Sunday, December 19, 2010

whimsical wishes

This week is just a note to wish all my faithful just a little rouge readers happy holidays!

We’re taking a little time off to enjoy the holiday season with our friends and families, and sincerely wish you are doing the same.

Don’t worry though, we’ll be back in January brimming with lots of tips, great design ideas and other random things to share! 2011 is looking like it's going to be a good year...

Merry ho-ho to all,

xx rouge.

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Monday, December 13, 2010

festive glam

This year, I decided to go glam for the holidays…it’s a big departure for me and it’s the first time I haven’t had a real tree. But I spied this white feather tree about a month ago and couldn’t get it out of my head!

And the black ornaments? What could be more fantastic??

So, here are a few pics of my décor this season…definitely non-traditional, but definitely still festive. A simple palette of silver and white, with a sparse touch of red thrown into the mix.

And outside? Well…that’s bit more traditional, with simple fresh bows, a little white light, and a light green ribbon.

I hope you’re enjoying your festive spaces as much as I am!

Until next week...

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, December 4, 2010

reno chronicles #10

Dear Santa,

I’m sure you are a very busy man, so I’ll get right to it….

All I want for Christmas is a building permit from HRM.

I’ve been a good girl this year. A very good girl.

I didn’t fuss when my first permit application was rejected. I didn’t get impatient when I was told I had to apply for a variance. I didn’t even yell when I had to pay another $500 to do this.

I didn’t get frustrated when I was told the timeline was another two weeks. And I didn’t even say anything bad when it’s turning out to be more than 3 months.

I haven't spend any of my hard-earned savings for this renovation on frivilous shopping (although the temptations have been great).

I have always been nice to my neighbours and I continue to do so now that they have 10 days to raise any objections to my little renovation project. I am really appreciative of my wonderful contractor who is patiently waiting to hear if/when this job might start. And I have great conversations with my mortgage broker every week as she is still waiting on the final word from me to get my re-financing paperwork all set up…

I don’t believe I’m being greedy to want to add 125 square feet on to my little house. Especially because ½ of that is to replace a part that is literally rotting off already.

If you don’t mind, it’s getting sort of chilly where the cold seeps /blows through this part of the house, and I’d really like to get moving before everything is frozen solid.

If you can see to it to fill my neighbours hearts, and those in both the variance and permit offices, with a little extra love this holiday season, I’d be forever grateful.

I promise to be a good girl next year too. And maybe even the year after that.

(And I’ll put a little extra something in your milk, so please stop by…. )

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, November 27, 2010

the switch

I just discovered a new web series from one of my favorite HGTV and Style at Home designers….check it out!

The Switch by Sam Pynn is a decor series designed to help you get the most out of your home. In each short webisode, Sam takes a room or area of the home and switches it up to create two versatile looks, sharing her design tips and tricks along the way.

There are 6 webisodes on line now…they are about 20 minutes long each and a really great watch. Of course, I was hooked after the first one where she upcycles a vintage dresser….

Where else can you get inspired in a mere 20 minutes?

Aaaah, hgtv…you continue to capture my heart!

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

deck the halls...with tissue paper

Did you make these in grade school? Perhaps out of Kleenex?

Well, guess what…these lovely tissue paper flowers are back….and as easy as ever!

I spied these in the latest issue of Style at Home magazine and I absolutely love ‘em. These very large, oversized flowers will add a big punch to your holiday décor on a tiny budget. And they are fun and easy to create.

Now, I plan to make these in silver and white instead of red and green to match my existing décor. And that’s part of the beauty of these….you can make them in any style, shape, size and color you’d like!

I think what makes this idea new (again) and chic is the large scale, so be aware of the scale in your own design. Be creative, too….use ornaments and ribbon and other fun, festive items to attach in the centers to keep these lovelies looking fresh and fabulous.

Tissue paper comes in large sizes and in many, many colors…and you could also try large 3-ply napkins to give your flowers more structure.

And…this idea doesn’t have to be just for the holidays either. There are a whole bunch of decorating uses that are equally lovely….on the wall in a nursery, at a baby shower or wedding, or why not on your table at Sunday brunch? Hang them on ribbon from the ceiling or archway, make them a bit smaller and put them on plates with name tags, mount them on the wall….so many great ideas!

