How to Pass Time (in DIY Mode) during the Pandemic

Hi Friends! Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s been a whirlwind of a year, to say the least, and now we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Life is full of surprises.

I hope you are all holding up okay and staying as sane as possible during this limbo period.

To catch you up to speed, in a nutshell, the past year has involved me:

  • getting engaged
  • almost finishing the interior design program; and
  • buying a house!

This last one is VERY exciting. Get ready to follow along with the renovation journey, which is about to kick off!

In the meantime, we have a guest blogger today: Aimee Lyons, DIY goddess of http://diydarlin.com/. Aimee reached out to see if she could share her DIY tips and tricks to help you pass time (enjoyably) during the pandemic. Without further ado:

Here’s How to Pass Time (in DIY Mode) During the Pandemic

If you have both the spare time and the motivation, starting DIY projects during the pandemic might be a productive way to pass the hours and days. Start preparing your home maintenance to-do list and start those projects. Here’s how—and what projects you should focus on.

Consider Safety: Inside and Out

There are plenty of ways you can address home safety during the pandemic. Between outside threats and in-home hazards, you’ll have many items to check off your list. You can start your home security DIY by ensuring your home is as protected as possible. Consider ordering security cameras that you can install yourself or replacing (or installing) exterior flood lights that work on automatic sensors.

As far as indoor hazards, carbon monoxide leaks and fire safety are just two of many potential safety issues. But with a quick online order pickup at your local hardware store, you can start fixing those problems ASAP. 

Of course, if you plan to sell your home after the pandemic is over, you may also want to get started on smaller repairs to prep the property. Selling as-is is an option—but it may not be the best one for your wallet. From kitchen and bathroom updates to replacing flooring, doing the DIYs now could get you a better sales price.

Make Your Home a Relaxing Retreat

If you’re feeling stuck at home, one solution is to transform your living space. With the right paint color—Bob Vila recommends light gray, pale blue, and even lavender—you can create a relaxing room where you can escape from it all. Incorporating comfortable seating, enhanced lighting, and some fresh air can help encourage relaxation, too.

Of course, indoor air quality can also make staying inside a challenge, especially with contaminants like lead, pollen, and even household products tainting the environment. Fortunately, you can “clean” the air in your home with simple steps like vacuuming and dusting often, opening the windows, and giving your drapes and curtains a regular washing.

As far as DIYs go, laundering and cleaning up is an easy project to tackle. But you could also choose to install an air purifier, schedule a duct cleaning for your HVAC system, or swap your carpets for wood flooring. Changing your flooring is also a healthy way to cut down on indoor toxins—which is especially helpful for people dealing with allergies.

Renovate Your Outdoor Spaces

Whether you live in a condo or on acreage, reinventing your outdoor space is an excellent DIY for these trying times. After all, spending time outside can help you feel rejuvenated and ease anxiety, notes Country Living.

Whether it’s something small like purchasing a new patio set or a bigger DIY like building a deck, there are plenty of ways to make your yard a relaxing oasis. To make your outdoor areas more inviting, think about planting a garden, trimming shrubs and trees, and even building a shade or privacy structure.

For small yards—or patios—consider container planting, hanging a hammock, or setting up a bird feeder and bird watching spot. Any element or project that makes your small yard or patio feel more comfortable and welcoming is worth the investment. 

Whether you’re surveying home security or want to spruce up your home’s interior, there are tons of DIYs you can tackle during the pandemic. The best part is, these projects are easy to manage and will easily keep you occupied.

Photo via Pixabay

Guest post by Aimee Lyons

Seaside Retreat by Jamie Bush

The shifts in weather have made me realize just how strongly affected I am by the weather, climate & environment. I’m sure we are all ready for some sunshine and blue skies. We got lucky this weekend with some amazing Spring weather in San Francisco that just came out of the blue (no pun intended)! We’re at a balmy 22 degrees celsius and I couldn’t be more chuffed.

