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A Minimalist Christmas | The Tree Alternative

With the world of things like Pinterest at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that people are jumping at the alternative of easier and smaller Christmas Tree solutions. When I was 18, I had rushed my boyfriend (now husband) to a big box store to buy a fake tree on sale. It had lasted several years which is great, I love decorating trees, but in a few of the places I had lived over the past few years, it was not ideal to have even the smaller scale tree I had. I didn’t even know there were other options!

It’s hard for people to justify investing in a tree that they only have out for a month in a year, and still be able to store it (and storage is valuable real estate in the apartment world!). Along with the tree, the decorations, lights etc., also need to be stored somewhere, so now it’s impeding even more.

For those who love the traditional tree-feel, I’ve seen many people go for the 2-3’ trees (in various colours: white, purple lights, black with red lights, traditional green with white or multi-coloured lights), which can be placed on tables (read: away from mischievous pets, and small fingers). I know my hubby and I lived in this very cramped basement apartment for 2 years where my (what I thought was small) 6’ tree took up most of our hall space! It was very invasive! A 3’ tree would have been far more practical, but still offer my love for decorating trees.

I have some friends who have kindly provided/shared with me some of the things they’ve done to overcome their tree space challenges.

1: The DIY Tree

My friend Morgan says: “Each of the top smaller pieces are on their own and the longer bottom lengths are cut in half so they’re each 2 pieces.” She followed up to mention her boards are comprised of cardboard, cork, batting and then felt. As of right now they’re tied together and hung with a string in the back, however she’s looking at finding a better hanging solution. She puts a little shout-out on Facebook to her friends, who collectively (over the years) make her decorations for her tree. It’s a great solution for conserving her space, while also creating a personal touch to her space.

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2: Au Natural

I really love this look; my friend Jessie was inspired from something she saw on Pinterest. She actually had her dog find the sticks, “I used a pocket knife to debark and make them the right length. I used walnuts to polish them.” Which is a great personal touch. She adds lights and a few simple colour themed decorations to it to help keep it simple, but still stunning.

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3: Simple Tinsel

This was a fun and very simple artistic way of giving that look of a tree, just up on the wall! My friend Meagan here used tinsel by itself. Please be careful with tinsel if you have pets, it can be very harmful if swallowed. That said, it’s a fun way to create texture in a very simple way! There are many ways to put a creative spin to this, or if you do not like tinsel, you could use other variants of garland, or purely just lights etc. The options are endless!

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These of course are just a few of the very many choices out there in the world. Feel inspired and have fun!

Wishing everyone a very happy holidays from Nested Green.

Designers and Trades | Working hand in hand

Hey everyone!

As we welcome the release of our new website design (I hope you like it!), we are also working on several new exciting opportunities. We won’t spoil that…yet.

With September approaching and kids starting to head back to school, parents and other adults alike head back to their daily routine to start dreaming about their home. This is what people do, right? Some people dream of simple fixes, others, full make-overs. After deciding what you’re looking into doing, you determine your budget and finally you look up contractors in the area to do the work.

Here’s where it can get tricky. Your contractor can make or break your experience. Some people hire friends, contractors others have used and recommended, or take the gamble with someone new entirely. Ample amounts of research should be done to determine who will best suit your project, including interviews, if necessary. It can become very stressful sometimes!

When you hire a designer, like us *hint hint*, we do that process for you. We are your advocate, and that’s what we are paid to do. We want this process to go smoothly for you, and we know who’s great and who’s not-so-great in the industry, and can offer our best advice for who to pick based off of all your needs. If you want to hire your friend, no problem, we can still make sure they do their job professionally.

We have heard so many horrors of people who have experienced the fly-by-night contractor, and we cringe and empathize towards those people entirely! A young couple with a new baby decides to get their bathroom done and the contractor fails to pay the trades even though they are responsible for that. The contractor goes MIA. The client is then out of pocket paying for the trades that never ended up getting paid or even worse, trades start a legal action case. No one ever wants that, but if the client has not done their due diligence of in depth research of who they’re hiring, there is that potential risk.

I decided to consult with my friend John the Plumber, who is very well known in our Ottawa plumbing community, regarding this issue. He mentioned that “it can be a problem, no one ever wants to go after a client. We do our best to resolve the situation before things get dirty.” Even as designers, we prefer to work with people we know, or that the client knows first hand. If we are working with someone new, we make sure to do our homework so our client can trust them in their house. John, who’s company vans are very visible and clearly well labelled, has taken every measure to legitimize his business to help his clients feel better about who they’re hiring.

This economy is very social-media based, and companies rely on word of mouth and social advertising as a key foundation of business. With that, it’s so easy to get scammed by businesses or people alike now. Some businesses that have been around for more than 25 years may not need social media because they are already well established businesses. But us newbies over here rely on it. Ottawa is a small city, and one bad word can really affect your brand. When we hire companies, we make sure they reliable, and ultimately they want the same results as we want to give our clients:

MAKE SURE THE CLIENT IS HAPPY!

This is the foundation of any proud business owner.

Make sure to do your homework when looking to do that new renovation, having a designer along with you will help guide you into the process and give the best results for you. Happy dreaming!

Designs From the Mat… Returning Home

NestedGreen-Katherine-Yoga

It feels like I’ve been off my Yoga mat for years. It has been a very long winter with a previously busy autumn. Our cottage renovation clients have kept us rocking over this past year, for which we are very grateful but to schedule an interior renovation project to be completed over the Christmas holiday season is not a great idea. Seems like everyone came down with one sort of illness and then another. Not to mention our hardworking suppliers and tradesmen taking their holidays… they are allowed to do that at least once a year. Tales of faraway travels to sunny destinations are not always welcomed listening when bathroom remains bare bones and wanting attention.

