Friday, December 24, 2010


Regular readers will recall that my brother lives 8 doors down from us, in a 120 year old gothic Victorian cottage. He bought the house and moved in about a year and a half ago, but until this past November his main floor remained largely empty and unfurnished, partly because he has been doing some renovations on this floor, but also partly because he just isn’t much for shopping. But with the holiday season arriving and friends coming over, he needed to finally bite the bullet and get some furniture. So that’s where I came in. While I’m far more adept with power tools than I am with fabric swatches (i.e. at pulling a design together), I think I was able to find him good-looking and unique furnishings that suited his tastes, lifestyle and all for under $3500. Some of the items we found required a little elbow grease but I think the end results look pretty stylish.

Dining Room with seating for 10

Hair-pin style bentwood chairs, $175 from Captain’s Treasures - I blogged a while back about these bentwood chairs that we found at Captain’s Treasures, he spent a bit of time refinishing them and man do they look good. You can read about them HERE.

9-foot-long custom dining table, $1,100 from Smash - You can see a smaller version of this table in this Style at Home High-Low studio. The table base is made of black pipe, the kind that pipe fitters use to run natural gas and the top is a 2” thick slab made form 3 wide planks of reclaimed douglas fir, finished in a low sheen urethane. A lot of the character has been left in the table top, including some of the original saw blade marks from the milling process, as well as a live edge on one side of the table top. I really love the modern rustic warmth of this table, and I think it’s very well-suited to the open farmhouse style of his house.

9-foot-long Shaker bench, $450 from Smash – This was an absolute steal. The bench is about the same age as the house. And even though it has had a few patches over the years, it is still solid as a rock. When we got it from Smash, it had a grungy, tired white finish, so my brother used some more of the black milk paint that he bought for the bent wood chairs and gave it the same treatment.

Living Room

Gus Trudeau Sofa, $850 from Style Garage – When these guys have a sale they don’t mess around. This sofa is usually over $2000, but every now and then Style Garage has amazing sales. Sign up to their mailing list to stay informed.

Stumps of old wood (end tables), $80 from some guy on Kijiji – I sent my brother to contact this guy in Vaughn. His company is called Deer Brian Inc, and he sells reclaimed timber from old dismantled barns. I told my brother to ask for the biggest, oldest, roughest looking beams that they had and to get 2 two foot sections cut from it. He did, and after a bit of cleaning, sanding and urethaning he had these 2 gorgeous end tables.

Knock off Arco lamp $350 from another guy on Kijiji – I then sent my brother to go pick up one of these knock-off Arco lamps from an ad on Kijiji. While I am usually staunchly anti-knock off, I think knock offs made sense in this case. Here’s what I mean, I don’t understand paying $200 for a cheap, low-quality knock off Eames Eiffel chair, when a real one is $250 - $500. Sure when you’re talking about 6 chairs it starts to add up, but a chair is something that you sit on. It needs to support your weight and will receive constant stress. I truly believe spending the extra $50 - $300 on the real one will pay back in terms of durability. A lamp on the other hand, is not subject to the same stresses, so durability isn’t really a factor. Not to mention the real Arco lamp is about $2,700.

Foundry cart coffee table $250 from Smash – This cart is an authentic relic from our industrial past, it even came with a thick coat of authentic industrial dust. So my brother and I spent an evening cleaning all the metal with WD40 and sanding down the wood. He then wiped it all clean and applied three coats of satin urethane.

So that’s it for now, a living and dining room furnished with various finds for under $3500. There’s still some work to be done, his walls are bare and screaming for some large canvases, and he could use a couple of occasional chairs in his living room to make a nice seating arrangement, but it is starting to shape up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Support Your Neighbourhood!

I have always been a firm believer and supporter of our neighbourhood and all things local. Eating and drinking local is after all good for the environment. Well it doesn't get any easier to put your money where your mouth is then this:

According to BLOGTO, this new brew will be available at some point. And when it is, i plan to spend a lot of time saving the planet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Honey I Blew Up the Furniture!

Has anyone been to Restoration Hardware (RH) lately? I went there to pick up some shower curtain rings, and when i got there i barely recoginized the place. So i thought i'd give a Roncy Vic review of the new RH.

