5 tips for home-staging

Posting season is upon us! If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone asking questions about home-staging, or the best way to style your house for a quick sale, I’d be rich! Rich I tell you!

For all you lucky ducks who own a home (and don’t rent or live in PMQs) the coming months will be a race to finish line as you try and sell your house before your neighbours, in an attempt to buy your next one that much quicker. It must be exhausting! Because home-staging and home-decor go hand in hand, I’ve lined-up my top 5 tips for home-staging this year.

Home-staging is about showing the best configuration of your house. Not the one you prefer, or the one you think is most stylish, but the best way to place furniture for optimal room configuration and flow. There are professional services which cater to this aspect of posting season, and if you have the funds go for it! You can learn a lot from the professionals. If you don’t want to tap into that funding purse, you can do a couple of things yourself.

1. Fix any and all problems before you even stage the house.

Is there water damage in your ceiling? You’ll have to fix that, or at the very least cover it up and disclose it to potential buyers. Chances are the house inspection will find things like that, so be proactive and increase the value of your house.

Touch-up any chipped-paint, clean your baseboards, fix the kitchen and bathroom sinks, the list goes on! Tackle this as a team and you’ll get it done that much faster. Remember, you want potential buyers to see your house on its best day, not after hurricane season.

2. The golden rule: people want to be able to picture themselves in your home

When you walked into the house you now own (and are trying to sell), chances are you felt like you make it your home. People want to feel like they can put their furniture, their decor, and themselves in your house. It’s easier to do if items that are super personal aren’t strewn across the house.

Not everyone has kids or wants to buy a house designed around children, so keep that in mind when selling.

Tone down the family photographs on every wall and every surface, maybe swap-out your large framed photos of dragons and cats for mirrors and neutral abstract pieces (which you can rent, or buy and return before the return policy expires), and I suggest your remove any children-sized furniture. No one wants to see any of that when walking through your house, trust me.

None of the above described items are universal in their appeal and they will distract potential buyers from seeing the selling features like ample sunlight and lots of space, and they may warp their perspective on the size of furniture that will fit. You don’t want your visitors looking at the personal details instead of the house itself.

3. Pick a colour pallet and stick to it!

This means you may want to paint any and all walls in your house back to a neutral set of colours, or at the very least make sure the house flows on a pallet. Better homes and gardens has great colour pallets that you can peruse on their website or find on pinterest. Although neutral colour pallets are preferable (they’re more universal), bright and colourful pallets can also work as long they’re done correctly.

Your child may have wanted neon bubblegum pink for their walls, but if the rest of your house is grey and beige, the room will stand-out like a sore thumb. Not every buyer has the same needs that you had, and they may want to turn that kids room into an office but if they don’t see the space as easy to transform for their needs, they may walk away.

4. Optimize furniture placement

You want your house to seem large and spacious. Stuffing a room to capacity won’t do you any favours, so look into pairing down on the furniture you have in that room, and then try moving some furniture around.

Cramming an entire dinnette set into your small kitchen to make room for an extremely large sectional and gigantic TV that spans across the dinning room and living room is counter-productive.

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Depending on how serious you are about selling your house fast, look into renting different furniture for the staging process. This can get expensive and hard to live with if you have kids, but depending on the hotness of your real estate market, it may be something worth considering- ESPECIALLY if you don’t have an ideal location. Don’t give buyers a reason to walk-out.

The internet and pinterest are full of ideas on how to best place furniture in rooms, so get to looking and become inspired! Another good option is to swing by a show-room and see how they have furniture a d furniture sets staged. Take a pick and try to re-create it at home.

5. The devil is in the details: clean and refresh your spaces.

Fresh flowers, clear and clean surfaces, fresh lightbulbs, and dusting can go a long way. You want the house to be so perfectly neutral that it could be in the builder’s show room or a brochure.

Enhance the features in your house by playing-up the selling features. If you have bay windows along the front of the house, start by washing them and ensuring the curtains/blinds are clean. What about a cute reading or breakfast nook next to one? you can create extra spaces that will optimize usage and potential for buyers.

