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    A Yellow Brick Farmhouse

    Hi readers. I know I haven’t posted at all this summer and I’m not going to go into the details, except to say that I haven’t much felt like it mostly because I’ve been exceptionally busy lazing around at the beach. Oh and buying a house. Sorry, did I bury the lead there? We are purchasing a beautiful 124-year-old (ish) yellow brick farmhouse + acreage. It’s just so fabulous and I can’t wait to share it with you, which is what I am going to be doing for the foreseeable future because this house needs some love and it’s going to take a while to shine it up nice.

    A yellow brick Italianate style farmhouse built circa 1890 in a rural Ontario hamlet.

    Of course I’ve been researching. An Italianate style yellow brick home, built between 1884 and 1899, it was first the home of a once-prominent businessman and mill owner, named Thomas Pickard, in the small hamlet of Glammis, Ontario. It was originally dubbed Spruce Lawn, a name we plan to keep for the sake of historical authenticity. Here’s a nice little snippet I found written about the place in the local historical society’s book:

    The new residence, with extensive landscaped gardens, was called “Spruce Lawn” and was quite a showpiece. Much entertaining of community and extended family took place in the large beautiful home full of young people. Spruce Lawn was the scene of at least three weddings.

    Here’s a historical photo of the property. As you can see the cupola has long-since been removed. We move-in sometime this autumn, late October probably. Wish us luck!

    A yellow brick Italianate style farmhouse built circa 1890 in a rural Ontario hamlet.

    Grey-Washing A Red Brick Fireplace: Before And After

    A couple months ago I posted the most amazing news on Facebook: my other half finally relented to my incessant persuasions and agreed I could do a grey paint wash on our brick fireplace (a.k.a. the wall-to-wall monstrosity).

    Here is the fireplace as it was when we first viewed the home six years ago (right), and after I ineffectually lumped on a ton of white décor to try to lighten up the space (left).

    You’ll notice there’s a number of other “issues” with this fireplace. The pine wainscotting, the adjacent navy blue wall that smothers the room (my oops), and the plywood-topped storage boxes on either side of the fireplace, which for some reason were never finished properly, just to start. Really, the only good thing about this fireplace was the barn beam mantle… way ahead of it’s time.

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    The Great Etsy Deception and The Rise Of Faux Crafts

    Have you ever been to howetsyrapedamerica.com? If you haven’t maybe you should. It’s a compilation of posts targeting profitable and “fraudulent” Etsy sellers over the span of a year—businesses selling mass-produced goods often purchased from Asian wholesalers, under the moniker of handmade or custom made, at the expense and abuse of unsuspecting shoppers. We’re talking everything from home décor to knitted scarves.

    Unsuspecting customers are forking over their cash to Etsy sellers hawking fake crafts and mass produced goods.

    These Etsy sellers have become increasingly prolific over the past couple years, ever since Chad Dickerson took over as CEO in late 2013 and lifted a ban that previously required Etsy sellers to manufacture goods solely by themselves. In the span of just two years Etsy has been flooded with cheap knock-off products marketed under a banner of down-home-grass-roots-made-by-barefoot-mothers-in-their-kitchens goodness.

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    Is Utilitarian Décor and Utilitarian Design Really Utilitarian?

    Today I want to talk a little about utilitarianism in terms of utilitarian design. I’ve become increasingly less happy with stuff, so I’ve simultaneously become increasingly more happy about the idea of creating a super-functional and pragmatic space. I’ve been going through my home and thinking carefully about whether or not the items in it serve a purpose. I have a long way left to go. Here’s a great example of a utilitarian space… I am aspiring.

    utilitarian n. and adj.*

    A. n.

    One who holds, advocates, or supports the doctrine of utilitarianism; one who considers utility the standard of whatever is good for man; also, a person devoted to mere utility or material interests. 

     B. adj.

    Of philosophy, principles, etc.: Consisting in or based upon utility; spec. that regards the greatest good or happiness of the greatest number as the chief consideration or rule of morality.

    Of or pertaining to utility; relating to mere material interests.

    In quasi-depreciative use: Having regard to mere utility rather than beauty, amenity, etc.

    According to designer Adrienne Chinn, “The key elements of utilitarian style are function, edginess and unpretentiousness.” Continue reading…

    What It’s Like Behind The Scenes Of Picture Perfect

    I’m mopping up a puddle in someone else’s garage and it’s just another day in the world of magazines. This is the real behind the scenes, not another pretty Instagram. The camera is flashing as the photographer is snapping test pictures, checking the exposure, the colour balance, and whatever else photographers look for. I’m scrounging around in the cupboard hoping to god there’s some cleaning supplies and dragging bags of road salt out of the shot, wondering vaguely what the point is. Long before this moment I’ve already become disillusioned.

    This is the real behind the scenes of a magazine, not another pretty Instagram picture. Mopping a garage... and for what?

    I was dispatched to this particular home with explicit instructions: feature this home and don’t skimp where the garage is concerned. We’re on a mission to make someone happy—namely an advertiser. Its glamorous and creative, isn’t it? They wanted the garage featured, but it was covered in dirt and puddles. You know, kind of like you expect a garage to be. Yet there I was, moping a garage and trying to make it look “pretty”. Continue reading…