Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

It’s been busy the last two days setting up the IKEA design competition booth. My colleague/friend Marie Kanwischer and her friend Rae worked hard to set up the teenage bedroom. We had a $2000 budget to spend at IKEA. There are three other bedrooms in the competition and visitors can vote for their favorite room as well as win the contents of it.

The inspiration for our space was from the colours in a small carpet, which became the headboard of the bed and a cushion on the sofa. Despite a few out of stock items (like the sleeper sofa) the install went pretty well. The folks in charge of the show were very helpful and so was IKEA.

The timelaps was created by Philippe Clairo, a great photographer who also provided the light house photograph in our room.

The pre-desing

The sitting area

Sleeping quarters

The Scandinavian Team

If you are reading this prior to September 25, 2011… hurry up and go to the show to vote.

Look at these fabulous 360 visuals. And one more created by Philippe Photography.


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A happy happy day

There are some days that are so very very good, and others that are not. And it usually has to do with people (not just the weather). I recently had a client interaction that did not work out very well. Interestingly I had a very big RED FLAG indicating that I should not be pursuing work with them, I even ran it by my book club friends who all said,  “Cat don’t accept work you don’t feel right about”. And what did I do? I did not listen to my intuition nor my friends. Well, to make a long story short, I have learned another lesson. Listen to my gut, it is pretty much always right. This incident brought me down, majorly. But there is always sun after the rain. A dear client I have worked with for most of 2010 wrote me the best review ever. My heart was beating fast as I read her words. She and her husband are amazing people and although we went through a LOT together that was not always positive, Connie wrote the following review – making my day a happy happy one.

Best customer service, best follow through

February 2011 – wow! what a fabulous job Room4refinement did for us. We purchased an older condo that was actually three units combined. The transformation is amazing. During the process, I struggled as I’m not able to see blueprints. She had three dimensional drawings done up so I could visualize not only the layout of the structure, but also adding color and furniture to get a better feel. There were times when I disagreed with her thoughts, which is normal, but i always felt comfortable discussing this with her and never did she make me feel like i had no taste. She was diligent about using furniture and peices I already had instead of buying everythng new, which for obvious reasons was appreciated. Her attention to detail and her ability to see beyond the empty spaces was remarkable. She took me outside of what I thought was my comfort zone and did so in a way to ensure I absolutley loved the results. Today, I can honestly say that without her, the construction would never have been completed. My contractor got 95 percent done and then left my project to go onto his new one. It was Cat who managed to get the subs in and get the work done. Even during the main part of the construction, it was Cat, not the contractor, who spent each day at the site ensuring the subs were being managed. The amazing thing about this is that she did not charge me for all of these hours. She knew I was already paying the contractor and eventhough he was not doing his job, she did not feel it was right for me to pay twice. I have a ton of respect and admiration for the work she did and the way she valued our home. I will highly recommend her firm to others and will most certainly use her again.


This is Connie’s new kitchen. More to come in a future post…




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It was time for Ben to get a new bed and a make-over. Step 1. Sell or give away existing bunk bed. Well that took a while and once the bed was gone, Ben slept on the floor for a while. No problem when you are 14.

The blue in the bedroom was painted several years ago and was actually the wrong blue. When I got home the painter was finished I could not believe my eyes. It was the complete wrong blue. We had picked a darker blue, but I kept this one as I did not feel like dealing with the issue. Lesson learned: always check and re-check materials being used. I don’t use that painter anymore, for a variety of reasons.

Step 2: paint. Ben and I discussed the options and landed on Benjamin Moore New Hope Gray 2130-50. It would work well with some of the photos we had decided to blow up on canvas from Philippe Photography.

Work in progress…

And here is the new bed from IKEA covered with older sheets (IKEA 2000 or so)  that seems to work. New pillows and the new photo on the wall.

A new ceiling lamp, desk drawers from IKEA and black chair from Nood. The cobra phone was a nostalgic purchase reminding me of my childhood. Ben thought it was silly as it was not cordless. At least it can’t get lost in the room under blankets or clothing.

Count on good old IKEA for accessories and organization. Art on wall by Calgary artist Mark Gervais.

