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November, 2012

  1. Paper Holiday Decorations

    November 29, 2012 by admin

    When I opened up my holiday issue (Nov 2012) issue of House & Home Magazine I gasped at the quirky colourful beauty of a story on paper holiday decorations crafted by my good friend Sarah Hartill.


    I love everything about these ideas:  the simple handmade quality, the punchy colour combinations, the out-of-the-box approach to Christmas.  Good job Sarah!  I’m sure you’ll love them too, and you can get full DIY instructions over at or by clicking here.


    Created by Sarah Hartill for House & Home Nov 2012

    This poinsettia garland with pink, red and the gorgeous Farrow & Ball wallpaper is drop-dead gorgeous.  For those of you who are wondering, I have a feeling that’s a Mjolk deer pelt on the bench in foreground.  The brass candle stick collection is killer too.

    Created by Sarah Hartill for House & Home, Nov 2012

    This snowy garland is a mixture of white papers and newsprint I believe and it couldn’t be more stunning!  Love it draped over an industrial bookcase.

    Created by Sarah Hartill for House & Home Nov 2012


    These handmade ornaments have a decidedly modern feeling with their collage of newsprint and punchy pink glitter.  Love the idea of adding colour to just the top of the newsprint ornament.

    Created by Sarah Hartill for House & Home, Nov 2012

    Isn’t this laurel wreath amazing?!  I am totally enamoured and think this colour combination is just delish!  I think that’s a velvet bow in pink against the red wreath and icy door and I just have to say hats off to you Sarah Hartill!




  2. Penney & Company Renovation: Coming Together!

    November 28, 2012 by admin

    It seems like lots of you are keenly interested in the progress at 303 Mary Street East in Whitby – the NEW Penney & Co location seems to be getting lots of buzz!  I thank you and hope to see you in the store soon!  Let’s pick up where we left off shall we?

    After a 2 am painting session (remember, 15 gallons of paint for the walls and ceiling!) the store is starting to take shape.

    Amazing what a little white paint can do isn’t it?

    As you can see, the gallons of Cloud White paint (and Revere Pewter floors) brightened the place up considerably!  Here, I’m starting to construct some much needed shelving for all of those sought after accessories and cushions.

    Penney & Company cash desk area

    Move shelving and cupboards went in behind the cash desk with a counter of rustic barn board.  The old corbels are looking pretty great I think!

    Here come the fixtures!

    Boxes and display tables and fixtures were next and you can see the shelves have been beefed up with trim moulding.  I a was on box-opening duty and had an amazing carpenter, Matthew help trim out these shelves.  He was also responsible for a lot of the bead board along with my uncle Roy.  Go team!

    Penney & Co cash desk area again!

    As you can see, trim moulding made a big difference on the shelves behind the cash.  The simple shaker cupboards will give me tons of storage and more surface area too.

    Furniture is finding it’s home!

    Once the furniture started being placed, it really started to come together.   Oh and a fireplace with a red brick surround never hurt!

    So much more space!

    As you can see the rear of the store is a little rough (and still is as I type this) but there is just a ton more space than the old store to showcase more pieces and goodies for all of you guys!

    Penney & Co

    The cross back french bistro chairs really look at home in the new space don’t they?  And I am in LOVE with this table!

    Penney & Co

    This last area is still a head-scratcher for me.  The window is cut in half because the old industrial windows were destroyed for an air conditioner.  I’ve brought in some pieces from family to stretch the budget – an old pine armoire (has since been painted) and the old green work table you may remember from Sara’s grandparent’s basement.  I’m hoping to turn this area in to something really special.

    Well there you have it – we’re almost there!  Can’t wait to show you the results here on AND more importantly, IN PERSON!

  3. Canada AM Gingerbread House Video

    November 28, 2012 by admin

    For those of you who want to see it, here’s the video from Canada AM this week.  Some great tips for easy and great-looking gingerbread houses.  A special thanks to the Bulk Barn for all of the gingerbread and candies!

    Watch the full video here.

    Canada AM


    And for a fun Bulk Barn gingerbread house video, click here!

  4. Early Morning At Canada AM

    November 27, 2012 by admin

    Don’t know if you caught Canada AM yesterday morning on CTV but I made my very first appearance and demonstrated the fun and frivolity of making your own gingerbread house for the holidays.  It was an early start – had to be at the studios ready to go at 7 am!

    CTV Studios, Toronto


    Here’s a little behind the scene’s shot of the gingerbread houses and all of the candy ready to go for the segment.

    Behind the scenes at Canada AM

    It was a lot of fun making them on air with host Jeff Hutcheson and he and host Beverly Thompson liked the houses so much they asked to keep them as part of their holiday set!  They left me with some of the candies to munch on on the way home from the show.

    Which I did.

    And on the way to the fabric store.

    And Ikea.

    I feel sick.


    Thank you Canada AM!

  5. Michael Penney + Canada AM

    November 23, 2012 by admin

    Here comes another first!

    I’ll be appearing LIVE coast-to-coast on CTV’s Canada AM on Monday morning!  I’m told I’ll be on between 8:30 and 9 am EST so keep your eye out!  Looks like in addition to Penney & Co and a wedding this weekend, I’ll be getting my craft on!


  6. Penney & Company Renovation: Cleaning Up The Interior

    November 23, 2012 by admin

    After all of the gutting and floor ripping-outting there was a huge mess inside the new Penney & Company store.  I swear I carried out more pieces of construction debris than I thought possible!  The floors were looking better already and I could see the space for what it would be.  Nice and wiiiiide open.  Next the counter area began to take shape as you’ll see…

    View towards the old office, now gone!

    That’s an old air conditioner in the middle of the floor.  Too heavy for one person to move so I was awaiting back up…

    View towards the middle of the store – much better!

    The wooden floors look pretty good here, but towards the back there was a lot red paint, spray paint and even blobs of some sort of mechanic acrylic  Sanding and restoring to natural wood would have taken more time and money than I had.  A fresh coat of paint was in order!

    View of the front with windows

    You can see here what a transformation some sheets of beadboard made!  Much fresher don’t you think?  Keeping those beams exposed though!

    A little messy?

    More breadboard being put up…it gets worse before it gets better right?

    Towards the front counter again with the door

    Now things were really taking shape!  The cash counter was really starting to look like something and was wrapped in beadboard with some old corbels I had kicking around added to prevent it from looking like such a big coffin in the room.  And the dark frames of the industrial windows really added a lot of style next to the beadboard.

    View of the front counter

    At this point things are really starting to take shape nicely.  So exciting!!!

    !!!! Man from outer space?


    And now for the messy bit – PAINT!  I rented a paint sprayer from Home Depot for $99/day and it used 15 Gallons of Cloud White paint and then another 6 or so to paint the floors!  Oh and it took me till 2 in the morning.   Those results are coming up…


    Happy Friday everyone!  Off to open more boxes at Penney & Co!


  7. New Penney & Co Renovation: Exterior

    November 22, 2012 by admin

    As you know, the exterior facade of the new Penney & Company is quite a peach.

    Penney & Company 303 Mary Street East, Whitby Ontario


    Despite having next to no funds, I knew something had to be done to soften this first impression of the shop.  I mean, you can’t very well expect to inspire people with this now can you?!  As expensive as it was, I had a local landscaper come and tear up all of this horrible asphalt leading up to the building to make way for something organic.

    Tearing up the old asphalt is no easy task!

    Next I wanted to define the space a little by adding both a pathway to the unused ‘dummy’ door and a long garden bed beneath those lack-luster windows.  I chose this affordable material for the pathway…


    And boxwood bought on sale at the end of the season from Canadian Tire for the garden…

    These boxwood shrubs were a steal at the end of the season!

    I added a saw tooth border of reclaimed antique red bricks for the garden path, inspired by Martha Stewart’s Turkey Hill gardens.

    I just love the patina and colour of these bricks


    Martha’s Gardens at Turkey Hill from Gardening Month By Month

    The final piece of the puzzle will be a black awning to add dimension and signage to the front of the building.  It’s being designed and made by Brooklin Signs here in town and I cannot wait to see it!  I’ll show you the whole effect once it’s up next week.

    Until then, keep following along!


    Awning design by Brooklin Signs





  8. Penney & Company Renovation Begins!

    November 20, 2012 by admin

    Well as you could see, the new location for Penney & Company in charming downtown Whitby wasn’t exactly dripping with style.  It was a big concrete box with bad counters and even worse peg board everywhere.  Just a few weeks ago, the renovation started with a modest budget and on most days, a single pair of hands (mine!).  And so the tear out began…

    Penney & Co towards the front door

    As you can see there were many layers to the floor in this section.  This photo shows the layer of old tile and a layer of chip board beneath it.  Then the original wood floor but on top of it all, there were large sheets of thick ply wood that had to be torn out with a pry bar and lots of muscle!  It was a slow, back-breaking job!

