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before & after: a lumpy sofa to a plumpy sofa

November 25

While at first I quite liked that my now 12-year-old sofa had feather-topped seat cushions, over time this became less of a luxury and more of a pain in the behind – literally. The soft little feathers became thorns in my side when they consistently worked their way through the fabric, poking aggravatingly as they did so. The seat backs became all slouchy as well, creating a lumpy, bumpy mess.

bumpy sofa - saf affect

plumpy sofa - saf affect

So, reaching my limit, I decided to do some DIY to improve the situation.

To fix the back cushions, I removed, plumped and flipped the soft fill, reforming them as I reinserted them into the seat backs.

bumpy sofa seat - saf affect

plumpy sofa seat - saf affect

Fixing the seat cushions was a little more involved. After sliding the cushions covers off, I first had to remove the sewn-in feather and fibre inserts. I was mostly careful to cut along most of the seams, however I got a little overconfident and with one tug I ripped open one of the seams. While crestfallen, a talented seamstress was able to sew it up with no issue, thank goodness.

a feathery mess - saf affect

Replacing the rigid foam of seat cushions is a great way to refresh an old sofa, however my sofa’s foam seats were in great shape, so all I did was flip them. I used spray adhesive to glue a layer of washable, non-allergenic, mildew resistant, compressed polyester cushioning in place of the feather inserts. I picked up a 30″ x 78″, 1 1/2″ thick slab of this 100% polyester Fibre Form-Ext by Doubletext at the Toronto Len’s Mill Stores for $20.99. I struggled to slide back on the first cushion cover, but then learned the ‘roll it up like you’re putting a stocking’ trick worked far easier.

soft upholstery foam - saf affect

plump sofa cushions - saf affect

While the compressed polyester gives less of a relaxed look, I can certainly relax a lot better now that I’m not having to constantly vacuum up errant feathers.


the week that was: pickles, wine, beer, paint

November 7

Some weeks my schedule is so packed it’s amazing I get anything done; this past week is a good example.

Sunday saw me attending a pickle tasting party at the home of fellow media socialite and foodie, Mom Who Runs. A unique evening for certain, but for those of us who love pickles it was downright tangy and tasty, with my favourite of those we tasted being Nathan’s Half Sours as they remind me of the new dills my mom used to make.

pickle party at mom who runs - saf affect

pickle party pickles - saf affect

Monday afternoon I popped by the annual ICE Wine Event in Toronto put on by the Italian Trade Commission. Featuring dozens and dozens of wineries from the different regions of Italy along with antipasti food pairings, it was difficult to choose a favourite. However, being a bit retro lately and experiencing a personal revival with chardonnay (yes, back to the ’90s with me), I did quite enjoy Poderi Dal Nespoli’s refreshing Rubicone IGT 2013 Trebbiano Chardonnay blend.

Poderi dal Nespoli Wines Italy

Tuesday I headed off to Flanders, well to a  Flanders, Belgium event hosted in Toronto by Flanders State of the Art, for those in the travel and event planning industries. The evening included some Belgian beer tasting with local Toronto beer expert Jordan St. John, along with a special exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, a small reflection of an extensive exhibition on now until April 26, 2015 at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

This event reminded me fondly of a visit I made to Brussels a few years ago, with the express purpose of eating the fabulous food, drinking the tasty beer, and taking in the stunning art nouveau architecture that abounds. Here are just a few of my many snapshots taken on that trip:

Horta House Window - saf affect

Horta House Interior - saf affect

art nouveau facade brussels - saf affect

art nouveau railing brussels - saf affect

art nouveau detail brussels - saf affect

Thursday I travelled out to the Home Depot store in Kitchener to chat with a gathering of pre-teen and teenage girls about being a designer and how to develop a colour scheme for their rooms, as part of a Skills Canada – Ontario event. As CIL paints’ resident colour and design expert, customers can email me at for FREE advice in picking paint colours, developing a colour scheme for their home, whether interior or exterior, and any room. It was fun to take my colour advice on the road.

Skills Ontario Presentation - saf affect

susan forint at home depot for CIL paints - saf affect

Happy weekend! Time to put my feet up for a rest…for a bit. 🙂

addled architecture: streamlining?

October 18

While I appreciate streamlined design along with ornate detail, it is sad to see one sacrificed for the other when the result is anything but an improvement. Take the left facade of this pair of Victorian era retail buildings on Toronto’s Queen St. West. Perhaps those responsible for the renovation and removal of the beautiful brick-arched windows in favour of larger plate-glass wanted more light to filter into the upper stories, but at what cost? queen w arches be gone - saf affect While ultra modern lines can contrast historic embellishment in successful balance, this residential example falls short, especially now that mid century modern is now a style unto itself, currently experiencing a bit of a resurgence of popularity. But even at the time this ‘front porch’ addition was slapped on the front of this late 19th century home in the Elmwood neighbourhood of Buffalo, NY, it failed to offer quite enough of the new vs old contrast to pull it off. I’m sure the neighbours were thrilled at the time too. mcm victorian house mash - saf affect

diy dictionary page bunting

September 18

Printed book dictionaries are becoming relics, with every word definition in every language available online with the click of a mouse. What to do with an obsolete or out of date dictionary? I came across this sweet adaptive reuse of a tired old dictionary at the Refinery booth at the Pickering Markets Roadshow antique mall on a recent first but short visit.

