Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NEW Marble Countertop Alternatives

In my never ending quest for the perfect countertop, I've researched nearly every option on the market. I was willing to take the plunge and just baby the heck out of that marble, but hubby is not as keen. In fact, he is adamantly against it. Considering I'm making 90% of the decisions for this house, I do feel obligated to let him chime in when he feels the need, especially considering he cooks everyday and is about as messy of cooks as they come.

My fear of choosing our number one contender, quartz, has been that sometime in the near future, possibly mere months after moving into our new home, a new product will come out that actually does a better job of mimicking the natural veining of the white marble I oh so yearn for. I can't imagine spending $6000+ on countertops that I won't love, so to help quell this horrible feeling in my gut I scoured the internet some more.

What did I come up with? Two options that have yet to penetrate the blog universe in a big way... but they will. It's a coming!

First up (and my favourite) is porcelain slab. This isn't your Home Depot porcelain tile porcelain. This is a solid slab of absolutely stunning and durable porcelain that completely mimics the look of marble, in my opinion.

How much do you love this? I was actually first introduced to this product from a kitchen designer in Winnipeg on Instagram - she installed the first ever porcelain countertop in the city (see her original post here) The catch for having the loveliness of marble with the durability of porcelain? Cost. The aforementioned countertop cost $11,000 vs. the $7000 quote for quartz.

That said, if it's in your budget, or you were going to splurge on Calacatta or a higher end marble, this could be a fantastic alternative for you!  Read more on porcelain slab here and see the source for the Instagram slab here.

Next up addresses my fear mentioned earlier. I just had a feeling it was going to happen, and it is. Caesarstone Australia is releasing a stunning new marble-look countertop that is the closest look to marble that a quartz ever did see. It's called Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo. The porcelain slab still takes the cake for realism in my books, but Caesarstone is sure to be a more affordable option.

It has such a nice look to it and makes choosing quartz over marble not that much of an aesthetic sacrifice. The problem? It's not coming out in Aus until this July, and as far as I can tell from my googling, it's not set for US launch until 2015 (who knows when), which means it probably won't be in Canada, or more specifically Winnipeg, ohhh, until maybe 2020? Okay I kid, but it sure takes forever for us to get "new" releases up north.

What this does tell me, though, is that "IT" is coming. The "it" being the best of both worlds - a countertop with the durability and (somewhat) affordability of quartz that replicates the veining and soft depth of real marble. It might take a few more years, but it's on the way! This makes me incredibly excited - but also a little disheartened, because this house that we are building is sure to miss the boat. But this does provide hope for the future (or for those in Australia or those with a bigger budget than ours).

What will we end up doing? Now, I'm confused more than ever. Thank goodness we still have a few months to decide.

Had you heard of these options before or know of any others? White quartzite is one that has been suggested, but I know it's not as readily available as other products.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Pantry Label Collections | 204 Labels including Basics, Vegan, Gluten Free, Baking, Bins and more!

Three new collections.

Three different colourways.

Loads of organizing prettiness!

Introducing the "Starter Pantry", the "Healthy Pantry" (with vegan and gluten free options) and "Bins and Containers" in Chalk it Up (Chalkboard), Retro Blue, and Vintage Aloha (Floral).

I was so excited about these new labels that I spent an entire weekend stripping my pantry of all my old labels and re-labelling over 200 jars and containers. They are still similar to my previous labels, but just a fresh take on them, incorporating new fonts and a more customizable label format (keep as an easy to cut rectangle or square, or trim down to create curvy labels). Not to mention, these instant download files include so many pantry items that I think most kitchens will be fully covered and then some!

Stay tuned for a big post on my pantry re-labelling, including my experience with my previous labels that lived in my pantry for 2.5 years, as well as tips on storing in containers, durability of labels, and much more!

"Retro Blue" above, a fresh take on my classic "Vintage Blue" labels

"Retro Blue" mix and matched with "Vintage Aloha"

"Retro Blue" mix and matched with "Vintage Aloha"

Keep the standard square corners (a la top right chalkboard label) or trim further and curve the corners for fancy detail!

A BIG thank you to Shellyarm, moviemel, Joyce Sulit, Whitney, Kim, Diana's Life, Chapman family, katie, Gigi and Jen Jones for leaving your label feedback  - it definitely helped steer the direction of these collections! Please email me at and let me know which labels you would like gratis! 

Visit The Paper Society on etsy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

FREE Gallery Wall Art Wishbone Printable | FREEBIE FRIDAY

I have a very difficult time committing to art. I'm not sure what it is, but I change my mind a lot, and I'm very weary to pull the trigger. Despite my love for all of the gallery walls on Pinterest, I have yet to actually create one myself.

This is where I'm thankful for renderings, because I can put together my gallery wall digitally before committing to anything (thank goodness, because the first ever gallery wall I rendered was horrendous! Glad I didn't go for any of those pieces for my wall!). My next step in getting over my fear of gallery walls is printing my own prints. Quotes, images, digitized art, etc, to see how it will look on the wall. Once I live with it for a while, I will be able to step back and see what I like and what I don't like, and from there, bite the bullet for similar, real art pieces (well, that's the plan anyways).

