Kitchen inspiration

I mentioned last week that I'm noodling a mini kitchen reno. It's fun to daydream and scheme at the very least and I haven't gone far beyond that. On closer inspection of finances, I'll likely lay some of this aside.

Very long-time readers may remember the last time I did a mini kitchen reno. It was the most elbow grease I've ever put into a place. Those temporary tiles have long gone, replaced with paint. But I think the glaring things that stand out in all images are the countertops and floors. I detest both.

The good thing is my kitchen is very small, so we're talking about very little counter and floor space too. I'm hoping that makes it all delightfully accessible (relish the naiveté for now!) I won't change the kitchen cupboards (the ones below are shown just for context) - probably just a fresh coat of paint. The hardware, I hope, will elevate everything.

Obviously, cement tiles are so on trend right now. But I sincerely love them and love the colour of these ones (plus, it's a shade of blue that pops up throughout my place). I love the look of the butcher block countertops, but I need to research how practical they are. I tend to spill and drop so I might have to look for something more hard-wearing.

Anyway, like I said: idle dreams right now but that's always the first step. I have to say, when it comes to kitchen and bathroom inspiration, Jessica Helgerson's portfolio is all I need to get me going. She just has this magical touch and although they images here are not direct inspiration, I'm sure you can see her influence on me too.

Inspiration: Backsplash tile | Restoration Hardware light | Schoolhouse Electric hardware | Butcher block countertop | cabinet | Cement Tile Shop Paris floor tile
All other images by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Sunday best: Mostly me

I own so many of the items in today's Sunday best you could call it unimaginative. The only things I'm missing are sandals and the amazing Scosha necklace.

I'm travelling in the mountains right now, so the scarf might actually be feasible for evenings. My ideal weather always includes sunnies and a scarf. Just the perfect nip in the air, but still bright and clear light.

Horses Atelier continues to be one of my favourite designers and I'm so especially happy that they're local. I was sad that their studio sale fell last week as I've been living in austerity to prepare for this trip. I own this dress from way back in a size that's now too big for me. But I keep wearing it anyway and even love it more for the fact that it's even more cocoony now.

Block Shop Textiles is probably familiar to you, but I really fell in love with them over Instagram and knew it was a matter of time before I splurged. I adored the print of this one, but was slightly tentative that the scarf would that "crunchy" cotton (I have an Epice one I love that's like that). But the 25% silk does the trick and it is just gorgeous to feel next to the skin.

Hm. I sort of really want those sandals now.

Products: Diamondback Aqua from Block Shop Textiles | Sack dress from Horses Atelier | 36 from Linda Farrow | The Lip Slip from Sara Happ | Caravan necklace from Scosha | Rose Noir from Byredo | Rider purse from Loeffler Randall | Antigone sandals from Ancient Greek


I turn 39 this week. I’m simultaneously not into being 39 and happy about it, if that’s possible. In some ways, I want to be even older because I anticipate getting past certain things with age. With each year, I feel this tremendous letting go of things that used to cause me no end of angst and self-consciousness and self-doubt, and that’s been amazing. At the same time, I feel like I still have plenty of angst and self-consciousness and self-doubt to keep me going. I guess that’s who I am and will be, young and old.

I had an ah-ha moment last weekend. The sort of thing that occurs to you and you want to grab somebody’s arm and declare, I figured the whole thing out! But they would only look at you and say they knew it all along. So I’ll keep it to myself, where it still feels like a Copernican Revolution and say only that I feel good right now.

I feel physically good too. Being a creature who mostly inhabits her mind, I serially underestimate how happy I feel when I’m strong. It’s been a tremendous and planned effort the last few months to become strong and healthy — and to find ways of doing it that truly excited me; not just in a temporary role-playing way, but in a ways I felt I could integrate with who I really am.

I hope to continue all of this in the next 12 months, so that when I hit next year’s landmark birthday I’m strong and happy and don’t feel that tough-to-live-with feeling of being my own worst enemy when it comes to achieving the things I want.

I could go on. I could write a list of places I want to visit this year, lifestyle changes I want to make. I could talk about how much finances still stress me out and how that’s something I want to address. I could talk about my job. I could talk about being 39 and single and that being just grand. I could talk about letting go of people who make you feel like shite, even if they’re the people you’re supposed to be closest to. But that would just be me going on, building sandcastles, then standing back and watching the waves dissolve them.

