Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post on My Grass by Alison of Catherine Alison Interiors

Another treat today - Alison from Catherine Alison Interiors is here to give me (and other people with grass issues - no, not THOSE issues...come on now...) some advice on what to do with my backyard if the grass just won't work. 

Welcome Alison!


If – like me – you’re a regurlar reader of ”Life Begin’s at Thirty, Right?” you’ve probably choked on your coffee while catching up on Janice’s efforts to win the war on  raccoons.  Laying the chicken wire on top of the grass was my favourite tactic of all!  You two were so committed!   I’d love to hear, which tactic did you love best?

I certainly understand the desire to have a patch of grass.  My grandparents lived their whole life in "The Beach” and I can remember the small patch of grass they maintained in their backyard vividly.  Cutting the lawn only required a rotary push mower and it was always neat and tidy-looking.  I don’t understand – what’s changed?

Well since the raccoons do seem to be winning, Janice’s plight has me thinking....what are the best alternatives to lawn for a shady city-dweller?  Janice, isn’t shady – her patch of backyard is...just to clarify. J

(1) Create a Garden.  Plant a herb garden, a flower garden or vegetable patch.  The centre pathway could be lined with low boxwoods or ewes to give the garden some additional structure.  And pop down some meandering flagstones into the garden in order to get in and out easily when maintaining.


Garden Pros:  A well-designed garden could be quite lovely to look at from your deck.  You would develop your green thumb in the process. 
Gardon Cons:  It takes time to plant a well thought-out garden.  And there’s an up front cost for the plants.  Plus, there’s no space to lie down and watch the clouds go by.  {Insert image of woman lying on grass}

(2) Ground cover   Many types of hardy ground cover can be used instead of or in combination with grass.  We planted white clover at our family cottage on a shady, sloping hill a year ago and it’s filling in well.  And here’s a new variety of Ajuga I love the name of – it’s called ’Chocolate Chip’.  Yummy and pretty!

Ground Cover Pros:  Little maintenance, quick to fill in, lots of variety.
Ground Cover Cons:  Some of them are not nice to walk on; they’re just for show.  Kind of like a pair of killer heels.

(3)    Ornamental Grasses  I think this could be a very swanky urban look that suits your fashion and style-savvyness.  Ornamental grasses come in many heights and colours.   

Grasses Pros:  Very chic, blowing softly in the wind. Low maintainance
Grasses Cons: Initial Expense, especially if you buy your grassess full at full size

(4)    Faux turf  This is no longer just for sports!  I’ve seen several houses in my neighbourhood with faux front lawn grass.  From a distance – you can’t even tell.  Apparently the quality of the grass types has improved tremendously in the past few years.  This isn’t regular astroturf.  The luxury end grasses are  made with soft, long luxurious two-toned fibres.  And some are even springy.  Think of all the water you’ll save. And no mowing – ever!  Check out this brand.

Faux Grass Pros: Low-maintenance
Faxu Grass Cons:  Possible Aesthetic appeal, costs

(5)    Moss Plants  And finally, low-growing, shade-loving moss plants can be a great alternative to traditional lawns.  They form a dense mat are soft to the touch.


Pros:  Easy to maintain, soft to touch
Cons: Need lots of moisture

Of course, there’s no need to worry right now though.  Snow will cover up your backyard soon enough.  Do you think one alternative would fit the bill?  If not, do you have other ideas for Janice?  Enjoy the holiday season, everyone.

Author Bio: Alison Hodd is a Mom of 2, and a wife of 1.  She’s a corporate trainer by day and a residential designer by night, living in Oakville, ON.    To get free weekly actionable design tips go here to sign up. Or join the design conversation on facebook go here .


Alright friends - what option do you think is best for me now? These seem better than what I was going to do (ahem, cement pad).

PS - I'm actually writing a post of my own today :-) Coming up later!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post - Nataliya from Style-ING w/ Children

Happy Monday everyone! (ps - I don't know why I say happy Monday on Mondays, when I usually hate them...)

I have another fantastic bathroom reno for ya today - this time from Nataliya from Style-ING w/ Children. Her and her husband did a great job on their master ensuite and I have a feeling you will love it!


Hi there. First of all I’d like to thank Janice for this awesome opportunity. I've been an avid reader of her blog, I always look forward to her posts. And, hello, the raccoon story should be made into a book :)

I am someone who writes a blog mostly to keep myself inspired for all the big and small projects around our house. With full time jobs, a toddler and zero design/reno experience (outside of painting walls) hubby and I bought our current house with the purpose of renovating the hell out of it.

I’m not sure how much any of you are familiar with Minto? It is the suburbia go-to builder for look-alike housing around our parts. We love to hate them. Truly. Our house is your regular average suburbia box. Nothing wrong with that. And nothing wrong with wanting to change every single corner of it.

Today I’d like to show you our en suite bathroom reno project. I’ll prefix by saying that this was the FIRST project of this size and complexity that either one of us dreamt of undertaking outselves. It took 4 months, too many weekends covered in dust and with thinset on our hands and faces. The results are so so dear to our hearts. I also have to say that my hubby gave in to every aesthetic whim I had during the whole process. And I thank him so much for having faith that I wouldn’t screw this up.


The tub that squeaked like there was no tomorrow

Tile circa 1987

Built-in single sink vanity. Chipped beige sink.

Here’s the general set up of the whole bathroom. Removing floor tile (that was going to be the death of us, death by slipping and falling) is done. Who else is grossed out by that bathtub??


White, clean, modern, not TOO modern (if you know what I mean, wink)


My favourite features, you ask? Well... that walk-in shower, tiled all the way up + tiled ceiling. Also, tile behind toilet/vanity and a little beyond vanity. Best decision ever. If you’re in doubt, to tile or not to tile, TILE IT! In our case it gave us the extra custom look.

There are two things fighting for my absolute love in this bathroom. The shower curtain and that hex tile. I honestly cannot decide which one makes me happier. The pops of yellow were my attempts at adding warmth from my inspiration photos. The combination of white and yellow is a very happy one. I cannot believe I scored those floor mats in the exact share of yellow as my shower curtain, ON SALE at HomeSense!

So there you have it. A little corner of our home reno’ed and improved. Of course there are still things to get and install that will make it more 100% complete vs. Just 92%. And we will get there. Eventually. For now we're happy happy happy with the way things are.

Shameless plug: Come visit me, hubby and Baby C at Style-ING w/ Children. We’re working on both the master bedroom and Baby C’s big girl room. It’s fun! You should stop by.

Thank you Janice for having me!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guest Post - Melissa from Living Beautifully...One DIY Step at a Time

Happy Thursday everyone! I have a special guest post today from Melissa and Ian from Living Beautifully...One DIY Step at a Time. I remember getting a comment on one of my bathroom posts from Melissa saying something like "our bathrooms are twins!" and I can definitely see why she said that!

So welcome Melissa and I hope everyone loves her bathroom because I clearly do!


Hi Everyone!
I wanted to thank Janice, for letting us guest post! We are big fans of her blog and ironically enough have something major in common- our massive bathroom reno! We are a young Canadian couple who just recently started our blog about our new home, our renovations, DIY projects, and doing it all within a budget :) We have been working on a major bathroom reno since last July, and are thrilled that it is finally done!
We actually finished the construction of this bathroom back in early September, but the room wasn't finished just yet. We wanted to completely finish it before we blogged about it...however we could barely afford to buy a toilet paper holder to put in there. Reno's are expensive people! So we waited and waited until we could afford to buy a few things...its still not completely finished but we're getting there!

Lets start at the beginning. Here is what we had to work with:

Ok where to begin. Pink floors. Sigh. We really had no way of working with these- we knew they had to go.

Secondly the vanity was about as tall as my lower thighs. If I was 4 feet this would not have been a problem. However for someone 5ft8, I was barely able to wash my face without sitting on the floor.

I don't know about you, but "beachy" mixed with "roman sconces" does NOT mix. LOVE the beach. Not such a fan of the mideaval flare....

Colours. Where to begin. This bathroom had red, orange, blue, pink grey and gold...and probably other colours mixed in there too somewhere. I am not a 'fall' colour person. Our ENTIRE house was fall colours when we moved in. Slowly...slowly we are changing that, but this bathroom looked a bit like a rainbow exploded in it...we dont do rainbow guts.

In all reality there were no words. We just knew we wanted to change the ENTIRE thing. So now that Ive told you all the things we hated about this bathroom, lets focus on the positives shall we?! The size of the room was great, so we had a lot of space to work with. Great light comes into this room, so that was another positive and we had space to play with- nothing was stopping us from changing the layout around...except cost that is!

I had been saving up tons of ideas and we pretty much knew what we wanted. A 'Spa' feel, light, bright colours, and a clean look. I love when things look clean. You know, like when you walk into a store and eveything is all neat, organized and bright looking? It just LOOKS clean. I love that. So thats what we were going for and I think we achieved that :) it is friends - our pride and joy!

Here's the before and after of our tub:


The shower:

The vanity:


 and other details:

We will be doing a bunch of separate posts on our blog to talk about how we did some of the projects in this bathroom, including the shower tile pattern, paneling on the walls, how we designed the space, how we managed to do all of this on a tight budget, etc, as there is much to talk about, regarding this renovation process!

We think it turned out pretty darn good ;)

We're still adding in the finishing in the picture frames (lol), drapes, accent table, etc, etc.... For now, love partially finished rooms!
Thanks again Janice for letting us guest post tonight and we'll have to compare notes on our bathrooms soon enough :)
Melissa and Ian from Living Beautifully...One DIY Step at a Time (

Pretty darn good is an understatement if I've ever seen one! Congrats to Melissa and Ian on such a fantastic renovation. If you haven't had the chance to check out her blog, go on over! You won't regret it!G


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures in Growing Grass - THE END.

I know, I know. In my absence you have been scratching your head, wondering about one thing in particular. Not where I went, or why I was so down on house renos, but...


Yes well, here is a slight update.

Last you heard, hubs and I spent a bunch of money and a bunch of time covering the grass with chicken wire.


I know - excessive right?!

Well we were desperate. We needed the grass to take root and live, and we needed to foil these little f*ckers:

...who enjoyed doing THIS to our lawn:

So where was I...right. So we covered our lawn with chicken wire and it WORKED. Sure, we couldn't walk on it, or enjoy the grass, but the raccoons has LEFT THE BUILDING. Literally. They must have sent out an APB over the vermin-airwaves:

"Roger niner - we got a problem - move on to the next house - masked man - over and out"

Unfortunately, while the raccoons finally left us alone, the grass, my friends, the grass....


I guess it was too late. The damage had been done and the grass stood no chance at survival. It was really hard to watch. After all of our hard work and $$$ and watering and protection, our lovely grass died.

So there it is - a depleated bank account, lots of extra grey hair, and a yard full of dead sod. So, so sad.

We do have a plan though - one that will start up next spring so I won't tell you about it now, but suffice to say that it is going to be the LAST try. Hubs really wants grass in the backyard, so I've agreed to one more attempt, but if it doesn't work, we are going with this:

Anyhoo - for the final grass related update of the year, I wanted to tell you one more thing. Last week, J took the chicken wire off. The leaves had fallen, the grass was dead, so it was time to take up the wire and rake all the leaves.

You will never guess what happened when the wire came up.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.....

(are you waiting?!)



THAT'S RIGHT, FOLKS! The mother f'n raccoons came back and lifted the leaf-covered DEAD SOD!!!

The End.