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How To Design A Kid-Friendly Home

author: 
<p>Katie Hayden&nbsp;</p>
How To Design A Kid-Friendly Home
Design Mom should be on every parent's bookshelf

In her delightful new book, Design Mom blogger Gabrielle Stanley Blair emphasizes making rooms in a family home as multipurpose as possible. This dining room, featured in the book, has been completely transformed into an inviting playroom for the kids – but one that can still pinch-hit as a dining room when needed. Excerpted from Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. 

Full disclosure: I’m a busy working parent, and when I get home, I often have little energy for big projects around the house. Putting my kids to bed at night and getting them to their one or two lessons each weekend is about all I can manage. In addition, I’ve worked in the world of interior design for the better part of 20 years, and I see my share of great rooms and savvy ideas on a daily basis. So when I reviewed Design Mom recently for H&H’s “Home Library” column, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it and by how fresh and inspiring Gabrielle Stanley Blair’s ideas are.

Early on in this smart, stylish guide on living with kids, Blair puts her finger on the crux of the problem: “Kids come with all sorts of gear — and it multiplies.” The down-to-earth solution, says the popular blogger and founder of the Alt Summit, riffs on William Morris’s adage “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Blair says: “Think of the beautiful teapot you use every single day. This should be your goal when choosing any object in your home — high function + high beauty.”

But should we change our decorating for life with kids? Blair thinks so, saying “design affects us and can alter relationships in a very real way.” She plans her own homes (and her family has had a number over the years) to encourage togetherness, even if everyone in the room isn’t focusing on exactly the same thing. Her book, she says, aims to teach us, “How to live with kids, and not just how to live, but how to live well.… One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that design doesn’t have to disappear when kids appear.” 

Blair is my hero when it comes to copyrighted cartoon characters. “It’s 100 percent possible to make a room your child will love without involving Olaf the Snowman,” she insists. I wholeheartedly agree. She created this enchanting bedroom for a youngster in love with Finding Nemo – and it’s surprisingly chic and parent-friendly. Excerpted from Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. 

The interior designer and mom of 6 (!) features reams of vibrant, approachable, livable rooms that lean slightly toward the contemporary but also incorporate a good dose of the quirky, the creative and the colourful. She sagely tackles the various zones and hotspots of the family home, offering unique and seasoned tips for the entryway, living room, kitchen, kids’ bedrooms, family room, laundry room, bathroom and family office, weaving together the wisdom she has gained wearing the two hats: mother and designer.

Her ideas are thoroughly practical and flexible. Idealism be damned – she's not afraid to advise, “Be willing to adjust to the current situation.” Likewise, as a relatively harried working parent, I appreciate her idea on timelines. “There’s no deadline. You’ve got a whole lifetime to work on it.”

Her warm ideas for family living have helped reinvigorate my goal to be a fun, involved parent and given me some fresh ideas for achieving that. I'm inspired by her recommendations to hold monthly interviews with each child; to do some goal-setting as a family; to crank good tunes during dinner cleanup and get the whole crew in on the action; to start a collection together as a family (even if it’s as simple and budget-friendly as collecting a couple lovely rocks on very trip we take); to create a stage-type space in my house for our pint-sized performer; keep a couple of thin, roll-up mattresses on hand for sleepover guests (which would keep us from having to drag a standard mattress through our narrow hallway from room to room when the girls have overnight guests…); and, perhaps most helpful for me, the family packrat, how to sort and purge kids artwork.

On the design side of things, she expounds on plans like establishing a functional command centre at the front door; rotating toys and clothes seasonally to make the odds and sods you’re living with on a daily basis more manageable; storing things where right you’ll use them; the best ways to make rooms multifunctional. She discusses the best family-friendly options for small-space seating, rugs, countertop materials, coffee tables, dishware, clothing and shoe storage and more. And she also includes several easy DIYs for making things like inexpensive but stylish cement planters, a “meaningful words” poster, a fabric-covered bulletin board, a customized laundry bag and a Sticky-Note calendar. 

Blair suggests using eye-catching dressup clothes as room decoration, which has the added benefit of making the outfits readily available for the kids to use. Excerpted from Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. 

So … what has Blair inspired me to change at my house? First up, I’m going to gussy up my laundry room.  I log several hours a week in there – why not kit it out ... even if it’s just for me! Then, I’m going to rotate out a bunch of my kids’ toys. I do it with their clothes each season – why not the toys, too? Don’t tell them, but some things may get rotated out permanently. Next, I’m going to invest in one of those clear plastic sets of drawers at a big box store and completely reorganize my art-supply cupboard. I’m never going to have enough space in my small city semi to have a separate craft or wrap room, and I’m the mom who hosts crafts parties for the kids in our gang, so why not indulge myself? Finally, I’m going to rethink my (extremely tight!) front hall and decide whether there are any ways I can make it better. After all, Blair insists, “setting up a functional entry is key to gracefully managing a home with kids,” and as her latest disciple, I’m going to see about making my busy life a bit more graceful. 

Photo credits:

1. The Land of Nod
2. Kristen Loken
3. Lesley Colvin

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Smart Indoor-Outdoor Living Design Ideas

Smart Indoor-Outdoor Living Design Ideas
Get inspired! Post sponsored by Phantom Screens.

Bring the outdoors in all summer long! Phantom Screens offers custom-made retractable screens for your windows, doors and large openings so you can keep bugs out of your home while letting fresh air in. Discover smart ways to bring indoor-outdoor style to your living room, kitchen and more in this blog post sponsored by Phantom Screens.

Here's a great example of how you can screen in a porch or patio to easily extend your home's living space. The large motorized screens are custom-built for your home so you can get an exact fit. The screens have sun and wind sensors, too, so you can program them to lower or retract when needed. You don't need to worry about installation either — Phantom Screens offers installation across North America. These screens get as large as 25' wide and 16' tall.

The screens are also ideal for single, sliding or French doors connected to your backyard, deck, patio or balcony. There are three mesh options available for the screens that each offer varying degrees of insect and UV protection, and light, temperature and privacy control. If you're worried about fading furniture, rugs or art, you can choose the solar mesh, which reduces heat and glare by up to 75%, or the privacy mesh, which blocks up to 90% of UV rays.

On French doors the screens are mounted on each side of the door frame and are pulled to the centre of the opening when needed, keeping bugs out, and retract out of site when needed – a great solution as the usual static screens don't work with double French doors. Because all Phantom Screens products are custom-made, unusual door sizes or openings won't be a problem either.

These retractable screens also fit a variety of windows, from casement and awning to sliding and tilt-and-turn.

The screens are ideal for kitchen windows as they help to let cooking smells out and cooler air in. With a range of mesh colour options you can find the perfect one to suit your interior and exterior, and if you prefer a wood grain finish on the screen frames, you can choose from 15 options including light pine, dark acacia and dark walnut.

Visit phantomscreens.com today to see more inspiring photos and to find a location near you.

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How To Travel Like A Designer: Costa Rica

author: 
<p>Corinne Cécilia&nbsp;</p>
How To Travel Like A Designer: Costa Rica
Corinne Cécilia on the eco-friendly country.

Known for its environmental leadership, Costa Rica is a popular eco-destination. The nation’s determination to preserve natural resources greatly influences their lifestyle – including design and decor – and it’s not unusual to come accross some intriguing sustainable innovations such as treehouses or biogas-powered lodges

Discerning visitors are attracted to the rich cultural heritage of this lavishly green country hailed the "Switzerland of Central America". So if you travel through the capital city of San Jose, do visit the National Museum of Costa Rica and explore the fascinating past of this former Spanish colony; then stop at the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, one of most important of its kind in Latin America.

The Galeria Namu deserves some special attention, since it focuses on fair trade for products made by local artisans. The art gallery also facilitates Eco-Ethno Tours, giving you a chance to meet with, and experience the culture of, indigenous communities. 

