ORC Week #3 – Vegetable Garden

This week I’m sharing some vegetable garden progress. I’ve been dabbling in growing vegetables and flowers for a few years and every summer I try to learn something new, however my knowledge is still very basic.

These are some of the doube early and parrot tulips that I planted in the fall. I filled one planter bed with about 100 tulips bulbs plus I tried adding some garlic too. In the springtime I love to be able to cut flowers from the garden before planting vegetables.

One thing I learned the hard way before is to leave the tulip leaves until they turn yellow. As tempting as it is to tidy up the leaves they are needed to feed the bulb for the next year, otherwise there will be no flowers the next year.

Now that the tulips are almost done I’ve added some spinach where there were some gaps and I direct sowed some kale seeds as well.

Spinach is supposed to do better in cooler weather so I put some here in one corner of the box with the tulips (I still have to paint this side of the planter).

This is about one week after putting the seeds directly into the soil. I figure I have the seeds left and the space so we’ll see what happens. Growing from seed was a first this year and while it was exciting to watch them grow throughout March and April indoors, they haven’t been very successful.

I ended up turning to store bought these seedlings to get a jump start on the limited growing season in Canada. I definitely have a new appreciation for farmers and growers.

These are the seedlings from the nursery first planted.

Now the swiss chard and kale are filling in. I painted these raised beds with dirt in them so it wasn’t the best job but it’s better than they were before.

Also these chives came back from last year, somethingI didn’t know they did. This kale made it through winter and now we’re hoping that these flowers will turn to seed.

A reminder of what the yard looked like last summer.

Back in the early days at our previous home I would plant kale, swiss chard and brussel sprouts in the gaps between the limelight hydrangeas and cedar hedge that I planted. The trees were small enough that there were still big enough gaps between them to let enough sun in.

We also had success with planting zucchini in random spots in the yard too…like this giant one below!

So if you have an outdoor space but don’t have planters maybe there’s somewhere you could plant directly in the ground. Swiss chard and kale are so easy.

Swiss Chard in September, grown beside a cedar hedge.

 

Next week I will have some advice from my friend Isabelle of Paradise Herbs here to give some tips for growing. She has recently set up a farm in the Slocan Valley BC where they promote self-sufficient living and sell culinary & medicinal herbs.


Last summer Isabelle was visiting for a girls weekend here and suggested getting the overgrown mint out of the raised bed in our yard. That idea prompted me to move it into my front hanging baskets where it can no longer spread out of control – plus it means staying home and using what we already have.

To see what everyone else has been working on for the One Room Challenge click here.

 

ORC Week #2 – Exterior Painting & Staining

ORC-Guest-

Time for the week 2 update for the One Room Challenge. This is the stain that I picked to refresh some weathered cedar outside. These ideas can also be applied to staining a deck, wooden stairs, or outdoor wooden furniture that is looking a little run down by the elements.

I chose a semi-transparent to keep the wood grain showing. For the colour choice I went with a slightly warm/grey/taupe.

I looked through the colour chart for Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Semi-Transparent online and then made my choice. I know that wood stains on the warmer/tan side can end up looking orange so I narrowed down to three choices and picked the cooler shade of grey. I chose Rustic Taupe and was happy with how it turned out. Curbside pick up was easy and contactless when I got the paint, along with a wide brush (pictured above).

Here’s a comparison of how the stain changes, depending on what the base is. You need to sand when using a semi-transparent to make sure the cover comes out even.

The before – this was the most worn area of wood.
After Sanding – Before the Stain

 

The most Worn Area, Now Stained

The actual staining process went quite quickly since I had done the sanding prep a different day. The stairs looked way better and now water actually beads on the surface. I think this colour worked out as a good option to refresh old previously untreated wood.

Worn, Untreated Wood Before

 

After – Rejuvenated Wood

This was last weekend. Now that I have done the easy part of painting and staining I’ve got to figure out how to put up a fence around the vegetable garden area. I still have no idea how to do this, especially without consulting with the knowledgeable staff at Home Depot who I usually get project advice from and lumber cut.

