Kitchen // Shopping Guide

So you have likely seen our Kitchen Reveal and tips and tricks for buying Ikea Kitchens.  This particular post is going to tell you where we got everything else - the essential elements in making our Ikea Kitchen look custom. Things like what hardware, countertops, sink, faucet etc.... This is a long post so all the info is after the jump. Cheers! - Lindsay

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Tips & Tricks for Buying an Ikea Kitchen

I know that someone may fall upon our kitchen reveal in a few years time and will have missed all of the entertaining posts leading up the grand reveal that explained how and why we chose things. I'm going to create some posts that include a lot of information for readers who may be interested in renovating their own kitchen.

For this particular post I'm focusing on the main element - our cabinetry, which is Ikea, and the door style is the Adel door. This post doesn't go into the details of what we picked elsewhere (counter, tiles etc) that you can find in our "Kitchen Shopping Guide". This is just a list of things to consider when designing an Ikea kitchen.  Warning. This is a LONG post. 

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Kitchen Reveal

Ta-da! Our new kitchen! Can you believe it's Ikea?

I'm in love with our kitchen. Our kitchen is a great example of mixing high end items with budget to end up with a kitchen that is gorgeous. The trick to this kitchen was finding areas of the renovation that we could do ourselves (demolition, painting, cabinetry building) and  picking certain things to splurge on to give it a wow factor (having hardwood installed, going for Quartz counters). We were given two major things as gifts - the faucet, and the hardware. We were also given a discount on our appliances, but everything else we got at retail. The mix of big box store and luxury items gives a pretty spectacular result.

There were some tricky things to work around. I knew from the start I wanted to extend the base cabinetry into the eat in portion of the kitchen, which is higher than the rest of the house (in the above photograph you can see the step) We had to get a little creative with cabinetry - but everything is possible. We installed a GE Cafe microwave above the oven that has a vent feature - that pulls the steam from the stove up and out into the kitchen. I'll get into our appliances more in another post, but I love having this above the stove. 

In the above photo you can see the wall of white subway tile in the background, which I simply adore as it reflects a lot of light from the new pot lights. It also blends in because it is white, like the rest of our kitchen. 

When we bought the house the fridge was blocking the doorway to the front hall. We moved the fridge to the eat in kitchen and bought a counter depth GE Cafe Fridge (more on the appliances later) and we built around it a pantry using Ikea Cabinetry. This made it feel more like the kitchen, instead of the fridge just being plunked into a different room. 

The design inspiration for the cookbooks above the sink came from a Kitchen Cousins Episode on HGTV. I loved the idea, as it was a perfect spot for my cookbook collection that has been gifted to me by my Mom. That faucet. OH that faucet. It's the most gorgeous thing on this planet. It's a Perrin and Rowe and my favourite thing ever. 

Anyhow, that is our kitchen reveal. While we've been finishing up the kitchen I've been working on posts that actually get into 1. Ikea Kitchen Shopping tips 2. Where we bought everything. So stay tuned, but if you have questions I'll do my best to answer.

I hope you like it as much as we do!

xo Lindsay


Kitchen Renovation | The Before

So you know what this means, right? If I'm posting "befores" of our kitchen, the "after" is around the corner. I'm happy to post that our kitchen renovation is 100% done and the "after" shots will be revealed in a few days.

The before shots are so dramatically different than what we have now, that they deserve their own post. Above are some photos of what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house. The fridge is blocking the doorway, we had a rolly-dishwasher that you had to attach to the sink (that was blocking the doorway to the basement). We had gross peel and sick floor tiles and one ugly light figure. Over the last three years of living in our house we did small minor improvements to the kitchen to make it liveable (and clean). You can see a the "in between stage" in this post. More photos of the kitchen, and how we lived with it for 3 years after the jump.
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Quartz Countertops versus Granite Countertops

Although granite and quartz are similar in look and composition, they are very different products. Knowing the maintenance and benefits of each type of countertop material is vital to making the best choice for each space.

Granite countertop installed by KHI
Granite is a very hard stone found deep in the earth. It is mined at many locations around the world, including areas of Minnesota in the United States and places in India and Italy. The color and pattern of the stone is determined by the minerals found in the area in which it is located.Granite is composed of approximately 50% quartz; the remaining elements are softer minerals and impurities. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals found on earth, second only to the diamond so durability is not a problem. Quartz countertops are actually 93% quartz crystals, with resins and pigments making up the remaining composition.

