Busting out that paint | 5 things to consider before painting

With the New Year in bloom, we think of everything the past year has brought us, and what we look forward to doing in the new year. As my husband rolls a coat of paint on the wall, accomplishing a ‘check’ on the honey-do list (funny how things get completed when you’re selling your house!), I observe the many types of paints we’ve acquired over the years. It has brought me to think about the many kinds of paint available to us, and what makes them so different.

Not too long ago Katherine and I were invited to attend a Benjamin Moore Presentation, we were able to learn a bit more about the paint we use and love and a few other fun facts just about paint in general. It was informative and glad we braved our Canadian snow storm in heels to go to it.

With that in mind, whether you’re going on vacation and you want to start the new year off on a good note, or dreaming of a spring project, let’s get you started on the right path. Nested Green prefers the use of Benjamin Moore product because they are tried and true, we’ve never had an issue with the quality or compromising results but we have experience with many various lines of product and keep coming back.

  1. The different types of paint sheen’s and where they should go

These are the common types of paint seen in these spaces, but ultimately, it’s up to you!

Bedrooms and living spaces: Eggshell, it is not a flat finish but offers a slight sheen to it. If you have children or a busy house, Pearl/Satin finish would allow for easier cleaning, though this becomes a personal preference.

Dining room, Family room and powder rooms: Pearl/Satin.

Trim, Kitchens and Baths: Semi-gloss. Allows for easier cleaning and it challenges grease, splatters and humidity.

Remember though, the higher the sheen, the higher the shine. Once you get the semi-gloss it gets quite shiny, and can drastically change the effect you may be trying to create in your home. It also becomes more likely to see flaws in application.

Ceilings: Flat

If you’re in an apartment semi-gloss is often what landlords use because they want an easy clean up and something they don’t have to repair frequently with a simple brush against the wall. If you’re looking to paint your wall in your apartment, consider your lifestyle and how long you’re going to be there for. This is a good segue for my next note…

  1. Don’t compromise price for quality

If it’s one thing I’ve learned is that paint is certainly a “get what you pay for” type purchase. There are a couple of brands that I’ll come back to if I need a ‘cheap paint’ but they are much harder to work with and it takes a talented hand to know how to make it look good. If you’re a beginner painter and can’t afford a higher end paint, hang tight, I’ve got something for you at the end. More often than not, an inexpensive paint may require more coats which means more paint. When using a higher sheen paint, the likelihood of being able to visibly see brushstrokes becomes more likely, so have a good hand with your technique.

To my apartment dwellers… You likely don’t want to spend a whole lot because you may only be there for a few years. If you think you’ll be there longer then I’d go for the good stuff because it’ll be worth it at that point. The issue with many apartments is that often enough there is massive build up on the wall with paint; it often has a lot of bumps, drips and noticeably questionable repairs. You need a paint that can battle that and still make the space look good with limited work unless you’re handy (great!) in which case repairing any flaws is fairly simple.

  1. What’s the deal with paint and primer in one?

This is the bane of my existence, and after purchasing an entire apartment’s worth (6 different colours I should add!) many years ago, my husband and I vowed never to work with it again. I know some people who love it, and if you can work with it, great, but can be certainly a good waste of money depending on your project.

Here’s the thing: ANY PAINT CAN BE USED AS A PRIMER (Uhhh, don’t take that too literally!). Primer is just to neutralize what’s behind it, to keep the good paint from soaking in like a sponge. If you have new drywall, you’d likely need 2 coats of primer to give it a good foundation so you have the nice paint on top. If there is paint now and it’s a fairly light colour and the new colour can cover it without much issue, then just paint on top of that. If it’s red and you want to put a pale blue on top, you would need to prime it, and then put your paint on top because you’d need several coats otherwise.

So, these companies that offer a paint and primer in one don’t really offer anything that special. Heck, even my favourite Benjamin Moore lines offers that with their Aura line (which, haha, we ended up not liking that line).

Why waste your money on priming your wall with your good paint?

In my video I demonstrate that you can buy a contractor grade primer for a fraction of the cost, and go further with your good paint. Using a primer and than a paint is not an extra step in labour as often you’ll require 2 coats with the 2-in-1 anyway. The paint was as thick as glue (that’s the primer additive), so it seemed like we’d only need to do one coat of paint… right? Nope. The appeal many find with the 2-in-1 is that you’d only need one coat of paint, because the primer is in it as well, it’s like putting on two coats. We ended up having to do an extra coat anyway. The thickness of the paint meant we used more of it (read: we had to buy more) on the wall which created a “goopy” effect which we felt was unappealing as well. With the paint and primer in one, we ended up spending more on our “good paint” when we could have saved with a primer. In fact, with the condition our walls were in in the first place we could have gotten away without priming it. Lessons learned!

