Friday, December 18, 2009

twinkle, twinkle

As promised, here’s a peek at my tree.

I like a lot of extra lights on my tree because I love the twinkle. This year’s tree was a bit wider and more full than I thought it was, so in my opinion, there are not nearly enough lights. Oh well, perhaps I'll be picking up more in a good boxing day sale…

The twinkle is my favorite part. I make sure I spend some quiet time admiring it every night. For some reason, it’s very calming. A friend of mine swears multi-colored lights are “coming back in” again. I don’t know about that, but I do know it would be very hard to convince me to give up beautiful white lights.

I’m infatuated with mat finish ornaments, so this year I decided to go with a baby blue color. It’s been around for a year or two, but something about the color speaks to me. As you can see, you really don’t need lots of a particular colored ornament to make it pop. Especially when it’s a more non-traditional color.

I like a clean, simple look, so I mixed these with my classic ornaments that I use each year -- clear glass, silver and a touch of white. The glass and silver add a bit of extra shine because they increase the reflection of the lights. I did add some tree jewelry too -- in the form of silver and glass draping/hanging ornaments…you got it, more twinkle!

I added a touch of whimsy (and a peek at my sense of humor) with three little sparkly blue birds that are tucked into the tree to help hide a couple of the natural gaps in the branches. Unexpected for me, because I am not a fan of birds (in the realm of decorating) nor am I of feathers. But that’s a whole different blog topic. Again, I think the twinkle factor saves them.

On a side note, the beautiful red ornaments I used last year are now placed all over the house in various ways – in glass vases, perched on a windowsill, added to the door wreath, and hanging in an archway between rooms. I still get lots of enjoyment out of them.

This season, for a very low cost, my tree has a fresh new look that I’m really happy with…and so does my house. I hope you have a great time decorating, and admiring, your tree too!

We’ll be taking a short break to celebrate the holiday season and will be back with a new posting in early January. In the meantime, very best wishes to all faithful just a little rouge readers and rouge clients for a wonderful season full of love, laughter and lots of sparkle!

Thanks very much for a great 2009. You have been my gift and I am thankful.

See you again in 2010!

xx rouge.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

merry and bright

I assume by now you all have your tree? Maybe by the end of the weekend?? It’s time.

Here are a few tips, ideas and trends to make your tree merry and bright this holiday season.

lights: when setting up your tree, ensure 2 feet (61 cm) of space all around side that faces room, and between tree topper and ceiling.

Choose energy-efficient LED lights to curb energy use and costs (an average home uses 27 per cent more lighting in December).

Have a strand of 100 lights for each vertical foot (30.5 cm) of tree. For the extra wow-factor, up it to 200.

Plug in and ensure they’re all working before you put them on the tree!

Start at the top, plugged into the tree topper (if required) or near it, and carefully wind your way down as evenly spaced as you can. When you are done, take a step back and readjust as required to have a nice, even look.

ornaments: have 20 to 30 ornaments in various shapes and sizes for each vertical foot (30.5 cm) of tree.

Some suggest choosing ornaments that coordinate with colours in room. I say, choose a color scheme you like and go for it!

trend: coppers and corals are the latest trend. Bronzes and browns are still in fashion too. You’ll also see lots of other non-traditional colors like various shades of purples, pinks and blues.

Place largest ornaments first, tuck
ing some midway along branches to light up dark spots in the tree.

For impact, add remaining ornaments in clusters of odd-numbered ornaments.

Don’t forget to add in a light sprinkling of your favourites, your sentimentials, and your family “heirloom” ornaments to personalize your tree.

I like to add in a touch of whimsy and/or something unexpected to my tree each year for added flavor. A unique ornament with feathers, birds, sparkles…etc are all fun (just don’t overdo it…one strategically placed gem is enough!)

wide wire-edged ribbon, wide stiff ribbon with die-cut with holes is “in” this season, and beaded garlands are good options if you want to add garland.

tip: garland has a huge impact on the overall look of your tree, so if you go this route, adjust your number and positioning of ornaments as required so your tree won’t look overdone.

Now…sit back and enjoy! Remember to water your tree regularly (only if it’s real!) to ensure you’ll be able to continue to enjoy it for the next month.

Remember to check your recycling and garbage pick up schedule to find out when your municipality will pick up trees for mulching.

And check out next week’s blog to see my tree!

Happy decorating.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

oh christmas tree, oh christmas tree... lovely are your branches!

My favorite thing about the holiday season is the Christmas tree. I love the whole thing…going to the lot, choosing a tree, the adventure of getting it in/on the car and bringing it home, getting it into the stand and of course, decorating it. I love the twinkle of the lights and I love the smell. I enjoy my tree from the second week of December until New Year’s day, where I sadly undecorated it and pack away all the ornaments until next year.

There are lots of things to consider about your tree…here are a few bits of info, some tips gleaned from my favorite blogs (you know that’s you,!), and some of my own thoughts and family traditions.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the eco pros and cons to both real and fake Christmas trees.

Real trees come from tree farms, not virgin forest, so they are a sustainably harvested product. But fossil fuels are used to harvest them and get them to the lot where you buy them, and then, to your home -- unless you're dragging them via dogsled!

If you buy a real tree, make sure you check out your city's post-holiday pick-up rules and schedule, so the tree gets wood-chipped and reused as mulch, rather than being landfill-bound as part of the regular garbage stream.

Fake trees
use large amounts of petroleum in their manufacturing process. However, if you buy one now and use it for decades to come, you are you're reducing the volume of fossil fuel used to buy real trees each year. If you go faux, commit to your tree. Spend the $$ and make it an investment and don't change trees every few years.

Because, I’m just going to say it, there are lots of fake trees that are really awful. Take heart, now more than ever, the look and quality of faux trees has significantly improved so you can easily find one you will be happy to display.

