April, 2009

Before & After: Vintage Kitchen Utensils

April 20th, 2009


Last week we picked up a set of kitchen utensils from Value Village, featuring beautiful mustard yellow ceramic handles ($1.99). The only problem was that the wooden portion was finished with this ugly yellow stain, and an awful clear coat. So I began the process of sanding down the clear coat to reveal a beautiful light beech wood (the pictures make the 70s finish better looking than it really is).


Marked “Japan” in a really cool typeface.

And here is the result:


I think it’s a huge improvement, so much more honest and simple. I finished it off with an oil rub finish using Terra Nova NaturOil which is completely natural and leaves a great finish!

– John –

Photos by: John Baker

Filed under: General | 1 comment

Before & After: The front door

April 17th, 2009

So it’s probably no secret that we have spring fever. And I am fully taking advantage of this gust of DIY before summer sets in and makes me lethargic again.

This is incredibly embarrassing to admit right now, but for the last five years this:


has been my front door window treatment. If you listen really hard, you can hear my friend Marie-Claire gasp in horror right now. She house-sat for me five years ago and was gracious enough to start me on the path to window treatments by sewing the raw edges of the fabric. I just never held up my end of the deal, and so here we are. Held onto cheap spray painted drapery rods (the bottom rods fell by the wayside ages ago) by a couple of safety pins, tattered, and yes, that black stuff at the bottom is cat hair. I am actually hysterically laughing to myself right now because my apathy was so acute, I can hardly believe it.


My friends Michelle & Jason have an IKEA ENJE roller blind on their front door, which I admired last summer, but I never followed through because there was the issue of the smaller window and how to cover it. John and I talked about getting frosting sheets and even looked for them at Home Depot, but we could only find regular window sized rolls, which would mean a messy line part way down. So we gave up for awhile.  Last weekend, I was on Door Sixteen, another home design blog (that has eerily similar taste to us), and she got me thinking about the ENJE blind again. It just looks so clean, tidy and modern, we finally picked one up, along with a roll of (almost) door length frosting (IKEA had it, Home Depot didn’t).

Based on my history, it’s definitely spring fever that got me to actually hang both the blind and the frosting (which I have to redo, once I figure out what #4 in the picture below means – soapy water? anyone?).


For the frosting, they even give you a little squeegee, though I found that it scratched the film – maybe this is where step 4 comes in to save the day? Who hasn’t laughed at the little guy in the top right corner, standing there all ready to go but perplexed by the instructions? He is just like me.



A lovely daytime shot of the ENJE blind in action. One thing we liked about going this route over frosting both windows is that our cat Grover likes to look outside, and often has visitors of the feline persuasion that he stares down (two different black and white cats, which I think is kind of weird). This way we can roll the blind up a bit so he can see what’s happening. If I can’t take him outdoors, I atleast make it so he can look outdoors (sad, I know).


TADA! A nighttime shot and new development in the “mod”ification of our home. If you look at the “before” photo way above, you’ll notice a line/circle detail in the window above the door. As I was putting these photos together, I was actually trying to crop that detail out because I didn’t think it represented us. So John said, “let’s take it down”. And I said, “we can do that?” And he said, “sure, it’s just a cheap piece of cardboard”. Huh, go figure. So. much. better. I like how you can see the wood from the roof of our porch. mod. Now all the door needs is a fresh coat of paint on the inside, and new house numbers on the outside (and landscaping)! I pat myself on the back.

Total cost: $35

– Juli –

Photos by: Juli Daoust & John Baker

Filed under: Home Reno | 8 comments

Around the house: Instruments

April 16th, 2009


There’s something about having instruments in the home and we here at KITKA certainly have our fair share. While many are relegated to the basement, we do have my mom’s piano and John’s electric piano in the living room. I love it when John or a guest impromptually make up ditties, figure out covers, or actually compose songs (except at 1am – you all know who you are).


I think it kind of goes with the look of the place anyway but my one gripe is that we suffer a bit from the against the wall syndrome. For example, along the long wall in the living room/dining room we have a card catalog sideboard type of thing, a dramatic fireplace, another simple but long sideboard and in between those last two things the Wurlitzer. Problem is, I have no idea how to solve the problem. It is what it is.

Vintage Wurlitzer student electric piano from Paul’s Boutique.
School chair from Goodwill.
Embroidered Toronto picture from a local Value Village.
Little girl picture from a Winnipeg Value Village (yes, I got my cab driver to let me off there on my way to the airport. It was worth it!)
Icelandic sweater from Iceland.


This is John’s favourite part. The little pull-out table. My favourite part (er, sometimes)  is the headphones.

– Juli –

Photos by: Juli Daoust

Filed under: General | 1 comment

Cottage Reno: IKEA Kitchen Round 1

April 15th, 2009

As we mentioned yesterday, we went to IKEA. Don’t you worry your pretty little heads, this isn’t going to turn into IKEA-nation around here. Beyond a few random items, our real mission was to figure out the logistics of the kitchen we plan on installing at the cottage, thanks in large part to the Government of Canada’s Home Renovation Tax Credit incentive program. In case you haven’t heard, the government will reimburse up to $1350 in home renovation costs up to $10,000 – and this applies only for 2009.

This also applies to us finally updating the havoc my father wreaked on the kitchen and bathroom, circa 1989 (pardon the terrible photos – taken in the winter when the last thing we feel like doing is staging photos).


Of note: 80s cheap cupboards that have an incredible lack of storage space, the vent hood that appears to just be for show since there is no output vent, the non-prep space counter top, the double sink where we seem to insist on using the minuscule sink on the right to wash dishes in, and the more recent addition (circa 2003) of the fish tile back splash. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Cottage Reno | 4 comments

Guess the size of this bowl: Answer!

April 14th, 2009


While the responses to the size in the bowl varied a little bit, they were still around the 1 foot circumference (Laura’s guess doesn’t count because she was watching the exact same bowl on Ebay haha). It seems I’ve been had. This bowl that I had built up in my mind came in the other week a quarter of the expected size. As I was dreaming of unsigned sculpted teak bowls by the likes of Finn Juhl, I forgot to read the full description containing the measurements. Regardless, the bowl is lovely and has found a home on our coffee table, but let this be a lesson to us all.

Measure twice & bid once!

Back in March Chris from Toronto-based blog StyleNorth guest posted a fantastic piece about how to Score at auction. Well today we got the chance to return the favor when I guest blogged about my experiences with Ebay! Check it out through the link below:

Confessions of an eBay-holic

– John –

Photo: Juli Daoust

Filed under: General | 3 comments

IKEA High/Low: Designer on a budget

April 14th, 2009

Alright, when reading the title I can hear you go so what? Of course IKEA is design on a budget. But we were struck yesterday by a few new products that really do bring the designs of classics, albeit slightly altered, into the homes of people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford them. All it takes is a few comparative high and lows to really see the similarities of these familiar faces…

1. Jielde


Spotted at IKEA

In John’s post about getting the look of French Modern, he featured Jielde task lights so they were fresh in my mind. Imagine my surprise (or non-surprise, really, as IKEA tends to sell versions of design classics all the time) to see a similar looking light at IKEA – and you know what, they had a good quality look to them – I just wish they came in more colour choices (though black DOES look pretty sexy).




Jielde Signal Desk Lamp $450 at Ministry of the Interior



Forsa Desk Lamp $24.99 at IKEA (comes in black and nikel plated)

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: General | no comments