Countertop Durability

Both granite and quartz countertops create a very durable countertop. However, quartz countertops, because of the way that they are made, are nearly twice as strong as natural granite. Quartz is very dense and free of the invisible fissures (tiny cracks) that can be found in granite. This is what adds to the strength of quartz surfaces.

Heat and Scratch Resistance

Both granite and quartz are resistant to heat and scratching. Although these products can resist heat from hot pans, it is always recommended that homeowners use trivets when setting a pot on the surface as thermal shock may cause damage. Because granite and quartz have countertops are very resistant to scratching, you should still use cutting boards when preparing food to protect your knives from being dulled by the hard stone surfaces.

Food Safety and Staining

Since granite is a natural stone, it is porous and liquids can penetrate it. As a result, staining, as well as the growth of bacteria, can occur. The lighter granite colors tend to be more porous, making them more susceptible to stains. Keeping the granite sealed periodically is the best way to avoid stains, and keep the stone looking new. Quartz is nonporous and is resistant to nearly all staining. Sealing quartz is not required. The nonporous composition also keeps them from harboring bacteria and many homeowners like the low-maintenance benefits of quartz countertops.

Colors and Patterns

Quartz countertop installed by KHI
Quartz countertops have a completely different look than granite. Granite has patterns that range from the very consistent to the extremely wild. Each slab of granite is unique and comes in a variety of color combinations. For home- owners preferring a more regular pattern, quartz may be the product of choice. Quartz lacks the depth of light that natural granite possesses, and can tend to look flat. However, quartz countertops offer colors that are impossible to find in natural granite.

For more information on countertop materials or if you'd like to obtain a quote on a bathroom or kitchen remodel project call Kruse Home Improvement today at 860-584-8784.


A Real Topiary and a Fun Giveaway

I have always loved real topiaries, but have never had one.  Recently I was at a nursery and found this beauty.  It was a little wild looking, but exactly what I was looking for.  The woman there said not to cut it, but to push the wild strays back into the center.  She also said to keep it moist or the leaves would start falling off fast!



I had it on my kitchen island and loved it, but then so did the cat...  (ugh)  After finding it tipped over a couple of times, I knew I had to find a better place for it.

We are having our wood floors refinished and needed to move EVERYTHING out of the living room, kitchen, entry and hall.  What a job!  One good part about moving everything is that I found a great place for the topiary.  It should be safe from being knocked over and I'm not as grossed out by the cat climbing up on this counter....

I love the delicate little leaves. 
If you haven't yet entered my giveaway for Eco Natural Soaps click HERE to enter!
The giveaway ends on Monday, October 1, 2012.
Thanks for your visit!


Custom Stamp Giveaway

To celebrate the shops's 8th anniversary here is a fun little giveaway. Enter to win a Custom Rubber Stamp from my shop, The Penny Paper Co. I'll draw two winners. Open to Canadian and US readers. Stamp value is any stamp that is $29.95 or less. Contest ends Friday, September 28th, 2012 at midnight.

1.     Comment on this post and let me know which stamp you'd likely pick, should you win. Be sure to check out the Personal Stamp collection, the Wedding Collection and our Holiday Stamps
2.     Optional: If you "Like" The Penny Paper Co. on facebook, comment a second time saying that you did this. This gives you a second chance of winning. If you already like us on Facebook, be sure to comment a second time too! *

That's it! Good luck!

FINE PRINT: Not redeemable for cash, product not transferable for another product. Stamp must be redeemed within 2 months of contest ending. If a winner doesn't respond to being picked within 1 week, we'll redraw. Winner will be drawn by Tuesday, October 2nd, and I will update this post with names.

*To be fair, if you win and you commented that you liked the store on Facebook, I will check Facebook first to make sure you did. Although I don't think any of my readers would tell a fib, I've heard of other contests where people have. So in order to be fair to other people, please be truthful! xo

UPDATE: Contest closed. We increased the winning giveaway to three winners due to the 300+ comments. 

Free Halloween Font - Evilz

Although it seems ridiculously early to post Halloween stuff, when it comes to DIY projects it I think the earlier the better. This is a little bit of a recycled post from last year but it's too cute not to share year after year. Download this free font - EVILZ. I used the font last year to make some cute bags for Oscar's friends (shown below). Ps., Instead of candy we filled the fun little bags with toy bats.


