Get This Look: The Set of Homeland

Homeland is back! (I haven’t watched the first episode of season four yet though, so no spoilers!) I’ve been known to indulge in a Homeland marathon or two over the past three seasons. I love watching the whole season again one-right-after-another and spotting all the clues, cast or hints that I missed the first time around.

But, let’s be real. Even though I’m entirely gripped by the show, I’m always checking out the houses in the set. Did you know it’s not even shot in D.C.? Nope, they have an entire crew in Charlotte, North Carolina to replicate the D.C. scenes from clandestine Capitol Hill meetings, to kidnappings, to Carrie and Saul’s homes.

Episode 101

The first season I easily picked out that Carrie’s house is furnished almost entirely in Ikea furniture. It’s easy to pick out the Karlsdad sofa, the frames, even the Skruvsta swivel chair in her living room. If you watch the show you might be able to imagine that Carrie ordered it all in one shot, set it up while drinking too much wine and throwing the allen key, then never touched it again. I don’t think she’s the type of person to really obsess over what’s on her walls, apart from the names and faces of terrorists!

View Her Apartment in Google Maps



But Saul’s house is an absolute dream to me. From rich colours, thick carpets & draperies, built-ins, to colourful art and tapestries, it’s a gorgeous home that suits his family’s life and interests.

View The House on Google Maps

Mandy-Patinkin-as-Saul-Berenson-in-Homeland-Season-3-Episode-05-2672302 HOMELAND-week-48-2811595 Sarita-Choudhury-as-Mira-and-Mandy-Patinkin-as-Saul-Berenson-in-Homeland-Season-3-Episode-05-2672306

Brody’s family abode boggles me. It’s lost in an era of pine! I don’t understand how someone as stylish as Jessica Brody wouldn’t be itching to change out that dining room or living room!

The outside is great.Homeland-home-8341cf-573x430

But the inside is not what I’d expect. The kitchen is updated with some IKEA cabinets and a Home Depot island, but the rest has stayed in a bit of a time warp. Maybe it reminds them of happier TV times when their father wasn’t America’s #1 Most Wanted… I could get that!



Is anyone else tuning in October to see what the heck is in store for Carrie and her new baby?



One Room Challenge: Our Master Bedroom


Remember when I asked for input on which space should be my next #ParaBlogCrew project? I revealed in this post that I chose my master bedroom and showed you the colour that I chose for the headboard wall. In an effort to force myself to FINISH painting and decorating, I’m joining the 2014 Calling It Home One Room Challenge linkup:


Every Thursday for the next 5 weeks, check in with me and the other participants to see how we’re doing on our rooms. The final reveal will be November 6 and I can’t wait to finally get my bedroom pulled together!

I met with a new client yesterday who commented that her master bedroom was the last space on her decorating list. I think a lot of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, prioritize the public spaces of our homes when it comes to decorating and rooms like the master bedroom tend to suffer the consequences.

It’s a phenomenon that’s certainly been true Chez Sykes. When we bought this house two years ago, we replaced the master bedroom carpet, took down the previous owners’ window treatments, and installed faux wood horizontal blinds for privacy. The room has since been virtually untouched by my decorator’s wand, except in my mind. I’d lie in bed every night and imagine the walls painted, artwork hung, and the windows dressed with pretty fabric.

Here’s the room (before I took down the old curtains):

one room challenge BEFORE01

My goal for the challenge is to make the bedroom as pretty and welcoming as I can. We have plans to add a built-in wardrobe to augment our woefully small walk-in closet sometime in the next year, and will also be swapping the ceiling fan for one that actually works before next summer. I’m also coveting a chaise for the sitting area, but I’m going to work with what I’ve got for now.

So, here’s the plan for the next few weeks:

  • Finish painting the walls
  • Select and hang artwork
  • Hang side panels on windows
  • Create a comfortable sitting area with a reading lamp, side table, and ottoman
  • Swap the patterned bedding for something simple and crisp
  • Accessorize!

It’s not a long list, and there’s nothing expensive or complicated on it. But getting these things checked off will finally give me a master bedroom that’s warm, comfortable, and attractive.

Wish me luck!

Sue Signature


Time to Weigh In on Gallery Walls: What Do You Think?