Here’s a refresher on the steps…

1. Stack eight 20” x 30” sheets of tissue paper and make 1-1½ “ wide accordion folds. Firmly crease each fold.
2. Fold a 16-20” length of floral wire (or pipe cleaner or twist tie!) in half and slip the wire over the centre point of the folded tissue paper and twist to secure. This is where you can also attach whatever you choose for the centre of your flower.
3. Using scissors, cut ends of tissue paper into rounded or pointy petals
4. Separate layers of tissue paper, carefully pulling them away from the centre one by one.
5. Tie a length of fishing line (or string or ribbon) to hang, or to secure to banisters.

Be creative and have fun!

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, November 13, 2010

before and afters

rouge completed a staging job on Thursday, so I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at the house that will be on the market early next week.

We did our home evaluation about a month ago…and since then the homeowners, handyman, and realtor have been busy ripping up some carpets, painting all walls, repainting and polishing the concrete floors, and a whole lot of landscaping.

We did our thing on Thursday and staged as much as the budget allowed….the main entrance, sunroom/laundry room, loft office space, dining room, living room, family room and three bedrooms. We didn’t even touch the kitchen, any of the three bathrooms, or the attached studio and workshop. But we left good instructions for the homeowners to tackle these areas on their own over the weekend.

It’s a beautiful home…full of large windows, loads of light, and a spectacular view of the ocean.

Here are some of the "before and after" shots…

living & dining room before

living & dining after

living & dining after

loft office before

loft office after

bedroom #1 before

bedroom #1 after

family room before

family room after

bedroom #2 before

bedroom #2 after

We wish the homeowners a speedy sale for the full asking price!

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, November 6, 2010

kids squared

There’s an exciting new Halifax-based company on the horizon.

“Kids Squared” will be a web-based company that sells affordable, original artwork for kids rooms. A variety of local artists and designers are currently working away on the collection of artwork that will soon be up for grabs.

So excited to report that rouge was approached to design a series! Seen above, the “three birdies” series, done with charcoal and pastels, will be three 12 x 12’s on canvas available for approx $25 -- only through Kids Squared when the company launches in spring 2011.

The site will offer many options…available in a series of three, or singles or mix and match. But it will all be original artwork and it will all be affordable. Paintings, paper art, graphic art, photography and more will be digitized, printed on canvas, stretched onto a frame and delivered right to your door after you place your on-line order.

Perfect for those design savvy parents who refuse to abandon their sense of style when kiddies are added to the family! They will also make for fabulous gifts too…

We are so humbled at being asked to contribute a designer series to Kids Squared. And we had so much fun designing these, we are already thinking about the next series! Who knew?!?

Stay tuned…we’ll let you know the website and details closer to the launch.

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, October 30, 2010

silver bells...

Ok. I know it’s early. I know tomorrow is only Halloween….

But I was out and about today and couldn’t help notice that all the lovely holiday décor has hit the shelves.

While I’m not ready for Christmas carols to be blasting everywhere I go, I am starting to think about that time of year. To be honest, I love Christmas…must be all the white twinkling lights. I can’t help it. They make me happy, and playful and hopeful.

Favorite trend for this year (so far)?

Definitely silver, white and a pop of rich, dark purple. As always, a throw in a touch of whimsy and you are done!

Now, I’m not suggesting you have to run out the minute you pack away the creepy ghouls and goblins on Monday, but I’d suggest you at least start thinking about it…ok?

Until then, have a spooky fun Halloween.

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

upcycle by rouge -- dresser on sale!

The vintage glam dresser upcycled by rouge (see September 20 blog post) is now on sale! Must go...need space for next project!!

This great, solid wood dresser –that can be used in a bedroom, in a closet, in an entry way, in a bathroom, and even in your kitchen – provides excellent storage. It’s got a hammered aluminum metal finish and vintage glam drawer pulls. It measures 44 inches (height) x 29 inches (wide) x 18 inches (deep).

Orginal Price = $295 Now on sale for $195!

upcycle by rouge” is all about taking something old and giving it a new life. Not just re-using it, or recycling it, but making it better than it ever was before. Mixing old vintage and vintage-inspired pieces with modern elements to create truly one-of-a-kind originals that you simply will not ever see anywhere else.

Get in touch to grab this deal...

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Monday, October 18, 2010

reno chronicles #9

So…I’ve recovered from “sticker-shock” on the cost of my little reno project. And I’ve reviewed the quote with wonderful contractor to come up with a few ideas on what to change to bring the cost more in line with what I was expecting. He’s putting the revised quote down on paper right now.

I had a great meeting with the bank, and all is well on that end. They are just waiting for me to give the final “go-ahead” to process the re-financed mortgage. (Silver lining? I’m actually getting a better rate on the entire mortgage because the rates have dropped since I first got my original mortgage). Relieved to know I can afford this little reno and not be house poor. Phew.

