My Benjamin Moore transformation

When we purchased our forever home, it was quite the project we had undertaken. The home itself is in good condition for being built in the late 80’s but everything from the original appliances to the wall papered rooms needed updating. It is a large Georgian home, so we expected to tackle room by room over the course of the next five years. After living in it for a few months and staring at bubble gum pink walls that gave us aneurysm every time we passed through the room and orange brown walls that made us feel like we were prehistoric, we decided to choose a few rooms and hire pros to paint it nice for years to come. It’s amazing how something so simple as a paint color can change everything from your mood when you walk into your home to the whole energy of the space.

In the past, I used cheap basic paints of an array of colors and painted the rooms in our starter home myself. I did them as quickly as I could because once I started painting I was all in, yet I regretted starting in the first place. My husband insisted we hire a professional team of painters so it would look sharp and we wouldn’t have to do it again. At first I was hesitant spending that amount of money on something I could do over time, but with 10-14 foot ceilings, a toddler, and new pregnancy I gave in to the hired labor.

I knew I wanted a timeless neutral palette of colors for our home, and I chose Benjamin Moore for the quality and discount we got at a local store. When it came to narrowing down the most basic of neutrals I was flabbergasted. I felt as if I was in design school. I was reading up on natural light, southern vs northern exposure. The undertones of colors. Like who would have thought there was actually over 50 shades of gray? Green undertones on an off white? Not to mention the light reflective value. You’ve got to be kidding me, one white can out bright the other. I was getting dizzy reading up on all the blogs reviewing the Benjamin Moore neutrals. I found one color that had a great LRV but the wrong undertones. Another color was great for southern exposure…next…moving on. To top it off our house is finished on all four floors with a reddish orange oak trim. Every detail from the interior doors, molding, and windows has it so it is tricky to find colors that compliment the wood instead of making it clash or blend in. I even hired at the request of my husband a local interior designer to ensure we were on the right path. She actually gave me other choices. She suggested we paint our living room deep teal, which we almost did but got cold feet- thank God we didn’t, but I might use it for our dining room one day. She gave us a few other suggestions, but at the end of the day I went with my gut and chose what I thought was perfect for our space. While I was nervous watching the first few layers of paint spread across the walls the end result was exactly what I wanted! We get many compliments and I’m glad we not only hired painters, but chose colors that spoke to us even if they were possibly boring or not typical.

Here are the before and afters of some of the rooms we painted, the color we chose, and the runners up. So many shades to chose from it was hard. Like Collingwood and Edgecomb gray are very similar, but a slight undertone can make all the difference in the finished product.

Living room to the master/ my office

It was the most blinding stomach wrenching shade of bubble gum pink. From the changing room to the main room the color was painted ceiling to floor. How just how could they live with this for thirty years? The owner was astonished I didn’t like the color as he claimed it was very feminine. They even left me a gallon in case I wanted to do touch ups.

The interior designer suggested Halo, which I found to be dull and murky. I chose a classic Ivory White. It is warm and inviting and adds brightness to the room which lacks not only natural light but a ceiling light fixture.

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Photos do not do the transformation justice. It is really night and day. It feels like a normal space versus a trippy time machine warp to Barbie world. The ivory really enhances the wood trim and doesn’t feel sterile like a hospital ward.

Living Room

This room drove me nuts! Some may disagree, but the brown orange drove me nuts.

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We almost went with a dark teal color Dragonfly.

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I researched high and low for the perfect cream. Gentle Cream is what I chose and I highly recommend it. Whether it be a bedroom, main open space, or a cozy room that needs brightened up, this is a solid go to color. It is THE perfect cream! It has a lower LRV 67 which makes a richer cream versus a lighter off white. The undertone is warm without being too yellow and goes well with grays too. I’m so happy with this color!

 

 

Runners up were: Balboa Mist, Albalone, Classic Gray, Navijo White, and Wind’s Breath.

Powder Room

It wasn’t awful but the room was dated and not our style. It’s a room we as well as guests use often, so I wanted it to have some flair. I almost went with a calm blue green and chose Healing Aloe, which I still adore and will someday find the space for. We ended up going with a deep blue and chose Van Deusen Blue. It is deep, rich, and soft without being too harsh. I absolutely love it and it still looks good with minimal natural light.

 

 

Runners up were: Hale Navy, Newbury Port Blue, and Gentleman’s Gray.

Our entry lobby has barely any light as well as our second floor mezzanine. It was painted the same murky blah taupe color ceiling to floor and made us want to crawl under a rock and die. We  have wainscotting throughout, and I know it is custom to have it painted white, but my husband wanted a darker color to shield the marks of kids and scuffs. I wanted an earthy greige or gray without being too loud. On the top I chose an off white with classic white ceilings in Oxford white.