Instead, I’m going away. I’m going to climb mountains and canoe on lakes. I’m going to travel through mountain passes and stay in railway hotels. I’m going to think a whole lot, but I probably won’t write any of it down — I won’t create distance in myself now by putting my feelings into words and placing them on a page. After all, who needs another confessional, another heart-on-sleeve personal essay, another phony bucket list.

At 39, it’s time to start keeping some soft-formed thoughts secreted deep inside.

A Frame For Life

I'm as fond (nay, obsessed) with interior design as ever. Right now, I'm contemplating a mini kitchen renovation. I'll probably rent for the foreseeable future and, since I can't ever find a building to rival mine, I expect to be in my lovely, little place a while yet.

"Design can be a powerful force. I have never understood why interior design is so often underestimated, misunderstood, trivialised. It is too often dismissed as something superficial, without intrinsic value. An 'add on'. It's a mistake that it is considered a luxury to be applied if there is money left at the end, rather than an integral part of making and shaping new realities from the outset." - Ilse Crawford, A Frame For Life, p. 25

The New York Times recently developed this rent/buy infographic. It's quite illuminating. Apartments in my neighbourhood that rival the size of mine start at around $600k (there are smaller apartments for less and cheaper neighbourhoods, but given how happy I am here, I'm comparing apples with apples). According to the infographic, I could spend up to $1,934/month on rent and still be better off renting. I spend nowhere near this on rent. Pair this with Ben's old post about renting and I'm sold.

My building is also a lot more special than most Toronto condos. I recently sat at the Starbucks across the road and listened to an English woman loudly declare what a communist eyesore (lol!) my building is. But I love this old place; its curved deco wings and generous proportions. Sure, there are frustrations. And because it's a rental you inhibit many small things, deeming them beyond control. This deco grand dame is well past her best days in that regard and rental companies do no adopt the custodian attitude. But I like having a sense of a place that expands far beyond my tenure and this place has that.

Still, I think about little things I could do to my own place to make myself happier. I consider work that most people would think insane for a renter to take upon themselves. But I feel differently. I feel like it's my life I'm investing in, not somebody else's building. And I relish the process of making small improvements. Moreover, I feel that if another person enjoys this place after me, that's a good thing to pass along, not a reason to resent spending. I mean, this is how heritage works, right? We look after things for the short time they are ours but hope that's not the end of them and that they end up in hands as loving.

"We look at a project from physical and emotional perspectives, practical and poetic, individual and social before creating a design that engages us physically, emotionally, subliminally and sensorially, so as to make a place that enhances life and enables us to thrive. A place that people love. You can design the most incredible place and yet it requires people to make it a reality. Buildings and their interiors are made to be used. From the outset, the people who will live there, use it, operate it, adapt and adopt it are as much a part of our understanding of the context we are working with as the financial facts or the physical possibilities." ibid, p.28

I've been reading Ilse Crawford's beautiful book A Frame For Life recently. Confession: I don't normally pay that much attention to the text in decor books. Crawford's approach to interior design is very different from the more cosmetic approach of many designers (and indeed the fully superficial approach expressed in most style-over-substance, consume-consume-consume decor mags).

"I learnt design on the ground. I must have seen around five thousand different interior spaces over the years as an editor, and was struck by how few felt right, no matter how good they looked. In fact often, the better the photograph, the less engaging the reality. So I left magazines. I began researching for myself the idea of interior architecture and design that could enhance life..." ibid. p. 27

Crawford's approach applies just as much to those who rent as to those who own. It applies to those taking on long-term labours of love and those who move fast and frequently, living a life in flux. It applies to domestic and professional and public spaces too. Because, as she would say, no matter how long for or under what legal terms you occupy, the space you're occupying is a frame for your life.

All images via Studioilse.

Mociun custom work

I've long been a fan of Mociun's jewelry collection, but I'd never looked at the custom area of the site until now. I adore these irregular colourful stone (diamond and gemstone) clusters, how they let the gorgeousness of the jewels sing rather than containing them inside a traditional or formal setting.

Pretty in pink

I'm just really into pink lately.

Products: Sweaters 1, 2 | Bra | Necklaces 1, 2 | Powder 1, 2 | Sandals 1, 2 | Skirts 1, 2, 3 | Bracelets 1, 2 | Purses 1, 2, 3 | Earrings | Lipsticks 1, 2