I wanted to make a note here, as I know there is a market for it… what should it be used for? In the many articles I’ve read about the “benefits”, I still wasn’t sold. The most consistent message was that if your new paint is with the same sheen and very similar colour, then the 2-in-1 is great; otherwise if you’re changing sheen’s and colour’s, do the primer and paint separately. Do some research if you’re interested in it to find the right line for you.

  1. Brush vs Roll (A little bit on technique!)

The key to a good paint finish is good brushes and rollers. Technique and good tools is key. When you pay a professional, you’re not paying for the paint, you’re paying for the professional finish. It always bewilders me when people downgrade in quality of paint because they think that’ll help reduce overall costs. Having a high quality cutting brush makes the world a difference with results. When you’re cutting around door and window frames etc., the last thing you want is visible brush strokes which can be avoided when you have good quality brush. It is wise to cut first, then roll to cover up as much brush strokes with the roller but without the fear of hitting walls or ceilings.

You want a clean finish, having the right tools hand in hand with technique help significantly. Cutting in paint takes practice, if you need tape to help, use that, but don’t let it sit around too long after as it can be difficult to take off after (or pull paint off with it). If you need tape, be weary as even some well reputable paint tape tends to ‘bleed’, compromising your results.

  1. So, where’s the savings?

We all want to save where we can, that’s very fair. Here are some ways to save:

  1. Hire a contractor/professional painter. It might end up being more expensive, but is the time worth it? They can paint an entire house in two days, but may take you months of tinkering. What’s your time worth? They also have all the tools and technique, guaranteeing you a professional result.Fun fact! Working with professional painters in the past, many of them have a preference in certain paint lines purely because they’ve honed their skills around it, and because it gives the nicest finish they can offer. Asking your hired painter to use a more economical paint may actually increase the price of their labour quote because of the extra work they have to do to make it look like a higher end finish.
  1. Alternatively, get a friend to help you. Order a pizza and tackle it together with dedicated time. Bonus points if they have some technique and have some tools to help!
  1. Limit your colours. Stick with a couple of neutrals. Remember, you need a trim paint, potentially a primer and your main colour. Adding colours means more gallons of paint.
  1. Buy contractor grade primer so you can buy the paint you want.
  2. There are some more economically priced paints that are still good quality. Do your research about what brands are available and their technique (and some have their own tricks to give the best finish) even within certain lines of product. Never worked with paint before? No problem! YouTube is a great thing, watch lots of reviews, contractors are often posting videos of how they use the product and gauge that way what you’d like to use.

Last notes: Every project is a little different. I made these points here to keep it in the back of your mind while you determine your project needs and wants. : )

If you haven’t seen the video already, check it out here!


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.


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.


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!


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:


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!

Chalk Paint | Re-finished Dresser

A client had found this mid-century modern dresser through an online buy and sell website, at a great price. The dresser offered a great look and fit her space perfectly. Though the original owner had attempted to refinish the dresser themselves, there were some distinguished characteristics that did not make it quite as desirable as she had hoped.

Though the condition of the dresser was perfectly fine, and functionally it works well. You can see in the before photo above that the top is very high gloss, of which also included many drip marks from the varathane – we collectively felt that it took away from the vintage look this dresser was intended. We also wanted to modernize the dresser in a fun way. After contemplating a back-painted glass top, we decided ultimately to do through a more economic, and custom route.

Katherine and I love chalk paint, and we have done a few projects via this route. Our client also loved this idea, so we took on yet another project!

We had to start by really sanding down the original surface (and I mean really sanding it down!). We had decided to paint just the box, leaving the drawer fronts (which were still in its original condition) and legs. Chalk paint doesn’t require you to sand, but you do get a better result when you do.

Having extremely curious supervisors (my cats) lurking around the project made it a little difficult to work, but we managed. Gandalf loves our dropcloth… hopefully it stays that way!

It required about 3 coats, I think we did 4 on the top. We did a 1/3 mix of pure white and an off white, creating a really soft and warm white. We then did 2 layers of clear wax on the side panels, and 3 layers on the top. We loved the way it turned out because it balanced out their side tables perfectly!

