Life with Kids: Beautifully Indestructible Decor

When you have a young family, maintaining a beautifully decorated home can be a challenge. Between air borne toys, sticky fingers, and flying food, it is tempting to sacrifice style in an effort to minimize costly damage. However, a few well made design decisions can increase the durability of your decor without sacrificing beauty. Here are seven tips to help you create a beautifully decorated home that will survive your children.

1.) Accessorize with Second Hand Pieces

Whilst you have children tearing through your house on a regular basis, it is not the time to invest in expensive, one of a kind, beautiful and breakable accessories. Stop by your local thrift store and pick up inexpensive accessories like vases, candlesticks, and lamps which are beautiful as is or can be easily adapted to your design through a quick coat of paint. They look good, and if they get broken there is little harm done to your pocket book.

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2.) Buy Furniture with White Slip Covers

It may sound counter intuitive but white slip covers are a great option when you have kids. Chocolaty finger prints? A misused marker? Just make sure the fabric can be bleached and the stains can all be washed away.  Be sure to check the fabric labels. Some stores like Ikea sell furniture with white slip covers but they instruct you not to wash them with bleach. The opposite of this advice is to choose darker fabrics that will disguise the stains even if you can’t wash them away.

3.) Use patterned Fabric and Rugs

A busily patterned rug or fabric can hide all manner of sins, or at least diminish their appearance since the stains just fade into the pattern. Even if the pattern has a white background you have a better chance of maintaining the beauty of your decor if the pattern is busy.

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4.) Choose carpet tiles over area rugs

Let’s face it. Shit happens. Far too literally if you are the parent of very young children. It’s important to have a soft surface for your children to scamper around on but area rugs are not always ideal (if you have potty trained a child, I’m sure you agree). Carpet tiles are an excellent option as you can remove the desecrated piece of carpet and hose it down. If worse comes to worse you can chuck it and replace it with a new one (always order a few extra). Flor.com has a variety of gorgeous options.

image via www.flor.com

image via www.flor.com

5.) Opt for good quality furniture in well used spaces

If you happen to have the luxury of both a formal and informal living room you are likely more inclined to buy expensive furniture for your formal, less frequently used living room. While it is appropriate to have beautiful furnishings in your entertaining space it is better to invest money in higher quality furnishings for the room you use the most. If a couch or chair is truly well made it should hold up to all the abuse your children can dole out. Spend a few pennies on something beautiful and comfortable for your formal space and invest the big bucks on a gorgeous, good quality couch that you will use and abuse on a daily basis. It seems like an odd concept at first look but will save you money in the long term.  An excellent place to find durable furnishings that will last you a life time is Norwalk Furniture.

6.) Wipe Easy Walls

Choose your paint finish wisely. In your children’s bedrooms and play areas it is best to choose a satin finish as it is washable. Avoid flat finishes in highly used and messy areas as they do not clean well. If you want to avoid sheen and are willing to spend the extra money, try out  Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Kitchen Paint in a matte finish (be it a kitchen or not, it washes well). As an additional counter offense against smudged, dirty walls, stock up on magic erasers, or the equivalent.

7.) Choose Quartz

When choosing a surface material for your kitchen opt for quartz. Design magazines make marble look like the be all, end all of surfacing options but it just isn’t practical for a family home. Unless you plan on banning your children from the kitchen and are yourself an impeccably clean cook your marble will end up a stained mess. If you are still hankering for marble there are plenty of marble-look quartz surfaces to choose from. Another bonus of quartz is that unlike granite, marble, and slate, you don’t have to seal it on a regular basis. There is nothing more family friendly than low maintenance.

Picture from Silestone USA

Picture from Silestone USA

There you have it! Keep these seven tips in mind as you decorate your home and something beautifully durable is within your grasp (and your child’s!). Need help? Hire a family oriented decorator at www.thebestnestdecor.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Making Magic: Messy Kid Fun

One thing I have learned as a mother is that my kids have the most fun when they are making a mess. Whether it is lining up cars all over the house, getting elbow deep in bread dough, or transferring water from container to container, if it is messy, it is fun. After visiting their cousins and seeing their thrift store bottles full of of red potion (water and food dye), my kids became interested in the idea of making their own potions.