The art gallery specializes in tribal art along three defining styles: traditional objects used for everyday-life purposes or ceremonies; contemporary artwork; and reproductions of Pre-Columbian artefacts. Handmade pottery produced by indigenous artists often reflect their ancestral ways of living harmoniously with nature. The original polychromefinish vase, shown above, showcases the elegance of the jaguar, an animal much revered in Mesoamerican culture.

Art history aficionados will enjoy the reproductions of museum treasures available at  Galeria Namu. This shamanic ensign made in gold plating over bronze represents the transformation of the medicine man into a crocodile, reminiscent of the special mystical powers associated with religious leaders since ancient times.

In addition to celebrating Central American folk arts & crafts, Namu offers unique adventure trips to native villages, ideal for those who want to experience off-the-beaten-path Costa Rica while learning more about the country’s first nations. A sure way to get into Pura Vida mode – the national motto suggesting to enjoy life and stay optimist, whatever your circumstances.

Corinne’s travel tips : Visiting Costa Rica from December to April is more pleasant than during the sticky rainy season… if you can handle crowded hotels and beaches. For a more peaceful stay, fly in during the buffer months – why not attend the next edition of the international design festival or the fashion week in August? Visit the Costa Rican Tourism Board web site to plan an inspiring vacation in a country truly committed to green living.

Photo credits:

1, 7. Nature Air
2. National Museum of Costa Rica
3, 4, 5, 6. Galeria Namu 

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Low-Maintenance Decking For Your Backyard Or Porch

Low-Maintenance Decking For Your Backyard Or Porch
This blog post is sponsored by Azek.

Have a deck in need of a makeover or hoping to create the perfect outdoor living room? Check out this collection of PVC decking from AZEK. The new Vintage Collection features three shades that give the look of stained wood — without the need to apply stain. Each board has a slightly different colour variation, which also helps to give it that natural look. The three colours were chosen based on the latest trends in hardscaping. (This blog post is sponsored by Azek.)

Here’s Dark Hickory – a deep, rich gray with lighter streaks.

Here’s Cypress, which has a light reddish hue.

And here’s Mahogany. This mid-brown finish has hits of red and dark streaking.

Like other Azek collections, the Vintage line is super-durable and stain- and scratch-resistant. (Meaning patio furniture, pets and BBQ spills won’t leave behind marks!) To learn more about Azek deck materials and to see more photos, visit azek.com.

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The Ultimate Resort Coming To Ontario In 2016: Friday Harbour

author: 
<p>Seema Persaud</p>
The Ultimate Resort Coming To Ontario In 2016: Friday Harbour
Lake Simcoe promises to be the perfect staycation.

Are you a fan of staycations? The new Friday Harbour development on Lake Simcoe — an all-season resort-residence – will give Ontarians a place to unwind year-round without having to leave the country. At only a one-hour drive from the Greater Toronto Area, or a 90-minute GO Train ride, it's convenient for quick getaways. (This blog post is sponsored by Friday Harbour.)

The development has been in the works for 13 years now, and promises to be the ultimate place in Ontario for vacation living. The village boardwalk will include 12 buildings that will house over 550 residential units, from studio condos to six-bedroom townhouses. The first phase is scheduled to be ready for summer 2016, and phase two for summer 2017.

The boardwalk will also have over 50,000 sq. ft. of specialized shops and great restaurants. This rendering looks incredible.

Calling all boat-lovers: Just south of the village is the 40-acre inland marina, which will hold up to 1,000 boats and includes two private islands with approximately 300 townhomes, each with its own dock. The resort-residence also includes a golf course and hiking trails, along with shuttles and golf carts to easily get everyone around the resort.

For those who want to host a party, wedding or event, there's a double-deck riverboat available, and The Lake Club, a 35,000-sq.-ft. recreational centre right on the harbour, will include everything from swimming pools, badminton, games rooms, meeting rooms, movies and more. When winter hits, the cottage country zone will turn into chalet-style living, with ice fishing, ice hocking, skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Wondering about the cost? There's a range of options available depending on your needs: boardwalk condos range from $239,000 to $1-million; harbour flats range from $269,000 to $899,000; two-story three-bedroom marina townhouses are $849,000 to $1-million; and the private island townhouses range from three- to six-bedrooms and go from $1.1-million to just under $2-million. Units in phase one of Friday Harbour are already sold out, and half of phase two is already sold!

Visit fridayharbourresort.com today to browse floorplans, see the finishes and features, and more.

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House & Home Television App Now On Samsung Smart TVs

author: 
<p>Seema Persaud</p>
House & Home Television App Now On Samsung Smart TVs
Get the scoop on our NEW app!

We're so excited to announce that the House & Home Television app is live on Samsung Smart TVs in Canada and the United States! Now you can watch the very best of H&H TV in HD quality.

Inside the Samsung Smart Hub, you can get the H&H TV app if your TV is connected to the internet. You'll find us in the Lifestyle category, or by searching for "House and Home".

Once inside the app, you'll see our latest videos on-screen first. New videos are added to the app regularly. You can also browse by video type — Home Tours, DIY Projects, Makeovers, Decorating, Food, Seasonal, Artisans and Personalities — or, use "Search" to find exactly what you're looking for.

Within House Tours you'll find these sub-categories: Kitchens & Bathrooms, Family Homes, Small Spaces, Condos & Lofts, City Homes, Basements, Country & Cottage and Gardening & Outdoor Spaces.

Can't wait to binge-watch all my favourites in my living room!

Have a Samsung Smart TV? Try the app today and comment below with your thoughts! Or, tweet us @houseandhome with #HHStreamingTV.

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Join Our Ultimate Home Makeover Twitter Chat!

author: 
<p>Seema Persaud</p>
Join Our Ultimate Home Makeover Twitter Chat!
Find out how you could WIN $100 for your home.

How would YOU spend $25,000 on your home? We want to know! Share your dream renovation ideas with us on Twitter on May 28 at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT. 

Tweet during the hour using #Ultimate25K and you could win 1 of 5 $100 Visa gift cards from RBC Insurance.

Here's how to join the conversation:

1. Follow @HouseandHome to participate.

2. Tweet @HouseandHome using the hashtag #Ultimate25K from noon to 1 p.m. EST / 9 to 10 a.m. PST on Thursday, May 28.

3. Follow along during that time at #Ultimate25K.

Until then, don't forget to enter The Ultimate $25,000 Home Makeover Contest! Plus, find out what H&H editors Margot Austin, Sarah Hartill, Morgan Michener and Joel Bray would do with $25,000 for their home.

Contest prize available to residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. See full rules and regulations.

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London Calling: Part 2

author: 
<p>Suzanne Dimma</p>
London Calling: Part 2
Suzanne Dimma's inspirations from her U.K. trip.

Another stop on my recent London trip was Maison Assouline on Piccadilly. Opened in October 2014, it is the brainchild of Martine and Prosper Assouline of the eponymous publishing house and is situated on one of London's busiest streets.

Inside, however, is an oasis of calm. Originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1922, designer Guy Oliver re-imagined the building into a 360-degree bibliophile experience. The first floor features a bar on one side, towering bookshelves on the other, and a lounge in between. The aerial view from the catwalk is amazing.

Here is a view to the bar where you can see the sheer height of the building's first floor. What you can't see is the intoxicating scent of Assouline's signature library candles. I picked up one called Culture Lounge and its rich, woody scent always takes me back there.

The space feels like an invitation to linger, enjoy a glass of wine or a meal, and flip through the pages of some of the most beautiful books in the world. It is light years beyond the usual harried shopping experience!

This wall of books is so perfectly considered with more covers on display than spines — a brilliant idea for anyone who collects books as beautiful as these. Within the books are a few offset sections back-painted in a rich orange-red (another Assouline signature) and illuminated to create dramatic display areas.

The upper level is set up like an apartment and loaded with an array of curiosities from Prosper's travels. Everything is for sale as part of Assouline's fully bespoke library service. They can outfit a client's home with everything from bookshelves, artwork and game boards to desks, carpets and reading chairs. And they will also custom-curate book collections, of course.

Here is Calgary's Paul Lavoie and Toronto's Elizabeth Metcalfe (who were with me on the Kravet Canada London educational trip) checking out a striking red and black shelving unit with a rolling ladder. I was a bit obsessed with the raw wood panelling and the unbelievable brass-wrapped furniture.

Not to mention the alphabet carpet and the brass rhino.

This shelving unit has an almost Mondrian effect with its black face trim and intersecting box pattern. It looks like it belongs in a Parisian apartment.

The coordinating desk is a work of art in itself, combining open and closed storage in a totally unique way.

And the X-shaped book stand in the same black and white finishes puts a standout book on display.

I was totally coveting the backgammon set with brass pieces and handles that paired so beautifully with the astrology print tabletop.

After visiting the Assouline store, we popped down the street to The Wolseley for dinner — one of the interiors that designer David Collins is best known for. It's a grand brasserie-style restaurant with black and gold accents, soaring ceilings, serpentine banquettes and a massive brass clock. They have a no-photo policy, but I managed to sneak one from our seat in the balcony.

London is full of beautiful spots like this — Jessica McCormack's townhouse and Assouline were just a snippet of all the enviable interiors I came across. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I did!

For more from my travels, check out my blog post about France.

Photo credits:
1-13. Suzanne Dimma

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How To Declutter Your Home With The #KonMari Method

author: 
<p>Seema Persaud</p>
How To Declutter Your Home With The #KonMari Method
Top organization tips brought to you by Just Junk.

“Does it spark joy?” — This is what Japanese cleaning professional Marie Kondo says you have to ask yourself about everything you own. Everything. Right down to your socks. And if the answer is “yes,” you keep it. (Answer “no” and out-the-door it goes.) Forget room-by-room decluttering methods or asking yourself “Have I used this item in a year?” Kondo’s method to home organization first seems a little unusual, but dive deep into her cleaning handbook The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and you’ll realize this simple rule can truly help pare back your belongings. (This blog post is sponsored by Just Junk.)

Why should you discard objects in your home? In Kondo’s experience, she finds we surround ourselves with lots of things that go unused or don’t suit the life we actually live. We’re stuck with gifts we don’t want, more clothes than we remember we own and kitchen utensils we never use. Paring back means an organized home, and in Kondo’s experience, affects your life as a whole, too. Plus, it's perfect for small spaces and those who love the minimalist look.

So, how do you start? Here are some of Kondo’s top tips:

  1. Start immediately — there’s no need to wait for a new month, year or season.
  2. Before thinking about how to organize everything you own, focus on discarding.
  3. Commit to a tidying marathon. Instead of discarding a little bit every day, turn it into a special event. (Yes, if you’re busy you can try her method to tidying on weekends only.)
  4. Discard items one category at a time in this order: clothes, books and papers, miscellaneous items and then sentimental items.
  5. Don’t store your stuff at your parents’ home (or anywhere else), and don’t force your discarded items onto friends and family.

When discarding clothes, Kondo says it's not as easy as flipping through items hanging in your closet and choosing what to lose. Take all clothes — from your front hall closet to your bedroom — and dump it into one spot. Then hold each item and ask the question, "Does it spark joy?" to determine whether you keep the item. When it comes to storing clothes, Kondo says you can fold most clothes so each item can be seen upright in a drawer (instead of in a pile). For clothes that have to be hung, hang items from longest to shortest, darkest to lightest, left to right. 

For books, Kondo says to store them upright instead of in piles (sorry, I still love to style shelves!), keep them all in the same part of your home, and not to feel bad about letting go of unread books. Just be thankful for its purpose in your life and move on.

In the kitchen, the same rules apply whether you're tackling dishes, your pantry or items in your fridge. Want open shelves in the kitchen but worried about storage? Maybe you'll be able to get the look with the KonMari Method!

Think you’re finished discarding? Kondo says you’ll know when you’ve hit the point where you can discard no more. The result of this kind of home detox: Countless bags and boxes of items — from old dishes to dated technology to way-too-many free t-shirts — that need to be recyled, donated or thrown out. Professional junk removal companies like JUSTJUNK® can help you out. Just Junk’s team will come to your home and take away all your clutter, and recycle, donate and dispose everything from appliances to furniture. You simply pay based on how much you want to get rid of. Visit justjunk.com today to see how they can help you get a clean, organized home. Just Junk serves cities across Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta.  

Have you tried the #KonMari Method? Will you? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Photo credits:
1. Penguin Random House
2. House & Home March 2015 issue, photographer Janis Nicolay
3. House & Home March 2010 issue, photographer Donna Griffith
4. House & Home April 2012 issue, photographer Donna Griffith
5. House & Home June 2008 issue, photographer Andrew Grinton
6. House & Home September 2013 issue, photographer Virginia Macdonald

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Garage Renovation: 3 Stages

author: 
<p>Meg Crossley</p>
Garage Renovation: 3 Stages
Learn Meg Crossley's reno tips!

I recently lived through the last serious renovation to my house. (Serious to me means using my Sicilians, the contractors I have been calling on and off since buying my little house in 2002.) Kitchen and bathroom — done! Living and dining room — finished! Basement — check! I thought I was finished with renovating forever (although, are you ever really done?) until some saggy beaming and an even saggier roof on my detached garage meant I would need to have one last reno in me. Considering the cost of parking in downtown Toronto, and the inconvenience of street parking, saving my garage was now a priority. (You can see the full before and after in our June 2015 issue, on stands now, plus watch a tour on Online TV.)

I was a little out of practice, but then I realized — like all my renos before — there was a process and I just had to get back at it. The first step is the easy part, a little like love at first sight. You see something you like the looks of and you're a goner. I had a lovely inspiration shot (above) of a kitchen that I kept looking back at (and couldn't replicate in my house), so my garage was the next best place to use it as inspiration. I love that it's painted white, has lots of character, Shaker cabinetry, crisp painted floors and an old banged-up work table. If my garage could end up looking anything like this, I'd be thrilled.

The second step is the hard one, less about inspiration and more about frustration. My dark and dismal garage had a long way to go. Not only would it need lots of construction work and several coats of white paint to become the bright, airy space I wanted, it also needed to be completely emptied of all its contents. My solution was a portable ShelterLogic garage (below) that I could set up in my backyard and fill with everything from the permanent garage. Just imagine a gigantic tent that fills your entire backyard. No backyard entertaining last summer. No grass this summer.

The last steps included planning and putting back together. I needed to keep my parking spot, natch. But also wanted the multi-est of multi-use spaces. Crafting, storage, recycling bins, tools, gardening supplies and ladders all had to look good enough that I could throw the doors open for laneway sales. (I have an online store called Found with fellow H&H editor Morgan Michener.) And if I wanted it to be attractive like my original inspiration shot, I needed to figure out some things not typically seen in garage systems (dare I use the dreaded term Man Cave, because that is what most garage systems look like). Thank goodness for Ikea. Here's a peek at some of the tricks I used.

Hooks are perfect for hanging ladders out of the way, but also come in handy for hanging throw blankets at our laneway sales.

The sliding barn door in front of the recycling and garbage not only hides the unsightly bins, but creates a long deep shelf for more storage and a separate seating area, great for displaying our cushions for sale.

Open shelving above the cabinets means items are on display and easy to access. But lower cabinets store everything from a sewing machine and mitre saw to craft and packing supplies, hardware and garden tools. Every drawer is filled.

Lastly, a great old drafting table (a gift from H&H style editor Stacey Smithers) provides another work surface solely dedicated to gardening and potting (and keeps my bigger crafting table clean). Plus, it folds down to save space when not in use.

So now that the pain of the reno is over, not only do I feel more organized than ever, but I'm back to loving the look — pleased that I got as close to the inspiration shot as I did.

Pick up our June 2015 issue for more photos and tips from my garage reno, and tour the finished space on May 15 on Online TV.

Photo credits:
1. Sköna Hem magazine
2. Meg Crossley
3-8. House & Home June 2015 issue, photography by Valerie Wilcox

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