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.