Anything to keep them busy! I headed off to Value Village and collected an assortment of second hand odds and ends to make an “apothecary kit” for them. I used items from around the house to fill the containers: cold red tea became dragon spit (I forwent the red food dye for obvious stain related reasons), vinegar became liquefied Ent roots, baking soda was ground fairy teeth, Epsom salts were ground unicorn horns, and some unappetizing stevia became ground leg of magic toad.

My new mattress was delivered yesterday and I held onto the plastic wrap so I could cover up my sundeck and contain the mess. After setting the ingredients up along with some mixing utensils, they got to work mixing all the “magic ingredients”.  Thank goodness for the plastic! My sundeck was like a pool of green potion by the end but they certainly had fun. We won’t be mixing potions on a daily basis but I highly recommend this activity for a messy good time!

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IMG_5403Notice how there is no hitting or screaming in any of the pictures? Win. Win. Win. Mess be damned.

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Little Garden in the Big City

My husband and I far too often begrudge the fact that we don’t have a yard. I think in our hearts, though neither of us has ever lived in the country, we are country folk. However, we have chosen to stay in the Great Vancouver Area in order to be close to family rather than follow the dream of moving somewhere where we could own a house and a small acreage.

This summer I decided to stop complaining and make the best out of the little outdoor space we have. The budget for said decision was small and did not include replacing any furniture. I instead focused my budget on creating a little piece of “country life” on my sundeck. A visit to Wigs Nursery and some advice from my lovely neighbor resulted in some DIY hanging baskets which quickly flourished and gave me confidence to expand my little garden. My sundeck now houses a couple decorative plants in addition to mint, basil, tomatoes, and edamame beans. I love that even here in the city my children can walk outside and snack on a home grown tomato.

I happened to have some fabric hanging around the house which looked perfect with my rugs USA rug so I whipped up a couple of cushions to decorate the simple Home Depot chairs. The cats spend 50% of their time lounging on these chair

I happened to have some fabric hanging around the house which looked perfect with my Rugs USA rug so I whipped up a couple of cushions to decorate the simple Home Depot chairs. Though I bought the rug two years ago it only made it onto the sundeck this summer!

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There is some serious mutual adoration between Anna and Papa Price.

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My home made hanging flower basket. Thank goodness for the workers at WIGS who told me which flowers to plant and my neighbor who has taught me everything else!

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A tomato plant for snacking, a mint plant for mojitos, and sunshine for Sheba.

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I would like to say, “here is a picture of Charlie enjoying a nice juicy tomato from our sundeck” but really he is holding the tomato he spat out. Sofia, who did enjoy her tomato, ate it too quickly to be captured by camera.

On one of our many visits to Wigs, Sofia asked to buy some berry bushes. Whilst my original reply was “no, we don’t have room on the sundeck”, I soon realized that our unused 10′ by 5′ bit of “yard” downstairs was beckoning to be used for a greater purpose than hiding toys chucked off the sundeck. I got the kids involved and we tore up the crawling plant which covered the ground then returned to Wigs to pick up three blueberry bushes and two raspberry bushes. It was a delight to get down and dirty with the kids and plant our berry garden and it has brought joy to my country girl heart to watch them truck downstairs and pick a berry snack from our very own little garden.

I didn’t get around to taking any pictures when the berries were ripe but I look forward to sharing more pictures of our city garden next year when the bushes are grander and the berries are ripe for picking!

 

 

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Coping with Camping

Every summer we go camping with my in-laws. This summer we are trying out a longer stint. Six nights! (I’m going to try to negotiate it down to five). Camping with children is a mix of chaotic fun, tired shit fits, happy laughter, and anxiety attacks (on my part).

I have a wonderful time during the day splashing around the lake, reading stories at the campsite, and munching on cheesies at the beach. However, at nighttime a veil of anxiety begins to descend on me as it gets closer to bedtime. Firstly, anxiety about getting the kids to go to sleep; secondly, anxiety about waking them up when it is time for me to hit the hay; thirdly, anxiety about waking them up during the night when I have to get out of the tent to use the bathroom (I’ve had three kids, it’s inevitable that I get up many times per night).

This summer I began feeling anxious about our camping trip over a month in advance (it will be Anna’s first time in a tent. We slept in a hotel last summer). Anticipating the panic attacks I asked my doctor to prescribe me meds for acute anxiety because honestly, I’m not very pleasant to be around when I’m experiencing extreme anxiety.