After many swatches taped on the walls for months and studying them as if they were a CIA case I chose Dune White on top and Collingwood for the bottom. The color combination rocks! The Collingwood is the perfect subtle greige that works with all types of lighting and has minimal undertones although the undertone is faint purple. Dune White has very soft gray undertones without making it gray at all, but it works well with gray counter colors. My space went from drab to fab instantly!

Before dark and dull.

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Before and after.

 

Off white runners up: White Dove, Paper White, and Ivory White.

Wainscotting runners up: Edgecomb gray, Gray owl, and Dove Wing.

Our kitchen was another lovely shade of putty taupe. While it wasn’t horrible by any means, my husband begged and pleaded me to paint and change it to something bright and cherry since we spend most of our time in the kitchen. Even when we have parties, we may have a great space set up in the entertainment room to chill, but everyone seems to always gravitate towards the kitchen. He really wanted yellow but not a soft or subtle yellow. He wanted some energy. He wanted a fun and vibrant yellow. I threw caution to the wind and chose Mellow Yellow. It is not so mellow and the color pops with our white cabinets. It is one of my favorite rooms. We can’t have a totally neutral house, and we wanted our personality to show through some of our interior choices. We have minimal natural light in the kitchen due to an attached solarium and this really makes the space feel alive without giving one a headache.  It is a rich solid yellow without orange undertones. Depending on the lighting it can look a bit brighter than the picture.

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Runners up: Yellow Rain Coat

Our bedroom was painted a bright powder blue with floral borders with one wall a floral wallpaper which we decided to keep for the time being to add some character and taking down wall paper seemed like a pain. We chose to paint the three walls and take down the border to freshen it up and cover the 1,000 painting nail holes that took over the walls. I chose a neutral color I thought would blend well with the floral and navy wall paper but after the first coat I aborted the mission. London Fog looked great online. It’s a few shades lighter than Thunder (see below)

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London Fog

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It made the room look depressed We quickly reverted back to a blue and chose Benjamin Moore White Rain, which is a chalky soft powder blue. It isn’t a color you would normally see in a kid’s room. It is cheery in the morning when the sun beams in and soothing at night in the shadows. I love it, and the color goes well with the wood work too!

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If you need more color guidance for your own projects check out this interior designer’s blog http://www.kylieminteriors.ca

She also gives reasonable over the phone consultations!

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Laguna De La Nava Reserva 2012 review

I am no wine connoisseur by any means; I just simple know what I like and what I don’t like. What i love is Spanish wines. After a trip to Northern Spain I was hooked their variety of wines and vineyard productions.  This Tempranillo has character. Good on the nose it has a balanced acidity and firmness while carrying notes of chocolate, leather, and cherry on the palate, and it is easy on the wallet. An easy crowd pleaser, this wine goes well with steak, aged hard cheese, and roasted lamb.

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Tips for a healthy and fit pregnancy

First of all, let me start off by saying I don’t consider myself a fitness or healthy junkie by any means. If you put a mouth-watering cheese pizza in my face, chances are I will devour it before you have time to even ask if I want a slice. I enjoy a leisurely jog yet there is no way I could fathom the idea of signing up for a marathon; however, I will put out a hard sprint at the opening of a sample sale. Fitness to me personally at the age of 37 is being able to fit into my skinny jeans, join my husband on a hike without complaining, and actually enjoying bikini season and shopping for one.

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Before having my first child, I was petrified of pregnancy, labor, and everything that comes with the aftermath. It felt as if it would be an alien implanted in my body, taking over, and morphing me into a whole different entity forever.

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I got pregnant with my first child at 35. It had taken me almost two years and three miscarriages to hold a healthy pregnancy. Hormonal rollercoasters and a workout hiatus due to a lisfranc injury from running in flat shoes (not recommended ladies) set me back a bit before I got pregnant with my daughter. I was working at a popular Greek restaurant and went to the gym on the regular. While I was a few pounds heavier than I would have liked, I was solid and toned. I’m 5’8″ and my pre-pregnancy weight was 134. In nine months I gained 40 pounds. While I still worked the first three months which burned calories, I didn’t workout much due to my high risk factor and I was down right sick as a dog all day. I didn’t throw up, but I was so tired and nauseous I would lie down all day before heading to work. By month four, I was on an early medical maternity leave and felt like new again. I started working out every day at the break of dawn for 45 minutes at the gym. Afternoons I spent doing yoga at home and swimming for thirty minutes daily at the public pool. I slowly gained the weight, but by keeping up with light weights I maintained my muscle tone and shape. I have a super long torso, so I didn’t even show until I was nearly eight months pregnant. I tended to eat what I wanted without pigging out. The day my water broke I had gone to the gym for an hour and swam for an hour. The first week after having my daughter I dropped 30 of the 40 pounds effortlessly. My appetite increased while breastfeeding, but I started going to the gym 4 days post. I had no clue the dangers or that my internal organs could have collapsed, but they didn’t – ignorance is bliss moment. When I look back at photos I saw the rest of the weight and shift in body change happened gradually. By 8 months I was my pre-baby weight and after one year post I was almost at my skinniest I had been in 20 years. My elimination of dairy and eggs combined with workouts had gotten me to 126 pounds.