Potted trees are great if you understand the commitment they require. Most potted Christmas trees actually end up dying. Potted trees need to be kept outdoors. Being moved into an unseasonably warm indoor climate isn't good for them and they won't recover when returned outside. So, if you're open to having your tree on your front porch or back deck full-time until it gets planted in the yard come spring, this might be a good option for you.

I always go for the real deal, the balsam fir. If you can't find a balsam fir, look for other top choices such as fraser fir, white
spruce and scotch pine. These trees are all well known for being aromatic and with branches that retain their needles.

Before you buy a tree do a quick freshness test. Grab a branch and pull your
hand toward you. If the tree is fresh, only five to ten needles should fall off. If you grab a handful of needles, find another tree. Get the vendor at the lot to make a fresh cut to your tree – about 2 inches will do it.

Tip: If you aren't ready to decorate your tree when you get home, store it in a sheltered area where it will be cool and dry. Cut about two centimeters off the bottom of the trunk and put it in a bucket of water to provide moisture. When you're ready to bring it inside, make another fresh cut in the trunk and put it in a stand filled with at least four liters of water.

Tip: The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association recommends using tree stands that can hold six litres of water or more. Check the water level every day -- constant watering will mean your tree will keep its scent, colour and needles.

As a kid, I have fond memories of crawling under the tree and putting ice cubes in the tree stand, so the tree would be slowly watered as the ice melted. I also remember seeing either my mom or dad doing the same…which for some reason, was also incredibly funny at the time. I don’t know if it was necessary, but it sure was fun!

Check out next week’s blog for decorating tips and ideas. In the meantime, happy tree-hunting!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

great big job (tale #3)

Here is the latest update on the “great big job, great client” (see blog from October 8th). Lots has been happening in the last 2 weeks since my last mini-update.

As you can see, the house is now roof-tight! Check out the pics that show the front and back of the house…doors, windows and of course, the roof are all in. These guys work f-a-s-t.

The inside is looking great, too. There were a couple of surprises – but all good ones (phew!). A more opened stairwell and an extra window were the biggest. All good, because they offer much more light and openness in an area that can
be a challenge. Just a surprise as neither were reflected on the house plan.

And the addition of a rounded archway between the living and dining rooms was also a surprise. The request was to make it clean and square, but a rounded archway was put in instead. A lucky mistake, because it is actually quite nice and is in keeping with the clean lines of the house, so that is going to stay.

This week saw visits from the electrician, the cabinet installers, and the phone and cable wiring – all on the same day, at the same exact time. This is where being uber-prepared really pays off.

The key lessons here are to make sure you are prepared in all areas in advance, and to visit your build often because things happen quickly. Mistakes and surprises do happen. If you are not on top of it, they may not all be positive ones that you want to live with.

The client is doing an incredible job in this regard, not to mention really great project management skills!

At this point, rouge is doing very little on the project…just adding moral support and an opinion now and again.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more tales…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

h1n1, las vegas style

This is where I’m supposed to share fabulous and outrageous design and decor from my visit to The Strip. Well, if you’ll indulge me a just a’s a blog of a different sort.

I got on the plane and starting feeling bad somewhere between Toronto and Las Vegas. Really bad. Then, really, really bad. If I could have gotten off the plane, I would have. Thumbs up and special thanks to the lovely flight attendant who let me sit in the jump seat near the bathroom for most of the flight, handed me a refreshed & cold facecloth and small doses of ginger ale.

By the time I landed in Las Vegas, I was somewhat delirious with fever, was probably swaying on my feet and was soaked with the cold sweats. Thumbs down to the hotel shuttle driver who wouldn’t take me to my hotel because “it was too close to the MGM and it’s fight night. Too busy”. Thankfully, the cabbie next your shuttle service was more than happy to take me...and the giant tip.

So, rouge readers, that’s the beginning of the sad tale that was my trip to Las Vegas. Sparing you all the gory details, I will say that I had a raging fever for 4+ days, every part of my body ached, I had/ have a terrible cough, and was barely able to leave the hotel room. It was a pig.

When I did muster up the strength, it was disastrous...think throwing up in the Grand Canyon and then again on the sidewalk in front of Target when out trying to buy another pair of pjs!

And how was dinner at TAO -- the hottest place on the Strip frequented by the superstar elite? I don't know, couldn't join my party there on Monday night even though it tooks months to get the reservation.

How was Switch? The crazy/ famous new steakhouse that literally switches it's decor every hour via electronice panels, ceiling...etc? I don't know, couldn't go there either.

Jubiee!? Sorry, showgirls, I didn't see you and what I can only imagine were your fantastically elaborate costumes. I had a ticket, but it went to waste because I was too sick to get there on show night.

You get the point.

I suffered through it as best as I could and went to my scheduled conference sessions later in the week (the real reason I was in Las Vegas) and then straight back to bed. Overall the trip was a bust. Not at all how I hoped to spend my week, that’s for sure!

The pics you see here are random shots that I was able take in my limited time out of the hotel room. Check out the beautiful chandeliers in the Paris Hotel lobby – they were massive and there were LOTS of them, the ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel – all hand blown glass. Incredible. And the standard “Strip at Night” photo.

Sorry to disappoint my readers this week. Trust me, I’m disappointed too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

random thoughts (v.2)

Greetings, just a little rouge readers!

Here are a few random thoughts from this week...

fabrics...this month’s Home Stagers Atlantic meeting was held at Bellissimo! (& Abby’s Fabrics). These gals are very knowledgeable and can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about fabrics. And that’s good for the do-it-yourself type looking for fabric and/or some direction & advice. They also offer full services for the do-it-for-me type – everything from seamstress services, measurement checks and installation. For everything in fabric window treatments/drapery, bedding, and re-upholstery, it can be your one stop shop.