A $5 Dresser and an Eco Natural Soaps Giveaway!

My son is in college and renting a house for the first time. We are visiting soon and he asked for a dresser. He said he didn't need anything big. I know that spending a lot of money on a dresser in a college guy's house might be foolish...

So I went out garage saling yesterday and found this little dresser (maybe bedside table?) at a sale. It's solid wood and sturdy and the price was right---$5. I figured that if he didn't want it, we could always use it somewhere.

I sanded it down. 

I put a coat of primer on it.  

I used Semi-Gloss Black paint by Rust-Oleum applied with a foam roller.  It went on very smoothly.

I decided to only paint the outside.  I promise, my son will not care one bit!

I added some knobs that I already had.  I think it was $5 well spent. And the best part--I texted him the pictures and he said it looked perfect!  :)

Now on to the giveaway...
The people from Eco Natural Soap are giving away several items to one lucky winner.
Their products are amazing! I have been using their facial soap for a couple of weeks and my complexion is already looking better.
All of their products are chemical free. They have everything--soaps, makeup, body balms and lip gloss.

The winner will receive their choice of the following:
Two Soaps
One Body Balm
One Lip Balm
How can you win?
It's EASY!
1.  Be a follower of my blog. 
2.  Go to Eco Natural Soap and find your favorite item.  Come back here and leave a comment telling me one item you would choose if you won.
I will choose a winner on Monday, October 1st via Random Number Generator.
Thanks for your visit!
I am linking to the following parties:

DIY Show Off


free ads for small shops / artists

I'm always trying to find creative (and economical) was to promote my shop. Between traditional media and new media, I've found that working with bloggers or advertising on blogs consistently has a positive impact on my sales, traffic to my shop and brand recognition.

I've noticed that when you mix the right product on the right blog with the right audience - the results are amazing. A tip from personal experience, if you are going to advertise somewhere, invest in a long term plan. Brand recognition isn't built up in a month. When done consistently, you will see recognition of your brand grow.

I'm in a unique possition having a business, and I'm also a blogger that accepts advertising. I think seeing that my company benefits from online mentions makes me confident in offering up ad spaces on my site. But this post isn't about me selling advertising. This is a post about giving it away for free. That's really why you're reading, right? ;)

I'm a big fan of small business owners who are trying to get their shop names out there. I know how tricky it is, but I especially know how expensive it is. So to put good karma out there, I'm offering up 10 free advertising spaces to small business owners / artists who are trying to find economical ways to advertise. Heck. You can't get better than free. Here is the deal. E-mail me at with (1) link to your shop (2) an advertisement already designed to 150x50. * and (3) Where you are located. This is open to anyone, regardless of where you live.

Free advertisements will run for the month of October. I will pick the advertisements based on compatibility with my blog.

Submissions end September 28th, 2012.

Have a happy weekend.
* If you can't design your own ad, I'll design you one should you be picked, but it will simply be your logo.


Ikea Hack - Gold Frames

Happy weekend. Since I just showed you my trick of how to get the best looking gold frames, here is a post that will give you some inspiration using Ikea. First of all I love Ikea frames - they are economical and are offered in a variety of interesting sizes so you can create interesting displays on your wall. I'm regularly hacking Ikea frames. (Remember this piece?) Above is an example of my latest DIY project, turning an Ikea frame to be a gold shadow box with modern art. 

Step 1: Start with this Shadow Box Frame from Ikea

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making gold frames

When we were first married, I decorated our little apartment with a ton of black frames. When we moved into our current house the black frames seemed too dark against our beautiful white walls. Alternatively, white frames seemed to beachy and light wood felt too Mid Century Modern. I decided gold frames were what fit my house best - traditional, but when mixed with the right print it felt was modern and youthful.

The problem was 1. We had no money to invest in new frames and 2. Even if we did have the money,  I couldn't find nice looking gold frames anywhere in retail stores and custom made by a framer were well out of my budget.

Seeing as I had a LOT of black frames lying around, I decided to try my hand at transforming frames into what I wanted - a rich gold frame look. Now, although you could spray paint frames gold - I found that it ends up giving you a pretty flat look and it didn't impress me very much. So I found a trick to get the best looking gold frames ever...
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used in a wedding / love for the home

As you know, my little brother and his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay, are getting married. I'm ridiculously excited. Obviously I've been pinning away inspirational items along with the Bride (see her pin board here). As I save inspirational images I find that a lot of the wedding decor I'm liking these days could easily be used at home in a more casual atmosphere.