Then, I submitted all the paper work required to apply for a building permit. Along with a $300 cheque to go along with it. Three copies of everything – lot plan, architect drawings, contractor info -- and pictures to show my backyard along with that of my neighbor’s backyard (because I’m asking to do the exact same thing as they have already done).

I was feeling good. Things were moving along nicely.

And then….

A phone call from the development office (permits…etc) today who tell me that there are three areas in which my renovation plans do not meet the bylaw requirements. Setback, GFA (Gross floor area) and lot coverage.

And that my permit will not be approved.

Interestingly, since my house was built before the Halifax Explosion in 1917, it does not meet current bylaw requirements on it’s own. Never mind about the little addition. The setback needs to be 20 ft...and it’s 18ft. The GFA states that my house is only allowed to be 714 square feet (!). It’s currently 950 sq ft and I’m hoping to add a measly 126 sq ft. The total lot coverage of my house is only supposed to 35% of the lot. It’s already 55% and I’m hoping to add another 10%.

But, I can submit a variance application. Which is pretty much the exact same thing as what I just submitted, but with a paragraph as to why I am requesting a variance. And a $500 cheque, of course.

Then, every neighbor within 30 meters of my property will get written notice of what I am applying for and they have 14 days to respond, should they have any concerns. (I can't imagine what they could possibly be...!?) Next, the permit office reviews any feedback and makes their decision. If they deny my application, I can appeal it – where I would have to do so at City Council.

[insert giant rant about how bylaws are there for a reason, but should not be applied above all logic and common sense. Especially since most of our city was built a very long time ago. And because the city follks all say they want a healthy, vibrant downtown, but actually make it quite difficult for people to live here in an astounding number of ways...]

So anyway…moving on.

Tomorrow the application for a variance will be submitted. Because really, what choice do I have?

And I guess I’m just going to have to hope for the best…hoping, hoping, hoping...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy thanksgiving!

Dear just a little rouge readers,

rouge is taking a much needed mini-break for an extra long weekend, so there won't be a new post until next weekend.

Until then, happy thanksgiving to you and yours!

And remember, if you read this blog through, please read me directly at where you'll have access to the weekly blog posts, all past blogs and a whole lot more!


xx rouge.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

random bits

Hey just a little rouge readers…here are a few random bits for the week.

Home Stagers Atlantic – will be at the Atlantic Connections Conference this week (October 5-7) at the Mariott. It’s organized by the Atlantic provinces Real Estate Associations with aim to provide a high caliber professional development opportunity for realtors. It’s a great opportunity to do a bit of very targeted education on the benefits of both home staging services and on why it’s best to choose an accredited home stager!

Check out this blog – read this blog every Friday for some cool DIY projects that are simple and stylish. And it’s Canadian…gotta love it! Last week’s is a creative way to make a lampshade.


rouge newsrouge gave a little advice this week for a new client. Staging is a week or two away (after the painting, carpet removing, bamboo flooring installation is complete), but wanted to give some pre-decluttering advice on what to keep out of storage for staging purposes. Beautiful home with wicked light, space and views will also be beautifully staged and ready for market before the end of the month. Stay tuned!

Oh…and if you read me via, please update your bookmarks to find me directly…

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

reno chronicles #8

Wonderful contractor and I have come up with a final plan for my renovation! I saw the architect drawings last week and approved them.

Right now, wonderful contractor is connecting with his sub trades to get a real cost on it all while the architect does up the final plans (to scale) for the permitting process.

Yikes. It's real...and it's about to get a whole lot more real when I see the actual cost.

Am not going to lie...I'm nervous. But also excited. Very excited.

Holding my breath...and a little part of me is still hoping to win "Set for Life"...better get a ticket...

Monday, September 20, 2010

upcycle by rouge

Hello just a little rouge readers! Here is some exciting news and another make-over project I wanted to share with you.

I picked up this awesome, solid wood dresser from a client a little while ago. I was drawn to the shape, size and the cool little retro details. I’ve been mulling over what to do with it since I got it home…so many options!

Just before the Labour Day long weekend, I was inspired by an article I read in a magazine about metallic finishes – zinc and hammered finishes are the next big trend. So, out I went to discover how to transform this piece into what I now pictured in my mind.

This is where I would usually get into the gory details of how I got from the “before” to the “after” pictures. But you may have guessed that this one is a bit different.

