Category Archives: before + after

Around the House // Nursery Reveal

Baby #2 arrived just over a year ago and this post has been sitting in draft for almost as long. I really have no good reason why, so I better get this published before he develops his own sense of style and pleads with me to redecorate.

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal |Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

The little man arrived almost two weeks early, at which point the crib was half painted, the room was full of junk, the walls were a light blue with lots of holes, and I had just barely moved my office from this room to the basement.

With help from my husband, my mother-in-law, and a professional wallpaper hanger, we pulled this room together within a week or two after bringing baby home.  And by “we” I mean the lovely people I just mentioned.  I’m pretty sure I sat around with baby latched on and just gave directions.

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to use wallpaper in the baby’s room. Wallpaper has made an amazing comeback in recent years and there are SO MANY gorgeous papers now. This whimsical Julia Rothman Daydream wallpaper from Hygge & West was pretty much a front runner from the beginning, it was just a matter of deciding on the colorway.

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

I re-used the crib and dresser/changer from our first son’s nursery (see it here), but because I wasn’t feeling the original chestnut stain any longer I decided to paint the set in a soft gray.  Side note: I really wish I hadn’t bought a set (too matchy-matchy) and a changer really isn’t necessary – a dresser with change pad would have sufficed. Anyway.

This bedroom is incredibly tiny (about 8′x 9′) so it’s very hard to photograph!  Luckily, at this point in time the size is totally workable: crib (mini), dresser, glider, small side table, bookshelf, and the room is full.  It will be a good exercise in space planning and organization once he moves into a big bed, since the layout of the room will only allow for one placement for a twin bed (along the wallpapered wall) and maybe room for a bedside table and a dresser and not much else.

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

I custom colour-matched the walls to the darkest tone of the wallpaper.  The lady at my local Sherwin WIlliams store clearly thought I was out to lunch when I told her this dark moody gray paint was for a baby nursery but I’m glad I followed my gut and went with the dark colour. Inspired by these rooms, I knew it was possible to pull off, even for a little one. Since the bedroom is flooded with soft natural light from a large west-facing window, the dark walls are not overwhelming. I actually really like the contrast between the walls and the crisp white trim, window, ceiling, and simple light fixture.

Want to see the BEFORE?



And the AFTER:

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

I hope this guy will be happy in this room for a long while.  Or at least until I get the decorating itch again =)

Nursery reveal | Inspiration for Decor by Dayna McCarthy Interiors


Around the House // The Sun Room

‘Around the House’ is a little series intended to document the (slow) decorating progress in my own home . Like most people, decorating my home is an organic progress -adding and tweaking, as the need arises or inspiration strikes. No big bang reveals here…this is real life. 

When we moved into our home two years ago, there was an awkward room off the kitchen.  I say awkward because it is a very small space (only 7′ wide by 11′ long) with 4 windows and a bay window (!).  The two previous owners had used this space as a dining room but the space was way too narrow for a proper dining space.  See?


DECORATING TIP:  Ideally, you should allow 36″ between the walls and the dining room table (or other furniture) to allow chairs to be pulled out easily. 

Here is how the space looked when we moved in.  Already a little better with all the furniture removed.

Sun room before

This was the view from the kitchen:

Sun room from kitchen

After living in the house for a while and discovering how we use the space (occasional eating, lots of colouring/crafts, some reading and relaxing), we decided to build a bench under the bay window using IKEA cabinets for built-in seating.  I won’t give you the step-by-step, but if you’re interested in DIY’ing a bench using IKEA cabinets there are plenty of tutorials online (we used this one). Oh – and that’s the royal “we”. My husband did all the construction.

Bench building

Once the bench was installed I had a firm 3″ bench cushion made in a super-durable denim coloured fabric and added several Sunbrella cushions (kids + spills/crumbs/markers/paint requires stain resistant fabric!)

Two weekends ago I decided it was finally time to get rid of the beige walls.  The honey coloured floors, in combination with the beige walls and sometimes harsh afternoon light, made the room way too yellow for me.  The beige had to go.

Inspired by this bright and airy sun room by Emily Henderson, I decided to go with a cooler palette, to give the room a fresh and breezy vibe. I selected Benjamin Moore’s Mt. Rainier Gray from their 2014 Colour Trends palette. A soft bluey-gray.

Sun room 7

Doesn’t the blue make the white trim pop?!  So refreshing.

Sun room 2

The room gets a TON of light and as a result, plants do very well in here. My fig tree has sprouted about 2 feet since I bought it. Now I’m trying my hand at succulents.

Sun room 4

Sun room 5

Sun room 3

I’m much happier with the “finished” space. I use quotes because I’m already planning on switching it up in a month or two once our littlest guy starts crawling. Since the room is right off the kitchen I think it’d be great to use as a small playroom so I can keep an eye on him while working in the next room.

And since I love a good Before + After, here you go:

Sun room before

Sun room 6

 One day of painting was totally worth it.




Around the House // Jenny Lind Bed for the Little Man

This bedroom, from Domino, is one of my all-time favourite children’s rooms.

