Design on a Dime- DIY and Reloved GEMS from the Past

When designing on a budget, there is nothing better than incorporating great quality and stylish vintage (or second hand/thrift store/garage sale/road side throw away) pieces which can be used to draw inspiration for a project. However, sometimes in order to use a key piece you might have to give it a "second debut", and restore it to its former glory. 


Enter this... 1960's Canadian Made , Kaufman Furniture piece that was screaming to be given some TLC


ONCE I set my eyes on this mid Century Walnut dining room credenza, and I knew this was going to be my key piece. 



MCM Modern

Found this Mid Century Walnut Credenza at a Vintage shop, and it needed a lot of work, as it was marked from water damage and had some overall scratches and  hard wear.


Scratches and Water damage


... having an SUV for all my vintage finds and material hauls, is an absolute necessity.  


Getting Started

Stripping off layers of old yellowed Varnish..I used Citristrip which is a 'SAFER' chemical stripper. It's a gel like consistancy that is much better than harsh chemical strippers, but is still effective in getting the job done. 


Stripped and ready for  sanding. For all my refinishes, I use a Dewalt adjustable speed orbital hand-sander. I Started this piece by using a 120 Grit sandpaper by carefully and evenly sanding to retain the integrity of this beautiful vintage veneer. After sanding out rough spots and water marks, I graduated to 180 grit and 320.  Final finish is usually between 400-600 grit before and during treating the wood to a finish. My choices for sandpaper grit usually vary based on the character and condition of the individual piece as well as the species of wood.


doors off to get a really good even sand around all the nooks and crannys.


Keeping my lungs happy and healthy by using proper protection. This is a Honeywell respirtor with Filter P100. 


starting to look like a brand new piece


will you look at that grain..


In lieu of wood stain, because walnut is so naturally beautiful and rich, I choose Tung oil ( you can also use Danish Oil, Teak Oil) to give this beauty deeper colour and enhance the grain and glow. I applied about 6 coats of oil ( 6 hrs wait time btwn coats )and gave it about 2 weeks to "cure" so that the raw wood could fully "drink up" the Tung oil before  I applied 4 coats of a water based Polyurethane to protect that beautiful finish.


Sanding in between coats debate:

Polyurethane manufactures recommend sanding in between coats. I am not a fan of this unless there are wood fibers or dust particles that need to be knocked down in between coats. I find sanding in between coats can easily scratch and cloud up the poly or even more annoying burn through the poly down to the wood.  Reading other wood working blogs, there is a theory that poly manufactures assume that people apply coats that are too thick to start with, and/or want to sell more product, so they recommend sanding in between final coats. If you must sand in between, I prefer a wet sand. Wet paper and lightly water spritzed wood with a fine, 400-600 grit paper. Slow, steady and even pressured sanding strokes is the way to go.


Done and in its new home as the rest of the house is being worked on (dining room reveal coming soon!!)

before and after CREDENZA2.jpg
before and after CREDENZA.jpg

Design on a Dime- Week #1


October 5th 2017





The day has come! We got the keys to our new, old home.


Knowing very well what we had gotten yourselves into with the renos(some of them), something tells me that this place was needing a bit more cleaning than we had last remembered. LIKE a lot hours and hours..maybe days or weeks. Either we completely saw through the grime and right into this place's untapped potential or it had gotten worse since we agreed to buy it. Probably a bit of both. That happens in real estate. We deal with it.





Here we go..

Not trying to get too overwhelmed, but ready to get into the renos immediately ( and while my boyfriend Rob was still at work), I started ripping up the basement floors. 


after 2 hours...

okay, I'm impressed and very pleased with the progress at  this point. I ripped up around 800 sq ft, of flooring in the rec room and the living/dining. SUCCESS! Now I need a cocktail :) 



Free to good home!


Instead of paying to dump used flooring or any other salvaged house materials, consider giving them away for free on a website like Kijiji . Save yourself time, money and extra work, while also being environmentally conscious and maybe even putting a smile on someones face who was looking for just the thing that you're ditching. I got rid of 800 sq of flooring in 10 mins flat after posting an ad on kijiji. A guy came with a truck, hauled the flooring away and...  Another SUCCESS another cocktail...