The broad strokes of this project were: find a wonderful, solid piece that has great potential, give it a good cleaning, lightly sand it, give it another good cleaning, measure, mark and drill holes for fancy vintage-inspired drawer pulls, paint first coat of awesome hammered finish paint, wait for it to dry, paint second coat, wait for it to dry, install fancy drawer pulls…and step back to admire!

As mentioned, this make-over project is different. Different because my home is full of wonderful gems already. And as much as I already love this piece, I’m more than willing to part with it.

That’s right…this is the first official piece of furniture to launch a new line from rouge!

”upcycle by rouge” is all about taking something old and giving it a new life. Not just re-using it, or recycling it, but making it better than it ever was before. Mixing old vintage and vintage-inspired pieces with modern elements to create truly one-of-a-kind originals that you simply will not ever see anywhere else.

upcycle by rouge items will only be available, well…when they are available. All based on our ability to find excellent pieces and work our magic to upcycle them while ensuring the highest possible standards.

That means you’ll have to keep checking out the blog for new items!

This great, solid wood dresser – that can be used in a bedroom, in a closet, in an entry way, in a bathroom, and even in your kitchen – provides excellent storage. It’s got a hammered aluminum metal finish and vintage glam drawer pulls. It measures 44 inches (height) x 29 inches (wide) x 18 inches (deep). Price = $295

All upcycle by rouge items also come with a “before” picture, so you can see & feel the history of the piece.

Contact us by phone, email or blog comment if you are interested in purchasing!

As always, thanks to our loyal and faithful readers for your continued support…you guys are also simply one-of-a-kind gems.

xx suzanne

Saturday, September 11, 2010

50 miles of possibilities

Imagine a magical place where no there are miles of little mysteries, fun surprises, curiosities and endless possibilities. I’ve heard talk about just such a utopia. But until today, I had never been.

No...this is not some crazy myth or urban legend. It’s the annual 50 mile Musquodoboit Valley yard sale. That’s right. FIFTY miles.

This weekend’s yard sale actually marked the 20 anniversary of this crazy event.

Each year the Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association ( organizes the 50 Mile Route of Yard Sales throughout the Musquodoboit Valley. There are three official starting points -- Dean, Meaghers Grant and Dutch Settlement. You can download a map and description of each official location from the website. Each registered yard sale location is marked with official yard sale balloons, but it would hard to miss them anyway…

My advice? Plan to wander around to them all, or decide on a condensed “yard sale strategy”, but whatever you choose, plan to spend lots of time driving/ walking /looking around. Have some cash on hand and be prepared to do some of your very best haggling!

I’m not a yard sale junkie by any means (we all know they do exist!), but I do enjoy the idea of potentially finding that one hidden gem that screams out to me. You literally never know what you may find that delights you! (And it makes for interesting/crazy people watching.)

I find it helpful to have a focus…perhaps keeping an eye out for an addition to your favorite collection. Or you may be looking for a piece of furniture to test your “make-over” skills. Or maybe you are just on the lookout that special something that’s quirky and fun to add a touch of whimsy to your existing décor.

A note of caution: without a focus, you may get overwhelmed. You may end up aimlessly wandering around. You may end up giving up on the day and going home. Do remember that this is a yard sale…and that means you should expect some…well, let me just say it…some junk.

But if you can handle this environment, are willing to dedicate a good part of your day to it, and are ready to embrace the spirit of a gargantuan yard sale, you will really enjoy this treasure hunt.

I gave myself a budget before I left the house and stuck to it. I also decided that I was only interested in milk glass to add to my collection, a lamp for the spare bedroom and maybe some fun and/or old costume jewelry.
I drove the entire 50 mile route but I must admit that I did not stop at all of the sales…it was just too much! I stuck to the ones that had multiple tables/vendors. I had an enjoyable day wandering around and timed my stops around the to be in the car when the rain was falling!

Pictured here are but a few of the interesting things I saw throughout the day (a silver set, vintage tins, rusty saws and a very old chandelier)

I scored some great stuff, too…an oversized white ceramic lamp (needs a new shade), two lovely small milk glass vases, a bunch of cool wooden bracelets, a costume cocktail ring and a white handmade quilt/blanket that’s more than 50 years old. The best buy of the day though, may have been the vintage gold metallic clutch with silk lining for $2.
And I only spent $20.25! (Oh...that includes a bbq’d sausage and a diet coke for lunch!)

It’s a great place to get your yard sale fix for the year….and based on my experience today, I think I’ll be back next year.

Friday, September 3, 2010

dorm room decor

I know all you Haligonians are feeling it. It’s obvious in the grocery stores. It’s obvious in places like Walmart. Heck, it’s even obvious in the streets.

