Our kids are nicely seated back at their desks at school, the leaves are turning from green to gold and Canadian families go back inside to escape the chill that has returned to the air. There is no better time to consider the anarchy of the mudroom: shoes continually piled in disarray, coats strewn about, backpacks blocking doorways and various sports gear causing neck-breaking tripping hazards. Although mudrooms provide only a brief transition between outside and in, they are very busy places in any family. Illogically, most mudrooms are of tiny configuration, forgotten, messy and disorganized spaces, (that are nonetheless capable of causing embarrassment if the door is accidentally left ajar when a guest walks by on the way to the carefully cleaned powder room!) Plan a mudroom well and you will be glad, maybe even delighted, to leave the door wide open. Whether you are a family of 2 small children with parents or a family of one child, three dogs, and 2 avid mountain climbers, it is important to plan storage for all members of the family and to utilize every square inch of this usually small space. Bring storage cabinets full height to the ceiling where off-season items can be stored out of the way. Closed storage such as drawers and cabinets with doors are great for hiding the many items the mudroom cultivates, such as hats, gloves, pucks or baseballs. Open and accessible storage is a must if you want things hung up or put away by returning school children and busy adults alike. The easier the access, the more likely it will be put in place. Hang coat hooks at two heights: one for children and one for adults. Shoe cubes hidden in the bottom of a closet rarely get used; instead, use horizontal shelves that are immediately within reach of the entry door and fit any shoe size. Think about the views into your mudroom from the interior spaces. Keep the shoe shelves out of the view of the wandering guest while keeping them handy for incoming family members. Give individual cubbies or drawers to each family member. This way items are not mixed up and more easily found by the teen running out the door to lessons or practices. In some cases, depending on space, you may even be able to plan for specialized storage such as a sports locker or a puppy station. The average mudroom does not have to be average! Although you must think about using finishes that are hardwearing, you can bring a little whimsy or style to a mudroom of any size. Add message boards, an invigorating colour on the walls or even a barn door on the entry in the hall. A mudroom can become fully functional, tidy, and yes, even stylish, if carefully planned. If in doubt, call a designer for expert advice!

Fun and practical storage idea. Get those backpacks off the floor! C/O The organizedhousewife.com on Pinterest


Despite the small size of this mudroom, it is well thought out and uses every inch of storage possible! C/O HGTV on Pinterest


The crazy weather last week in Calgary caused a mix of anxiety and alarm. The anxiety arose when we had to drive in winter conditions unprepared without winter tires or snow brushes on hand. The alarm came from the shock of having beautiful sunshine just two days before and then afterwards the broken branches we came home to find in our yards.

It made me compare the unexpected weather of Calgary to a renovation. It is not uncommon to meet obstacles along the way when you are renovating: A framer fell playing hockey and broke an arm, demolition revealed mold in the walls, the granite slab you picked out was dropped in the shop…The list can go on and on.

There are two items that must be emphasized in order to reduce the anxiety and alarm when embarking on a home renovation. Number one is to always be prepared with a good plan and the second is to expect the unexpected.

A good plan is a must. Hire a professional to make sure it is done correctly and all details have been thought out. An Interior Designer can make sure all details are accounted for and recorded in a form that can be easily translated by all involved. This will ensure that what you envisioned in your mind becomes a reality in the end. Furthermore choices and decisions should be made before your renovation proceeds so that you are not under a time crunch and make hasty decisions that you are not happy with later.

No matter how prepared you are for a renovation it takes many pieces to fall into place to make it all come together. Take it all in stride.  Make sure you have a contingency plan. Have an extra 10% to 15% in extra funds as padding just in case. When walls open up you can find things that no one could have foreseen. Old leaks caused damage that must be repaired or building code issues such as plumbing must be updated. Extra insulation of funds can come in handy. Time is another part of the contingency plan. Tile is discontinued or lighting is delivered damaged. These take time to order and will most likely cause a delay. Most renovations for many reasons take longer than what was originally planned. Do not ever plan a renovation to finish just weeks before Christmas when you have invited all your relatives to stay with you. That is a sure fire way to cause a great deal of alarm and stress to you and the contractor!

Having a great plan beforehand and knowing the probability of things not always going as planned will keep the anxiety and the alarm to a minimum during a renovation. Us Calgarians know this all too well when dealing with the weather. Although most of us do not carry our winter tires in the back seat all summer we do learn to prepare when we can and roll with the punches when the weather does not go as planned.



I love kitchens! They are an essential part of every house. For families, the kitchen is the central gathering space, it is the homework or craft room or even at times, it is “party central”. Of course, the most important role of the kitchen is preparing, cooking and serving meals. If your kitchen is not appealing and functional, it makes meals more of a chore. Tasks are simpler (and more enjoyable) with easy access to kitchen appliances, adequate space in front of appliances, sufficient work areas and appropriate transitions from one area to another (preparing, cooking, cleaning and storing).

Along with these aspects of a good working kitchen comes ample storage; one of the most sought after “wants” expressed by my clients! There never seems to be enough functional storage space.  When renovating a kitchen, there are a few easy ways to get more storage space out of your kitchen without necessarily knocking down walls.

My first suggestion is to always bring up the height of your cabinets. Items that you do not use as often, such as serving dishes and china will go on the upper shelves.

Secondly, you need to get rid of that corner pantry! It is such a poor use of space for the amount of area it takes up. In any house I enter, no matter how neat and organized the homeowners are, the corner pantry invariably looks like the one below when it is opened up. And this is one of the neater ones I have seen! Now just try finding the cocoa powder for those brownies…

It is hard to find items in a corner pantry - Google Images It is hard to find items in a corner pantry – Google Images


Also, I suggest utilizing pull-out pantry drawers to easily find and access items in the back of a cabinet. A large heavy duty pull-out drawer can also be great for storing all those small appliances that usually take up valuable counter space.  Lower ‘magic corner’ cabinets are terrific as well.  They give you access to otherwise useless storage in the hidden corner of cabinets.

There are so many more options for maximizing your storage that I could go on for pages! Take advantage of your designer (me, I hope) to help you find all the best ways to make storage work for you in your kitchen.

Happy cooks make happy meals!







Kitchen Renovations? Hold on!

May 29, 2010

 The most vital room in the house is the kitchen. This culinary space is the heart of the home, whether a large family or a single person dwells within. My family spends most of our time anchored to this room while we’re doing homework, entertaining family and friends or devouring a quick breakfast before hockey […]

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