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You guys are sooooo lucky because I am posting twice this week, which I don’t think I have ever done.

This post is the continuation of Tuesday’s post …EVERYWHERE A CHIP, CHIP…. I have oodles of leftover paint chips and I wanted to do something utterly fantabulous with them. You see, we need some inexpensive decor items for our new condo. I had an AHA moment! Create something big with the paint chips. So I did!

I started out with 22″ X 28″ white poster board and rubber cement.
Oh ya, doesn’t my upstairs, bright, all mine, new office space have a pretty view….I just love it.

I had previously trimmed hundreds of Benjamin Moore paint chips. I used only one type of paint chip as I knew I wanted size uniformity. I randomly chose a spot and laid down the first chip…the yellow one, then started to glue other chips around it.

The circle…or shall we say my version of the colour wheel started to take shape. Now remember, I was choosing previously trimmed chips RANDOMLY. I wanted to see what would happen with the colours when not carefully curated.

By this stage, I gotta tell you …well let’s just say I’m glad my pretty windows were open…WOWZA, rubber cement is not pleasantly odiferous….to me anyway.
Can you see my three, somewhat defined colour wheels.  At this point I have to admit that I had to chose the placement of a few chips as my pile was getting low on certain colours.
What I started to notice was how the colours were relating with each other….how some look great together and others, not so much.  I also confirmed to myself yet again that when choosing paint colours you MUST view them on a white background. Each colour’s appearance is drastically affected by the colour on either side of it.


So after several hours of gluing several hundred Benjamin Moore paint chips, I cleaned up the excess rubber cement and framed my masterpiece in an IKEA  28″ X 40″ RIBBA frame in chocolate brown.

…to be hung either vertically or horizontally as the space dictates. 
(sorry for the glare…took lots of pics,  and these were the best)

Would I do this again?…..You betcha, but a different format / design as the possibilities are endless.


Two weeks ago I moved my office from the basement to my daughter’s now vacant bedroom which necessitated cleaning up many…er…piles of …. STUFF.  In the process I found my ever growing stash of colour chips. I have been collecting them since I worked on school projects, my own decor projects and clients projects. I’m addicted to these little pieces of coloured squares. I can’t seem to part with any of them, even the most horrid hues. I don’t understand why?
Anyway, I have decided to do somehing creative with them. I’m expecting this ‘picasso’ to grace a wall in the new condo.  Not sure if I will ever show a pic of the masterpiece…time will tell, so don’t hold your collective breath(s).


Last week I went to Toronto to move some items into our  newly purchased condo.  I was also there to choose new colours for the entire space. I was particularly excited to explore colour options because I had taken  Maria Killam’s  True Colour Expert training  course in early June. I love colour, always have, but I realized that I was weak when it came to choosing colours for difficult spaces…spaces where as Maria would say the “bossy” and perhaps existing fireplace, floor, counter, backsplash or wood trim is preventing wise colour choices from being made. The key to choosing colours correctly in this case is to examine the undertones. Determining undertones in colours, especially in existing ‘can’t change them’ colours, is essential in order to wisely decide on new colours that should enhance, not fight with the space.

Both of the condo bathrooms exhibit pinky beige undertones in the floor and shower tiles and the counters.

I realized, with my newly acquired knowledge of colour and undertones that I would find the perfect colour to complement the existing and permanent pinky beige in the two bathrooms. Armed with my new 50 large Benjamin Moore neutral colour samples that I ordered from Maria, I was able to quickly determine, through the process of elimination and comparison that Bradstreet Beige HC-48 was THE perfect colour choice for each bathroom. Maria, I’m certain would agree.

The painters will be finished painting this week and I will be going back next week to try and complete the set up, or at the very least make it habitable for the family members who will be living there.
Stay tuned for the continuing saga of how I chose the remainder of the colours, and how I managed to decorate the condo on a budget.


We hosted our 6th annual ‘Break Family Reunion’ this past weekend at our cottage. Thankfully, my family is relatively small…this year 22 of the clan descended on Chez Coates Cottage from Aug 5-7th.
The first reunion was celebrated in July 2006.  My husband, three daughters and I were really feeling that the long distance that had separated all of my extended family from us might be remedied by having a large gathering, not only to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday, but to also christen the new log cottage that we had been building the previous summer and fall. We did not anticipate at the time, that this event would become a family tradition. (for more cottage pics, click on “Designer at Home” link in the right column)