Here’s a glimpse at this area from the same angle as last year. I’ve started painting the planter boxes as well with paint I had leftover from my exterior painting I had started last year.

This is a glimpse at the front door where I started refreshing the front of the house with classic white instead of the mustard yellow it formerly was.

front door shibang

This pear tree is supposed to be for the backyard but I couldn’t help but leave it here at the front door for a few days. I’m trying to be really calculated with garden purchases (I also don’t know how the cost of a tree could be the same as a hanging flower basket). These hanging baskets are filled with overgrown mint that I dug up from the backyard.

This was last summer when I started updating with paint and trying to create more of a beachy look. The yellow wood trim was getting worn in some areas from time and sun exposure. This was the perfect excuse to convince my husband that it was a preventative maintenance project, not just to beautify.

Now that the weather is warmer and we have to stay close to home but want to be outside here are some ideas to refresh what you may already have:

  • Paint the front door a different colour
  • Stain a worn deck
  • Paint a wooden garage door
  • Repair patio furniture (sanding and staining or spray painting corroded metal)

If you’re looking to use an opaque stain on wood it can be tinted any colour you want. I previously did a black from Home Depot on these cedar planters I built. Also, I have another post for painting a garage door and front door.

 

To see the other projects that bloggers and designers are working on at home check out the One Room Challenge page.

 

One Room Challenge – Spring 2020

It’s One Room Challenge time again and I am joining with a small outdoor project to refresh what we already have and prepare our vegetable garden.

Everything is different right now but one thing is the same – paint can make a huge difference to change what you already have and also to maintain materials outdoors. A lot of people are also more interested in growing their own seeds (myself included) so I’ll be sharing some of my trials and errors with gardening over the past few years.

One thing I have learned is that kale is so easy and provides green vegetables for months!

Kale from my garden – it’s so easy to grow!

Here’s a quick refresh of my ORC 2017 where I built my own planters and trellis:

How to Build Cedar Planters

 

This time we already have raised beds so I will just be changing the colour. One difference about our new home is that we have deer that come into the backyard and eat the garden so I will be figuring out a way to build a fence around this garden area. This was last summer with my Father in Law just after we moved in, late July.

Last year I naively thought that this little bit of chicken wire would keep out the deer. Two days later they had decimated the vegetables that I had planted.

I moved what was left of the vegetables into one box and made this ugly arrangement that did keep out the deer and did grow a ton of lettuce and kale.

Vegetables thrive here in the Okanagan. This little raised bed produced these large romaine leaves, swiss chard and kale despite being planted at the end of July.

This year I want to maximize what I grow in these three raised beds while making it prettier and more functional.

Right next to the raised beds is a hot tub that is in good condition inside, but the outer wood needs a new stain to protect it. This umbrella got destroyed by an animal last summer too so I am hoping to build a large pergola for shade.

Project Plan:

  • New coat of paint on previously painted wood raised beds
  • Sand & restain cedar
  • Build a fence for the vegetable garden
  • Build a pergola for shade

This is the back of the house, these sliding doors lead to the kitchen/dining/living room area. There is a large concrete slab patio which is the perfect blank canvas.

I love the look of these simplified pergolas that are an extended size. I would like to build something similar to these quick sketches and images below…we’ll see what ends up happening.

My brother now lives 5 hours away and I was hoping he could visit and help me but we’ll have to see what travel restrictions are looking like in June to know whether or not that can happen.

Fixer Upper

 

Humphrey Munson

 

Meanwhie these kale seedlings are getting ready for the garden soon. This year I had planned to try growing seeds for the first time. So far, so good but I have a better appreciation of buying plants now!

kale seedlings

Lots of other people are working on projects big and small in their homes, here’s the link to see what they’re up to.

 

Spring Branch Bouquet & Wreath

 

While this holiday weekend is looking different for everyone this year, I’m still doing some decorating with natural elements in our yard to make it feel special.