Parents buying an obscene amount of cleaning supplies and all the basic staples as their kids – who are on the cusp of flying from the nest -- are trailing behind with a mix of fear and excitement splayed across their faces. Not to mention the literally tons of moving trucks of all shapes and sizes unloading their goods as university students flood back into this city of many universities.

In honor of this, here are some styling secrets I’ve “borrowed” from the fine folks at Style at Home ( on creating cool and colorful dorm room décor.

Ten back-to-school dorm decor essentials that will help make life away from home a little more comfortable:

1. Colourful mini fridge - Keep everything you need for study breaks or hanging out with friends in a convenient and colourful mini fridge.

2. Semi-sheer curtain - add warmth and soften the space and/or create a soft separation of areas in a room.
3. Rolling desk chair – sleek, modern and lightweight, these provide proper ergonomic support and often come in lots of fun colors.

4. Graphic throw pillow – cozy and cool and so many options to suite your style and taste

5. Floor mirror – Make sure that everything is in place while rushing off to class with a classic floor length mirror.
6. Lacquer digital frame – Display a slideshow of fond memories with a contemporary digital picture frame. Not only is this a wonderful way to create a home away from home, but some also plays music and feature a calendar and clock.

7. Organic sheet set – a nice way for the environmentally-friendly students to rest their weary heads!

8. Canvas storage tote -- A great way to keep things organized in a dorm room is a convenient canvas bag. Totes come in many different styles and sizes and also make great laundry hampers.

9. Cast iron wall hook -- A cast iron hook is a great dorm room organizing idea. Hang your coat, towel or jewelry on a lovely light blue teapot-shaped hook like this one to keep clutter at bay.

10. Wall tattoos -- Instead of posters, photos and magazine clippings, decorate your dorm room walls using a sophisticated vinyl wall tattoo. The matte finish gives a gorgeous painted-on look plus this peel and stick decorating idea is easy to put up and remove.

For the rest of us, hang tight. After about a month or so, we’ll adjust to the huge influx of students and embrace the energy they bring to the city we love to live in!

Oh…and remember to batten down the hatches asap in advance of Hurricane Earl that's about to hit us. You wouldn’t want your fabulous outdoor items damaged. Or damaging your home. Or your neighbour’s home.

Until next week, stay safe, justalittlerouge readers!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

reno chronicles #7


Got the sketches for my renovation yesterday. So exciting. I can’t stop looking at them and mulling it all over.

I am definitely a visual person. It’s so much easier now for me to “picture” the recommendations, because....well, because I can see a picture of it. In my head, I was close to picturing what we had been talking over…but now I can see exactly what wonderful contractor is recommending. There is no room left for interpretation.

I am also a process thinker, so I’m taking all the time I need to consider each element and decide if it is something I like or not, if there is anything I would like to add or delete, if there is anything I’d like to change or reconsider.

And, of course there is!

Important to remember that it’s the natural next step in the process. And a critical one, in my opinion. These drawings are the jumping off point for the next steps…real drawings that need to be submitted for building permits. Real drawings that are used to determine the cost of the project. Real drawings that form the basis of the agreement between me (the client) and the contractor.

So, it’s hugely important not to be shy at this stage if you want to ensure you are going to get exactly what you expect at the end of all this.

I’m going to follow my own advice on this one…think about each element carefully and consider actually living with each element, ask every question that pops into my head, draw all over the sketches and make notes. Another very good sign that wonderful contractor is encouraging me to do exactly that.

All of this, so that when I meet with him next, we can talk it all out…and revise accordingly until I’m happy, we’re agreed, and ready to move forward.

I’ll keep you posted….

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Monday, August 23, 2010

reno chronicles #6

still. waiting. for. drawings.

(it's been a month now!)


Saturday, August 14, 2010

designer puppy

Further to my comment last week about designing with a puppy in mind, I did a little searching. Much to my surprise, I easily found something incredible!

There are some really beautiful options for those of us who are pet owners but don’t want to sacrifice our keen sense of style. Read on if you are loving your doggie but are desperately trying to get used to seeing that big plastic or wire crate plunked in your living room (or wherever)…

Enter Bowhaus, a Canadian company with a flair for design and an understanding of the trendy urban lifestyle. They created a hip, fashionable combination crate and dog bed that is pretty to look at and functions wonderfully. It can even double as a side table, which is very important in today's shrinking urban living spaces.
Other options include the ones I found at and Wicker, mahogany and other solid wood finishes would work great as bedside tables or end tables. The latter site has a link for Canadian shoppers. My favorite one (top photo) sells for $600.00 + a bed to go it in for another $90.00. Even with free shipping, that’s not cheap. But consider how long you may be looking at your friend’s crate. If it’s only for a few months, it’s probably not worth it…but if your plan is to crate-train your dog for the long haul, it just might be the solution you are looking for. Dogs love having a safe and cozy "den" they can sleep in or retreat to for a rest during the day.