First impressions:
As i walked in i had this weird feeling...kind of like how Jack must have felt when he got to the top of the bean stalk. The doorways are high, the ceilings are high, the furniture is HUGE. I felt like at any moment, some giant would come out and turn me into a sandwich.

RH has really shifted gears, the place once known for its understated timeless classics has gone through a major make-over, their stores are now painted a dark, moody brooding gray colour. And their new cardboard tags have a black background and small negative font. I actually love the look of the stores, but frankly the low light and dark tags, make checking out the items and their prices more difficult. Perhaps this was by design because once you see the price tags, you also realize that Restoration Hardware has moved up a couple of snack brackets.

OK, so what about the funiture? Well, the only way i can describe it is "Amazonian". And just like the mythical Amazon Woman. The furniture is enormous, but also very gorgeous. At first, I suspected the manufacturer mistakenly used inches, when the design must have been spec'ed in centimeters. There was a 10 foot high armoire. Most of their mirrors were 6-8 feet tall. The style is definitely trendier than the old RH. They now incorporate a lot of Scandinavian influence (grainsack upholstery, rustic matte finished light coloured woods, etc), as well as the trend towards reclaimed wood, upcycled industrial metal and weathered wood. I also noticed, the intentional treatment of furniture as "object" and "object" as furniture - what the hell do i mean by that? I'm not even sure myself, other than to say, if you buy something from there and bring it home, it is definitely meant to make a BIG statement. Nothing there is meant to be mundane, which actually brings me to my first beef with the new RH. Used to be i could count on them for mundane...classic, timeless, luxurious elegance. Not anymore, if you're looking for a perfectly proportioned elegant coffee table, too bad you're out of luck. Instead you will find a 300 pound platform made of reclaimed wood, that can double as a stage if you and three garage band friends want to have an impromptu concert. So what's my second beef? No shower curtain rings! Again the new store is not about mundane everyday items that people need, it's about trophy furniture that people dream about. They have a tiny smattering of taps and hardware, a mere fraction of what they used to stock. Is it too much to ask a place called Restoration Hardware to actually stock...hardware? It looks like you can still get the hooks, curtain rings, house numbers, knobs and pulls on line, but they should mention that if you're looking for hardware, a Restoration Hardware store is not the place to go.

6 foot by 4 foot Balustrade Coffee table

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Started a New Blog

We recently purchased an older cottage in Parry Sound, and while it is in very good shape, the reno-addict in me has already started planning a few projects on the new place. So i'm starting a new blog to share those projects.

Some of the more ambitious reno projects i want to tackle are exterior painting, interior painting, flooring in the bedrooms, new french doors, replacing the wood-burning stove with a freplace, a new bathroom, and a new kitchen. However since it is a cottage blog i also plan on sharing more fun little DIY projects. Some ideas i have are: building Muskoka chairs, building a bird apartment for a purple martin colony, building a bat house, building a vermicomposter and various art projects.

We've closed down the cottage for the winter, so there won't be much action until the Spring, that gives me all winter to dream up new ideas, so hopefully come Spring i'll have lots of projects to blog about. You can follow along HERE

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pandemonium!

Had a great time dropping off our pumpkin and checking out the other 1000's of pumpkins on display at this year's Sorauren Park Pumpkin Parade. This annual Nov 1st event has really taken off. There were lines of pumpkins surrounding the park, and 100's of people, pets and kids admiring the carving talent, dropping off new pumpkins and taking photos. The atmosphere was like a fall fair. If only there was some live music. Hmmmm...Maybe an enterprising band looking for some exposure, will set up an impromptu concert in the park next year. A good time was had by all. The crowds were so thick this year, we didn't have time to navigate all the way around the park in the 40 minutes that we were there (we had a chicken pot pie in the oven), but i still managed to take some photos of some spectacular pumpkins. Enjoy!

Pumpkins as far as the eye could see:

A little Halloween humour...Pumpkin Pi:

Being the proud Papa of a 7 day old, these ones spoke to me:

And here is a medley of super awesome carving talent: