed through the hands of several family members. Consider changing hardware or giving the piece a new coat of paint to make it work with your current decor. 

4. Books

Books are another relatively inexpensive way to tell the story of who you are. Coffee table books not only look beautiful, but the titles and textures tell a compelling story of your interests and values as well. In my own living room it's always a mix of decorating, religious, and kids' books : )

5. Meaningful handwritten quotes

I love typography as art- but let's keep it real there is A LOT of cheesy stuff out there. But, when done beautifully, elegantly, and by hand- like this gorgeous print by Dear Lillie, I think it can speak quite literally of your family's values and what you stand for. It can act as a family motto of sorts displayed in a public space, or a motivational quote in an office or bedroom.

I'd love to know what you do in your home to express your authentic story- please tag me on instagram @lisacanning with an image of your own space!  

 

HOW TO BE AUTHENTIC ONLINE

HOW TO BE AUTHENTIC ONLINE

A friend of mine shared this article to Facebook and it really rocked me- 17 Successful People Show How to Become Unmistakable. Particularly, this quote by Jon Acuff really challenged me:

“I think to be unmistakable is to live out who you are in all your uniqueness and use the gifts you were given. It’s the bravery to march into the deep forest of who you are and be that person.” 

How many of us can say we are truly using the gifts we have been given? How many of us march deeply into the forest of who we are? And moreover, can we do it online?

Both online and off, but more so online, I struggle with being authentic. I struggle with comparison. I struggle with looking at the beautifully curated lives of other people on Instagram and forgetting that behind every beautiful photo is another side of the room that likely has a screaming toddler and messy clutter in it. As Jen Flores put it so clearly in a recent blog post, it can be easy to get disengaged when looking at beautiful, glossy images when our own lives look nothing like that colour coordinated group of 9 squares.

There was a time when I REALLY struggled with comparison and it basically debilitated me. I compared myself so much to every interior designer I came across and always thought- if I just gain a bit more experience I can have a portfolio like them. If I just work a little harder I can afford a lifestyle like them. If I just save a little more money I can buy a handbag like them- and I'll have made it. 

It pains me to think how much I let other people control decisions about my own life- all in the pursuit of "making it". I did it far too often, and it took several years of prayer, coaching and hard interior work on myself to get out of that practice, develop a backbone and change. 

Fast forward to 2016- and while I don't compare myself as much to others- I limit myself in a whole new way. I am my own worst limiting factor.

To use the analogy of the forest- I am on the periphery. I am waving hi to the beautiful interior but I cannot go in. The forest looks amazing but I am afraid of what will happen when I go inside and really be that person. It's like I can see the most beautiful waterfall and I am parched with thirst- but even though I need the water so badly- I won't move my feet. 

And what does this all boil down to?!? Why will I not move my feet? FEAR. 

Anyone else suffer like I do? Anyone else afraid of what might happen if they speak from their truly authentic self? Anyone else afraid of the rejection of what might happen, or the success that might occur if they are really honest online? 

And I'm not talking necessarily about sharing every aspect of one's life on the internet- cause there is lots of room for appropriate privacy too. But what I'm talking about is- can we share the joy and vibrancy of a beautiful life, but also reveal an authentic life with depth and meaning? Can we share the beauty and the struggle? 

Here's my promise to you my dear readers: I want to authentically tell the story of my life. 

Here's the quick version: I am married to an amazing man who is my best friend and who gets paid to bring Jesus to other people. I have 5 kids, and we have had them in 7 years, they are all 6 and under, and yes, we'll probably have more. I drive a minivan and am proud of it. I love my interior design business and earning a living but I love balance more. If I could stand on a soapbox I would fight for motherhood to be valued, and try to encourage other mothers to not look at having children as an impediment to success. If I live to age 90, you will probably find me, God willing, running an Alpha course at our local church next to my husband, children, and grandchildren, living in a house I continue to redecorate and fill with fresh flowers daily. My house, while beautiful, is often a mess. Finally, I feel most alive when I am with all my kids on a new adventure, using my strategy strength, or leading a worship song of praise. 

If you are looking for one concrete way to find your authentic self, Lisa Ferguson of 1000wattlife.com suggests the following exercise. Shut off distractions and without any filter dump everything you currently are on post-it notes. Then put them on a blank wall and start grouping them into three groups: 

1) I uniquely am 

2) I am when I compare myself to others

3) I am because this is who someone else wanted me to be

Then sit back and reflect on your true self group and identify one strategy to embrace those attributes more. Where you let others direct your path, get clarity on why and create a strategy to stop this behaviour in the future. For more of Lisa's thought provoking thoughts check out her Instagram feed here.

Thanks for coming alongside my journey into the forest- I too am happy to walk with you in yours! xo Lisa

3 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO MAKE RESOLUTIONS STICK

3 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO MAKE RESOLUTIONS STICK

Resolutions are great- but not if they don't stick. Are you with me? You swear that this time will be THE time that you'll pray more, get up early, finally work out, finally learn French but a week goes by and the Bible has dust on it, you still hit the snooze button, you go to the gym just to use the massage chair and no you still can't read the massage chair instructions en francais.

I've got some GIANT personal and professional goals this year, and am so excited to tackle them. I have done a ton of visioning work over the holidays, including taking Michael Hyatt's Best Year Ever course (really loving the VIP  level private Facebook group!) and re-looking at materials from a course I did last year called B-School by Marie Forleo- both have been invaluable in helping me clarify where I want to go this year and exactly what I want to accomplish. 

If you want to make your resolutions stick, here are some questions to ask yourself, to remind yourself of the true reason this goal is worth completing:

1. What will I gain by completing this goal?

One of my goals for this year is to continue with regular exercise. I truthfully do not enjoy working out. Despite the fact that I have made my home gym a really enjoyable space to be in, I have invested in a personal trainer because without her showing up I honestly wouldn't do it. However, I remind myself I have many things to gain, including strength for my kids, more energy throughout the day, and less fat on my body. So like with exercise and weight loss, which can be a painful one to accomplish, remind yourself of what you'll gain- and the momentary pain is worth the long term gain. 

2. Who can I help by completing this goal?

Making healthy food choices for me and my family is another goal I am constantly working on. And this year, it has been helpful to remind myself of who I am helping by sticking to the commitment of eating healthy- my kids and my husband. The answer to this question can stretch pretty far and have pretty incredible impact depending on your work / the goal you are setting- and is a great question to keep front and center for anyone with a personal message and an audience. The impact of your goal could be huge for the people you serve- and that can be pretty motivating.

3. What will I lose by not completing this goal? 

Some of my goals for this year are around margin and ensuring I invest my time in the right areas. If I don't do this, and I book myself too busy, I stand to lose a lot of things- personal balance, precious time with my young kids, a healthy marriage, a healthy non sleep deprived body. This is a great question for me to ask myself to ensure I fight for margin.

Happy new year dear readers- here's to an  AMAZING best year ever. For more help on goal setting check out Michael Hyatt's podcast on goal setting here, my post on how to plan your ideal week, and a post I wrote last year on 5 simple ways to make to make your year amazing

What are your goals this year? Love to know what you are fighting for this 2016!

 

 

 

 

15 BEST BEFORE AND AFTER TRANSFORMATIONS OF 2015

15 BEST BEFORE AND AFTER TRANSFORMATIONS OF 2015

I really can’t believe this year is coming to a close! I’m currently working through Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever and it’s always a great exercise to celebrate past wins and evaluate how I can improve. This past year saw the arrival of baby #5, I finished my laundry room, and my gym, and made my body go through its own before and after with hiring a trainer and finally exercising again. 

As I was looking back I thought I would end this year off with my round up of 10 amazing before and after transformations that I’ve encountered this past year. It is amazing what a well designed space can do to elevate your mood, improve functionality and set the stage for amazing relationships, memories and fun.

1.   Hi Sugarplum: bold and bright living room

This room is just delicious. I want to eat it. I find the magenta and marine blue such a polished combination and look at Cassie in this shot for the One Room Challenge reveal- she is just adorable. And also, she was on the cover of Redbook this year. Amazing. See the entire transformation of this room fabulous here (photos via Hi Sugarplum). 

2. The Curated House: luxe laundry

Sarah is a dear friend of mine and I love this transformation as much as I love her. Gorgeous tile, calligraphy labels, those amazing pulls! So much to love. See the full One Room Challenge transformation here (photos via The Curated House).

3. Erica Cook: surprise son’s bedroom

I have admired the beautiful Erica Cook from afar for years- a fellow mom of 5 kids, I just love how she makes motherhood look so attractive (and glam!). I’d really like to live in her closet. Her son, who she created this room for as a surprise as part of the #CILPremiumBeauty contest we both participated in (see my bathroom here), must love this fresh space! I love Erica’s timeless, yet always super glam, approach to decor (photos via Moth Design).

4. IKEA: IDS15 Style At Home booth

I could not find a before picture of the trade show booth- but anyone else remember this amazing booth Style At Home magazine did for the Interior Design Show 2015? Using Ikea’s new line of Sektion cabinetry, they created a beautiful, Parisian inspired kitchen FULL OF BREAD. Fantastic drama with the repetition of black cabinets (photos via Ikea’s Pinterest page).

5. House of Jade: Jane’s room

Look at this girl! And that giant chicken! I am obsessed with the bright colours, layers of pattern and overall whimsy. For me the Minted oversize art piece was such a bold selection- that I might have second guessed and not had the guts to do if it were me. But look how successful it is in application! It’s amazing. See the full tour of this One Room Challenge space here (photos via House of Jade).

6. Jill Sorensen: kitchen contrast

It’s pretty bold to go with a blue island and this hue of yellow for upholstered chairs- which is why I love this space. The contrast is fun and unexpected. Also loving the Lewis Dolan brass pulls, pendants, and the fact that since this was part of the One Room Challenge blog event and things sometimes don’t work out in time, Jill is still smiling and pulled some serious missions to make it look amazing. See the full tour here (photos via Jill Sorensen). 
 

7. Donna Bishop: kitchen design by Lisa Canning Interiors

Donna Bishop, eco beauty / lifestyle expert and founder of Green Beauty, approached me to design her kitchen with entertaining as the main factor. So we designed a HUGE communal island where all her guests could congregate. I’m obviously biased because I designed it, but I love the mix of barn board, matte floors and veneer walnut uppers. You can see the rest of this kitchen in the feature Style At Home did on it here (photos by the fab Valerie Wilcox for Style At Home). 

8. Deb McCain: sunny kitchen design by Sarah Richardson

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Deb McCain on a few press projects and this kitchen is just as sunny as her personality. Designed by Sarah Richardson, I enjoy the mix of patterns from the striped floors to the organic painterly window covering print. See the full tour here (before image via Deb McCain’s instagram, after images via Chatelaine).

9. Swoon Worthy: pink patterned office

Can you tell I am obsessed with colour and pattern? Don’t get me wrong, I love a demure quiet room too- I just appreciate so much when people are gutsy and go for it. Colour and pattern can intimidate people that’s for sure- but when they are embraced and are executed well the results can be pretty inspiring. Such as this transformation done for the One Room Challenge by Swoon Worthy. I love the pink and black combo and mix of scale of the wallpaper and rug. See the full reveal here (photos via Swoon Worthy).

10. Honey We’re Home: lavender nursery

Many things to love about this space- the soft palette, the striped ceiling, gorgeous rug. I love when nurseries feel elegant as opposed to overly themed- this room will transition so well with this little girl. Another One Room Challenge space to use Minted art so well! Meet Megan and her beautiful blog here. Photos via Honey We’re Home. 

11. Kimberly Schlegel Whitman: English living room

There is so much decorative goodness in this room, you really need to make a cup of Earl Grey and enjoy this space done by Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. It is full of visual stories, visual texture, and just tons of great design principles- and a fireplace fender with seating that is incredible. Go make your cuppa and read the details on this One Room Challenge space here. Photos via Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. 

12. TIFF lounges presented by Scott Brothers Entertainment

For the past couple of years I have worked as Lead Designer for the Property Brothers on their show Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers. This August, the brothers were asked to produce some fun spaces at the CBC for the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual conference- and in 48-hours we overhauled the building and transformed 2 green rooms and the lobby in the brothers’ signature modern style. We hand assembled a MASSIVE FLOR custom carpet that celebs and delegates walked on in the lobby and incorporated some gorgeous hand painted pillows by Hollie Cooper Interiors. Could not have pulled off the 48-hour overhaul without an incredible team including Vanessa Suppa pictured above with Drew and Jonathan Scott! Photos by Larry Arnal and Mike Dizon. 

13. The English Room: ping pong / dining room mash-up

This space completed for the One Room Challenge is gutsy, ballsy (pardon the ping pong pun!) and fun. And even better- versatile. The ping pong table cleverly converts to a dining table- what a fun fiesta. See the conversion here  photos via The English Room.

14. The Zhush: builder basic bathroom 

This beautiful bathroom room is a great example of how small tweaks can make a big impact. The builder basic bathroom room was really very basic- but look what happens when you add pattern on the walls and texture on the ceiling. Super smart that the palette was kept very neutral- with gorgeous bling in the faucet and hardware. Simple, but so impactful. See more goodness here photos via The Zhush.

15. Vanessa Francis: Parisian bedroom


Vanessa is so good at creating soft, soothing, inspiring, elegant spaces. I love the use of trim in this space she completed for the One Room Challenge and the incorporation of painterly florals.
See the rest of the room here, photos via Vanessa Francis. 

If you liked these transformations and are dying to create your own in your home, I’ve got you covered- download my “10 key strategies to a magazine worthy space” by leaving your email below. It’s full of strategies employed in the rooms above with practical quick wins to make your home amazing. 

CHRISTMAS AT THE CANNING’S

CHRISTMAS AT THE CANNING’S

From my family to yours, a very Merry Christmas!!!! I hope your celebrations have been amazing. We are still partying on and feeling quite indulgent.

Speaking of indulgent, we had the lovely opportunity to celebrate my mom's birthday at my house just before Christmas and I seized the opportunity to embrace magnolia leaves and greenery goodness. It was so quick and simple to throw together to create a polished table using the greens as a runner.

I wanted to make this party a really special celebration but was kinda strapped for time- my cast from my cellulitis saga came off not long before this party, so I had to make prep really efficient. I picked up the greens and magnolia leaves from Loblaw's (at half off I may add!) and everything else was stuff I already owned- except for these adorable white candlesticks from Hudson's Bay on clearance for $3. It might be because of the cast situation forcing me to take it easy, but this is one of the first holidays in as long as I can remember where I have not been too stressed out or overwhelmed to enjoy it. Because being too stressed out to enjoy precious moments like these would be such a shame. And enjoy we did! 

And we are still enjoying- Christmas Eve all the colour came out and we've been having a great time at home.

A big part of decorating for the holidays for me is to mark that there is something really special going on, to invoke some wonder and some awe, and to celebrate the reason for all the hooplah. And that reason of course is the birth of a tiny little infant who would change the world- and my life- forever.

A very Merry Christmas to you all!!!

HOW TO DECORATE FOR THE HOLIDAYS USING NEUTRALS

HOW TO DECORATE FOR THE HOLIDAYS USING NEUTRALS

I am so excited for the holidays this year for a couple reasons 1) I am out of a cast- having 2 hands for Christmas is basically the best gift ever and 2) it's our second Christmas after our massive #canningreno so it's super fun to feel more at home and less overwhelmed by finishing up unpainted trim and the like. 

Christmas is a big deal in the Canning house and we celebrate it hard- as Catholics, we observe at our home the traditional liturgical observance of keeping things a bit simple and solemn in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Then at Christmas Eve we go Christmas wild and that is when all the ornaments and colour and WINE and BACON and BUTTER come out for 12 DAYS. I cannot wait. Until then, we are keeping it pretty neutral. Here are a few secrets to keep it feeling super cozy and super glam all using neutrals.

1. Play with pillow patterns

Pillows (and textiles in general) will often dictate the colour scheme when I design for clients. And I like them comfy- 20" x 20", down filled (or down alternative) is where it's at. They provide the perfect amount of give to nestle up in. When using a neutral scheme, it's important to keep it interesting through variety of patterns. I find pillows are such an easy way to achieve this variety as you can play- you can physically swap out various scales and patterns until you feel satisfied with the combo. I went to Tonic Living for this cozy combo platter. 

2. Mix your textures

A neutral palette can sometimes fall flat if there isn't variety in texture. So during the holidays mix up the woolens, knits, linens, natural woods, metallics and mattes to keep it really interesting. I love how the exposed wood in my coffee table is a rustic accent / anchor against the soft knits in my sofa. The table is from one of my brand partners Mirens- if you have not heard of them it's a great new Canadian founded company and I love them for their curated assortment of modern products at great prices. Lots of pieces for people who love a modern, minimal esthetic.

 3. Add the glimmer

This is the element that makes it feel "holiday" and less "winter" -side note: this is why I love starting with a neutral palette as it is super easy and cost effective to strip down the holiday elements but still remain super chic for the rest of the winter- I'll be adding way more of this aspect come Christmas Eve but have started with my white Christmas tree.

From my two little elves, I hope this season has been a great one thus far!

GIFT GUIDE: WHAT BUSY MOMS WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

GIFT GUIDE: WHAT BUSY MOMS WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

If you're following me on Instagram you know I've had a bit of a health issue recently- through either a scrape or a bug bite on my left hand I developed an infection called cellulitis, which for some reason would not heal, which led me to being on days and days of various kinds of antibiotics, with my hand in a full on cast. Not being able to drive and being sick with the infection allowed me lots of time at home to rest and to think- I'll post more on this later but the quiet time was one positive outcome of this unexpected situation. 

In the flurry of this busy holiday season I was forced to let go and relax- which is hard for me. It also meant, with five kids and only one hand, I really had to rely on the help of others. And I am so grateful for the many friends and family who came to my assistance. So grateful.

Since people were asking how they could help, it got me to thinking about what busy moms really need this holiday season. So I've put together this gift guide that I hope will help you cross a few gifts off your list, organized in a couple of fun categories! 

BEST GIFTS FOR BUSY MOMS WHO ARE TIME STRAPPED 

A cooked meal. With one hand out of commission there was minimal cooking action happening- and when people brought over prepared meals I was on cloud nine. I like cooking, but I don't enjoy it when there's a crying baby on my hip and toddlers dumping the contents of my tupperware drawer at my feet. So prepared meals for me are the bomb-dot-com. In the past I have tried Rose Riseman's Personal Gourmet which was delicious and wonderful and I stumbled upon this round up of the top 10 prepared meal delivery options in Toronto by BlogTO. Bonus of prepared meals- no clean up. That is a gift that keeps on giving for this busy mom!!!

An alarm clock. This might sound crazy, I know- but as I have written in the past, I am a huge proponent of waking up early. Like 5am early. Do I do it all the time? Nope. Do I miss it like crazy when I sleep in? Absolutely. Waking up before my kids, with 2 glorious hours of silence is THE BEST GIFT FOR MYSELF. I work out, I pray, I usually write a blog post- all before anyone has demanded anything of me. I am a happy person when my kids get up and that is another gift that keeps on giving. So to do it better, I'm using a simple cute alarm clock, with a light sensor so the glow won't disturb you when you sleep. 

BEST GIFTS FOR BUSY MOMS WITH MODERN INTERIORS 

 

Nuna Leaf baby seatThis seat is as beautiful as it is functional. It boasts an internal ball bearing that gently rocks baby back and forth with no motors or batteries. It can withstand up to 130lbs- so all my children have taken this for a ride! But my favourite aspect is that it is just so beautiful in its design, and comes in colours that can seamlessly integrate into your existing decor.  If you follow me on Periscope I will be sharing a tour of my living room with this chair (likely with a baby in it too!) so stay tuned : )

Nuna Zaas high chair From the same family of products as the Leaf, this high chair is another item that seamlessly blends in with my decor. The genius of this chair is that it grows with your child- as pictured above it goes from high chair to regular chair, and comes in so many (non neon) colours to fit a modern interior. 

Nuna Sena playpenCan you tell I am a fan of this company? After discovering them at an event just before having our fifth baby, I honestly became obsessed. It is just so refreshing to find beautifully designed, functional baby products that aren't shades of neon. This little playpen has traveled with us everywhere- slightly smaller than the average playpen (which I find so convenient for storage in the back of our minivan), we have used this for our 6-month old as well as for our 2-year old while on vacation. Again this is a beautiful gift for the modern interior mama as its streamlined design and compact size allows it to blend in with your existing decor. We went with blue to match the wallpaper I selected for the basement!

Mamas & Papas Baby Snug My baby is just at the point where he can almost sit up unassisted, but not just yet- so this seat is perfect for him to look around and feel like he's part of the action with his older siblings. I love it for the mama who loves modern interiors because of the white exterior- again, neon child gear is just not for me- so when I find products that are functional and modern I am so excited to share. The pop of teal works in my living room really well, but it also comes in various colours (including a neutral!) to suit your decor.

Lakeland 4-in-1 convertible crib.  The design of this crib falls a bit more on the transitional side but I put it in the modern interiors category for its colour and its price. It is super hard to find grey cribs off the rack that are modern and aren't at a more premium pricing level. At $300 USD, this is a really accessibly priced crib in a modern colourway- love that. 

BEST GIFTS FOR BUSY MOMS WHO NEED TO SIT DOWN

Essentialism by Greg McEweon and The One Thing by Gary Keller. For my business and for me personally these have been game changers. I am not always the best at following the principles of pursuing less- but they are AMAZING principles and for me are the "secret" to how I balance 5 kids and a business. I go into a bit about Essentialism in a recent interview I did with the gals at Social Common- check it out here. These are great gifts for entrepreneurial mamas too. 

BEST GIFT FOR BUSY MOMS WHO LOVE WHEN THEIR BABIES STAY SLEEPING

Graco Glider Elite. So you know when baby falls asleep in the stroller and you're like oh my goodness don't move him otherwise he'll wake up but you can't exactly leave him outside so you do the transfer with your breath held for like 2 minutes while you tip toe inside and pray he stays sleeping while you attempt to transfer to the crib? Been there SO MANY TIMES. Also failed so many times. What I love about this glider is that the bouncer chair is a separate unit that detaches from the glider- so when baby falls asleep while being rocked back and forth you only have to pick up the bouncer if you need to move and baby stays snug and secure. Also, it's a neutral, for anyone following that I LOVE neutral baby gear. 

BEST GIFT FOR BUSY MOMS WHO NEED TO DE-STRESS QUICKLY

ESSENTIAL OILS! I have found that pure essential oils (I use doTerra but there are lots on the market) help me to de-stress like nothing else. Peppermint, lavender and grapefruit are my all time favourites for an instant stress fix. Simply put a drop on your wrists and take a nice slow inhale of the fragrance- for me it's an instant energy lift and I always recommend the ritual when in need of a quick de-stress fix.

I hope this helps with some ideas for the busy moms in your life! Love to know what's on your list. 

Thanks to EiBrands for providing all the baby gear covered in this post. All opinions are my own based on thorough testing by my 5 kids, ages 6 and under : ) Affiliate links used in some cases.

Style at Home

Style at Home

Home makeover with Lisa Canning

Interior designer Lisa Canning makes over her living room, home office and son’s room, giving her home a fabulous facelift.

Watch the video

Global News

Global News

Lisa Canning

We talk interior decorating tips, tricks, and what to avoid.

CTV News Kitchener

CTV News Kitchener

Family-Friendly Decor 

Design expert Lisa Canning has four young children, so she’s the perfect person to provide family-friendly home décor tips.

CHCH

CHCH

Family-friendly renovating

Trying to get a decorator look in your home isn’t always possible for busy families. Designer Lisa Canning is here with tips for family friendly renovating and décor ideas.