Check out this clever DIY idea of making a dog crate into a desk that I found on (a fantastic, inspiring site for all things design!). Great solution if you have an office space you are willing to share with your pooch.

I can tell you with 100% confidence one of these are now on my wish list, that’s for sure!

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

reno chronicles #5

Still not much to report this week…wonderful contractor called to let me know that the person doing up the drawing is away on vacation, that he hasn’t forgotten about me, and will get back to me as soon as he has something to show me. Guess that's this week's lesson...there is some "stop and go" in the process.

So great of him to call, though. I really like that he’s proactive in following up. Even if it’s only to tell me there’s been a delay or that he has nothing to show me. Earns big points for that!

In the meantime, I snapped a few pics that might be helpful…
This is the kind of awning I’d like to have over the door. Keeps the rain/snow off when you are unloading groceries, pellets for the stove…or whatever. Just giving me a dry space to unlock the door would be great! Add in the same thing over the windows and I really like what it adds to the overall look and design. Very urban chic.

These are the kind of windows I’m looking at…sort of. Picture them trimmed in black. Picture the top two opening and not the rest. Picture them with a frosted treatment. Great for privacy, but will let a ton of light in. Love the idea of a wall of windows!

As for flooring, I’m set on the retro black and white check tiles. These are actually garage-grade, practically bullet-proof, peel and stick tiles that you can order online. Cost effective…and totally cool in my opinion.

That’s it for this week….

Oh…one more thing. You know that hypothetical puppy that I’m factoring into all of this? Well, he’s not hypothetical anymore! He arrived a bit unexpectedly last weekend and he’s a 6-month old, 44 pound bundle of puppy love. So much for my master plan…

Maybe next week’s posting will be about decorating with a new puppy in mind. Or maybe I’m going to need a bit more time to figure that one out…?!?

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Saturday, July 31, 2010

reno chronicles #4

Hey just a little rouge readers...!

Not much to report on the reno this week.

Waiting on drawings. Thinking lots about what I REALLY need from the new space versus what would be nice to have.

Also doing some calculations based on estimating what percentage of my home we're talking about here and translating that into the same percentage of the price of the house. Good tip for setting a budget. And very effective for bringing me back down to reality.

Aside from that, I'm going to take a bit of time this weekend to snap a few pictures of a couple of things I've seen around the neighbourhood that I like...specifically, a certain type of window and an awning that might look great over the new back door.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and I'm a very visual person, so I thought it would be helpful in my next discussion with my contractor.

Aside from that, rouge was all set to participate in this year's Habitat for Humanity project (a rebuild of one of the local women's shelters) this week and was SUPER excited about it. Actually, I took two vacation days to do it...then I got an email saying the job was delayed. So I scrambled and switched my vacation so I could sign up again for two days this coming week.

And I got another email last night saying (again) that there was a delay and the job won't start until the second week in August. Sheesh. I'm sure it must be really difficult coordinating all of the details of that kind of job. But I'm afraid that I just can't reschedule my time again....and I'm sooo disappointed.

Best of luck to the build, whenever it starts! Watch for me next year!!

Have a great long weekend.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

reno chronicles #3

So “potential contractor #4” is looking good. Very good.

We chatted this week and made plans to get together on the weekend to review some ideas. And we did that early this evening.

“Potential #4” and the designer came up with lots of great ideas after their last visit. So much fun to picture and think about. Cooler heads eventually prevail and when it comes right down to it, there were a lot of cool things that maybe didn’t serve the original purpose.

That’s good, though…it’s good to think everything through and keep the very best elements of all the ideas.

We took the time to talk out all the specific elements and decided on a solid direction. It was important to get back to thinking about the main function of the new space…entry/mud room and laundry room…and a space that can happily house the puppy.

Yes, that’s the puppy I don’t have yet. But it’s important to really think though how the space is going to be used as far into the future you can imagine. And I know there will be puppy who will need some space where he can live during the day, without giving him full reign of the house when he’s alone.

Ultimately, that means that the lofty and super-cool ideas fell to the wayside and plans are back into the realm of reality. Reality that is looking good, too.

I am excited about where it’s going…but still very nervous about budget. Next up is drawings that I’ll sit with and mull over for a few days. Then comes the estimated cost.

