Mudroom Reveal

Our mudroom is complete!  I could jump for joy (and I have) because we do not need to endure another winter of tripping over wet boots in the hall!  We also don't need to store Rudy's stroller in the dining room anymore.  Hurray!

I'm excited to share some photos of our project but first, I want to remind you of how far we've come and why this project was so necessary.

Our house is always a work in progress.  A room is never finished, since it evolves with us.  This was exactly the case in our entrance hall.

As you may already know, our small house did not offer much in the way of closet space when we moved in.  We've had to carefully plan and create our own storage solutions throughout the house.  We worked to add hooks to our entrance hall for storage and we decorated a shoe organizer but there wasn't much we could really do to create more space.  You can read about our initial hallway makeover here.

The photo below highlights many of the deficiencies.  Here were the main issues:

  • We didn't have room for many coats.  
  • Our shoe organizer was too large for the space.
  • That plant got zero light and took a beating from doggy tails each time one of us came home from work.
  • While not referenced in the photo, the front door was awful.  It was hung upside down and it didn't let any light in, creating a dark and claustrophobic space.

Earlier this year, we began improving our space by buying a shallow shoe organizer.   We knew that our mudroom would still not give us unlimited space and now we have a space for dog leashes and coats.

I recently shared photos of our new front exterior which you can see below.  We love the look of our new entrance, however the functional aspects of this reno were far more important to us than the aesthetics.  Our contractor followed our plans with respect to exterior finishes, but we had requested that he leave the interior completely blank... including the closet!

Below, I'm sharing another look at the inside of our mudroom.  The left shows the room nearing the end of our renovation and the right shows how it looks today!

The cardinal rule when you're renovating a small space is Plan Plan PLAN!  We need to maximize our space and add storage and there is rarely the room for error that you'd have with a larger house.  Here are a few things we'd like to share about our design decisions.  You may remember some of the accessories from this post.:
  • We had our contractor to install mirrored closet doors to make the space feel larger.  I maximized the effect of the mirror with a long, patterned indoor/outdoor runner.
  • The old exterior door was replaced with a beautiful glass door which lets light from the mudroom into our entrance hall.

  • We hung some cubbies with hooks below them so Rudy has a place to hang her own coats and backpack.  The cubby shelves also give us a place to rest our coffee and keys while putting on our coats.
  • A little bit of greenery always makes a space feel more homey.  I bought a Meyer Lemon plant, which is supposed to be tolerant of cooler rooms.  So far, it is still alive.

We left the brick wall exposed and just had our contractor paint it white.  We did add some glamour to the room by adding pretty light fixtures.

  • While we may need a storage bench in the future, for now we're living with the bowling lane bench that Corey made when we still lived in the condo.  It has so much character and we still love it.
  • For the floor, we chose very neutral tiles with just enough texture so they don't become slippery when wet.

  • We kept the walls in the small space white and instead chose to paint the ceiling a pale blue/green shade.
  • Our closet is too shallow for a traditional bar for hangers.  We ended up finding pull-out bars online and Corey installed one on each side.  Where there's a will, there's a way!
  • Corey also added shelves to store our boots and shoes.

We love that those clothes racks pull right out for easy access!

We are thrilled with our new mudroom.  The extra storage makes day to day life with Rudy much easier and now we have a place to properly get her dressed for the winter without worrying about the dogs eating her hat and shoes while our backs are turned.  ;)


Felted Rattle

The real estate market tends to be a little less chaotic around the holidays and I have learned to embrace the break and rest while I can, because work always gets crazy again in the new year.  As you know, I love crafts, and I've been wanting to try needle felting for a long time.

I finally bought some felting needles, some foam to use as a felting mat, and some soft alpaca roving and decided to give it a try.  I was going to start by making these dryer balls, but I decided to work on something fun for Rudy

For my first projects, I felted polka dots onto an Ikea blanket for our family room and I felted a fawn silhouette onto a baby blanket for a friend.  I'll post photos of both later, but in this post I'll share how to make the felted rattles that I've been making over the holidays.

To start, I needed an actual rattle.  I had thought of using an egg rattle like these but since I started this project on Christmas Eve, I had to get creative with the supplies that I had on hand.

Instead, I used plastic hollow Easter eggs (the kind you hide toys in) as a base.  I suppose a prescription pill container would also work.  I experimented by filling them with different things.  Small bells produced a chime effect when I padded the inside of the egg with tissue.  Bottle caps (ironically, from beer) worked well without any padding, as did uncooked pasta noodles.

Here's what I used for the project:

Plastic Eggs (any small plastic container will do)
Dry Pasta (or something that will rattle)
Felt Scraps
Felting Needle

I taped the eggs shut with electrical tape.

I covered them with scraps of felt, which I secured with thread to make the basic shape more round.

I then covered it in roving, which is basically wool fibre which has not been spun.  You can buy it at a craft store or online.  I chose alpaca roving because it is so soft.

Once the ball was covered, I began "felting" the wool.  I basically gently poked it over and over with the needle.  I was careful to begin slowly and at an angle so as not to break my needle or stab myself.  Felting needles are designed to pull fibres and sort of connect them.  If you look at them closely there are tiny notches in the needle shaft which catch the fibres.

I continued felting the balls and rolling them between my hands to round the shape out.  Eventually, there were no soft spots left and I had solid rattles.  Each rattle probably takes a couple of hours and it's the perfect craft to make while you're zoned out and binge watching The Good Wife.  ... Just don't completely zone out because felting needles are sharp and unforgiving.