Global News

Global News

Home reno survival guide for parents

Big home reno projects can be tough. But with kids in the house, things can get even tougher. Design expert Lisa Canning has your survival guide to budgeting a home reno when you’ve got children.

CHCH

CHCH

Spring cleaning the clutter

Spring is officially here and designer Lisa Canning is here to help you conquer the clutter if you are living with kids.

Global News

Global News

How to keep your home in tip-top shape with kids running around

Design expert Lisa Canning explains how to keep your home organized and in great shapes even with your kids keeping you busy.

CHCH

CHCH

Lisa Canning’s Laundry Lift

You could call it one of the most overlooked rooms in your home. Interior designer Lisa Canning is here to show us how a laundry room lift can make chore time easier.

Watch the video

Whirlpool

Whirlpool

Lisa Canning & Whirlpool Black Ice Collection

Interior designer Lisa Canning shares an inside look at her Whirlpool Black Ice collection – appliances that have made meal time, storage and clean up a breeze for her growing family.

CHCH

CHCH

TIFF15 // Tastemakers Lounge

One of the most popular gifting lounges at TIFF gives us a sneak peak into the glitz, glam and swag at the festival.

Styled by Canadian designer Lisa Canning the Tastemakers Lounge returns to TIFF for its 11th year. This year the gifting lounge offers guests some fabulous finds.

Watch the video

ORC WEEK 6: A CHEERFUL HOME GYM

ORC WEEK 6: A CHEERFUL HOME GYM

IT'S DONE! I made it. Praise God, because this was another race to the finish of this amazing blog series called the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda at Calling It Home. We're all challenged to design and reno a room to completion in 6 weeks. I participated last spring to finish my laundry room before giving birth to our 5th child, (a whole other kind of race in itself!) and am so happy to have participated again. Deadlines like this can be pretty motivating, and the entire experience is a fun ride watching what everyone else does to their spaces, and cheering each other on in the process. 

As I have mentioned previously, doing the ORC is kinda like childbirth at times- when you're doing it and things are going wrong and you're realizing you only have 7 days to finish a room and the paint was mixed slightly off hue and so now you have to buy more paint and now you have to delay your electricians and so now you have to delay your trim guy and so now you have to install the carpet at midnight after your teething / sick baby has FINALLY gotten to sleep and you forget how much dirt you still clean before you actually put said carpet tiles down etc. etc. etc.- when you're doing it, it cam be painful. But when it's done… you are blissed out and in love. Well, in love I am!

I wanted the space to feel cheerful and bright, so I started the design with the Frug rug from FLOR. They are modular carpet tiles, which are easy to swap out when mess occurs. I love the soft padding they create for working out- and my children have had so much fun rolling around in what they deem their new place space. Bright white walls in Snowfield by CIL Paints reflect tons of light and let the floor be the star. 

  

As physical fitness has become a new priority for me (just started working out with a personal trainer and I have eliminated the sometimes twice a week habit of eating poutine), I am trying to make it as easy as possible for me to live a healthy lifestyle. For me that includes waking up early and starting the day with prayer and then exercise and a healthy beverage. So I am keeping a mini fridge stocked with lots of my favourite juices (love Jenn Pike's Juice Matters plans).

  

I am slightly obsessed with applied moulding right now (massive massive thanks to my trim installer Steve Leonard!) and continued the love of it in my gym with the Metrie Very Square collection. And I have to gush publicly over these sconces- which cost only $49!!!! Add a little bench from Bouclair and mirror from Home Sense and my home gym is complete. 

And for kicks let's revisit the before:

And now to my happy face with another completed space!

Thanks for following along on my journey- to check out some seriously amazing transformation check out the featured 20 designers and the guest participants here!  Photos by Larry Arnal.

Home Decor & Renovations

Home Decor & Renovations

5 Steps To A Sweet Sleep Retreat

As the cold weather sets in and the days get shorter and shorter, ensuring our bedrooms feel like sanctuaries becomes so much more important. The bedroom is such an easy place to overlook – and in my experience, it’s often the last place busy parents will invest time and money.

Read

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

Your De-Clutter Checklist for Fall

As the cold weather approaches and we prepare to spend more and more time cooped up inside, fall is the perfect time to declutter and get the house ready for the colder months ahead. Here’s a step-by-step checklist to declutter areas of your home to start the season off on the right foot.

Read

Home Decor & Renovations

Home Decor & Renovations

A Finished Family Basement In 5 Steps

Before our renovation my basement was a dark and dingy mess of wood panelling, cedar shingles on the walls, and a scary dirty furnace room. It was essentially a massive storage room that no one wanted to spend any time in. Post renovation, it is now a fun space that my family loves. Creating a multi-use space for the entire family takes some planning, but it is so worth the outcome. Here are my five steps to a finished family basement.

Read

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

TIFF gifts that keep on giving

The movies, the red carpets, the press conferences are all part of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) but there is another side that is only for the VIPs — the celebrity gifting lounges.

Read

FAJO Magazine

FAJO Magazine

TIFF 2015: Tastemakers Lounge

With the Toronto International Film Festival in full swing, celebrities have flocked to the city to once again hit the Red Carpet. Between press conferences, exclusive parties and interviews, a little pampering goes a long way. And what could be more fun than heading to a lounge full of swag, cocktails and even a virtual reality escape.

Read

immrfabulous

immrfabulous

Tastemakers Lounge Media Preview  

The Tastemakers Lounge for TIFF 2015 is always the place to be during the ten-day Toronto International Film Festival.

Read

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

9 Ways to Conquer Clutter

Permission forms on the counter. Shoes by the door. Sippy cups falling out of the cupboards. You do your best—but clutter has a way of appearing, seemingly overnight. It can be frustrating, especially in September when we’re all looking for a fresh start. To find out how to break the cycle of clutter accumulating, and to get organized once and for all, we asked Lisa Canning, who is an interior stylist, mom of five, and our Savvy expert in all things style and home organizing.

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Culture Addicts

Culture Addicts

Tastemakers Lounge Canadian gifting suite announces new sponsors for 2015

The countdown to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is on with only a few more days until everything kicks off including the festival’s most coveted gifting suite – the Tastemakers Lounge presented by SOREL and ELLE Canada. With a full range of lifestyle sponsors lined up including health, beauty, pampering and beverages, the Tastemakers Lounge is sure to be a hot spot for talent and influencers.

Read

Style at Home

Style at Home

Kitchen design: Warm and rustic

An outdated kitchen transforms into a welcoming space that strikes a balance between country and contemporary design.

This article was also published in the September 2015 Style at Home Magazine.

Read

Sothebys Realty

Sothebys Realty

At Home with Lisa Canning

A graduate of Ryerson University’s acclaimed School of Fashion, Lisa Canning brought her flair for textiles and colour as she transitioned into designing homes. She has had immense success and is very busy with her Toronto-based interior design company as well as working on several interior design television programs.

Read

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

5 Minutes to An Organized House

Keeping a house organized can be an overwhelming task. But if you make organizing a daily commitment, it’s a task that can absolutely be accomplished. If clutter rules your life and you want to climb out from under it, commit to these simple challenges—many of which take only five minutes—to get you there in no time.

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Home Decor & Renovations

Home Decor & Renovations

The New Neutral – Dynamic Neutrals In The Laundry Room

In my recently completed laundry room, I really wanted to achieve something serene – but not boring – so I chose to utilize a graphic treatment on my floor. In this space I wanted to remain really practical with my budget, so I needed to use a material with minimal cuts and at a reasonable price point. I chose to use simple 12-by-24-inch tile, from Creekside Tile Company, in three neutral shades (black, medium grey and a light grey) and lay the tiles in a herringbone pattern on my floor. This principle could also be applied in a graphic area rug or wall art – think repetitive shapes and contrasting shades for a graphic focal point in your space.

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Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

Renovate without breaking the bank

I argue that how to budget, and what things actually cost, are the most mystifying aspects of a renovation project. Where should you invest, and where should you save? How do you ensure your project doesn’t get way out of control and you spend more than you have?

Read

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

Make your laundry load a lot lighter

I find laundry a grueling task made quite a bit easier if you convert your laundry area into a bright, organized space.

After completing my own laundry room for my family of seven, here are my five essential items that can make the act of doing laundry a joy and not a chore.

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Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

5 Time-Saving Cleaning Products That Will Make Your Life Easier

While some people love to clean, it’s not a chore I particularly enjoy. But it is a chore that provides important value and care for our homes and our families, so I love finding ways to make it as efficient and enjoyable as possible. Here are my favourite time-saving products I argue moms can’t live without.

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Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

Can you really trust your contractor? 5 questions to ask to protect your family

I have worked with over a hundred contractors as a result of my diverse career, which has included helping families renovate, designing spaces on several HGTV shows and creating sets for commercials. Experience has shown me that not all contractors are created equal, and today’s buyer must do their homework to ensure a successful return on investment.

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Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

Conquer Clutter: Top 5 Organization Tips for a Clutter-Free Home

Keeping the family home organized can be a super daunting task—especially when the kids outnumber the adults (like they do in my house)! Here are my top tips for conquering the clutter so you can stay sane.

Read

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

First 5 things every family should do before they renovate

In 2014, my husband and I packed up our four small children and the contents of our north Toronto home and embarked on an ambitious home renovation.

Read

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

5 Time-Saving Home Products for Busy Moms

Busy moms need all the help they can get. Luckily there are some pretty innovative products and services on the market that can help you get the work done so you can go back to living life. Here are my top five home products for the busy mom.

Read

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun

Form and Function x5

Demands on the modern family are high so when a product can serve more than one function, I love it.

These items stretch my dollar and keep space footprint low, both really essential things for growing families.

Read

Beauty on a Small Budget Challenge Reveal | How to use black and white in a bathroom

Beauty on a Small Budget Challenge Reveal | How to use black and white in a bathroom

So excited to share my completed #CILPremiumBeauty bathroom! But first, HUGE congratulations to the TWO winners of the $250 Home Depot gift cards courtesy of CIL Paints, @aliasmith06 and @jemsw16!! Please email me your address via my contact form so we can get those over to you.

After what felt like an eternity agonizing over what colour to do, I finally committed and went white on the walls with CIL White Wisteria.

I'm so happy with the results. I decided on white as the bathroom is super small, and while I am a huge fan of dark colours (my bedroom is a deep indigo blue!), in this space with the lack of natural light I felt like white was the best choice. 

Going white on the walls allowed me to paint the shelves black for some high contrast drama – and I love the polished pop that occurs when there's a strong juxtaposition of black and white. This is where I think throwing in an accent colour can be really successful – highlighting architectural elements through a contrast paint brings attention to these design details. 

Using black and white as a design scheme in a bathroom can lend a modern edge. With metal shelving and industrial lighting, a black and white palette can be fresh and fun. 

While my paint paralysis is now over (finally!) I want to know about yours. I've partnered with CIL Paints on a fun contest to get you in the redesign mindset.

The Beauty on a Small Budget contest challenges Canadians to make a room beautiful on a small budget using CIL Premium paint. So pick your space – paint out the fireplace, change up your favourite accent chair, or tackle the walls- and simply post a photo of your completed space on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the paint can in the photo (remember to look for CIL Premium specifically) and the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty.

The grand prize will consist of a two-hour home design consultation with either myself, style-maven Erica Cook, or editor-extraordinaires Earl Einarson and Jan Halvarson from Poppytalk (pending location of winner) and (HELLO!) $5,000 CDN in The Home Depot gift cards.

The contest closes on November 29, 2015- just one month to enter to win! You can enter as many home projects as you like – just be sure to include the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty and a can of CIL Premium paint in your images. The more projects you tackle, the better your odds! Can't wait to see your projects!

Photos by Larry Arnal.

ORC WEEK 5: RACE TO THE FINISH LINE

ORC WEEK 5: RACE TO THE FINISH LINE

It's week 5 of the One Room Challenge, an online challenge to get a room designed and finished in 6 weeks hosted by Linda at Calling It Home. My favourite part about it is the camaraderie that exists between all the participants as we race towards the end. It's week 5, which is so close to the end, where in my case so much still needs to happen.

I was remarking to my girlfriend and fellow ORC participant Sarah that the ORC is like childbirth. When you're doing it, you're like WHY ON EARTH AM I DOING THIS AGAIN, THIS IS SO HARD!!!! But when it's done, you are so blissfully in love, satisfied and unbelievably grateful.

It's a short and sweet update from me this week as there is just so much still to happen in 7 days- but to my fellow ORC participants, WE CAN DO THIS! Check out the featured 20 designers here and the rest of the guest participants here. See you next week for the reveal! 

Home Decor & Renovations

Home Decor & Renovations

Home Decor & Renovations

A Finished Family Basement In 5 Steps

Before our renovation my basement was a dark and dingy mess of wood paneling, cedar shingles on the walls, and a scary dirty furnace room. It was essentially a massive storage room that no one wanted to spend any time in. Post renovation, it is now a fun space that my family loves. Creating a multi-use space for the entire family takes some planning, but it is so worth the outcome. Here are my five steps to a finished family basement.

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

Savvy Mom

Your De-Clutter Checklist for Fall

As the cold weather approaches and we prepare to spend more and more time cooped up inside, fall is the perfect time to declutter and get the house ready for the colder months ahead. Here’s a step-by-step checklist to declutter areas of your home to start the season off on the right foot.

HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

I am a former night owl. (You can read all about my transformation from night owl to early riser here.) While I occasionally slip back into bad habits I feel the impact of the absence of my preferred sleep routine so much it's usually not difficult to get myself back in line. Sleep is so essential to our ability to perform- in our jobs, in our family life, in everything. So with this weekend's time change (giving us parents an extra hour of sleep to recover from all the sugar induced kid craziness from Halloween tonight) here are some ways to get a better night's sleep:

1. Go to bed at the same time every night even on the weekend.  While it might be tough at first, your body will get used to the routine and get used to falling asleep quickly and waking up well. You can help things along by having a good daily schedule which involves exercise in the morning and the same rituals before bed like herbal tea, and a bath. As I mentioned at the top of my post, I changed from night owl to early riser- and I NEVER in a million years thought it was possible for me, but I am a convert- and think you will love the positive change too. 

2. Create a sleep retreat.  Your bedroom should help you sleep, not stimulate you more. This is why I am a huge proponent of TV-less bedrooms. And the design of the space should invite peace and tranquility! Your bed should feel like a cloud, and the room should be void of clutter. Let it be your sanctuary! Do this by investing in bedding. My dear friend Jo Alcorn has just launched her signature pillow made out of StaminaFibre, which is a washable, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free down alternative. And did you hear that Sarah Richardson has just launched her bedding collection? For $195 you get a gorgeously coordinated, 100% cotton bedding set to set the stage for a good night's sleep. Lastly, commit to keeping the bedroom clutter-free. For years and years our bedroom was where stuff got stashed when guests were coming over. And then the stuff never left. So just commit- don't let it be a dumping ground- you deserve it!!!

3. Calm that crazy mind. I find this one really difficult, as a mom of 5 and entrepreneur there is a whole lot of stuff that happens in my brain! I find running a diffuser with lavender essential oils really helpful to calm my body down and I literally just lie there breathing deeply while it runs. Also resist the urge to bring your phone into bed and check a million things just before your eyes close. I would not be authentic if I didn't share that I struggle with this big time- but I feel first hand the tension that builds and I myself am causing my body to ramp up right before sleep- not good! Must kick this voluntary habit. Lastly, try an herbal supplement like Pascoflair 30 minutes before bed to help clear your mind.   

How do you get a better night's sleep? Love to know in the comments below.   

ORC WEEK 4: HOW TO STAY FOCUSED TO FINISH STRONG

ORC WEEK 4: HOW TO STAY FOCUSED TO FINISH STRONG

I have heard Linda over at Calling It Home say that week 4 of the One Room Challenge, this crazy fun challenge where designers and bloggers are challenged to complete a room in 6 weeks, is the hardest. Boy is she right. Because looking at my photos and thinking that there are only 13 more days to finish this room off is kinda crazy!!! 

Pot lights are in, room has been emptied of stuff save for the treadmill and a few other random things (so much purging happened!), closet is gone and first coat of paint went on today! Woo hoo. However… there are so many things still to accomplish. And so little time! 

This is why I love a deadline. I've written about how to complete a room in 48-hours. And deadlines, self-imposed or not, are big time motivators. But of course it can be really challenging. From a whole bunch of personal experience, here are my tips for staying focused to finish strong:

1. Call in the cavalry. Sometimes it pays to pay (whether it be in cash or baked goods!). When life is busy you sometimes cannot afford to spend time doing things that other people can do (and do really well). While I painted myself for my last One Room Challenge reveal, this time around has been a bit nuts timing wise, considering I'm also finishing my bathroom, my husband has been traveling for work, my 5 kids are… well, 5 kids! and I am nursing a cold that is hanging for dear life no matter how many oranges I consume. If you need tissues, come on over. I've got them in bulk. So when other things demand your time that only you uniquely can do, delegate the rest. This time I called in my favourite painters from Finer Edge to help me get this room done. So whether it be in supporting a small business by hiring people to help, or bringing in friends with the promise of your best baked goods, delegate.

2. Picture what will be made possible when the task is complete. It can be hard to see through the drywall dust, bags of garbage, and paint cans what the finished product will be. Last week I wrote about how every time I opened the door to the gym I would literally get so overwhelmed and just close the door behind me without going in. What would motivate me to push through was picturing what it would look like when I would turn the knob and then walk in to a finished gym that will help me towards my health goals. Picture the end and how you'll feel and remember it will be so worth it. 

3. Just do the next right thing. I recently learned about the Ivy Lee Method– where you essentially write down the 6 most important things you need to complete each day in order of priority and only focus on that list. Getting a project done is basically just a long list of small things- so just make that list, whether it be 6 or 600 and do the first thing on the list until it's all done. 

Check out what the featured 20 designers are doing this time around and what my fellow guest participants are up to as well! 

5 SUPER QUICK FAMILY HEALTH WINS FOR BUSY MOMS

5 SUPER QUICK FAMILY HEALTH WINS FOR BUSY MOMS

As a busy mom of 5 kids, up until VERY recently I made an abismal effort to be healthy. Vegetable intake was the little garnish on top of the pasta. My car was a literal storage area for Harvey's take out paper bags. Poutine was consumed twice (sometimes three times!) a week and coffee was my beverage of choice (ok, that hasn't changed). 

The bad habits finally hit the poor health fan when about 2 months ago, I went to lift my 22 month old daughter into her high chair. She weighs 20 lbs. The simple act of lifting her and not using any of the proper muscles to do so caused me to throw my back out and incur pain like I have never experienced- including labour (and I have done that 5 times my friends!!!!) As I sat literally immobilized on the sofa with all my kids vying for my attention around me I knew I had to make some serious changes.

So I invested in a trainer.  We are doing a home gym renovation. I am following  a meal plan. And I am basically trying to hack my way into a more healthy lifestyle one shortcut at a time, lol. I'm doing this as when I was lying on my couch, unable to move without stabbing pain running up and down my body with an intensity I would not wish on anyone in life, I realized that the stakes are too high. To be unhealthy in both my diet and my physique does not serve anyone- and can keep me from enjoying life with the ones I love.

So when BioGaia invited me to be a part of their recent event at Kidville on the benefits of probiotics I knew it would be helpful for my family and for yours. You can watch the full presentation here. But if like me, and are new to the language of wellness and all this overwhelms you, here are my 5 super quick health wins for busy moms:

1) Switch up your salt. Presenter Julie Daniluk shared that typical table salt has 2 minerals and usually contains fillers and sugar. Whereas salt originated with 65 minerals- so look for a healthier alternative like pink Himalayan salt.

2) Practice the just one bite rule 10-15 times. Ok, this isn't a quick win but so interesting- it's been scientifically proven that kids between 2 and 4 years of age need to be introduced to a food 10-15 times to "retrain" them to like it again- particularly with greens. So stick it out because it works eventually.

3) Try sweet peas. If the endurance is hard, go for "sweet" veggies like sweet peas and sweet potatoes.

4) Sooth a colic baby with BioGaia. Forget the gripe water presenter Bryce Wylde shared. A medical study showed that infants taking BioGaia cried less after just 1 week of daily intake. 

5) Give yourself a daily boost. The biggest benefit I can see for my own life from increased probiotics is a reduction in stress. Increased probiotics reduce the level of cortisol in our bodies- thus reducing our own stress levels. 

 

Reduce my stress say what?!?!? As evidenced by my face in the online stream : ) I would love to know how you might reduce stress and what quick health win you might implement for your family! Leave a note for me in the comments below : )

ORC WEEK 3: THE CONQUER OF CLUTTER CONTINUES

ORC WEEK 3: THE CONQUER OF CLUTTER CONTINUES

Hello friends- so excited to be sharing another installment of the One Room Challenge, where designers and bloggers are challenged to completely design and renovate and style a room in SIX WEEKS. Crazy, I know. But let me tell you it was incredibly motivating last time around when I completed my laundry room so I am thrilled to be doing it again. It's pretty awesome when you can take a space and be motivated to make changes that will bring so much good to your family. 

The room we are tackling this time around is my home gym. It kinda became a glorified storage room with an expensive treadmill in it. With newfound goals to be more healthy and try and get into some sort of physical shape after having 5 kids I really am motivated to get this room done and make it a really inspiring and beautiful space to work out in. 

However, right now beautiful and inspiring it is not. I have to admit every time I go in there my heart sinks, I close the door and I procrastinate making the decisions that need to get done. 

This is why deadlines are so great. They force you to stay on track even when you don't want to. 

I am pretty excited about a home gym but I am honestly equally excited to de-clutter my house even further. Right now the contents of my gym, which was FULL OF CRAP, are strewn around my basement, making it basically impossible for me to relax. But it's week 3, so the end is near- which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. 

If you too are knee deep in clutter here are 3 super quick wins to make it more manageable:

1) SET A TIMER: Literally set the timer on your phone, or put a 20 minute TV show on for the kids on Netflix. Just sort through and put in the garbage or donate pile what you can in that amount of time and don't worry about the rest. It is not insurmountable! De-cluttering is literally done one item at a time. 

2) CALL JUST JUNK: I recently helped a family sort through 7 years of accumulated clutter and we strategically booked Just Junk in the middle of the day to take away what we had sorted. Just Junk will literally lift, carry, dispose of, and donate all this stuff. For a pretty reasonable fee you're given the physical support to really conquer your clutter. 

3) PICTURE THE END RESULT: When I get overwhelmed (which has been daily my friends) I just try and picture what my gym and the rest of my basement will look like when this is done. Keep your eye on the prize!!! The hard work is worth it!!!!

There are some pretty amazing participants in the ORC this year. Check out the featured 20 designers here and the rest of the guest participants here

CONFESSIONS OF AN INDECISIVE DESIGNER: HELP ME PICK MY PAINT

CONFESSIONS OF AN INDECISIVE DESIGNER: HELP ME PICK MY PAINT

I am always astounded by how difficult decisions for my own house are. For clients, I can make decisions at lightening speed. For television sets, we simply don't have time to ponder things for too long. Yet in my own house, I can think and think and think and think and basically be paralyzed over the vast number of decisions that a decorating project can hold.

This was me earlier this week. While I was working on my CIL Beauty on a Small Budget paint project, I basically stood in my bathroom in utter paint paralysis. I held up the paint chips. I did the CIL online visualizer. I even took it to social media to get help, feeling utterly silly that something as simple as paint was causing me so much stress.

And then I remembered it's just paint. And paint is simple.  

So I took the first step, purchased some paint testers and here's where I have landed: 

As you can see (actually it's kind of hard to see as this room is such a mess of peachy pink paint which is reflecting on EVERYTHING and drywall still needing to be patched) I am trying to decide between a white and a black. Sounds simple doesn't it? Not in my indecisive head. So here's my dilemma- do I do:

A) Dark Secret on the walls? Result will be really moody and dramatic.

