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Thirteen Favorites of 2013

I’m so excited that a new year has begun!  As a grad student my “new” year has typically started in September.  This is the first time, in a long time, that I get my fresh start with the rest of the world, in January.  2012 was nutty (spending four months in Hungary contributed greatly), but then 2013 saw even bigger things happen for us: the townhouse sold, we bought our dream lakehouse (which I started designing in my head immediately), I successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation, and our home is a tiny bit crazier (and messier) thanks to the addition of our incredibly lovable pup, Szuka.  Handy Hubby and I also celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary!  This little blog has seen tremendous growth again, thanks to all of you
stopping by!!  I’ve been flattered by many kind features of my projects and spaces – I even had a chance to create another DIY for a great magazine

2014, starting with a 1600km move across the province (next week!!), is sure to be amazing.  I’m so excited for the huge changes around the corner: finally moving (which involves down-sizing, simplifying and really getting organized), tackling some big-scale renos in the lakehouse, finding a job, making time to indulge in more crafts, re-naming and re-designing the blog, watching Szuka grow up to be a 100 pound bundle of love (she’s 65 pounds now!!), and sharing it all with you.  They say grad school is like hitting the snooze button on life but now I am ready to wake up.  I want to linger in 2013 for one more day though, and share my favorite and your favorite (i.e. most read) posts and projects of the year.

1.  Custom matting?  Pass! 
When I bought some beautiful enamel paintings in Budapest I skipped the custom matting and just painted the cardboard backing on each a dark grey before slipping them into inexpensive Ikea frames.  Easy-peasy and still one of my most favorite mementos from the trip. 

2. Vintage Hungarian Posters
Scratch that.  The enamel art is clearly my second favorite memento, because my mid-century Soviet-era posters take the cake (and made me finally love the townhouse kitchen).  For anyone looking for their own, I purchased mine from Budapest Poster.  My Mom has yet to frame hers but when she does I can’t wait to show you the gems she picked out.

3. DIY Cord Bracelets
The winter saw me keeping indoors (where it’s warm), tackling a lot of smaller crafts that veered away from home stuff, like dying a dress, making sparkly necklaces out of shell casings and crafting rings from felted wool.  I loved these projects and hope to make time for more.  I think you liked them too because some of my DIY jewellery posts were my most popular.  The jewellery project viewed most was definitely the easy knotted cord bracelets I whipped up with my dear friend Erica.

4. Felted Fix
I also loved this adorable repair for a damaged wool sweater.  I’m still itching to try a bolder pattern or design, just for fun.

5. Framed Agate Art
Speaking of little craft projects, this super simple framed agate art was a win.  Combined with the enamel art hung between the patio doors and dining room windows, and new (brighter) dining room art, this row of agates above a new-to-me vintage teak cabinet (scooped up only days after finally tracking down a bar cart), really helped complete the dining room.  Happily, the bar cart found a new spot and all was good.

6. A Laundry Room to Love
Before we sold the townhouse, we wrapped up a few projects.   I shared some of these projects, like sprucing up a half bath (including painting it pale turquoise!), adding curtains to hide the washer and dryer in the laundry room, creating a minty corkboard area on the basement door, painting a curbside coffee table mint too, adding the tiniest bit of curb appeal, and de-cluttering for sale (which included swapping the bedrooms back), but I was so swept up in talking about lakehouse projects I forgot to keep you in the loop about some other makeovers!  Soon.  In the meantime, from those I did share my peek into the laundry room was by far a favorite.  The painted turquoise floors, creamy greige walls and re-purposed bed linens saw my vision (inspired by a front porch) finally realized.  Doing laundry became FUN!  The thriftiness and feasibility of this makeover even earned unexpected attention from Apartment Therapy.  I’m proud to show off my real spaces with real drawbacks and shoestring solutions (small room, small budget!). 

7. Fireplace Fix

With a makeover like the lakehouse fireplace update, it’s easy to understand how townhouse projects were quickly forgotten.  It took some convincing, but even Hubby is now smitten with the lakehouse fireplace.  I can’t wait to move in and decorate!  All that I had to work with when I snapped the “after” photos was a set of fireplace pokers (which I also made over – cannot leave me alone with a can of paint).

9. Bathroom Spruce: Make it Work
The bathroom (although much refreshed for now) also needs a little accessorizing, but de-oaking it on a dime was definitely a highlight.  A full reno is imminent, but I just could not live with the antacid pink walls and wood-wood-wood.  It was a real challenge to make over the space without spending much money or replacing things.  Most bathroom spruces I see at the very least swap out the lighting, cabinet pulls, add new tile (even if it’s peel+stick).  But I really, really wanted to save my pennies for a gut job so I made do with what I had, painting pretty much everything – from the existing knobs to the vanity light and tile, nothing was safe. 

9. Garbage Chair
Soon I plan to show you all the pieces of furniture we sold in preparation for the move, and what we’ll be making work in the new space.  Definitely in the “keep” pile is my garbage chair, recovered in velvet after many sleepless nights spent clutching fabric samples.  Bonus: the leg/arm problem doesn’t bother me anymore!

10. Turquoise Kitchen: So Close I Can Taste it!
After mooning over turquoise kitchens, we bit the bullet and painted our cabinet fronts!!  This post got a lot of hits but it was such a teaser with no finished “after”.  Unfortunately we had to leave the lakehouse and come back to the townhouse before making any more progress in the kitchen.  It was painful!!  After settling in, the kitchen is first on the list! It is absolutely in shambles and totally unusable right now.  I still need to paint the cabinet boxes, remove the upper cabinets, figure out a backsplash, replace the counters, sink, and faucet, and build some open shelving.  You know, nothing major 😉

11. Happy Days
Yep, “unfinished” is definitely the theme for the lakehouse, but that doesn’t make me any less excited about the progress we made.  I’m taking more design risks (see above), but even though the walls have been painted my signature gallery white, I’m adding more colour in unexpected places like the bedroom closet.  We just bought a closet fitting that I can’t wait to install.  I haven’t edited my closet at all while packing because . . . ugh.  I’m going to pass the buck and have future-me do it during the unpacking.  In the end I hope for a stream-lined, organized wardrobe with only things that fit and look great (aside from my these-can-get-dirty-I-live-in-the-country-now clothes). 

12. Embroidery Success
Although I started it in 2012, it wasn’t until July that my embroidered scrap of cloth magically morphed into a pillow.  I have been sent too many emails to count, by folks asking for a how-to.  Finally posting a tutorial with a fresh new project is high on my list of things for the new year (embroidery is definitely a curl up by the fire in the winter craft).

13. Money Talks
Last year, as promised, I started my Money Talks series, talking frankly and openly about tricks and tips we use to make our wallets healthier . . . and the ways in which we fail.  The posts are challenging to write because it’s difficult to open up, plus I’m not an expert so I take the time to do some research too.  Because everyone seemed to love them (they’ve each received a ton of hits), I’m going to tackle a few more money topics this year and first up will be mortgages!  I’ll be sharing our tips – and asking for yours.  I also want to work toward being really transparent about what renovations in the lakehouse cost, where we splurge, where we save, and how we make it happen financially.

I hope everyone’s 2013 was fabulous, and I wish you nothing but amazing things for the year to come!



  1. Adam
    January 9, 2014 / 7:09 pm

    Really like the style of the Hungarian posters! Very cool 🙂 Some great projects here.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 20, 2014 / 3:49 am

      Thanks Adam!

  2. Lindsey@ A Pear to Rember
    January 17, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    Listening to Pandora and heard Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones. A whole new meaning now after regularly reading your blog, made me think of you. Enjoy! If we're getting into Orange Is The New Black (we could be talking about your new closet or the stellar Netflix series), you'll chuckle at my most recent blog post title "Orange Is The New Mac" Happy New Year!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 20, 2014 / 3:50 am

      I am definitely hooked on Orange is the New Black!! Can't wait for the next season. Your article is great and that recipe looks delicious – such a clever title.

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