Above is to show the side table, notice how we’ve created an inverted version of it. After delivering the dresser back, there were some last touches needed, including a good buffing from the wax finish.

Final photos! What a difference! : ) It stands out, creating a modern touch on a reclaimed piece.

Green Jobs | A little Speech

While juggling a few different things in business right now, I have an exciting update on a recent event we were very pleased to participate in. Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) had invited us, well… Katherine, to speak to students and those interested in a career that revolved around the environment. The speakers promoted passion but also sustainable business structures to help inspire those interested in this field.

With approximately 50+ students and those interested in changing career paths, it was actually a larger turn out than we expected. The few other speakers were engineers and large corporate businesses focusing on sustainable environmental factors from a much larger scale.

With a quick speech from most speakers, Katherine insisted on telling us where she got started in the business. When we spoke to the many people eager to chat with us, they seemed inspired and enlightened to find a natural business… on a smaller scale. This made us very happy!


Of course our evening went much longer than we anticipated… with hearing hopes and dreams from many others, we attempted to guide them in the best direction possible to help achieve their goals. It made us both so excited to see so many eager faces ready to jump into the work of environmental design (and living!).

Suffice to say, Katherine enjoyed telling her story so much she (and I) can’t wait to go and do something like this again! Despite her recovering from illness, she did very well in her speech… come take a look for yourself!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uH1UEEvhv8&w=420&h=315]

What’s wrong with Red Lists?

2015-09-18 17.19.55

As always, O Ecotextiles has brilliantly laid out where the textile industry has work to do. Water treatment needs to be addressed and so much more. We love O Ecotextiles and Two Sisters Ecotextiles!!

#ecotextiles #cleanwater #sustainable #interiordesign #toxicchemicals #bodyburden #goodhealth

The Lighter Side of Laundry

There’s nothing quite like climbing into fresh clean bed sheets baked on the laundry line in the summer sunshine. Crisp linens, towels and under garment are one of the benefits of hanging your laundry to dry. The other huge benefit is the energy savings from not using your dryer.  As well, if like us, no air conditioning means no unwanted heating from dryer or oven when temperatures hit the sweaty level.Laundry 1

Today, as temperatures far exceeded the sweaty level, I noticed a load of laundry had finished its final cycle. Call me crazy, I jumped for joy. Not for the realization that my 19 year old son was doing his laundry without a word of prodding from me but that I could hang these damp clothes with the clear blue sky and sunshine!

A clear sky is key to a relaxed laundry day for us line users. One large dark cloud can have us running with empty basket and pin bag at break-neck speed screaming… “It gonna rain!!!”

Breaking up laundry day throughout the week is a good tip… if you can. Sheets and towels can fill that line up pretty quick. Luckily they dry rapidly when you have full sun and humidity levels are low.  wind-power-clothesline

Weather forecast for tomorrow says partially cloudy with chance of rain… So I’ll go to work instead. No need to call in sick for laundry tomorrow!!

Show us your laundry line.

Silk Road To Happiness… never too cool for silk


The incredible heat and humidity lately has me thanking my lucky stars for the silk wrap skirt that was given to me many years ago.  I’m reminded of my mother in law when in her mid 50’s claimed that she needed to wear silk clothes to feel comfortable. The wonderful natural qualities of silk out-do cotton every time.  Humidity is not a friend of cotton… Wet T-shirt contest anyone!?silkworm+on+leaves

I was intrigued by the way silk feels and acts.  I read somewhere that when used as a pillow case, the amino acids in the silk can have a anti-aging effect on your face.  Uh, can I just swaddle myself in the stuff!!??

Even with all the potential of body temperature regulating and skin smoothing, there’s a sad fact about silk. The common production method of silk fibers is a cruel one.  Simplified: when the silk worms are still alive in their cocoon, they are dropped in boiling water to release the fibers of the cocoon.  The threads are then carefully pulled and wound onto spools for the next step in production.  The worms, now dead never get the chance to become the beautiful butterfly they were meant to be.

silk-ballsThere is an alternative to the killing fields of commercial silk production but you will really have to look for it. Ahimsa Peace Silk, produced in Fair Trade communities in India, this silk is ethical.  The mulberry larva are allowed to finish their growth into flying beauties and continue the reproduction cycle.  Their abandoned cocoon are collected, inspected for vacancy then painstakingly unraveled by caring, patient hands.

