I have been wanting to share the catio we built last summer for a while now but we ended up redoing this whole section of the backyard and with a busy summer this year it took forever but I’m happy to report this area is finally complete!
This is in fact the third iteration of a catio we’ve built back here and it seems third time is a charm. The previous versions were not at all cute and took up way too much space, but were soooo well used by our 2 semi-feral cats Bernie and Frankie that we knew we needed to rebuild it and make it better.
Let me show you the first iteration so you can see how far we’ve come…
My husband whipped this beast up one weekend in 2019 as we started working on the landscaping of our backyard with no real plan. Behind it is a tree that one day appeared in that corner and kept growing and growing until it got to be about 4 stories tall and we realized we should cut it down as it was too close to the house. And the open section right up against the porch stairs next to the catio is what husband had built to store our garbage cans. After a couple years of that we realized it was too bulky and unsightly so we basically removed everything from the edge of the stairs to the fence. After removing the tree, old catio and garbage cover we ended up with a whole corner of the yard free. So it became the catio and barbecue area, and looks soooo much better.
Now the catio is up against the house – it’s size being 10′ wide x 5′ deep x 12′ high. And the cats really love the height in particular because it allows them a great view into the neighbour’s yard so they can spy on their cat and dog.
They can come in and out through a flap/dog door in a kitchen window onto a live edge shelf. There’s a beam there that helps support an old log that they love sharpening their nails on, and they use it to climb from the base up to the window shelf. There’s a couple little tables in there too (one has a hanging cat hammock) and to the right is a box that was built around our AC unit, that has shelves on the front, and astroturf on the top. I added Frankie’s favourite fluffy cat bed on there too and he sleeps in it for hours on end. Above that are 4 shelves, with the bottom 3 being cut at angles so they can climb from one to the other and a hole cut out on the top one to get all the way up. The roof is covered in tinted PVC roof panels and the entire thing is wrapped in black steel wire mesh to keep the critters out. The whole thing sits on the deck we had built back in 2019 for our barbecue. We also installed a door on the porch for us to get in and out of it (with a door we found at Habitat Restore).
Where the garbage bin section next to the porch used to be husband built a bench so we can chill while he grills.
I could not love this space more, and am so pleased things are looking a little more thought out and it’s so much more space saving. Those 2 cats spend almost all summer in that catio (and insist on eating their meals in there) and come winter we cover the whole thing in plastic so they can use it all year. It is by far one of the best projects we’ve ever tackled ourselves. And here’s a few extra photos of Bernie and Frankie living their best catio lives.
My backyard has gone through some changes over the past few years since we started working on it. One of the things we did recently was remove a tree and a badly designed catio in the corner of our yard and we ended up with this rather large area of essentially unused space. We laid some flagstone we bought for $200 on Facebook Marketplace and decided this would become a barbecue area. My husband was going to design and build a gazebo to put over the barbecue (for some reason he hates cooking in the rain LOL) but to my absolute delight, the folks at Backyard Discovery reached out about the recent launch of their new Canadian site, backyarddiscovery.ca, and offered me one of their products to test out. When I learned that among play structures, pergolas and gazebos, they had actual grill gazebos I could not believe my luck! Not that I didn’t think my husband could build one, but I am 150% sure this went WAY smoother and looks better than what he would have come up.
I went with the Saxony grill gazebo, which is perfect for an “average” size barbecue (up to 70″ wide) and really fit the space we had to work with without being too bulky. It comes ready to assemble in pre-stained cedar, with a roof made of steel so it can withstand our Canadian winters and the snow they naturally come with. It requires 2 people to put together so my husband and I tackled it together. He’s got a slew of tools in his workshop so we had everything we needed (and much more) to be able to put it together, but really it just needed the basics (ie. hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers, drills etc).
When we unpacked everything I got a little nervous because there were MANY bolts and screws and doodads as per the above photo, and the instructions did say it would take 2 people around 4 hours to put together. Realistically it took a bit longer than that with some sanity breaks thrown in, and went faster as we learned some “tricks” – one important one being that while the holes are pre-drilled, we discovered after stripping a few screws inexplicably that there was a lot of debris from the pre-drilling in the holes so we used a long screw to jam in to all the holes to clear them before drilling.
We started with the basic structure:
Then we added the side sections that included steel balusters and powder coated steel countertops (LOVE this extra space for serving and prepping food and hanging out and enjoying a drink – it’s almost like a little bar!):
Then we tackled the roof. My husband built the frame while I peeled off the very-stuck-on coating on the steel roof panels.
Husband was super excited that this grill gazebo came with the ability to have power, so he happily installed the PowerPort™ onto the back left post that features 3 electrical outlets and 3 USB ports, allowing him to install lights on the roof, a fan, charge his phone while grilling and plugging in one of his handmade bluetooth speakers (we always have one outside with us).
And there you have it, all done! We were sooooo happy with how this grill gazebo turned out. My husband stared out the back door for days in awe. We have a little bit of work still to do around that area but with some potted plants around the new gazebo, it really is looking fabulous already and we have been barbequing non-stop since we put it together. Before I share some photos of it looking cute and ready for some grilling, the kind folks @ Backyard Discovery are offering 15% off with the code DESIRETOINSPIRE15 on the Canadian site valid until July 15th. I could not recommend their products more – this was such a blessing and we honestly could not be more pleased with how it looks and functions.
The lovely folks of Expand Furniture reached out to me recently about their products and I have to say after all of these years of blogging not much surprises me anymore…but this company sure did. As their name may suggest, their specialty is space saving, multi-functional furniture, and creating space in your home that you did not know you had. And they have such unique ways of saving space that my mind is literally blown. I could not get over the options they offer. How about the Wall bed Revolving Bookcase Table – a bookcase that hides a dining table and revolves to uncover a murphy bed! WHAT?!?! A mirror that stores your dining table extensions! A bunkbed couch transformer! A sofa bookcase murphy bed combo! A wall desk that converts into bunk beds! An ottoman that stashes away stools! One that I think is super-handy in this era of working from home is the coffee table that converts into a desk so you can work from the sofa. I could go on and on they have so many unique options. It’s really incredible what they have come up with and the multi-functional needs they service. Such amazing small space furniture options.
With just my husband and I in a reasonable sized 4 bedroom house and with a staircase with a 180 degree corner that makes bulky/long items near impossible to get up the stairs, I opted to go simple and try out one of Expand Furniture’s modular sofas. I chose the Migliore modular love seat with an ottoman for our tiny media room that we have created out of one of our spare bedrooms.
When they arrived I got a little nervous about the size of the boxes but fear not! Everything made it up the stairs easily. This was one of the most exciting unboxings I’ve done in a long time 🙂
I also need to commend them on great packaging. Thick boxes (that I of course recycled), then tightly wrapped in bubble wrap with the sharp leg edges covered in fabric and taped up (the legs were removed and packaged up in bundles).
With a house filled with cats I was ecstatic over this grey fabric I chose. It’s really thick and durable and a gorgeous shade of grey. The weight of the cushions are substantial and they’re memory foam topped with goose feathers. It is so freaking comfortable that even my husband has been commenting how much he loves it. And I love knowing that in the future if we move it to the much bigger living room we can purchase additional pieces from this line to suit the space. It’s a winner!
I love that for each major cushion there’s velcro and a sort of microfibre panel so you can put each cushion exactly where you want them and nothing slides around.
I took out the old sofa, put in the new, and tried it out for a week or so and fell in love with it. But the room needing a makeover. The blue and white walls weren’t living up to the expectations the new sofa now set. So I went to work on a little project.
The Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue is such a unique colour and I really love it so I decided to wrap the room in stripes in that colour as well as Drop Cloth. And despite it being a pain in the butt and time consuming I love how it turned out and I could not love the room more. It really makes the new sofa pop.
Over the summer I spent many hours scouring the internet for new bedding. Most of the time my searches were of linen bedding because once you try linen bedding you are hooked, believe me. (Linen has magic powers of being cool in summer and warm in winter, in case you didn’t know). Nothing was ever quite the right colour. My bedroom walls are Farrow & Ball’s Mouse’s Back – an odd grey brown that can can look a little more green or yellow depending on the lighting, and seems tough to match with. I never ended up finding anything until one day Jo and I received an email from an angel sent from heaven. Her name is Ieva Šidlauskė and her shop, April Notes, is something you’re going to want to bookmark. She offered to send me duvet cover and bedding sets and kindly helped me choose colours. The photo above is what I ended up going with – a linen duvet cover set in moss green and linen bedding set in beige.
Each set was sent in a white linen bag. Love that and will reuse them.
I was also stoked that Ieva sent some linen fabric samples. Somehow she has managed to select the most perfect shades of earthy tones to work with. That almond on top left and sunset rose bottom right are sooooo yummy. I love that all of the colours work beautifully together and if you’re into mix and match colours of bedding you could do that so easily with each shade she carries.
I could not be happier with the colours, the quality and the absolute beauty this bedding brings to my bedroom. I was incredibly excited to get these on the bed and once I started the photo shoot I could barely contain my excitement. I know I sound a little nuts but I was so desperate for some new cozy bedding to get me through these next several months and these could not have come at a better time. April Notes to the rescue! (Side note: Mimin my elderly cat spent the first 2 days after the bedding was setup sleeping on the pillows. My husband slept in the first 3 days. We’re all in absolute heaven with these new additions to our bedroom)
There’s something about linen wrinkles that I just adore. And that’s the beauty of linen – you can iron or smooth out the wrinkles or go with the crumpled look. And a bed made with linen bedding often looks better unmade. I actually did the first part of this shoot with everything in its place and then I threw back the covers and displaced the pillows a bit for that unmade, natural look. Which is frankly how my bed looks always 🙂
Thank you so much Ieva!!! XOXO
Some points of note about April Notes…
Design Philosophy: Our ethos is rooted in harmony: Harmony with oneself, nature, and with others. We strongly believe that by introducing harmony into our daily surroundings we can shape our lives towards a more sustainable and bright future. We achieve this goal by prioritizing function and style over fleeting trends to create versatile products that will stand the test of time. Our approach to sourcing earth-friendly materials minimizes the environmental impact, while the on-demand model eliminates textile waste. From the smallest button to the plant-based packaging, April Notes pushes the envelope on sustainability so you can manifest a more mindful home.
Shipping: Most of our items are handmade, thus all orders are prepared and nicely packed within 3-5 business days after the order has been placed. Shipping time can vary from 2 to 5 business days depending on the destination. Orders are shipped from Europe — Lithuania. We offer free shipping* for orders over $100 value. A shipping fee of $12 will be added at checkout for orders below $100. *There might be an exception for shipping to remote areas. Currently we ship to the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, all countries of the European Union, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland, Gibraltar. We are hoping to expand to other regions and countries in the future.
Hey folks. It has been a while since I shared a reno project on the blog, and today I am sharing a bit of a doozie of a reno. I’m taking you back to the beginning of my main bathroom. The photo above is from the real estate listing. Over the 8 years we have lived in this house it never really got any better than that photo aside from me painting the purple out in a pale grey and the chair rail molding in black. This bathroom had a few great features and others that were totally lacking. Great = the stained glass curved window, marble hex tile floor with off white curved trim tile (I think original to the home that was built in 1940) and off white subway tile in the shower with curved black trim tile. The problems with this bathroom were the former owners stuck a cheap, useless pedestal sink in there, so there was ZERO counter space. And there was NO OUTLET!!! We found out there was asbestos so we ended up having to gut the parts of the bathroom we were working with and able to leave the features we weren’t touching. This meant we were easily able to have an electrician put in an outlet, have a separate switch for the fan, and add electrics for a ceiling mounted light (I had one in storage I wanted to use). I wanted to keep all the tile in the shower area and the floor and trim tile because they were beautiful. Turns out this decision cost me a small fortune and would have been much cheaper had I simply replaced the floor tile, because there was a lot of prep work required when re-drywalling to set up for the new tile to be installed flush with the trim/floor tile. Anyway, it is what it is and I am happy to have maintained original features in there.
Here is a shot post-asbestos removal, after adding new insulation and electrical all set up.
This renovation started about a year and a half ago and during many pandemic lockdowns and also with this city having next to nothing in terms of fun options for renovations I did almost all of the purchasing for items in here online, and turns out most of them were from Wayfair (the sink, faucet, all new plumbing hardware in the shower, wall mount light fixture, towel bars). I did want to find a vintage cabinet for the sink, and came across this on Facebook Marketplace for $150:
We sanded it down and gave it a coat of Livos and some new knobs, fit it with a Carrera marble counter and backsplash, refit it inside to fit the plumbing pipes and make use of the top drawer and it worked out really well! You’ll see a bit further below but first a quick note on the tile. I went to a discount tile store and managed to find simple black glossy subway tile and they had plenty to do the walls I wanted tiled. It cost about $200!!! And I decided to add a little bit of colour and found a square tile in green online at Home Depot to add a stripe through the room. That cost $35! I was having a hard time deciding on how the tile should be laid but then saw something online that made me think of this pattern:
My tiler thought it was really creative and though it was a bit of a pain in the ass to prep the drywall for 2 different depths of tiles (try and avoid that – will for sure keep the cost down), I love the end result.
Enough babbling – let me show you my new Art Deco inspired bathroom!
(A couple of other sources: the mirror I have been hoarding a while from Highjinx, the shower curtain is Marimekko from Bed, Bath & Beyond, the little cabinet over the toilet is an antique watch cabinet I found on FB Marketplace, the painting is by Mike Rachlis, the rug is from Turkey via Etsy, the towels from H&M Home and everything else I shopped my house)