Sarah Birnie Interiors

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Project: Lake House

Recently a lovely couple reached out asking me to help them with some selections for a beautiful lake house that they are gutting and turning into their dream home. The home sits on an incredible piece of property with the most amazing view…and I’m so excited for them to move in and enjoy it!

The main issue they were having was what to do with a whole lot of pine boards that they had purchased. Having a look at some selections they had already made, as well as some pieces of furniture they were going to be bringing in, I made the reccomendation that they wash the pine with a grey stain and apply the boards as a feature wall that looks out at the water. In addition I suggested that they incorporate the pine into their living room area by way of a built in unit surrounding their fireplace. 

I’ll be really interested to see which suggestions they use and how this beautiful home turns out! Below are the inspiration board I put together for the couple, as well as a 3D rendering of what the final product would look like. 

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Crushing on Velvet

There’s something so luxurious and warm about velvet upholstery. It’s been cropping up more and more in interiors lately and I love the charm and warmth it adds to a space. I think it’s safe say that I’ve got a crush on velvet- especially in lush, rich tones like emerald green, royal blue or even raspberry. 

My parents had a blue velvet wingback chair in our home growing up, I believe it originally belonged to an aunt on my dad’s side. I’ve always appreciated the depth and character it lends. My mom still sits in it while drinking her morning coffee! 

Check out some other gorgeous spaces that incorporate this luxurious, textural upholstery. Maybe you’ll fall in love too…

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image via Aman & Carson Inc

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image via Style by Emily Henderson

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image via The Interiorist

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image via Domaine Home

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A Colour Consult: Before & After

A few months ago I did a colour consultation for a family that is very dear to me. The home in question belongs to one of my very best friends parents, and I have such warm memories of (probably way too much) time spent here over the years. My friend’s mom is one of the most colourful, vibrant ladies you’ll meet- she’s got this innate French flair that I have always admired and tried to absorb as much as possible. It’s such a beautiful, warm home, and their art collection alone will stop anyone in their tracks. Needless to say, I was completely flattered and excited when she asked me to help her choose new paint colours for their gorgeous home. She was looking to freshen but still maintain colour and warmth, which I am proud to say that we achieved with flying colours. The updated scheme compliments the incredible art collection, works well with the amazing natural light, and gives a fresh new look to the space. Have a peek!

Foyer  & Stairs:

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New colour is Benjamin Moore- Lancaster White HC-174

Living Room & Office:

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New colour is Benjamin Moore- Vichyssoise CC-246

Dining Room:

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New colour is Benjamin Moore- Baffin Island CC-270

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Gallery Walls: An addiction

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image via Pinterest 

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image via Pinterest

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image via Pinterest

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image via Pinterest

Ahh the gallery wall. Or salon wall or art wall or whatever you want to call them. By any name these quirky displays warm up a space and are inevitably great conversation starters. I’m certainly not over the look yet and I’m not sure I ever will be. 

People often ask me how to arrange them properly. While there are definitely some rules floating around out there on blogs etc,  I generally don’t follow any of them, at least not consciously. I grab a hammer & nails, sift through my piles of artwork till I find a group that strike a cord that day, and go to town. It’s totally trial and error. Hence the millions of tiny nail holes in every wall in every home I’ve ever lived in. That said, there are some important things to keep in mind when attempting this lovely look. Here are some tips and tricks that might help. 

  • Thrift shops/consignment stores/vintage boutiques are a great place to look for frames of all shapes and sizes. Tying pieces together by painting repurposed frames all the same colour (black, for example) is a great way to have a cohesive, unified look. 
  • Use varying sizes and shapes for an eclectic look. A bunch of pieces of the same or similar size doesn’t look quite right. Throw an oversized piece or two in there and you’re laughing. 
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Add a mask, a mirror, a framed postcard. 
  • Balance is key. Whether you do a symmetrical or asymmetrical grouping, make sure it’s balanced. IE: One large piece might be balanced by 3 smaller pieces beside it. 
  • A good rule of thumb to follow is that spacing between frames should be approximately 2 1/2” apart (a little fudging/eyeballing is definitely ok though!)