The best, non medicated way, I can think of to cope with camping related anxiety is to glamp. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of glamping (glam + camping), which is not actually camping according to my hubby. However, shock of shockers, I’ve been able to convince my husband that the solution to my annual anxiety fest is to buy a second-hand RV. The only condition is that I pay for it myself. For reference, he’s not being stingy, just practical. We need to start saving up our tax returns and any extras from his income for a van.

Thankfully, I have started making custom headboards again along with beginning my interior decorating business and have actually been making some money to put into our special new “Vacation” savings account. You can get a pretty “rad” 1970’s RV for under $6000 and I’m keen to rehab the interior myself after seeing some awesome RV renos (see below). It won’t be this summer but fingers crossed that next summer while the rest of my fam is roughing it in a tent I’ll be tucked away in an RV with a bathroom at my disposal! I see many happy vacations in our future!

 

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Airstream Before

Airstream Before

Airstream After

Airstream After

Airstream Before

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Death Plague and Passing it On

This past week I have been struck nearly dead with some death plague flu (yes nearly dead! and no, my daughter does not get her flair for dramatic exaggerations from me.)  Anna and I were the last of my family to be struck down and it has been a real treat. Three days after the start of this delightful bug I am still weak, nauseated, and achy. Thank you very much dear Gadd family for passing it along and don’t worry Di, I won’t be darkening your doorway this Friday!

Enough complaining and FYI Gadds, I would not have given up that vacation with you for a few days of good health. Moving on to passing something other than the flu along:

I love sewing and it is a skill that I hope to pass on to my children. I have even had day dreams of hiring my children, once teenagers,  to do some simple sewing for my interior decorating clients (minimum wage at least, no child labor in this house). I had a couple of pillows to sew up for my sundeck chairs this past weekend and since my littlest ones were sleeping I decided to chance a sewing lesson with my five-year-old.

I have often in the past given her pieces of scrap fabric to pin together (no blood shed yet) so she had a pre-existing interest in my sewing projects. When I first suggested that she try out my sewing machine she was hesitant but became enthusiastic after watching me and being given some simple instructions. Once she was at the helm of the sewing machine she was considerably less willing to listen to instruction. I definitely had some flash backs to my mom trying to help me with my piano playing and me being a snarky little jerk in return (sorry mom!). You home schooling moms out there…kudos! I don’t know how you do it!

Some pictures to catalogue my sewing adventure with Sofia:

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Sofia working on what turned out to be something like a small stuffy sleeping bag.

Sofia with her finished project: a "great big pillow". All sewing a la Sofia with some pinning help from mommy.

Sofia with her finished project, a “great big pillow”. All sewing a la Sofia with some pinning help from mommy. Thems some tired eyes there baby girl!

And, because Charlie can’t stand to miss a photo op:

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All dinosaurs, all the time at the LaRoy house.

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Can you feel the love tonight? I think he likes his t-rex grandma.

 

 

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Tweaking the Builder’s Basic Kitchen

Remember months ago when I couldn’t stop talking about kitchens and kept promising to show you pictures of my renovation? Well the time has come! Everything is finished and I finally had the time to do a little photo shoot. Hurray for hubby being on vacation!

I started working on my kitchen almost exactly a year ago when Anna was a mere three months old. I don’t know what induced me to take on re-finishing my cabinets at this stage, perhaps a fatigue induced mania, but the end result was well worth any stress it caused. Though, FYI, don’t paint your cabinets during a humid summer if you don’t have air conditioning, the paint won’t set properly and you’ll have to do it again!

Before:

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The white and grey cabinets and sleek new knobs were a vast improvement over the previous blonde wood cabinets and builder’s basic pulls. So much so that the beige counters and cheap ceramic back splash looked ten times worse. Here it is after just painting the cabinets (this shows the original lower cabinet colour. It was too purple so I painted them a second time with a more charcoal grey):

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Notice at the forefront of the picture the bar height portion of the island. It caused a visual disconnect between the kitchen and the play room and served as nothing more than a drop spot for junk (as seen!).

Thank goodness for tax returns! We were able to replace the back splash and counters this Spring and Voila! Here is how it looks now:

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The kids love that these Ikea stools can spin around! Hazardous for a baby who is still crawling and likes to be close to her siblings!

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Vase and Cutting board from Walmart. Hexagon Penny Tile tile from Ames Tile.