White walls provide the perfect backdrop to display kiddy art, the classic Jenny Lind beds are gender neutral and inject a sense of nostalgia, and the bold and bright bedding and pillows create such a fun and inspiring space!

When I started planning my little man’s new room, this image was my jumping off point.  My first challenge was to find a vintage Jenny Lind bed (also known as a spool bed).  I did the usual search for a couple weeks on Craigslist and Kijiji but couldn’t find any twin beds for sale.  The Land of Nod has a Jenny Lind collection but I’m not a hug fan of the raspberry and teal colours. I considered the white (classic of course) but wasn’t keen on spending almost $600 for a reproduction when I knew a vintage one could be found…with patience.

So the hunt began. This time I hit up Ottawa St. in Hamilton, a street chock-full of antique and consignment stores and my go-to spot for unique finds.  And can you guess what I found in a very dark basement corner ?


The shop owner estimated that the bed to be more than 100 years old (not sure I believe that because these beds are an American best seller and have been produced for decades) but nevertheless it was solid wood, soundly made and less than $200.  She also said it would be a tragedy to paint it…..yeah, sigh….I get that antiques will diminish in value if painted, but what’s the point of preserving a piece in it’s original state if you would love it even more painted. I’m not an antique collector, I’m living (and decorating) for today.

That said, I did set up the bed in it’s natural wood state to consider whether I really should take the plunge and paint it. While I have seen some lovely spaces where a dark wood Jenny Lind bed looks great (like this), I ultimately decided painting was the way to go.  Off it went to Paint It Like New for a spray.  As for the colour, I debated doing a timeless white but ultimately decided on a boyish blue (Benjamin Moore Hudson Bay Blue CC-810) for a custom look.

Before I show you the nice “After” photos, let me warn you about the construction of a vintage Jenny Lind bed, in case you are in the market for one. Unlike most of newer beds that require a box spring and mattress, these older beds weren’t constructed to require both. When we initially plopped on the box spring and mattress but looked what happened:

Firstly, the bed was way too high for the little man to safely climb up. And secondly, because the height of the mattress was so high you could no longer see the foot board. And come on, the foot board is half the cuteness of the bed. So off came the box spring and in went wooden slats (IKEA style) under the mattress. Once that change was made, the bed was perfect!


1. CB2 knit pouf (CB2 now ships to Canada and has a brick and mortar store in Toronto!)

2. West Elm striped sheet set

3. Fluf wool punch pillow

4. Duvet made from IKEA EVALOTTA fabric (thanks MIL!)

5. Vintage Jenny Lind spindle bed, painted by Paint It Like New in Burlington, Ontario

6. Sierra Paddle rug from RugsUSA

So now we have a dresser and a bed….time to finish off the rest of the room!

Ombre Dresser Makeover

I’ve got a project to share with you today! I am no DIY’er but this one was fairly easy and I love the results.  I started with an old dresser that hadn’t been painted or updated since yours truly was an infant and gave it an ombre paint makeover. Not exactly an original idea (just Google “ombre dresser”) but super duper cute for a toddler!

But first, for those not in the know — What is ombre?

om·bré (adjective \ˈäm-ˌbrā\) : having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark

Cool?  Let’s move on.

Let’s start with the original “Before”:

How 80′s is that room?!  I love that my Mom was channeling Candice Olsen thirty years ago and hung a pendant lamp over a side table.

The dresser wasn’t in bad shape.  When my Mom painted it years ago she used a melamine and it really held up to years of usage by both my sister and I.  That said, the white was yellowed. You can’t really see the discolouration in the photo below, but in our son’s room next to white trim and a white IKEA bookcase there was definitely a yellow hue.

Since it was melamine paint, I gave the whole thing a light sanding prior to priming with a product intended to be used on top of glossy surfaces.  I used a water-based BEHR Primer & Sealer and it did the trick.  Another light sanding, then the entire frame and door received two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint in Cloud White.  It was my first time using BM’s Advance line and I have to say it is was nice to work with. It has a self-leveling property so paint strokes melt away as the paint sets and it has a nice hard finish.  I waited a whole week in between coats, only because I ran out of time the weekend I started the project, but 24 hours should have been fine.

My colour gradient was based on another key element in our son’s room -his bed- which is painted BM’s Hudson Bay (CC-810).  [His bed will also be revealed shortly!]  I simply took the colour strip containing Hudson Bay (bottom drawer) and asked for the next two colours on the strip: Blue Nose (CC-800) and Polar Sky (CC-790).  There is a pretty big difference between the latter two so I mixed my own in-between colour to be sandwiched between them.  Each drawer  received two coats of regular BM paint.  Because I didn’t want a whole can of each colour, I purchased 3 sample tins at $7.50 each. Way less $$ than buying a new dresser, right?

A new pull from Home Depot and ta-da! a fresh blue and white ombre dresser for my little man.

So what do you think? Would you dare to go ombre in your home?

Or go ombre with your hair?!

living room project

This past week I finished an Inspiration Board for a young couple who recently moved into a little old home with tons of character.

Their living room is small but quaint with a central fireplace, built in bookshelves, and great hardwood floors.  We were starting 95% from scratch, as the only living room items that moved with them were a console table and a flat screen TV.  As newlyweds and young professionals, my clients wanted to invest in some quality furniture and accessories in a classic style that will grow with them over the years. 

Today, I am featuring their Inspiration Board and a couple ‘Before’ pictures. In a few weeks, I hope to have some great ‘After’ pictures to share with you.

And here is the space we’re working with:

Lighting is important! As you can see, there are no overhead fixtures and the front window faces West so there is no direct sunlight during the day. Comfortable seating is also important since they want to be able to entertain friends and family in this main room.  Luckily the lady of the house is an excellent sewer (she sews gorgeous quilts by hand!) so she will be making her own drapes and pillows; through a mixture of fabrics and pattern we’ll add a little life into this living room.  I am very excited to see the finished space. Stay tuned, I’ll share pics when I have them!

~If you need a little inspiration for your own home, please contact me, I’d love to help~

home office makeover p.2

Just got back from the home office installation and wanted to share a sneak preview.  The room isn’t completely finished (still waiting on the side table from West Elm which is on back order) and art needs to go up, but so far so good don’t you think ?!

Loving the chevron Roman shades and the mix of patterns!

See my previous post for the BEFORE pictures and the INSPIRATION BOARD.

Do you have a room in your home that needs a little love?  Need a few ideas?  Contact me, I’d love to help!

home office makeover p.1

It’s going to be a busy design weekend over here.  The pendant lights for my MIL’s kitchen came in, so a trip to Universal Lighting is on the agenda for tomorrow (love this place  but the website is meh so you should check it out in person), followed by an early evening event – Canadian Design Bloggers Meetup. Tommy “Sarah’s sidekick” Smythe will be the keynote speaker. Can’t wait!  Sunday morning I’ll be checking in on an in-progress project (more details to come on that), then over to another client’s home for her office installation!

This office project has been fun to work on. My client (Melanie) has a great sense of style and the rest of her house is totally awesome. However, her office is the one neglected space in the home.  As she is in the process of launching her own business, Melanie was really craving an office space that would reflect her own vibrant personality and would allow her creativity to flourish.

Here are a few BEFORE shots.

With a limited budget but good bones to work with (all existing furniture stayed, as did the wall colour), we got started on a plan that included:

  • a DIY nail head corkboard for all her notes, pictures, documents, and snippets of inspiration (jump over here to see her step-by-step instructions!)
  • Roman blinds for the bare window
  • organization of those shelves (as a professional organizer, she took care of that herself)
  • an injection of colour and pattern with the selection of 3 fabrics
  • selection of several pre-owned art pieces and personal photographs to hang on the wall and picture ledge

Here is the Inspiration Board:


Stay tuned for pictures after the installation!  Have a lovely weekend all!


decorating a small rental bedroom – reveal part 1

Since posting about my decorating plans for our small bedroom, I’ve received a number of requests to share some updated photos.  Though it is still a work in progress, here is a sneak preview of our bedroom thus far.

If you recall  this post from a few weeks ago, here is the inspiration board I put together:

I’m on track with the overall look, however I’ve decided to forgo the parsons desk since it’ll be a tight squeeze.  Although working from my kitchen table isn’t ideal, I do like the walking space we currently have around the bed.  Your bedroom is supposed to be your sanctuary to relax and be comfortable, right? So the desk is out.  In more exciting news, the most recent addition to our room are the fab LOVE pillows from Lush Designs in Greenwich Village.  Fresh off the plane from London (thanks Mom!!)

Since you can’t see it in the shot above, here is a shot of our Moroccan-style pendant:

I’m pretty happy with the results so far.  Especially since this is what we started with:

Next up on the bedroom to-do list:

  • Rug for next to the bed
  • Lined linen drapes to cover-up the vertical blinds (we aren’t allowed to take those down)
  • Decide on art for walls

Stay tuned for a final reveal!


UPDATE: Today I’m participating in the ROOMSPIRATION blog link party. For more inspiring master bedrooms, click HERE!


stunning rental transformation

You must see this stunning rental apartment transformation.  I repeat RENTAL apartment! The Before and After photos speak for themselves:

Amazing isn’t it? A little cooperation from a landlord and a whole lot of style can go a long way. These photographs really highlight how a simple scheme of black and white can really make a big impact.  Notice that though the finishes are builder basics (i.e. black laminate counter top in the kitchen, white subway tile, etc.), the overall look of the apartment is anything but!  The tenant and very talented designer is Jessica of  The World According to Jessica Claire who is now a Design Editor at Style at Home magazine. Her apartment will be featured in the upcoming June 2011 issue and I can’t wait to see more. Congratulations to a fellow George Brown Interior Decorating student!

(design by Jessica Wak, photography by Stacey Brandford, images via Style at Home)