Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guest post- Simple ways to update your living room!

This post is provided by Callum Morton.

For many people, the living room is the most used part of their household. A space for socializing, relaxing and unwinding, our living rooms can start to look a little bit tired after so much use. Follow these top tips to easily update your living room in preparation for the festive season.

Include a rug

In an area of the home that experiences a lot of traffic, chances are that your living room carpet boasts an array of worn patches, dirty footprints and stains. Replacing your whole carpet can be expensive – a cost most would like to avoid in the run up to Christmas.

A rug can be an easy solution to mask your carpets imperfections. What is more, the right rug can act as a great interior design accessory, making a statement and brightening up even the darkest of living rooms. There are some great statement rugs available at ScS, like the sparkle rug. Featuring shimmery fibres, this rug is sure to add a touch of glamour and Christmas sparkle to your room.

Update your accessories

A simple way to easily and affordably update your living room is by replacing your current accessories. If your cushions are looking a little out of date, hang onto the actual padding and simply buy some new covers. These are really cheap to buy, and you can get them in a great range of designs. Combining a mixture of plain and detailed cushions will leave your couch unrecognizable.

Likewise, swapping dusty old lampshades for modern new designs can instantly update your current lamp.

Lick of paint

Replacing all of your living room furniture can be costly. If your furniture is good quality and in good condition, it seems irrational to simply get rid of it. There are a number of ways you can revamp them, transforming them into desirable pieces of stylish furniture.

Scratched, chipped and battered wooden furniture can leave your living room looking less than fabulous, but a lick of paint can give them a new lease of life. If light is an issue in your room, paint your dark furniture a light colour to brighten up the space. Before you get out the paintbrushes though, start by sanding down all of your furniture to remove any imperfections to ensure a professional finish.Your furniture will be unrecognizable and a great addition to your room. 

There are a number of ways you can prevent your furniture from falling back into disrepair. Using coasters is an easy way to prevent any cup marks, while applying a layer of clear protective finish after you have painted will help extend the life of your newly revamped furniture. By simply following these few simple tips, you will notice visible improvements in your living room.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Product review- Case Logic Laptop + Tablet Backpack!

Recently, I have received a wonderful laptop + tablet backpack from Case Logic, a popular retailer that offers quality cases for cameras, laptops, tablets, phones, gadget accessories and more.

I always take my laptop and iPad (for my son) with me while I travel so getting a backpack that is especially designed to protect my electronics is very important. For today's review, I have picked the 15.6" Laptop + Tablet Backpack.

The backpack's wonderful features!

My fabulous backpack!


Interior compartment.


Back pocket.

Padded top and bottom.

Designated compartment for laptop and tablet storage.

I love my new laptop and tablet backpack for its good looks and functionality! The plush padding is perfect for storing my laptop and tablet from being crushed or scratched. There are many zippered pockets and compartments in different sizes so small items such as pens, keys, memory cards, batteries or cords won't disappear into the bottom of the bag. The middle compartment is roomy. After storing both my electronics, I still find a lot of room for some clothing and essentials. I particularly like the small compartment at the back of the backpack to store important and valuable items such as passport, tickets and purse so they are easily accessible and safe from pickpockets. There are two large side pockets to fit a water bottle and a designated slot to fit an MP3 player. The padded top and bottom grab handles is a wonderful addition to help load the backpack into the overhead bins. I also find the thick foam padding at the back of the backpack to be very comfortable, thanks to the breathable mesh materials.

This beautiful backpack is lightweight, sturdy, well-made, seems very durable and cleverly designed, so what's not to love? Additionally, the thoughtful details such as the various designated pockets, thick padding, chest straps, grab handles and various compartments is a great plus. This is one of those versatile backpacks that will be perfect to use at school and for travels. I already have a few planned trips ahead and I can't wait to use my new awesome backpack!

*I have received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

You can get yours here. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book review- Fifth Avenue Style!

Thanks to Meghan and The Vendome Press for sending me another amazing coffee table book, "Fifth Avenue Style" authored by designer, Howard Slatkin and photographed by Tria Giovan.

My book arrived beautifully wrapped with a sweet handwritten note by the author, Howard Slatkin himself. To my surprise, the inside of my book was signed as well, how thoughtful! Thanks Mr. Howard Slatkin!