There is some effort involved in hosting family members for 2-3 days. But I will tell you that we have got this event honed to the nth degree. My two sisters, my mother and I have a set menu which we rely on to make the weekend run tickety boo. Yes, it is about the food, the drink, the sun and fun, but we never forget that what we are trying to achieve is ‘family catch up time’.
The bulk of this event happens here in our kitchen. (Photos of the kitchen in use during this weekend will be permanently unavailable.) It is complete, total, utter chaos, but somehow the fabulous meals, make their way to this table….
and 22-26 people (depending on the year) make their way around the perimeter to fill their plates and gorge on yet another delicious, communal effort. 
Even though the Coates host this shindig…we all have to ‘pitch’ in and make sleeping quarters for some who have not yet arrived. The large tent trailer in the background belongs to my cousin and her husband. They and my Aunt sleep very comfortably in KING size beds in this tent trailer. 
I will share in a later post what I chalked up to be humorous, but others might consider a daunting tale involving these three family members.
Last year, the newest member of our family was only 6 weeks old. This year, she is just over a year old and offered some of the best entertainment…. Jeepers….we get mushy about our babies. 
We have a super large deck on the front of our cottage. This group of family members are sitting outside the screened porch (an absolute necessity in my opinion). The white banner is our family flag…..
which my sisters and I designed several years ago for my parents to hoist on a flag pole where their large trailer (cottage) was parked. We now hang it at the beginning of every family reunion weekend….we just realized we need to add more stars however.
Remaining calm, sane and relaxed during the reunion has required me to be completely organized beforehand…however, I have had to learn to go with the flow…. a hard lesson….but an absolute must!
My Top Ten Rules for achieving success and not more grey hair are:
1. delegate, delegate, delegate
2. complete and thorough shopping lists for the meal planners and spirit buyers…DO NOT RUN OUT OF ANYTHING IF POSSIBLE
3. never clean the cottage BEFORE the reunion….except bathrooms and kitchen…as a cyclone will be travelling at warp speed through the inside and outside the cottage as soon as everyone arrives
4. make sure the family members are comfy looking for food and drink on their own….otherwise you will become an exhausted and cranky hostess
5. paper plates, plastic cups (never for wine…we always use glass) and plastic cutlery are sanity savers. All participants know to recycle the plates and plastic cups…..unfortunately, the plastic cutlery for some reason is not recyclable
6. have plenty of chairs and small tables on the deck and dock for appys, snacks, and drinks
7. bio shampoo and body wash should be provided for those who wish to bath in the lake
8. extra beach towels, sunscreen are a must….someone always forgets 
9. I have been up front and told my family that I will ask them if I need help…..I’m so organized and anal, it throws me off if they continue to ask me
10. be prepared for PLAN B….we have always had great weather, but we could easily have lousy weather, so I have 1000 pc. jigsaw puzzles, board games, cards, books, magazines, and movies on hand


So we bought a condo in Toronto. It needs to be furnished … and … decorated of course.

My vision for the condo is definitely not about chrome, white leather and minimal….I…ok….we want comfort foremost, eclectic, splashes of various styles and eras, Lianne’s paintings (Fine Arts degree) and… some of my shopping will begin in the Chez Coates Store in basement of the cottage where we have stored overflow since our downsize 3 years ago. I’m starting to source now and hope to have the bulk of the decorating done by late August. But it HAS to be done on a budget….and I mean really on a budget. The condo is now abode #3…..after our house and cottage.

Let’s backtrack. Sixteen years ago when our 3 girls were 9, 7 and just turned 5 years old, Mike got a new position in the company he had been working for which meant he would be commuting to Toronto every week. He insisted that this new opportunity would have a 3-5 year life span. We contemplated moving to Toronto (my hometown…entire family stills lives in and outside of Toronto), but for various reasons we poo pooed the idea.

NOTICE how I mentioned 3-5 yrs…which has now morphed into 16yrs. Yes, you may pat me on the back, I was essentially a single mommy for our our girls’ formative years…. taxi driver, cook, laundress, counsellor, mediator, no family from either side….blah, blah blah, and it is the reason why it took me so long to initiate my passion as an Interior Decorator…..I digress, this is fodder for a very different post.

Anyway,  for 16 years, Mike has been staying at The Marriott for a few days most weeks,  a stones throw to his office.

Fast forward to 2010, daughter # 2, Lianne got an internship at ROM last September and very quickly moved to Toronto and now daughter #3, Danielle, who is a certified Esthetician/Cosmetologist  is now also moving to Toronto to attend SOMA, School of Makeup Arts to become a certified Makeup Artist…prosthetics and all….very exciting.


LIGHT BULB FLASHES…excuse me, why are you 3 not all going to live together?… AND at the same time, let’s look at this as an investment (retirement is rapidly approaching) property.  …. HELLOOOO!!

Hence the condo in Toronto and the reason why we are doing the furnishing/decor on the skinny.

Now to the condo. Our floor is waaaaay up (channeling “The Friendly Giant”) looking SW…great views of CN Tower, Lake Ontario….and of course other condos and high rises.
It has 2 large bedrooms…. (hold on just a minute….. there are 3 adults sharing this space…hmmmm!),  two full bathrooms, a newly reno’d, decent sized, workable kitchen…(Lianne loves to cook), looking out onto open concept living/dining…..AND….almost forgot….a sunroom off the living room, which, after we install a Murphy Bed will be where the 3rd adult, the guy who pays the bills, will rest his weary head.

BTW…we had been looking for several months…but I was unable to make it back to see THIS condo, so Mike with real estate agent Ian told themselves this condo was the ticket. I had my first view last week, and I must say, they did a bang up job. Wish I could show the pics I took, but the current owners are still residing there and the closing is next week.

Of utmost importance… all three can walk to work, school, shopping, restaurants, subway etc.

Just occurred to me…..after ALL those years of being a by-myself-stay-at-home-mommy (absolutely NO regrets…my tic will be alleviated shortly and grey hair is now coloured)… ‘ I ‘ will be an empty-nester in Ottawa, and Mike will be with the girls in TO.  ‘Just desserts’?….. it remains to be seen for whom.

Stay tuned for more posts on shopping the basement, shopping in TO, bargain hunting, paint selection, accessories and all the fixins that go into making “home” for three.