The beauty of the gallery wall is that they are a great alternative for larger scale (read: expensive) artwork to make a big impact in your space. They also lend such character- creating a collected, eclectic feeling in a room. The ‘collected over time’ look is always better than brand new everything, in my opinion. So much more soul!

Here are some gallery walls I’ve done that include various hand me downs, salvage and thrift shop finds!

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Project: Nursery- UPDATE

A week away from my due date and the nursery is thisclose to being complete! Check it out! 

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So glad to have found this elephant print on Etsy by the talented Oana Befort. It comes back from the framer today! Check out more of Oana Befort’s beautiful work at www.oanabefort.com.

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The gallery wall includes pictures of the 2 very excited grandmothers as toddlers. The minimalist mobile is a Flensted mobile (www.flensted-mobiles.com) gifted to us from a good friend. I love that it adds a modern touch and picks up on the black, grey and white elements in the room.That headboard was one of my thrifting finds- it was sitting in our basement forever and Jeremy kept threatening to toss it. I, however, knew I’d have a purpose for it eventually. I found some block printed fabric, whipped out the staple gun and am pretty pleased with the result- not too shabby huh? I love the vintage wicker shelf - also a thrifting find. 

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This beautiful spool bed is an heirloom on Jeremy’s mom’s side of the family. It works perfectly as a daybed in this little space. The bedding is mine from childhood and the pillows are from all over- Anthropologie, Zara Home, and some were sewn by yours truly. 

And finally the wallpaper! I knew I wanted to make this already small space as cozy and textural as possible. A girl-cave, if you will. I love the look of grasscloth, and thought that it would be a great element in the room. I opted for a faux, washable grasscloth. I hear babies and kids are kinda messy, this was a great option. 

Here are a few more pictures taken by the very talented Justina Phippen (www.justinaphippen.com). She also took some maternity shots of me that I really love- and that’s saying a lot because I’m a super awkward poser and was very nervous about the whole ordeal! Anyway…on to the rest of the nursery pics:

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Update on an update:

Due to my ongoing gallery wall addiction, I couldn’t resist adding more art to the nursery walls. Some of the pieces included here have serious sentimental value. One is a beautiful beaded purse that belonged to my beloved maternal grandmother. It was sitting in a box collecting dust for years, and since we are honouring this special lady by passing her name along to our daughter, I figured it would be perfect to have the purse framed in a shadowbox for the nursery. 

Next was some gorgeous hand embroidery that was on a beautiful bedding set given to us as a wedding gift by close friends. You can see that one has our initials and wedding date, and the other is a colourful paisley design. They were too nice and too personal to go the way of average white bedding (yellowed and nasty!) so I cut out the handiwork and had it framed too. Now it will remain preserved along with the beautiful vintage purse. 

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Last- I had to include an image of the cute-as-can-be elephant print that just came back from the framer. Check out www.oanabefort.com for more of this talented artist’s work. 

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(forgive the terrible update photography- I wish my talented photographer friend would just move in with me but I doubt she’d be willing to do that)

Filed under baby nursery little girls room nursery

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Project: Dream Job- Progress

Since I last blogged about this project, I’ve been back down to Nassau to oversee some more renovations, source all sorts of things and of course do some decorating. I’m going again in a couple of weeks to ensure things are looking their best for the family’s arrival at Christmas. I should have some good pictures after that trip, but for now, here are some more progress shots. Things are really starting to come together! Looking forward to seeing drapery, which has been hung since I was last there, and reupholstery on various sofas, loveseats and chairs. I’m bringing Jeremy with me this time so he can help me hang all of the art I had framed last time I was there- can’t wait! 

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Looking forward to sharing more soon!

