BAY DAYS Aren’t Over!

I’m very late to the game (life has been a tad busy lately as you can see from the past 128 blog posts, haha).

But I’d be remiss if I did not keep my annual tradition alive of sharing my top picks from the amazing selection of sale items at The Bay. So without further ado, here you are. Get ’em while they’re red hot and super discounted. And PS: there’s a weekend-only sale happening now, too!

Save My Reno: Karen + Matt’s Main Floor Facelift

This was hands-down one of my favorite renovations of the season.

Not only was it the closest to my personal style, but we were able to address an entire floor of a house, and anytime you can takeover that many rooms is a good time in my books. Missed this episode? Watch it here! Then continue for all the juicy tidbits.

For Karen and Matt, square-footage and function weren’t huge issues. More-so, they disliked what the space looked like and how it flowed. Having previously lived in a condo, their furniture was dwarfed—and there wasn’t enough of it—and when it came to the colours and materials in the space, they were pretty, well, un-pretty: butter yellow walls, old stairs that were falling apart, and black counters and blonde wood cabinets didn’t speak to their taste in the kitchen.

As for the floorplan and flow, they craved open-concept for better nightlines for their two adorable kids. Sounds like a job for these cool cats…

With $60,000 to work with for an entire main floor, we had to get a little creative. The solution? Re-use as many aspects as we could and spend the money where it would really count. Our plan involved reconfiguring and re-using their existing cabinets, spraying them out in a rich deep green, updating the counters and hardware, finding savings with end-of-the-roll textiles and DIY projects, and spending the rest on removing the wall, updating their furniture, and giving them the fireplace and extra storage they so desperately needed. Something that didn’t get shown in the episode was the main-floor powder room renovation we did as well. And yes, which we included in the final cost of $60k!

Demo was quick and mostly painless (although carrying out the appliances and in-tact cabinets and climbing inside the base cabinets to unscrew the countertop left me so sore the next day). To everyone’s surprise, Karen chose to stay with Sebastian to handle construction, which meant an apprehensive Matt was coming with me to handle design. Honestly, they were both such good sports and super hilarious, so it would have been win-win either way.

On the design side of things, Matt cracked me up. A man after my own heart, he too was a pun-master like yours truly, and in a world where dad-jokes don’t always land, we found each other very humorous—which was helpful in our case because he really had no idea what he was doing! Matt, admittedly, didn’t give much thought to design, so I had to get interactive in order to step up his game (see what I did there? What did I tell you)…

Jokes aside, a very real drama moment happened when we discovered that their existing staircase couldn’t be salvaged. We had planned to outfit their existing stairs with new treads and a railing, but the whole thing had to come down for safety reasons. In my opinion, while it was an added cost, it was totally worth it in the end and gave us the opportunity to find something really show-stopping and unique.

As you can see from my floorplan drawing on the left, the powder room was tucked behind the right wall of cabinets. Initially, the door to the room was at the back of the house in the kitchen, and in the reno plan, we flipped the bathroom so it was less off the kitchen and more off the living/dining area.

Using the stringers (essentially the sides of a staircase that hold the risers—see below) from their old staircase, Matt and I transformed them into a storage bench for the entryway and outfitted it with a cushion top made from the same fabrics used throughout the main floor to add some design continuity. It blended the old charm and history of the 100 year-old home with some new pretty aspects. I love how this DIY turned out!

(Watch the whole DIY video here!)

And those stairs! Ugh! We may have spent and extra 3k for them, but it was well worth it in the end. Not only do the stairs going up look great, but we nixed the way leading downstairs and installed glass so the room feels wider and lets light into the stairwell.

In just a few short weeks this home went from basic, sparse and chopped-up to open, eclectic, layered and show-stopping. It looked like a cool New York loft or Paris flat. One of my favorite aspects has to be that we used a variety of patterned fabrics and textiles. A lot of people think of curtains, drapes, shades and pillows as afterthoughts, but they not only add depth, visual interest and function, they have a way of making any space feel finished.

Most of the fabrics we sourced for the entire show were through Tonic Living (full source list below). But really, the real beauty of this space was the reaction it conjured from Karen and Matt:


And you remember that bathroom I was talking about? Here’s a little slice of it. I love that we continued the spotted motif in here, too:


How ’bout them apples? Be sure to check out all the before and after photos on, get my tips for mastering an open floor plan and peep this super-cool 360° tour of the room from Seb and I.

Get The Look:

  1. Graphic Black and White Ottoman
  2. Flock Pillow and fabrics: Swaying Palms and Dalmation
  3. Neutral Wingback Chair
  4. Glass + Brass Pendants
  5. Cream Club Sofa
  6. Gold Decorative Accents
  7. Green Artwork
  8. Buffalo Check Rug
  9. Marble + Wood Cutting Boards

GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville’s Barista Express

GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express

I’m a picky Polly when it comes to coffee.

Ever since I’ve put the brakes on dairy, there’s something no-so-satisfying about a dash of thin almond milk in a big mug of java—and I’m really not a big fan of the flavored, syrupy non-dairy creamers out there. Lately, I’ve only enjoyed coffee in the form of an almond milk latte, which I’d have to buy from a cafe. But after a while, that really added up—especially when cafes tend to charge an extra buck or so for substituting almond milk. Not to mention, I’d have to leave home for my caffeine fix. A huge issue, no, but a minor pain in the butt that was totally fixable, yes… (Scroll to bottom of post for contest entry details and sources on decor, clothes etc.)

GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express

Long story short, I realized it was high time I get a proper espresso machine so I could enjoy lattes at home—and avoid having to leave the house in sunglasses and a hat upon waking just to spend $6. After a few hours of research, Breville kept coming up as one of the best machines you could get. Even my coffee-obsessed dad (and espresso machine fiend) mentioned them as the benchmark brand.

So usher in Breville’s Barista Express. Buy one for yourself here, or take your chances and enter below for a(n espresso) shot at winning one!

GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express

Personally, I didn’t want a fully automated machine—I actually enjoy the little morning ritual of making a cup of something—but the thought of going fully manual (having both a machine and a separate grinder) was a bit much for me, and for my humble counter-space. This machine is the perfect amount of automated. It took a few tries to get my preference for bean grind coarseness and amount down, but once you set it how you like it, you simply tap the portafilter in, and it’ll grind the perfect amount of fresh beans every time. But then you get control back for the fun parts—the tamping and locking. After that, it’s a push of a button and voila! I take it a step further and foam almond milk every morning to make a latte, and Shawn adds hot water (also one button) for an Americano, but you get the idea. Once you know your preferences, it’s really easy to set it, forget it and enjoy.

GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express GIVEAWAY: Morning Rituals with Breville's Barista Express

There’s also some cute features I didn’t notice at first. When the catch-tray is full of water, a little buoy floats up between the steel grates with a yellow sign that says “empty me!” And tucked behind the catch-tray there’s a little storage bin for all the accessories (the extra portafilter trays, the razor, cleaning kit etc.) Compact and cute. Nice job, Breville!

Soooooo, without further ado, if you want to win a Breville Barista Express machine for yourself, here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @SabrinaSmelko and @BrevilleCanada on Instagram
  2. Like and tag a pal in this photo

And for bonus entries:

  1. Like Sabrina Smelko on Facebook
  2. Like Breville Canada on Facebook
  3. Follow Breville Canada on Twitter
  4. Follow Sabrina Smelko on Twitter

I’ll tally up all entries in a bag and pull the name from a hat next Sunday, April 23rd, 2017. Winner will be announced then!

PS: My top is from Ted Baker, black jeans from Topshop, mugs from HomeSense, and the wall storage rails are from IKEA. Books are: Jamie Oliver’s ‘Everyday Superfood’, Douglas Coupland’s ‘everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything’, and James Jean’s ‘Rebus’.

Save My Reno: David and Wemi’s Transitional Townhouse Kitchen

Save My Reno: Dave and Wemi's Transitional Townhouse Kitchen

From basil gone rogue and last-minute changes, to glass cabinets and graphic roman blinds, this renovation was one of the first (and arguably, easiest) projects of the season.

David and Wemi’s kitchen was a classic case of boring and uninspiring builder-grade, but anything but boring was how I felt when we found out David bought the house without Wemi seeing it! While his intentions were sweet, he attempted to redeem himself by making some DIY upgrades to the space, but after a failed spice-rack project that came chasing at our feet, they needed all the help they could get. The good news was that they had some creative ideas, the bad news was they didn’t know how to see it through properly. Lucky for them, Seb and I came to the rescue. (Watch the full episode here! For a shopping guide and fun links to extras, head to the bottom of this post!)

The space was not only tiny, but the awkward half-wall closed it off completely from the living area. In a case like this where you’re dealing with an entire floor that has a small footprint, the best thing you can do is take down all the walls between spaces, use the same flooring throughout, and allow the furniture and permanent fixtures to define areas.

But one issue we ran into was: how much money is worth investing in a townhouse? It’s important to be economical and realistic in such a case, so 30k was the absolute max budget to transform the entire main floor.

But before we could start designing and furnishing, we had to deconstruct. Luckily, the demo was quick and painless and we were able to get home before the sun set, but not before David announced that he wanted to team up with Seb to redeem himself from his DIY spice rack!

On the design side of things, Wemi tagged along with me as we went through the design process. Everything was running smooth and we were all on the same page—heck, Wemi and I even had our countertop selection synced up intrinsically—and that’s when David threw us a curve-ball: Our design had our countertop run drop down into a live-edge wood dining table for more intimate family dining. But David changed his mind last-minute and asked that we nix the drop-down table and keep the counter running straight across, flush to the end. They simply wanted to be able to clean the surface easily and have more prep-space, so c’est la vie! As a designer, I’m not shy of changes, so if it makes them happy, we we’re going to make it happen. The only issue? The live-edge slab was already paid for and made.

Luckily, with some creative thinking, were able to transform the slab into floating walnut shelves and keep it in the kitchen design in its reincarnated form! To do this, I had Wemi come into the studio to lend me a hand.

Fun little fact: I drew portraits of each of the homeowners. Sadly, they didn’t make it to the final episode cut, but here’s David and Wemi in all their pencil lead sketchbook glory!

The vibe for the kitchen was clean, bright and transitional. But more than colour and final finishes, all this couple really wanted was better function and flow. That meant taking advantage of the space and turning the kitchen on its side to span the entire width of their townhouse. To save money, rather than taking down the support beam, we absorbed it into the design and it became quite a nice feature—and a home for the walnut shelves! They’re actually four individual shelves, but I love that they look like two large pieces of wood that we fed through the wall and pulled out the other side.

We laid new engineered hardwood through their entire main floor, painted everything in neutral putty greys and added colour pops with art, flowers and accessories. In the end, it came together to create a contemporary look that David and Wemi (and me, clearly) just LOVED. For a townhouse, we sure did maximize the square footage and up the value in a major way.

Get The Look:

  1. Schoolhouse Pendants
  2. Turquoise and powder blue bowls
  3. Le Creuset French Oven
  4. Roman Shades in Intersections
  5. Bread Box
  6. Grey Barstools
  7. Assorted Cutting Boards + Charcuterie Boards
  8. Arabesque Backsplash
  9. Blue Wool Runner
  10. Large-scale Abstract Art

Check out all the before and after photos, watch the full episode, peep Seb’s blog for his take, and check out the 360 degree tour!

PS: My necklace from the intro is from Anne-Marie Chagnon and the jumpsuit is from TopShop. In the reveal, my butterfly skirt is from Ted Baker.