The Elusive Throw Pillow Equation

Did I mention I’m addicted to decorating magazines?

I only subscribe to two, but every time I take the kids to Chapters, stock up at Costco, pop into the pharmacy or check out at the grocery store I inevitably find myself picking up, flipping through and buying another.

And the one piece of advice that they all repeatedly offer as the simplest way to update a room (besides a fresh coat of paint, which, seriously, decorating magazine people, is NOT AT ALL SIMPLE) is to change out your throw pillows.

I love their photos of accent chairs with a one-pillow pop of colour. But I especially adore the pictures of couches you just want to sink into, artfully piled with an assortment of throw pillows in various colours, patterns, shapes and styles that somehow works. This is the look I’d love to replicate on my own sofa.

Two problems:

  1. Luc has issued an official Throw Pillow Limit of two, deeming any more than that to be excessive, unnecessary and irritating.
  2. I totally suck at it.

You’d think that with my extensive informal design training (which has cost me as much in glossy mags as my university education) I could accessorize a simple chocolate brown microfiber couch, but I just can’t pull it off.

I started with the two throw pillows that came with it. Yes, I know. If they came with the couch they probably go with the couch. But the brown shot through with a subtle line of blue was just too, well, subtle.

So I tried the cream and brown floral cushions I’d saved from our last sofa. But they just looked dated.

A quick trip to Home Sense and I was back with a beautiful new pair of cream, blue, grey and mocha ikat cushions. We kept them on the couch for awhile, but I knew from the beginning that the scale was all wrong. And I quickly realized that no matter how popular that pattern currently was, I’m just not a boho-chic kinda girl.

The graphic lattice ones were too stark.

The watercolours too washed out.

The stripes too stripey.

Yes, this has been going on for a while.

I’m pretty close with the latest set: a soft cream, blue, grey and green abstract floral that perfectly matches the two framed prints behind the couch. But they’re stuffed with feathers and no matter how many times I fluff, reposition and karate chop the tops of them, they squash down into little lifeless floral clumps the minute you sit anywhere near them.

And what of my cast-offs, you ask? Well, they’ve all made their way into the basement playroom, where they usually languish all over the floor. But at least they get regular use for sleepovers and forts.

Except for a few weeks ago. After reaching my “It’s the basement and I don’t really care how messy it gets because nobody ever goes down there anyway” threshold, I yelled at the kids that if they didn’t do some serious tidying soon, I’d pick up every last toy myself and throw them in the garbage.

An hour later they called me downstairs. The basement floor was spotless. And our old sofa was artfully piled with all of my throw pillow rejects. What should have been a jumbled mess with their varying colours, patterns, shapes and styles, somehow worked.

It was a masterpiece, worthy of a two-page spread.

Tomorrow I’m heading back to Home Sense, Throw Pillow Limit be damned.

This time, I’m taking the kids with me.

And I’ll probably pick up a magazine on the way home…

Read what Luc has to say about throw pillows.


How To Plan a Bathroom Renovation

The toilet in our master ensuite is broken.

First it stopped up. So Luc unstopped it. Then it stopped up again and no amount of plunging, snaking or cursing could make it flow.

This meant one of two things had to happen:

  1. We needed to replace the toilet OR
  2. We needed to completely gut and renovate our bathroom.

Guess which one we chose.

After 15 years in the same house, we’ve tackled our fair share of upgrades. We’ve replaced everything that needed replacing (windows, doors, furnace, A/C, hot water tank, roof), painted every room in the house (some more than once), switched out carpet for hardwood, refinished the finished basement and fully landscaped the front and back yards.

But somehow, except for some minor decorative updates, we’ve managed to put off overhauling the bathrooms. Yes, they’re all original to our circa 1986 Minto home, but up until the toilet fiasco, they functioned just fine, and the ivory toilets, tubs and sinks weren’t nearly as aesthetically offensive as, say, the pink ones of some of our neighbours.

But it’s been a few months of waffling. And a few months of sharing the kids’ bathroom (just for the record, ew). And we’ve finally decided it just doesn’t make sense to put a nice, new toilet into a sad, old bathroom. So a reno it is.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. First we need a plan. And my idea of planning is WAAAY different from Luc’s.

Here are my steps to planning a bathroom renovation:

  1. Spend fourteen and a half years poring over decorating magazines and dreaming about your perfect ensuite.
  2. Tear inspiration pages from said magazines and keep them in a file so that when the time comes to renovate, any vision you have is hopelessly outdated.
  3. Spend fourteen and a half straight hours poring over Pinterest desperately looking for inspiration.
  4. Ask your husband which of the 87 pinned photos of remarkably similar bathrooms he likes the best.
  5. Walk away in a huff when said husband says he really doesn’t care as long as the toilet flushes.
  6. Hire a designer to bounce ideas off of.
  7. Create a detailed budget outlining every item from drywall to tiles to toothbrush holders.
  8. Blow said budget on the custom glass shower enclosure you can’t live without.
  9. Put off the reno until after Christmas.
  10. Briefly rethink the custom glass shower enclosure once the Christmas credit card bill arrives.
  11. Decide that not only can you not live without the custom glass shower enclosure but that you will also require a custom vanity to really make the room work, Christmas credit card bill be damned.

And here we are. We know exactly what we (and when I say “we” I mean “I”) want. Plus, we know exactly what we (and when I say “we” I mean “Luc”) are willing to pay to get it.

Demo should start in the next couple of weeks. And if all goes according to plan we’re going to end up with the bathroom of our dreams.

And oh yeah…a toilet that flushes!

Check out Luc’s thoughts on planning a bathroom reno.