dictionary bunting DIY - saf affect

I love the British tradition of using triangular bunting to help create a festive setting – this booth’s easy-to-diy signage cleverly uses pages from an old dictionary cut into triangles with slightly charred edges, with cutout letters applied, and strung up on twine to festively announce this booth’s wares of retro and vintage home and decor items. If a little fearful of burning the edges, snipping the edges with pinking sheers would create an equally interesting finish.

dictionary bunting - saf affect

dictionary bunting F - saf affect


Hopefully I’ll have more time upon my next visit to the market to spend looking at the actual items on sale, at the dozens and dozens of vendor booths, than simply gazing at some clever signage. 🙂

local harvest: pickled beans & balcony tomatoes

September 10

I got ’em! My favourite martini garnish (would be great for a spicy caesar too) – zippy, pickled yellow and green beans with just the right amount of kick, from the Edge of the Woods Farm in Eddystone, near Grafton, ON. While they were selling their foodstuffs at the 100 Mile Diet Event this past weekend, I had to travel to the actual farm shop for the beans as the delayed growing season meant they were later to canning.

pickled beans - edge of the woods farm grafton - saf affect

Speaking of late (and less than stellar), so too was the growing season on my balcony and the less than fruitful harvest of heirloom tomatoes I so tenderly cared for, waiting for the hot, sunny summer weather to actually develop, to boost the bounty.

From hopeful seedling from Wicklow Way Farm

wicklow way tomato plant - saf affect

To green beginnings in my balcony planter…

spring vegetables planted - saf affect

To enjoying a few handfuls of tasty tomatoes.

balcony vegetables - saf affect

handful of balcony tomatoes - saf affect

balcony tomatoes - saf affect

And while the chives did well, not so was the case for the basil. Even a second planting to replace the first that died never caught on. Ah well.

Better luck next year?

weekend happenings: art in a park & food in an arena

September 5

It seems that summer is not done with us yet here in Toronto and southern Ontario, and this weekend’s mild, sunny forecast is a great reason to get out to couple of happenings that celebrate local art and produce.

The Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale – Toronto, ON

Friday, September 5: 1.00 – 7.00 p.m.
Saturday, September 6: 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Sunday, September 7: 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.

This yearly sale is held in conjunction with the Cabbagetown Festival and Riverdale Farm Fall Festival and attracts over 20,000 visitors to Riverdale Park West, in the heart of this beautiful and historic Toronto neighbourhood. The sale includes a slew of artisans featuring their talents, from clothing to jewellery to art and more. I’m particularly fond of one artist’s work who will be at the sale – my friend Dan Murphy. Having known Dan for years, it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop his unique contemporary realist painting style. Be sure to say ‘hi’ when you visit his booth.

Pears In Sunglight - Dan Murphy Paintings

Hit of Red - Dan Murphy Paintings

Quatro Nipoti - Dan Murphy Painting

(Photos © Dan Murphy)

 100-Mile Diet Event – Grafton, ON

Sunday, September 7: noon – 4.00 p.m.

Just over an hour east of Toronto, the little hamlet of Grafton in Northumberland county hosts this annual market that showcases and encourages the support of local producers of food and products, some to enjoy there and of course to take home, all at reasonable small-town prices. Last year I picked up a Mason jar of some amazing, home-canned, spicy, pickled yellow beans that make a tasty and unique garnish to my favourite gin martinis.

100 Mile Diet Event - Grafton ON

what was in the Staples boxes? these styling side tables

September 3

This back-to-school week may see you making a run to Staples for school and offices supplies. You might even have outfitted your child’s work area or your own home office with a new desk, or chair or other office furnishings from Staples as well.

But did you know that you can also shop at Staples for stylish home furnishings? I didn’t until Staples invited me to take a gander at their online selection of side tables. And gander and gaze I did, selecting a couple of contemporary, timeless and practical beauties as welcomed additions to my own home.

Yup, these very basic and nondescript shipping boxes that arrived at my door earlier this summer…

what's in the box from staples? - saf affect

…held a couple of side table gems.

Staples side tables - saf affect

I was quite surprised to learn that Staples offers home furniture, and I am equally impressed with the selection of designs and styles, offering a range of affordability and quality.

It was easy to choose a couple of chrome and glass tables that would work as beautiful and functional additions to my eclectic decor, of vintage and new pieces. I never did particularly love this chunky teak table that I picked up as an impulse buy when I bought my teak dining chairs.

living room side tables - saf affect

teak side table - saf affect

Now, the 1920s simple lines of this adjustable Zuo Eileen Gray glass and chrome table provides a contrast of lightness yet balance to my vintage Mission style wood armchairs, the circular design echoed in the vintage bowlful of billiards balls I picked up at a church rummage sale for $2.Staples Eileen Gray side table - saf affect

Staples Eileen Gray table - saf affect

This Monarch side table, also adjustable and constructed of chrome and white-glass, is not only an aesthetically pleasing complement to the round table, but a functional addition as well. More often than not I find myself eating dinner at my coffee table. Now, I’ve set the height of this side table to make it a great TV dinner companion. As well, working from home in an open concept condo, I like to change-up my work environment now and then by moving around with my laptop – this table makes working on the couch a comfortable option. And its cantilevered base allows it to tuck under the sofa when not in use.