Do you have hardwood floors throughout? Clean and oil them before a series of showings to get rid proof of all the foot traffic.

Is there a large dinning room in your house? Consider setting the table for a big dinner (minus all the food). It will help potential buyers see the room for what it is and add colour to the space.

Pro tip: use full place settings and add details like placemats or a table cloth.

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Clean the kitchen from top to bottom and have a large bowl of lemons and limes or colourful apples on display somewhere. Keep your counters clear from un-necessary canisters and bowls, and absolutey make sure your coffee maker and toaster are clean.

Pro tip: You want to avoid placing fruit that becomes too fragrant as it ripens (in case you don’t have time to swap it out during a hectic showing season), but you also want colourful pops that fill the space.

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Clean the bathroom from top to bottom, and then clean it again. No one wants to see traces of a vomit attack from your kids two years ago on the wall.

Pro tip: pay attention to your tooth-brush holder and medicine cabinet. Make sure there’s no gunk on them, and clear-out any sensitive prescriptions before every showing. You never know who’s going through your house!

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Decorative pillows, throws, and knick knacks are nice finishing touches, so consider washing the cases or fluffing the down before a showing.

Pro tip: once the pillow is fluffed-up, crease it down the middle of the top edge to make them seem that much more plush.

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Fresh flowers remain my favourite way to enhance a room, so head-on down to costco and grab a couple of bouquets before a showing.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a great way to build a bouquet, check out my post here.

Do you have a lot of lights in your house? Swap-out al the lightbulbs for tones that will be the most flattering in your space (think cold vs. soft white and how it changes the colours in your house). Not only will they show your house in the colours you want them to see, but it will avoid any poorly-light rooms especially during night-time showings.

Pro tip: Target’s liquidation is a good time to stock-up on lightbulds so head-on down! Most hardware stores also have discounts on larger boxes of bulbs (as opposed to buying just 2)

Dust your built-in bookshelves and re-organize them. You want their size and depth to become apparent, not how many cool books you have.

Pro tip: Depending on how big they are, consider adding some art and photographs.

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Is there no storage in the bedrooms? Did the builders not think closets were important? Make sure you showcase storage options like dressers, hanging rods or armoires to highlight the options available to new buyers.

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I realize all of this can be really expensive, and very hard to do with kids and a husband on EX. Call a friend! Make a game of it! Posting season and selling your house don’t have to be really hard, but they do have to be done properly if you’re looking to sell. Reach-out to your community for help and you’d be surprised who will help!

How was your last home staging?

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Call me crazy – spring is in the air!

I’ve been saying this since february, and I’m going to keep saying it – it’s almost April!

Yes, there is still snow on the ground in April and it may even snow over easter, but it also starts to melt in April! Our clocks go forward  soon, and the days are starting to fell less eternally dark.

This has been the point I’ve been running towards since we had our first serious magical snowfall this winter. Winter is long and hard in many places in this country, and I wouldn’t live anywhere without it! That doesn’t mean I need it to last 6 months of the year though, 5 months is enough. That last month is what kills your spirit though.

With spring on my mind and in the air, I’ve begun thinking about plans for our pmq backyard.

Last summer we had a nice colourful enclave. It was a quiet space with some nice lounge chairs, a fire pit, and a kiddie pool that I sat in while watching Fresh Prince re-runs off my computer. It was a weird scene to anyone walking by, but when the heat clocks close to 40 and it’s humid, sitting in a kiddie pool in the shade is mighty fine.

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To see what our backyard looked like last summer you can peak through our old house tour here. I also spent a fair bit of time putting together image boards for PMQ backyards and apartment patio decks.You can check them our here, here, and here.

This summer I’m thinking of taking our yard in a completely different direction: mid-summer’s night dream. You may have seen this image on my Facebook page earlier this week. Yes, it is a shot from last year’s Target look-book, but you know what, it still looks good to me!

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To get us here, we’ve got a couple of things to do:

1. Our current PMQ backyard is all grass, extends quite a ways, and has lots of tree coverage. I’m going to be stringing our many strings of balloon lights  through the low-hanging trees and off the laundry lines. I want to create a canopy of soft light in the evening air.