While working on this faux gold foil wishbone print for a future gallery wall, it occurred to me that maybe you're like me. Maybe you can't commit to art either, and maybe you'd like to test drive some pieces before ordering the real thing, so I thought, perfect for my Freebie Friday series which I haven't posted to in forever!

Download free printable here

Office gallery wall inspiration (via - please let me know original source if you know)

Office gallery wall inspiration (via - please let me know original source if you know)

Download free printable here

And if you love your "faux" gold foil wishbone as much as I do, head on over to etsy and search for some real gold foil prints- there are a couple on there that are my favourite and will definitely be adding to my new house!

For best results, I recommend sending the PDF file to a print shop, or printing on a heavier card stock (65 lb and up) on highest quality setting with a nice full ink cartridge! Also, a glossy paper might show the gold foil "effect" better than matte, but both should still look great from afar!

Are you as fearful of art as I am? Or am I just a crazy, indecisive person?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Designing a Home | Exteriors

Architectural changes are in! Now we just wait for our plans to be drafted and approved - eeeek!

We still have a couple months to work on the interior finishings, and to say it's overwhelming is an understatement. I thought I had a very clear picture of what I wanted - and then I realized I didn't. I would say I definitely lean towards a transitional take on the traditional/Cape Cod/Colonial side of aesthetics. Do my current surroundings reflect that? Not quite - but were I to build THE dream home (not that building this home isn't a dream, but let's be honest, we aren't going balls to the wall crazy with this house), it would be full of mouldings, wainscoting, coffered ceilings, and arch ways. Not to get too stuffy, I would balance all of these things off with transitional pieces and a variety of eclectic yet perfectly selected furnishings and accessories. And, because everything would be mostly white, it would blend together in harmony. Or at least that's what I think would happen in my head.

In reality, the home we are building won't be like this one. I wish it were, but it isn't. The style of homes here are definitely very different than what I'm used to. It's funny how regional differences dictate housing styles. My family in Ontario live in a subdivision where every. single. house. is red brick. It's crazy! Here, the predominant exterior finish is stucco. And not the stucco I'm used to back home; not the stucco that adorns my parents 20 year old home. The stucco here is very chunky (larger chunks of concrete). It's also very light, and absorbent. One day I will do some research as to why it is so different. My parents is painted and has finer pieces of concrete in it. Come to think of it - all the houses on their street have painted fine stucco in different colours. But in Winnipeg, the regular stucco can only be tinted, and to a very very light colour, so light grey, light beige, light salmon (yuck!) etc. It also shows "wet" marks when it rains, which again confuses me. At least it rarely rains here!

Okay, back to our house. In selecting our exterior elevation, we not only were limited to the styles the builder offered, but also to our budget, as well as to concern for the neighbourhood. We were set on the first option below, the more traditional of these two elevations (except not in yellow) until the DAY before we had to lock in which one we wanted. We originally didn't consider option #2 because of the stucco - but I guess we have been here long enough and seen enough of it that the distaste has worn off a bit.

It was a difficult choice, but Winnipeggers are gaga for modern. We felt the more modern home would fit in better on our street (which has some supersized, custom, modern homes to be built on it), would likely be better for resale, and despite my love of traditional looks, I just ended up preferring the second option more. Which is crazy. Also, the bedroom windows are over a foot larger (no cost) and the house is also a wee bit larger (no cost), so that kind of nudged the pendulum over further.

So here it is! I thought it would get easier now that the BIG things like floor plans and and structural things were sorted, but I'm almost more confused than ever. Do I have to do an uber modern interior to go with this exterior? Or can I still get away with some of the traditional elements I love (like wainscoting) etc? HELP!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Label Input | Reward: Free Labels!

It's been a long time coming, but I'm hoping to revamp The Paper Society with some fresh new labels. Since moving and starting a full-time job which leaves little time for custom labels orders, I am hoping to add more "ready-designed" sets to the Etsy shop, but also want to make sure that customers don't miss out on the variety of labels that they need - so I'm asking you for help!

(My fridge does not actually look like this - see here for more)

1) What are your top pantry items that you would be likely to decant into a container and want a label for?

2) Would you prefer smaller rectangular labels, slightly larger square labels, or a mixture of both?

3) What colour(s) would be your preference for pantry labels?

4) Would you also like to see fridge labels and other household labels included in the collection?

5) What do you think of having different collections to choose from like "Baking", "Essentials", "Gluten Free", Vegan", "UK/Aus-Specific"? I get so many request for different types of labels that perhaps it would be nice to have  choice?

And to thank you for your time, anyone who contributes their two cents will get a code to use on etsy for a free download of any of my ready-designed labels (including the TBD new collections!)

Thank you all so much for your feedback! xo

And if it's looking different around here - it's because it is. This is my very temporary trying-to-get-through blog design until I actually get the time to revamp the blog as well!