Sadly, wild eri silkworms are becoming endangered, possibly due to the same fate as honeybees.  The commercial use of silk worms too is unsustainable.  A couple only produce 50 eggs, so management is precarious if greed kicks in.IMG_20150724_164321

Research about silk also turned up that toxic chemicals and heavy metals like lead are used in the colouring of silks.  So, not only is ethical silk more desirable for fair treatment of living beings but also healthier if natural dye processes are used on the fabric.  But that’s a whole other post.

Excuse me while I attend to my bowl of ice in front of the fan.  I think there’s a hint of fresh air coming through the window.  In the meantime, feet up, silk wrap on, fan on full blast.  I’m dreaming of Ahimsa Peace Silk sheets and a cool night sleep.  Stay frosty my friends.


Designs From the Mat… Returning Home


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.

Plan your Reno in the Winter | Tips for the savvy shopper

IMG_4454Here at Nested Green we’ve interacted with many folks who have expressed starting their renovations in the spring or summer and some into the late fall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s great you want to get started! However, it can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress because of schedules, availability of product or contractors and most importantly, affect what you want. The most important thing about planning for Spring/Summer renovations is to plan over the winter.


There’s lots of reasons why you should plan your renovation over the winter:

Contractors are busy people. Often they’re booking weeks or months in advance, and naturally they are always looking for work. By planning late fall or early winter, booking them in advance, at least for consultations for early spring with plans to renovate later is very key to their scheduling. This way they can try to schedule you into their books based on your schedule, and not theirs.

You have a few months to keep dreaming. This is extremely important in any design planning. This of course involves booking your Interior Designer/Architect *wink wink*. Joking aside, whether you hire a designer or not, it’s extremely important to browse the world of Pintrest, Houzz, and all the unlimited resources we have at our fingertips to discover what you want, and even more importantly, what you don’t want. Make a list of priorities and what you’re willing to compromise on, this will help you narrow your needs/wants in your renovation and design and get what you want. What do you want the space to look like? What are your dreams? If you’re not hiring a designer, do a lot of research into the products that are available and this will help with coming up with your….

BUDGET. I really shouldn’t have to say more than this, but be sure to evaluate your financial situation before starting a renovation or project of any kind. Determine what type of renovation you’re doing and make sure to do research on the types of products you’re interested in and what the average costs are for doing these renovations/construction. Make sure to allow for unexpected costs as no one knows what’s under old floorboards or behind walls that might unleash a whole can of something.IMG_4492

To add to this, if you’re intending on renovating an older home like a heritage home, be sure to get the right people in to evaluate the situation appropriately. Your project may add up quickly if you discover you want to renovate your bathroom to find out all your plumbing is lead or electrical is knob and tube. Things like this are completely against code, and are required to be fixed immediately. It could mean the difference between getting all new electrical and getting the upgrades you wanted… which would ultimately impact your design, and of course you would be left disappointed.

Account for product delivery and ordering. By planning during the winter, it offers lots of time to measure and quote out the products you want as some are 4-6 weeks while others are 10-12 weeks. By ordering these in the right timing, it will prevent your project from being delayed any longer than necessary. Additionally ask about your designer, architect and contractors timeline…how much time do they need to get started? Designers often need 4-6 weeks depending on complexity/technicality and project, but it may require submitting to an architect technician with a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) to then submit to the city for permits. Please be aware that technicians charge on the upwards of $1000 for their time to review and stamp the project. Once submitted to the city, permits could take 2 or more weeks depending on the project. If this is already completed by the end of winter, then in the spring you’ll be all set to start!

Consider your return on investment. Do property research of those around you and if you need to, get your property evaluated by a real estate agent. Be sure you’re not putting unnecessary funds into your property that you won’t see when you try to sell your house. Play it smart: use the budget efficiently in the right project upgrades (an interior designer can help with this!) and it’ll increase your property value but still at realistic pricing. All too often we see houses trying to sell for far more than they’re worth for the area.

Lastly, be sure you’ve planned around your project. Updating your only bathroom or kitchen? What will do you then…will you stay somewhere else? Something that must be considered especially if there are children in the home. Respect your contractors time and space, if you are getting in their way, this will delay your construction and cause aggravation all around. Stay at a friends/family’s house, go on vacation, stay in a hotel etc. until your project is at a reasonable stage.

Thanks again for tuning in, I hope these tips helped… please share this to your friends/family or anyone looking to start a project in the near future!

– Jennifer.

[image from dailymail.co.uk]