OR 

B) Go White Wisteria on the walls? Result will be polished and bright. 

Can you help me pick?!?!?!? 

I have partnered with CIL Paints on the Beauty on a Small Budget contest. The Beauty on a Small Budget contest challenges Canadians to make a room beautiful on a small budget using CIL Premium paint. So pick your space- paint out the fireplace, change up your favourite accent chair, or tackle the walls- and simply post a photo of your completed space on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the paint can in the photo and the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty. 

The grand prize will consist of a two-hour home design consultation with either myself, style-maven Erica Cook, or editor-extraordinaires Earl Einarson and Jan Halvarson from Poppytalk (pending location of winner) and $5,000 CDN in The Home Depot gift cards.

For today, I am making it even easier for you to enter by giving away TWO $250 gift cards to The Home Depot! Here's what you have to do to enter:

◦ Hop on over to Instagram and share a photo on Instagram of YOUR #CILPremiumBeauty paint project documenting your progress 

◦ Include #CILPremiumBeauty hashtag and tag me [@lisacanning] in caption

◦ Tell me in your caption what colour I should paint my walls: Dark Secret or White Wisteria

Entry open from October 21, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. on November 2, 2015. Winners (2) will be selected at random and will be announced on my blog on November 2 and on Instagram. Open to Canadian residents only.

Can't wait to see what you're up to and thanks for helping me pick. Don't forget paint is simple- and the results can be beautiful : )

ORC WEEK 2: HOW TO BUILD A DESIGN SCHEME

ORC WEEK 2: HOW TO BUILD A DESIGN SCHEME

During the last One Room Challenge I blogged a little bit about the process I go through to build a design scheme. Today I am going to expand on this topic and provide a few helpful tips if you are starting a project of your own!

But first, if you are new here a very warm welcome to my cozy corner of the internet. My name is Lisa and I am an interior design expert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have 5 kids ages 6 and under and I live in a semi-detrached bungalow in the north end of our city (home to the best baseball team in the world… I digress!) and with a family of my size with a house so small (1290 square feet on the main floor!) by necessity I have had to learn real quick how to design homes that help families thrive (and cut down on the clutter in big ways). I really love helping busy families get the most out of their spaces.   

For the One Room Challenge, this amazing thing run by Linda at Calling It Home where people are challenged to design a space in 6 weeks, I am tackling my home gym to help my family make the most of it. Personal fitness has recently become a big priority for me and completing this gym is a big motivation for me to keep the healthy lifestyle up. Plus, it was kinda difficult to work out in a space that was basically a storage locker for my Christmas decorations. Check out the horrifyingly ugly / non-organized space here.

To build a design scheme, here are some quick steps to consider:

1. PICK SOMETHING TO GROUND YOUR COLOUR PALETTE

So to build a scheme I really like to start somewhere- and in this case, it's going to be the floor. In my laundry room I created a patterned floor out of porcelain tile and thought it might be fun to again be daring with my floor choice. I'm using this rug from FLOR called the Frug in Cobalt:

It's going to be fun and graphic, and I love it will be soft underfoot to absorb the impact of using weights and jumping around. 

2. BUILD A VISUAL REFERENCE BOARD TO KEEP THE DESIGN FOCUSED

Once I have an item to start with I allow it to serve as the driving force of the colour scheme. So I'll be pulling the cobalt blue and neutral grey and using them in millwork (going to do some accent shelving or gables in cobalt against white or light grey cabinets… so excited!). I will also jump on over to Pinterest to search for images in my colour palette to serve as inspiration. Look at the gorgeous images below (and forgive me I searched and searched but could not find a source- if anyone knows please let me know so I can credit properly!) This allows you to have a visual reference point for the colour palette of the space- I know I can get distracted really easily by new items I see- and something think if I can squeeze them in to a design even though I know they won't work- having a visual reference board can help dissuade you from making choices that simply won't fit.  

3. FOLLOW THE 75-20-5% RULE

A simple tip that I have developed as a result of designing tons of rooms for television where you have to make a really strong visual impact in a short amount of time is the 75-20-5% rule. Essentially this means a principle colour is used for 75% of the space, a secondary colour is used for 20% of the space and a surprise pop colour that might not relate to anything at all is 5%. So in my gym, that is likely going to mean the blues in the carpet will be my 75%, whites / greys in the cabinets and walls will be 20% and a fun surprise colour shade TBD will be my 5%! 

To learn more about the One Room Challenge and see the featured 20 designers click here, and for the link up participants click here.

 

HOW TO BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME ON A BUDGET: #CILPremiumBeauty Contest

HOW TO BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME ON A BUDGET: #CILPremiumBeauty Contest

Fall is probably my favourite time of the year. Sweaters, cozy comforts, and of course all things pumpkin spice. But fall also makes me nervous- knowing we're moving into colder temperatures, shorter days and more time cooped up indoors makes me think about the list of projects I still have to finish around the house! Although we went through a massive renovation for basically all of 2014, there are still lots of neglected areas I want to finish- holes to patch, unpainted trim, products that still have stickers on them, boxes that still need to be donated, a million paint touch ups- and I don't want to look at all that chaos while cozied up at home all through the winter. It would be amazing to feel like I can just enjoy my house for a while (at least until the next urge to redecorate perks up!)

So right now (RIGHT NOW!) is the perfect time to get a few things done on your punch out list. Cross them off, get them done and get ready to enjoy and bask in your completed space. 

If you need a little motivation to help you out, I've partnered with CIL Paint on a fun contest that will absolutely help you towards the goal of a beautiful home. Getting there doesn't have to cost a lot- sometimes a can of paint is really all you need. 

The Beauty on a Small Budget contest challenges Canadians to make a room beautiful on a small budget using CIL Premium paint. So pick your space- paint out the fireplace, change up your favourite accent chair, or tackle the walls- and simply post a photo of your completed space on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the paint can in the photo and the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty. 

The grand prize will consist of a two-hour home design consultation with either myself, style-maven Erica Cook, or editor-extrordinaires Earl Einarson and Jan Halvarson from Poppytalk (pending location of winner) and (HELLO!) $5,000 CDN in The Home Depot gift cards.

CIL Premium paint can be purchased exclusively at The Home Depot and costs just $29 for a 3.78 L can. I've used the paint throughout my entire home and I can tell you from experience a little bit goes a long way. As a busy mom of 5 I am in love with the fact that it is paint and primer in one- streamlines the process and makes things go faster : )

In addition to being a paint and primer in one, CIL Premium paint is also:

• Free of VOCs before adding colourant

• Washable & durable

• Virtually odourless

• Easy to apply

So get your creative juices flowing and figure out what your project will be! The contest begins October 13, 2015 and closes on November 29, 2015. You can enter as many home projects as you like- just be sure to include the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty and a can of paint in your images. The more projects you tackle, the better your odds!

Now wait for it- if that wasn't sweet enough I am making it even easier for you- I am giving away a $250 Home Depot gift card so you can take part in the CIL Beauty on a Small Budget contest. To enter, 1) share this blog post on Twitter and tag me @lisa_canning and the hashtag #CILPremiumBeauty 2) tell me what paint project you'll be undertaking. That's it!

I'll be selecting the winner this Friday October 16, 2015 at 9am. Contest is open to Canadian residents. Winner will be randomly selected and gift card will be delivered via courier to the winner.  

As for my house, here's what I need to tackle with paint:

Pink walls be gone- we basically half completed this bathroom and then never finished! It's time!!!!

These shelves are going to get a fun accent colour of some kind… 

And all these marks on the walls will finally disappear! 

I hope you'll join me in this challenge- excited to see what you might tackle : )

 

ORC WEEK 1: Oh boy this is ugly

ORC WEEK 1: Oh boy this is ugly

Pretty darn excited it is that time of the year again- One Room Challenge! The crazy time time of the year that designer / bloggers / decor enthusiasts the world over embark on the challenge to renovate and complete a room in 6 short weeks. Yes, we be cray cray. And yes, last time I completed my laundry room in 6 weeks while almost 9 months pregnant (WHAT?!?!). Here's what that crazy challenge looked like last time: 

This time I am tackling my home gym. Shield your eyes- maybe put on sunglasses:

Why did we paint it this colour?!?!? We were so excited when we first painted it! Why are there boxes everywhere? Why is the door off the hinge of the closet? Why are my Christmas decorations randomly on the floor? WHY WHY WHY WHY?!?!?!? 

Finally this space is going to get some love. I have recently made exercise a priority in my life by hiring a trainer to come to the house- so not only does this challenge have an interior design goal and win, I am also hoping a physical transformation occurs in me in the 6 weeks as well. Not sure if I am brave enough to post a before shot of my stomach after having 5 kids ages 6 and under, but I am brave enough to yet again jump into this fun design challenge and share the progress every Thursday with all of you! 

A very big thanks to Linda at Calling It Home for organizing this audacious fun party every season. Check out the featured 20 designers here, and the linking party here! Follow along all the fun with the hashtag #oneroomchallenge 

Simplifying Safe Products: The Honest Co. at Well.ca

Simplifying Safe Products: The Honest Co. at Well.ca

As a mom of five it is a huge priority for me to protect my family from harm. I feel like that is a principle that unites all parents- the desire to to keep our babies safe. While we can't protect our kids from everything, we can control what comes into our homes and what gets put on our bodies. And while I am no expert in all things green, I am certainly on the lookout for opportunities to make easy, safe choices for my family. 

This is why I love the philosophy of The Honest Company, now available in Canada at Well.ca. The Honest Co., founded by Jessica Alba, came out of a desire to provide better, safer products for babies and families. Anything that makes my life simpler I am always game to try- so when they reached out to see if I would like to try a few products and give some honest feedback on the blog I was pretty excited. 

Let's start with these diapers- I mean come on, they have cherries and strawberries on them. And how cute peeking out under a pink patterned dress!

The diapers perform very well and so nice to know they are free of chlorine and chemicals. Love that.

This shampoo and this conditioner smell SO GOOD. And I am a sucker for pretty packaging that integrates with my decor- love the simple deign of the bottles and accessible typeface.  

With 7 people to bathe we go through A LOT of soap so I was pleasantly surprised by how far a small capful of the Tangerine Dream Bubble Bath went. Tons of delicious smelling bubbles that honestly smell so good I could have drank the stuff.  

My favourite product sample was hands down the natural deodorant in Lavender Vanilla. It's no secret I love essential oils for productivity, and this is jam packed with sweet smelling ingredients to neutralize odours. It's great to know that it is aluminum and zinc free- and seriously, another one I wish you could smell through the computer because it smells so good. 

Finally, the best thing about this entire natural operation was the speed in which it all occurred. I ordered everything online and in 2 days it showed up on my door step. Running a business and raising a family means time has to be used with intention- so I loved how simple and fast the process was.

Creating homes that allow families to thrive is a huge part of my interior design business. Watch how Jessica Alba and The Honest Company want families to thrive here.  

#RIVERDALERENO PUBLISHED IN STYLE AT HOME MAGAZINE

#RIVERDALERENO PUBLISHED IN STYLE AT HOME MAGAZINE

So excited to share that a project I am so proud to have completed is in this month's Style At Home. I completed this project which we tagged as #riverdalereno across my social media platforms so feel free to take a peek at all the behind the scenes process shots. 

I met homeowner Donna Bishop in 2011 in the greenroom of the Marilyn Denis Show. We were both presenting segments about our niches, me design and Donna beauty with an eco lens, and while waiting for our live segments she shared with me the incredible story of how her life changed forever when her son developed cancer at the age of 2. After his successful battle, she went on a mission to eradicate potentially cancer causing agents from her family's life- starting with her make-up kit. This has led to her becoming a sought after expert in the area of eco-beauty, and the creation of her salon Green Beauty, specializing in products and services that are clean, healthy and safe for all. I became a regular Green Beauty client, and over the years we became friends- so when she asked if I would help her family undergo the renovation of their Toronto home I was so excited for the challenge.

Given Donna's platform around eco consciousness, we made lots of intentional decisions to be responsible with materials used. We reused several pieces of furniture in the new space. We donated everything we could to families who could benefit. We reclaimed materials like the barn board that came from a barn in Acton, Ontario, and made pillows out of drapery that hung in the original house. 

There was a ton of strategic design that went on to maximize this small space for the clients. We planned the use of every single drawer before we built the kitchen. We intentionally created a separate pantry area with dedicated space for a beverage sink, juicer and coffee maker. 

Here's a peek at the other side of the kitchen that the magazine didn't include- we created a custom desk and eating area area and re-used a chair and piano bench that we had recovered from the original house. 

I'm incredibly grateful to my clients Donna Bishop and Stephen Keith for trusting me with their house and their family and giving me freedom to do what I do best- with a ton of strategy and intention, create a home that will allow a family to thrive. Thanks to Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon from Style At Home, and thanks to Valerie Wilcox for capturing the images on the pages of the magazine.  

Photos in blog post provided by the super contracting team on this project Black General Contracting.

HOW TO SURVIVE A ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS

HOW TO SURVIVE A ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS

Happy summer! Is it really August- the time when back to school shopping hits full marketing swing and fall fashion look books come to be? I am in full fall denial and am going to soak up every remaining minute of summer- I hope you are too.

We just survived a pretty epic road trip to Florida with our 5 kids ages 6 and under. We drove. All the way. In a mini van. Yes we are crazy!

But good crazy I think. I have always valued travel but had loads of apprehension taking so many kids such a long distance (Toronto Canada to close to Naples Florida is a LONG trek) but every sacrifice was well worth the many memories we created as a family. 

We stayed in a gorgeous vacation rental in Ave Maria, Florida, about 45-minute drive from Naples. Look at that pool! Look at that tiny baby in that massive bed! 

The family friendly college town is built around a church and university (fun fact: built by the original creator of Domino's pizza!) and it was pretty awesome to experience such a serene small town where we walked to everything, where bikes are unlocked everywhere and people drive golf carts to do their grocery shopping!

The conveniences of Naples, and multiple gorgeous beaches, was a 45-minute drive away.  I am convinced EVERYONE needs to live near a beach for a period. Watching my young kids experience the beach for the first time was kind of amazing.

It was a stretching experience to cross multiple states with 5 small kids in a regular 'ol minivan. But I am so glad we did it. I am such a believer in the value that travel brings. Incredible family memories get made in such a unique way when you are experiencing a new culture, new routines and new friends.

But like everything there is totally strategy involved to road trip well! Here are a couple of things I have gleaned to help make road trips more manageable with kids from our recent multi-state pilgrimage. 

1.  BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF AND WITH OTHERS

Being in a car for several hours is taxing- I found it easier to just accept it when it was grueling and tiring, and give everyone a bit of grace (myself included). That's really it- no crazy explanation here- simply just have the best attitude possible and accept there will be sections that will be difficult- but worth it in the end. 

2. ZIPLOCK BAG EVERYTHING

One huge pain point I found was I could never find anything in the car when I needed it. For example, kids wanted snacks and despite putting the snack bag at the front of the car, it inevitably got buried under piles of other things. What I found helpful was to put essentials into clear ziplock bags. In a gallon size freezer bag I placed one pair of pajamas per child, one book, and one snack, and one diaper for the ones who need them. In a snack size bag I did their toothbrushes and in a separate quart size bag small activity books and crayons. I found it way easier to pass this back while driving, or just to have handy when time to change- way better than digging through multiple tote bags in the car. I also found ziplock bags helpful for storing soiled clothing or other smelly items so they wouldn't make the car smell. 

3. DRIVE THROUGH THE NIGHT FOR A QUIET PORTION OF THE RIDE

I was really skeptical of this one, as I just couldn't figure out how we would drive through the night and then wake up AND take care of kids the next day. It was tiring, but the benefit was that we enjoyed relative quiet (a reduction on "are we there yet" type questions) and we got to our destination much faster by driving straight through the night (we made it home from Florida in 30 hours factoring in our stops for meals and nursing the baby etc). We essentially took turns sleeping and driving. What helped me stay awake and motivated driving through the night was listening to one of my many podcasts I subscribe to (Pat Flynn, you got me through the state of West Virginia!) and then while sleeping, an eye mask and white noise app in headphones were pretty helpful. We were all pretty tired the next morning but made sure we had a good stretch at breakfast and let the kids run around. I personally found it easier than getting a hotel and unloading all our stuff each time. 

4. WHEN YOU STOP ENJOY THE STRETCH

Rest areas and truck stops have come a LONG way since my childhood! While some still look like they never left the 1950's, there are ample that have almost too many amenities, like an arcade, full service restaurant, spacious clean bathrooms, showers, and large retail stores. Favourite places for us to stop included Cracker Barrel that has an amazing shop of curiosities that the kids adored. We also picked up the book Along Interstate 75 that had a ton of fun suggestions for off the beaten path attractions and fun tid bits of history of the states as we drove through.

5. BRING STUFF THAT SMELLS NICE

A road trip is grueling, so bring items that will give you a quick mood elevation. I was SO THANKFUL for my essential oils as I was traveling for the little lift it would give my energy. I love lavender for getting ready to sleep, lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus for energy. 

How do you survive a road trip? Love to know in the comments below- and feel free to share this with a friend who might be embarking on a big car adventure : ) May summer never end!

4 STRESS REDUCING CLEANING QUICK WINS

4 STRESS REDUCING CLEANING QUICK WINS

With my kids home from school I am loving spending aimless time relaxing with them in our house. Challenge is- with 7 people, now in the house very full time, we make a lot of mess. I have to work hard to keep my house in a somewhat sane state! We recently had a photoshoot to capture our completed renovation (photo above of our completed master bedroom by the fantastic Larry Arnal) and while it truthfully doesn't look as pristine as this at all times, I do try to keep it looking as close to pristine as possible. 

My motivation for this is not to show off to friends or impress my mother when she comes over (although silently I am of course thinking this!), but completely for my peace of mind and personal enjoyment. Let's face it- a clean, organized space is just so much more enjoyable than a messy one. This is why I am such a proponent of strategic, intentionally designed spaces that can help a family THRIVE. Cause who doesn't want to thrive in their own home? 

Here are a couple of super quick cleaning wins that I guarantee will help reduce stress and increase your peace.

1. MAKE YOUR BED DAILY

Just do it. Do it as soon as you sleepily stumble out. Why? Aren't I just going to mess it up in a few hours anyway? I am a firm believer that quick wins lead to bigger wins, and that developing a small habit will lead to bigger habits. I am not an inherently organized person in regards to my home life- I have to work pretty hard at it and many times things fall through the cracks- but since we completed our renovation I have slowly built an arsenal of cleaning / organizing habits that have changed my life so drastically I cannot help but share. Making my bed was one of those things. I love this Lifehack article on more reasons why- but biggest reason is that you deserve to come home after a long day to a gorgeous bed! 

2. CLEAN YOUR COUNTERS AFTER EVERY MEAL

I make it a goal after every meal to clear my counters completely of mess. My habit before was to leave everything until I had time to get to it- so the cereal box stayed out until lunch and the empty wine bottles would remain for days. In my life things get in the way of this goal all the time- like my infant needing to nurse or simply being late out the door to an appointment. But as much as possible I try to budget enough time to clean counters of all unnecessary items. This is so helpful as it sets you up for success for your next meal prep, and similar to the bedroom, when you come in from a day of chaos, it is so wonderful to come home to a peaceful space. It's worth the extra 10 minutes to do immediately after a meal. This is also why I think dishwashers are essential especially when you have a family- mess gets put away with such little effort compared to washing and drying by hand. 

3. ELIMINATE PAPER BILLS

In our digital age I really don't see the need for paper billing. Beyond reducing space taken up by traditional paper files, going electronic saves you time as you can search for specific dates, amounts and details so quickly, compared to shuffling through a pile of paper! Paper used to CONSUME the front of my house- and I streamlined things by taking 15 minutes and requesting all our bills to be delivered electronically. This is also super helpful to me at income tax time- as details are so easy to access for my accountant.  

4. CAPSULE YOUR CLOSET

I LOVE fashion and can do serious damage if allowed to run free at a mall. But I honestly wear a fraction of the clothing I actually own. This is why the concept of a capsule wardrobe is so enticing. As I talked about in a recent article in The Toronto Star, I've embraced the idea of editing my wardrobe down to what I actually wear. For me it eliminates the hunting in the morning and anything to lighten my laundry load is always welcome! 

What are your quick wins for an organized home? Love to know in the comments below. For more time saving tips read my latest column over at Savvy Mom.

HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS

HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS

The most common question I get asked is hands down, "how do you do it?" And I will be the first to admit- having 5 kids under the age of 6 and running a business and attempting to maintain a healthy marriage, friendships, volunteer in my community, etc. is hard work. I don't have a secret formula answer to this question, but what I often share is that I make time for what is important, and I am disciplined about what doesn't get my time. Jamie at the Poptart Diaries wrote an awesome post on this topic and Iw as thrilled to be included.

Here's the thing- I think we are capable of more than we think we are- and while we shouldn't compare our thresholds with other people, I do think it's healthy to examine ourselves so we can perform at our best to deliver the best for our families, our work and our communities. 

If you are trying to figure out what should really get your time, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself to discern how you can have the greatest impact and ensure your time is best spent.

1. WHAT AM I REALLY GOOD AT?

I have written lots about Strengths Finder because it was really a pivotal tool for me in figuring out what I was best at so I could have more joy, work less hard and complete things in less time.  Once you take it, as my friend Lisa Ferguson of Strengths Mentor suggests, reverse engineer things from your strengths. For example, analyzing my strengths led me to realize I can provide a lot of value through consulting as I use 4 out of 5 of my strengths in a 2-hour consult! So I reverse engineered so to speak and dedicate more time to this part of my business to ensure I can help more people in this manner. I also examined what I am terrible at- and I basically outsource as much of those things as possible. 

2. WHAT DO PEOPLE SAY I AM GOOD AT?

Ask around. As part of a business coaching program, I asked 20 people via email the first 3 words that popped into their heads when they thought of me. The answers were really fun to examine- and surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) there were a few obvious patterns that emerged. If you're not sure what you're really good at, or what strengths you naturally possess that you can't see yourself- ask around.  

3. WHAT DO I STAND FOR? 

This is a great question to ask in general and was one that really challenged me in a recent course I just completed called B-School, by the fantastic Marie Forleo. What do you stand for? What would you fight for if given the chance? What do you wish everyone knew more about or could experience? The simple question of what do you fight for is a provocative one- and can be significant in examining how you spend your time. 

4. WHO DO I WANT TO HELP?

This goes beyond who your target market is- it really is a deeper question than demographics. Who can you, with your unique gifts and talents, genuinely help? Who can your personal stories uplift and connect with? What can your experience, your failures and your triumphs teach someone else? While we all want to run profitable businesses, helping people is truly at the core of successful ones. Someone I think does this well is Michael Hyatt. It's pretty apparent in his podcasts how much he cares about his tribe. Find your tribe. Love them hard

5. WHAT WOULD I DO IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT?

If you could do absolutely anything without any concern for making money, what would that be? Would it contain elements of what you are doing now? Why or why not? 

Finally, i stumbled upon this image on purpose and it is too good not to share (vie IttyBittyBookCo). 

So good, right? Love to know if these questions strike a chord with you, or if you have any questions you would add!

iRobot product review

iRobot product review

With 5 kids under 6 years of age the opportunity to sit down is ALWAYS WELCOME. So when I was offered the opportunity to test out the iRobot Braava I was very excited. So were my kids, let me tell you! 

