Tables and bathrooms and knobs – oh MY!

I have taken a break from house projects for a while, but here are some I was wrapping up before the Christmas holidays.


First was our table. I sold the one that was graciously left by the old owners, George and Betty, and scoured Kijiji for a secondhand oak pedestal table. I quickly found one that at $50 was just what I was looking for. Not much to look at, but it had a leaf so it would be able to stretch to accommodate most of my crazy family, and it came without chairs, which was just what I wanted because I had plans for the chairs. Big plans, y’all.

Here it is in all its basic oak glory.


I used a homemade chalk paint recipe to paint the pedestal base, and sanded the top and stained it with Minwax Special Walnut. A few coats of poly helped protect it from the destruction of my darling toddler.




Once the table was tackled,  I spent a great deal of time lurking around the Habitat for Humanity ReStore searching for single wooden chairs.

I wanted to find six of all different shapes and sizes, and paint them all the same colour. Mismatched but unified. Same-same but different, you know?

Unfortunately, single wooden chairs in solid shape are surprisingly hard to find, and I tapped out at three before the holidays swarmed me and I ran out of time. I’ll hunt down at least one more when it is warmer than -45 here.

I got to work on the three chairs I did find (for around $8-10/ea) and primed them , then painted them Youthful Coral by Behr.

(erm, excuse the dead tulips)






The coral colour looks a tad awkward with the sage-y green kitchen walls, and if I had some sort of genie situation happening, the kitchen and hallway would be painted a creamy white like BLAM. But, since I am stepping off the DIY hamster wheel, this is one of those “who cares’ situations.


Now, onto the bathroom.

Damn, Betty. You really committed to this black and yellow colour scheme. I decided that fighting against it was pretty much impossible. I mean, the toilet is yellow. Kind of hard to hide that. So instead I fully embrace its retro charm. There is a whole website devoted to saving pink bathrooms, and I didn’t want to risk angering some likeminded black/yellow bathroom aficionados.

I painted the woodwork white just to lighten it up a bit, and I find that white is always a really crisp, clean look for a bathroom. A bumblebee print from Etsy (that was actually featured many months ago when I wrote about our experience being engulfed by real life here) added a playful nod to the colour scheme.









Over many many (many) evenings I slowly tackled painting all of the hallway trim white, and in two smaller updates, I replaced our dull copper kitchen cabinet hardware with colourful mismatched painted ceramic ones, and rearranged the furniture in my writing room to accommodate an easel to keep Olive busy while I write.

(old knobs)

(old knobs)

New knobs!

New knobs!












So there you have it! A few odds and ends, wrapped up.

I painted another thing!

Our room this time.

I have never done a dark paint colour. Grey is as far as I’ve ventured. I am now kicking myself for that because a navy bedroom is the best thing I have ever done with my life ever.

Enough jibber jabber, lets get to the goods. Please insert the requisite poor-photograph quality apology here.


Here is the before before. When we bought our house. Fancy wallpaper and wall to wall carpets and custom drapery and everything.

Then we trashed the place.

2014-11-03 04.14.03

We took up the carpet and tore down the wallpaper to reveal a lovely lavender paint job in some places – and huge swathes of chipped paint in others. Hm. We lived with this sexy flophouse look for a few months. Then I got the hankerin’ for navy. I don’t know from where, but I now consider it divine inspiration.


2014-11-13 23.59.17

I mean COME ON. It’s so delicious!

2014-11-03 04.14.57 2014-11-14 00.07.07  2014-11-13 04.29.03
 2014-11-13 23.59.30 2014-11-14 00.02.16 2014-11-14 00.04.00

The one drawback of a darker wall  colour is that it is much less forgiving to paint with. Any uneven lines or smudges immediately pop out, as do the uneven wall textures that seem to be so common in old houses. It’s hard to notice in person, but imperfections seem to pop in photos unfortunately.

Also: lets discuss the window trim. I didn’t paint it, and don’t particularly want to. Adam is pro-window-trim-painting (easy when you’re not the one actually doing said painting, hmm?) and although I know that it would probably look better white I just….can’t? I don’t know. Help. Is it bad to have mullet-trim like this? Is mullet-trim a word? Tuxedo trim? It defies explanation.

When I posted a shot on Instagram, a few people messaged asking if it made the room feel darker or smaller. Smaller, no. It feels more expansive I think because the colour is so deep. It does feel dark, but not dim, if that makes sense. The colour doesn’t suck all of the light out of the room, the window is so big that it still feels super bright, but also really cozy and rich. And fancy? Is that weird? I feel fancy in there now. Everything looks crisp and suddenly makes sense.