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2. We’ve been slowly accumulating a small fortune in the form of  mason jars and hurricane lanterns which I plan on using this summer. With this comes an expensive trip to Ikea to stock-up on candles of all shapes and sizes, but only if they beat Target doesn’t beat their prices in the liquidation.

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3. Our colourful blue deck chairs will hopefully grow in numbers, assuming our current set made it through the winter. Because real patio furniture can be expensive, our additions may also be plastic, but I’ve got my eye open for real adirondacks.

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4. I’ll be spray-painting the fire pit with rust-proof spray paint in an attempt to unify the colour and get rid of the two winters/summers worth of rust and wear & tear.

5. Looking for a picnic table. We have a great glass table and set that DH’s parents gave him years ago, and which has served as our kitchen table during a couple of moves. It’s great, but it’s too small and won’t let us seat more than 4 people at it. I’m looking for a standard picnick table, or looking into how I can DIY a substitute with scraps from the base’s pallets.

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6. Setting-up the front porch of our pmq. The space is perfect for a small bench or some planters. It’s a great way to welcome people to the house in the spring/summer, and will receive enough shade to make it a cool place to relax in the afternoon heat.

7. Looking into some screen doors. I work from home now, and nothing will please me more than sitting in the kitchen reading through my emails with a cup of coffee and the first breeze of the day blowing through our screen door. It’s happening people! get ready!

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8. Figuring-out the floral situation. I may not populate our  large planters as usual this summer, only because they cost so much to fill, and never last through the harsh winter (despite precautions.) With grass abundant in our backyard, I may have to content myself with a select few potted flowers to fill the space.

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I’m a sucker for hydrangeas and ranunculus, but they break my budget so I usually stick with greenery only. What will I do this year?!

9. Washing and up-dating our out-door pillows. Outdoor pillows are a great way to add colour and comfort, however we end up sweating all over them. After two seasons in storage, who knows how stinky they are.

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10. Figuring-out the dog situation. We created a small gated areas off the house for our dog. Its big enough for him to do his business and keep him from digging-up the backyard. This summer we’re looking to give him some more freedom though, so we may be investing in an invisible fence. It all depends how transportable the options are. I would hate to spend a load on it, only to not be able to move it with us. If you’ve had any experience with this, let me know!

How are you getting into the spring/summer mode?

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What kind of serving ware should you have?

I’ve been asked this question a couple of times: what kind of serving ware do you have, and why?

It’s a pretty easy question to answer, and the answer is mostly dictated by your needs. I host a fair bit and am often in need of things that will display and serve food for more than ten people. I’m either serving four or ten, never much in between. Regardless, once you’re equipped to serve 10 +, you’re equipped to serve four people.

In my dream home I will have a butler’s pantry and stock it full of my china and serving ware, it will be amazing and look something like this:

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But will most likely look like this – a cupboard

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Storage should be a big consideration when expanding your collection, so consider a china hutch or some extra shelving in the basement before buying a 60 piece china set!

Serving platter

You can get pretty specific here and have different types of platters based on the type of “main” you’re serving, but since space is at a premium most of the time, I opt for one or two simple plates that will fit well with anything and everything.

Traditional meat platters have draining canals built into the plate/tray to ensure that the meal isn’t sitting in it’s own excess juices. Traditional fish platers are often more oval and shaped so that you can serve a whole fish, cut down the middle and opened-up.

I for one enjoy my oval platter because I can fit a roast, a turkey, fish, chicken and burgers – the list goes on! Unless you’re doing a bunch of hosting and really need your massive roasts to drain, you should be good with a sturdy plater.

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Cake stands and domes

If you only buy one thing that’s fancy and fun, it should be a cake stand. You can find a million and one variations, from fanciful blown glass, to a simple pedestal. The amount of whimsy is entirely dependent on your needs. I have five now. Yup, five.

Three are the same brand, same style, but different size variations; they’re great for providing continuity in presentation, and give me some wiggle room in sizing the cake. Another one is white china with a beautiful silver leaf design, perfect for small cakes and cupcakes. My fifth and final one is plastic has a dome; perfect for outside or countertop permanence.