The top table setting (via) could easily be translated for a dinner party at home. Get cedar from Home Depot and cut to various heights. Put on the top dollar store candles and, small vases ... voila! Below, the old wood tree stumps - which you can find in cottage country at different heights act as a great spot for candles. Wouldn't this be gorgeous if you were having a winter party, to have on your porch? The last piece I loved were these wood slices painted with chalk, that you can buy here. For a wedding this would be cute to have by food/drink station, but at home, these could be place cards for your guests.

Anyhow,just a wee bit obsessed with wedding decor. :)

Images: Top Table Decor, Tree Stump Image, Chalk on Wood,

growing the business...

Today is my 8th anniversary of marrying Aubrey, and also, the official date that I started my business. Two major life moments that have turned out to get sweeter with age.

It's fitting to me that on the anniversary of starting my company, I reveal a new development in my business. As of a few weeks ago I signed with an art publisher. An art publisher is a company that produces high quantities of art for retailers. As an artist this is an amazing opportunity because I get to create but let my publisher take care of all of the other details such as selling, printing, shipping.

Let me stop here to explain that I'm trying to write this post in a semi-professional way, but for the moment, let me stop, do a dance around my office, squeal a little bit with excitement, and I will now sit back down and compose myself.

This is something I feel is perfect for my brand. Just a few short months ago I made a decision to regroup & refocus on what I truly enjoy - creating art, and building my company. Although I'm beyond excited, I'm also somewhat nervous. For any artist reading this, that feeling should come as no surprise. Even after 8 years of creating art there are always nerves when putting work in front of a new audience.

I'll still be selling prints in my shop, but what this art publisher will be able to produce is unlike anything I can create myself - huge canvases, framed prints - it's amazing and I'm so excited. I'll be updating my website with stores where you may be able to find my work. But for now, I just wanted to announce this huge new development. Yay! xoxo Linds


Trick to making Ikea kitchen cabinets look custom...

Happy Monday. This above happened over the weekend. :) Aubrey is constructing the final piece of the kitchen - the valances*. Hooray! He has cut them and glued them together before we go ahead and install them on the upper cabinets.

This is another trick to making Ikea Cabinets look custom - we skipped  buying the molding that they offered at Ikea. Instead we went to our local lumber yard and found a trim style/size we liked and Aubrey is going to install them to hide the under cabinet lighting we installed.

When we paint the trim above the Benjamin Moore Paper Mache, they will blend in with the Ikea  cabinetry. Remember: Benjamin Moore's Paper Mache is a perfect match for Ikea's Adel doors. That tip is worth gold. Really.

*Ok, so I call them valances, others call them light rail moldings. What it is, is molding to hide the under cabinet lights.


kitchen via instagram

So, um - where's our kitchen reveal photos? Although we're using (and loving) our new kitchen it's still not 100% done. So the reveal is delayed because I'm a little bit of a perfectionist and I don't want to reveal until everything is installed. We're almost there. Aubrey is still trying to find time to do the valance (what hides the under cabinet lighting) and he promised me we'll have it done soon. Anyways,  I snapped some photos from around the kitchen to at least show you that I'm still going to reveal it ... hopefully sooner than later.

Clockwise from Top Left: [1] Can you tell where this spot is in our kitchen? If you've followed my blog you'll know that this was inspired by some dreamy kitchen men on TV. [2] Best decision ever to have 1 large sink vs. a sink split into two. I love, love it. Excuse the dishes, but it does show you how deep and awesome it is. [3] Our morning ritual. Oscar pretending his watermellon slices are cars. This is the table I'm thinking of staining darker  [3] Wall of Tile - Best decision also. It's gorgeous. :)

I can tell you - the kitchen is goooorgeous. ;) It's worth the wait.

kitchen bench inspiration

I'm in love with our kitchen bench but I'm forever thinking of changing it up. The table right now feels too light and I'm working myself up to stripping and restaining it. The chairs that we have with it, I have contemplated painting a fun colour. So when I saw this image on The House of Turquoise today, it was quite inspiring. I don't think I could go so bold but I think it's a great example of colour and having fun with pieces like chairs, that you can easily spray paint new colours. If you have any paint stripping/restaining recommendations I'd be forever grateful. Or a company that does restaining - in case I mess it up and need an emergency contact. ;)

Image found via House of Turquoise, Interior Design by Steven Gambrel


Top Choices for a Bathroom Countertop

For homeowners facing a bathroom remodeling project, choosing the right finishing materials can be quite a dilemma. The finished product’s appearance, benefits, price, and quality are all major considerations. Below are four popular choices for bathroom countertops.