The pros: This is a pretty nifty piece of technology. A small cube (placed on my island in the video) is essentially the GPS system for the unit. The mop navigates its way through a room and backs up at area rugs, baseboards, furniture pieces. The little guy weaved its way through all the legs of my stools on my kitchen island and under benches and side tables. And inspection of the microfibre cloth that comes with the unit revealed how dirty my floors were- and all done without me exerting much energy at all (I did run around with the vacuum first and made sure that there were no crayons or other things that could get under the mop and be dragged around).

The cons: The cloth doesn’t really scrub- so if you have dried liquid spills or sticky stuff don’t rely on it to clean up that mess. And don’t attempt to use this with toddlers around- I tried to use this with my 1 year old on the prowl and she kept pressing the buttons and copnfusing the poor little guy’s mopping path.

Time saving strategy: It is suggested in the instructions that you monitor the unit so it doesn’t fall down stairs or drag potential harmful things that would mark your floors under it. But of course I need time hacks! Earlier this week, I was getting ready for a girlfriend to come over to meet our new baby and I realized in a mild panic our bathroom was horrendous. The Braava saved the day- I checked the floor first, put the unit in, closed the door and by the time my friend was over I had clean floors. Pretty awesome tool in my time starved life. 

If you want to save time on mopping your floors check out the product here. And for more products that save on my cleaning up time check out my newest article over at SavvyMom.ca!

What cleaning time hacks have you got? Love to know in the comments below! 

Affiliate link used.

WATCH LISA TALK SMALL SPACE OUTDOOR DECOR TIPS

WATCH LISA TALK SMALL SPACE OUTDOOR DECOR TIPS

Recently I was interviewed by BuzzBuzzHome on the topic of how to decorate a small outdoor space. It was a super fun piece to shoot (and gave me some motivation to decorate my own outdoor space, which I usually neglect to be quite frank!) 

My patio set is PC Home– love the pop of colour and streamlined, whimsical design. I picked up on the colour with Flor carpet tiles in turquoise. 

I used some fun graphic outdoor pillows from Bouclair Home.

Little hits of yellow continue in accessories from Bouclair.

To create a little bit of coziness and privacy I used 3 reclaimed architectural salvage doors from the Door Store in Toronto fastened to my fence, and hung small candle lanterns from Bouclair using twine. 

For more of my tips watch on the video here– happy outdoor decorating! 

Thanks to Bouclair Home for providing the fun outdoor accessories for this feature! 

FATHER’S DAY IS AROUND THE CORNER!

FATHER’S DAY IS AROUND THE CORNER!

In the sleepless haze of new baby time, it's so easy to forget important dates coming up- Father's Day is Sunday June 21 this year, incase you needed help remembering also. 

This image is from a Father's Day segment I did on the Marilyn Denis Show where we built a man cave in studio- some fun products from Gladiator Garage Works, Bean Bag Boss, Indigo and more. 

Instead of a gift guide, I want to take some time to brainstorm how to thank dads for being great dads. I often struggle with these holidays as I have great hopes to do something to make my dad / my husband feel special, but then I put so much pressure on myself when it isn't perfect I get frustrated- anyone else have this complex? 

So I'm trying to think of a genuine, but relaxed way to show/tell the men in my life that I care about them. Is it a relaxed brunch? A framed photo? Do I serenade them? Love to know your suggestions in the comments below : )

 

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR NEW PARENTS: HOW TO ADJUST TO THOSE FIRST GROGGY DAYS

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR NEW PARENTS: HOW TO ADJUST TO THOSE FIRST GROGGY DAYS

Just over a week ago we had our 5th baby and it has been an interesting week to say the least! As I have eluded to on some of my instagram posts it has definitely been a transition, growing our family from 4 kids to 5, and I am in need of my own motivation! So this blog post is for all those new moms out there, whether for the first time or adding to your fam. I stand in solidarity with you!!!

TIP 1: RECALIBRATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

This is a hard one, especially if you're used to performing at a really high capacity. Or just enjoy doing things uninterrupted, lol. But try your best to RELAX. Enjoy this time. Let projects go, let your standards for house tidyness go longer than you normally would (really hard for me!),  and REST. I struggle with this but trust me, force yourself to just relax. Your body needs it, your mind needs it and your baby needs it. So take a deep breath, close your eyes and LET GO. Resting and bonding with baby are kind of crucial in the early days- remember giving birth is tons of physical work and you need to recoup! 

TIP 2: MAKE SMALL SIMPLE GOALS

Letting go of everything makes me feel totally crazy… so I love to make small, manageable goal lists. I am gentle on myself if I don't get them done, but I do make them. Daily lists for me are like 3-4 things and include simple things like taking a shower, updating my instagram account, reading a chapter of a book, clearing out a junk drawer, being quiet for 15 minutes to pray. Your personal list will look totally different- but the point is if you make a small goal, even if it is as simple as taking a shower, and then meet it- you will feel accomplished and can help break up the sleepless grogginess that can happen in first days of a new baby. 

TIP 3: LIVE IN YOUR STRENGTHS

The emotions you can have when you have a new baby can be kind of extreme at times. Personally, I have vacillated between completely elated and so happy to totally destitute there wasn't enough milk to top up my coffee. The combination of hormones, sleep deprivation, other children wanting your attention if you are in that situation, and more hormones, can make you feel crazy and not yourself. So when I am feeling down, I turn to my Strengths Finder assessment of my top 5 strengths and I try to do something within them. For example, Strategy is my number 2 strength- which means I LOVE taking a big picture and thinking through the best outcomes, connections, strategies to satisfy a goal. This past week my husband had something he had to sort out for work and we chatted about it for 30 minutes while I was nursing- and boy did it instantly elevate my mood. While you are off with baby might be a great time to do your assessment too! Zero affiliate or personal gain for me here- I just really think this is a transformative tool for people who want to be happier, productive and more engaged.

TIP 4: KISS YOUR HUSBAND

Yes, childbirth is a ton of work, both physically and mentally. But dads have to work hard too- they take care of us and if you've got other kids like me, dads will be pretty occupied with them. I think it's easy to forget how hard dads have to work too. So kiss them- the endorphins released are good for everyone : )

TIP 5: REMEMBER IT IS A SEASON

As a mom who has done this 5 times now, I can PROMISE you that the hard seasons pass. The sleepless nights pass, colic babies sort themselves out eventually, and a new normal is established that I promise is worth every challenge. I think parenthood is the cure for selfishness- it forces you to live outside of yourself, put others first, be humbled by lack of control- it is a good thing. And this time, when they are newborn and sweet and tiny and so vulnerable- trust me again when I say time goes by so so fast. Treasure this time. 

TIP 6: YOU MIGHT NOT FEEL LIKE "YOUR OLD SELF," AND THAT IS A GOOD THING

As I mentioned previously new baby time can make you feel kinda crazy- sleep deprivation and hormones and emotions in general can kind of play tricks on your psyche and absolutely make you not feel like yourself. And there are totally times when this is serious (I definitely had post partum blues with my 4th child immediately after giving birth) and you should chat with your doctor about it. But in other cases,  the "I wishes" might creep in- I wish I could do X again.. I wish I could feel like this again…  I wish I wish I wish… and some wishes are totally normal, like feeling fit or wanting more energy. But I challenge you to adjust your expectations and accept that things will never go back to the way they were before- and that is a REALLY GOOD THING. You have brought a human being into the world who is unique, unrepeatable, that has so much value. This little person will teach you so much about yourself, will increase your capacity to love, will challenge you to be the best version of yourself I argue. And yes there are hard parts about it, both physically and emotionally- but I would not trade this time for anything. I am 100% a better person as a result of having children, and while life with 5 under the age of 7 is absolutely crazy sometimes, when I witness love diffused and offered in a multitude of ways, when I witness sacrifice offered in a multitude of ways, when I think of how selfish I was when I was a single person and how much better my marriage is as a result of having kids- it is all worth it. Not feeling like my "old self" is a good thing.

What are your tips for getting through the first groggy days of parenthood with a newborn? Love to know your tips!   

IT’S A BOY! WELCOME BABY CANNING NUMBER 5!

IT’S A BOY! WELCOME BABY CANNING NUMBER 5!

With so much excitement we welcome baby #5 to our family. Joseph Andre welcome to the world.

My Thursday was a fairly ordinary Thursday, except for the fact that I was 2 days overdue which is quite unusual for me compared to my past 4 pregnancies. But come the afternoon I knew something was up (and that it would go fast) so in rush hour traffic we traveled downtown to meet our little one. No dramatic story (unlike my second pregnancy) but like my fourth, super fast

We are home now getting used to our new normal. It's a little crazy, a little amazing, and so very worth it. Follow the adventure on my Instagram page. We are extremely grateful for the love and support we have felt.

HOW TO EFFORTLESSLY SELL YOUR HOME IN 48 HOURS

HOW TO EFFORTLESSLY SELL YOUR HOME IN 48 HOURS

On the day we finished our laundry room 2 houses very similar to ours (except with zero upgrades) went on the market on our street. While I am NEVER leaving this house after all the work we've gone through (ok, ok, never say never), the thought of selling does get pretty tempting. 

After working 2 seasons behind the scenes in design TV on the hit show Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers, I have realized there really are a few reliable methods to get top dollar for your house- and sell it in 48 hours! (True story- totally happened to one of our homeowners! Sale within 48 hours!) Here are my top tips to get your house sold fast:

1. PAINT
This is kinda huge. Paint everything a really really nice neutral- a gray, a soft gray teal, a soft gray blue (notice the gray theme?). I love Courtenay's post on her fab blog of her favourite CIL neutrals. Get rid of all focal walls, please please please! 

2. CHANGE YOUR LIGHT FIXTURES
Get rid of the boob lights, track lights, ugly lights. Lighting has come a long way in regards to price point- making beautiful fixtures a lot more accessible. Pay close attention to the master bedroom and dining pendants where you might be able to do something really special!

3. INSTALL WINDOW TREATMENTS CORRECTLY
Notice the word correctly! Even a $19.99 drape can look amazing as long as it is installed correctly. Drapes should ideally just break at the floor- and the curtain rod should in most cases split the difference between the frame of the window and the ceiling.

4. CLEAN UP
This one is super basic but essentially clean like you have never cleaned before.

5. STAGE
On the show we use a local Toronto staging company, Executive Rentals, and the difference gorgeous furniture makes I think is really what will expedite the sale. When a buyer can see the potential of their life in the space- and that their life will be AWESOME in it- it can certainly speed up the sale process.

What are your tips on fast house sales? Love to know in the comments below.

5 STEPS TO AN ORGANIZED LAUNDRY ROOM

5 STEPS TO AN ORGANIZED LAUNDRY ROOM

Last week I finished the #oneroomchallenge crazy event of completing my laundry room in 6 weeks. We legitimately went from dungeon to dramatic difference in 6 actual weeks. You can read all about the adventure and see some fun reveal pics here. Thanks so so so so much for all of the lovely comments and feedback. Special thanks to Natasha at The Simply Inspired Blog and Erin at The Organized Life for including me in posts summarizing their favourite spaces! 

Beyond it being a pretty, sunny room, I am MOST excited that it's no longer a chaotic, dirty, dusty mess. Going in there was never fun, and it was almost always a safety hazard as we just piled everything we did not know what to do with in a disastrous pile. Sound familiar? Then you are going to love this post- THERE IS HOPE!!!!

Here are my 5 steps to an organized laundry room. Even if you aren't going to renovate, you can employ some of these tactics today!

STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT WILL LIVE IN THE SPACE

Make a list of the items that are going to actually live in the space. This is what lives in my laundry room:

– kids coats, shoes, backpacks, hats

– grown up off season coats

– all off season accessories for kids and grownups like snowpants, mitts, boots, etc. 

– all household cleaning supplies

– all tools, tapes, most crafting supplies, items I use on set when styling for photoshoots or TV shows

When you have this list, figure out how much mass this stuff takes up. Will it fit in cabinets, do you need length for long coats, etc. etc. and design accordingly. My saving grace in this room was the Zobal system by Cutler pictured above. The key is to design your cabinets around your specific stuff, rather than the other way around. Same goes true for buying baskets, or plastic containers of any size. Figure out exactly what you need to store BEFORE you design cabinets or buy organizational items. Then- give yourself a clean sweep and purge everything else that does not belong!

STEP 2: WHAT FUNCTIONS NEED TO HAPPEN?

Obviously, you need to do laundry in the laundry room. But what else needs to happen? Do you need to fold, store laundry, sort laundry? Do you need a space for creating floral arrangements, or crafting up a storm? Do you need space for items that will go to the dry cleaners, or needs to be mended? In my space, I knew I needed the following functions:

– wash and dry clothing (A LOT OF IT with soon to be 7 people in this house)

– air dry clothing

– fold laundry

– space for kids to sit to take off boots, coats, etc.

–  place for me to prep for photoshoots, pack up accessories and tools needed when on set

With my functions in mind I approached One One Eleven Designs to create this custom hanging rack for me to hang clothing like dress shirts that I don't want to go through the dryer. I also knew I needed ample counter space for the amount of laundry I fold so having one large 10' run of counter space was super important. This step is going to be really important if you are renovating so you can strategically achieve what you want and dedicate space for every specific thing. If you need help doing this I can help you out

STEP 3: PLACE LIKE WITH LIKE

This is a step everyone can employ right away. Take all the items you know are going to live in the space as decided upon in Step 1, and now group "like with like". So place all the tools in pile, all the laundry supplies in one pile, all the other items in one pile. Now is the time you go shopping for baskets and such. For items that are kind messy like off season hats and mittens, I really like to throw them in a large opaque container like a wicker or cloth basket. I suggest small screws, small anything really get stored in stackable clear containers. I also corral mail and other small items in small trays and baskets from Bouclair.

STEP 4: KEEP VISIBLE ANYTHING YOU USE ALL THE TIME

To avoid having to rummage through bins and baskets I like keeping visible anything I use on a regular basis. In my house this includes tape, scissors, picture hanging supplies and vases (I love creating fresh floral arrangements throughout my house once or twice a week!)  In my laundry room my Zobal wall installations work really hard for me to keep me organized. Additionally, I keep my detergent out on a yellow tray beside my units for convenience. I love how Sarah did this with her pre-soak powder treatment she stores in a terrarium beside her sink- the point of this step is to keep it efficient, functional and pretty.

STEP 5: MAKE IT PRETTY

Just because it's a laundry room doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on style. I would not hesitate to put wallpaper up in a laundry space, hang graphic art or paint the entire space a fun bold colour. Did you see what fellow #oneroomchallenge participant Paige Minear did in her laundry? My point is don't think of the laundry room as an afterthought. It can be just as stylish as the rest of your home. If you are renovating, consider a graphic floor or a bold colour on the walls. If you're just sprucing things up for spring, totally hang some art and / or create a styled surface- even if it's just on a floating shelf or movable storage cart. 

Here's to keeping things organized and pretty this season- love to know what spring projects you've got on the go in the comments below. 

Photos by Larry Arnal.

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 6: LAUNDRY ROOM REVEAL

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 6: LAUNDRY ROOM REVEAL

Phew! It was a mad race to the finish but the audacious challenge of completing my laundry room in 6 weeks for the One Room Challenge is now complete. Let's keep it real: it wasn't like anyone was keeping track if I didn't finish. I am basically 9 months pregnant after all and a few times this week I thought about throwing in the towel. But the entire concept of this challenge- a group of ambitious creatives doing this together, cheering each other on- my heart overflows with the new friends I have made and the invisible cheerleaders I felt I had along the way (and sending my love to my very real cheerleader, friend, and fellow complete a laundry room in 6 weeks cause we're crazy that way Sarah Walker). 

If you are new to my blog, welcome! So happy to have you. Here's the before: a scary gross dungeon FILLED to the brim with junk:

And here is the crazy crazy transformation (still cannot believe we did this and I did not go into labour):

TILES: Let's start with the floors and backsplash. On the floors I wanted something graphic and herringbone, and I was prepared to cut every single tile personally. But when I saw these porcelain tiles at Creekside Tile I thought the 12" x 24" scale would work well in my space. In 3 shades of grey, my installer Roberto and I figured out the colour pattern (let me tell you that was a head scratcher to not get any colours touching…) and I am so pleased with the results. For the backsplash, Enrique at Creekside suggested a large scale herringbone in matte white- and with a light grey grout it provides an elegant texture and contrast to my floors. 

INDUSTRIAL TEXTURE: This live edge wooden shelf with pipe hanging rod was a bit of a last minute addition (as in the team at One One Eleven are miracle workers). I've worked with Aimee and Chris, husband and wife woodworking team extraordinaire on client projects and TV shows- and so happy to have a little piece of their talent to act as a functional place to air dry clothing. And who doesn't love a live edge- the wood provides a gorgeous texture in any application in my opinion!

LAUNDRY FOR THE MASSES: As my smiling face in my photo at the top of this post would indicate, I cannot wait to do laundry in my new units. The Whirlpool Cabrio High-Efficiency Top Loader has Precision Dispense and the digital controls basically remember your ideal settings for doing laundry. And you guys- my dryer has a steam option and will dry 4 BASKETS OF LAUNDRY IN ONE GO! I needed to upgrade to larger units for my growing family- and chose to go white for some contrast and to match my counters. 

STORAGE STORAGE EVERYWHERE: In my pursuit of keeping things family friendly (both in function and in approach to budget) I used off the rack cabinetry from Cutler Modern Living. These multi-purpose cabinets come flat packed so they whip together super fast (pick up to final installation was 2 days total by my super installer Steve). With handy baskets, hampers and trays from Bouclair  I'm able to attempt to remain organized with my soon to be 5 kids : )

SPACE SAVING STORAGE: Between designing for clients and styling photoshoots from print and TV, I have SO MUCH STUFF that needs organized storage. I basically had small things like picture hanging hardware, various tools, vases for styling, and cleaning supplies for when I am on set in the most unorganized of tote bags and plastic bins. I never knew where anything was and was always scrambling. Scramble no more- this is the Zobal system by Cutler Modern Living and they have developed this amazing track system that is pretty darn perfect for my needs. With a variety of hooks, shelves, containers, etc. etc. that you customize to your liking- and can change at whim by the way as all the features clip and slide, by the way- this is truly a flexible and practical system for small space storage. I am kind of obsessed and am dreaming up applications for this in stone, glass tile and the like- I chose to install the tracks between melamine that matches my cabinets for a contemporary look. And PS- when cleaning supplies look as pretty as pretty as these Lemon Aide products do, can't help but keep them on display.

BRING ON THE BLACK: I love the industrial edge a matte black faucet brings to a space. I have this exact model in my kitchen- and at first I thought I should switch it up and not have a copy cat faucet in my laundry as well. But I just love it- and why mess with something you love- so the Solna by Brizo makes a repeat performance in my laundry as well. 

This was a serious mad race to the finish line (seriously, most of the work happened in the last 72 hours!). But so thankful I finished, and thankful to my brand partners, to members of my design team Carter and Kelly-Lynn, and BIG thanks to Larry Arnal for these beautiful images. And thankful for all of you for following along. The whole idea of designing spaces that allow families to thrive is such an important concept to me. After doing it for clients day in and day out it always feels so good to use my own gifts to serve my own growing family. And while laundry might be mundane and tedious, it is a care we provide to our families that is a valuable, necessary, and can be done with a ton of love. 

Now go check out what everyone else accomplished- the results are pretty amazing. For the featured 20 click here, and for the 150+ linking participants click here

HOW TO BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY WITHOUT FALLING FLAT ON YOUR FACE

HOW TO BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY WITHOUT FALLING FLAT ON YOUR FACE

I think all parents could use one of these trophies from time to time. Cause being a parent- let alone a working parent- is a juggling act that is deserving of an award. 

Being a working parent is no easy feat. It requires a great deal of organization and stamina. I started my interior design business right out of university, after working on this crazy little television show, and pretty shortly after I had my first child. 8 years of a business and almost 5 kids later the art of juggling has become a skill I am very familiar with. 

For the purposes of this blog post I am calling "working parents" those who either work out of the home for someone else, or run their own business either full or part-time (bloggers you're in here too!). However, this nomenclature is not to underscore the amount of work it is to raise kids full time at home- it is absolutely the most important full time job I believe that exists today and it is a ton of hard work. 

With that said, here are my top tips for how to balance it all without falling flat on your face:

1. PLAN YOUR IDEAL WEEK

This is a non-negotiable, do not pass go, do not move any further without sitting down to plan this. Here are some tips on how to plan it practically, but I also want you to consider the word "ideal" with an attitude of abundance. We live in a market today where being a working parent can look VERY different from generations past. So even if you work a "traditional" 9-5 job, might there be ways you could negotiate it to look less traditional ie. working from home a few days a week, extending your hours some days so you can take other days off, or simply starting your day early so you can end early and personally do school pick ups. I realize this might not be an option for everyone, but it is an option I think one should explore, or not write off completely before exploring options. The most important thing on this point is that you think about what IDEAL means for YOU, really dig deep without being limited, and adjust accordingly. It might lead you to realize that the situation you are in needs to change.

2. MANAGE YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS

I think the pursuit of "having it all" can be kind of dangerous. I absolutely love Heather Havrilesky's take on it in this article. I agree with her wholeheartedly- I think working mothers / parents CAN have it all- you just have to adjust your expectation of what "IT" is. And "IT" is going to look totally different from one working parent (or any parent for that matter) to the next. Don't compare. I often get asked how I do it all- and I will be honest with you, I have no magic potion, no secret, no easy answer. I simply work hard, know the "why" behind what I do, and have gone through a ton of trial and error and adjusted every time. For me, it always comes down to the work I have done planning / visioning what my ideal life looks like, and every time things fall out of balance or I don't feel like my actions align with my values, I readjust. 

3. MAKE FAMILY TIME AS IMPORTANT AS ANY WORK APPOINTMENT

This is huge, and admittedly, a muscle I constantly have to strengthen. Essentially, make spending time with your family just as important as any major meeting, presentation, client appointment or conference. In my own life, I will prepare whole-heartedly for work related meetings and events- but how much effort do I invest in spending time with my husband or kids? Too often I don't put in nearly as much effort. I'm not arguing that one has to make every ounce of quality time a production or major event- but that you schedule it, stick to it, and dare I say put your phone on silent in the same manner you would in a work meeting. In a practical sense this could look like taking Sundays off with your family, scheduling a weekly date night, etc. etc. etc. But the point is that it is scheduled, and prioritized highly. 

4. EDIT YOUR LIFE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Okay, I do have an answer to the question how I do it all: I have edited my life A TON. In my business, I have delegated / outsourced as much as possible to keep me working in my strengths. In my home life, we have a part-time nanny and occasionally hire cleaning services. As a result of trial and error, I learned I could not do everything without compromising or feeling like I was failing at everything. I also argue working parents need to edit their lives of other things: activities that might waste time (I had to remove Angry Birds from my phone because I could not believe how much time I was spending killing those darn pigs!), friends that might suck your energy, or the amount of TV you watch. 

5. EMBRACE THE IMBALANCE

I know I have used the word "balance" on this blog like it is something you can achieve. But make no mistake what I have learned, especially as an entrepreneur with really young kids- is that imbalance is far more regular and if I constantly tried to keep my life exactly balanced at all times I would not win. Instead, I embrace the imbalance, knowing that the pendulum always swings back: busy times are balanced later with family vacations, no day in my life is identical to the last, and that trying to control everything- including my kids- is a harmful and unrealistic goal. So I embrace that juggling work and kids won't always be graceful- but with proactive planning and a sense of humour you can thrive- not just survive. 

What are your tips for balancing work and family life? Love to know in the comments below. 

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 5: RACE TO THE FINISH LINE

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 5: RACE TO THE FINISH LINE

If it's your first time to the blog- welcome to my little corner of the internet where I talk about Interior Design, Productivity, Family and my design business. Happy to have you here for another installment of the One Room Challenge, this fantastic challenge set out by Linda at Calling It Home. It's going to be a mild race to next week's finale, but I am pretty pumped with my progress- cause look at these floors! 