The huge 240-pages book starts with a detailed illustrated floor plan of Howard Slatkins' Fifth Avenue home.

(please click on the above picture to enlarge)

In his book, Howard Slatkin shows us his exquisite home, from the main areas to the intimate areas such as the closets, dressing room and other rarely seen private rooms. He also shares how he found his home, his thoughts and the inspirations behind each rooms that he meticulously designed.

Filled with amazingly detailed and excellent craftsmanship, careful lighting and floor planning, sumptuous fabrics, unique one-of-a-kind pieces, clever arrangement of furniture, delightful decorative display objects and family photos, his home feels luxuriously refined and sophisticated yet personal.

Here is a sneak peek of his gorgeous home below. 

Photo credits: Tria Giovan

The designer and author: Howard Slatkin

Aren't his home sumptuous? The beauty, luxury and meticulous details in this magnificent home totally blows my mind! His home is truly a labor of love and I find it really inspirational! Even if you are not a maximalist at heart, you will still appreciate his attention to details and his practical advice on ways to turn a home into something comfortable, functional and beautiful.

I absolutely love this book and all the visual eye candy, I know you will, too! Don't miss this stunning book, get your copy here.

*I received this book to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest post- Ten Simple Checks To Increase The Security Of Your Home Or Flat!

This post is provided by Matt Carrington.

Home insurance companies care about where you live. They also care about how much effort you put in to securing your home against burglars. Home insurance premium rates vary across the United Kingdom based in part on crime statistics.  The more theft claims reported to home insurance companies in a given post code, the higher the insurance premium is likely to be. Individual homeowners can increase their chances of getting a reduction on their premiums by taking steps to up security levels at their homes or flats.

The Most Burgled Post Codes in the United Kingdom

An annual survey analysing about 3.5 million insurance quotes to determine which UK postcodes are most—and least—likely to make claims for theft in any given year, reportedin 2012 thatsome of the safest postcodes in the UK include:

·         Pembrokeshire’s SA62

·         Swansea’s SA9

·         Cumbria’s LA14

On the other end of the spectrum we find Leeds, specifically the LS13 postcode, which suffered the highest number of break-ins reported to insurance companies in 2012. Parts of London and Bradford follow close behind, though. Here are the top four riskiest places for burglaries, according to recent research:

1.       Leeds, LS13

2.       Bradford, BD12

3.       North Finchley, London, N12

4.       Manchester, Eccles, M30

Residents in these ‘hot-spot’ postcodes pay about an extra 20%--or £30 per annum—for home insurance. Check out the next section of this article forways to improve home security – not only will you rest easier at night, you may also qualify for a discount from your home insurance company. If you are looking for a new policy you can compare providers at

10 Simple Checks to Increase the Security of Your Home or Flat

Coming home to find a window broken and your home burgled is utterly terrifying—anyone to whom it has happened will confirm as much. Even more terrifying are what the Americans love to call ‘home invasions,’ a burglary that occurs when the homeowners are at home.

When asked directly, most people will tell you that home security is very high on their list of personal priorities.  However, if you ask the same people what specific steps they take to keep their home secure, you may be surprised to discover that many of them neglect one or more of the following simple actions that can greatly increase the security of your home.

1. Use approved locks on all doors and windows. 

Check with your home insurance company, which should have a list of locks it recommends for use in homes and flats for the best security.Use only mortice locks on doors—no other type of door lock comes close to the protection of a mortice lock. If your locking mechanism could be accessed by a burglar breaking a pane of glass in the door or window, then you should either burglar-proof the glass or install the type of lock that requires a key to lock and unlock from the inside as well as the outside.

2. Fit a burglar alarm system. 

To find a reputable company, check the directory of companies registered with the National Security Inspectorate. These alarms are usually more expensive than DIY installation alarms, but you may find you get a reduction on your home insurance premiums. What is the best type of alarm? The loudest, shrillest one. If you can, hide all the wires of your system if it is not wireless, to discourage burglars from looking for wires to cut.

