Category Archives: my work

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.




Client Project // Bright & Playful Girl’s Room, Part 2

 Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

I am finally sharing one of my favourite projects to date!  Here is the full reveal of the bright and playful little girl’s room I mentioned last week.

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

The drapery fabric was really the jumping-off point and inspiration for the rest of the room.  It is a bold, colourful, and playful floral, perfect for a young girl but will be able to transition with her over the coming years. I then paired it with several other smaller geometric fabrics, to pull the room together.

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Knowing my clients appreciate artwork, especially pieces with meaning for them, I suggested a few special pieces for their daughter’s space, including: a customized ABC name print; her first bikini framed (sooo cute!); and last but not least I painted a series of canvases (inspired by the drapery fabric) for over her bed.

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Bright and playful girl's room. Tempo salsa fabric, sewing by Tonic Living | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

 Bright and playful little girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Toronto-based photographer Nechama Laitmandid a newborn/family session in this room. The amazing light and bright colours provided a perfect backdrop. Here are a couple photos from that shoot:

Bright and playful little girl's room |Photo by Nechama Laitman,room design by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

Bright and playful little girl's room |Photo by Nechama Laitman,room design by Dayna McCarthy Interiors

I’m really happy with how this space turned out and I think the little resident is too!

I believe the room will grow with her over the years, with slight tweaks here and there. Maybe a bunk bed? Probably a desk.  Time will tell.  In any case, the bones of the room are solid. I love working with this family as they give me a lot of creative freedom and really welcome my expertise. Little sister’s room is in the works, stay tuned.

A few sources:

P.S. If you missed the first post about this project, click HERE to view the inspiration design board and “Before” photo.


Image credits: 1-11 Dayna McCarthy for Inspiration for Decor, 12 & 13 Nechama Laitman Photography

Client Project // Bright & Playful Girl’s Room, Part 1

When my good friends were pregnant with their first daughter (gender unknown at the time), I designed a serene gender-neutral nursery, which suited them all perfectly (see it HERE).  But when the time came to design their daughter’s room in their new custom home, we decided to go a little more girly and fun, with the requirement that the room be able to grow with her over the years.

Here is the space mid-build (so big and bare!):

Mid-reno | Inspiration for DecorWith bright, playful, fun, and girly (but not too girly) as my direction, I sourced this vibrant and colourful fabric which became the jumping off point for the rest of the room:

Tonic Living Tempo Salsa | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

Tempo Salsa fabric, Tonic Living

The bright pink, orange, purple, and green hues gave me so many options for coordinating fabrics to pull the room together using existing furniture, rug, and lighting. For the walls, I chose a soft blush pink that wasn’t too over the top.

Inspiration board for a bright and playful girl's room | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor

It took me a while (too long) to photograph this project, but I finally did and am excited to share. I’ll be back later this week with the full room reveal, but in the meantime here’s a sneak peak:

Bright and playful girl's room. Tempo salsa fabric, sewing by Tonic Living | Dayna McCarthy Interiors via Inspiration for Decor


Images: Dayna McCarthy for Inspiration for Decor

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!

Around the House // Livingroom Beginnings

I’m nowhere near finished decorating our living room, but I think I’ve finally got the bones.


English roll arm sofa? Check. Interesting occasional tables? Check.


Clean lined coffee table? Check. Wool area rug? Check.

So what else is needed to complete this room?  Oh just a few things:

- floor lamp (thinking of this one)

- 1 or 2 chairs (already got one of these)

- upholstered bench

- antique dresser OR piano (both have been offered but not sure which one we’ll take)

- linen drapes with grosgrain trim OR hand blocked print on linen

- baskets for organizing magazines, blankets, etc

So many decisions to make but I’m in no rush.  To avoid looking like a furniture showroom by buying everything all at once from the same store (don’t do it!), this will be a labour of love and I will add pieces to the living room gradually as I find them.  A home should be a reflection of yourself, your family, and your life, so it should take time to collect things that hold significance for you and fit your style and functional needs.

For us, our living room is intended to be our “grown-up space” but it still needs to be kiddo-friendly. For that reason I am trying to mix high and low and balance style and functionality.  The roll-arm sofa for example, is a quality piece from Lee Industries and is a classic style that will last for many many years.  On the other hand, the wool rug was a steal of a deal at less than $200 (60% off plus free shipping) from Rugs USA, so I don’t need to stress over toddler spills and doggy messes. As for the rest of the room….I’ll keep you updated on the progress…


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?!

my new friends Eivor and Vilmie Figour

That’s right, EIVOR and VILMIE are my new friends from IKEA.  This past weekend I dropped by my local store to pick up the EIVOR throw I’ve been meaning to buy for a while now.