With the help of Creekside Tile, I came up with this fun idea to use a normal 12" x 24" porcelain tiles in 3 different colours. Originally, I was going to order tiles half the size, or have these cut in half (which would have been an expensive option). But when I saw these in person, I actually liked the scale. And really I am just in love with how you can use a practical, reasonably priced product, and with a little ingenuity use it in a unique way. Thrilled with the results. 

It will be a serious race to the finish line but so happy to be racing alongside all my fellow ORC participants. You can see what the 20 featured participants are up to here, and what the 150+ linking participants are up to here. Thanks for following along! 

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 4: WHY I LOVE DEADLINES

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 4: WHY I LOVE DEADLINES

For a good part of 2014 I ran the design team on Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers. So I am used to racing to the finish line. To get ready for reveal days, we would sometimes work until 2am to get an entire main floor to camera ready perfection. It was grueling, sometimes gruesome, but gorgeous results always came. So deadlines don't scare me. In fact, completing a space in 48-hours actually makes me excited!  

But this time it's a little different. I don't have a big team, I don't have a big budget, and I'm juggling lots of other work and life demands while completing this laundry room project for the One Room Challenge (you can get caught up on my progress herehere and here). Which, may I say, the ORC is such a cool concept- complete a room in 6 weeks and blog about it in real time. Linda, if you ever find yourself in Toronto drinks are on me! Love the support and mutual celebration I am seeing demonstrated among bloggers and designers across North America and beyond! So great to celebrate each other and highlight so much talent. 

This week has been slow and steady, impacted by the fact that I thought I was in full on labour last Friday, and the fact that I had to wait on stock for one of my tile colours. So while I wait for stuff to happen this is what we do at the Canning House:

Mommy tries to take a selfie and my youngest wants to play too. While we were doing this, a team was at work downstairs. The space is now fully drywalled, insulated, and ready for tiling. Speaking of tile:

I've committed to a fun, graphic approach to the floor in three shades of grey. For my backsplash, continuing the graphic treatment with matte white 4" x 16" tiles in a herringbone pattern which will be such a fun contrast against the floor. Massive thanks to Enrique and his creative team at Creekside Tile in Toronto who helped me resolve a ton of indecision! So wonderful to work with vendors who can expertly guide and offer awesome design insights.  

So as you can see it's going to be a BIG push to get this puppy done, but bring it on! I have been loving following the progress of the featured 20 One Room Challenge participants, and everyone included in the ORC Linking Event! A big hello to all my new friends : )  

THE COOLEST ECO-LIGHT BULB I HAVE EVER SEEN

THE COOLEST ECO-LIGHT BULB I HAVE EVER SEEN

Where possible in my home and in my business I try to operate as eco-friendly as possible. This includes composting, recycling, reducing paper use, and using energy-efficient light bulbs. But let's keep it real- the spiral shaped bulbs are not the most attractive. And with exposed bulbs being so popular in design right now they aren't the most esthetically pleasing choice. 

Say hello to the Nanoleaf Gem, as shown on the ends of my Atelier Nomade rope light installation in my daughter's room. 

When a bulb is exposed like this it really is crucial that the actual bulb looks fabulous too. The Nanoleaf Gem satisfies that and then some with its faceted design and opaque white colour. It casts a soft warm white colour which is so lovely (compared to the more harsh white of typical energy-efficient bulbs) and it's shatter resistant which is great for a home with small kids like mine. Unlike other LEDs, which are too bright and harsh for atmosphere lighting, the Nanoleaf Gem is the first LED that has the same inviting light as an incandescent while using just a fraction of the energy. 

They are launching this new product today on Earth Day. Here's to great design that also helps conserve on energy. Where do you try to conserve energy in your home? Love to know in the comments below. 

5 MOTIVATING PEOPLE YOU SHOULD FOLLOW TODAY

5 MOTIVATING PEOPLE YOU SHOULD FOLLOW TODAY

When I am overwhelmed with life I have a few tools in my back pocket I go to often. But my favourite technique to battle overwhelm is to simply fill my brain with as much good stuff as possible- meaning reading things that fill my soul, make me better, and following people with great practical tips in general. So today I would love to share my favourite motivating people to follow on the internet- and why you should follow them too.

 1. Michael Hyatt

So it's no secret I am a fan of Michael Hyatt. In early 2014 my husband introduced me to his blog and book. His blog, podcast and membership site Platform University are great sources for leadership development, how to be a great blogger / writer / platform builder, and I just love overall his attitude towards living with intention and integrity. 

You should check out: this podcast interviewing Greg McEwen, authour of Essentialism. Amazing stuff on the disciplined pursuit of less.

2. Marie Forleo

I swear my baby is going be born with a New Jersey accent I have been listening to so much of Marie's content. She is just awesome. With her happy, sometimes a little crass, everything is figure-out-able attitude, you can't help but be in a good mood after listening to her helpful videos on getting more done in less time and overcoming fear and self doubt. 

Fellow entrepreneurs check out: her video on how to determine how much to charge.

3. TIM FERRISS

​I have just discovered his platform and what intrigues me is his approach to lifestyle design. He has several products with the 4-hour promise: 4-Hour Work Week, 4-Hour Chef, 4-Hour Body, etc. Essentially he is full of strategies and hacks to be efficient and get more done in less time. I look forward to delving into his content more. 

Favourite thing so far: he suggests to check your email ONLY TWICE A DAY. This would be a huge departure from my current behaviour- but I totally see the merit and how it would save me a TON of time. 

4. LYNNE KNOWLTON

I have known Lynne through the Toronto blogging scene for a little while now, but when you read her blog, I feel like you really get to know her. Her blog is full of design tips, cool DIY projects, crazy helpful blogging strategies, but the best is Lynne's vulnerable self that is pretty darn motivating (and often times so funny you'll be crying) even in the worst of moods. 

Don't miss: her family's story of cancer, why your voice matters and 40 funny things about men – this last one had me laughing SO hard. 

5. Stu McLaren

Doesn't this picture say it all? Sign up for his emails for regular motivating posts on growing your platform while making more time for the things that really matter. Stu practices what he preaches by making time for his charity he runs (with his wife!) World Teacher Aid.

For visual motivation: Check out his instagram feed filled with great quotes. 

Who are your favourite motivational people to follow online? Love to now in the comments below.  

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 3: DEMO AND FRAMING

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 3: DEMO AND FRAMING

If this your first time to the blog welcome! To refresh your memory, I'm participating in the One Room Challenge, this fun and ambitious project where I am completing a room, in real time, in 6 weeks. Get caught up here and here. And did I mention I am having a baby super soon?!?!? Nothing like a baby coming to keep a girl motivated… 

So we have gutted the room which as you might remember was FULL OF CRAP. Tip for purging a room of its contents: have a ruthless friend with you who can ensure you actually purge instead of going on a sentimental road trip of delusion. Purge that stuff and get it gone. Speaking of purge here was our crazy old, crazy heavy cast iron sink:

And here it is broken in two to make way for a beautiful new modern sink cabinet.

Confessions of a pregnant renovator who should really know better since I do this for a living advising clients all the time: I get super overwhelmed when it comes to my own home. It's like I completely forget all my years of experience and the fact that people pay me to do this for them. People pay me to be their cheerleader, be their strategic guide. For some BIZARRE reason, that all goes out the window for my own home and I become an emotional lunatic (#uglycry). Any other ORC participants feel the same way?

I'll be back next Thursday with lots more progress- some of my finishes will be installed over the next week and then it's going to be a close to the wire finish- which also could be dramatically impacted by the arrival of our 5th child. Stay tuned for all the drama! To keep up with the mayhem of all the One Room Challenge featured bloggers click here, and for fellow linking party participants click here.

Special thanks to the team at Black General Contracting who have been so helpful with this tight deadline : )  

DRESSING THE BUMP: DENIM FOR THE WIN

DRESSING THE BUMP: DENIM FOR THE WIN

Who doesn't love a great pair of jeans and a slouchy sweater? This basically has been my uniform during this pregnancy, especially as I near the end!

I've only got about 6 weeks left of this pregnancy. It's super surreal how fast it has come but we really cannot wait to welcome baby #5 to our family. 

Jeans: Thyme Maternity Citizens; Tunic: Thyme Maternity Long Sleeve High-Low Maternity Sweater; Necklace: Tessa & Olivia; Shoes: Steve Madden.

Thanks to Thyme Maternity for partnering with me during this very special time and to Mdd Photography for capturing my growing bump!

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 2: BUILDING A SCHEME

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE WEEK 2: BUILDING A SCHEME

When I start a design for myself or a client, I start with coming up with 5 words that will describe the design and I basically use them as a filter for all design decisions. Doing this for clients is really helpful as it ensures the goals of the project stay on track- and for my own home, I need as much direction and discipline as possible since I know the multitude of design options available to me- I find designing for myself very overwhelming!

Here are the 5 words I am using as my design funnel for my laundry room that I am completing as part of a fun little project called the One Room Challenge:

The process of coming up with the 5 words takes me some time and discernment- I carefully select them, tweak them, use a thesaurus until the balance of the words is just right. And then comes the fun part… 

I use Pinterest and pin pin pin until I feel I have an accurate vision of how I want the space to feel. This is the visual reference point I use to select all the actual finishes in the space. 

 

Faucet is by Brizo, cabinets by Cutler, baskets / hampers from Bouclair. I still need a bit more to satisfy the vibrant element- loving these coloured wire baskets, perhaps will add some vibrancy with a bench cushion and pillows like this Agate fabric, and I am debating if at all practical to add a level of polish with these Restoration Hardware sconces I have in inventory. Stay tuned for more every Thursday as I keep at it with the One Room Challenge! For more about this amazing challenge where you complete a room in 6 weeks and blog about it in real time click here– there is an impressive group of 20 designers being featured. And to see other bloggers who are participating in the linking event like me including my lovely friend Sarah Walker click here! Next week I'll be sharing where I am at construction wise in the space- it's going to be a huge transformation!  

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE: FAMILY FRIENDLY LAUNDRY ROOM

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE: FAMILY FRIENDLY LAUNDRY ROOM

Today begins the crazy interior design adventure that is the One Room Challenge. If you aren't familiar, it's a blog series / audacious challenge organized by the wonderful Linda at Calling It Home. Read all about the challenge on her blog here

I'm participating as a linking participant, which means that in addition to the 20 bloggers Linda will be featuring, I will be doing my project in REAL TIME as well. One room in 6 weeks= mad adventure. So come by every Thursday for the crazy week-by-week play by play.

I am tackling my laundry room. Hold your breath, here it is:

I'm going to be asking A LOT of my laundry room. It needs to be a little mud room of sorts for my soon to be 5 kids, a folding space / storage space for all of our laundry (it's a lot) and storage for stuff I access on the regular like props for styling gigs. I will be doing this project very much in real time- so today I'll be sitting down and finalizing all the design plans and confirming what materials to order so I can order them STAT. I hope you'll join along!

Some inspiration for my floors (image via):

And my cabinets:

And of course I need a small industrial influence of some kind (image via):

Here are the featured 20 in One Room Challenge: Jana Bek – Autumn Clemons – Coco+Kelley – The English Room – Vanessa Francis – Greige Design – Hi Sugarplum – I Heart Organizing – Jenna Sue Design – Stephanie Kraus – The Pursuit of Style – Julia Ryan – Savvy Home – Simple Details – Simply Grove – 6th Street Design – Jill Sorensen – Swoon Worthy – Waiting on Martha – Kimberly Schlegel Whitman And to see the awesome people (150 plus!!!) who are linking along click here.

 Finally, follow along with the hashtag #oneroomchallenge for all the crazy mad design fun. 

HOW TO HAVE KIDS AND STAY SANE

HOW TO HAVE KIDS AND STAY SANE

When I was about to become a parent for the first time (actually exactly around this time 6 years ago!) I ripped a page out of a magazine that listed 30 essential things you needed to have before baby came. I had nothing. Most of it was medical related and so I marched over to the pharmacist and in near hysterics, explained that I was having my first child in a week and was so overwhelmed and had nothing on the list and felt so unprepared and I don't know what a nasal aspirator is etc. etc. etc. He kindly looked at me and said, "I have three kids and I have never used half the stuff on this list. You're going to be fine."

I think it's easy to get really overwhelmed in any new circumstance, especially as one as uncharted as parenthood. It can be a daunting experience, raising a human being, let alone more than one. So now as a slightly more experienced mom (I now know what a nasal aspirator is! I have never needed to use one!) I share my top tips on how to have kids and stay sane, whether you have one, or what can feel like a dozen like my soon to be 5 : ) 

1. TREAT PARENTING LIKE A PROFESSION

I invest a ton of time becoming a better business owner, learning social media strategies and going to conferences to better my craft. How much do I do to become a better parent? I have written on this topic in the past  and while it might not be in the form of a course, I think it's important to actively sharpen the saw as Dr. Covey would say on parenting strategies. And I'm talking beyond parenting strategies like discipline or sleep habits- things like cooking healthy meals, learning new juicing recipes, and other practical household tips as well. 

2. INVEST IN YOUR HOME

I talked a lot about this in my presentation this past weekend at The Baby Show– your home is the stage where your memories are made. And of course as an interior design pro I am going to argue the value that beauty will bring to your life. But beyond physical beauty, invest in a well organized home. With soon to be 5 kids (6 if you include my husband) I simply don't have time to waste searching for things. I really just want to get back to living life and loving my family- so to help you out read my posts on Interior Design and decluttering and getting your house finished in 48-hours

3. KEEP PERSPECTIVE AND REMEMBER TO LAUGH

Parenting for sure can feel like a marathon at times but perhaps you could think of it like a series of sprints. There are hard periods, of which I have MANY stories, but they pass. EVERYTHING PASSES. Remember to laugh because parenting can also be quite entertaining. 

4. HAVE A LIST OF QUICK MOOD ELEVATORS

For the times that feel like THEY WILL NEVER PASS, have super quick emotional pick me ups. It might be a song you love on your iPhone, an inspirational quote that refocuses you, or take a peek at a few tips I have from this post on running on empty

5. TELL YOUR SPOUSE YOU LOVE THEM MORE

This strategy is my favourite. Tell your spouse you love them. You think they are hot. You appreciate them. Do it often, and more than you think.

What tips do you have for staying sane while parenting? Love to know in the comments below.

  

TIME SAVING TIPS ON GLOBAL NEWS

TIME SAVING TIPS ON GLOBAL NEWS

Today was another fun day sharing products that will save you a ton of time so you can get back to living life and loving your kids. You can watch the clip here. Here's a round up of some of the products I shared today with Antony Robart on Global News at Noon- who by the way, if you want a good cry read this article he wrote on parenthood here. Perhaps I am a bit hormonal but seriously- it's a sweet one! 

Baby Brezza Formula Pro– conveniently makes the PERFECT bottle- as in perfect temperature, perfect consistency, no clumps, no globs. Whether you choose to formula feed for health, nutritional supplement, or other reasons this makes making a bottle pretty darn convenient! 

Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker– Again, hello convenient! So awesome- another one step product where you steam AND puree food in one product. I honestly cannot believe I have been a mother this long and have not know about this product. Pretty amazing. 

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwhich Maker– this is as cute as it is convenient. I spend WAY too much money on breakfast sandwiches on the run. Now that I have this product I make restaurant quality (if I do say so myself) in the home. Layer your ingredients and in 5-minutes it's done. 

Budget Binds Window Treatment ConsultWhile I love shopping for window treatments, my children don't see it as much fun as mommy does. So bring them to you. Budget Blinds will do in-home consultations where they will bring samples, take measurements and quote. While their name has budget in it they have got some pretty luxe offerings as well- from custom drapery to colour blocked cordless blinds great for kids' rooms. They bring all the options- you get to stay home. 

  

Toy storage that matches your decor- instead of neon buckets consider finding interesting storage pieces like this kinda random but kinda cool chicken cage I found at HomeSense. Kids toys can get stashed but the piece still feels decorative and less of an eye sore. 

And this didn't make it into today's segment but I mentioned it in my CHCH segment earlier this week so I thought I would include it here: 

Whirlpool® Duet® 5.2 cu. ft. I.E.C.* Steam Front Load Washer with Load & Go™ System– This is mega convenient as it allows you to fill the detergent to do up to 12 loads, abd reminds you when you need more. And if you fall asleep at story time and forget to unload the wash it has you covered- its unique venting system allows you to dry a small load in the same unit. Pretty brilliant. 

I'll be sharing more tips and tricks and systems for staying organized so you can keep you house looking beautiful- and you feeling sane- at the Baby Show this weekend. Don't forget to use the code LISA15 to get $3 off your ticket online. Hope to see you there!

SPRING CLEANING THE CLUTTER

SPRING CLEANING THE CLUTTER

Is anyone else SO EXCITED spring is here? It's still a little on the cold side in Toronto but the non -30 temperatures are so welcome. With sunnier times ahead I am totally in spring mode- so on CHCH this week I shared a few of my favourite streamline your life, decrease the clutter and just get back to living products that I am in love with right now. 

Click here to watch my CHCH segment and stay tuned tomorrow as I'll be on Global News at Noon sharing more streamlining tips with Rosey Edeh. 

Happy spring cleaning and streamlining!   

VISIT LISA AT THE BABY SHOW: MARCH 28-29, 2015

VISIT LISA AT THE BABY SHOW: MARCH 28-29, 2015

I'm so excited to announce I will be speaking at The Baby Show, March 28 & 29, 2015 at the Direct Energy Centre. I'm going to be speaking on the topic of living with kids- conquer the clutter and keep your home beautiful! 

Having just finished my own house in the extensive adventure that was our #canningreno, I have first hand experience that it's totally possible to have beauty, function, and multiple small kids.

If you feel like you can't keep up with clutter, are overwhelmed by mess, and really want to create a beautiful home for your family, my presentation will give you practical tips you can implement as soon as you go home.

I will be speaking at 4pm each day on the main stage. In addition to the presentation, I'll be demo-ing products / offering complimentary design consultations at the following booths prior / after my talk:

Saturday, March 28, 2015
3pm – 345pm –Graco booth #216
4pm – Main Stage
4:30pm – 5pm – Budget Blinds booth #410

Sunday, March 29, 2015
2pm – 3pm –Graco booth #216
3pm – 345pm – Budget Blinds booth #410
4pm – Main Stage

So bring your design questions and photos of your space and I would be happy to provide some design tips! Fun bonus- enter LISA15 at checkout to receive $3 off online ticket purchases. Buy your tickets here. 

Thanks so much to The Baby Show for having me at the show this year- can't wait and hope to see you next weekend!  

TOP 5 ACCESSORIES SHOPS IN TORONTO

TOP 5 ACCESSORIES SHOPS IN TORONTO

I LOVE the part at the end of an interior design project that involved pulling accessories. It's these little touches- trinkets, picture frames, vases, cloches- that make a space feel like a home. Here are my favourite spots to shop for accessories in Toronto.

1. Chapters Indigo

Their collection of products is always so carefully curated. You'll find gorgeous cloches, marble serving trays and a great selection of frames and art prints. My favourite part is that it is kinda a one stop lifestyle shop. Meaning you can grab a great cook book, the perfect dish to serve it on, a mug with your initial on it and a cozy blanket to curl up with a tea in your new mug after cooking a fab meal. And if you need a new purse, scarf, meditation headband- you'll find that there too! Can't make it into the store? Their online shopping is really convenient and boasts brands you won't see in the store like Jenny Bird jewellery. 

2. Elte / Elte Market

If you have money to burn (like $400 on a pillow or $80 on designer coasters) Elte is the place for you. Super inspiring / aspiring, Elte is like wonderland for us designer folk. Shop for unique table top items and luxe luxe luxe textiles. Elte Market, it's edgier sister store around the corner also has great accessories at slightly more moderate prices points ($175 per pillow, fab clearance section).  I just picked up a fabulous black mirror that now sits in my daughter's room. 

3. Home Sense

If you enjoy the thrill of the find (although truthfully it's less thrill, more luck / edging off other shoppers for that piece you want!) Home Sense is great. You have to hunt, sometimes go to multiple locations when you want a pair of lamps or pair of pillows- but what they've got its great. The buyers have an eye for the high end but source at really accessible price points. I love Home Sense for pillows and interesting- but economic- tabletop accessories. 

4. Addison's Inc

It is actually thrilling to step into this store. Run by the ever charming Jim Addison, this place is a destination for prop stylists and designers alike, but for your home there are all kinds of vintage goodies to explore and give a home to. Antique signs, vintage cabinet hardware, vintage puppets- curious little oddities abound in this downtown Toronto treasure trove. Be careful not to get locked in the 100 year old Don Jail cell that Jim has set up in the back.

5. Love the Design

Christine Flynn, photographer and curator of this Summerhill shop is the cool girl you wanted to be friends with in high school. She brings her hip sensibility and ahead of the trends eye to her shop with vintage pieces and vintage reproductions. Come here for reproduction apothecary bottles, monogrammed wood cheese boards and her original photography. 

#MondayMantra: Inspirational quotes to motivate your week

#MondayMantra: Inspirational quotes to motivate your week

One of my favourite things on instagram right now is the hashtag #MondayMantra. Images marked with this hashtag include motivational quotes and great typography meant to remind you of your purpose and kick start your day / week off right. Here is my round up of the best quotes available for purchase- I love that you can support an artist AND give your desk or gallery wall a shot of inspiration at the same time. 

Knowing the why behind your what has been so important to me this last year, as I write about here. Knowing your "why" is what will keep you going when things are difficult, when things are not convenient. This print by the MotivationShop on Etsy is a great reminder to know your why.

This is the print I currently have sitting on my desk.  Being nice has always been a far better strategy for me compared to other alternatives. Love this print by Heather Francisco for Minted, available at Indigo.   

If you really, really want something, I am convinced you make it happen. I see this with my clients in their budgets when I thought we were at the max. And I see this in my own life in the things I prioritize and make time for, even when my spare time is scarce. So this print by TheMotivatedType on Etsy is a great motivator- if you want it, figure out a plan to do it. No more procrastinating. 

  

This quote by Shasta Knight might seem contradictory to the last, but it is actually quite related. My biggest "secret," and the most common answer I give people when I answer the question "how do you do it?" is this= I know what I am good at and what I am not. And I do my best to delegate accordingly. I think I currently say no more than I say yes (which is really hard for me). This quote is a great reminder to keep priorities in order. 

Finally, from the lovely SS Print Shop, I am always mindful that His plans are better. 

What are your favourite quotes to keep you motivated, help you be more productive and make your space inspirational and beautiful? Love to know in the comments below.  

HOW TO STYLE (AND FINISH) A ROOM IN 48-HOURS

HOW TO STYLE (AND FINISH) A ROOM IN 48-HOURS

For the last 5 years I have been fortunate to work on some great HGTV shows including with the Property Brothers and For Rent. While some timelines on design shows are slightly altered for story telling purposes, one thing that is 100% factual is I usually style the space 48-hours before they are revealed on camera due to back to back renovations and crazy timelines. 

What does "style the space" mean? It means that I begin with an empty room, and then in 48-hours it is brought to camera ready perfection including furniture, accessories, drapery and artwork. It's normally a team of at least 3-4 people including an art installer and handy person for furniture assembly and other odds and ends.  

This experience has been really helpful to me as last week we finally, actually, completed our #canningreno. Pictures are hung, pillows are placed, all the little details that go in to making a space have personalized character are finally here. We did it all for a fun media project I am working on (more on that in a future post!) but because of that I was on a crazy deadline and the bulk of it happened in a 48-hour frenzy. 