Tiled fireplace skirt is gone. This was actually a time consuming and potentially very dangerous task. My Boyfriend Rob did this dirty work. With a hammer, chisel and a lot of patience. Most importantly, I CANNOT express the need for a pair of safety goggles MORE than with chipping out tile. You will seriously lose an eye if not. Safety first!  


Fireplace Facelift

This 20 ft long fireplace was just screaming to be painted. Being the focal point of a room that will be well lived in, we decided to paint it a matte white in the  Benjamin Moore: CHANTILLY LACE, to lighten things up a lot. 


Spray, roll or Brush?

Having asked a couple painters, some said using a  paint sprayer would save me so much time and effort. This method though would also would be messy, would waste an excess of product and I find that it was extremely hard to get the paint into every crack and crevice this way.  Another professional painter suggested a roller and brush combo, as he said that the paint is better placed and pushed into the brick via this method.


So to paint brick you either use a Masonry paint with a colour added in it or you a good old primer that sticks to brick, like Zinsser Primer and a regular latex overtop.


The way I did it:

I opted for the Zinsser Primer and latex,with a roller in one hand and a brush in another. SO, I went with the extra paint step and the longer painting method( try 4 days longer..).  I am a glutton for punishment like that, BUT I believe that the end would justify the means.


Extra hands..

My son, Quinn, eager to help 



Rob doing an awesome job on our pot lights. (Rob's a licenced electrician, and pretty much good at everything else too)   


coming into form...

pow! Will you look at how that baby is coming along? Fireplace was a pain in the @#$ but it's over with. Behind the fireplace, I choose a deep but clean looking colour to give some drama, contrast and warmth to the otherwise very large bright monstrosity of a fireplace feature. I choose Sherwin Williams INKWELL SW 6992, for a blue that was almost black but not quite. I love this colour soo much!! Also, notice the industrial but not too much so, sconces and Edison bulbs replacing those old yucky half shell wall sconces. Adding a perfect glow to the empty space on the fireplace wall and will give a cozy glow when we are cuddled up on the couch at night.


yes Costco!


Testing out our floor colour, before prepping flooring and laying them down.

I love Costco and really love a good product for a good price. We bought this laminate flooring from Costco made by Golden Select in the colour "Muskoka". We fell in love. 


and the home stretch....

                and HELLO BEAUTIFUL!!

                IF YOU NEED A REMINDER








before and after.jpg

What's new at the Dieu?


As demolition is coming to an end at the former site of the St. Catharines Hotel Dieu Hospital, some are still curious as to what is planned for this large parcel of land.

     If you haven't yet seen or heard the new site plans, developers are expanding on St. Catharines' retirement community once again.

On February 18th , 2016. The St. Catharines Standard Reported that a "145 million seniors development" was in the works.

"The project includes 560 retirement units spread out over the site, which sits at 155 Ontario St. near Montebello Park and backs onto Twelve Mile Creek.

It includes plans for a 140-unit seniors care residence, two 200-unit apartment buildings and 20 townhomes, according to a city report on community improvement plans, or CIPs, going to council Monday. That report says the estimated project costs are $145 million."





Getting Hitched??

So you swiped right in the game of love, huh?!! Don't know where to start?! Look no further...

Across Southern Ontario there are several upcoming 2017 Bridal Shows that will help you plan for your big day.

Choosing from a sea of little details that will make your wedding an unforgettable day can be an exhausting and trying process- but indeed worth it in the end.  Let industry professionals make the process even more enjoyable - so you can focus on looking forward to stress-free nuptials and memories that last a life time.

If purchasing a home is part of the overall plan for the soon-to-be or just married MR & on.

Whether you may choose to purchase a home before or after the wedding, there are a couple key things that you want to consider. 



See where you two stand financially. 

Get a mortgage pre-approval. Determine what you have as a down-payment, and have available to you for all the other associated costs ie. closing costs of lawyers, land transfer tax, moving etc. Get a good look at you and your partner's financial picture.


 Weddings are a celebration, houses are an investment. Mortgages are based on low interest long term payment, weddings are not. Taking a loan out for a wedding, or creating debt on your credit card to fund a wedding might not be a wise step in the right direction.  Discuss your priorities and your limits for each. 


     Keep your ears and mind open to hearing your partners dreams, goals, and vision for your future home. Ask yourself if you're on the same page? - Will you be needing an extra room or two for a little human in the future? Maintenance free Condo living or large sprawling high maintenance property?

 What kind of financial commitment do you want to carry?  Maybe you'll decide to buy a modest property that allows you the financial freedom to travel and spend on other things than a large mortgage would allow.   Are you on the path as a team to making your dreams a reality? After all, financial stress is a significant contributor to marriage breakdown.  (sorry, to be a Debbie Downer. As much as I like repeat customers, I don't necessarily feel great about listing a couples house for sale 6 months after they purchased  it)

Talk it out, get it sorted and make a plan.










As featured in the Bridal Guide!


Pick up your copy of the BRIDAL GUIDE at the shows listed below!



January 2017

20th Annual Niagara Spring Bridal Wedding Show

Saturday & Sunday, January 14 & 15, 2017
Holiday Inn & Suites Parkway & Conference Centre
325 Ontario Street | St. Catharines, Ontario | Canada | 

Show Hours: 12 noon – 5 pm
Fashion Shows: 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm

February 2017

National Bridal Show

February 3rd, 4th & 5th, 2017
Enercare Centre (formerly known as the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place)

Show Times: Friday 5pm – 9pm,  Saturday 10am – 7pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm

April 2017

Ultimate Bridal Show


Saturday, April 1, 2017 | 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga

September 2017

15th Annual Niagara Autumn Wedding Show


September 17, 2017
Holiday Inn Suite Parkway Conference Centre
325 Ontario St | St. Catharines, ON |  Website

Show Hours: 12 noon – 5 pm
Fashion Show Times: 1:30 and 3:30 (daily)

September 2017

20th Annual Hamilton – Halton Fall Wedding Show


September 23-24, 2017
Hamilton Convention Centre
1 Summers Lane | Hamilton, ON | 

Show Hours: 12 noon – 5 pm (daily)








Prudhommes: The Future of a NEW Development In Niagara


  The long awaited news was announced in June of 2016, that a very desirable waterfront area of Lincoln was about to undergo some long overdue changes.  The area of Prudhommes (Prudhommes Landing) which spans "over 50 hectares in size and bounded by Lake Ontario on the north, the QEW on the south, Jordan Road on the east and Victoria Avenue on the west", was announced as SOLD.

This announcement was yet another exciting article of news reinforcing the transformation of Niagara into a world class region.


Brief History

 According to the St. Catharines Standard,  Prudhommes was home to one of the biggest recreational complexes in Ontario, attracting approx. 7000 guests per day during summer months beginning circa 1949.

In the 70’s and after numerous fires at the site, Prudhommes was up for sale and being slated for another recreational- commercial type complex, which never had materialized.

In 1981, the Prudhomme Group owned by the Ken Fowler Enterprise undertook a $3 million expansion to develop what many of us might remember as Wet N Wild waterpark. The park closed in 2002 and sat abandoned for almost 15 years.

Prudhommes Captured in 1943

Prudhommes Captured in 1943

Current Aerial  :source Public Presentation

Current Aerial

:source Public Presentation

Wet N Wild in its glory days circa 1990's

Wet N Wild in its glory days circa 1990's

Abandoned Water Slide Summer 2016

Abandoned Water Slide Summer 2016

Wet N Wild Abandoned 2016: Looking towards the Waterfront

Wet N Wild Abandoned 2016: Looking towards the Waterfront

Hotel Pool Abandoned 2016 

Hotel Pool Abandoned 2016 



The Future of Prudhommes

When Wet N Wild waterpark closed in 2002,  it sat abandoned along side an adjacent hotel. For years after, local area and Niagara Residents were wondering what future plans were for this area. A couple months following the sale of the property in summer 2016,  urban designer Ken Greenberg and the project stakeholders rolled out their plans for the future of the site.

In his plans, Ken Greenberg displayed his vision for Prudhommes by making reference to  European waterfront communities and as well as a site in the Muskoka Region. In these references below,  you will see  terms,  "sustainable" "heritage attractions" "biodiversity" "condominiums" and "renewable energy" have been noted throughout. Terms such as these leave me to believe that Greenberg is alluding to NOT a run of the mill residential development. 


When will this new development take place?

       It is to be expected that development of this land could still take a while to come to fruition. A project of this scope requires a lot of investigation and approvals from different authorities, namely the Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Shoreline Protection etc.  However, once official plans are set and development is underway, the impact upon the surrounding communities and land is sure to be a positive one. The vision of the planner is to integrate all that Niagara has to offer from its strong agri-tourism, natural heritage, its beautiful waterfronts, multiple wineries, and arts and culture( just to name a few). 

For now we are left guessing exactly what form this NEW Prudhommes will take.  Surely Niagara and local residents will have a lot to look forward to in the next coming months and years!







Photo sources:

St. Catharines Standard

Town of Lincoln

Abandoned Waterpark and Hotel Photos: Christine Garus




Highlights on The GOOD NEWS for Niagara

-GE relocating main engine plant from Wisconsin, USA to Welland, Ontario

-Tear down of old GM site with plans for many different use facilities

-Tear down of Hotel Dieu Hospital, with plans of new senior residences

-$1 BILLION of foreign investment planned to go into Niagara Falls housing

-Sale and future plans for Prudhommes prime 80 acre and 1 km of waterfront property

-The GO train is coming to Niagara.... regular service to Niagara Region is estimated to start in 2021


We have a lot of look forward to!





Foreign-buyer Tax in Vancouver...coming to Ontario?!

Reality check: Can B.C.'s new foreign-buyer tax cool Vancouver's housing market?

Potential loopholes might allow speculators to dodge 15% surcharge, opposition says

By Zach Dubinsky, CBC News Posted: Jul 27, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 27, 2016 5:00 AM ET

"The British Columbia government broke new ground this week  ,announcing a hefty tax on foreign homebuyers in the Metro Vancouver area, something Ontario quickly said it will watch closely as a possible way to cool off Toronto's hot housing market"

         The B.C. tax will force buyers who aren't Canadian citizens or permanent residents to pay an extra 15 per cent of the fair market value of any residential property they acquire, on top of the existing land-transfer fee — an extra $300,000 on a $2-million home, for example. Finance Minister Mike de Jong said revenue from the surcharge would be used to fund housing, rental and support programs.

Analysts disagree on how much foreign buyers are driving up prices in the Vancouver-area market, as opposed to other factors like low interest rates, zoning issues, a lack of social housing and the city's all-around appeal.

But regardless, the government is hoping that its tax will soften demand for homes and make housing more affordable, de Jong and Premier Christy Clark said.

Experts and people in the industry who CBC News spoke to were of several minds.

Won't buyers just find loopholes?

The legislation to enact the new 15 per cent tax tries to pre-empt several possible loopholes by making the tax mandatory whether the buyer is:

·         A non-resident foreign citizen.

·         A corporation either incorporated outside Canada or controlled by foreigners.

·         A trust where the trustee, or even just one of the beneficiaries, is a foreigner.

But that still leaves some major gaps, according to the opposition provincial NDP housing critic, David Eby.

"As a Canadian or permanent resident, I could set up a company and fully capitalize it with foreign money and there's nothing stopping me from buying up as many properties as I wish without paying any of this tax," Eby said in an interview. 

In other words, foreigners could potentially still acquire Vancouver-area homes free of the new tax through a corporation, as long as the majority of the voting shares are domestically controlled, even if none of the equity shares are (which is a common-enough corporate structure used in firms like Google, Facebook and Bombardier to keep effective control in the hands of the company founders). 


NDP MLA David Eby, the party's housing critic, says the new tax won't do anything about speculation on pre-sale condos and homes. (CBC)

Another loophole is that the new tax doesn't apply to pre-sale condos and homes, Eby said, which means foreign speculators can still snatch up properties under development and then flip them later, as long as it's done before construction is completed and the new homes are inscribed on the provincial property registry.

"We have a problem where speculators are buying all the units in a development and scalping them like hockey tickets, and this won't catch that," he said.

There's also the possibility a Canadian citizen or resident could incorporate a company in Canada to buy a Vancouver-area house, and then when they want to sell it to a foreigner, they merely sell the shares of the corporation. Title to the home never changes hands, so it doesn't necessarily become subject to the new transfer tax. 

B.C. Finance Ministry communications director Jamie Edwardson said that's "fairly standard contract law" and agreed that the tax might not be incurred, but pointed out that the government's proposed legislationincludes an anti-avoidance rule that would still catch any schemes set up for the purpose of dodging the tax. 

"If you structure your affairs to avoid paying the tax, we will audit you and the tax applies," Edwardson said.

Bottom line? "I don't think there is any limit to human creativity, especially when it comes to avoiding taxes," Vancouver real estate lawyer Sky Anderson said. That said, Anderson was of the view that most of these loopholes won't be exploited in practice. 

"Few people, in my experience, are willing to let another individual, even a family member, have absolute control over their company and their property simply to avoid a tax." 


B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents data Tuesday from a new government initiative to track property sales. The early figures show about 10% of all homes purchased in Metro Vancouver between June 10 and July 14 went to foreign buyers. (CBC)

Will the tax tame housing prices?

The bigger question is, whether or not some buyers find loopholes, what the overall effect of the tax will be on Metro Vancouver's red-hot housing market. As of May, prices were up another 30 per cent from the year prior, according to the Greater Vancouver real estate board.

North Vancouver real estate agent Roland Lewis said that in the short term, he sees the new transfer levy having a price-tamping shock effect as foreign buyers absorb the surprise that properties they had their eye on will now cost 15 per cent more.

But long term, for average house prices, "it really will do nothing," he said, citing the fact foreign buying tends to happen at the high end of the market. 

"Folks have to understand what segment of the market foreign ownership does occupy and if 15 per cent really does make a difference to them. That foreign ownership portion of the market... I think people think it's much bigger than it really is."

However Tom Davidoff, a professor at the University of British Columbia's business school who focuses on housing and the economics of real estate, said there's "no question" the new tax will put a chill on foreign demand for Vancouver-area housing.

"I just find it hard to believe people will be willing to pay in large numbers this 15 per cent surcharge," he said.  

"Part of what draws foreign money to Vancouver is the feeling that 'I'm safe here.' When you start to throw up roadblocks, alternative investments start to be more attractive."

Davidoff speculated some foreign money might now look to other Canadian cities like Victoria, Kelowna, B.C., or even Toronto. Which means the problem of unaffordable housing might just get punted elsewhere.

Should Ontario enact a similar tax in the GTA?

The new B.C. tax has inspired Ontario's finance minister. Charles Sousa said Tuesday he "welcomes" the move and will "be looking very closely" at it in the months ahead for the Greater Toronto Area, where prices for detached, single-family homes are up around 20 per cent year-over-year.


Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has his eye on B.C.'s new tax. (David Donnelly/CBC)

That scorching pace will only intensify if investor cash now diverts to Toronto from Vancouver.

"Even if two to three per cent of that money would come here, any increase in demand is going to put pressure on our prices, so the government should be looking at that proactively," Toronto real estate agent and real estate blogger David Fleming said. 

Ontario would have to follow B.C.'s lead and update its land-transfer rules to be able to collect information like a buyer's nationality and the identity of the beneficial owners behind a homebuying corporation or trust, but it's nothing that hasn't been done elsewhere. 

"We're living in a brave new world," UBC's Davidoff said, "where internationally mobile capital is actually chasing single family homes and apartments. That didn't use to happen as much.

"So any place that is feeling like it's a target should start to implement these kinds of taxes."  “





Driftwood Residence

     Located in St. Catharines, this Contemporary gem known as Driftwood sits on more than 10 acres of land and boasts some extensive updates.  Featuring it's very own private Irish Pub,  home gym, 4 bay garage, sprawling yards and carefully landscaped exterior within its private surrounding- Driftwood is a site to see. It is offered for sale for $ 1,750,000.


Take a look at the before and after images- you might not believe that this is the same house.