Then, I expect, some revisions.

There are still many, many steps to come, but I am enjoying the process so far and am looking forward to the ride…

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Sunday, July 18, 2010

reno chronicles #2

To bring you up to speed on the project so far, I’d like to tell you about my quest for the perfect contractor.

Many months ago, I knew this project would have to be done late summer. I started asking around and putting out feelers because I know the summer months book early for good contractors.

In fact, last summer I ran into “potential contractor #1”, whom I actually know and mentioned the job to him. He was interested and said he was mostly booked already, but could probably meet my timeline, if I pushed it to early fall. Fine by me. We talked about it at length that day and agreed he would come by in the winter to take a look, talk it out and provide an estimate.

Despite my efforts from January to March, I was not able to get him to come in the winter. He was “too busy” to even give me an estimate.

Next, I talked to “potential contractor #2” that actually did some work on my house two years ago. He did a good job. He gave me a detailed estimate/quote and let me know, in advance, of anything that would put him over that budget before moving forward.

It took him longer than he originally expected to finish the job….partly because he’s a talker and some days he may have talked more than he worked. A couple of times, I had to call him to see where he was because he didn’t show up when he said he would. And I quickly realized that he wasn’t great at the fine details, so he had to redo a couple of small things to meet my satisfaction.

Overall, he’s a nice, honest guy who got the job done. So I got in touch with him again about this reno project. He came over, we talked about the job (at length) but he didn’t take measurements and said he’d come back as we got closer to the project date and get the details. He preferred to wait a bit before providing an estimate because “the cost of materials fluctuates” and he wanted to be accurate. He did pop in once after that…but just to chat.

In early June, I was golfing (I use that term liberally!) at a work/charity event and chatting with another person assigned to be on our team. Turns out her brother is a contractor. She gave me the info on “potential contractor #3” and promised to give him the head’s up that I’d be calling. I did call and left him a message at home and at work explaining that his sister gave me his info. I never did get a call back.

Next, I called “potential contractor #2” again about a month ago and caught him in the middle of something. He said he’d call me right back…but I haven’t heard from him since.

In the meantime, I’ve still been asking EVERYONE I know to get a recommendation. Three weeks ago, a friend popped in for a quick visit with the new baby (so squeezable!). I mentioned it to her. Later, she mentioned it to her husband who has great experience in this industry. He called a few days later with a strong recommendation. I don’t know how I didn’t ask them sooner.

I called “possible contractor #4” and left a message. He called me back 5 minutes later and said he could come by that night (really?!? wow). He showed up exactly when he said he would. We chatted and I liked him instantly.

He’s keen, smart and motivated. He said he’d like to have his designer come back with him to brainstorm some ideas later in the week. They got delayed, but he called to apologize and set up another time.

They were waiting for me to arrive at the rescheduled time (that never happens!). We all talked -- they had excellent questions for me about how I was going to use the space and what my needs were. We talked about permits and timelines. They sketched out the space and took all the measurements. They agreed to go away and draw up a couple of the ideas to present back to me. Very professional, efficient and focused.

That was last Friday and I am confident I’ll hear from him this week. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think I may have found the perfect contractor for the job…

A few tips for you:
• Start looking early – it may take months to find the right contractor for the project.
• Ask everyone you know for a recommendation. You want to be sure you can be happy with both the experience and the work done.
• If possible, go see what they’ve done in someone else’s’ home. Ask your potential contractor for references if the recommendation doesn’t come from a trusted friend.
• Get everything in writing. Estimates/ quotes…etc.
• Discuss how any changes to the job specs or costs will be handled. Agree on this upfront and get that in writing too.
• Make sure your contractor has insurance. You don’t want to be responsible for anyone getting injured on the job.
• Do your homework and find out what permits you need based on city by-law. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need them.

As I write this, it makes me realize that my quest for the perfect contractor feels a bit like dating. It requires a commitment to the search. It involves asking everyone you know for a possible recommendation. It requires developing a relationship – building trust, honesty, integrity, diligence and common sense. It requires setting and managing expectations. It requires being open to possibilities, being both flexible and adaptable.

Now, finding a contractor that you’d actually like to date…that would really be something, wouldn’t it?!

Fingers crossed for “potential contractor #4”…

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Sunday, July 11, 2010

reno chronicles #1

The time has come.

When I bought my own home three years ago, I knew the little back addition that houses the laundry room was rotting from the bottom up. It was listed “as is” in the house documentation.

At the time, I thought….no problem. I’ll do something about that right away.