Our room felt a bit hodge-podgy before, but it now looks a lot more cohesive. Like we planned it!

I rescued that sunburst mirror thing from under the porch of a house my sister was renting in Victoria a few years ago. Adam hates it, so naturally I have hung it over the bed in each of our last three houses. One of my other sisters is concerned it will fall off the wall in the night and impale someone. Yet recently I painted it gold, and, concerns about nocturnal impaling aside, doesn’t it look like it was just meant to be there? The mirror above my dresser was my mom’s and I’ve never been able to find a space for it before this house. Even the old white and gold dresser left behind by the original owners looks like it belongs in here, and I had been thinking of it as a sort of “make-do” piece until we could find something better secondhand. It might be a keeper, now.

Oh, navy. Is there anything you can’t do?

Anyway, I’ll shut up- it’s just paint Madeleine!

(The colour is Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore, matched in Behr. And if you are thinking about a navy room or a navy hall or a navy accent wall, DO IT, I say. DOOOO IT)

Bits and Pieces

My kidneys and I had a little chat last night. They were like, “Hey Madeleine!” and I was like, “Oh hey! How about you guys stop ya jibber jabber and do some real work for a change?” and then they said they weren’t feeling too hot and invited me to tour our local Emergency room. “It’ll be fun!” they said.

Initially I was like, “Wait-what? No! That doesn’t sound fun at all!” but my kidneys were pretty insistent, “We need this!” they said. They’re pretty tough to argue with, so I bit the bullet and checked myself in.

In the end it turns out that the kidneys were sort of right because we really did need to be there, but they are also lying liars since the visit wasn’t fun, not in the slightest. It was certainly interesting though, so half-marks? A for effort, guys!

It’s been a long time since I spent hours sitting in the ER waiting room of a major city, and whew boy are there some characters out there. Like the guy who had his whole head wrapped in gauze, which was blood-soaked where his eye would have been (was?) yet he kept chuckling to himself the entire time like the joke was on us. 

Or the sweet young parents with their four or five month old baby who was so incredibly well-behaved the entire time they were waiting. They finally got called in to be seen by a doctor and when they came back with the baby they were also carrying a bio-hazard bag which contained a single solitary paperclip. Not one of the small ones either, one of the giant clip-together-eighty-four-piece-of-paper ones.  My skills of deduction lead me to believe that this paperclip was removed from the within the baby’s body, but from where? It was HUGE! Mysteries abound.

Anyway, that was the most exciting Friday night I have had in quite some time, so that’s something. Who says I’m not spontaneous?!


In unrelated news, last week I was on a show called Energy Awareness and had a great interview with the host T Love. It was an hour-long interview, and sometimes the longer-format interviews make me nervous because I always worry that I’ll run out of things to say and the last half-hour will consist of me awkwardly clearing my throat and muttering some word salad. “Green! Recycling! Borax! Hippies!” but it was a fabulous interview and you can listen to it in its entirety here.

I have three or four other interviews coming up this week, so if you like that sort of thing make sure you’ve also “liked” the Sweet Madeleine Facebook page because that’s where I will post info about upcoming interviews, links to listen live, and where to find the interviews online after the fact. I’ll also be updating with links to past interviews so stop by in the next few days to check it out!



In house news, yesterday Adam’s parents left and we marked the occasion by finally biting the bullet and tearing down the wood paneled wall in our living room.

We had been debating whether or not to remove it for weeks now. The thing was that neither of us hated it and in my kinder moments I felt it added a certain something to the room,  but it also had glaringly obvious spots where George and Betty had hung paintings, and the surrounding area had been faded by the sun. Nothing we did seemed to be able to diminish the look of the fading, so in the end we decided that between the little built-in bookcase in the entrance way, the wood-framed windows and the fancy ceilings (what’s the technical term? I’m sure it’s not “fancy ceilings”) the room had plenty of character, and wouldn’t look too sad without the wood wall.

So, away we went! And by “we”, I mean “Adam, gently, with a crowbar.”

The wall behind it is strange, we’re not sure if its drywall or plaster or some strange 1960’s invention that we’ve never seen before. But it’s in great shape for the most part, and after pulling out  a million nails we can start patching the million holes and then get to painting! That’s when the fun begins!

I have felt like it’s Monday all day, so saying “have a great weekend!” feels strange, but anyway, have a great weekend!