If a store-bought cake stand is out of your price point, consider taking to pinterest to see what you can make! You’d be surprised with a thrifted plate and candle stick or vase can do. The same principle applies to dollar store finds – the opportunities are endless when combined with spray paint.

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Tiered-stands

These may seem pretty ridiculous, but you’d be amazed how much space they save, especially if you’re working with a small table or buffet. You can pick-up some decent ones through the Bay or other major department stores. I for one am not  fan of cup-cake only tiered stands, I prefer the ones will let you put anything on them.

Circular ones are nice because there are no corners, and you get a bit more square-inchage for display, but I also love my square stand.

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Condiment bowls/ramekins

These are a small expense will go a long way to making your table looking that but more put together. You can find these at your local thrift shop, as they’re usually in abundance once a shop/restaurant closes.

Simple circular designs won’t fail you, but I’ve opted for a fun ruffled edge shallow bowl in plain white and found matching condiment spoons at Pier 1 imports for about 2$. Great for mustard, ketchup, aoli etc.

They look a little more polished than having a large ketchup bottle with stained ketchup crusts around the rim. This being said, if it’s just me and the hubby eating dinner with a friend, the condiment bowls stay put. Let them see the ketchup crust!

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Decorative serving plates

If you have personally been in my kitchen, ever, you will know that I have about 4 different sets of decorative serving plates, and at least a dozen themed plates (all-in) for christmas, halloween, thanksgiving, Alice and Wonderland etc.). I’ve acquired them on an “as needed” basis, or because they’re just plain old pretty. Although completely un-necessary, I think that they really bring an element of fun to a table.

My fun christmas ones hold cookies and chocolates during the christmas season, while the turkey ones hold various thanksgiving paraphernalia and pumpkin pie. Can you see where I’m going here?

I recommend you grab a set not only for their seasonal value, but also because of their utility. Chances are, if you’re serving eight for dinner and your china set is for eight, you’ll need some extra plates or bowls for the gravy boat, the extra cheeses or others, why not make them seasonally appropriate?

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Serving bowls

Yes, you need them.

Because serving mashed potatoes in a heaping pile on a plate is not cool.

I try and find ones that will match my china, so white. I have about eight different serving bowls of various sizes, all of which match even though none of them are from the same sets/patterns. This is mostly a home sense, Target and the Bay collection of various brands, and they’re perfect!

Garage sales are a great place to find them, as are estate sales. Chances are you won’t find as many at your local thrift store, because everyone can use a big bowl, so they usually get snatched-up. If you can though, focus on getting an entire set!

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Serving utensils

No one was ever poorly looked-upon for having a pie server or a cake knife. No one was ever looked upon poorly for NOT having them either, I just find they make life easier.

A cake knife is usually long enough to span the diameter of your cake or pie (and spare you the awkward re-entry of the knife, or dragging it through a half-cut cake). Pie servers are also mighty handy, and will save you having to put your fingers all over the food you’re serving as you try and balance it on a knife blade.

The same goes for a carving set: it will make carving the turkey or roast beast that much easier. No, electric knives are not allowed.

Salad servers are also a good idea, because you may not want your massive tongs or two forks scrapping around inside a nice bowl.

A soup ladle that isn’t neon green plastic will also be handy.

The following are utensils I recommend you grab when the occasion presents itself:  ice-cream scoop (no one likes a bent spoon), nice tongs (for serving thick cuts of meet, or vegetables), carving set, pie servers, large spoons (for mashed potatoes and things that can be scooped), a large fork (for things that need to be forked), a large pasta spatula (the ones with sieves and tines).

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Bread baskets/bowls

This is the kind of thing you don’t think you need, until you start wondering where your gosh-darn bread basket is!?! They’re great for holding crackers, chips etc., so next time you see one, think about taking it home with you.

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You can do a classic wire basket, or check-out the cool ceramic ones

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Anything beyond this set of accoutrements and you’re entering into china hutch territory. Things like a soup terreen, punch bowl, chip and dips etc. are nice, but not necessary. Chances are you can make things work with what you already have. This being said, I will never pass up the opportunity to look at cute salt and pepper shakers or more decorative little bowls.