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Project: Master Bath

Our master bathroom is big and pretty cool. It has some great features like a claw foot tub, room for a double vanity and lots of potential. The bathroom has character for days, but upon close inspection it’s in dire need of a facelift. So we’re giving it what it deserves!

The plans include bringing the laundry out of the basement and into the bathroom, re-designing the shower to make it larger and much more spa-like, vastly improving the lighting situation, new flooring and of course lots and lots of paint. 

Here are some before pictures that were taken by the lovely Justina Phippen (http://www.justinaphippen.com)

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I want to keep some wood, so we’re leaving the ceiling as is. Here’s the plan as it stands. Walls including panelling will be painted white. 

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We start this next week too! For me this is very exciting, for Jeremy it’s mostly a big pain in the butt…until he sees the finished product :)

Filed under justinaphippen

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Project: Nursery

Exciting times around here…we are expecting a baby in March! Aside from the obvious reasons for being thrilled, I am really REALLY pumped about the nursery design. My first nursery…and for a little girl! 

I am really not the girly, frilly, pink-loving type so from the get-go I steered clear from the obvious colour choice. Instead, I immediately envisioned a cozy, textural and fairly neutral space for the little lady’s abode. Here’s a peek at the inspiration board I put together. Note that it includes grasscloth wallpaper…this will be a first, hanging wallpaper…what have I gotten myself into?? And of course it includes touches of brass and gold tones, my favourite. We’ve also been lucky enough to inherit a beautiful spool bed that I’m planning to use as a daybed/place for me to pass out in the middle of the night, and an antique rocker that my grandmother gave my mom when she had her first baby. It’s not in the greatest shape so I’m having it reupholstered and the wood re-stained and I can’t wait to see the result!

We have a contractor coming in next week to rip out some existing shelves in the soon to be nursery, and then it’s all systems go for Project Nursery to get underway! Will update here once progress is being made. 

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Project: Dream job

Close to a year ago I was asked by my friend and her family to work with them on fixing up their vacation home in the Bahamas. I feel very honoured to have been asked, and the past several months working on it have been so much fun. Frequent trips to the Caribbean? No complaints here!

We’re still renovating, so I don’t have finished product pictures yet, however here are a few before and mid-construction shots!

Progress on opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining room

Before:

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After wall demo:

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Next is a complete overhaul of a dated, very blue bathroom

Before:

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After (well, part-way):

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I’ll post more images from my next trip in a couple of weeks. I expect that a lot more of the dirty work will be complete and I can get decorating!

In terms of style direction, here are my mood boards for some of the rooms. A little bit beachy, a little preppy, and a dash of Hollywood Regency. 

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Filed under dream job bahamas nassau

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Thrifting, Antiquing and Hand-Me-Downs

A huge part of decorating my own home is breathing new life into hidden gems I find at thrift stores, antique markets…or my parents storage lockers. I really connect with pieces that have lived another life, be it in my own family or in someone else’s. 

I also like the challenge of fixing things up that might be a little bruised or broken and turning them into something beautiful. I actually get a little rush when I see something that I can put some elbow grease into. 

One example is this bench I spied at a local thrift store. Pretty sad, huh?

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I immediately saw the potential in this sorry little bench, and snatched it up for around $5. I wanted to jazz it up and try my hand at reupholstering, so I picked up some leopard printed upholstery fabric, grabbed my trusty gold tone spray paint and ta-da! New bench!

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A few weeks later while wandering through the beautiful Summerhill design shops in Toronto, to my delight I spotted this look-a-like bench and felt very satisfied with myself- especially since this one was selling for $800! Pretty great. 

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***Note: I am a big proponent of the theory that leopard is a neutral!

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Filed under thrifting hand me down antiques diy

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First Post!

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I must admit this is a little daunting, having had very little experience in expressing myself in this kind of public forum. That’s not to say that I can’t imagine that I’ll become addicted to Tumblr, like I have most recently to Instagram. So here goes…First post from the desk of Sarah Birnie Interiors!

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