Category Archives: you make it

l’ouvrier – restaurant visit


Last week I introduced you to artist and designer Courtney Wotherspoon. Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the projects she had a hand in designing – l’ouvrier kitchen/bar. With a little ingenuity and some serious DIY she turned a blank space into a riveting venue. These are projects you could even try out in your home. I think the “detritus baggie” installation would look great in an office. Great inspiration for a Tuesday morning!


L’ouvrier is a lesson in white – specifically high gloss white. Vintage table bases and wood tops were painted in high gloss white paint to create a uniform and clean look.

_MG_7476Of course, every rule needs to be broken so there is one standout fluorescent pink table at the from of the room – a trademark Courtney Wotherspoon colour!


Throughout the space Wotherspoon made the utilitarian beautiful. Here are a typical black electrical cord becomes captivating wall art.


On the opposite wall, Wotherspoon installed a series of ziploc bags filled with construction and renovation debris.

_MG_7585 A detail of the “detritus baggies.”


A casual place to have drinks withe more wall art made from electrical cord by Courtney.


Wotherspoon also designed the restaurant’s logo, menu, gift certificates, and business cards.


At the back of the restaurant is a solid concrete bar with vintage laboratory stools. On  the wall, Courtney has installed sticks she has painted in vivid colours.

For more information on l’ouvrier check out my interview with Courtney Wotherspoon.

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda.

Filed under beautiful objects, cheers, you make it

you make it – christmas card board


If you’re anything like me than you love displaying the holiday cards you receive from family and friends around your home at Christmas time. For years, I have precariously balanced the cards along our mantelpiece or on our sideboard but found myself constantly having to prop them up and pick them up off of the floor when anyone walked by.  This year I decided to do away with that frustration and make an easy DIY Christmas card board.

Materials you’ll need:

        • 1/2″ thick corkboard or fibreboard cut to your desired size (available at hardware stores)
        • Fabric that measures approximately 2-3 inches extra than the overall size of your board
        • Staple gun
        • Paint and foam brushes
        • Ribbon
        • ScotchBlue tape 
        • Thumbtacks



How you make it:


  • Lay your fabric on a table the wrong side up. Place your corkboard on top and using a staple gun secure the fabric in place. (Note: staple opposite sides first pulling the fabric taut as you go.)
  • Using different widths of  ScotchBlue tape  make stripes the length of the board leaving some of the fabric bare.



  • Paint the bare stripes of the fabric with alternating colors of paint.
  • Remove the ScotchBlue tape while the paint is semi-dry.
  • Next stretch ribbon over the length of the board in the places where there is no paint. Hold the ribbon in place with thumbtacks along the edges of the board.
  • Turn board over. Staple ribbon ends to the back of the board trimming any excess.



Christmas cards and other holiday mementos can be placed between the strips of ribbon or thumb tacked to the board directly. Placed in a front hall or on an unused wall it can become command central for all your festive wrapping and Christmas card writing needs. I’ve even put a basket of ribbon and all my paper and gift tags within reach so the whole family knows where to find these things. After the festive season, the board could be used for grocery lists, calendars, and mail.


scotchblue, scotchblue painter's tape, painter's tape, tape

This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape. To join the creative community, visit

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Filed under you make it

you make it – nut garland


When I heard that the Victorians were fond of tying nut garlands to their trees I did a quick search to see if I could find any modern day examples. I came up with nothing but thought to myself it would be easy to achieve. Simply string some nuts together! The result was prettier and more effective than I could have imagined. You could hang the nut garland on your tree, over a threshold or across your mantelpiece as I have done. The hardest thing is getting the hang of making the holes in the nuts but after you have done a few it starts to come fairly quickly.

Materials you’ll need:

  • assorted nuts in their shells ( I used walnuts, almonds, chestnuts and hazelnuts. Note: I found pecans too hard to drill.)
  • waxed string cut to your desired length with a bit extra for tying knots.
  • a power drill or Dremel with 1/8″ bit.
  • a measuring tape

The Process

  • Using a Dremel or a power drill with an 1/8″ bit (I found the Dremel much easier to use) drill a hole through the centre of each kind of nut. This takes a bit of practice but once you have it down you will be flying through the nuts like a squirrel in Fall. If you can find a crevice or indent to rest the nuts in while you drill it is much easier. Also you will want to drill into a protective surface as the bit will go right through the nut. (I found outside on my deck was a good spot.)
  • With your string cut to your desired length tie a knot at one end and string the first series of nuts into place. If you’re using four different types of nuts start with those four, if using two types of nuts start with two.
  • Next measure approximately how much length your unit of nuts takes up. This will allow you to roughly calculate how many nuts you will need to drill. If your selection of four nuts takes up 6 inches and your string is 60 inches long you will need approximately 40 nuts to complete the garland. (60 divided by 6 = 10 units of four nuts or 40 nuts) Or just drill as you go!
  • Once you have all the nuts drilled simply thread them onto the waxed string. I found the waxed thread was stiff enough on its own but you could make it even easier for yourself by using a needle.
  • Once you have all the nuts in place tie a knot at the other end and voila – you have a nut garland!

This nut garland would be the perfect accompaniment to an all natural Christmas.  I could imagine it surrounded by lots of greenery, orange pomanders, winter red berries and birch trees.

It’s so understated and simple you might just forget to take it down when the holidays are over! What do you think? Is this something you would try?

Project initially conceived for The Globe Style Advisor – Winter Issue.



Filed under you make it

styling a dicken’s christmas


Have you ever read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? I admit I hadn’t until I was asked by The Globe Style Advisor to style a shoot on that very theme. It’s actually quite a quick read and very enjoyable; rich with scenes of Victorian life. As I was going through the text I kept a running list of words that I hoped would inspire me as I gathered ideas and props for the shoot – holly, fog, keys, candles, brown paper parcels, bells, etc. Early on I was shown the direction they were hoping to take the photography – something soft and moody with almost a vintage family snapshot feel. I thought it was absolutely perfect and so different from the majority of Christmas decor shoots you see. It reminds me of being the first one up in the house on Christmas morning – still, quiet and heaving with anticipation of the day’s activities.

One of the things we researched were smaller trees decorated with objectss like nut garlands and bells. I loved the idea of doing a miniature tree and keeping the root ball intact so that it could be replanted later. This is sometimes referred to as a Living Christmas Tree and I think we might give it a try this year.

In Chapter Two of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge watches on as a father and porter laden with parcels wrapped in brown paper are met with “shouts of wonder and delight.” Who doesn’t love the anticipation of opening a wrapped parcel!

One of the ways you can really bring attention to your beautiful and fragile ornaments is to display them as a centre piece on your festive table. An old wooden crate lined with natural raffia or shredded paper is the perfect nesting ground for these delicate pieces. Votive candles (in protective glass) could fill some of the other compartments casting a beautiful light.

Mrs. Cratchit famously delivers the plum pudding all aflame to the table in A Christmas Carol. “Mrs Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in… Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper which smells like a washing-day.”  I was determined to have some sort of reference to a plum pudding in this shoot even if it meant making a quick version of one myself (a good plum pudding should be made months in advance). I was brought up eating plum pudding at every Christmas and remember well Stir Up Sunday, igniting the pudding and singing a rousing chorus of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It’s the essence of Christmas to me.

I imagined that Victorian homes would have been decorated with primarily natural elements. I came across a garland made of bay leaves and pomegranates and decided to give it a try. After sourcing a large quantity of fresh bay leaves I got to work putting this piece together. I’ll have a DIY on this garland in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of DIY’s, I’ll have a quick one on how to make this nut garland on Wednesday. It’s super easy and would look great on your Christmas Tree, strung across your mantel or over a doorway.

By the way, if you’d like to see more from this shoot and the rest of the Globe Style Advisor you can download the issue for free on your ipad.


Images Credits:
Mark Peckmezian
Globe Style Advisor – Winter Issue



Filed under design work, you make it