Instead of flowers, I am using branches from our two different maple trees in a vase. I also tried a method for making a wreath that my friend Risti here in Kelowna makes. She uses dogwood branches to make beautiful free form wreathes. This was an attempt in her style, embellished with some maple tree branch ‘blossoms’. The dogwood branches are flexible enough to twist into place and secure with a bit of wire where needed. 

Here are the maple branches in a vase. 

For Easter egg decorating this year we kept it simple – rubbing a frozen blueberry on the hard boiled egg for some colour. The photo doesn’t show the colour that well but this worked. We did a bit of a resist with an elastic band on one.

Happy Easter!

Fireplace Makeover – An Easy Update with Paint

 

Here’s a look at our living room in our open-concept main floor when we first moved in. I was excited to have a fireplace again but this colour wasn’t right for me.

Originally I thought I’d paint everything white, including a wash on the tiles but then changed my mind and I’m glad I went with black instead. At the time it felt like a huge risk but it’s just paint and I was happy with the dramatic results.

Here’s the progress…

Before:  Beige trim and blue walls.

After: Now the fireplace is a feature and I the room has a more modern feel.

Before: The yellow/beige colour didn’t have the same impact with objects displayed.

After: The tiles now look natural and still go with the house.

Now with the black paint, the spotlight at night and natural light during the day create a great space to make seasonal displays.

The fireplace was the first area I started painting, even before the kitchen cabinet makeover I did in December.

This is a wider view of the room before I painted the kitchen cabinets. Once you start changing one area it can start to make everything else look incohesive.

This was not my first time painting a fireplace. 7 years ago we had just moved into our first home near Montreal and this was my first project. The photo will link to the blog post showing how I used chalk paint on the wooden mantel. This is the same couch that has travelled with us from Montreal – Toronto and now Kelowna.

Instead of dreaming of a renovation someday, is there a simple paint fix that could make a big change today?

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

After showing this before and after photo of our new kitchen that was done with very little resources, I’ve had a few questions from people wanting to know how to their paint kitchen cabinets.

This is the second kitchen I’ve painted and yes, it takes many hours to do but the results and low cost are worth it.

Here are some before & after photos of our former GTA home. I started by painting the cabinets in 2015, then trim & crown moulding and in 2016 we replaced the counter, sink & faucet and added a backsplash. When it came time to get rid of the old counter, sink and faucet I posted it for free on Kijiji and someone came to pick it up – everything got reused.

After Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

After Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

Materials

These are the supplies I used:

  • Primer -STIX by Benjamin Moore (It is expensive but doesn’t require any sanding!!)
  • Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in Pearl Finish
  • Velour or Foam Roller
  • TSP to clean and degrease the cabinets first – very necessary!

 

I considered renting a sprayer to do the cabinets but instead used a roller since I have limited moments of time to work so I could slowly paint a little bit each day. Also if you’re using a sprayer and working in a garage you have to make sure that the temperature isn’t too cold.

 

Choosing a Paint Colour

There are unlimited colours to choose from. For our last house, I considered a dark colour but since it was a galley kitchen with white appliances I decided on white so that the appliances would blend in and the white would make the small space feel larger.

For our current kitchen, I used the same shade of white as the last time because it worked and I love the name – Vanilla Milkshake. I like classic style and for the number of hours it takes to paint the cabinets, I don’t want to grow tired of the colour.

The shade of beige/grey for the island is Pashmina, which has brown tones rather than purple tones which work with the cooler white.

There are so many shades of white if you go that route and while the paint chip may appear like a dark white it will like a bright white once it’s on the cabinets. In my experience, white and beige/grey look lighter when painted on cabinets.

Cabinet Doors off or on?

For the last house, I kept the doors on to paint because I was apprehensive about taking the doors off and not having the hinges line up properly afterward. It worked fine and I had good light to work with but some areas were hard to reach. It took me one week of late nights and one day to complete this entire kitchen (while my husband was out of town!).