    Layers of crumbled flooring

    The floor seemed to break up in tiny, frustrating crumbles which then had to be carted away to a pile outside.  THEN there were hundreds and hundreds of nails and screws to pull out of the floor!

    Penney & Co towards the middle and back of the store

    This view shows the extent of the tear out and also the huge piles of debris that accumulated.  Each time I cleared out one pile, it seemed like another one grew!  Here you can see the long middle section of counter has been removed (by brute force and a large hammer by me) and the dividing wall is also gone!  Much better.

    Penney & Co counter-to-be

    And here we are back at the front door towards what will be come the front desk or counter.  An old office will be removed allowing a second window to be exposed and to have a little more room for items on display.  You’ll see this view again in posts to come.

    So there you have it!  The first stages of transformation at Penney & Company’s exciting new location at the corner of Mary and Ash street in downtown Whitby.  Come and see the progress for yourself!

  9. Marilyn Segment In The Can!

    November 19, 2012 by admin

    Okay now that the Holiday House Tour is over and The Marilyn Denis Show has come and filmed, I can finally put my feet up and make a (bit of a) mess!  Crumbs are now allowed at our house!

    Getting a close up with that big camera – talking about the mantle decor here I believe…

    Having this pointed in your direction is enough to make any one nervous! I kept forgetting what I was saying. Forgive me Marilyn!


    Thanks to Marilyn and her crew for the fun and festive shoot!  I’ll keep you posted for when it airs on CTV.  Ho ho ho!

  10. Holiday Cottage Redux

    November 19, 2012 by admin

    What a weekend!

    After weeks and weeks of non-stop toiling, we both opened our home to 1500 visitors (for the Whitby Station Gallery Holiday House Tour) and opened the doors of Penney & Company’s new location at 303 Mary Street East in Whitby (more on this to come).  The Marilyn Denis Show is sending a camera crew to film our house all decked out for the holidays tomorrow morning, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me for a repeat blog from this time last year.

    It’s appropriate you see, because after such a crazy and exhausting Saturday Sara and I treated ourselves to a sleep in and some of our favourite things which included a yummy dinner and a screening of one of our favourite movies, The Holiday.  It inspired me all over again and so I’m sharing this post with you again!



    So last night after church in the morning and Christmas shopping in the afternoon, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but flop on the couch and watch a movie.  For me, the best kind of movie is entertaining and stylish and The Holiday is a real goodie.  The Amanda/Cameron Diaz house is pretty nice – very L.A. so I could take it or leave it, but the stone cottage that Iris/Kate Winslet owns in Surrey, England?!?  Now that’s a stunner.  I’d move in for sure!  Except I’d totally bang my head on the low rafters (as Diaz does).  Check out this cozy-lovliness…

    Are you kidding me?!?!  Houses like this exist?!  I especially appreciate that the woodwork is painted a charming blue/green.  And a perfect dusting of snow – of course!  Now let’s step inside shall we?

    So far so good!

    The exposed beams are ultra-cozy and I love the mix of patterns and colours on the sofa in the window.  There are a few close ups in the movie of this particular area that just make it seem so lived-in and wonderful.

    The kitchen is maybe my favourite.  It’s just so quaint and British with its open hearth, cropped drapes and mix n’ match crockery.  When Sara and I watch movies, we can see our own kitchen through the open doorway and we noticed a few similarities…coincidence?  I think not!

    The bedroom, high up in the loft seems like the perfect place to curl up with a good paperback, don’t you think?  And who doesn’t love a fireplace in a cottage bedroom?

    The bathroom is lovely, with it’s free-standing tub.  The scooped back is interesting and probably makes for a comfortable soak.  I love the unfitted cabinetry too – a chest of drawers is so much more homey than a vanity.

    And there you have it – wall-to-wall books on hobbled-together shelves, a gorgeous chair, perfectly faded rug and not a strictly decorative book or object in sight!  Just casually comfortable style.  Oh those Brits! If I’ve whetted your appetite, you should definitely watch The Holiday all over again…