Our team did pull through despite snow storms, delayed deliveries and those mentioned illnesses. We are coming down to the finish line, which despite what is displayed on TV design shows does not all appear overnight from the back of a large truck and then set up magically and camera ready. Products are out of stock, discontinued, arrive late, not what you ordered, damaged and so on… the good news… as we always assure our clients… It is going to look fabulous when it’s done.IMG_20150220_133825

Spring has been late arriving in our parts but our clients’ baby came early… another scheduling hiccup. A pleasant little mister who we hope enjoys his newly renovated crib… meaning the home, not the bed. Hopefully we will have the stunning freestanding bathtub installed before he’s in need of its use.

Our lovely clients and their new babe (and older K9 babe) spent their first weekend in their nearly completed renovated cottage these days past. As the snow slips off the roof and into the lake, dreams of skiing and snowmobiling drift into thought of picnics, boat rides and water skiing. Plans for decks, landscaping and hopefully a screened dining porch loom in our future.

What a wonderful year it has been for us. Although, after this winter of winters I’m ready for some hot Hatha Yoga to warm me up and work the kinks out. Time to prepare to be mindful for our next projects!! Welcome home!! Namaste.

Living with Multi-generations Under One Roof… How to Get Along

It was only suppose to be a temporary situation… maybe a few months at the most. Almost 8 years later and we’re still living in my parents home. I bought a house in the town where my parents retired to. For me and my two children, living near their grandparents was going to make life easier for me, a single parent, to be able to pursue my career in the city an hour’s drive away. Knowing that my kids would have breakfast in the morning and dinner at night, as well as, to and from school safely while I battle rush hour… making the drive a little less stressful. For my parents and children, with son in elementary school and daughter in high school, getting to know thier grandparents on a personal level was priceless.
The house I bought was a real deal, a handyman-special for sure… as were all the properties I looked at in my price range. To my benefit though, I knew what I was getting myself into… so I thought. On the surface the house looked liveable but I didn’t need the house inspector to tell me that there were problems. Most century homes that haven’t been renovated in 40 years usually have issues. I’ll save the details of my reno at Helen Street for a series of blog posts I’m planning for later. So we settled into my parents house for what we thought would be a short term…. but life happens and plans change with or without your consent. Lost jobs, lacking consistent income, parent illness and subsequent death, started and failed business, depression, loss of relationships, new relationships, found self, launching daughter, comforting mother, guiding son… life happens and everything happens for a reason.
I’ve come to understand there is a difference when a living situation is thrust upon you or if you are allowed to choose the living situation carefully. In this case, with me and my children moving in with my parents … we didn’t have a choice of living situations when the house we want to live in was and still is unliveable. I understood this completely when my daughter who was recently married, talked to me about her and her new husband starting a family and worrying that they wouldn’t have much flexibility in thier activities with little ones around and no help. Quickly I said “I’m your go-to Grandma!!”, then added that life could be even easier for them if we just lived with them. So I suggested we look at pooling resources and coming up with a plan of action. Who pays for what? How would things get decided? Who cleans the toilet? The list goes on, but at least it is discussed. Time to finish the repairs and sell that house the we have never lived in.
Multi-generational living is not a new concept. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1950’s when the idea of the “Nuclear Family” was being widely promoted. What it meant was that smaller family units swarmed into suburbs and out of the cities and left aging parent on thier own. There are many cultures living in North America that for them having many generations live under one roof is very common. Typically in North America, if you still live in your mom’s basement, people may think there is something wrong with you. There is even a term for that… failure to launch. More and more families every year are embrassing age-old communal living. Whether it is for financial reasons or for built-in security, there has been a surge in the past 5 years of multi-generational homes.
Successful communal living starts with planning the living spaces where everyone will have thier own zones for functionality, privacy and noise control. Everyone needs private and quiet sleeping spaces. Not all are on the same sleep schedule so planning these spaces are very important to the success of your living situation. If time and budget aren’t a huge barrier for you, designing and building a home specific to your families needs would be ideal. If a new building is out of the picture for you, consider hiring a designer to organize your existing property to get the most efficient living spaces out of it.
The Players and Other Considerations:
Pets … who’s pet is it anyways? cost, allergies, cleaning, feeding, poop, noise; Small children … noise, toy management, bath time, quiet sleep space, discipline rules (Mom & Dad get to set them), little friends, babysitters;
Pre-teen & teens … video games, friends, partying, latenights, electric guitars, loud music, eating right, privacy, sleep-overs, emotions, more discipline rules (Mom & Dad still get to set them);
The Parents (and thier partners and extended families) … long work hours, meal making, chores and the division of work, privacy and intimacy, discipline of children, financial obligation, retirement, travelling, entertaining;
The older parent(s) … noise (24/7 TV on top volume), hobbies, meals and the difference of taste, health issues, sad widow(er), sleeping hours, mobility issues, special equipment;
Dealing with Stuff … material stuff and emotional stuff… and the laundry;
Storage… and enough pots in the kitchen for everyone!!
Some Benefits of Multi-generational Living:
*  Extra eyes on the little ones… and not-so-little ones;
*  Consolidating resources and decreasing costs such as utility bills, insurance, mortgage, rent, vehicles, commuting, child and elder care;
*  Sharing of household duties (more hands to wash dishes and toilets);
*  IT problems will be resolved quickly (as long as you’ve got techies around to hit re-boot);
*  Increase of familia bonding through meals, activities, chores and play time… quality time!

Every living arrangement has it’s pluses and minuses… we choose to dwell on the positive. Having your aging parents close to you can be a comfort knowing that they are well taken care of by all of the family. There are so many benefits but like any relationship, communication is the most important tool for multi-generational families to live successfully under one roof. I’m looking forward to my next living arrangement!!