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What’s in your serving ware collection?

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Flower arrangements

I’m going to share a trick I’ve ben using for a while when it comes to arranging flowers.

Tape.

Yup, plain tape.

If you use plain tape to make a grid across the top of your vase, you can then insert the flowers or branches or foliage and get even coverage throughout the vase.

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Once you place the tape, make sure your trim any overhang.

The key to this method is cutting your florals t varying lengths so that you can hide the tape grid. Place your tallest stems in the centre and work your way out.

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As you go, don’t forget to conserve some foliage to help cover around the opening of the vase. It will help conceal the tape and add texture and depth to the arrangement.

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As you go, make sure you check the angles to make sure you’re covering all the gaps and tape spaces.

When it’s done, you shouldn’t be able to see any tape.IMG_0477

When composing a large floral arrangement, you want to mix shapes, colours and textures to compliment each other. In this bouquet I chose white, and pink, with large blossoms, stardusts, and tiny blossoms.

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What do you think?

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Tea for 15 on valentine’s day

On friday I shared a snapshot of the tea station in our PMQ kitchen. If you liked the flower arrangement, you should check out my post about how to create the perfect arrangement each time.

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I’m going to start by saying that I love tea parties, and that I usually throw them just so that I can use all my plates, china cups and serving platters. There’s only one or two other occasions that would let me bust out all the fun and fancy pieces that I’ve accumulated over the years – Half of our kitchen island holds cake stands, little crystal bowls and beautiful white china serving trays.

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This year I was looking for an excuse to eat a whole bunch of valentine’s day candy without having to eat it all on my own. What better way to get a great sampling of cookies and treats than by inviting your friends to bring their own and share?! Valentine’s day tea party- you were meant for me!

I asked my guests to bring their favourite candy or chocolate of choice, as well as little valentine’s day cards for everyone. You know how in grade school you used to come home with a bag full of sugar and little cards with hand-written notes? That’s what I was aiming for.

I chose the Rifle paper Co. postcards and was not disappointed.

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The format and menu for the event was fairly simple: tea party with orange pekoe, herbal tea, crustless sandwiches, home-madered velvet and cream cheese frosting joe-louis, various candies, red velvet cupcakes and pink candy popcorn.

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I had slowly been accumulating bits and bobs for a girly-themed event  from various stores and liquidations (ahem* Target) so putting them all together was great fun. I wanted to create several spaces within the main floor where we could gather for tea, treats and conversation without bottle-necking in the dinning room or doorways.

By putting the tea station and the biggest flower arrangement in the kitchen at a high table, I was able to stage the table accordingly and leave the dinning room table for the food. The hanging disks were from Target’s party collection and I’ll be sure to fold them back and stash them for our next party! I found the gallery wall provided the best background from them because of the contrast in the shapes and colours (blue vs. pink / circular vs. rectangle). The light streaming-in from the large kitchen window was perfect.

Some tiny humans were present, and I have to say they some of the best dressed at the party! This little guy was wearing a bow tie, and enjoyed a sip or two of the herbal tea.

I pulled my favourite tea cups from the cupboard and dusted them off. When I was 15 an antique shop down the street from my parents’ home was having a closing sale, and I stumbled-upon a hoard of unique tea-cups and saucers. I only managed to snag a couple of them, and I’m left with 4 sets all these years later, so when hosting for 15 people and then some, I used our plain china sets as well.

In all we had about 15 ladies come by for tea, way more sugar and red velvet than we needed, about 6 giant tea-pots worth of orange pekoe were served. It was a great success and many are looking forward to next year’s edition.

How did you celebrate your february 14th?

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My Fornasetti gallery wall

If you’ve been following me on instagram (and if you’re not, you should! Click here) you’ll have noticed the appearance of Fornasetti’s girl on my feed recently.

Who is Pietro Fornasetti? He’s an italian artist who created more than 11,000 items, many featuring the face of a woman, operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri, as a motif. Fornasetti found her face in a 19th-century magazine and decide to create endless variations of her face, kinda cool?!  The “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series based on Cavalieri’s face numbered more than 350, and I decided to use a handful of them for the gallery wall.