Forever ago I mentioned how I had planned a slightly innovative use of the empty space above the upper cabinets. For a mother’s day present I had my hubby build planter boxes so that we could grow herbs in our kitchen and make use of this otherwise annoying and useless gap between the cabinets and ceiling. Maintenance is not my strong suit so Steve also ordered grow lights and a watering system for the herb garden. Now if you walk by our home at night you will see a purple glow emitting from our kitchen windows. No, we do not have a grow op.  I love this idea and the aesthetics but even with the lights and watering system I have been killing a lot of herbs. I’m still hoping to figure out how to keep them from keeling over but I may end up replacing the herbs with something hardier

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Votive holder from Premium Olive Wood on Etsy.

 

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“Lord give me coffee to change the things I can change & wine to accept the things I can’t” Print from Twinkle Me Designs on Etsy; Picture frame from Michaels; Tray from Lowes; Crystal vase from Safeway.

 

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I added some cute herb prints from Beach House Gallery on Etsy to beautify the bulk head containing the vent above the stove. Picture frames from Ikea.

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The kitchen feels twice as big without the bar height counter and now I can actually watch the kids while they play (and see who hits who first!). We also use this space twice as much now that we have a place to sit at the counter. The kids eat their breakfast and lunch in the kitchen and love to colour or paint when I am cooking or cleaning. It sounds cliche but this renovation has truly enhanced the way we live our life as a family in this home.

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Anna thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate cake I made for staging purposes.

I adore the final look and those in my complex with the exact same kitchen can attest to what a difference a few well place tweaks have made to this builders basic kitchen. I have to admit though, this reno probably isn’t done.  I like the colour of the lower cabinets but it got banged up when the guys were installing the counters so they need to be touched up. So why not try a whole new colour? I’m considering navy blue. I’ll test it out on one door and see how I like it but not until after Christmas. I used monomal paint from Sherwin Williams to paint the cabinets and though it has been hardy enough for my bathroom cabinets, it is not standing up to the constant wear and tear the kitchen receives.  I’ve officially requested that my hubby buy me a proper furniture spray painting machine thingy for Christmas so that I can give the cabinets a proper finish.

The counters and back splash however…perfection! Thanks again to Daniela at Counters and Decor for sourcing materials and coordinating all the trades for this renovation. I couldn’t have got it done without your dedication and hard work!

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Good Weave

I love area rugs. I love them almost as much as I love fabric. The right rug can make all the statement a room needs. And an area rug with the Good Weave label. All the better.

Child labor is a concern with many, if not most imported products so it’s a relief to know that several talented rug designers have obtained the Good Weave label (see pictures below).

The Good Weave website states that “the GoodWeave label is the best assurance that no child labor was used in the making of your rug. In order to earn the GoodWeave label, rug exporters and importers must be licensed under the GoodWeave certification program and sign a legally binding contract to adhere to GoodWeave’s no-child-labor standard; allow unannounced random inspections by local inspectors; and pay a licensing fee that helps support GoodWeave’s monitoring, inspections and education programs.”

Not only do inspectors check for child workers, but if they find children working in these factories, they remove them from the situation and give them the opportunity to receive an education.

Are you thinking it? These must be some really expensive rugs right? Well, they aren’t inexpensive, I saw many starting at $1000 for a 4′ by 6′ rug, but you can end up paying that much at Ikea without the assurance that no child labor was involved. And the rugs of the designers featured below are gorgeous. Like artwork. Worth every penny with the bonus of peace of mind.

By Bev Hisey

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By Eeuwes

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By Soma Studio:

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Summer Ramblings and Computer Glitches

Summer is my favorite season. Sunny days equal lots of good outdoor fun with the kids and my desire to be inside doing things like blogging or cleaning is replaced by the desire to play hard until bedtime then retire to my pretty sundeck (to be shown soon!) with my husband and a glass of wine. I’m going to go with my gut instinct and back off a bit (not totally) from blogging this summer. And cleaning. Who needs a clean house? Ha ha. Just kidding. I’m a cleaning maniac but I’ve decided to hire a cleaner for the summer.

I am also working on the beginnings of starting my interior decorating business, “The Best Nest” and that has some of my normal blogging time booked up. It turns out that setting up a website, designing logos, filling out business forms, meeting with the bank, and getting to know my local resources whilst raising three children is busy making.