Granite countertop installed by KHI
Granite - It’s no secret that granite is one of the best types of countertops for a bathroom. Aside from its beauty, granite is long lasting, stain and scratch resistant. It is the most durable material and easiest to care for material of any of the natural stones. There are hundreds of color choices, each and every granite slab is unique. Cleaning granite is easily done with warm water and a liquid detergent (avoid abrasive cleaners). Small chips and scratches can be polished down and very easily repaired if it’s damaged. If you’re looking for a countertop to last a lifetime, you may want to consider granite.

Manufactured Quartz - Manufactured quartz imitates the look of limestone, granite or marble, but is even more resistant to scratches and stains. It is also nearly twice as strong as natural granite and is available in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses. Quartz is the material to choose if you're considering a countertop with a specialized edging. It is a great choice for the bathroom because it is practical, durable, easy to clean, and doesn't require sealing.

Tile - Tile has always been a popular material for bathroom countertops. If you choose tile just be aware that you will need to clean the grout. Though today’s larger tiles eliminate the need for numerous grout lines, you can use a colored grout that doesn't show dirt as easily and which plays off the color of the tile. Although grout lines need regular maintenance and cleaning, tiles can be easily cleaned with any household detergent.

Solid-Surface Materials - Designed to look like expensive natural stone, solid surface is one of the most popular countertop options because it is economical yet extremely durable and crack-resistant. Scratches can be easily sanded out using fine-grit sandpaper and cleaning requires nothing more than a non-abrasive household cleaner and a damp sponge, wipe the surface dry afterwards. Choose a solid-surface material if you're concerned about mold or mildew as the nonporous, hypoallergenic surface discourages the growth of these allergens.

For more information on bathroom countertops or if you'd like to obtain a quote on a bathroom remodel project call us today at 860-584-8784.



After staying indoors for the past week to help Oscar kick his little cold, we decided to head out today to burn off some energy. Our destination.... The Toronto Zoo.  Favourite exhibit for me is always  the water exhibits .... which made me realize how excited I am for the Toronto Aquarium to open up. (Eeeek!) Anyhow, that was today. More fun posts next week, I'm playing catchup in my shop, and trying to get the last pieces of this darn kitchen done!

Ps., The shop had a sale, there is still some things up for grab!


it will be quiet for a few days...

A cold virus has hit our household.  I've managed to stay healthy but my two boys aren't feeling well at all - Oscar had a fever and was pretty sad all weekend. Lots of cuddles and movies (like this one).

I'm going to take a break from the blog for a few days as I have some time sensitive things I need to accomplish for work. I'm wrapping up an exciting business development that is this close to being finalized and I'm working on discontinuing some stock that I carry in my shop. So if you like stationery I'll be having a sale in the next week on some items. It's not a huge sale but be sure to be on the email list if you want to hear about the sale. (50% off some items to make room for new)

That's about it. Hopefully I'll have some work and kitchen updates to reveal when I come back!

xo Linds

Pssst: My Monopoly Artwork was blogged about over at Cottage Life.


Jadeite Milkshake Maker and Winnings!

The garage sales were abundant today!  It was great to see after last weekend's holiday and rain basically made them non-existent.
I was excited to find this Milkshake Maker. 

Since our downstairs kitchen is all for fun, this will be a perfect addition.

 What a nice surprise in the mail yesterday.  My winnings from Carol at The Polka Dot Closet!
She had a giveaway from Eco Natural Soap.  I won and was able to choose several items.  I chose the Acne Relief Soap, as it works on Rosasea too.  I tried it last night and loved how my face felt.  I am excited to try the Facial Hydration Soap, the makeup and the Acne Relief Balm. The Key Lime Pie Lip Balm is fabulous too!  Thank you to Carol and Eco Natural Soap!

Thanks for your visit and kind comments!


I am linking to the following parties:

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia