We’re back! And we’ve got a free find to share.

OPL country living

OK, so that was a longer break than we had intended! Christmas vacation turned into New Year’s vacation turned into Valentine’s Day vacation. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. Apologies for the absence, but given the exotic life I’ve been living these days, you might be glad I didn’t post. Yes, between trips to my parents, bundling up myself, the kids and the dog for freezing walks in the neighbourhood and watching too many series on Netflix, I’ve really set the bar high for an enviable lifestyle. Pass the wine honey, and can you wash my stretchy pants while you’re doing laundry? Yup, it’s the life of the Ottawa elite right here. (more…)

Five Simple Decorating Ideas To Keep You Sane During The Holidays

newberry sykes canvas holiday bar vignetteOh hi! Remember me? It’s been a while since my last post. I’d love to say I’ve been off taking care of all my Christmas shopping and holiday preparations but the reality is I’ve been running to get all my clients taken care of before Christmas and I’ve hardly done anything on the home front! On the weekend we finally had a chance to get our tree and make the house a little more festive. Are you in a time crunch too? Here are a few of the ways I streamlined and made decorating a little bit easier this year. (more…)

My Final Paint Project of 2014: The Living Room Painting is Done!

The living room is painted.

newberry sykes living room snappy dresser paint 3

I caution anyone from combining the task of finishing Christmas shopping AND painting a living room. Unless you are super woman with eight arms who can effortlessly shop in July and wield a paint brush in December. I am not that woman. I should probably also caution my family that their gifts now consist of stockings full of painter’s tape, paint rollers and anything else I found in the painting aisle of Home Hardware. ;-) (more…)

Three Christmas Crafts for the Decorista with Kids

I know that Christmas is for kids. But even though I know that, I sometimes fall prey to the pretty, catalog Christmas decor, and forget how much fun the goofy, ugly or crazy-coloured ornaments can be for kids. There’s a place for my pretty ornaments that have been around since I was a kid.

christmas for kids

But there’s lots of room to create Christmas decorations for the little guys in the family too. I think next year we’ll try to make a few more decorations together. Right now, he’s not the craftiest of kids ;-) Last year I decided to give Jimmy his own tree and North Pole train track.

ikea train hack christmas

This tree is all about the hands-on experience. There was no worrying about broken ornaments or shattered dreams (mine! ha ha) and the train was meant for being played with. It’s a SUPER easy decoration to make too. You can purchase the train track from IKEA and then embellish the train car with craft paint. I sprayed varathane on the cars when everything was dry so the paint wouldn’t chip off when we played with it. (Of course, this isn’t a toy for a child who still mouths things, but for the slightly bigger kids it’s ideal.) Here’s a few close-up of the trains. There’s no pattern or template, just get creative and freehand a few decorations and colours. I stuck to the traditional green, red and gold & added snowflakes, candies and a few Ho Ho Hos.

ikea christmas train hack ikea christmas train hack

When I brought it out again this year Jimmy was super excited and immediately asked if he could put it around the big Christmas tree. We’ll have to see how that works out when it finally comes in the house! :-)

The Kid’s Table

This year for the Canadian Tire event Sue & I did, I created the kids side of the Christmas table. (Sue did the grown-up glam side.) I had a hard time leaving my kiddie creations behind at the store! I really loved both projects so much.

The first craft was place cards for the table. You know, because a) all kids read and b) they love being told where to sit. So yup, this one is all for the MOMS in the crowd today. ;-)

canadian tire ornament place card holder for kids

To create these majestic-looking table creatures, I used these deer ornaments from the new CANVAS line of Canadian Tire Christmas decorations. All I did was paint the wood plaque behind the deer ornament with some chalk paint and clip some boxwood for their antlers. To write the place cards, I trimmed some paint chips I had from PARA and wrote my kid’s names in white. I did have to prop them up with some cardboard I had on hand, or you could place them on the lip of the plates you’re using. I love that they can go from the table to the tree too. By using chalk paint you can write a message on them and add them to the tree year after year.

newberry sykes canadian tire chalk painted place setting

The next table craft I did used the CANVAS line of ornaments again. I could not resist those boots!

canadian tire ornament centrepiece for kids


To make this centrepiece I brought out my glass cake stand and cut a piece of cardboard to fit the base. Then I took three sets of the furry boots and hot glued them so that they hung off the plate. Then I grabbed one of Canadian Tire’s rustic wooden and pine cone strings and wove it through. In the centre I rolled some gold ribbon around a roll of cardboard I glued to the base and placed two nutcracker ornaments on top. I glued them to the cardboard roll, and to each other so they were sturdy. Then I once again went to my paint chip stash and used some gold stickers to put the 2014 sign in their hands. This centrepiece works so nicely on any table, but especially when you’ve got some kids who like to look and touch things. Lots of hot glue will hold it together, and well, a piece of chalk and a chalk painted placemat will keep their hands busy if you don’t want them touching your masterpiece!

canadian tire chalk painted placemats for kids


So there we are, a few christmas decorations that should help you find your own inner child too. I hope you find some inspiration here for your family!


Chez Newb: Living Room Paint Colour

I’m at it again. I just can’t stop painting. Mostly it’s because PARA Paints chose us to be part of their Blog Crew and well, it was free paint for a year! Talk about motivation for changing up the colours of your house. And change I have. This year I’ve painted the shed, the mudroom, the kitchen, the dining room, the bathroom, the bedroom and stained the decks and the fence. And so now, obviously, it’s onto the living room. (No, not obviously, I’m a freak!)

mere gate ottawa decor newbery sykes

Here’s the back story to why I’m painting yet another room. When we chose the colour for our living room, we had just finished building an addition to the house.

Floor to ceiling windows Chez Newb

The Addition — Living Room Area

Our contract stated that we could choose two colours for walls and one for the trim. Looking back, I should have negotiated that. Instead, I was carrying around a 5 day old baby and a pack of paint chips trying to figure out what two colours to choose. I was tired of dark since we had just tripled our living space and added lots of light, bright space. I wanted a colour to match my mood. But as Sue reminded me this year, you don’t pick colours for your house five days after you had your first baby. We chose yellow as the main colour for the house. Apparently yellow is the neutral go-to colour when you don’t know the gender of your baby or what the heck your space is going to look like when it’s completely finished.

In all honesty the yellow is a great yellow. But after 3 years of it, I’m okay with a change. Nick was ready for a change right away. In fact, the weekend the painters were working on the house Nick and I were out of town and spent an hour in a paint store debating on whether we’d done the right thing. Nick swore it was Cora’s yellow all over our house. (Cora’s the restaurant, that is. Cora does great breakfast, but that beaming bright yellow is not the colour you want to wake up to every day.) Thankfully once we got back to the house after the weekend and saw the final coat, it was a pretty mellow yellow and looked good. However, Nick was never really sold on the yellow.

So fast forward to a few weekends ago when every wall in my living room looked like this, I was committed to painting. (I was trying out some accent wall colours here too.)


While I thought about going with a new colour, of course I ended up with another shade of grey. It’s the paint splotch on the left and it’s called Snappy Dresser, of course by PARA Paints. This grey is a lot cooler than the yellow, naturally. So I think it will take the room toward a more of a modern feel that we’re looking for. I’m excited about being able to bring some new accent colours into the room now too. I have ideas for an accent wall and I’d love to bring some colour into the room with pillows, artwork and blankets.

It will also flow really well from the kitchen into the living room, and I think it’s a great backdrop for the new rug we picked up at HomeSense. See it there, behind that cute baby ;-)


I’m on a strict timeline to get this done so I can get the Christmas tree up and the decorations around the house! Let’s see if I can get some solid naps tomorrow boys! ;-)

I’ll be back soon with some super cute Christmas kid’s table decor items I made a few weeks ago. Stay tuned!



The Story of the Magical $20 Christmas Tree {OK, it’s not Magical. But it is $20!)

Woah! Where have we been?! I’d love to say we were both stealing away on a sunny cruise or in Rome sharing bowls of pasta and pizza with our perfectly behaved children; but nope, my family has just survived the plague of 2014. Yay! We made it. Plague you ask? What plague? You might not have heard about it, since it was highly localized to my house and perhaps my sleep-deprived, wild imagination. Dramatic much? ;-) Okay, yah, we were all sick. At least we got that over before Christmas. (Knock on wood!)

This weekend I ended my personal pity party and got on with things. That’s right, the show (meaning, Christmas) must go on! Apparently when you spend too much time on the blog-o-sphere you think if you don’t have you house festooned in red, green and glitter by Dec. 1st you are doing something wrong. Well, I’m here to reassure you that you aren’t! In my books, the first week of December is super early to even think about a Christmas tree. But my books have also been fending off the aforementioned plague, so it was high time to get some spirit of the season in the house (note, I didn’t say spirits of the season, that’s another post). I won’t put the tree up for a bit but I was NOT about to miss the opportunity to get an IKEA tree this year.  (Side note, you can buy your tree early, just don’t cut off the required 1″ from the trunk until you are ready to bring it inside.)

The IKEA tree parking lotThe IKEA tree does not come in a flat-pack box. It does not come with instructions. It doesn’t even come with an Allen key! It’s just a real, live tree. And it’s $20 with proceeds going to the local Lion’s Club. Last year, leaving the Christmas spirit a little too late, the Newberry family spent an afternoon driving around Ottawa trying to find a tree. We started at a tree lot off Bank Street and nearly fell over at the price. A tree was going for $50. What. The. Heck? A tree that we’d have in our house for a week was going to cost us more than a jumbo-sized box of diapers? No way. Nu-uh. Nick said something about trees not costing that much when he was a kid, and then ‘c’mon, these things actually grow on trees!’. And the tree guy laughing at him. So we went to another place. Same story. And another. And finally we got to the YMCA and found beautiful 8 foot trees. Nick said, so the money you raise will help to support the YMCA programs? Yes, they responded. Then good, we’ll have that big tree right there. Ahhh the true spirit of Christmas….if you have to spend that much money on a tree, let it help someone else too.

Bringing home the tree

Our Christmas tree story does not end in magical snowy sleigh rides, hot chocolate and log fires in the woods. It ends with a box of cinnamon buns, a $1 frozen yogurt and a coupon for $20 toward my next purchase at IKEA. Yes, I wish I had the magic moments, but I’m kinda glad I didn’t have the magical meltdown or mortgage payment for a Christmas tree like last year. ‘Tis the season! Fingers crossed this tree looks great when we take off the wrapping.

I’m also just crazy enough to think that I’ll finish painting my living room before the Christmas tree goes up. I started my first wall last night. Now that I’ve started it means I have to finish it before family arrives. Or maybe I’ll just keep the lights low and the Christmas spirits flowing ;-)




Build Your Own Festive Outdoor Planter {A Holiday DIY Chez Newb}

I admit to normally having a lame exterior when it comes to Christmas. I am no Griswald. I’d love to have a classic Christmas house strung with lights and twinkle, but I don’t. Normally I’m kinda late with the exterior decor and have to contend with climbing not-so-gracefully into snowbanks and grasping onto icicles instead of enjoying a magical movie moment where birds string lights into pine trees and chipmunks plug in the lights. Instead with a short ladder and a fear of heights (i.e. no crawling across the roof for me!) I’m usually left stringing lights haphazardly along the lower half of my abode. Maybe this is the year I’ll borrow a really long ladder? Or maybe I’ll just celebrate the fact that my wonderful husband and son already strung some lights along our front yard fence. We’re getting started early this year. Finally!

But what I really want to get a head start on are my own outdoor Christmas planters for around the front door. I got super inspired by the ones I made for the Canadian Tire event Sue and I were at. (Yes, I’m like a broken record, but I REALLY got my craft on for that event so I’ve got tonnes of things to share with you from then.) I foraged through the store’s garden supplies and came up with some awesome planters, and the rest came together easily.

newberry sykes canvas holiday outdoor urn

Here are my tips for creating your own outdoor planter.

Get a Pretty, Solid Planter.

The planters most people fill with soil in the summer will blow away in the winter if they’re not weighted down. If you’ve already ditched the dirt from the summer, put a few bricks or rocks in there instead, or some gravel if you have any handy. For the display above, I chose a red planter and then inserted a smaller metal planter inside. This gave me something to both stand the branches in, but to also hold the wreath in place so I could get some variation in height and width in the planter. (The red planter was gorgeous on its own, but was a bit too wide to hold things together sturdily and cleanly; that’s why I added the inner planter.)

Wrap a Wreath or Garland Around the Base.

Greenery transitions the base nicely and gives you a place to string some lights. I used a wreath but you could also use garland and weave it securely around, or arrange pine boughs in the bottom layer. Make sure the greenery billows out a bit too though; it’s like a pretty and functional scarf for your sticks ;-)

Go Natural.

Grab twigs, sticks, birch tree branches, pine cones, sumac and whatever you can find or buy. These branches were all from Canadian Tire, but you could easily forage in the woods for items you like. I especially like putting in red branches for a flash of colour.

Paint ‘em.

If you can’t find a variety of species in the woods or store, don’t be afraid to grab some white or gold spray paint and spray the grey branches that abound in the woods these days. Just make sure to use exterior paint.

Vary Heights.

Use a variety of materials and make sure some go high and some fill in the gaps below. Pine cones and other smaller pieces can be glued onto sturdy sticks and fill in where you need some fullness near the base, or variety in the middle.

Light It Up.

christmas lights display

Here’s how the planters I made look like in the dark. Just weave the lights within the greenery at the base and then all the way to the top of the branches. I used tiny wire-based lights from NOMA that are gorgeous, but any smaller-sized exterior light string will do.

Embellish it.

Most people stick to greenery or a few large ornaments for their planters, but why not add some fun too. You could hang some treats for the birds, create an acorn or pine cone garland, hang a Happy Holidays sign, or even hang some happy notes in it for guests to find.

I would have more than happily brought these planters home with me, but since they were created for the store event, I’ll be working on my own lighted masterpieces this weekend. I think if I can create a winter wonderland at ground level, I might avoid climbing a ladder to the gable of my house and save myself some embarrassment and potential injury. (An electrician we had in for the kitchen renos last year said installing an outlet in the top gable of a house was quite popular for Christmas lights. Good tip for anyone who is building new or renovating.)

Happy planter foraging (or buying! :-))



Seven Ways to Make Your Basic Bathroom Better by This Weekend

If you read many blogs you know that builder basic means opportunity, right?? If you’ve ever walked into a boring ol’ bathroom during an open house, you’ve known it could be so much better? One of our readers, Sara, sure did. She and her family bought a beauty of an old home in Old Ottawa East (yay OOE!) and inherited a few unique features to say the least. They are mid-century modern folks, so this bathroom didn’t really work for them. But with a few quick changes to this first floor hard-working bathroom they were able to keep all the original pieces and still create a cool and functional room. Check what they did and learn a few quick tips for taking a plain Jane bathroom to a pretty new powder room.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes8

Just ‘cos the world is chock full’o'blog posts of Before and Afters; here is the bathroom just as the work started. Nothing really wrong, but nothing really great either.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes

Paint It

One of the cheapest big impact changes to a room is paint. I’m flattered to say that these home owners were inspired by my bathroom paint choice and also rolled on a coat or two of Dancing Dolphins by Para Paints. A light palette keeps things airy and creates a perfect backdrop for accessories.builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes9

Make a Simple Statement

If you pick one focal point, you can keep the rest of your updates simple. These home owners chose a gorgeous (can I say that again, GORGEOUS!) mirror to steal the show.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes12

Repurpose Everyday Objects

Flip a mesh basket on the side and attach it to the wall for storage that looks good and is great for a bathroom. Toilet paper and towels are the best things to keep in sight in a bathroom for guests.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes7

This Q-tip storage container is the home owner’s silver baby cup from when she herself was a baby. Instead of letting it sit in a box, she put it out to be enjoyed. And yes, because it’s in a humid environment she also has to polish it lots. Thankfully the beautiful tarnish still looks great to me.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes3

White Towels & Glass Containers

Nothing is a better choice to match a colour scheme (and keep clean wash after wash) than a white towel. A simple glass soap pump beats original packaging just about every time.
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Lovely Lights

Edison bulbs are such a great vintage look, but also tend to come with simple glass fixtures. This glass light fixture is great idea for keeping the room bright and also keeping the bathroom looking unique. (BTW I found some really affordable Edison bulbs at Target. Unfortunately they don’t last as long as their more expensive brethren, but they’ve been doing the trick in my dining room.) This bathroom has lots of west-facing light so these bulbs, which aren’t necessarily great for casting bright light, really work well and look fabulous.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes4 Don’t Be a Knob; Add Some Sparkle

These acrylic knobs were actually already in the house when the home owners moved in. They kept them in place while saving to buy some lust-worthy new knobs, but quite frankly I think they work really well in this room. They aren’t the brass or the plain fixtures you’d expect  on a new cabinet and give a little bit of sparkle to the light oak vanity.
builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes2

Form AND Function

Okay, this was the coolest thing. This levered laundry helper is called a Sheila Maid. (No offense to any Sheila who might be reading.) The idea is that with ropes and pulleys you can lower the rack to hang wet towels, clothes, mittens etc., and then lever it back up to where the warm air collects. Neat eh? It works so well for this room because it’s right off the entryway and in Canada, we have a lots of scarfs, toques and mittens to dry! If this was a main bathroom I’d suggest mittens might not work here, but for this room, excellent use of space.

builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes10 You can see how it can hang out of the way if you check out the reflection in the mirror.builder basic bathroom update newberrysykes11

Cute bathroom isn’t it? I like how they kept most things the same and were able to jazz it up so nicely using just a few new things. Now, I think I need to hang a plant in my bathroom too.

What tips do you have for taking a bathroom for boring to brilliant? We’d love to hear them in the comments or on our Facebook page. Happy Monday everyone!




Christmas Tree Card & Photo Display {A Holiday DIY Chez Newb}

When Sue started singing carols and clinking glasses at the Canadian Tire event we were at two weekends ago, I knew she wouldn’t object to posting about Christmas early this year. Christmas is her favourite time of year, and frankly, I can’t argue with her. (I’d definitely take Christmas in July though!) Let’s hope you guys are in the same frame of mind and aren’t too bothered by the fact that I’m starting Christmas posts a little earlier than usual this year. But with the snow falling this week and the weekend shopping countdowns to Christmas starting already (ugh!) it seems like a good time to share a Christmas craft we did chez Newb the other weekend.

We don’t have a lot of display space Chez Newb. So when the holidays roll around and the cards come in, there are only a few places to put them. Last year I used my dining room mirror as a display area for them. But this year I’ve got a brand new place. Say hello to my little friend the ‘Oh Christmas Card Tree’.

newberry sykes canvas holiday diy christmas card treeMy simple tree will hang in the kitchen when the cards start coming in the mail. Since the kitchen tends to be the hub of the house I’ll be able to see all the Christmas cards and pics from my friends and family, and that makes me happy. Want one too? It’s easy.

What You Need to Make a Christmas Card Tree:

  • 1 x 7 foot piece of 1″ trim
  • twine or wire
  • paint of any festive colour
  • string of lights (I used Noma battery operated LEDs)
  • ornaments and
  • some friends*

For a 7 foot piece of wood, mark the following lengths:

  • 33″
  • 24″
  • 16″
  • 8″

My husband already had the circular saw out, so he just put a slight angle on it and started cutting each length with the same angles. You could just as easily leave the ends straight though.

What You Need to Do to Make a Christmas Card Tree:

Next step is to lay out the string on the floor in a Christmas tree shape, using the widest slat as your bottom measure. Put lots of extra string at each end so that you can wind it round the wood. Anchor the three points of the string with whatever you have handy and then lay the slats of wood down on top at equal distances apart to create a pine tree shape. (Ours are 8.5″ apart.) We used a hot glue gun to secure the slats and then wrapped the string around the wood slats once more to keep it flat when we hung it up. Once the glue is dried and you’ve tested out how well the glue has held up, trim your string.

To decorate, I added LED battery string lights, some small bells, and an ornament on the top of the tree. I kept those bits simple since the cards will steal the show. (That’s where the friends come into this craft…they supply the Christmas cards, of course.)*

We used what we had on hand to keep this craft simple, but you could get creative with some different items too.

Last year I made another rustic tree for my Christmas decor. I’m seeing this type of tree pop up all over the place now! (I’d love to say I’m a trend setter, but I’ll leave that to the people who must have done this first…) I just saw one in HomeSense and it had a much larger price tag than free.

A few sticks trimmed to size, attached by screws and sprayed white.

A few sticks trimmed to size, attached by screws and sprayed white.

So that was our first foray into the Christmas crafts for this year. I’ve got a few more up my sleeve to share with you over the coming weeks. I don’t start decorating til Dec. 1st, (which I hope explains why this post has few pictures….I don’t have any festive backdrops yet!) but with free time very precious these days, it never hurts for me to be prepared.







Trend Watch: All That Glitters Is Gold


Sarah Pacey (left) of Decorating Den Interiors in New Brunswick and Susan Sykes (right) of Decorating Den Interiors in Ottawa, Ontario with celebrity designer Libby Langdon at High Point Market Fall 2014

Quick recap: I visited High Point, North Carolina in October with 100 of my fellow decorators and business owners from Decorating Den Interiors. We were the largest single buyer group at the Fall 2014 High Point Market and toured through 30+ trade-only supplier showrooms over two days. It was a whirlwind, but the long days and aching feet were more than worth it! We saw, touched, sat on and took photos of all the new products we’ll be able to offer our clients over the coming months. Along the way, I noticed a few trends and thought I’d do a series of posts on what to look for in home decor. First up: gold.

Raise your hand if you feel like you’ve spent the last decade trying to rid your decor of all things gold-coloured (a.k.a. brass). I sure do – my last two homes have had lots of brass fixtures and hardware leftover from the 90s. But just as you replace that last brass knob with one in brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze, I’m hitting you with this news: GOLD IS BACK!


An abundance of gold at High Point Market Fall 2014

OK, so it’s not exactly the brass finish we loved to hate, but I’m guessing a lot of people are going to have a hard time getting their heads around this trend. There’s going to be no way around it, though. At High Point Market, gold was everywhere, in every showroom, from mirrors to furniture, lamps to artwork. I surprised myself by falling in love with the look! A few accents in the “new gold” are the perfect way to bring a neutral colour scheme to life or to complement rich hues like charcoal and navy.

Here are a few ideas for bringing some gold into your home:

ns trend watch gold


1 – Round decorative mirrors make a stunning statement, especially in gold. Try it over a console table.

2 – Every armchair needs a table! This one would make a great place to set your drink in an entertaining space.

3 – Take baby steps towards embracing gold with a sweet little mirrored tray. Use it on your night table, dresser or bathroom vanity to corral small items.

4 – I love the juxtaposition of the simple linen drum shade with the sculptural feel of the base of this lamp.

5 – This etagere is the perfect place to show off your favourite accessories – except its stunning gold leaf finish and eye-catching design might just steal the show!

How do you feel about the gold trend? Can you make it work in your decor? If you need help, I’m just a phone call away!

Sue Signature

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