With that being said, let’s feast our eyes on a perfect vacation home (or primary home, if you’re lucky) by Jamie Bush, located in Malibu, California. Jamie Bush maintains a soothing, cool-toned neutral palette throughout the house, which continues out to the terrace as well. The blue of the ocean is the perfect counterbalance to the home’s neutrality. It’s hard to decide which is the star and which is the backdrop – the view or the home… or maybe we shouldn’t have to decide at all. This is harmony between nature & manmade construction at its best.

Materials such as marble and stone are carefully selected to show off their natural beauty – such as in the marble kitchen island and this cylindrical side table. The marble’s strong veining acts like artwork. The bare white walls facilitate the eye being drawn towards them as focal points.

Oftentimes, people default to thinking of dining tables in circular or rectangular forms and neglect to think of more organic shapes such as the one shown here. The irregular shape of the table lends a more casual feel and invites additional people to pull up a chair and join the conversation, as seating space is less defined. The natural wood paired with the large sliding glass doors invite the outside in in an effortless manner.

The cool-toned, grey hues of the wood furniture, and the washed blue shade of the rug are very calming – aren’t you ready for a nap here? (I’d leave those terrace doors open to allow the breeze in while I snooze…)

Legs galore

The slight angle of the sofa is just enclosing enough that the space feels intimate, yet not so severe that the living area feels closed off from the rest of the space. It also enables easy access to the terrace.

This entry bench is another fantastic example of a material being shown off in all its natural glory. It simply doesn’t need any ornamentation to look complete (I’d remove that vase/vessel and let the bench stand alone). Sometimes less is more.

Texture is the name of the game in this bathroom – from the cerusing of the wooden vanity cabinet to the raw wood stool. There’s something about rougher textures that work magic in coastal locations.

We’ll end this tour outside (where you’d most likely want to be if you were in Malibu) …

Are these stone sculptures or seating or both? Design is truly celebrated when form and function merge – especially when the pieces are ergonomic like these.

Discover more of Jamie Bush’s work here.

In the Mood for Hygge

With the recent dreary and cold weather in San Francisco, my instinct is to hibernate and cozy up at home, with a candle, a hot cup of coffee (or red wine, depending on the time of day) and a good book. This atmosphere brings to mind Hygge, the ineffable Danish feeling in those slow, quiet moments – those magical moments when you are truly living in the present moment.

Here are some “Hygge”-like spaces by Studio Slow for us to picture ourselves in (a girl can dream). So slow down, breathe, and let me take you on a journey.

First, let’s hop in the bath for a long, hot soak.
Now that we’re all relaxed, let’s grab a hot beverage from the kitchen…
…or maybe from this one (because we like to have options).
Another view of the kitchen
Now that you have your beverage, let’s head to the dining room.

This tomato soup / lobster bisque shade exudes calm & warmth…
…and is carried through onto the ceiling in the living room…
…”grounding” the room but from above.
Maybe you squeeze in a little diary entry at this table.
It’s getting a little late – time to get ready for bed.
Sweet dreams!

If you fancy emulating this Hygge vibe at your home, Reforma Stockholm, a Swedish furniture line, carries plenty of chic and affordable Scandi pieces (furniture and decor items). They carry a variety of international furniture lines as well as their own designs.

Currently, they’re offering 10% off your first order if you sign up for emails.

Here are some of my favourite pieces from Reforma Stockholm:

*This is not a sponsored post

Studio McGee

The bright and clean aesthetic of Studio McGee never gets old. Despite having only officially launched in 2014, the firm is already one of the most well-known interior design firms in the US and has been published in the likes of Architectural Digest, Domino and House Beautiful.

There’s nothing more relaxing than whiling away the hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon  (or Labor Day weekend, in this case) watching Studio McGee’s Youtube videos (link here).

Fresh, modern and timeless, it’s easy to see why their work is so well-loved.

Promontory Project

One of my favourite projects of theirs is the Promontory Project – this new build is a modern mountain home in Park City, Utah.  The YouTube video is an absolute visual treat. As you can tell, I had a difficult time curating photos for this project – I just love them all!

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Check out more of their work here.

Narnia at Home

I know I wasn’t the only child who dreamt of having a secret room at home, Narnia style, to escape to for a few hours with your friends and pretend that you’re in another world. This converted monastery in Poland designed by JRKVC certainly would have done the trick.