The latest trends they see happening in fabrics include an increase in options/styles available in:

• performance fabrics (indoor / outdoor fabrics, fire retardant fabrics {required in hospitality venues and many other uses})
• many more eco-friendly fabrics (organically grown, natural fibres, recycled fabrics, biodegradable ingredients, sustainable ingredients)
• lower cost designer lines offered by top fabric designers
• trending away from patterns, a move towards more natural and earth tone colors, luxury fabrics (velvets, silks, metallics)

update...I dropped in on my “big job, great client” building site on Wednesday to check out the progress. Believe it or not, it’s all framed! Part of the roof might even be on by now. It was great to see what the rooms are actually going to be like, to check out the view from all windows, to start to gauge how much light each room will get, and to be able to measure for a couch (a bit pre-mature maybe, but totally fun to do!) week’s blog will only be posted on Saturday. I’m headed to Las Vegas and will be sure to bring back lots of pictures of design and decor from The Strip (yikes!!).

See you next week,
xx rouge.

Friday, November 6, 2009

picture frame makeover

Ever find yourself getting ready to go out the door, finally decide on that last minute accessory only to realize you can’t find it? Or that it’s in a big tangle with your other accessories? Or you can only find one of the earrings you’ve just got to wear??

Happens to me all the time. Actually, it USED to happen to me all the time. But not anymore, thanks to this little easy project.

I bought an antique picture frame with no glass or backing that I liked because of its unique round shape (I did not like the fake gold gilding), and turned it into a great jewelry hanger/sorter/organizer. It was so easy…and I really like the added drama it gives to the space above the upcycled armoire in my walk-in closet.

Here are the steps to this makeover project:

1. thorough clean with a damp cloth, wipe dry
2. place on a large drop cloth, in a well ventilated area (outside is best)
3. spray paint one coat of high black gloss paint (let dry for 24 hours)
4. roll out screen (available at any home improvement store) and place frame on it
5. measure, mark and cut screen to match the shape of the inside of the screen (be sure to leave ½ inch extra on all sides
6. Use hot glue gun to affix screen to indie, back lip of the frame (let dry 2-3 hours)
7. Trim off access screen for a nice, clean finish on the back
8. Hang on wall, just like a regular picture frame
9. Poke earrings through the screen to hang together for safe keeping
10. Use ornament hooks to hold bracelets, necklaces and other accessories

Here is the budget breakdown of this project:
* antique picture frame (Antiques Plus) -$30
* paint – left over from past painting projects - $0
* screen – lots left over! (Canadian Tire) - $7
* ornament hooks (The Dollar Store) - $1

Be creative…you could do this with any type of frame, with any type of finish. Hang it in the bathroom, your bedroom, or in your closet. Even on the back of a door. Wherever works best for you!

Take this project and make it unique to you.

xx rouge.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

great big job (tale #1)

Here is the first update on the “great big job, great client” (see blog from October 8th)…

rouge went to visit the building site over the weekend and is excited to report that the land has been cleared and the foundation has been poured! It’s a wonderful piece of land that still has lots of trees surrounding what will be the new house. Feels like being in the woods – very calm and quiet (if you ignore the blasting music from the workmen next door!)

Breathe deep….ahhhhhhh. I love the smell of the trees.

And check out the lake view. Not too bad, huh?

rouge also took the opportunity to nose around the model home in the neighbourhood that just happened to be having an open house. I’m not going to give you too many details, for fear of calling a specific designer/stager to the mat. And, I have no idea who that might be. But, I’ve just got to say that I was less than impressed.

The model home is quite nice from the outside, but the inside was very disappointing. It felt like all the $$ went into the structure, and that they had to cheap-out on the inside because of it. It wasn’t staged...just an empty new house. And sometimes that’s ok.

The problems were many -- the layout of the home was strange and choppy, so the main living space felt much smaller than it is, and the fixtures and finishes were nothing to get excited about.

In fact, there were some really strange choices. Didn’t seem to be that much thought put into it. The color selections were also questionable. (this is me, trying to be nice)

Overall, it left me feeling that it was not worth the asking price because the perceived value was just not there. Not even close. Certainly no warm and fuzzy there for me.

It’s too bad, really. A little bit of thought in advance when choosing the best selections from the available options could have made a huge difference. But, it did reinforce for me how different and frankly, how much better our client’s house is going to look.

Maybe we could make a pitch to make the home we're working on the new “model” home when it’s done! Not to get ahead of ourselves or anything...

Stay tuned for more tales!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Low coffee tables spotted!

rouge spotted these on a recent shopping excursion and we needed to share! Here are two really interesting low coffee tables…I love the lacquer finish and the chrome legs. It gives them a modern and sophisticated feel.

Stylish and contemporary, these two low lovelies are very European. They are also very fun – doesn’t the two tiered black coffee table look like the perfect dance floor?? Now, I’m not advocating dancing on your coffee table or anything like that …but that could happen once in a while…after some wine…?!?

Anyway…back to my sophisticated train of thought…both of these would make a nice addition to any modern design. A perfect place to set down a drink, hold your current magazine, display your fresh flowers or favorite accessory.

And, they are reasonably priced, too.

Just remember to think about the scale and how they may or may not work with your other furniture. (This white couch and chair set are the perfect match in terms of scale)

Think coffee table. Think low.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

random thoughts

Greetings, just a little rouge readers!