3. Join a neighbourhood watch scheme. 

Residents in towns throughout the United Kingdom partner with the local constabulary to create and maintain Neighbourhood Watch organizations. As many as 10 million UK residents identify themselves as members of a local neighbourhood watch scheme. For information on your local NHW, check this website or ask at your nearest police station.

4.  Never leave the house.

Just kidding, but make it look as if you never leave the house. You can purchase inexpensive timers to turn lights and televisions or radios on and off when you are away, even for a day or evening.  Setting up a ‘someone’s at home’ façade is an especially good idea if no one is regularly at home on weekday afternoons, which is a popular working time for burglars.

5.  Light up the night.

Install motion sensor lights at all entrances and along sides of the house without an entrance. Be considerate of neighbours and check that the lights are not shining right in to someone else’s home. Check that lights are working properly a couple of times each year.

6.  Get a real or fake dog. 

Barking dogs—indeed loud noises of any kind—are a burglar’s worst enemy. Even a small but barky dog can be an excellent burglar deterrent. If a dog does not fit in to your life, shop around for motion alarms that emit loud barking sounds instead of a traditional alarm sound. You may also consider posting ‘Beware of Dog’ signs whether or not a dog is actually on the premises.

7.  Tend your garden.

Survey the outside of your home or flat and eliminate any likely hiding places. One fun way to do this is to play a game of hide and seek with your kids or a neighbour’s children. Trim any trees or shrubs that offer hiding places. If a child can hide there, so could a would-be burglar. It is especially important to keep trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses or anything else from obstructing a view from the street to your front door. A Neighbourhood Watch scheme would not give you much benefit if none of your neighbours can see your front door to keep a friendly eye on it.

8. Secure the windows. 

In addition to standard window locks, consider a side lock that prevents the window from being opened more than a couple of inches. If your home or flat has a sliding glass patio door, use a piece of pipe or wood to secure the door by placing the piece of pipe into the middle of the bottom track.

9.  Frost or cover your garage windows. 

If a burglar can not tell whether you are home, your house becomes a less appealing target than the house down the road with a clearly empty garage. If you park on the street, try to vary the location of where you park rather than always parking directly in front of your home or flat.

10. Buy the numbers.

Replace your house number if the existing ones are small, dark, or otherwise difficult to see from the street. You want police and other emergency vehicles to have an easy time of finding your house if it becomes necessary.

After performing these checks, you will rest assured that you have done much to enhance your family’s security. Also, make sure to let your home insurance company know of the enhanced security at your house or flat—you may be rewarded with discounted premiums!

Home Security During Vacations

Other than installing a top-of-the-line home security system complete with wireless cameras that allow you to check on your home from your beach chair, there are simpler steps you can take to keep your home safe while you are away for an extended period of time.

·         Use caution when announcing your travel plans to the great, wide open internet, and check that your children do the same.
·         Put a stop on your mail and newspaper delivery, or ask a very trusted friend to make a daily pick-up. Even if you do hold your mail and newspaper, ask a friend to check every other day for any flyers or door hangers.
·         Configure the timers for your lights and timers to replicate your utility usage during evenings and weekends. Just leaving one little light burning is rarely sufficient to deter a burglar anymore. Purchase timers so that lights and televisions go on and off in different rooms at different hours of the day and evening.
·         Ask a neighbour to put out your rubbish bin and put it back in place after pick-up day.
·         If you will be gone for an extended period, hire a landscaping service to keep your garden looking tidy.
·         Consider a trusted house sitter or pet sitter.

Living through the experience of one break-in is enough for anyone to know they never want to go through the experience again. By taking some extra security precautions, hopefully you can prevent a home burglary from ever happening in the first place.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My son's bedroom revealed!

Thanks for your wonderful comments on my son's bedroom last week! Some of you have asked me if my son loves his bedroom, the answer is yes. The proof? My son, Isaac kept saying he loved his "beautiful bedroom" for a few days in a row after the room was finished and that makes mommy really happy!

Before we go into the details, I would like to say a big thank you to Linda from Calling It Home, the creator of The Room One Challenge (ORC) for inviting me to participate in this challenge. Without this challenge, the bedroom will never be completed, knowing full well the ultimate procrastinator that I was. If you are new to my blog and unsure of what the One Room Challenge is all about, you might want to check out the details here

As promised, I will discuss my thought process behind the design of this room and share the resources at the end of this post. 