A bedroom is cleverly hidden behind a wall that is a bookshelf and door in one. Another ingenious feature is the master bathroom, which is actually directly accessible from the living room through the open hallway.

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The optical illusion tile in the entryway is a firm favorite.

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Despite its all-white walls, the apartment maintains a sense of warmth through the generous use of warm toned wood and a healthy sprinkling of greenery throughout. It treads the fine line between minimal and cozy by not being too stark, and at the same time, not cluttered.

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The open shelving and floating hood, both in light colors, keep the kitchen looking light and airy, balancing out the dark lower cabinets, which ground the space. Kitchen hoods can often look heavy and imposing, but by painting the hood white (the same color as the walls), the hood almost disappears.

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Catherine Kwong Design

Catherine Kwong Design specialises in high-end residential and hospitality projects. Their designs are elegant, fresh, contemporary and always refined.

I first came across Catherine Kwong Design a couple of months ago, as a fresh San Francisco resident, and was excited to stumble upon interior designers in the immediate area. The stars aligned and I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine in person and hearing her speak about her interior design firm and design process during San Francisco Design Week.

Catherine Kwong Design specialises in high-end residential and hospitality projects. Their designs are elegant, fresh, contemporary and always refined. The firm is based in San Francisco, California. In 2015, Catherine was named “Designer to Watch” by Architectural Digest and it’s easy to see why when you see the samples of her work below.

Presidio Heights, San Francisco

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The firm only had 3 months to furnish this home in Presidio Heights. Vintage lighting was sourced and installed, in-stock furniture was moved into the space, and everything was pulled together with the addition of large pieces of artwork.

Personal favourites: those tan leather dining chairs (so warm!) and the coffered ceiling (so luxe).

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These armchairs were reupholstered in what appears to be velvet (love that sumptuous deep blue tone) and custom brackets designed by the firm were added for that final luxurious touch.

Pacific Heights, San Francisco

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The handblown glass chandelier is in one of my favourite designs and its shape complements the long, rectangular shape of the dining table perfectly. The built-in cabinet with what appears to be iron hinges and pulls, together with the dining chairs finished in a leather seat, lend a gorgeous rustic feel to the space.

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That huge slab of marble forming the mantelpiece is a showstopper. Again, we see a touch of sumptuous deep velvet in the form of an armchair, this time juxtaposed with the hard, linear shape of the glass coffee table.

Jackson Square Loft, San Francisco 

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The 800-pound steel firewood container designed by Catherine is the perfect counterpoint to the more traditional fireplace mantel. The leather slingback chair is one of the designer’s personal favourites.

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The custom wooden ceiling bracket was added by Catherine to inject a personalised, rustic touch to the otherwise plain white walls.

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The dining room wall is panelled with vintage wine racks. The panelling is functional and also serves as a unique decorative backdrop. The idea was that guests could help themselves to wine at their leisure. The dining table is from Blu Dot and the legs were customised by Catherine by adding gold leaf to the steel legs. Velvet appears to be a favourite material of Catherine as it’s seen again here in the form of the dining chair upholstery.

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The kitchen is comfortable and casual with at touch of country. The grey cabinets keep the space from being too feminine.

Explore more of Catherine Kwong Design on their website.

Leanne Ford Revisited

It’s finally Friday and you deserve a treat. A treat for the eyes – eye candy, if you will.

Leanne Ford strikes just the right balance between industrial-cool (through her use of concrete and metal) and natural warmth (through her use of warm, natural wood). Interior and exterior spaces can very easily look too cold once too many industrial elements are introduced; however, Leanne Ford always manages to create welcoming spaces full of warmth and character, which almost give off a soft glow with the help of some natural daylight.

The pictures below were not all taken from one residence but are in fact a collection of images that I feel best demonstrate the aforesaid balance/equilibrium she manages to achieve.

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Click here for more Leanne Ford goodness.

Yellow Brick Home

I stumbled upon Yellow Brick Home about a month ago and have been hooked ever since. Kim and Scott are DIY experts – a husband and wife duo from Chicago who have turned their (almost 130-year-old) house into a beautiful home with their own bare hands. They also run The Pet Shop and The Print Shop.