Here are a few random thoughts from this week...

computers...rouge is having a big computer problem this week. Hence the delayed posting. Argh! It's one of those things you never think much about, until of course it's not there. Our new, pretty, computer appears to have died a very premature death. Taking with it our client photos and other juicy tidbits from the last two months. Word to the wise -- get an external hard drive, people!'s the new linoleum. Now, before you shudder and stop reading, it's not your grandma's flooring (although I liked that stuff!). It's made from 100% natural ingredients. I'm not kidding, it really is. Linseed oil, cork, limestone, tree rosin and natural ingredients. It comes in planks and tiles. It comes in 24 interesting and fun colors. It clicks together, so it's easy to install and fits nice and tight. For those of you in the Halifax area, check out the display at Floors Plus in Bayer's Lake. I think I'm going to put it in the mudroom/ laundry room when I renovate next year.

contest...while rouge did not win the Style at Home contest (see previous blog), thanks to everyone who checked out the contest entry and voted. Much appreciated!! rouge did win a $50 gift card to Home Depot, though, so who could complain about that??

update...I dropped in on my "livin' the dream" clients (see previous blog) over the Thanksgiving long weekend to check out the new paint job and to see how a few of the other recommendations from rouge were working out. The new colors are beautiful -- Benjamin Moore's "Weimeraner" with a feature wall of "Bonaparte" turned out great. Nice and warm and inviting, but also modern and hip. I'd show you a photo or two, but...see random thought #1.

That's it for us this week...see you again next week!

xx rouge.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

great big job, great client

rouge is working on a great big, new job with a great client!

We’re helping a client who is in the process of building a new house built. It’s going up fast and it’s a turn-key, large home on a beautiful lot. This means that the home is built in a very streamlined manner. The builder and their suppliers are like a well-oiled machine. There are many “standard” features and sometimes there is a limited selection of choices on certain things. But, there are many, many decisions to make and lots of deadlines to juggle.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Just because it’s a “turn-key” home built by the builder who is building all of the homes in that area, doesn’t mean it can’t be unique and interesting. rouge’s client is indeed an individual with very clear and specific tastes. It’s important for him to carefully consider all the options available now, so he ends up with a wonderful home that reflects his lifestyle, his tastes and his style – not the builder’s tastes.

rouge was hired to help with this big challenge. Where to choose from the packaged options and where to splurge? When choosing from the packaged options, how to make the best choice that will fit with the overall design of the house we’re trying to achieve? When splurging, what are the requirments that effect the build?What and where is the best use of what’s available? Can we use some of the kitchen cabinet allowance to make a really cool vanity for one of the bathrooms? Where do we incur extra costs to include some strategically placed directional pot lights to highlight the incredible artwork that will be in the home?

And on and on it goes...

From flooring to fixtures to lighting to choosing wall colors…it’s all got to be done at the same time. Which is right now. And it’s all got to be done in an efficient manner so that when the builder gets rolling, everyone is on the EXACT same page. Did I mention that’s for the foyer, kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, mud room, hallway, three bedrooms and three bathrooms?

Imagine the work site when the contractor, drywaller, electrician, plumber, etc, etc, etc, get their direction. And we’ve asked for small, but important changes in a lot of areas that they are not familiar with because “it’s not the way it’s usually done”. It might be messy.

It’s October and the lot hasn’t been cleared yet. Move in date is at the end of January. Enough said??

It’s definitely going to be wonderful when all is done, though.

Having a good relationship with a client is incredibly important -- especially on a job like this. It’s critical to be able to listen, to clearly communicate with each other, to carefully consider all options, but be decisive on the overall design direction, and to understand each other so you can take a team approach to making the ultimate vision a reality. It’s the only way to be productive on a great, big job like this one.

And you never know, rouge just might be having a whole lot of fun doing it!

Stay tuned for more tales (and pictures) to come…

Thursday, October 1, 2009

airing my dirty laundry

{Note: The submission period for the Makeover Contest 2009 is over, and they’ve received hundreds of entries… Now it’s up to you to decide who is in most desperate need of a makeover (pick rouge!) & who will come away with the $2000 gift card from Home Depot. You could win a prize just for voting…voting closes on October 8.

For a bit of fun, check out rouge’s very own entry as copied here…and vote by following the link below!}

I have a confession. I run a side business in staging & design….and this is my laundry room. It’s my dirty little secret.

People actually pay me to make sure their house is shown in the best possible light. They pay me to refresh & redesign their living spaces. They pay me to evaluate and organize.

This is the part of my house that is hidden when guests visit. The outside door won’t open without a two-handed pull with all my might. It doesn’t close without a solid hip and shoulder check. The plywood on the floor is covering part of the ugly linoleum – and the hole where my foot went through it.

You see, it’s rotting from the bottom up. And it’s possibly the worst use of space I’ve seen. It’s cluttered and disorganized. It’s painted in a lovely shade of burn-your-eyes-yellow. Notice the duck tape and Styrofoam patch? You can feel a stiff breeze on a windy day.

You know what they say…”the cobbler’s children have no shoes”.

Please help me break free from the shame.

Vote now --

Thursday, September 24, 2009

rouge secrets

Here are just a few secrets of the industry that I thought you might find useful in your own home. And this bunch of little tips and tricks are also entertaining! Trust me, these are not old wives tales. Mostly, because I’m not an old wife. But I know you won’t believe some of these until you try them out for yourself, and that’s ok.

Candle drippings -- for spilled wax on a carpet, use a brown paper bag as a blotter and run a hot iron over it, which will absorb the wax.

Removing scratches from wood furniture/floors – rub mayo into the scratches on furniture with your finger, let it stand, and remove with a soft cloth.

Deep scratches – for a deep scratch, break a walnut or pecan meat in half, and rub scratch with the broken side of the nut.

Nicks and scratches – mix enough water with instant coffee to make a thick paste. Rub it into the scratch or nick, let it dry, rub off the excess, and wax as usual. (only use on dark wood)

White water rings – rub the spot with petroleum jelly, let stand 24 hours, and rub into the wood. Wipe off excess and polish as usual.

Refrigerator odor – place a cotton ball soaked with vanilla on the lower shelf to eliminate any nasty odors.

Stainless steel sinks – remove spots on stainless steel sink with white vinegar. Use carbonated water to add shine.

Shiny kitchen chrome – parts made out of chrome can be polished with flour. Pour some flour on a dry cloth and polish for a bright shine.

Window cleaning – the best mixture for cleaning windows is ½ cup of ammonia, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a bucket of warm water.