Before the transformation, I had a general idea of what I wanted for the room. My goal is to turn the room from claustrophobic to bright and airy. This room started out as a bright lime green box with white mini blind and Pergo laminate wood floors. I knew the wall color and mini blind had to go!

I decided to have the room primed and painted in white with a focal wall. My initial idea is to have horizontal wood planks as the focal wall (we even saved the wood planks from the deck removal) but my husband rejected the idea in the end. He was concerned that the wood planks might contain harmful chemicals so I went with Plan B and painted the focal wall with stripes instead.

My goal is to create a fresh, fun and functional bedroom for Isaac on a tiny budget. This small bedroom has to multitask as a place for him to work, play and sleep so it needed a desk, a play area, a storage for toys and a bed. I had to admit, it was definitely a design and budget challenge but I love a good challenge so there was a lot of measuring and online product sourcing during the initial stage! :)

Like all rooms in our home, we decorate on a small budget so I always purchase inexpensive items that will give me the most bang for my buck. The design for the whole room started with the wall decal that I found at Meijer a few years ago. The wall decal were colorful and playful and most importantly, it was on clearance. It only costed me $12.99. 

I knew I wanted the wall decal to make a design statement so instead of adhering them to the wall like they were intended originally, I put my wall decals on large canvases so they look like a series of artwork. 

Remember the problems I had with the peeling decals? I used super glue for a quick fix (okay, not so quick fix). I was being careful not to get any of the super glue on my fingers but alas, I worked for almost an hour (pressing and lifting the decals) so I still ended up with some of the glue on my fingers. I cleaned with vinegar and nail polish remover for the next half an hour. Note to self: Always remember to wear a disposable glove when I am working with super glue! 

Anyway, I stumbled upon a striped rug on clearance with a similar color scheme like the wall decal the following year. To be honest, I got the rug because it was a steal and I love the colors and size for my son's bedroom, not realizing that it had all the colors found on the wall decal! When I got home, I put the rug and wall decal side-by-side and realized they were a perfect match! I was ready to make them work even if the colors don't go together so I scored on that one!

Before I started this project, I thought about getting a navy blue or olive green velvet headboard (preferably with nailheads) for the bed. However, knowing that we planned for a second child in the future, this bedroom will be shared. And that means we will need two identical velvet headboards.  Two velvet headboards are definitely out of our budget, plus, with two beds inside this small room, my son will not have an area to play at all. 

Since getting two beds are out of the question, another option is to get a bunk bed. After a lot of thinking, I realized that a bunk bed might overwhelmed the small room. In the end, we got a white trundle bed because it was the perfect solution for a small (shared) bedroom and for our budget.

For the window treatment, getting a roman shade with a blue trim would be ideal but it will threw our budget off so we got these beautiful striped curtains on clearance instead. 

Since we already have the striped wall (thick stripes), colorful striped rug (colorful stripes) and striped curtains (thin stripes) in the room, I decided to introduce a similar yet different pattern for the quilt or comforter. While stripes is my all-time favorite pattern, adding another striped item to the room will be too matchy-matchy and over the top. So, chevron it is for the bedding!

The cardboard moose head was not part of the design plan earlier but I decided to incorporate it when I had a chance to do a review. I thought the moose head added a bit of quirkiness and an unexpected element in the bedroom.

The desk lamp I received from Rejuvenation was a great addition to this room. It is perfect for balancing the light from the green teardrop table lamp I had earlier. The desk lamp was even more stunning in person and felt very solid. Did I mention it came with a wonderful CFL light bulb, too? I had been going back and forth about getting one in aged brass but I knew the polished nickel would be a better choice for this room. 

I have changed the shade for the green teardrop lamp because the original lamp had a yellowish shade that I didn't like. I think the bright white shade looked better for the clean, crisp look I was going for in this bedroom.

I actually bought the 'Now Panic And Freak Out' pillow for my living room (I bought the same pillows in 3 colors- red, green and black so I could switch them every now and then) but decided the red one would look best in my son's bedroom so the pillow is officially his now.