Not all those who wander

There is something inherently sacred about the process of making a house into a home. Unpacking boxes and shelving your belongings, sliding things neatly into place until the rooms begin to look something like yours, and the empty boxes outnumber the full ones.

Personally, I think it’s something that, like prayer, is best done at dawn or deep in the depths of night. I like a steaming cup of something in my hands, padding around in silence. I haven’t been up at dawn since O was a newborn, so for me it’s midnight. I wait until everyone else goes to sleep and then I read for a bit – absorbing the stories of other people – and then I walk around. I try to avoid the creaky spots in these old wood floors, and I plot what the backdrop of our stories will look like for the next two years or five years or twenty. 

I walk around and try to figure out where to hang my mother’s heavy gilt mirror, or what to bribe Adam with so that he builds me bookshelves before I forget what all of my old favourites look like. 

This afternoon I rearranged furniture and hung some pictures. It is slow going, even with Adam’s parents here to occupy Olive. For some reason I feel as though everything has to be very deliberate in this house. Where I’ve always been quick and decisive about how I want our home to look, now I dither and research. I don’t want to rush into anything. These things require thought and care it seems- I’m not racing around with a paintbrush in one hand and a tape measure in the other as I thought I would be.

It doesn’t quite feel like ours yet. But each day adds one more little pebble to the scales, and one day they will tip entirely in our favour and the whole place will feel more like ours than George and Betty’s. Perhaps then the wild abandon will come, and I’ll feel less like I am settling into someone else’s home and making changes they might not approve of.


I made mention before of the long road we took to get here.

Some of you know what that road looked like and felt like, and some are probably feeling in the dark and somewhat baffled by it. I am not quite ready to unpack that story yet, although I can feel it settling and taking shape. The fact remains though that the past months have been some of the most challenging Adam and I have had, personally and as a couple.

So a lot of my midnight pacing has been spent reflecting on our path, too. How we made it here, and what shape we’re in now that we’ve arrived.

We weren’t always kind to each other along the way. We had bright spots where we were Maddie and Adam, the way we’ve always been, but it was mostly a long, painful, frustrating slog and as much as I would like to claim that I triumphed or flourished under adversity, I think it’s more accurate to say that I often crumbled, and lashed out mightily while doing so.

But these days while we unpack the very last of these boxes we are also beginning the process of unpacking what just happened. We’ve started looking hesitantly over our shoulder at the dust receding behind us from when we tore away, tires squealing.

Adam usually joins me for the beginning part of my nocturnal antics, we sit lengthwise at opposite ends of our soft grey couch, feet nestled into each other.

Sometimes we make plans for what to do with the paneling (so much paneling) and the wood (so much wood) in this house of ours. Keep it? Tear it out? Paint it? We can’t quite decide. Adam pries some of it up gingerly with a screwdriver to see what’s underneath but it doesn’t bring us much closer to an answer.

Sometimes we talk about how big the house feels, although it’s not, really.

We talk about Olive and how grown up she seems these days. Sometimes we talk about #2 – a person not-yet-a-person who I continuously refer to (somewhat callously) only as “#2”, never a baby, never a child. A few days ago, to my surprise, we found ourselves talking about whether Olive will be an only. I have never before considered it, but I have been so bogged down lately, so tired and so sluggish. I wonder about my ability to keep up with – and keep organized, keep sane – the herd of four kids that I always pictured. To do this again, the newborn and the sleepless nights and diapers and breastfeeding – I want it. But the thought of it exhausts me. I fear I won’t be able to keep up, I’m running at half-empty as it is.



I am trying to get better at scheduling my time. Most of the time I feel overwhelmed with interview scheduling and babysitters and returning library books on time and cooking – although this stuff isn’t at all complicated or overwhelming, objectively speaking.

I mean, it’s life, right? It is what everyone just does. But I never feel like I am doing it as well or as thoroughly as others do. Things just seem to slip through my fingers and I lose track. I sit here watching others do it and thinking of course

I thought briefly about scheduling my blog posts – on Monday I will write about my door desk, on Wednesday I will write about potty-training –  but as I sit here at 1:30AM with the world sleeping outside my headphones and my music blasting inside (this mix, if anyone would like a soundtrack to play while reading this post) I realize that I virtually never write the post I think I am going to when I start.

I just sit down and begin. I usually have a general direction. A faint skeleton that I will try to flesh out and clothe, animate and try to make dance.

When I am finished however, I’ve built a house instead. I’ve unplugged a waterfall.

When I’ve finished I feel good and empty. I feel like I’ve unpacked another box. I feel a little more like myself than I did when I started.