I’ve wanted to work something like this into our home decor for a while now, and the mood finally struck me!  Our stairwell up to the second floor has really high ceilings (humble brag) which makes them hard to style without a 10 foot ladder and a giant canvas.

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The front door to the second flight of stairs is home to our family tree gallery wall, but the second flight up to the second floor was empty. I had been holding-out for a great piece to hang, but so far nothing has surfaced. The great thing about a gallery wall is that it can reconfigured and taken down/put back up in almost any space, so choosing to do a Fornasetti gallery wall was a no-brainer for me.

I opted to stick with the black and white that we’ve got going on the second floor landing. We have a cluster or circular mirrors, and our wedding vows are on the wall in black frames, so the black and white faces were perfect for the project.IMG_0390_2

When choosing to do your own gallery wall (regardless of the content) remember that it’s nice to have a cohesive pattern among the frames: are they all hung vertically? horizontal? on a repeating pattern? What’s the guiding direction? All good things to consider.

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In my case, this voice helped me pick the faces I wanted on our wall. Because I have somehow amassed a rather substantive set of black 8×10 frames with a white mat from Dollarama, I opted to use them in a repeating horizontal and vertical step pattern up the wall.

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So far I’m quite happy with the wall. I have one black frame left, so I may chose to place it somewhere complimentary on the landing. We shall see!

Would you consider a gallery wall like this?

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My Valentine’s day wish list

Valentine’s day is such a tricky day to manoeuvre around; whether you’re single or in a long-term monogamous relationship. You have to talk about it and deal with it even if you’re not celebrating it. I am an equal opportunity chocolate consumer, so besides the extra cute cards with hearts, the chocolate has always been a favourite of mine.

In our PMQ February is synonymous with LOVE. My husband and I got legally married on february 8th, and we had our first date on a february 25th. Smack dab in the middle is Valentine’s day, so you could say that february is full of love for us. Although DH is perpetually confused about anniversaries and choses to only honour our wedding day (in August), we try to make the month of February a little special. Dinner, flowers, gifts and cute love notes to each other. It’s the sum total of all the small things, not a big expensive dinner on the 14th that make it special, especially since we won’t be together on the 14th this year.

This year we’ve chosen to celebrate 14 days of love. At some point throughout the month I have to receive 14 letters/tokens/signs of his love, and vice versa. We’ve got this adorable little red tin mailbox that sits on the front entryway table, and that’s where we leave each other hints and such.

Because our SOs can always use a hint or two, I came up with a list of great gifts that you can get on etsy to celebrate your very own 14 days of love this month. Feel free to share the list with your SO *Wink wink*

I want T-Bone you card from Sparkvites

Remember our really cool personalized return address stamp? We got it from Sparkvites, who are also the makers of this cheeky valentine’s day card.

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The Antique perfume bottles drawing “Shell & Sea” – PRINT from Klorebel

If you remember, Klorebel is offering 15% off any print in her store until February 13th (this friday) if you use a discount code at check-out. Check out this post for the code and details

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Mistress Of Disguise- Open Edition Print from Janet Hill

I really love her paintings. Each scene and each title tell a story that I want to read. I’ve been eyeing a couple of them for a while, and finally bit the bullet and bought one. I can’t wait to get mine!

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Rome art poster by iLikeMaps

Remember the cool people over at iLikeMaps? Well they do illustrations as well. Why not get your SO a map or illustration of the place you met, the city where you honeymooned, or your dream vacation?

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YSL Leopard Loafers Watercolor Print 8 x 10″, 11 x 14″ from The Aestate

I love this print dearly. In fact, I would love to have an entire wall in my house dedicated to prints of shoes and accessories, but I think that will have to wait until we own our own home and I can have a large closet or boudoir of sorts.

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The Monarch Calendar from Rifle Paper Co.

Who wouldn’t love this mini desk calendar? The ladies are beautifully drawn and the prints can be re-used once the month is up.

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What is on your list of V-day gifts?

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