Because the room is so small and Isaac had a ton of toys, we got him two vertical storage systems to fit all (most of) his toys. I didn't plan for a laundry hamper in the room at first but I thought the nook was perfect for it. Now my son knows where to put this dirty clothes and pants.

I got 'The Country Gentleman' canvas art not knowing where to put it earlier but I guess it worked for this bedroom.

I had to remove the clock's battery before taking pictures so the "moving eyes" wouldn't turn out blurry.

This clock was actually the first thing I bought for Isaac's bedroom when I visited a gift shop about 6 years ago. I was drawn to the whimsical element of it. If you have noticed, the clock had the same colors as the puppy hooks so they worked well together, again happy accident! 

When the clock was hung, Isaac was extremely excited! In his own words, he really "likes his beautiful clock".

The puppy hooks make me smile every time I look at it. I just love how adorable they are!

Isaac's very own mini art gallery. 

I had plans to incorporate more artwork next to each side of the curtains but decided against it because I was afraid that the room might look too busy. By leaving the walls blank, I thought it gave the room the breathing space it needed.

The floating branch was actually a DIY project that I had been procrastinating for over a year. I have always like the DIY yarn wrapped branch idea I frequently stumbled upon on Pinterest. I decided to make a similar one for my son's bedroom when one of the branches from our Birch tree broke one day. What can I say? The project was meant to be!

The initial idea was to make a branch mobile by hanging a few paper airplanes from the branch. However, I didn't like how the airplanes turned out so I just hang the branch instead. I also felt the paper airplanes might compete/ clash with the rest of the colorful accessories I was planning to add later. So, floating branch art installation it is!

I hope you enjoy reading about what goes behind my crazy design brain in this long-winded post. Now, let's get to the best part, the resources!

The resources:

Wall paint: Decorator White from Behr

Wall paint (stripes): 780E- 3 Sterling from Behr

Wall decal: $12.99, on clearance from Meijer

Blank canvases: $7-$8 each (using 40% off coupons) from Michaels

Green teardrop table lamp: $18, on clearance from HomeGoods

Polished nickel desk lamp: Free (sponsored) from Rejuvenation

Cardboard moose head: Free (in exchange for a review) from  Uncommon Goods

Leather rhino: $5-$6, on clearance and I used my credit from Pottery Barn

Small trains: $2 from neighborhood yard sale

Alarm clock: $12.99? from Target

Pencil cup: Free (in exchange for a review) from See Jane Work

Pencils: $3-5 from Meijer

Branch: Free

Yarn: $9-$10 (all 3 colors) from Michaels

Striped curtains: $35 each (discontinued), on clearance from PB Teen

Curtain rod: Free, inherited from our previous master bedroom (discontinued) from Z Gallerie

Trundle bed: $350-$400 (discontinued) from Daz Furniture

Rug: $29.99 (discontinued) from Crate & Barrel

Chevron quilt and sham: $130-$140 on clearance (discontinued) from PB Teen

White sheet set and pillow case: $120 (out of stock) from PB Teen

Now Panic And Freak Out Pillow: $17.99 from HomeGoods

Desk: $69-$79 (out of stock/ discontinued?) from Ikea

Chair: $79 from Ikea

Trash can: $5 from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Laundry hamper: $7.99 from Ikea

Hooks: $2.99 each from Ikea

Wall clock (Karlsson): $35 from a gift shop

Toy storage system: $39.99 (each) from Ikea

Blue storage box: $5 (each) from Ikea

Red storage box: $4 (each) from Ikea

Green storage box (each ) from Ikea

Frames: $3.74 each (on clearance) from Target

Sphere: Free (I used my design dollars), (discontinued) on clearance from West Elm

Apple: $5-$6 from HomeGoods

Artwork: $29.90 from HomeGoods

Curtain wire: $12.99 from Ikea

Curtain hook with clips: $2.99 from Ikea

Art frame: $9.99 from Ikea

Printable art: Free design (giveaway win) from Plum Street Prints (printed on glossy paper at Target for $2.89)

Bean bag: $17.50 on clearance (discontinued) from Target

I hope you enjoy checking out my son's bedroom. Thanks again for all your lovely comments last Wednesday! I really appreciate it.

If you need help decorating your home, please click here for further information regarding my design services.