So for today's post, I thought I would share some tips that might help you finish off a project in your house that you haven't been able to commit to finishing. You don't need a media deadline to make a deadline happen (although it is helpful let me tell you!) but to give you a push here are some strategies to help you style and finish a room in 48-hours.

1. IMPOSE A DEADLINE

For me it was media deadlines that got me mega motivated to finish- but it can be something as simple as a birthday party, long weekend, or maternity leave that can be a hard deadline and motivate you to finish. Experience has shown me with clients, that once you move in to a space and you get used to seeing it a certain way (i.e. ugly: no drapery, original light fixtures, original paint, no art, etc) you get so used to it and it becomes normal. If you're a new homeowner and you have just moved in, resist the temptation to wait. Because you won't do it. Set a deadline and stick to it- you will be so happy you did! 

Then if you are going to do the whole 48-hour thing, book some friends, book time off work, for the 48-hours before this deadline and get her done! 

2. MAKE LISTS

For the purposes of this post I am going to assume major items have been completed in your space: all renovation type stuff like painting, millwork, any construction. This needs it's own timeline beyond the scope of this post, Move in your major furniture pieces and then take stock of what is missing. In our experience working on TV shows and going through what I did last week, here are the major items that contribute to styling: 

major furniture (sofas, tables, principle chairs, etc)
rugs
drapery
pillows
throws
side tables
lamps
sconces
art on walls
frames on surfaces
table top accessories (trays, books, candles, sculptures, clocks, cloches, vases, etc)
baskets
flowers
accent furniture (ottomans, poofs, accent chairs, small side tables, etc.)

Make your list of missing items and then divide them by retailer. For example, this past week to get my house done for my shoot I made trips to the following retailers for all the small items (basically everything but furniture): Elte, Elte Mkt, Bouclair, Indigo, HomeSense, Michael's, Home Outfitters, and then HomeSense 5 more times (just kidding, but not really). 

When you are working with a 48-hour period, you have got to grab stuff that is off the rack and ready to go. These retailers above all fall into that category. Also, they all have good return policies so buy more than you need and return stuff after.

You always need more than you think. 
 

3. DIVIDE AND CONQUER

In point 1 I mentioned book friends to come over for the 48-hour period. Make sure one of them is handy, or hire a handy person to bring tools over and do some of the installation related things if you are not handy yourself. This is the order I typically do things, and I usually divide my team accordingly:

Phase 1: Put in all major furniture. Assemble as needed.

Phase 2: Lay out rugs, select from options. If you are 100% certain about the rugs do them first- you may have to pull out all the furniture in order to lay the rugs properly. Use an underpad. 

Phase 3: Hang drapery and install art and any hanging shelves or mirrors. I do this before accessories as I want to pull accent colours out of the artwork and use in pillows, throws, accessories, etc. 

Phase 4: plop in what I call "grounding" accessories like pillows, throws, trays on tables, books on side tables, lamps.

Phase 5: layer in small layering accessories like vases, small sculptures, picture frames, other shiny things. 

4. SCHEDULE

On Property Brothers especially, this is how we scheduled our 48-hours. It totally works as a schedule for a 48-hour marathon decorating bonanza.

DAY 1

9am- arrive to site, unload cars, note any random deficiencies or paint touch ups you will have to take care of later. 

10am- if furniture is not in the space already, load in all major pieces. I love working with Home Installers, Avery Moving, and Metric Movers for pick up, drop off and installation of large pieces. 

11am- take stock. Look around and make a list of all the stuff you still need to grab from the accessories list. Arrange by retailers and get in to cars and go!

12pm- eat on the run! I love grabbing a quick lunch at Elte when I can swing it! 

5pm- return home with all your goodies. Unload. I like to organize everything into like items: pillows, small accessories, shiny things etc. I also like to put them in an area out of the way so you aren't moving things 10 times- like a hallway or foyer. Eat a power dinner!

Start to style- Move things around, keep trying things until you are happy with groupings. I try to work as long as I can into the evening so you can be far ahead for the next day.

DAY 2

9am- With fresh eyes, look at the space and see if there are any holes you need to fill- what else do you need to find or buy to make the space feel complete? 

10am- Shop again to fill in any gaps you might be missing. Return anything that didn't make the cut. 

1pm- Come home and style again. Just keep working until you are happy with compositions, try things in different areas, styling really is part instinct, part experience, part trial and error. 

Work until you are happy! Not that I suggest this, but there were definitely some VERY late nights working until we were satisfied. It really is a bit of a process to get a home totally styled- and you will continue to add an edit post your 48-hour deadline for sure- but working with a deadline gives you a solid foundation to tweak your home. 

5. FINISHING TOUCHES

Here are some "secrets" that our team cannot leave a space without doing:

Steam everything: drapes, sofa, pillows, throws- you won't believe the difference it will make! I almost always have a travel steamer in my car for styling "emergencies"!
Lint brush everything: I use painters tape if I don't have a lint brush.
Goo Gone everything: I love the Goo Gone in spray format- super convenient for getting off price tags, etc.
Flowers everywhere: flowers add such a nice final layer, a little element of life and colour in a space- flowers go in every room we do.

Whether or not your home is appearing on a TV show or you just want a TV worthy space, it won't feel this way without the finishing touches listed above. You won't believe the difference these finishing touches make- they are worth all the time and energy to create a space that is inspiring, comfortable and yours. 

Styling a room in 48-hours is a service we provide as an option for clients. If you'd like to know more about our 48-hour styling service please contact us– we would love to help you finish off your home!

DRESSING THE BUMP: CURE FOR FRUMPY DAYS

DRESSING THE BUMP: CURE FOR FRUMPY DAYS

Fellow pregnant mamas- I have found the cure to feeling "pregnant frumpy".  I dare you not to feel super feminine and take charge confident in these pants. If I am being honest these are a little bit out of my every day comfort zone- but I must say on dsys when you just feel so gross and exhausted theses pants are a real confidence booster! 

I paired it with this shirt and a fav necklace from my collection. 

And pregnant in heels yes please (even if it is only for an hour).

Shirt & jeans: Thyme Maternity. Necklace: Over the Rainbow. Shoes: Winners. 

Special thanks to Mike Dizon at mdd photography for capturing this very special time in my life! 

SECRET TO AWESOME WALLPAPER APPLICATION

SECRET TO AWESOME WALLPAPER APPLICATION

When I put up the wallpaper in my living room  I did it with a baby on my back (lol, I was determined): 


 

And when it came time to tackle the basement, baby was big enough to leave on the floor beside me, so no baby wearing necessary : )  

It started like this:

And ended like this:

I love wallpaper for the vitality and instant energy a pattern like this will add to a space- love this Kelly Hoppen ikat by Graham and Brown. This print is just so happy! I feel so wonderful when I go down to my basement surrounded by this energy. 

I truthfully don't recommend installing wallpaper yourself UNLESS you are willing to "practice" first. Meaning, you're OK that the first few times you do it it might not be 100% perfect.

If you're going to attempt to install wallpaper, here are my tips for awesome installation. 

1. WORK WITH 2 PEOPLE

If you're a beginner I highly recommend working with 2 people. One person can hold the paper while the other pastes the wall. It is a bit of a physical gymnastics if you are not used to it as the paper can fall on your head, be cumbersome to work with. So if you have a friend who can help it will make the leaning curve faster. 

2. BE PATIENT

You really cannot rush wallpaper installation. To line up patterns there really is no secret trick- use a level to make sure the pattern is straight but it really is just an exercise of patience. Go slowly, breath and be patient. The results are so worth it. 

3. USE THE SHARPEST KNIFE AND CORRECT TOOLS

I don't use any special kits or fancy tools- but what I have learned from experience is to change your blade consistently and make sure it is sharp at all times- you'll get a cleaner edge and avoid frustration. What I also find really helpful is a large table nearby to lay out your wallpaper lengths and keep them organized and in order. Essential tools include:

  • large clean table to lay out strips 
  • knife that you can consistently change the blade on
  • level
  • plastic smoothing tool to get out air bubbles
  • wallpaper paste, paint tray, liner, roller and cage to apply the paste
  • small sponge to pick up extra wallpaper paste

4. HIRE IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME 

So if you think this is ambitious and you don't have the time to PATIENTLY apply paper- I recommend you hire. Wallpaper is very delicate. If you rip it- there goes $$$$. And while I think it is a skill that can be learned with experience, it is not an easy skill. It really is worth every penny you will pay an experienced installer for professional looking installation. 

Have you got any tricks (other than hiring!) for awesome wallpaper installation? Love to know in the comments below. 

 

 

WHY YOU SHOULD WAKE UP EARLY: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER NIGHT OWL

WHY YOU SHOULD WAKE UP EARLY: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER NIGHT OWL

Up until fairly recently (and most of my life post-high school), I was a crazy night owl. I would work after my kids went to bed and work well into the early morning hours… usually until 2am at the minimum. I justified this behaviour as I felt more productive at night, I wanted to be around my kids during the day, and just never considered myself a morning person. 

So many people I admire have early morning routines that they swear by, and I just always assumed I could never be like them. I had every excuse under the sun as to why waking up early would never work for me. 

So I am here today to confess, as a former night owl, that I have changed. I have joined the early risers and WOW has it impacted my life in a positive way. I am more productive, happier, and while I don't have any specific stats to share yet as I am still fairly new at rising early, I am going to measure how much more I get done in a day and share those stats with you. A recent podcast by Pat Flynn (also a former night owl) also sealed the deal for me on the whole notion of getting up early and inspired me to write this post. So from a former night owl, here are my top reasons you too, should try waking up early. 

1. SILENCE IS GOLDEN

Fellow mamas take note- we need silence! We spend so much of our day patiently (or not so patiently) listening, responding, reacting, resolving, and if you have multiple kids like me, it can get pretty darn noisy. Regardless if you have children or not, the world of notifications, dings, bings, and demands on our time can make for an irritating cacophony. I wake up at 5:30am and my house, thanks be to God, is so still. From 5:30-6am I sit in total silence. During this time I pray using an app that I talked about in this post  that is helping me read the Bible in a year. Whether you spend it meditating using a tool like the Muse headband, you pray, or you honestly just sit- silence is so absent in our world today and I think we need more of it. Try it- I think you'll like it. 

2. START THE DAY WITH EXERCISE 

So truth be told in my very pregnant state I have been making excuses on this one- but as Hal Elrod shares in his book The Miracle Morning, fitting exercise into your morning routine has huge positive implications for the rest of your day. Your metabolism is jump started and remains elevated, you start the day with more energy and you are invigorated, awake and alert. I think it's also a great strategy because it gets this important health benefit "out of the way" so to speak- you're not worried about fitting it in later or feeling guilty because you didn't. I'm going to start tomorrow with a gentle prenatal workout- and make it easier for myself to not cop out by laying out a work out outfit at the foot of my bed. 

3. INVESTING IN YOURSELF WILL PAY OFF BIG TIME

In another awesome Pat Flynn podcast, Pat interviews Elrod and Hal quotes Jim Rohn: "Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development".

This is so cool, and so true. We have to invest in ourselves if we expect to see change in any area of our lives. The morning is a beautiful time to delve into motivational reading, listen to a self-help podcast or work on a goal setting exercise for an on-line course. You can do this over coffee and eggs post work out. Even if it's only 15 minutes a day- that's 15 minutes closer towards a goal, 15 minutes richer in strategies or knowledge that you didn't have before. I used to just try and fit kind of exercise in while driving, or in line for groceries or what not- but the consistency I think is what is beneficial, and again starting the day with this kind of mindset will have implications on other decisions made later on.

4. IT IS BETTER FOR YOUR FAMILY

I used to wake up with the kids as my alarm clock. And I would basically wake up in a state of anxiety- the thoughts of here we go again, I am so tired, please just stay in your crib for 15 more minutes, get your own breakfast, etc. etc. etc. would overtake my mind in a state of hazy, caffeine less confusion. I love my children- I hope that is apparent from my blog- but with 4 small people with really loud demands it would feel like an onslaught. 

Now- I am up for a full hour and 45 minutes before they are, and it is amazing. I am usually dressed for the day, have had a cup of coffee, am smiling and in a positive mood, and honestly feel ready to meet any unforeseen child related challenges that happen first thing. Sometimes I even have their breakfast laid out before the little pitter patter of their feet come greet me in the kitchen. 

Total transparency- the pitter patter of kids' feet used to sound like wild elephants racing down my hallway- now it's a sound I know will only be a pitter patter for a finite amount of time. I mean it, for me this is the best part of getting up early and probably why I have stuck with it- it has had a really positive impact on my mood and my family and contributed to the success of our morning routine in general.

I am also less grumpy, and again let's keep it real: my husband LOVES this. 

5. BECAUSE EVERY MORNING SHOULD FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS

Again to quote Elrod from Flynn's podcast, shouldn't every morning feel like Christmas? As Hal puts it, Christmas is a day people are typically so excited about, that they can't wait to get out of bed. No snooze alarm, they are up and at 'em ready to go.

He argues: shouldn't every day be like this? Shouldn't every day begin with looking forward to what is ahead instead of hitting snooze reluctant to start?

The transition for me going from waking up whenever the kids woke me, to an alarm at 5:30am was fairly rocky. I really did not like it at first. It felt so foreign to my body and just plain gross. But after a few days of doing it and starting to see the positive impact it has become muscle memory quite literally- my body is way more used to the routine and I believe my sleep cycle is better because I wake up less groggy. I am no expert in sleep or health strategies to be totally honest- but I do know when things are working- and waking up early totally is. 

One last note- you might be thinking there is no way I could do this ever in a million years. You might be thinking- I wake up with a nursing baby in the night, I am so sleep deprived already, Lisa you are crazy. I hear you- and said the exact same things. But I can say from personal experience I am converted. It does mean I have to get to bed earlier which means we are diligent about bedtime routines for our kids and cleaning the house after dinner as close to bedtime as possible and I don't watch nearly as much TV as I used to- but the sacrifices have been worth it based on how good I feel in my new routine. 

If you'd like to try a new routine I'm excited to read through The Miracle Morning and implement some of the strategies Hal recommends that I am not currently doing like journaling. 

What is your morning routine like? Love to know in the comment below.    

 

HOW TO PLAN YOUR IDEAL WEEK

HOW TO PLAN YOUR IDEAL WEEK

Balancing work and family is no easy feat- especially when small kids can vocalize their needs at such alarmingly loud rates. So in the life of our family, it takes a lot of planning to ensure a certain level of sanity and order. Right now I am working on a couple of really big projects- some interior design client related projects, getting my house finished and styled for an upcoming shoot, and a few media projects. And we're having a baby… a pretty big project in itself : ) It's hard work and absolutely a balancing act, muscles I continue to train on the regular.

So today I thought I would share some of my top practical strategies learned from trial and error (flat out failure!) personal experience and from listening to material from people I admire, of how to plan for a productive week. Some of these tips might be helpful if you are working outside the home, run a part-time home based business, or simply want to stay on top of running a household and family duties. Whatever your season of life, I really hope some of these might be helpful to save you time and find you more peace! 

1. SPEND TIME ON PAPER BEFORE YOU SPEND IT IN REAL LIFE

I was introduced to this concept by Michael Hyatt in this podcast on creating more margin. The whole concept is that similar to a financial budget, you spend your time on paper before you spend it in real life. I have found it so helpful to have an idea of the best way to spend my time during a week- knowing that of course it might get thrown off by the natural (and very crazy) rhythm of family life- but with a plan in place there is at least a roadmap. Lord knows I could not drive anywhere without my gps- think of this as a gps for your time. You can download an awesome excel editable schedule template from Michael Hyatt here

The beauty of planning your week on paper (or colour coded on your iPhone!) is that if something comes up, as a former business coach Carla Wood taught me, you can move that block of time somewhere else- so those tasks don't get forgotten about and you can still feel a strong sense of order and commitment to the things that are important. 

2.  START WITH THE BIG ROCKS

You know the story of the big rocks? I didn't either, my friend Sarah had to teach me. Basically the idea is if you fill a jar with pebbles but then try to fit in large rocks after you can't. But if you put the large rocks in first and then pour the pebbles on top the smaller stones will fill in the gaps- same jar, more in it. 

Use this concept in planning your ideal week. What are your big rocks? Picking up the kids from school, prayer time, blogging, client appointments, book keeping, marketing, social media strategy, writing, kids play dates / activities, house chores, caring for a sick family member, etc. are all things that come to mind. Make a list of the "big rocks" in your life. Depending in your season of life it is going to look totally different from mine or Michael Hyatt's and don't compare. This is YOUR ideal week. 

Now schedule these big rocks in time increments on your schedule. Running out of time?  Consider if there are any big rocks you can give away- either to staff, hired help, or another family member. I'll speak more on this later.  

3. THEME YOUR DAYS

This has proven to be the most important strategy for me in remaining sane and saving time. In the early days of my business I was a glorified courier who also did interior design (or so it felt)! I was ALWAYS driving. I would try to schedule appointments with clients in some sort of strategy- but in the end I always went wherever the biggest crisis was and I basically spent most of my profit margin on gas. Now when possible, I only book appointments on Wednesdays and Fridays and of course somewhat geographically. 

In my business, if I do not set parameters and boundaries on meetings, I would never get anything else done, OR I would do them at midnight when everyone is sleeping (like I used to do) and burn out so hard so fast (which I absolutely did not that long ago). 

This is a typical week for me: Mondays- book keeping and business planning / forecasting. Tuesdays: personal appointments and kid stuff, blogging, correspondence, content creation. Wednesdays: consultations, client meetings, sourcing, site visits. Thursdays: personal appointments and kid stuff, blogging, correspondence, content creation. Fridays: consultations, client meetings, sourcing, site visits. 

This really works for me as the change of activity is strategic- for example, being at a computer all day can mentally drain me- but I know the next day is on the road, dynamic and fast paced, meeting people, engaging in a lot of my strengths- but this can really physically drain me, and I look forward to the next day that is typically a bit more home based / less physical.  

This concept of giving a theme to a day can also be applied to stuff around the house- laundry, groceries, cooking etc. etc. again it is the concept of once the tools and what not are out, you can be more productive by doing the same kind of activity in the same bulk of time.

Still running out of time? This next strategy is AWESOME…

4. AUTOMATE, DELEGATE, DELETE 

Stu McLaren put it so well at the Platform conference, "to work less, you must automate, delegate, and delete tasks." Let's spend some time on this one as it is an awesome strategy.

As I mentioned in point 2 with the big rocks, you might find after writing your list and plotting it into a schedule you have completely run out of time. The metaphorical jar of a week only has so many hours. So you have two choices- cry or change (lol, not really).

Stu argues you have 3 options- automate, delegate or delete. This is totally applicable to business stuff and stuff around the house / with your kids. Here are some ideas from my personal experience:

Automate: I have to work on this one a bit more to be honest- but in my work life I have started to use a tool called Infusionsoft which is a great email manager and I'm creating systems that will automate a lot of my most frequently asked requests- for example, I get a lot of emails regarding what to expect from a design consultation / what are the fees. Infusionsoft will help to collect information from potential clients in a way that will cut down the number of back and forth emails I typically take to finally provide them with pricing or an available time. It will make booking an appointment with me automated to to a certain degree- this is very exciting for me as a time saver!  

Think of automating things like car service appointments, house maintenance stuff, kids doctor's appointments- where they are put in the calendar MONTHS in advance and you set a reminder and don't have to think about them at all. 

There are also great social media apps like Meet Edgar and using HootSuite to schedule and automate certain social media posts- I have yet to fully dive into this but I know I have to.  

Lastly I am really contemplating automating my groceries- meaning I order them online and they get delivered. I wrestle with the idea as it is a luxury- but I find grocery shopping a draining experience and always takes me much longer than I intend- and I have yet to develop strategies to streamline it- I ALWAYS forget something important, even if it's on the list. 

Delegate: By necessity with 4 kids I have gotten really good at this. I delegate lots of stuff in business- majority of accounting, anything website / tech related, ordering and admin stuff I have a virtual assistant, etc. In my home life we have a part-time nanny who is incredibly helpful with laundry, cleaning, and school pick up and drop off. The cleaning and laundry support, while yes a luxury, is so extremely helpful with a family as large as ours.  

Delete: This one was REALLY hard for me but has proven to be a game changer in my pursuit of peace and balance. It's hard to delete. It just is- especially when you have done something the same way, or you feel like the world might look at you different and judge you for no longer doing something. But YOU HAVE TO. In my life, it means I am VERY selective about the kinds of interior design projects I take on. If I know I don't have time for it based on my other big rocks- that potential client gets referred to a trusted colleague. For our family, it also means we are pretty selective in the kinds of after school activities we participate in and what we do on the weekend. Because you can't just keep filling up your schedule (i.e. your jar) without expecting something to burst.  

5. SCHEDULE IN MARGIN

This is really really essential. Things will go wrong- a child will get sick, an appointment will run late, life will happen. You also need to rest! For our family, weekends are very precious. We try when possible to only schedule one thing on the weekend (not including Church on Sundays). It is really important for my family to have this buffer time and margin, and I sometimes forget I am 6 months pregnant and push myself physically WAY too far. So schedule it! 

This is beyond the scope of this post but scheduling sleep is essential too. I try to be in bed by 10pm now, so I can rise early. This has been a game changer for me as well- I had no idea how much I was suffering (I knew I was suffering though!) from lack of sleep. Forcing myself to get it has been really influential in my quality of life. 

Another important thing to do is not compare yourself to others- someone who has grown kids, or is single, is going to have a very different ideal week than someone like me with really small kids at home. BUT- I challenge you to also push yourself in way- rather than having a defeatist attitude about time, look carefully about HOW you spend it, and if it is really being spent in the BEST way for you. 

What strategies do you employ to plan for a great week? Love to know in the comments below. 

30-MINUTE GUIDE TO ARTIST PROJECT TORONTO

30-MINUTE GUIDE TO ARTIST PROJECT TORONTO

If you are time strapped this weekend but really want to take in some culture, support local talent and pick up a few trinkets for your house, here is my 30-minute guide to the Artist Project. Big time caveat- I think to really take it all in, chat with the artists, relax and have a coffee, etc. you need at least 2.5 hours, you could easily spend 4 hours plus (there are some cool interactive art battles and other features that I could not take advantage of but wish I could have). There's also a fun (unsupervised) kid area to let the littles blow off some creative steam.

Here are my essential stops at the Artist Project if you might be short on time- but not short on love for art!

SHANNON DICKIE booth 117

Stop here for: Large and small scale slightly abstract paintings.

Don't miss: Talking to her about her feelings on our relationship with digital media. Drawn to moments of people in motion, she uses blur to not only imply the motion of a figure, but also associate the digital image with a faded memory. Love that! 

Cool fact: Her work as appeared in national publications like House and Home.

MARIE-JOSEE BERGERON booth 209

Stop here for: Beautiful abstracts. 

Don't miss: She has several prints for sale starting at $350+. Gorgeous intricate abstracts, wish I had more budget to get a few large scale pieces.

Cool fact: In parrallel to her artistic practice, she has created a unique painting program that focuses on intuitive, abstract painting.

TONY KOUKOS booth 207

Stop here for: Beautiful photography from around the world

Don't miss: Looking at the custom carpet on the floor of his booth

Cool fact: Tony's work is regularly used by all the design superstars in Toronto: Brian Gluckstein, Sarah Richardson, and he makes some time for little old me too : ) 

KELLY GRACE booth 414

Stop here for: vintage pin up style, really nostalgic feeling paintings

Don't miss: Adorable small pieces- really cute series on the Wizard of Oz, find items at the $100 mark.

Cool fact: She's got gorgeous hair! 

IAN BUSHER booth 422

Stop here for: Urban, edgy but playful abstract pieces featuring animal silhouettes on metal. 