Remove rust – if you need to remove light rust from metal, take the skin off a potato and dip it into baking soda. Keep dipping it in the baking soda and rubbing the rusted area to remove rust fast.

Clean toilet – pour your not-so-favorite cola in the toilet and let it sit for an hour. Flush it and it’s clean as new.

There are lots more to come…stay tuned to future blogs for more handy tips & tricks like these!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

living the dream

The Sullivans are living their dream.

It’s what happens when an artist, a chef, business owners, and two active toddlers get together to make a decision about where they want to live. Actually, that’s only 4 people – Lisa, Brendan and their two kids, Ava and Fox, recently built their dream home on 10 acres of land just outside Windsor, Nova Scotia.

With a real passion to live a more sustainable lifestyle, which includes the slow-food movement, their new home was built around the kitchen. But I’ll get back to that.

Their build included using reclaimed timbers, sustainable cork floors, and pine plank flooring as integral parts of the design found throughout the entire house.

Their home also features a large cold storage room. Based on “old-fashioned physics”, the air-tight room is equipped with 2 vents – one up and one down. In the Fall, they open the lower vent and close the upper one so that the outside air goes into the cold storage room and sinks. When the air in the storage room reaches the desired temperature, the bottom vent is also closed so it’s trapped in the room. Adjustments are made as the outside temperature changes with the seasons.

Their land is incredibly unique because they are quite literally right next door to the elementary school. It’s about 100 ft. from door-to-door for Ava on school days. And they have a wonderful view of Martock Ski Hill from all the windows on the other side of the house.

But they also have space for 32 chickens and 2 pigs (dubbed Snuffy and Wilber) that will find themselves contributing to their food supply. Did I mention Icecream and Milkshake, the pet goats? What about Banjo the puppy? They all find lots of room to peck, root, nibble, sniff, and roam around the property.

In the spring, they also planted a small orchard of 26 apple trees that will be fruitful for years to come.

There is a 100 x 100 ft. garden that will produce squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries and more.

And of course, all the herbs any chef would want in abundance like basil, parsley, sage, oregano and cilantro are also grown. In fact, the day rouge visited, Brendan turned a garbage bag full of basil into jars and jars of the best pesto I’ve ever tasted. It was hard to find room on the expansive countertops for them because of all the recent pickling and canning Lisa had just finished. A skill she learned from her Grandma.

Now, you can probably understand why the kitchen truly is the heart of this home. It features a beautiful, large custom-made table that can easily seat 10, a kid’s booth for arts and crafts (or extra seating while entertaining a big crowd), and a wall of windows that offer a spectacular view and tons of light.

Rouge is excited to help put the finishing touches on this kitchen – a little added storage, some increased functionality of what’s already there, and a little boost pull together the overall design. We’re inspired by the beautiful design and the commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Friday, September 11, 2009

rouge is stylin'!

rouge has recently learned that a senior editor is a fan and frequent reader of the just a little rouge blog! We are thrilled, of course, because rouge is a big fan of theirs – the magazine, the website, and the blogs.

Here’s something you may get a kick out of…their latest project is the Style at Home Makeover Contest. The contest invites Canadians to share a photo of a room in their home that’s in desperate need of a makeover. Whether it’s a kitchen that’s buried under a sea of clutter or a bedroom that’s just plain boring, they want to see pictures of rooms that need a decorating overhaul.

There are two grand prizes of $2,000 each in Home Depot gift certificates, plus 20 $50 Home Depot gift cards are up for grabs, just for voting and posting comments. Visit for more info (and full contest details).

Prizes aside, it’s incredibly entertaining to browse the entries submitted so far (over 450 entries), as well as reading advice other people have offered in comments.

Be sure you check out my very own entry…. “Airing my dirty laundry”. Vote for it after September 25!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

dining chair makeover

I have been without dining chairs for almost 3 months now. Which makes it sort of difficult to sit at the table for a meal. When I sold my old ones on kijiji, I didn’t think it would be hard to replace them with something I really liked. I just added it to my “to do” list.

Aside from the fabulous “ghost chair”, that sells for about $400 each (craziness!), not much out there was really grabbing me. I think the problem was that I really couldn’t decide what would look best. Maybe it was best to wait for a bit until I see something I really like...

I have an old harvest table that I got in a swap with a friend (she wanted a smaller table, I wanted a bigger one). I painted it black, fixed the drawer and added new hardware. For seating on one side of the table, I used a large vintage bench, complete with the original tufted leather and chrome frame/ legs. I got this gem for free when I rescued it from the junk pile that was being thrown out by a previous employer who was cleaning house to gain more storage. All I had to do was scrub off 30 years of dirt and dust. I love both of these pieces because they are originals and because they come together to make an interesting and eclectic look.

All that to say I was really having difficulty choosing two chairs to complete the seating around the table. And I thought it would be easy!?!

As I was trolling the good ‘ol Army Navy Store on Agricola Street, I saw these typical hotel/conference room chairs. Nothing to get too excited about…except I really liked the shape. Looking past the 80’s pink itchy fabric, there was some potential here.

For 10 bucks each, I figured I’d give it a shot. Next, I headed to Fabricville and scooped up some heavy-duty vinyl that looked a lot like the leather on my bench for $30. I re-upholstered the seat back myself…after a slightly frustrating hour spent trying to figure out how they came apart (!).

Because I wanted to be sure these chairs could stand some wear and tear, and because I wanted to make sure they looked more professional than the attempt I could make, I took the seats (and the rest of the fabric) to a professional upholsterer.

And I’m glad I did. For $60, he replaced the foam, re-upholstered the seats – complete with piping -
in an hour. I took them home, popped them back into place and…voila! Now I have two dining chairs that look kinda like vintage 1950’s diner chairs for $55 each.

They are a great fit with the existing table and bench. All together, I love the set…it’s original to me and it perfectly fits the style of my home.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

size it up!

Have you ever found yourself asking….”is this hung too high?” or “should the legs of the chair or sofa touch the edge of the rug?” or “does this chandelier look funny?” How about…”do these pants make my butt look big?”

Well, I can’t answer that last one for you, but here are a couple of staging tricks and guidelines that will steer you in the right direction for those other pesky questions.

Area rugs: use a rug to ground or define a space. Most people buy their rugs too small. A typical sofa and chair or loveseat configuration works best with a 5 ft. x 8 ft. rug.

If you are creating a conversation area, have all front legs of your furniture sitting on the rug by at least an inch.

If you decide to use a rug under your table and chairs (not recommended if you have nice floors), look for one that is 24 to 30 inches wider than the table and chairs.

If you are putting down one big rug in a room to cover most of the floor, leave 25 to 36 inches between the edges of the rug and the walls.

Artwork and photographs: ground your art to furniture pieces. Place the bottom edge of the artwork 4 to 6 inches above the surface or the back of the furniture.

If the art is alone on the wall, hang it 54 inches from the floor to the centre of the art piece. This is a comfortable eye-level for most people.

Chandeliers: to hang a chandelier in an entry way, measure the height of the space from floor to ceiling. The chandelier should hang down 3 inches per foot of the height. For example, if the height is 12 feet, the bottom of the chandelier should hang down 36 inches from the ceiling.

If you are hanging a chandelier in a dining room, the bottom should hang anywhere between 30 to 42 inches above the table top.

Hanging curtains: be sure to place the brackets a couple of inches on the outside and a couple of inches above the moldings around the window. When the curtains are pulled back, you don’t want them to obstruct the view or the light. When they are closed, you want a nice clean line that covers the top of the window & molding.

Never, ever screw anything to the face of the moldings. It looks bad and it’s much easier to repair the wall where the brackets were, then trying to repair damage to the face of molding surrounding the windows. (Of course, hanging window treatments -- like blinds made to fit -- on the inside of the window is fine.)

If you want a window to look bigger, mount the curtain brackets well beyond the edges and the top of the window and make sure your curtains are large enough to cover the entire space when closed.

Miscellaneous tidbits: if traffic flows around a table, make sure you have at least 48 inches between the edge of the table and other furniture or walls.

Be aware of what’s being reflected in your mirror. Put it where you are reflecting greenery, light, the outside view, a backyard or garden. Rethink it if you reflect the ceiling, wall, closet...etc.

As for the pants question, well…I know there is a theory about what the back pockets are like and where they hit you, but I'm never so sure... that’s why I’m mostly a “dress and skirts” girl!

Friday, August 21, 2009

99 low cost organizing tips (part two)

{Note: As promised, here are tips #51 to 99. For tips #1 to 50, check out last week's blog. Remember...start small and try out one or two tips at a time!}

by: Claire Smith, newsletter (july 20 issue)

51 Don’t limit closet storage to hangers. Hang hooks on the door for frequently used items.

52 Tackle that kitchen junk drawer problem head on. Today. Purge, edit and keep things in place with a drawer organizer.

53 Are you a piler, not filer? That’s fine, just keep piles of paperwork organized by using folders and write-on clips.

54 Recycle leftover gift-wrap ribbons by using them to tie up extra electrical and other cords in your utility closet.

55 Dedicated tie, belt and scarf holders are closet must-haves.

56 Upgrade your address book for a classic Rolodex. They’re retro-chic and easy to keep updated.

57 Buy a framed corkboard, hang it in the kitchen and pin up favourite recipes, clipped from magazines.

58 Make space by putting your CDs in organizers, by genre. Recycle the jewel cases or put them into storage in the attic.

59 Or, purge your CD clutter once and for all by having your CDs converted to digital files at Sell or donate the used CDs.

60 Buy a hotel-style hairdryer that can be installed on the wall to save space, time and energy in a small bathroom.

61 A pot-lid holder puts the vertical space behind a cabinet door to good use.

62 A wrap-organizer does the same, creating the perfect spot for plastic wrap, aluminum foil and waxed paper.
63 Organize vanity essentials on a vintage tray. Très organized and très chic.

64 Use an extra wine rack to hold rolled-up magazines.

65 Use cutlery trays in your drawers, but to save even more time, stash everyday flatware in a countertop caddy.

66 Shrink-wrap out of season clothes, blankets and duvets to save space while storing.

67 You’ll never fit sheets back into those reusable vinyl zip pouches they were sold in, but you can stash cloth napkins in them. Use one pouch per set and label the quantity with a Sharpie.

68 Buy 10 pairs of the same gym socks, to minimize sorting.

69 Do the same for your hubby.

70 Do the same for his dress socks if he can get away with always wearing the same black ones during fall/winter at least.

71 Stash kids’ art supplies on a lazy Susan so everything is easily accessible.

72 Organize household bills in an accordion file with month-by-month pockets.

73 Hold onto paint chips, fabric swatches and brochures from your last redecorating session. You never know when you’ll need to reference them. Store them in an accordion file.

74 On your mudroom wall, hammer in two nails, then string wire between them. Provide clothes pegs and have your kids hang their wet mittens and gloves to dry overnight.

75 Banish tiny piles of coins and start saving in style. Get a designer piggy bank and keep it by the entranceway, laundry or kitchen—wherever you’d like to dump your change.

76 Tired of that circa-90s cast-iron pot rack? Move it from the kitchen to the garage or potting shed and use it to keep garden tools organized.

77 Get – and use – a garden hose caddy.

78 Edit your hangers. Choose: wire, plastic or wood and unify the hangers in every closet.

79 Use pillboxes to stash your earrings and rings when traveling.

80 Use a soda-can dispenser in the fridge so you can access your pop easily without tipping.

81 Use a wall-mounted broom and mop holder, or tie ribbon loops on the end of poles and hang them from hooks in your closet, garage or utility closet.

82 Make a party kit. Stash napkins, extra glassware and plates, votive candles and holders, extra vases, cocktail picks and other necessities in an old wine crate and pull it out pre-party or pre-holiday entertaining so you don’t waste valuable cupboard space.

83 Use a binder to store all medical records and information for everyone in your family, including each pet. Use dividers for each family member and include plastic pouches or expandable pockets to contain receipts and tiny record cards.

84 Stash awkward, easy-to-misplace necessities (extra hairbrushes, lint roller) in decorative reusable tote bags. Hang them off a doorknob in every room.

85 Burn digital images to CD once a month so you’ll never lose them if your computer (gasp!) crashes. Or print them ASAP!

86 Store photos in archival-quality, acid-free boxes until you have time to organize them in albums.

87 Get a heavy-duty paper shredder for peace of mind – and efficient shredding without risk of overheating.

88 Place your shredder where you intercept daily mail. If that’s the kitchen, so be it.

89 Put a small plastic caddy in your gym bag so you can manage hair care and skincare products without dropping anything. Excess water will just drain out.

90 Stop losing lock combinations and computer passwords once and for all. Jot everyone’s codes and combinations down in a notebook and store it in your family’s fireproof lockbox.

91 Store reusable shopping bags one inside the other.

92 Always keep one cute, foldable shopping tote in each of your heavy-rotation purses so you’re never caught without.

93 Avoid the last-minute drugstore run by always having a kit of your favourite travel-sized toiletries (and common OTC meds like allergy pills) packed and waiting in your suitcase.

94 Get a gift-wrap organizer and stock up on a year’s worth of wrap and ribbons, or ready-to-fill bags and tissue.

95 If perishables regularly go to waste in your fridge, start planning weekly dinner menus. Just buy ingredients for those meals, plus lunch basics. Post the menu on your fridge so you’re on track.

96 Mount a magnetized knife rack to a wall in your utility closet or basement, to keep your most commonly used screwdrivers and wrenches handy, not buried in the toolbox.

97 Donate your battery-powered emergency flashlights and stock up on windup models so you never have to worry about replacing batteries.

98 Stop stressing over the emergency preparedness kit the Canadian government recommends all families have. Just make one and get on with your life. Visit to learn what to put in it. Stash it in a rolling suitcase so it’s mobile in case you have to be, too.

99 Plan a closet cleanout once per season. Less mess makes staying organized a lot easier.

Friday, August 14, 2009

99 low cost organizing tips (part one)

{Note: I can't take any credit for this one, but thought it was worth posting here. I know all of us struggle to get and stay organized. There are so many great tips in this newsletter article, I've found myself skimming over it more than once -- each time finding a new idea that works for me. So, I've copied the whole thing for you.

Well...I'm breaking it into two parts as to not overwhelm those who may find organizing a bit daunting! Check out next week's blog for tips #51 to #99. In the meantime, start small and maybe pick up a useful trick or two!}

by: Claire Smith, newsletter (July 29 issue)
Getting and staying organized isn't easy. If you're struggling to conquer clutter once and for all, our simple 99 organizing tips should help get you started.

We know, we know: getting organized can be easier vowed than done. But even if you’re short on time (and budget), there are dozens of ways you can get your house in order. Here are 99 of our favourite low-cost organizing tips; many of them are environmentally friendly, too!

1 Use old baby-food jars to hold spices. Stash them in a drawer upside down so this recycling trick looks sleek, not cheap.

2 Store all your instruction manuals in one binder in the kitchen or pantry.

3 Collect your takeout menus in a binder. Or stuff them into a Ziploc bag and stash 'em – where else? – in the fridge or cupboard.

4 Use a cardboard six-pack container to carry condiments from kitchen to deck in BBQ-casual style.

5 Keep a tray or basket on the kitchen counter where kids can drop off permission slips and adults can put mail requiring immediate action. A second tray can handle lower-priority paperwork.

6 Don’t waste time constantly topping up cereal-sized food storage containers with dog or cat kibble. Use a metal trashcan to store one bag at a time in rodent-proof style.

7 Use a recharging station to keep your cell phone, MP3 player and other portable device cords untangled and your gadgets fully charged.

8 Can’t find fresh garlic or onions? Keep them in clean knee-high nylons. Hang in a cool, dry place.

9 Post a sheet of paper on the fridge and note groceries and supplies needing replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.

10 Reduce spoilage of fruits and veggies by “rotating” your crops. Put new ones underneath ones that were already in your crisper.

11 Use small jam jars to hold cotton swabs, balls and other essentials inside your bathroom vanity drawers.

12 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold bath and hand towels.

13 Cut the amount of time you spend going from linen closet to bathroom by installing extra towel storage via a hotel-style double towel bar.

14 And a stash of bath towels rolled inside a basket helps, too.

15 Store kids’ bath toys in a fine-laundry bag. Hang from the faucet 'til fully drained.

16 Use a shower organizer and just the basics: mild shampoo, conditioner and a body wash.

17 Stash extra shower products in plastic caddies – one per family member.

18 Keep cleaning products in a caddy, too.

19 Post a sheet of paper in the bathroom and note bathroom supplies that need replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.

20 Assign teens and tweens their “own” towel sets by colour. Sorting laundry becomes super-easy and sharing-aversive kids are content.

21 For the living room or family room, get an ottoman or bench with hidden storage under the seat.

22 Large woven or wooden baskets stash clutter effectively, so stock up.

23 Got kids? Get large tubs that can be used to deploy toys – and quickly move them out of living spaces when company’s coming.

24 Don’t hold on to magazines. Just rip out any pages you want to keep for future reference, keep in a file folder, then recycle the rest.

25 Toss dirty socks into mesh fine-laundry bags. Orphaned socks will be a thing of the past.

26 Dollar store plastic caddies are perfect for grouping cleaning products upright in cabinets – no tipping!

27 Recycle old plastic shopping bags. Store them in an empty Kleenex box ‘til you need them.

28 Store batteries in plastic berry baskets until you’re ready to drop them off at the recycling centre.

29 Ditto for compact fluorescent bulbs and orchard fruit baskets.

30 Big, busy family? Paint one entire wall in your mudroom in chalkboard paint so everyone can easily leave messages for one another.