My husband recently moved my blog to a new web server (or something like that- obviously I don’t understand the technical aspect of this blog). And it appears that my website doesn’t want to behave enough to let me share pictures with you. Boo hiss. I’m sure it will be figured out soon and I’m looking forward to it because I have recently discovered the Good Weave label and I’m excited to show you some pictures of gorgeous rugs designed by various talented designers. In fact, I’m sure as soon as my husband reads this he will get ants in his pants about sorting out the whole media gallery business. Thank goodness for that man!

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Brewster’s at Inside Wallpaper

I have been feeling a bit low lately for no particular reason and have been having difficulty finding motivation to get life done. It’s possible that I just need a change of scenery (woot woot Price family vacation soon!). Currently I am having a really hard time restraining myself from opening up my hubby’s Father’s Day chocolate and demolishing it so I’ll blog instead to keep my hands busy.

Sometimes looking at beautiful pictures is a bit of a pick me up so it was timely that Inside Wallpaper snapped up my email address and sent me some propaganda (BTW, didn’t they change the laws that govern the internet so that companies “can’t” send you their news letters unless you sign up for it? Maybe that doesn’t count if you have a blog. No harm done anyhow). They must have known I have a weak spot for wallpaper. I would put wallpaper in every room in my house if I had the money.

I spent some time perusing their website and fell in love with a wallpaper company by the name of Brewster. Here are some of my favorites, which handily enough can all be found on Inside Wallpaper at very reasonable prices. If only labour wasn’t so expensive!

iwallpAurora Pink Geometric Wave by Brewster

Aurora Pink Geometric Wave

iwallpbanyannavytree

Banyan Navy Tree

iwallpcadenzagreygeometric

Cadenza Grey Geometric

iwallpebelewhiteherbs

Ebele white herbs

iwallplissabongreyvillagemotif

Lissabon Grey Village Motif

iwallpsabellagreymagnolia

Sabella Grey Magnolia

iwallpsantuaryaquamarineombrestripe

Sanctuary Aqua Marine Ombre Stripe

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Taupe Distressed Wood

I have to stop somewhere but those pictures at least give you an idea of Brewster’s stunning variety of wallpapers. Please do note that if you ever hire me as a decorator, I will try to convince you to incorporate wallpaper into your decor, if only for an accent wall. (Bruce, consider yourself warned).

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Oh Baby.

I wasn’t completely honest in my post yesterday. I do in fact know one of the reasons I am feeling low right now. My heart is heavy because I am not pregnant with a baby that I was actively trying not to have. Say what? Maybe it is hormones or maybe it is the pure sweetness Anna brings into my life (along with her siblings requests for another, smaller baby), but I am going through a bit of a “I want another baby, what’s a fourth, why not” kind of delirium right now.

I experienced something like this when Sofia was around six months old but held off getting kinda accidentally pregnant with Charlie until she was 13 months. I had no such whimsies after Charlie. He was the worst. Seriously. The. Worst. I love the little man he became but he basically cried for the first year of his life. He had, so I thought, cured me of ever wanting another baby. And, as you have heard, after the initial shock and dismay of finding out I was really, completely, not at all on purpose pregnant with Anna, I fell in love with her. What I may not have told you is that I have basically had baby fever since Anna was born. Ahem, I’m sure it had nothing to do with watching “Call the Midwife” when she was an infant.

How do people make these decisions? I know that many people struggle to get pregnant so this “how many babies should I have” question is replaced with the  heart wrenching question, “why can’t I please just have one?”. But for me, my husband seems to spontaneously impregnate me with a mere look so the questions is, when should we stop?

My husband is very good at dialoging with me about this question. Poor man has had a lot of practice in the past year.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough money to have a fourth?

S: Deciding to have a a baby shouldn’t have to do with finances.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough space in our small three bedroom for a fourth?

S: People have been fitting larger families into smaller spaces for thousands of years.

H: I think that some of our family would disapprove of the decision to have a fourth.

S: It’s not any of their business.

H: Maybe I would go insane?

S: That is a valid point.

H: But maybe we should get pregnant right now okay?

S: Maybe not just yet Heather.

So where are we at? Well, what Steve said, “maybe not just yet”. Or what I seem to be looking for with hopeful eyes on a monthly basis, another wonderful accident.

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