Don't miss: Pieces backed with reclaimed wood- I grabbed 2 for my son's room, love the mix of wood and metal. Priced at $100- fab value. 

Cool fact: Ian and I filmed a pilot together for HGTV years ago when Ian was working full-time as a general contractor.

JAMES KENNEDY booth 713

Stop here for: Graphic cut outs of continents and other structures into unique pieces of steel

Don't miss: This bridge image above- so cool in person. The shadows become part of the piece as well. James is my favourite new find- I hope to commission something for a client in the future! 

Cool fact: It starts with the steel- James finds unique pieces with particular pattern and texture to build his pieces from.

LAURIE FOOTE booth 902

Stop here for: Peaceful pastel super charming acrylic and oil paintings 

Don't miss: Her sweet small canvases that depict figures on white backgrounds

Cool fact: Small canvases make for great little fillers in small wall areas or vignettes on a shelf.

 

Artist Project runs this weekend, closes Sunday at 6pm at the Better Living Centre at the Ex. Love to know what you brought home!

SPRING IS COMING AT INDIGO

SPRING IS COMING AT INDIGO

Today, I thought I'd spread some sunshine on this little corner of the internet. Spring is coming. Here are my favourite items coming to Indigo this spring. 

Who doesn't love colour on toss cushions- changing out pillows is one of my fav things to do with the season change.

This mug- so cute.

This Fujifilm Instax Mini camera is just so sweet- excited to test mine out!

And how beautiful- fresh flowers is my favourite way to keep motivated in freezing weather- SPRING IS COMING!

TOP 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN ADDING A FIREPLACE TO YOUR HOME

TOP 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN ADDING A FIREPLACE TO YOUR HOME

If you are living anywhere north east-ish in North America, you have likely been hibernating (or wishing you were) because it has been FRIGID cold here. Like -45 degrees with the wind chill cold. Like why do I live where the air hurts my skin cold. All sarcasm and hyperbole aside, the freezing temperatures can be very dangerous so I do pray you and your loved ones have all been safe and warm this weekend. 

In light of all this cold talk, I thought I would share some important considerations regarding adding a fireplace to your home. A fireplace provides ambient light, physical warmth and such a cozy feeling that I argue they are essential in every home. Whether you are planning a major reno or want to add one into an already finished space, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. GAS vs. ELECTRIC vs. ETHANOL CANISTERS

There are three major kinds of fireplaces sold on the market (for simplicity sake I am taking wood burning out of this discussion).

A gas fireplace runs on natural gas. Similar to a gas range in the kitchen, it's instant heat and an actual fire flame. So you go from zero to 172 degrees in seconds. It's efficient, it's lowest cost (post installation) of them all, and it's awesome. It is always my first recommendation to clients where appropriate. 

Electric models you hang and plug in and they provide heat via a fan. The "flame" is fake, and they are big time energy $$$ suckers. BIG TIME. Where space or venting prove to be problematic they can be an adequate alternative but I prefer gas when possible.  

Lastly there are ethanol canisters that you insert into a fireplace cavity that provide an actual flame. The flame from personal experience isn't exactly roaring and the heat output isn't as much as gas and pretty expensive in the long run. It's a solution if you want the ambiance of a flame but aren't picky about the heat output.

The kind of fireplace you go with is largely impacted by space which leads me to…

2. VENTING & INSTALLATION RESTRICTIONS

For electric fireplaces you don't need to worry about venting and less about space- this is one great advantage to them. Some electric fireplaces are super skinny, very slim and quite attractive like this one in the Delta Chelsea Ottawa. You should be careful that you don't install the thing too close to a curtain or something that can combust as the fan on the unit pushes hot air out in a fairly focused direction. For gas there are several considerations to consider. 

If you are planning a custom home renovation your credible designer, builder, HVAC technician will worry about this for you. But if you're planning on adding one to an already finished space here's what you need to know. 

The same way you need a fan in the kitchen to pull all the bad fumes out of the home when you are cooking, same applies to gas fireplaces.

For a gas fireplace being installed to a non exterior wall (meaning it's in the middle of the house for example), you have to allow for the cylinder venting which takes up about 12" of space once framing is considered- so if you are adding a fireplace into an already finished space you will need to consider this space footprint in your planning. You may have to consider a bulkhead on the ceiling or wall if the venting has to travel far to an exterior wall. Confirm all measurements and venting pathways with your contractor and licensed HVAC team.     

In my small living room I was really concerned about the space a gas fireplace would take up (as I don't have space to lose!) but the beauty and functional purpose of a fireplace won out for me. Speaking of beauty…
 

3. FIREPLACE CLADDING

There are a multitude of materials you can use to clad a fireplace- natural stone probably being the most popular in my opinion. What you need to ensure is that you follow your fireplace's installation guide on how far to place combustible materials (like a wood mantel for example) away from the flame in the case of gas. Another consideration is that if you are putting a TV above your fireplace you want to deflect the heat away either by using a mantel or recessing the fireplace into the fireplace structure. Again, ensure you consult installation guidelines carefully to ensure you don't void product warranties and of course ensure safety. 

You can really create a gorgeous focal point in a space. In the photo above we used Erth Coverings Silver Fox large strips.

My fireplace is clad in Paloform concrete tiles which I have been literally dreaming about for 5 years so I am so excited to finally have them in my home : ) If your style is modern these simple tiles will likely be up your alley. 

4. SAFETY

In my home with 4 small kids safety is of course a big priority. It has become a huge priority too for the regulation boards in both the US and Canada. If you did not know, there is a new US and Canadian safety mandate for all gas fireplaces to now include a safety screen after too many children got burned. On my model, the Marquis Infinite, the screen is basically invisible due to its seamless design- which from a design point of view for me is amazing. 

If you need an after market screen consider Anvil Fireside– beautiful handcrafted iron designs made in Canada as pictured above. 

5. SEE THROUGH vs. NON SEE THROUGH

I am a big fan of the see through fireplace like this one from Marquis. Where space is a luxury, you can create a really fun focal point and open sight lines. The openness of a see through fireplace is your major consideration factor. Make sure whatever is on the other side of the fireplace is attractive, and does not need to be private.  

I LOVE my fireplace and the thing is on daily at our house- we have been particularly thankful for it during this very frigid cold spell. I hope these tips are helpful- designer / builder friends I would love your opinion too- have I missed anything crucial? Love to know in the comments below! 

 

GIVEAWAY: ARTIST PROJECT OPENING NIGHT PARTY TICKETS

GIVEAWAY: ARTIST PROJECT OPENING NIGHT PARTY TICKETS

On February 19, 2015, Artist Project kicks off with its annual Opening Night Party, followed by an exciting three day art fair that offers attendees the unique opportunity to meet and buy art directly from over 250 emerging and mid-career artists.  In its 8th year, the show welcomes more than 15,000 seasoned art collectors, first-time art buyers, gallery dealers and interior designers to the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place, Toronto. 

Now that my own house is finally post dust phase, I'm looking forward to discovering some new artists and connecting with some old friends. 

This is a great event for first-time art buyers to explore various forms of art at accessible price points. I am also desperately in need of some prints for several of the empty frames that currently are hanging as place holders on my walls. Can't wait to shop!

The kind people at Artist Project have given me 2 tickets to the Opening Night Party at Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto.  To enter this contest, click on the link below! Value of contest is $60 Canadian and open to anyone who can make it to the party in Toronto next week. Contest closes February 18, 2015 at 11pm. Good luck! 

Photo by Lisa Canning Interiors of a recent art installation by Artstall. 

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TRUMP HOTEL TORONTO REVIEW

TRUMP HOTEL TORONTO REVIEW

This weekend was my birthday- thank you so much for all the wonderful kind words. I felt utterly spoiled- one big reason is that we treated ourselves to some much needed rest and relaxation with a little stay-cation in the city at Trump Tower Toronto

Here's a secret (or not so secret) fun money saving tip for luxury hotel bookings- Priceline. We were able to get our gorgeous room at a significant discount by booking via this website where you bid on a location and a star level of hotels (we bid 5-star, financial district Toronto). The actual hotel you get is a surprise, so you have to be OK with that- for us it was a welcome surprise to stay somewhere new. 

Pardon the length on this one- so much to say in this very honest review!!! 

THE GOOD:

Let's start with design- our room was full of incredible design details. My favourite was the trim. I am a big time fan of trim. It elevates a room in a way that I think is only rivaled by wallpaper (use them together- like in this space- and you're golden). Take note of the applied moulding on the ceiling and above the bed, and the way the bed and window has been emphasized by modern casing. Also love how recessed pot lights and sparkly sconces are built into these trim details. 

If you follow me on Instagram you might notice I am a slight fan of tufting. So I was a big fan of this bed. Sheets were as to be expected- fluffy and soft, and a fun bonus is Trump offers a pillow bar- meaning you can order to your room for use during your stay pillows of different firmness. These little details matter to people like me who try to educate clients on these details as well!!! 

No popcorn ceilings here- beautiful lighting plan, applied moulding and crown making the 5th wall in the suite just as special as its wallpapered friends beside it.

The bathroom was full of design goodness too. Heated floors, TV in mirror, generously sized soaker tub and separate shower. Toilet was in a separate water closet which is always lovely and the shampoos etc. came in bottles so consistent with the Trump brand- big and beautiful! Small details like this- like the silver tray the soap sits on or how the garbage can is placed on a matching black leather tray are design details that I take note of, and so appreciate. 

The entire suite was automated- so on both nightstands sits a panel that operates the lights, heat and window coverings. Similar panels exist in the bathroom and front door (front door boasts a privacy please button- no plastic door hanging do not disturb thingy at the Trump!) 

Let's talk service- we were greeted so warmly, with lavender scented moist towelettes (to ease our weary commute from the top of the subway line!) at the check-in desk. My bags were so seamlessly taken from me I did not even notice. One thing I did notice as everything was done with two hands- meaning, when they gave you your room key, or took your credit card, it was done so with two hands holding the item. If I am not mistaken this is a sign of great respect in Korea and other countries. It was a detail I totally noticed and did interpret as being respectful and hospitable. 

We had a few minor things with the room- the fridge wasn't working and the batteries on our TV remote were out. You would have thought something terrible had happened with the expediency they dealt with both issues. 

Turn down service consisted of complimentary water placed next to a glass on a silver tray, the lights programmed to a dimmed night setting, and jazz music streaming from the Bose player. 

Finally, when we got our car from the valet, we were offered complimentary bottles of water for the ride home. Again, a small gesture but so appreciated. 

Really finally- about a day after our stay, I got an (automated) email from Donald Trump himself asking me how my stay was. Regardless of the fact it was automated, it was just another consistent extension and experience of the brand, again so appreciated by people like me who care about branding and creating great experiences for customers.  

Let's talk amenities- so this pool. Lots of design details to appreciate- marble book matched feature walls, all the doors in consistent black with more gorgeous applied moulding, fabulous change room again decked out in generous complimentary toiletries like shaving kits, toothbrushes, mouthwash and the like. 

I took a quick peek into the gym- reasonably sized with a pilates extension machine and a ballet barre plus the standard faire equipment. Again complimentary headphones, water, apples, towels make for a very pleasant gym experience. 

Finally you have to walk through the spa to get to the pool and again with more delicious design details- I did not book any spa services on this visit but how relaxing would it be to get a massage and sleepily go back to your room? Oh- and another fun perk- instead of hard copy newspapers you get access to their digital library of newspapers and magazines.  

THE NOT SO GOOD:  

With the exception of those 2 super small extremely minor inconveniences of our fridge and remote control not working, our stay was a seamless, really luxurious retreat. We thought hard while writing this post and honestly could not think of anything bad to say.

Fun final note- they are running a contest for a free stay! Post a Valentines inspired video with the hashtag #lovetrumptoronto and tag @trumptoronto for your chance to win. Contest rules here.  

Photos courtesy Trump Tower Toronto.

DRESSING THE BUMP: MIXING PATTERN AND TEXTURE

DRESSING THE BUMP: MIXING PATTERN AND TEXTURE

Almost every Friday for the remainder of my pregnancy I will be a series on "Dressing the Bump". Pregnancy can be a tricky time wardrobe wise as you want to feel great, look great but you kind of feel like a blimp. Comfort becomes mega important as you're carrying so much extra weight and again- everyone wants to feel great in the clothes they are in.

Similar to the way I design rooms, I love mixing pattern and texture. This shirt and pants combo (yes these are maternity pants!) is a fun edgy mix. I thought these pants would feel like plastic but they are pretty darn comfortable. And what is lovely- Thyme has started to carry online and exclusively at their Yorkdale location designer brands like Paige Denim, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand and DL. So convenient and pricing is about the same as you would expect to pay for non-maternity versions.

Let's pull back the curtain here- I would probably last an hour walking around in these heels, but for date night (ie. car to restaurant and then back to car) they are perfect.

Shirt, Citizens of Humanity (off the rack maternity!) pants, Thyme Maternity. Bracelet, Winners. Ring, BCBG. Shoes, Zara. Rose's dress and polka dor tights, Wheat. Bench, Target (sniff! goodbye Target Canada!), Coffee table, Mirens. Fireplace tiles, Paloform.  

Thanks to Thyme Maternity for partnering with me during this very special time and to Mdd Photography for capturing my growing bump!

5 THINGS TO DO TODAY TO ORGANIZE YOUR OFFICE

5 THINGS TO DO TODAY TO ORGANIZE YOUR OFFICE

Starting this post with another note of thanks- thank you for all the love regarding our newest addition to our family. I am so touched by all the lovely comments and phone calls and texts. 

Pregnancy absolutely gets me into big time organization mode- so for today's post I'm focusing on the office. Perhaps being more organized was on your list of resolutions for 2015- if so here are 5 things you can do TODAY to make an instant impact on the organization of your office- and your life!  

1. CLEAR OFF YOUR WORKSPACE

I am a big believer in working in as clean of a space as possible. Meaning that the actual surface of your desk is as clear as possible save for the essential items like your computer, phone, pen, pad of paper, etc. I just think it allows your mind to be more clear when you are able to have a clear space tow ork on. This requires good shelving and filing systems of course, which I will elaborate on below, but take 15 minutes and physically remove non-essential items and see how it feels. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. 

2. INVEST IN SHELVING CLOSE TO THE DESK

Experience has shown me that things need to be within arms reach for optimal productivity. Cause let's face it- laziness can kick in super fast and the extra step of having to get up to get something can become an excuse or a road block. Having things close at hand kinda eliminates this factor. So your printer, books / files you might need to access daily, stationary for thank you note writing, etc. should live in freestanding shelving either beside the desk or above the desk. When your space is small think vertically and use the wall space as much as possible. 

3. FIGURE OUT FILING 

I really struggle with this- paper overwhelms my house. But I must admit the binder at the front of the house has really helped control the paper clutter. In the office, it can be even more overwhelming. So figure out filing. I have some friends who are completely paperless in their office, using tools like Evernote to file literally everything. If you need to reference hard copies regularly, I prefer a binder to lateral hanging files (I just find it's a bit neater of a system). But whatever your preference, pick one and stick to it. Every single piece of paper needs a home, whether it is electronically, or in a designated folder or behind a tab. 

4. PURIFY WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

I am no naturopath- and really no expert on this topic but my friend Sarah introduced me to essential oils and the wonderful things they can do for your health and your mood. Again no expert, but experience has shown me that certain oils applied topically or put in a diffuser absolutely impact my focus, concentration and overall mood elevator. My favourites include lavender, peppermint and frankincense. Apply them to wrists, back of neck or feet- random fact, your feet have the largest pores so the oil is absorbed there the most. A few drops in a diffuser honestly make the room smell amazing- and the smell lasts and lingers creating a wonderful environment for work.   

5. TRAYS AND BASKETS

For the essential items and items that inevitably will migrate in and you can't figure out what to do with, I am such a believer in trays and baskets. A pretty tray on a desk will keep your essentials looking curated and organized. And baskets- I think I might be obsessed. Every room in my house now has a basket. They are just so darn practical and pretty! What I love about baskets is that in a pinch- when you just don't have the margin to clean and you really need to do something FAST to get some sanity back, putting it all in a pretty basket provides instant gratification. You've just got to promise to go through it at the end of the week and sort it out. 

I know for myself, I can let cleaning become a BIG TIME procrastination enabler (said this designer too many times: but I can't do my expense report with my desk looking like this!) So the idea is if you have systems like some of the tips above that allow you to STAY organized and keep on top of it- you'll spend more time on great ideas and doing what you do best- rather than feeling stressed by mess and unable to operate efficiently. 

Love to know your organization tips for your office in the comments below! 

Side note: Big time congrats to my friends at the newly branded The Knot Group. They have just announced their new re-brand and services expansion and I was privileged to design their Toronto offices, featured in the images in this post. Come back later this week for a full tour of their space! Photos by the lovely Katherine Holland.

DRESSING THE BUMP: VOLUME 5

DRESSING THE BUMP: VOLUME 5

Firstly, a few brief words about my earlier post this week on how mental illness has touched our marriage. Thank you for reading, sharing, and for the words of support and words of solidarity. Let's keep talking : )

Today I'm talking about something equally personal. I am very thrilled to share that we are pregnant! Yes- again! Baby #5 incase you lost count (easy to lose count with us). So to enter the weekend I offer my very first fashion post on Dressing the Bump: Volume 5.

I love being pregnant. Obviously it has its challenges but I really do treasure this time. However, I used to really not treasure finding clothing that fit and made me feel good. Being pregnant 5 times I have traversed the market for trendy, well made, well priced maternity wear. What I have found is you either have to spend hundreds for well designed stuff, or if you want to be budget conscious you are getting really basic, super casual, kind of boring stuff- or stock is limited so for the good stuff your size is gone super fast. A retailer that has not disappointed me all 5 times has been Thyme Maternity. As I have worked pretty much all the way through my pregnancies, finding on-trend items where I can look polished and feel great (which can be super hard when you feel like a blimp) is such a treat. 

This patterned shirt is great as it coordinates with other items in my wardrobe- love being able to wear regular staples from my wardrobe through my pregnancy like this blazer.

  

Blazer: Smythe. Shirt, Citzens Maternity Jeans: Thyme Maternity. Bracelet: Niki and Lola. Necklace: Tessa and Olivia. Shoes: Steve Madden.

Check back most Fridays for how I will be dressing the bump for the next few months of my pregnancy. We are so excited for another little Canning!!!! 

Thanks to Thyme Maternity for partnering with me during this very special time and to Mdd Photography for capturing my growing bump!

HOW TO SUPPORT A SPOUSE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESS

HOW TO SUPPORT A SPOUSE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESS

Today is #BellLetsTalk day, so I'm interrupting a regularly scheduled design post to talk about a topic quite personal to me, and a little vulnerable- mental health.

My husband has for much of his adulthood suffered from anxiety and depression. When we met I almost did not believe him- most people who know him think of him as a very relaxed, happy-go-lucky, gets along with anybody, kind and caring guy. 

In 2012, about 5 years into our marriage and 3 small kids under the age of 3 later, depression reared its very ugly head. 

There were days when I witnessed my spouse overcome with a grief and sadness that was so uncharacteristic of his personality that it paralyzed him. I witness him unable to get out of bed, unable to enjoy things that normally would have given him joy, unmotivated and just not himself. 

And at first, I could not understand it. I wanted to fix it. I desperately, utterly, from the bottom of my core, wanted to take whatever suffering he was encountering off of his shoulders. 

The Bell Let's Talk campaign was in its infancy if I am not mistaken when depression entered so loudly into our marriage. I know it helped my husband feel not as isolated, and it helped me to understand a little better what it feels like when you feel so unlike yourself. 

Now I have made friends with depression- I say I have made friends with it as it doesn't define me, it doesn't define my spouse and it doesn't define our marriage. It is a challenge, like any other, that we BATTLE together hand-in-hand. I say battle because some days it really feels like a battle- but like all battles, they end. There is always a winner. If I am being really honest there are days that it doesn't feel like we are winning- but I have long LONG term vision lenses on and I am in it for the long haul.

If your spouse or someone very close to you also suffers a mental illness, here are some strategies that have really helped me.

1. LEARN TO SEE THE SIGNS

I consider myself (rightly or wrongly, I am no medical professional), the gatekeeper in a way to monitoring Josh's depression and anxiety. I can see the signs when a low period might be coming in a way he does not. For us, one major trigger is busyness. If we have gone through a season of extreme business, with lots of travel for work, and basically not a lot of margin scheduled in- it's not setting us up for success. Other signs I have read about and experienced include increase or decrease in appetite, too much or too little sleep, and general discontentment with things that otherwise bring joy. Basically, a consistent attitude or mood shift that sticks around for a while. 

I think some people on the outside see what appears like a "bad mood" and just suggest, with the best of intentions, the person suffering with a mental health illness just snap out of it. Just go do something fun, just change. I can tell you, from experience, this person really wants to "change" but it's not as simple as flipping a switch. 

So as the support system, see the signs, know the signs, and be able to implement a plan for when the signs come. 

2. HAVE A PLAN TO DEAL

When I see some triggers starting I try as fast as humanly possible to book some time off for just me and my husband. For us, some time to decompress is a NEED, not a luxury. Other plans that can be helpful are ensuring medical help is available. We are extremely, extremely fortunate, to live in Canada where, while not perfect, great health care is available to us. As the partner, know your spouse's doctor. When depression hits hard, doing something as simple as looking up a phone number can feel overwhelming. So ensure you're in the loop (in a respectful manner of course).

A therapist I met at Platform, Dr. Terry Ledford, says it like this: "depression is like an ugly, mean troll that gets inside the victim’s body and makes him want to do the very things that feed it and make it grow. When a depressed person decreases physical, social and pleasurable activity, his depression worsens." So his advice- starve that troll. Encourage your partner to get out, even just to walk and get the mail, or pick up kids from school. Do something daily to make that wretched wretched troll shrivel up and die from starvation.

It's not easy, and my plan is not elaborate- but it's small things like getting up and out daily that can really help. 

3. TRY TO HELP THEM SEE PAST THEIR OWN INACCURATE VIEW OF THEMSELVES

I find this one the hardest. Dr. Terry says it so well: "The most powerful negative perceptual distortion is the victim’s view of himself. The depressed person sees himself as inadequate, unimportant, unlovable and a burden to others. He believes that others would be better off without him. He focuses on his failures and mistakes and dismisses his positive attributes and successes." 

This one is hard. This particular one I really, really, struggle with the most. My husband is an INCREDIBLE person. Like, incredible father, incredible friend, even if I wasn't married to him I would think he was amazing. But when depression hits, I really see what Dr. Terry describes. It's like he puts on glasses that are completely distorted. And I want to smash those glasses into a million pieces. 

Again I'll let Dr. Terry explain: "To fight depression, the victim must understand that his perceptions are not real. He must not trust his thinking or his feelings. He must remind himself daily that those perceptions are inaccurate. He must listen to and trust supportive friends and family who assert that his negative perceptions are wrong." 

So as the partner, learn to realize when your loved ones perceptions are whack. And just surround them with love. Have the kids make him cards. Do sweet things like bake his favourite cake. Remind him he is loved and awesome.

4. TRY AND BE PROACTIVE TO BE PREVENTATIVE 

This one is also a bit tricky- as sometimes you can do everything "right" and an unexpected trigger can take your best laid plans and throw them out the window. But I know for us- busyness is a big time trigger, especially in the winter. So here are some tips for being proactive that I think work for us:

  • Schedule a holiday in the winter. Winter can be really difficult in Canada, for everyone. So we try and book a sunny holiday, just for my husband to enjoy on his own! It has really helped, we usually schedule it in January. 
  • Eat healthy and take vitamins. I have just been introduced to Neurapas, which is a combination of St. John's wart, valerian root and passionfruit herb that is meant to help in creating a healthy, balanced mood. I'm curious to see its impact this year.
  • Exercise. Again I am no medical professional but the benefits of exercise for everyone are pretty clear. 
  • Schedule MARGIN. I have written ample blog posts in the past on efficiency and productivity to aid in creating margin. It's important for EVERYONE. So schedule it. 