Simple, all-American and timeless, their home is full of hidden treasures and fun little details, topped off with a generous sprinkling of love and adorable dogs for good measure.

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A few things that stand out to me most (apart from their clearly impeccable taste) are:

(1) the paint colours – sophisticated neutrals that are just different enough from the standard neutral wall colours to keep things interesting but still timeless. If I had to pick a favourite paint colour from their home, it would have to be Benjamin Moore’s Intense White used on their living room and bathroom walls; the soft warm tint keeps the rooms warm and inviting but still bright and fresh;

(2) the light fixtures – many of which are from Rejuvenation. Again, simple, timeless classics;

(3) the gorgeous headboards;

(4) the rugs; and

(5) the amazing mosaic honeycomb tiles on the bathroom floor (which they also DIY’d themselves!).

If you enjoyed this post and/or enjoy DIY, I highly recommend checking out their Pinterest and Instagram for more!

“Pop and Colour”

Need a pick-me-up to catapult you into your weekend? Step right on through to this spunky, vivacious California bungalow… I think it’ll do just the trick…

When a good friend tells you that your blog has been featuring too many minimalist spaces as of late and requests for more “pop and colour”, you gladly oblige. So here you go, Alice, I hope this is enough pop and colour for you! 🙂

This spunky, vivacious 1930s California bungalow belongs to clothing stylist and blogger Joan Schubert.

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How fun is that flamingo painting? The splash of pink paired with a thin gold/brass frame adds just the right amount of glamour to this otherwise very white room. Pops of colour are incorporated through smaller decorative items such as the pink lamp, orange Celine handbag, and multicoloured books and vases.

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Having a neutral backdrop is a clever and practical way of designing a space as it means that if you ever get bored and want to switch things up, the bones of the room can remain neutral while you dress up the space through adding and subtracting the smaller decorative items.

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The owner didn’t just stop at the walls and furniture – even the blinds are made of a colourful, bold print. There’s a fine line between harmonious and unruly when it comes to colour and the owner manages to strike the right balance by keeping to a few key colours: orange, green, yellow and blue (and pink in some other rooms).

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The colourway is maintained in the kitchen, from the pink upholstered chairs to the orange-toned wooden cabinets.

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Possibly my favourite shot of this home – what a gorgeous vignette. This bedroom ticks the right boxes for me, from the graphic, geometric wallpaper, to the palm print pillows (which are a little ubiquitous these days) and potted palm leaves, to the simple headboard (the clean lines, natural linen and neutral colours of the headboard help to ground and balance out the bold colours and prints seen on the wallpaper, pillows and bedspread).

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This bathroom is a perfect demonstration of how a colourful painting can completely elevate the feel of a room – without it, the bathroom would just be a standard, neutral bathroom (and a bit lifeless, to be completely honest); the unexpected splash of colour transforms the bathroom into a fun, vibrant and youthful space. It’s a real mood-lifter.

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Tribal, geometric and tropical – I don’t know about you but this eclectic dining room evokes an adventurous energy and makes me look forward to my next holiday!

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Design by Laura Neuman of Pepperjack Interiors. Photo credit to Michelle Drewes.

Refined Sophistication by Studio Piet Boon

“Founded in 1983 by Dutch designer Piet Boon (1958), the Studio Piet Boon philosophy is based on a balance between functionality, aesthetics and individuality.”

Headquartered in the Netherlands, Studio Piet Boon is all about refined sophistication.

This urban residence in Amsterdam has a certain hotel-like sensibility, with its minimal lines and natural stone materials. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of personal belongings in the shots but it’s hard to imagine anyone actually living here long-term. The apartment feels more like a luxury vacation rental than anything else. Nonetheless, the architectural feel of the apartment is undeniably a treat for the eyes.

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The all-white walls allow natural daylight to take centre stage without detracting from elegant architectural pieces such as the scaled-up kitchen island constructed out of large slabs of natural stone.

The crystal drop pendant light infuses a touch of femininity and glamour to the bright and minimal bedroom.

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The levels of concrete leading up to the bathtub create a striking spa-like effect in the bathroom.

More Studio Piet Boon here.