I experimented with roving in different colours and even added some small amounts of grey to a cream coloured ball for a marbled effect.  What do you think?


Porch Facelift

Who remembers how ugly our porch was?  Yikes!  It was so bad that I loved Halloween because it already looked so dilapidated and scary.  I hated everything about it from the treacherous steps and the upside down door to the tattered burgundy carpet and the green plastic wind shield on the side.  We have been wanting to enclose it since we moved in, but we finally hired a contractor to do it this fall.

I'm so excited to share the finished product with you guys but I'm going to split the posts and just focus on the exterior today.

It was a really involved process, which involved replacing our old door and window, reinforcing and insulating the porch, enclosing the space, finishing the interior, having a new exterior door and window installed, bricking the exterior and building a new landing and stairs.

When we first met with out contractor, we had no idea how many decisions we'd have to make.  We knew we'd get to choose the doors but we ended up having a lot of opinions about things like the width and material for the stairs, the size of the new exterior window, the size of the interior closet, the brick for the new exterior and even the colour of the window frames.

Here's a look at our sad old porch to give you some perspective.  Obviously, we've been excited for this overhaul for a while but there were so many details to consider.

We actually had a decent amount of space to work with (once we got rid of the church pew) and I'll show you what we did with it when I post about the interior.

After living with our crummy upside down door for two years, we were excited at the prospect of getting to choose new doors for both the exterior and the interior.  We chose an interior door with lots of glass to let some natural light in to our narrow hallway.

For the exterior door, I wanted something solid and elegant looking.  We opted for black because it matches everything.

When the project began, we were so excited to finally be improving this eyesore.  We spoke with our contractor at length about how to finish the exterior of the porch.  He suggested flagstone, which has become very popular.  Our tastes are more traditional though and we asked him to try to find a close match to our existing red brick.  Our reasoning being: It's an old house.  Let it look like an old house!

The demolition was exciting!

When the walls went up, Corey and I would stand there in the evenings and toast with a glass of wine because we were so excited about our new space!  Our neighbours must think we're crazy drunks!

Our contractor made a big push to get the steps installed for Halloween so that we could still entertain trick-or-treaters.  

As you can see, I had wanted extra wide steps.  I picture us taking first day of school photos of our children on those steps.  Now that the railings are in, the job is done.  I've found the perfect planter for our landing, which we can now decorate according to the season and eventually, Corey will power wash the old brick to see if we can get it looking more like our new brick.

I'm excited to show you what we've done with the interior, but I'll save that for another post!


Family Holiday Traditions

This was a weird holiday for us.  Last year, Rudy was a newborn so the holidays flew by without us even noticing.  I actually think we even forgot to decorate for Christmas.  Still, she was so young that we were able to take her to parties or shops or even the Christmas Market and she would just sleep.

This year, we found that Rudy is too old for us to upset her routine by just taking her everywhere with us and yet, she's still a little young to get excited about the magic of the holidays.  That leaves us in a weird transitional year where we "celebrate" the holidays with a toddler who would prefer that we let her climb the sofa instead of trying to get her to point out Santa in yet another book.

That's not to say that this hasn't been an amazing couple of weeks.  Seeing things through the eyes of a toddler has filled our days with laughter and wonder.  We've also been working on beginning some family traditions.  Here's a peek at a few:

We celebrated Rudy's birthday early so that would could decorate for Hanukkah and Christmas.  We put her regular books away and filled her bookshelves with holiday themed books.

Rudy carefully helped to light the Hanukkah candles each night.

We extended bedtime one cold night so that we go for a late evening walk with Rudy and the dogs to enjoy the lights in the neighbourhood.

We visited Santa.  Corey teased me because I was so focused on pointing out Santa in books (I would point to pictures and ask "Who's this?" so that Rudy wouldn't be frightened when she met him.) that he joked that she would wake up from naps shouting "Santa!  The answer is Santa!"

We baked cookies together as a family.

We visited the Christmas window displays at the Eaton Centre.

We had a traditional Christmas morning of opening stockings and presents.  Rudy received some lovely gifts but we could have just given her an old box, a plastic Perrier bottle and an empty medicine container, since those are her favourite toys right now.  

And once Rudy was in bed, Corey and I watched movies (and binge watched legal dramas) while I worked on crafts.

We stayed in more this year and it was very different but still peaceful and lovely.  We have a lot to be grateful for.  What are your holiday traditions?


Aberfoyle Teacups

I don't know why we didn't find the time to visit Aberfoyle Antique Market more than once this past summer...  Oh wait, yes I do!  It turns out that life changes quite a bit with a baby and it is no longer fun to drive an hour away, only to spend a couple of hours looking at antiques when you have an active baby who wants to crawl around and play.  Sigh. 

Luckily, we still managed one trip out to Guelph.  This time, I had a plan.  Instead of browsing, I was going to find a few pretty teacups to fill the hooks below the floating shelf in our kitchen.

I ended up going with my mom early one morning and it was a lovely way to spend a few hours.  We shopped a bit and chatted and haggled with vendors and managed to be back home by noon.  It was a lovely way to spend the day and I snapped a few photos to boot!

One of my favourite vendors was Memories by Dawn.  Look at all her pretty vintage wares!  

I ended up bringing home a few new teacups.  All bone china from England.

I like green and herbal tea, but I mostly use them for espresso or cappuccino.  Both taste better in a lovely cup.

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