5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO

This can be tricky too but all the more necessary when you need to be there both physically and emotionally for your spouse. For me, my faith really helps me to see victory in the suffering. I also just fiercely love my spouse, from the very bottom of my core. It truly is an honour to be his wife and I walk this road with him and that is enough motivation for me to battle WITH HIM fiercely. 

If you suffer from a mental illness you are not alone. If your partner has a mental illness you are not alone. Keep on talking, keep on walking and starve that troll : ) 

WHY YOU SHOULD SAY NO MORE: STRATEGIES ON USING THIS WORD TO LEAD TO MORE HAPPINESS

WHY YOU SHOULD SAY NO MORE: STRATEGIES ON USING THIS WORD TO LEAD TO MORE HAPPINESS

My lovely colleague Vanessa Francis posted this to her Instagram today:

This resonated with me big time this morning. Saying "no" is a skill that has taken me a really long time to learn. But what I have learned is that saying no really means saying yes to much more: to happiness, to sanity, to living with intention. So if saying no for you is a difficult thing (let me tell you it still is for me) here are some strategies to help you say no with more freedom:

1. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

In order to say no with intention you kind of have to know why you would say no to it. One big catalyst for me to say no more freely was knowing my strengths. I did a Strengths Finder assessment a few years ago, and did some further coaching in it more recently, and it was super duper revelatory. One thing it showed me is that I am really good at 2-hour interior design consultations. In a 2-hour consult I am able to use my empathy, strategy, input and relator strengths (that is 4 our of my top 5 people!) to help people make the best out of their home. Strengths Finder also shows you pretty glaringly what you are not good at- I have used my assessment as a filter for what to delegate or simply decline. 

I really recommend this tool. It's a whopping $10 to do the basic assessment online and it is worth every penny. Trust me, it is life changing. 

2. WRITE A BRAND SCRIPT

This is important whether you run a small business, write a blog, or simply want to change the way you run your household. It essentially is the act of defining who you are and what you want to be known for. If something doesn't fit within your brand script it becomes a lot easier to say no to it with total freedom.

My amazing friend Sarah Walker wrote a post on creating a compelling brand story aimed at interior designers. You can do this for your personal brand, or blog as well. It's essentially answering a few questions (Donald Miller is the expert on this, credit for these questions to him!):

  • Why do I do what I do?
  • What exactly do I do?
  • Who do I do it for? 
  • What is their internal / external problem?
  • How do I help them solve this problem?
  • etc. etc.

Again, it's a funnel. Having these questions answered really clearly will help steer you away from opportunities that just don't fit your bottom line. You can also phrase these questions into more of a mission statement. For example, here's a tool I learned at the Platform conference:

I'm a: ____________ (lifestyle blogger, interior designer, marketer, etc. BE SPECIFIC)

I help: ___________ (overwhelmed mothers, overwhelmed business owners, couples with financial trouble, etc. AGAIN BE REALLY SPECIFIC, NOT SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE- THIS IS KEY)

By offering: _______ (interior design services, copywriting services, a 10-week self-help program, etc.) 

So that they can:________ (live a better life, sleep better, dress better, etc.)

Anything that does not fit in this brand script- politely decline. 

3. WRITE DOWN YOUR PERSONAL VALUES

I am convinced everyone should do this exercise as it REALLY scared me when I did it. As part of Crystal Paine's Say Goodbye to Survival Mode book and Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course, I had to write down how I spend my time, what is most important to me, and why.

Writing down my values was easy: faith, family, physical health, career, friends, etc. I had 7 really specific things on my list in order of priority. Then I examined a typical week. And it was kinda scary- I was spending 90% of my time on career, and trying to cram everything else in the remaining 10%. 

Woah nelly recipe for disaster- and primarily my health and family were feeling the impact. Having your values really clearly identified on paper, and where you examine them all the time is really crucial. Saying yes to better heath for me has meant saying no to invitations that will keep me out late at night. Saying yes to more family time has meant saying no to contracts that will take me out of the house on a consistent basis. 

This has been kinda critical for me. If you are struggling with this I really recommend Michael Hyatt's 5 days to your best year ever course. Let's be clear- no affiliate link or any back-end deal here. I realize a plug this man a lot. But I do because I have seen the changes in my own life as a result of this course and other tools and I know how it could impact you too.

Again, in the pursuit if saying no with more freedom- knowing WHY you are saying no because of its impact on your personal life is pretty essential.

OTHER RESOURCES

So something is in the air as I keep stumbling upon resources that totally fall in line with this topic. Here are a few more to help you out:

This is a beautiful post by my friend Sarah Walker on renovating your life like you would a house. Beautifully written, beautiful images, beautifully inspiring. 

Essentialism by Greg McKeowon is, for lack of better word- essential in learning to say no.

I have not read yet but am excited to get my hands on The Joy of Missing Out by Christine Crook.

Have you said no to something that was hard recently, but you knew it was for the best? Love to know in the comments below. 

 

MUST SEE ITEMS AT THE INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW TORONTO

MUST SEE ITEMS AT THE INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW TORONTO

It's that fun time of year again- when design lovers (often dressed in black!) descend upon the GTA for Toronto's Design Week. For me it is always a great time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and of course get inspired by new products and installations. 

Here are my must see items at the Interior Design Show.

The Galley: Reinvent Your Kitchen booth 1942

Let me tell you if I had known about this product 6 months ago it would have gone in my kitchen. The Galley is a pretty cool sink / prep / entertaining / efficient use of space sink and work station in one that turns your space into one pretty cool restaurant like experience. I mean come on- look at the possibilities- so cool:

Lightmaker Studio booth 2228

Price point is as expected for items that look this GORGEOUS- I really want to put one of these pieces in a project very soon. Black and brass light fixtures, so on trend- amd these little table lamps are just too adorable /edgy if you can possoibly be those things at the same time. 

Urban Barn booth 1828

I've been a long time fan of Urban Barn for its well priced, well designed items. Coming for spring / summer 2015 lots of natural textures, brass, and my favourite items- the trunk inspired chests of drawers and conversation starter napkins. Love those. 

Atelier Nomade booth SN18

Studio North is always a must stop for me. And this year I discovered Atelier Nomade and these FABULOUS rope lights. I'm dreaming up word installations in kids' spaces, industrial lofts hung and tied in a sculptural fashion, and a plethora of other organic options.

The show is open until 7pm tonight and 6pm tomorrow- enjoy all the design delights! Love to know your favourite part of the show in the comments below.  

LISA ON LOCATION: AYA KITCHENS

LISA ON LOCATION: AYA KITCHENS

With the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show on in Vegas right now I've got kitchens on the brain. Having just recently designed my own kitchen I can attest the end result is so worth all the effort of the many steps it takes to get a kitchen from concept to installation. 

I worked with Aya Kitchens on my super small space kitchen. There are a multitude of kitchen cabinet companies on the market- and of course I wanted to make the best decision for my family and my budget. Here are a couple of the things I considered and why Aya ended up being the best choice for me:

I needed design help: Even though I am capable of designing a kitchen on my own, I knew I needed reinforcements. It is a very small space square footage wise, and I have a staircase header that basically eats up a ton of cabinetry room. So every inch had to count. I am also super busy- so I knew I would not be able to get this accomplished successfully without the assistance of someone 1) well-trained in kitchen design, 2) objective and not as emotionally involved in all the decisions like me 3) with an amazingly stylish eye and an awareness of trends, and 4) the ability to understand my esthetic and what I was trying to accomplish in my space for my family. Cue Amy Dillon- who is all this and more and bonus, she's like sunshine- which is super helpful because designing a kitchen and writing big cheques can be super stressful. 

I wanted a showroom: I really wanted to touch and feel all the components of my space. I wanted to feel my wenge doors, see the exact colours of my cabinets, see the interior fittings and hardware- and I wanted to do this all conveniently in one visit. For clients I have done the homework and traveled around the city at various vendors sourcing all details- but for me (and my husband, who was essentially the client) I really wanted a streamlined experience. The newly renovated Toronto West location is my favourite- as it boasts a really good diversity of example kitchens (at least 10 if memory serves) and you can physically touch and try everything- you aren't just looking at a photo.  

I needed customized design: Aya's kitchens are customized- you get the personalization of a custom kitchen with the value and quality that comes from a 150,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art production facility. And similar to my last point- I actually liked the fact that I had to choose from a curated number of options- it really helped to focus my design direction and make me make decisions faster. And with the number of options and the ability to customize you're pretty much guaranteed your kitchen is going to be unique to you- even if someone else picks the exact same colour and door profile, with how customized each kitchen is your space will look super unique. 

I wanted detailed drawings: So this is standard at most reputable custom cabinet companies. But let's keep it real- not all retailers / vendors / trades are created equal. If you ever do a kitchen- even from a big box store- YOU NEED DRAWINGS. Don't just make a list of how many upper cabinets you need. You need to take the time to plot out how many, where they will go, how high they will be hung, etc. SO YOU CAN PLAN for everything else (counters, other furniture in the room distance wise from the kitchen, hardware, etc). A reputable company should also make you sign off on each drawing to ensure you are approving every detail. Never commission anything custom without something in writing. Also- this might sound intuitive but I'm writing it anyways- the person who measures your space (ideally the people making your kitchen) SHOULD DO THESE DRAWINGS. This way they are responsible for the measurements and there is no discrepancy if something goes wrong at time of installation.  

For my clients, when we design custom kitchens I create concept drawings- which means I show what I want the kitchen to look like, colours, finishes, etc. but then I always let the kitchen company create the technical drawings for production of the the cabinets.

I wanted quality and customer service: I was looking to invest not only in the product, but in the entire experience from concept to install. Because a kitchen is such an investment, and something I will NOT be changing again in this house, I really wanted it to be as turn-key and as stress-free as possible. And truthfully, it was. There was no going back to the store to deal with a broken product, no hours on the phone dealing with customer service, no returns because of a miscalculation on the measurement, no large unnecessary filler strips between cabinets. There were a few minor deficiencies (little dings on a door, some variance in the finish consistency on another) but they were dealt with swiftly and I did not have to leave my house to deal with them- new doors and installation came to me. 

Referring back to a previous post I did on purchasing your appliances, you need to decide where cabinets fall in your priority list. For some people a out of the box kitchen is totally appropriate. For my kitchen, with its space challenges and specific modern look I wanted, I knew the investment in a customized kitchen was the best option. 

Thanks to Aya Kitchens for partnering with me on my #canningreno. All images taken on location at their Toronto West showroom

5 SHORTCUTS FOR DECLUTTERING: SAVE TIME AND INCREASE SANITY!

5 SHORTCUTS FOR DECLUTTERING: SAVE TIME AND INCREASE SANITY!

Who has been there- school permission slip lost in sea of papers, hats and mittens buried in a pile of miscellaneous clothing, floor so covered in various shades of neon plastic blinking toys you barely remember what colour your area rug was. 

For a really long time I lived in this chaos- okay, let's keep it real, I am not out of the organizational chaos that is my house yet. But I am light years ahead of where I was. Being more organized was a big motivation for our #canningreno- and I can honestly say that the steps we've taken to get more organized has ADDED years to my life. I have less aggravation when I am looking for items, I feel more peaceful and more ordered and more in control of my home AND MY TIME. Not searching for things in a lengthy frenzy is just so much better than feeling totally overwhelmed and running late because you can't find something.

In the past when I have worked with clients on full scale projects we have brought in a professional organizer to assist in the process. And I really believe in the process- sometimes you need someone completely objective to kick you into shape. 

If you are in need of a kick start- here are 5 shortcuts I have learned via working with professional organizers and dealing with the chaos of 4 kids & 2 adults living in 1300 square feet.

1. ARTCHIVE APP FOR KIDS ART

This is honestly the best invention for space deprived, sentiment filled families! This app  allows you to snap a quick photo of your kids' school masterpiece, tag it with their name, age and date, and then puts it into an album for you to "artchive" forever- and even print in an album if you feel so inclined. A clutter-free way to save and enjoy your kids' artwork. I discovered this after I was truthfully fed up with my own sentiment- I had real issues throwing away the adorable pictures drawn by my kids, but just do not have the space for more paper storage. This app could also be used for Christmas cards, post cards, love notes etc. Keep a few hard copy that are really sentimental and frame them- then Artchive App the rest. No need for boxes piled up in the basement! 

2. BASKET AT TOP OF STAIRS 

I'm trying to keep my main living space toy free. Of course, this isn't really possible as I live in 1300 square feet on my main floor- so during the day the toys migrate in. But at the end of the day- all toys and books etc. go in a massive wicker basket- like big time big, 2' high- and then the basket gets brought downstairs and put away in the appropriate spots in our newly renovated basement (which I designed with wall to wall closed storage). I keep another smaller basket at the top of the stairs for non toy things that belong in the basement- like the screwdriver that ended up left upstairs after building a kids toy, clothes the kids have outgrown that should be put in storage, etc. etc. Pick some pretty looking baskets so they integrate with your decor so even if they are in the space they look seamless. 

3. BINDER AT FRONT DOOR 

Massive MASSIVE pain point for me is paper. Similar to point number 1- I just never know what to do with it. Mail basically just piled up on my counters- if you opened the top drawer in my kitchen island you probably wouldn't be able to because papers would get jammed. So in a moment of utter desperation- I bought a white binder, some dividers, and a couple of those plastic envelopes that can go in a binder too. And now all papers that come into the house get hole punched and filed. The kids each have a tab for school related things (no more wondering if today is pizza lunch or not). Important receipts, business cards, coupons all go in that plastic envelope. I made a tab for my husband too for important things he needs to address. For my business I did the same thing in a separate binder- so every single piece of paper that comes into my house either from the mailman or from my kids' backpacks is dealt with within 5' of my front door, and within moments after receiving it. This is a massive win for my sanity!!!!! 

4. ERRANDS BAG IN FRONT HALL CLOSET

You know when you have to take something to the dry cleaner, or return a library book, or need to match a fabric colour or something so you need to remember to take that item with you? This tip I learned from my organizer Nadia- put a bag that matches your decor- either a reusable shopping bag, or a simple tote bag- and that's where all these little items go. This way these "errands items" don't pile up on the front stairs, foyer table or counter. And you can grab and go without wondering where you put that item, saving you time and stress.

5. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOSE BY NOT DECLUTTERING

Again, referring to last week's post on what you have to lose by NOT doing something- if you hang on to that card, if you don't tackle the pile of papers, if you don't address the avalanche in your closet- what do you have to lose? I will tell you: TIME, SANITY, TIME DOING THINGS YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY LIKE HANGING OUT WITH YOUR KIDS, MORE SANITY. And what do you get to gain? You get to actually have a space you enjoy, that helps YOU live a peaceful, beautiful life, a place to create memories with your family. A home you can actually Instagram because it is not covered in crap (lol) !!!!

Question: What one thing might you do today to bring order to your home? Love to know in the comments below! 

LISA ON LOCATION: WHY FAUCETS ARE THE JEWELRY OF THE KITCHEN / BATHROOM

LISA ON LOCATION: WHY FAUCETS ARE THE JEWELRY OF THE KITCHEN / BATHROOM

I have always said that faucets are like jewelry for kitchens and bathrooms. It's the bling and detail that I argue can make or break a space in terms of how custom or high end it feels. As I talked about in my guide to buying appliances, decide where faucets lie in your priorities list. In almost all cases in a kitchen / bathroom renovation I think faucets should be top tier. 

Faucets have come an incredibly long way in terms of design. Pull outs, like this Delta model going in my basement, are practically seamless. You can hardly tell they are even there. 

Again, like many aspects of the interior design process, there are so many options for faucets. I would say typically faucets can be broken down into modern, transitional and traditional. If you need help determining your style try this quiz out here. In terms of finish, black is super strong in mainly modern contexts (but can totally work in a traditional space too), and brass or champagne has had a huge resurgence in the last few years.

A feature that I thought may have been someone superfluous- and now I am totally converted on- is touchless technology. I've had this Brizo model in my kitchen and it is pretty darn convenient. When you have raw chicken grossness on your hands or you've just cleaned up peanut butter your kids spilled all over the floor (happened to me today!) it's pretty convenient to turn on the faucet with a single tap. And it is just pretty fun to do. My kids call it the magic faucet : )

Bottom line, faucets make such a decorative statement- the same way a great bracelet can make an otherwise simple outfit really shine- pick something you love.

Thanks to Delta & Brizo for partnering with me on my house. For more from this series on shopping for items for my #canningreno check out my recent shopping trips herehere and here.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE RUNNING ON EMPTY: 5 TECHNIQUES TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS AND FILL YOUR TANK

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE RUNNING ON EMPTY: 5 TECHNIQUES TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS AND FILL YOUR TANK

I have 4 children. Under the age of 5. I run a business. And I attempt to fit in hobbies and personal time. I am exhausted just writing that. So running on empty is a feeling I am regrettably very familiar with. Last week I shared how 2014, while an incredible year, was one so full to the max I had hardly any breathing room. And I am determined to make changes to enjoy more balance and happiness this year.

But inevitably, there comes a time when despite your best efforts, the season of life you are in is super challenging. Right now, all 4 of my kids are sick (AGAIN). I will spare you the incredibly horrific details but tons of bodily fluids are involved. And of course they often pick the middle of the night to take shifts. This leaves a really tired mom during the day and a feeling of desperation so deep I could cry.

Today was one of those days for me, where I kind of felt like giving up on everything, where every single task felt insurmountable and where I felt like I could not survive the day. Have you felt like this before? Kids or no kids, I am sure I am not alone in this feeling.

If this is a familiar feeling to you too, here are some strategies on not only getting through the day, but filling your tank so you can indeed thrive, not just survive (to borrow from Crystal's book title).  

1. CLEAN SOMETHING

This is such a simple task, but the reason why I think it's effective is because of the instant gratification that comes with one clean space. It's like you're one step closer to a cleaner house, which means order and sanity. And when you think about it, a messy room is really just 20 small "somethings" to clean. So do it. Clear off a counter, organize one drawer, purge one spot of your closet. You'll feel good, and it's instant, I promise.

2. DRINK SOMETHING

Preferably water. There are so many proven benefits of water- I am no nutritionist but lots of experts talk about it's efficacy. I now keep a pitcher of water with lemon slices in it on my counter- and basically force myself to drink the whole thing in a day. I still need a better strategy for drinking water on the go (it's probably as simple as reusable water bottles- I just don't have any?). If anyone has a great strategy for remembering to drink water while out and about please share. 

3. MAKE A GOAL LIST

As part of Michael Hyatt's Best Year Ever Course I made a pretty epic goal list over the weekend. Like crazy epic, crazy good. And the exercise of getting the jumbled mess of thoughts in my head in an organized fashion was such an accomplishment. I felt an instant surge of confidence, and regardless of how daunting (great goals should be kind of scary!) the act of organizing the goals, writing them down with some semblance of a plan attached is an immediate mood lifter. 

4. PUT ON SOME MAKE-UP

For my fellow moms out there that feel like you are in an endless cycle of diapers, spit up and mess, you know how good it feels when you put your face on. So do it. Put on a TV show for the littles, and take 15 minutes even if you have no where to go. As my friend Donna Bishop says, vanity can be a great motivator. So glam it up. 

5. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOSE BY NOT DOING IT

This is a total mental shift strategy, one that again Michael Hyatt's course helped me to learn. As part of the goal setting exercise, he asked us to consider what is at stake, or what might you have to lose by not accomplishing your goal. This kind of thinking can be applied to the big stuff- for example- why blog 3 times a week? What's at stake if you DON'T blog 3 times a week- you won't be consistent, which means you won't build a loyal audience, which means you have less of a chance of sharing your message and helping people, etc. etc. This is also totally applicable for the small things- what is at stake if you DON'T empty the dishwasher, or put away the laundry right now? Your kids won't have clean cups to drink out of, you'll be scrambling for clean socks when you are in a rush later, etc. This simple shift in thinking helps keep me motivated and especially where laundry and the dishwasher are concerned, it helps me get mundane tasks done that feel insurmountable at times. 

How do you "fuel up" when running on empty? Love to know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO SELECT KITCHEN APPLIANCES- THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

HOW TO SELECT KITCHEN APPLIANCES- THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Kitchen renovations can be pretty daunting. There are just so many decisions and many of them are permanent, and a big time investment. From doing this with so many clients, and last year on my own house with my #canningreno, I know how difficult the decisions can be. 

So here's a guide to help you with one aspect (perhaps a series of posts on this to follow?)- buying your kitchen appliances. 

1. DETERMINE WHERE APPLIANCES FALL IN YOUR PRIORITIES LIST

When I work with clients I try to get them to group various aspects of a reno into tiers- A, B and C. A being top tier- what do you not want to sacrifice on and you'll pay top dollar for. B being middle of the road- ok with purchasing off the rack and C being third tier, can be very flexible with selection and price (PS- tier C does not mean ugly! It just means you make decisions that make sense for your priorities). How these are classified will very much depend on your overall budget (BIG ONE), timeline, esthetic, upbringing, attitude towards money, propensity to risk, how long you plan to be in the home, what you consider luxury, etc. etc. When I do consultations with clients I ask dozens of questions to help clients figure out these priorities. Here are a few things to consider in a kitchen reno- where would you group things?

  • cabinets
  • major appliances
  • counters
  • faucets
  • cabinet hardware
  • lighting (under cabinet, island pendants) 
  • flooring
  • backsplash tile
  • dining seating / table if applicable 
  • small countertop appliances
  • dishes, cutlery
  • accessories
  • doors 
  • windows
  • window treatments
  • baseboards, trim, mouldings  

In my own home, appliances fell into group B. I wanted pieces that looked great but were sensitive to my not unlimited budget. So when I stumbled upon the Whirlpool Black Ice collection I knew I had found a great fit for my house. 

I wanted the appliances to feel built in, but not incur the cost of built in paneled appliances (which would have been more than twice the price). The black blends in with the cabinetry I selected, creating a streamlined esthetic. In a kitchen as small as mine, I wanted as few sight line interruptions as possible. Black is an elegant alternative to stainless steel and in my home Black Ice was the perfect fit.

2. FRIDGE OPTIONS- FRENCH DOOR, SINGLE DOOR, BOTTOM FREEZER OR SIDE BY SIDE FREEZER, WHICH IS BEST?

This one is very much about personal preference but it is also very much reliant on space. In my tiny kitchen, I simply did not have room to open a full size door. On past client spaces I have recommended the French door option in tight passage ways, opposite the kitchen island, essentially wherever space is really limited. The french door refrigerator I selected (30"- the narrowest fridge available and basically the only thing that would fit my kitchen given my space limitations!) has pull-out drawers I love and tons of door storage. In short, space is probably the most important consideration in what type of fridge to select.

3. RANGES- GAS OR ELECTRIC, SLIDE-IN OR BUILT-IN, SINGLE OR DOUBLE OVEN

Again, let's get space restrictions out of the way. I probably would have done a double oven as with the number of people in my family, and how much we like to entertain, I could totally use it. But space just would not allow me that luxury here. So consider space- I think if you cook enough and your have the square footage built-in double ovens are pretty awesome. 

Now for the gas vs. electric option- I guess you could call me a foodie, but that really only pertains to when I dine outside the home. When at home, time often only permits me to make quick, efficient meals. Basically, I'm no chef- but I LOVE food and the communal act of eating. So I kind of was intimidated by gas ranges and thought it should be reserved for "cooks." Never had it growing up, never understood the appeal. But at the ren