I tried for number two that spring, but it didn’t work out as planned. Three more miscarriages in six months. I gained four pounds bringing my weight to 130 before finally conceiving my second daughter. While the pregnancy was similar to the first, my lifestyle and habits were not.

When I found out I was pregnant in December we just moved into a new home and it was quite the project we had undertaken. I had a hyper toddler, no gym membership, and had to manage my previous home on the market, renovations, and my small business. Needless to say, workouts were a thing of the past. The previous owner left us a workout equipment set from the 80’s which helped me squeeze in ten minute workouts here and there but there was no regular schedule of training time.

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18 weeks, 21 weeks, 24 weeks, and 28 weeks pregnant

This pregnancy I ate way more healthier. I didn’t have much of an appetite or any cravings. I had to force myself to eat in general and normally chose lean foods, salads, humus, crackers, steak, and vegetables, not because I was trying to be healthy, but I just wanted basic foods. I worked out at home when I could, as well as renovating and chasing my escape artist toddler. I managed to keep up with squats the whole pregnancy, but I didn’t have the stamina for many since my second baby was head down pushing my pelvis since week 24. She came two weeks early and was a bit smaller than the first. I only gained 33 pounds this time around, but my body felt softer in general. My arms where tighter from lifting my toddler and household projects. I wore the belly wrap hours after labor, this helped contract my uterus down again and shrink the belly. I dropped 17 pounds the first week. At four weeks post I am 141 pounds. The extra weight doesn’t bother me, but I feel I need to tone up in a major way. My stomach feels so soft and my booty does not have its bounce back shape it held previously…not to mention the cellulite factor.  This doesn’t make me sad, but I feel motivated over time slowly I will get where I want, and I am excited I survived pregnancy! I am still the crazy old me in the same body that is just a bit worn down. I’ve done stretching, narrow squats, and more core work and resistance bands this month. I’m scared of my uterus falling out, so I haven’t over done the workout or gone for a job. Maintaining our bodily strength and stamina as we get older is a feat in itself – not to mention adding a crying baby or toddler smearing oatmeal on its head demanding to watch Paw Patrol for the 100th time. Give yourself goals but don’t forget to give yourself a guilt free break and enjoy the process.

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The day I went into labor vs 2 weeks postpartum

 

Here are some tips to help you get where you want to be during and after your pregnancy. 

  • Force extra calories or healthy meals in with quick shakes, juicing, or ice cream. The times I was a bit under weight I ate more ice cream. Diary is good for the baby and the calories are easy to eat. If I needed more healthy stuff I’d whip up a juice with apples, carrots, beats, you name it.
  • Give yourself long-term goals. Don’t expect noticeable changes over night or within weeks. Create a lifestyle that works for you whatever it may be positively.
  • Go easy on yourself. We are our own biggest critics.
  • Motivate others, and you may find you motivate yourself as well!
  • Give yourself a break. Sleep more, skip a workout, eat that cheat food with your kids. Enjoy life.
  • Maintain your muscles throughout your pregnancy journey. You just want to keep them alive. Once you shed the pregnancy fat and water weight, workouts will bring you back to where you want to be. You can eat a cookie while dropping a squat. The goal isn’t losing weight. It is keeping the muscles working.
  • Cardio is good for blood flow to the baby.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of cravings. Use portion control. I used to stock up at Bulk Barn all types of treats such as candy, chips, sweet, sour, and everything in between. I’d place them in small zip lock bags and when I had that craving I would only eat that portion.
  • Hydration is key. Drink as much water as you can daily. It promotes blood flow and oxygen to the baby as well as keeping skin supple which reduces stretch marks.
  • Don’t forget or take lightly your internal health. Take Folic acid, omega oils, probiotics, vitamin D daily throughout your whole pregnancy. After labor you can take raspberry tea leaf to help your uterus contract. I still take prenatals while breastfeeding. Eat foods that promote a healthy baby. Nuts, kale, eggs, salmon, lean meats, and veggies.
  • Oils such as fractionated coconut oil, grape seed oil, rosehip oil keep things nice down under and can help prevent tears or minimize them at the least.

When you look in the mirror, know you are beautiful no matter what size you are. Don’t sweat the small stuff like spider veins, some extra cellulite, or love handles you have just created a human who will love you for years to come.

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