Staples Monarch table in use - saf affect

Staples Monarch table tucked away - saf affect

Be sure to check out the full line of Staples home furnishings, available for order and shipping right across Canada.

more canadiana: vintage brutalist modernist ring

August 26

A dear friend asked me to help him go through the contents of his late parents’ home as he readies it for sale. We worked together to identify which of his parents’ vintage furniture pieces (that work in today’s popular mid-century revival decor aesthetic) that he’ll take with him to his new bachelor pad, along with sorting through his mother’s jewellery. In thanks for the assistance, he generously gave me this vintage modernist ring.

robert larin ring - saf affect

When I came across it in his mom’s collection, I instantly loved the naturalistic rough-hewn yet geometric design and thought it might be by a notable maker, but I couldn’t at first make out a maker’s mark. Upon further inspection and with a bit of research, I realized there is a mark and that it is of Robert Larin, who was a Canadian jewellery designer. He worked out of Montreal designing brutalist modernist jewellery, mostly in cast pewter as this ring is, from 1968 to 1972. Although I haven’t been able to find this exact design referenced anywhere as yet, I’m guessing the value may be between $30 and $75.

My lovely friend in need, is a lovely friend indeed!

robert larin ring marks - saf affect

diy: american girl doll sandals & jewellery

August 22

It seems that the hot summer temperatures in Toronto are still trying to get going despite the calendar proving it is late August. Let’s hope there is still lots of sandal time left before the official end of summer, sadly just a month away.

american girl doll diy sandals - saf affect

There’s definitely still time to make some sweet and frugal DIY American Girl doll strappy shoes. I made these pairs of sandals for my niece’s doll, Kit Kittredge, with materials found at the dollar store and by following the instructions in this helpful video.

american girl doll sandals - saf affect

I traced one of Kit’s shoes and made a pattern out of thin cardboard. I modified the materials used in the video, making the soles from thin cork bulletin board squares and making wider front straps from elastic headbands. I found it easier to forgo the grommets that the video version of the sandals uses to finish the straps on the soles, and simply secure the straps by hot gluing them between the foam layers of the soles. I also added a bit of sparkle with rhinestones and other findings.

AGD sandal supplies - saf affect

I found this perfectly scaled solid wood sales sample dresser at a church rummage sale for $10 – perfect for storing a little bit of bracelet bling I made for Kit, and the matching pieces I made for my niece, scaled larger to her size. Again, all made from affordable supplies found at the dollar store and local bead shops, simply strung on clear elastic cording.

doll dresser - saf affect

shoes in drawer - saf affect

dreser drawers - saf affect

matching american girl bracelets - saf affect


canadian vintage: HBC point blankets & AJ Casson print

June 29

In honour of the upcoming Canada Day holiday, I thought it an appropriate time to feature a couple of recent Canadian vintage and thrifty finds of mine from local Toronto thrift stores.

canadian vintage finds - saf affect

I’ve alway wanted a vintage Hudson’s Bay Company multi-coloured striped wool point blanket, thinking that perhaps one day I’d wander into a charity shop and find one for the amazingly low price of ten dollars. Well that vision came true – sort of. I am now the proud owner of two single-sized pink vintage HBC blankets. I have a queen bed and no twins, and pink is nowhere in my decor. But in essentially perfect condition and spotted for $9.99 each at a Salvation Army store, I couldn’t pass them up, when this size and vintage of point blanket can retail in an antique / vintage shop or online for $100 and up. From my research about the colour and the label reading ‘100% wool’ but with no French, I figure they date from 1950 to 1970. Visit The Point Blanket Site for more information about the history of HBC point blankets and identification. I think it’s time to add some pink to my colour scheme.

HBC pink point blanket - saf affect

HBC pink point blanket label - saf affect

Another colour that generally doesn’t enter my decor or wardrobe is red. I know, not so Canadian of me, but for some reason red just isn’t pleasing to my palate or palette. However, this bit of red in this divinely thrifty find of an AJ Casson lithograph/serigraph is just fine by me. This pretty little floral arrangement of delphiniums and other blossoms is likely from the mid 20th century and yes it is by that Andrew Joseph Casson of the Group of Seven. I’ve not yet opened it up to see what markers may be on the backside, but  is signed in the print and is in the original frame. Again, from some of my preliminary research it may well be worth a few hundred dollars. A little bit of an Antiques Roadshow moment for me, as I bought it at a Goodwill on a half-price day for, get ready for it – $2.50!

AJ Casson delphiniums - saf affect


AJ Casson delphiniums signature - saf affect


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