I originally saw it online and while I loved the graphic black and white stripe, I was a little skeptical on the quality, given the price was only $29.99. Well, let me tell you, for 100% polyester or whatever its made of (sorry, cut the tag off before checking) it is pretty darn nice. It’s cozy, it doesn’t look like it will pill, and I love the look!

And see that black and white pillow?  Also an IKEA find. It is the VILMIE FIGUR ($13.99) and I love it!  You may have noticed the corner sticking out of one of my Christmas decor shots, as I haven’t decided where I like it best – on the sofa or on my bed. What a dilemma.

(images: 1&2-IKEA, 3-me)

wow, top 3!

Welcome to everyone stopping in by way of à la mode and Just a Touch of Gray!

Last month I participated in the Roomspiration Series and linked up my master bedroom and my son’s nursery. Both rooms made it to the top 3 top-visited on rooms on their respective day! How exciting and what an honour!  A big thank you to Rachel and Shelli for hosting the link parties.  If you haven’t already, hop on over to their blogs to see some of the other most popular rooms:

On a related topic, I am planning on a temporary substitution in our bedroom. Originally, as shown in my inspiration board, I planned on buying this classic Hudson Bay Co. point blanket ($275-$475):

But while I save my pennies for that purchase, I think I may pick up this new EIVOR throw from IKEA for a fraction of the cost ($29.99):

A good substitute for now don’t you think?

ideas for the new build: nursery

Excuse my absence as of late. My day job has been all-consuming these past few weeks and I simply haven’t had the time to continue my exploration in the world of design.  The most recent issues of House & Home, Elle Decor, and  House Beautiful, sit by my bed waiting to be read.  Sigh. When I do crack ‘em open I’ll be sure to share some new inspirational pictures and ideas.

In the meantime, I thougt I’d share another installment of:

If you recall my past posts on kitchen banquettes and tile shopping, I’ve been working with friends/clients on their new home.  Move in day is rapidly approaching so everything is quickly coming together, which is very exciting (it’s so much fun to live vicariously through clients!). The one room in the house that’s getting a complete design, is their daughter’s room.

About one year ago, I completed a nursery project for their bun-in-the-oven. At that time the gender was unknown, so we went with a soft blue paint, white furniture, and gender neutral accessories.

Once the gender was known (a sweet tiny girl), we added some pink accents. For more pictures and the inspiration board, click HERE.

This time around we are using the most of the same pieces (pendant, crib, dresser, glider, side table), but going we are going fully on girly with pink + orange + green accents. Here is the inspiration board:

Move-in day is less than a month away so I should have some great photos to share with you soon!


owl themed nursery

Months ago I shared an inspiration board for my son’s nursery but I never got around to posting any final pictures for you.  Since we’re starting to think about moving him into a big boy bed in the next few months I thought I better take some nursery pictures before things get changed up. We’re already in the process of transitioning him over, starting with a toddler table + chair set (not telling which one we chose yet…but it’s arriving next week!).

Originally I had dubbed this a “green and brown themed nursery” but as the room came together a few owl prints were purchased, then owl accessories were given as gifts, …..and now it is definitely an owl-themed nursery.  I know, I know, owls are everywhere these days. I didn’t start out with the intention of using this über popular accessory, it just  happened.  Admit it – they are cute. And my son loves his “howels” and “hoo-hoos”, so that’s all that matters.

Hope you enjoyed this little nursery tour. I’m sure I’ll have an update on his toddler room sooner than I’d prefer. Sniff. Sniff.

In case you a interested, here are a few sources:

  • Crib (yes, it does look small and that’s because it is a European/mini crib, which are hard to find in Canada!) – DaVinci AnnaBelle Mini Crib, in Espresso, purchased at Baby Shack but widely available in the U.S. We also have the matching change table.
  • Paint – Benjamin Moore’s Nature Lover (CC-726).
  • Pendant LightLERAN from IKEA
  • Picture Ledges - RIBBA from IKEA
  • ChairPOANG from IKEA. This chair made a great nursing chair since it bounces easily, is wide, and the leather can be wiped down easily. I made it even more comfortable with a sheepskin throw.
  • Lumbar Pillow – from West Elm, no longer available
  • Knit Pouf – from CB2 (fyi – the first CB2 store in Canada will be opening in Toronto this November!)
  • Playmat – by Skip*Hop in Green/Brown, widely available at baby specialty stores
  • Twinkle Twinkle Owl Print – from Etsy vendor Curry on the Couch


P.S. Here are a couple outtakes from the photo shoot – blocks get strewn down the hall, the little guy wants to climb into my shot, and we all take a Kraft Dinner lunch break….

(images: d.simpson)


UPDATE: I’m taking part in the ROOMSPIRATION blog hop & link party. To view many more inspiring nurseries, click HERE and enjoy!