Now, here I am and it’s getting desperate (see “airing my dirty laundry” posting for more). Good thing I’ve been planning a renovation for about a year now. Well, mostly just dreaming about it, but I actually started to plan it about 4 months ago. Saving for it started much earlier than that...

It’s time to get the old one torn down (before it falls down). It’s time to build a small addition in it’s place.

A small addition that will be a new laundry room and mud room. It will probably be the entrance to the house I will use most often. It’s closer to where I park the car, and there will be usable space to unload my things, hang up my coat and kick off my shoes. Unlike now where the front door opens directly into the living room.

It also means that there will be a deck built on top of the new addition. Now “the door to nowhere” that exists off the second floor landing will be the door to the deck.

And the deck will be a private, safe and secure outdoor space that I will enjoy immensely. Better than my current “temporary” ghetto backyard that I build each summer and tear down each winter.

Don’t get me wrong…it was a really smart idea and it’s served me very well. But it will be nice to have permanent space that I don’t have to leash and lock down furniture or my bbq to make sure it’s still there the next day. Although, I have developed a strange fondness for the green astro-turf...

I’m hoping rouge readers may enjoy hearing about my little renovation – from start to finish, I’m going to chronicle it all here. I’m hoping there will be lots of learnings that might be helpful to you someday.

I’m excited about the process and I can’t wait. I’m hoping to see some action on this in September. But before I see tangible proof, there’s finding a contractor, making a plan, costing it all out and setting a budget, getting permits…and a whole bunch of other things that have to happen before picking the paint color and decorating it (which I’ve already done in my mind, of course!)

Tune in next week where I’ll bring you up to speed on my quest for the perfect contractor…then follow me the rest of the way over the summer and early fall.

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/

Sunday, July 4, 2010

bathroom makeover

How do you handle stress?

Some people eat. Some people drink. Some shop, or garden, or run, or a whole bunch of other activities that are good (or bad!) stress-busters.

It’s a bit different for me, I guess.

I redecorate. Or move furniture around. Or refinish old furniture. Or paint the walls.

This weekend, I wallpapered.

Well, not just wallpapered…I removed the “old” wallpaper I put in my bathroom this winter. I’ve never really been happy with it. It was nice, but not exceptional.

So, I took it down and I’m happy to say that it actually came off even easier than it was reported it would. In fact, it was easier to peel off the long, still intact, full panels of wallpaper than it is to peel off those annoying price tag stickers.

It was down in less than 10 minutes. And the paint on the walls was still in perfect shape.

After it was down, I realized that I hadn’t even taken any pictures of it…so what you see here was the pre-wallpaper (on one wall only) look.

Of course, I had a new plan before I started this little adventure. I saw another wallpaper that I really loved a little while ago. But it wouldn’t work in my bathroom because of the brown-ish laminate countertop.

So finally, I decided to try my hand at painting the countertop because I didn’t want to cough up the cash to replace it.

It’s not that hard, although I was a bit nervous. But I did my homework and then asked for extra guidance before buying the materials. All you need to do is:

• Clean the existing countertop
• Give it a quick, light sanding
• Clean it again. Then clean it again (!)
• Use a dense foam roller to give it one even coat of melamine paint
• Wait for it to dry
• Give it another coat
• Wait for it to dry
• Be careful and treat it gently for about a day or so to give it time to dry and harden

That’s it. Now it’s a fresh, clean and updated white laminate countertop and I couldn’t be happier with the results! (Note: I wouldn’t do this to kitchen countertops…)

Now that the countertop was taken care of, I splurged on the wallpaper I loved and got to work. Instead of tackling a “feature wall”, I decided to go bold and do the whole bathroom.

It’s a bold pattern, but it’s got a sort of vintage-y feel too. Brown, teal and metallic keeps it from looking like grandma’s bathroom.

It makes me happy. What else can I say?

Mixed with the existing white, glass, and brushed nickel accessories, it came together even better than I envisioned. Tres chic.

I’m not going to lie…it was a big job. Lots of nooks and crannies in a bathroom to paper around. A sharp exact-o knife for trimming and a lot of patience are key.

And when I noticed that I was getting a bit sloppy, I stopped for a break (and went outside to enjoy the beautiful weekend!)

Well, it’s Sunday night, the job is done and I’m feeling a lot less stressed than I did at the end of last week. Some good physical labor and something different to focus my brain on always does the trick to blast any stress away.

Just in time for Monday to roll around. Sheesh.

Now, I really ought to think about learning to run…

For more about rouge, visit or check out past blogs at www.justalittlerouge/