Gallery walls: what do you think? I’m torn lately! I love them…but I find them cluttery in my own house. I took down the gallery wall in my bedroom because every time the door opened or closed, the frames moved with them. Then a cheap frame started to get a bend in the backing and every night we’d see our wedding photo getting closer and closer to us. (I do want to remember our wedding day, but I don’t necessarily need it leaning over and looming in my dreams.) One night in fear of his nose being crushed, my husband finally took the frame down and there began the dismantling of the gallery wall. Thankfully I was close to repainting the bedroom so it was the perfect time to fill in the holes and make the last remnants of the gallery disappear. Two things I learned, 1) secure the tops with more widely set nails or hooks, 2) vary the frames and photos, 3) ensure the biggest frames are trustworthy enough to hang over your head!

I love this gallery wall in an Ottawa condo downtown. It mixes media by adding photos, paintings and other abstract art. The frames are not matched, but not dissimilar in size either. The mattes vary, some aren’t even matted. And they are hung across the entire wall to replace a headboard, visually speaking.

Modern Bedroom by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Kariouk Associates


Same Ottawa downtown condo, but they’ve added more pictures into a closed-door cabinet. Neat! This way you can hang personal photos and memorabilia that you don’t necessary want on display on your walls. I like that idea, I enjoy my family photos on display, but not as center of attention in a living room. This is why I kept wedding and family photos to the bedrooms and stairway, but I could totally get behind this idea of hanging pictures on backs of cupboards where you can still enjoy them everyday without overdosing on the white dress and black suit look!

Modern Home Office by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Kariouk Associates


And this might be my dream living room. It’s so fresh and bright. I love the windows, custom window coverings, white furniture (okay, that’s maybe my fantasy) and hints of sea blue in the photos. What makes the gallery wall work for me is that they are all aligned on four picture ledges. Neat, tidy and no looming photos at night ;-)

Contemporary Family Room by Columbus Home Builders M/I Homes


So what works for you? Gallery walls? No gallery walls? Pictures wherever you want them? Do share in the comments section below!


We’re {Almost} Famous!

Newberry Sykes Small Bathroom Perk Up with PaintEight

Remember Mere’s awesome bathroom transformation?

It caught the eye of a writer for and was featured in a roundup of 11 ways to make over your bathroom for $100 or less. Check it out – Mere’s stencil project is the second slide in the slideshow.

Not to be outdone, I’ve also got some exciting news! I’m featured in the 2014 edition of Distinctive Women Magazine that will be going out in select subscriber copies of the Ottawa Citizen next week. A national publication and online community, Distinctive Women showcases Canada’s female professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs. I’m so thrilled to be included with such an inspiring group of Ottawa businesswomen.

Watch my Instagram feed (@susansykesdesign) tonight – I’ll try to post some pics from the Distinctive Women Ottawa launch party at Restaurant E18gteen…so excited!

Sue Signature

The One Where Sue Meets Bryan & Scott

Dyson was one of the many great sponsors of this year's BlogPodium conference

Dyson was one of the many great sponsors of this year’s BlogPodium conference

Last weekend, I represented Newberry Sykes at BlogPodium, Canada’s premier conference for home, decor and lifestyle bloggers (if you’re wondering why Mere wasn’t with me, check out her Instagram feed for a clue…) I know most of you visit Newberry Sykes for decorating inspiration and not a recap of a blogging conference, but I feel many of our female readers will appreciate the men I met at BlogPodium:


For Those of Us Embracing the Small Kitchen

If you’re living in despair of a small kitchen, check out some tips from this tiny (read: 90 sq ft) Ottawa kitchen reno.

Choose compact appliances. European models tend to be smaller than US or Canadian ones. (I love this picture because my grand-parents had these same retro glasses. I still have one as a memento.)

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Design First Interiors


Use Height To Your Advantage. These melamine cabinets with aluminum trim go up, up, up to the top of the ceiling. This leaves no wasted space on top and no dusting to do on top of an underused surface.

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Design First Interiors


Reflect light in a small space. These glass tiles are pretty, practical and serve to reflect all the light from the white cabinetry and from the windows throughout the room. Of course the white cabinets keep everything breathable and bright too.

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Design First Interiors


Multiple light sources will light your up your life. Don’t rely on a single light source, or you’ll be living like I was a year ago! In the dark. Undermount cabinet lights pointing right where you need it is a perfect investment, so are directional potlights, pendants etc.

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Design First Interiors


Have fun! Just because it’s a small kitchen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to have personality. This art work shows you the owners had fun too. Adding some bright blue paint on the walls helps to add a touch of colour to an all-white kitchen and makes the glass appear to reflect blue too. The hardworking marmoleum floors and laminate might be all might, but the dark floors ground the space and the aluminum trim on the countertop ties it all together.

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Building Designers Design First Interiors

If you’ve ever lived in a small house in Centretown, can’t you see how this kitchen reno works? I can see some of these pics as great option for a rental because of all the hard-working elements, but of course these tips works really well for your own kitchen too.

Anyone else looking at a kitchen reno sometime soon?


The Great Accent Wall Debate

For anyone who’s been waiting for an update on my paint paralysis, here’s a sneak peek at the accent wall I painted in our bedroom on the weekend:

para blackfoot trail01

It’s a deep, deep brown called Blackfoot Trail by Para Paints.* I wanted something dark and dramatic to minimize contrast with the headboard so that the whole wall makes a statement.

One of the most common questions I get about paint and decorating is about accent walls. Do I like them? Are they still in style? Which wall should be the accent wall?

This is a topic that polarizes the decorating world like no other. Designer buddies Kimberley Seldon and Ottawa At Home’s Mary Taggart famously disagree about the use of accent walls and joked about their longstanding debate on the subject at an event I attended a few months ago.

As for me, I like accent walls. I use them in my designs to add drama, colour, and interest. I don’t think they’re a bygone trend (unless you decide to use a faux finish created with scrunched up saran wrap). Here’s a few things to think about if you’re considering an accent wall:

Which Wall?

Accent walls are a great way to emphasize a room’s focal point. Walls that have headboards, fireplaces, and bookcases on them are natural choices. Sometimes these features need a little something to beef them up and give them dimension – like the oh-so-common fireplace plopped in the middle of a long empty wall.

What Colour?

I like to make it really obvious that the accent wall is different from the other walls – no using a slightly darker shade of the main wall colour for me. Why bother? Accent walls are meant to make a statement. I look at the fabric, area rugs and accessories in the room and pull out a colour that reinforces the overall palette and provides significant contrast with the main wall colour.

What Material?

Paint may be the easiest way to create an accent wall, but there are so many other interesting finishes to consider too. Wallpaper, tile, wood, grasscloth, moulding/trim, paneling, stone, even upholstery…the possibilities are endless.

If you’re thinking of trying out an accent wall in your home, you can find more inspiration in the Houzz Ideabook I put together:


Which side of the great accent wall debate are you on? If you’re not a fan, maybe my master bedroom makeover will change your mind…stay tuned!

Sue Signature


*As members of the PARA Blog Crew, we’re transforming our homes with free paint, but weren’t otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.

Staining 101: Tips and Tricks I Learned In the Deck Trenches

Hi! I promised I’d be back today with some tips I learned while staining my fence, furniture and decks. So here I am. If you are a pro at the stain game, please chime in and let me know your favourite tricks.

para paints newberry sykes natural red stain

Stain Was Not Built Done in a Day

The hardest part about staining is the waiting it takes to find a dry day to stain and then let it cure. You need 48 hours of Mother Nature’s cooperation to apply and then let dry. This summer, that weather was hard to find!

Surface Prep is the Most Important Step

I took the time to spray down and sand the fence because it was small enough to do both steps. However, we rented a power washer to wash any of the horizontal deck surfaces. Because our decks were not brand new anymore, we needed to make sure we spent some quality time preparing the surface so that stain would soak into the wood instead of getting caught on any dirt, paint spills (guilty!) or BBQ grease. I hand sanded a few spots on the decks, but for the most part we relied on a heavy-duty gas powered pressure washer. We had been recommended to rent an electric power washer so that it wouldn’t have too much pressure and actually gouge the wood. But in the end we were happy that they had run out of electric washer rentals because the more powerful gas-powered washer just barely did the trick. power wash newberry sykes

Back Brush, Back Brush, Back Break

The most difficult part was actually not waiting for the weather, it was back brushing. Back brushing is going back in between the deck boards and covering the vertical sides of the wood. I admit, I got the easy part. I got an extended brush handle (a broom handle, really) and a stain pad to apply the stain to the boards, while my husband had to hunch over and use a paint brush to get into the nooks and crannies. I tried to pretend that my job was extremely skilled labour and had to be done by a perfectionist so we couldn’t possibly switch. I think he saw through that ruse. He probably had some time to reflect on it while lying on the couch that afternoon resting his back. Ooops! newberry sykes tip backbrush then coat the deck

Don’t Buy Fancy, Fancy Brushes

I went into the home improvement store looking for the easiest tools to get the job done. What I came out with was great advice: don’t get ahead of yourself, and don’t buy the easiest-looking, fanciest tools to get the job done. I had seen a stain pad with a vertical disc in the middle; meant to replace the backbrushing step. My new pro brush advisor said, they break quite easily and then you’re stuck a) trying to pry them out of the wet, newly stained deck boards and b) using a brush to finish the job anyway. He also said to just buy a cheap brush to back brush…no use spending top dollars on a brush that will look like Barbie’s hair in the hands of a toddler after two hours.

Semi-Transparent for the Deck, Solid Stain for the Fence

I chose to work with PARA’s TimberCare line of stains for my yard. The TimberCare stain provides UV & wood protection, a huge selection of colour and the best, it’s not stinky like an oil-based stain would be.before gate timbercare ottawa decor newbery sykes Because it’s an acrylic hybrid stain it lasts like an oil-based stain AND you can clean up yourself and your brushes with soap and water (god-send for messy painters like moi). I went with PARA Paint’s semi-transparent “Raincoat” stain for the decks in a Natural Red (RC1) cedar colour. If you use a semi-transparent on a surface that sees a lot of traffic your stain will last a LOT longer and shouldn’t require touch-ups between the years you re-stain. You can use a solid colour on vertical surfaces since it should see a lot less feet, paws and Tonka trucks. You can see how it turned out on my fence.

tip different stains for different surfaces

One more quick note on colour. The deck in the picture above is cedar, while the other two decks we coated are pressure-treated lumber. I had been warned by my paint dealer that the two woods can show slightly different tones when stained the same colour. Fortunately because either my decks had been left unstained for a few years, or because my red colour casts out extra tones, we have three beautifully matching decks. But that’s definitely something to watch out for when selecting colours; the pressure treated will tend toward a green undertone given the treatment on the wood. For a fee, you can get a “pour-down” which is a test quart of stain that you can try on your wood at home. It’s a little bit cheaper than buying a full gallon, or two, and finding out it’s not the right colour for you.

Furniture Can Be Stained Easily Too

I also fancied up a ten year old IKEA outdoor table set. It was solid wood so it looked fairly great considering it had never seen love or indoor care. But given the neglect I provided, it needed a HUGE makeover. I went with the TimberCare in Ebony again, like the fence, and wow, what a difference. Here’s my quick infographic on how it was reborn into the beauty it is now. Stain 101: How to Stain Outdoor Furniture

So there we have it. We’ve now completed three decks, two chairs, a table and one small fence. My summer outdoor projects are officially COMPLETE! I can’t show you the final pics of two of the decks, because well, since I retired from the outdoor projects my yard doesn’t exactly look picture-worthy. Next Spring though. For sure! Does anyone else still have some fall projects on the go?

Disclaimer! As part of the PARA Paints #blogcrew, Sue and I are provided with the paints and coatings we use in our painting posts. We always let you know when we are writing a post about PARA and we always let you know how much we love the end results.


Decking Out The Yard Chez Newb

Hey there! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend. Sue is getting the kids back at school today and my little guy is starting pre-school tomorrow. Yikes — the summer months flew by. At least we have this fabulous summer weather to keep us in a relaxed state of mind. (Right? :-) )

To keep me in a summery mood well past Labour Day weekend, I’m so happy to have a newly refreshed deck & outdoor furniture to enjoy meals, drinks and some late-summer relaxation. Nick and I got to work last month staining our deck after waiting far too many years to do so. I’m going to show you the *after* photos today and tomorrow I’ll get into some tips and tricks I learned along the way. But for now, Cheers! to you for making it back to your regularly scheduled program after Labour Day — life.

para paints newberry sykes natural red stain

para paints newberry sykes natural red stain para paints newberry sykes natural red stainpara paints newberry sykes natural red stain

para paints newberry sykes natural red stain



1 2 3 4 5 27