Whitewashed living room features a charming mix of furniture styles.
A DIY-inclined couple turns an 800-square-foot two-bedroom bungalow into the perfect home for their young family.
Homeowner Amanda Robinson transformed the secondhand piano by covering it in grey paint, casually accessorizing it like the rest of the living room and softening its bench with a faux-sheepskin throw.
The whitewashed living room features a charming mix of furniture styles. “I brought softness into the space with the upholstered pieces, while keeping a farmhouse vibe with the antique rocking chairs,” says Amanda.
Homeowners Jason and Amanda Robinson hang out in the bright living room with their sons, Ethan (left) and Aidan.
While blue hues rock this farmhouse, Amanda also popped in some pink tones as contrast.
A fun DIY project or easily picked up at a gardening centre, terrariums are a great way to keep your home green in small ways.
Durable slate tiles define the entryway in this open-concept space. Practical items in natural tones like the bench, mirror and coat rack are artfully arranged so everything looks pulled together.
The kitchen epitomizes Amanda’s love of pale backdrops punctuated with colour and natural tones. “I made the shelves out of wooden boards from our barn and left them unpainted to contrast all the white and to complement the butcher block counters,” she says. Mismatched hardware picks up on the hits of blue throughout the home.
With their young sons and pets (Weimaraner Tessie and cat Nimble) in mind, Amanda chose tongue-and-groove pine planks for the floors, ceilings and walls. “I didn’t want new drywall with two little boys and pets running around,” she says. “It was the best design decision I ever made.”
Amanda knew she wanted a light and bright space and conceived the decor with colour in mind. “This is still a really small house, so I stuck to a neutral palette for the base: white and cream with natural wood tones throughout,” she says.
Amanda and Jason knocked down walls to create an eat-in area that features a free-standing stove surrounded by stone-veneered walls and a thrift-store dining table and chairs proudly bearing a mismatched paint job. “I painted everything grey and then decided to paint all the chairs blue but got sidetracked after one,” says Amanda. “It’s fun and quirky as is, and the boys take turns sitting in the blue chair at dinnertime.”
“The walls in Aidan’s bedroom were in good shape, so we painted them and added pine planks to the ceiling,” says Amanda. “I like the masculine look of the unpainted wood.” The new blue dressers share the space with a thrift-store wicker chair, a yellow-painted hand-me-down stool and rope-hung shelves Amanda crafted from barnboard.
“Ethan wanted everything in his room swimming pool turquoise.” They settled on a seafoam blue that’s more soothing for a bedroom and then incorporated coordinating accents in every room – even on the front door. “If you keep the big things neutral and then add accents in a single shade, it makes everything seem effortlessly connected,” says Amanda.
A bright screen door frame hints at the pops of blue to be found inside the house. Amanda refinished a hand-me-down pine table in grey paint and repurposed it as an easy-to-access storage unit for firewood. Antique Canadian Pacific Railway lanterns found in the barn and on Kijiji layer in more colour and reference the surrounding rustic landscape.
After a fresh coat of paint and some carefully placed furniture, the Robinsons are set to make this newly decorated farmhouse their home.
Homeowner Amanda Robinson used blue paint throughout her home to liven up the soothing neutral palette and provide a link from room to room. Here are her three favourite shades.
DIY pumpkin decorations
Dressing up your home seasonally for holidays is a great way to better appreciate what each season has to offer, as well as give your space a quick makeover. For Thanksgiving and Halloween, using mini pumpkins is the perfect choice: they are inexpensive, can be found at most markets and are a great way to bring a little bit of nature into your home decor. Whether with paint, ribbons or glitter, these decorations are easy to make and adapt for any room of your home. We've presented them as centrepieces for your dining table, but they also look beautiful atop a mantel or stacked in a large glass vase or bowl on a coffee table.
Keeping it simple
For a simple centrepiece, gather cream and orange mini pumpkins and arrange them in a bowl. Add a pumpkin at the center of each plate, alternating between both colours, for an easy festive tablesetting.
Plates, placemat and glass courtesy of Crate and Barrel.
Paint it black
For spooky yet elegant decor, paint mini pumpkins using black and silver matte paint. Add a first layer of multi-surface paint and wait until thoroughly dry. Add a second layer for a perfect finish.
Mixing it up
For a less monochromatic look, try alternating between black and silver paint. This combination of colours works beautifully for a chic fall table setting. Simply add silver placemats, black napkins and scatter the pumpkins at the centre of the table. When entertaining, give a pumpkin to each of your guests to take home at the end of the evening.
Add a little shimmer
For a whimsical look, try adding a little shimmer to your table. Using a flat brush, paint a layer of all-purpose glue on the pumpkin. Sprinkle with glitter and thoroughly shake off excess. You can leave the stem as it is or paint it a darker shade of green.
For this easy DIY project, you'll need an array of pretty ribbons and double-sided tape. Secure a circle of tape around the centre of each pumpkin. Cut a piece of ribbon and tighly place atop the tape. Press gently to make sure it stays in place. We've used some of our favourite ribbons here, including black velvet, stripes and polka-dots but the centrepiece will also look beautiful using one kind of ribbon only and different sized pumpkins.
Recipe: Fudgy mocha pudding cake
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease an 8-inch (2-L) square glass baking dish.
2 In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed and 3 tablespoons (45 mL) water together. Set aside.
3 In a large bowl, mix together the oat flour, 3⁄4 cup (175 mL) of the sugar, 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) of the cocoa powder, and the chocolate chips, salt, and baking powder.
4 In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, almond milk, oil, and vanilla.
5 Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
6 Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top evenly with a spoon.
7 In a small bowl or mug, combine the remaining 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cocoa powder. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the baking dish.
8 Slowly pour the hot coffee over the cocoa powder mixture, ensuring that the coffee completely covers the mixture. The cake will now look like a complete disaster, but this is normal. Promise.
9 Bake for 27 to 33 minutes, uncovered, until the cake is semi-firm on top but bubbly and gooey around the edges.
10 Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in (that's if you can wait that long!). If desired, serve with vegan ice cream, along with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and toasted walnuts on top.
Tip: For a nut-free option, swap the almond milk for a nut-free non-dairy milk (such as coconut milk) and leave out the optional walnuts. For a soy-free option, use soy-free non-dairy chocolate, such as Enjoy Life brand.
Makes 9 servings.
Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.