Ben insisted on doors for his bookshelf to hide “ugly things” . He was right, it really helped make the room look more clean. Now if the room could always look this tidy, that would be a bonus. 😉

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Mixing old and new

I read or browse a few blogs and the other day I came across some pictures on Habitually Chic that truly inspired me. They were from a Spanish magazine called Nuevo Estilo. It featured a gorgeous Barcelona apartment with antiques from the 1800 hundreds. I decided to make a post as they really touched me, but before that, I got so keen I tried to create my own little Barcelona in my own home using old treasured items. This required some moving things around AGAIN. (my last re-design of my space was to minimize and be a bit more modern). But I love re-arranging, it’s a little challenge for me and at the same time a reward— for enduring this cold nasty weather.

I simply love the mixing of old and new. The beautiful patina of the art and accessories look beatiful agains the white walls. It feels like there is a lot of history in this room, stories and laughter. The lightness of it all makes me want to move in now!

Apparently the chairs are Ikea (painted)! How great to mix less expensive with a glamorous chandelier like this one. Photos above from Nuevo Estilo.

So here is my own little “Barcelona apartment”. Sadly it is hard to accomplish the feeling of an old apartment in a house built in 2002. But for now, it will have to do. And I had fun, that’s what matters. I purchased the mirror from a Swedish friend who had brought it over from Sweden, but when she moved back there I could not resist acting on her offer to sell it. The adorable table was a gift from a client who was getting rid of it. Note how the legs look like a ballerina’s feet on her toes. The books in the basket were some old books I found in a give-away pile. I took the covers off to make a collage (not done yet) and tied the books together with a string.

Not so much vintage here, but the old books always add an “old world feel”. The big ceramic ball on the floor is by Anna Hackman. And thank heavens for a slip covered chair… I have a dog who seems to think he can sleep on it when nobody is home…

My topiary trees are still alive (I have had bad luck keeping them alive). A little tassel with a wood detail adds some colour (I have a tassel fetish). 😉

This Gustavian chest of drawers was also purchased from my friend who moved to Sweden. It had the traditional green marble top before, but I had a white Carrera marble cut for the piece and I love it even more. I will let you in on a secret… the hyacinths were planted in the glass containers about a month ago. Eventually they died out and I cut the blooms off. I felt sad to get rid of the nice green leaves. Last night at Pottery Barn I saw these silk hyacinths… can you tell I stuck them in amongst the real green leaves? Photos above by Cat Hackman.

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In Swedish speaking Finland (and Sweden), we say “Trettondag Knut Dansar Julen Ut”. It means that on the 13th day after the 24th the Christmas dances out the door. I personally have a hard time keeping my tree for that long probably  because we brought it in already for Lucia (December 13). Traditionally the tree is cut and brought in the home on the 24th.

So before I take it all down I wanted to share some Christmas from our house.


Yarn and gingerbread ornaments. (it's time to throw out the tree when the gingerbread hearts have been chewed on!)

The straw goats are guarding the presents and the tree.

Old books to replace presents.

Gus is admiring the book page trees we made.

Still blooming.

A nice present from a dear friend.

Christmas bouquet.

A cozy reading nook for IPad time.

Topiary dressup.

Favorite Nativity Set.


Merry Christmas, God Jul, Joyeuex Noel, Hyvää Joulua (Finnish) from me to all of you! Here is to the greatest 2011 you could ever imagine. Make it happen!


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Last night I was invited by a good friend to a flower shop in Mission called Marlow Floralworks. Owner Clara Bernal showed a group of enthusiastic would-be floral designers how to do a simple Christmas arrangement. The first step was placing strips of tape over the flower-pot (instead of using foam). Then we started adding the greenery following the advice of Clara, a seasoned floral designer from Colombia who came to Calgary only three years ago.  Here are some pictures from the lovely evening.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Having fun.


And the final arrangement.

Visit Marlow Floralworks for a custom made arrangement.

2102 4th Street SW, Calgary

403. 228.6335

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Back yard clean up

It’s that time of year when you have to say goodbye to summer and that extra living space – the back yard. We have a roof over our deck which allows us to sit outside, rain or shine. This year I finally got a gas heater… and we used it a few times.

In an inner city infill there is not much storage so it’s always a challenge to store things not in use. The outdoor furniture simply gets covered up outside but this year I tried something new with my cushions and pillows. I got some storage bags that you can suck the air out of with your vacuum cleaner. My son Ben helped me and we had a good laugh while doing the suction part. Here is the before and after.

Before the air is sucked out…


Et voila! Magic.

I am sad to say summer is over… the good part is, it will be here again in 7 months or so… and hopefully my cushions will be in good shape come spring. Not sure how the plastic will hold up in -20 C. TBD.

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