31 Keep one basket per person in your mudroom or front entrance, so everyone knows where to drop off/find their personal on-the-go essentials like keys, bags, homework etc.

32 Designate a back-to-car zone by your entranceway, and put anything there that requires returning to the trunk – i.e. reusable grocery bags, empties – so the next person to use the car will remember to bring them.

33 Remove the front and back from a picture frame and string rows of wire across the centre. Hang it or lean it against the wall and hook earrings onto each wire.

34 Use an old dressmaker’s dolly to hang necklaces and hook earrings into.

35 Shopaholics can put those pretty boutique bags to use by hanging them on the wall or arranging them on a shelf, where they can store scarves and belts.

36 Do a card run – birthdays, holidays, new baby etc. – once a year and store cards in a file tote.

37 Use ice cube trays to hold clips, erasers and other desk-drawer essentials.

38 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold books.

39 Use white address label stickers to label what each cord in a power bar is for.

40 Paint an oversized canvas in one bold colour and hang it from the wall. Pin a rotating collection of your kids’ artwork on it.

41 Post a sheet of paper on your bulletin board and note office supplies that need replenishing.

42 Use a canvas over-the-door shoe organizer to organize small kids toys and art supplies.

43 Those ubiquitous Danish butter cookie tins can be both an art project and art storage unit for kids. First let your child decoupage it. Then use it to hold crayons and pastels.

44 Post those novelty basketball rings above anything you want your kids to slam dunk stuff into rather than the floor: garbage cans, laundry baskets, etc.

45 For preschoolers too young to use hangers with ease, install a low bar in the closet and simply drape dresses and pants across it to keep them wrinkle-free and easily accessible.

46 Have your child plan their wardrobe one school week at a time. Store outfits within five stacking cubbies or on five combination hangers (hangers with a bar and clips to hold pants as well as a top) to streamline their morning routine.

47 Keep sheet sets organized by folding and storing the fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase inside the second pillowcase.

48 If you don’t want to buy stacking shoeboxes, recycle the cardboard boxes your shoes came in by cutting out a panel at one end for visibility and ventilation.

49 Install a closet organization system: it’ll pay itself off with time and aggravation saved!

50 A well-lit wardrobe is easier to keep organized. Install a Solatube, skylight or adequate artificial light for your needs.

Friday, August 7, 2009

let's rethink your patio / outdoor space

I realize you may think it’s a little late in the game to talk patios and outdoor spaces. However, I think this is exactly the right time to talk about it.

Now, I know there are lots of you out there sheepishly hanging on to your old patio sets, thinking it’s ok, because they are tucked away in your backyard. Sorry to break the news to you, but it’s time to let that old, plastic, oval table and chairs go. I’m sure they’ve served you well…they are plastic, easy to clean and you don’t care what happens to them when they are left outside in all types of weather. I know. And I get it.

Still – let them go. Really.

There is a big wide world of wonderful outdoor furniture waiting for you. There are a lot of styles and price points to choose from. And the best part? EVERYTHING is on sale now. It’s the very best time to buy new stuff…you can still get some enjoyment out of it now and it will still feel new and exciting when you bust it all out again in the spring.

The key is to stop thinking about your patio as the collection place for “who cares?” kind of pieces. I know you love your home, and you take pride in what it looks like on the inside. You put considerable time into choosing furniture and accessories for each room. Please, please, please start thinking about your patios, decks and outdoor spaces in the same way.

Treat this space as an extension to your home. What you can do with this extra / new found space is amazing.

The first step is to really consider what you want to do in your outdoor space…bbq? eat? lounge in the sun or shade? curl up in a comfy chair and read? play games with the family? entertain? Plan to create specific zones for each activity. Careful furniture placement will go a long way here, so don't forget to measure your space and take a tape measure with you when you go shopping.

Next, start looking around and choose a style that you like. Consider the design style of the inside of your home and choose something that goes well with it. This will ensure your style flows well from inside to outside. In most cases you can see your outside space from different vantage points on the inside, so some sort of cohesion is key.

Check out the big box stores…designers have been telling us to extend our living space to the outdoors for a few years now, but we’ve really only started listening. Thankfully, by now the big box stores have caught up, so there is no need to buy crazy expensive stuff to have nice stuff. Let’s face it, the reality is that we have a relatively short season and some hard winters. But that’s no reason to ignore some of the most precious and most often under-used spaces in our homes.

Home Depot, Rona, Canadian Tire, Winners and the good ‘ol Atlantic SuperStore have some very stylish options. We’ve come a long way in terms of combining durability, functionality and style in outdoor furniture. Whether you choose teak or eucalyptus woods, resin wicker, aluminum…etc, you’ll find these babies can withstand the wear and tear of our climate.

Don’t forget to add in a few, well-chosen accessories. Outdoor fabrics are not what they used to be. They are comfy, cushy and look great. Think cushions, curtains, or small canopies. Consider a couple of lovely planters that work well with your new furniture to hold a few plants, flowers, veggies/ herbs or other greenery. Remember to grab some solar lights too, to add a bit of mood lighting and to make an inviting space that will draw you outside after dark. There are lots on the market – and best of all, they won’t increase your energy consumption.

Think about extending the season and enjoying your newly fabulous space much earlier and later than your neighbours by investing in a table top or free standing propane heater. They have come way down in price over the last year or two and are well worth it!

Snap up your goodies now, while you see those “on sale”, “discount”, and “summer clearance” signs. Everyone loves a good sale, don’t they? You will never get a better deal.

But act fast…within the next two weeks or so, it will all be gone and you’ll be left hiding your sad, old stuff again next season.