This time I took the doors off and did all painting in the garage. It felt like the process went on forever because I would only work for about 1-2 hours at a time and this kitchen has 24 doors and 12 drawers.

I painted the upper doors first, then the bottom doors, then the drawers.

Each cabinet door needs:

  • 1 coat primer front
  • 1 coat primer back
  • 2 coats paint front side
  • 1-2 coats paint back side

Then you should ideally wait  5 – 7 days until the paint has cured. This step is important. I was eager to restore order and put the doors back on before the paint had cured and I chipped the paint. Even once the paint has cured, small chips happen in frequently used areas like around the knobs and door openings.

Process Photos from Both Kitchens:

The first kitchen had a few more steps after painting. The white opened up this space but it was so basic still. The backsplash was what pulled it all together and the quartz counters elevated the kitchen.

Our Current Kitchen

Priming
Removing Upper Doors – Hardware taped inside each cupboard.
Painting the doors in the garage. I used a brush to paint the inner edge and then followed up with a roller.

Upper Doors Painted

This is how the kitchen looked for one week! It was definitely a relief to have the doors back on.
The outer cabinet doors – BM Vanilla Milkshake vs the island doors – BM Pashmina

This is how the kitchen looked when I was still painting the walls white.

After – Paint, Trim on the island, stools, 2 drawer pulls.

 

More to come with how to add more details to the kitchen such as:

  • Moulding & Trim to Cupboards
  • Choosing a new counter & backsplash tiles
Before – Builder basic kitchen. oak cabinet doors, laminate counter, no backsplash.
After – Painted Cabinets, Backsplash, Trim, Quartz Counters

Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

 

 

New Kitchen Reveal

Ta-Da!

We have a transformed kitchen thanks to new stools courtesy of Wayfair Canada and several coats of paint on the cabinets.

There was no renovation involved and it feels like a new space.

We love our stools which were sponsored by Wayfair Canada. These kick-started the whole project and kept me motivated to finish all of the painting. They’re adjustable in height and kids can’t stain them. I’ve linked to this Williston Forge Halsted Bar Stool below.

This is a photo of the kitchen when we first moved in this summer. As you can see, paint and furniture choices make a huge difference.

The outer cabinets are white and the island is a taupe/greige colour. I had planned to change the drawer pulls but it turned out that the screws were glued into the knob and couldn’t be removed. This is a detail of how the brass knobs look on the island.

This was the before – some knobs are more tarnished than others.

 

P

Here’s one process photo with the island being primed. I was also in the midst of making lots of eucalyptus wreaths that weekend too!

On the island, I added some trim that was simple to install and added some character. Along the edge of the countertops I sanded the wood edge and stained it black.

Here’s another look at the before and after.

Now the kitchen feels more like our style and it’s ready in time for Christmas. My parents are arriving in a couple of days and I know that we’ll be spending most of our time gathered around the island cooking and eating. We like to say that a family that eats together, stays together.

I didn’t show any progress pictures from this project but I documented the process along the way to post later.

New House Kitchen Makeover

Welcome to the kitchen in our new home. It’s now been 4 months since we moved from Ontario to BC and now that the main floor painting is mostly complete I’m tackling the kitchen with the aim of having it ready for Christmas.

 

This is the plan:

 

Our home is 14 years old and the main floor is open concept with a huge island in the kitchen about 8 feet long. This is how we have been using the space since we moved in this summer – standing at the kitchen island. It took me a while to figure out what kind of stool to use at the island. I usually choose secondhand but finding 4 stools the right height and style for this high island was not turning up any results so I started looking at Wayfair for options.

This kitchen update is the first phase – making a couple of cosmetic changes with paint and a few handles and new stools. Eventually in the future, I’d like to lower the counter and make it all one uniform height which is why I wanted the seating to be adjustable so that it could work now and one day if we lower the counter.

Since our kitchen table chairs are quite high and large I was looking for stools without a back for a lower profile that could be tucked away.

These are some of the other options I was looking at that would be childproof – ie. no fabric to stain, adjustable height and a solid wood top. One of these below isn’t solid wood (Jolene) but the Alva one is.

kitchen and dining chairsAlva Dining Chair //
More Kitchen Chairs
bar stoolsSwivel Bar Stool //
More Bar Stools
bar stoolsDonington Stool //
More White Stools
bar stoolsJolene Barstools //
More Swivel Stools
bar stoolsMaureen Bar Stool //
More Gold Stools

Here’s a look at the island one more time before I get painting. I haven’t completely decided on the island colour yet. The outer cabinets will be a shade of white and the island will likely be a taupe colour from one of the Benjamin Moore colour samples below.

In our previous home I painted the cabinets and only changed the drawer pulls. That is what I intend to do this time as well. The current knobs are an unlacquered brass and I found pulls at Lee Valley (shown above) that had similar colouring.

Now it’s time to get started and finished because Christmas is only a month away and there’s nothing like a self-imposed deadline to get a project completed!

Fall ORC – Home Office Reveal

Today is the last day for the One Room Challenge reveals. What I like about participating is how the event gives me a deadline to finish a room in the house otherwise I tend to let them stay unfinished for months.

I didn’t think that this room was going to come together on time because I’ve been looking for a secondhand cabinet and hadn’t found what I was looking for. When I did the Board & Batten Boys room in 2017 it took months until I found the right solid wood bunk beds and that was in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where the population is into the millions!

Kelowna and the surrounding area is a much smaller population but after no luck on Kijiji, Craigslist and Marketplace I lucked out at Habitat for Humanity Restore yesterday and had the final piece. Secondhand shopping is so much fun when you find what you’ve been looking for.

Here is the cabinet with louvred doors that I brought home last night and painted this morning. I still need to find hardware and raise the height to make it work as a standing desk.

Another more challenging part of this room was installing the floating shelf above the desk. I used blind shelf supports from Lee Valley to display the plants.

   

Some work still needs to be done in this area but it’s so close to being ready.

I painted the mirror a glossy black to play up the round shapes of the wood and give it a more modern look.

I loved this ceramic lamp base that was hiding beneath a very big and brown shade, I’m still looking for the right shade. Part of the inspiration for this office was the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg that mixes traditional, modern and whimsical decor.

Remember what this room looked like at the beginning of October?

There are so many spectacular rooms that have been transformed in these past 6 weeks that are definitely worth checking out at www.oneroomchallenge.com.

Fresh Eucalyptus Wreath Part 2

This post from December 2017 about making a Fresh Eucalyptus Wreath has been getting lots of traffic lately so I am adding a new version to the post.

Now that I’ve made 3 versions with different varieties I will share what I’ve learned in case you are thinking of giving it a try this year.

I made that first wreath using seeded Eucalyptus on a 10″ wire frame. It dried out nicely and lasted about 3 months until the green started to turn a bit brown.

I saved the wreath and the following year I took it apart and used the dried leaves as an accent in my holiday wreath mixed with evergreens (as pictured below).

This summer I came across a large bunch of Eucalyptus in the grocery store and couldn’t pass up the chance to try to make a wreath out of it.

baby blue wreath ingredients Shibang

It was a bit tricky to work with and my hands were all sticky but the house smelled so good. I also added some lavender from our garden. I used the same process as for the other wreathes linked above.

These photos were taken in November. The wreath has dried out very nicely, doesn’t drop leaves and has kept it’s colour.   

And since I love making wreaths, here’s another one I made last year. This was with seeded Eucalyptus and lavender and it stood up well to a cold Toronto winter out on the front door. Again I didn’t take pictures of the process because I was making it late at night but it was the same process as in my original Fresh Eucalyptus Wreath Tutorial.

Since I love making these wreaths I ordered several bunches of a variety of Eucalyptus and sold these wreaths locally. Here are a few process photos.

Baby Blue Eucalyptus dries well and lasts more than a year.