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How to create a breezy summer space perfect for your home or rental

Bamboo tiered plant stand via Homesense Canada / lightweight throw via  Terrain / Melamine platters via Homesense Canada / Green goblet via Indigo  / Seaweed art via Arminho / Bridgewater lumbar pillow via Tonic Living / SOL rattan daybed via Article / Rollo, Sisal & Shonda pillows via Tonic Living / Casa Cubista Pipoca Rug via Saudade / Tavola dining table via Article / handwoven baskets via Tonic Living / black rattan lantern via Homesense Canada / Pink porcelain serving bowl via Looks Like White for the Jillian Harris x Etsy Summer Collection / Schlage Encode Smart Wifi Deadbolt /

 Do you dream of sneaking away to a cottage or beach house on summer weekends? Me too.

For now, our summer getaway is our backyard or the usual beach house rental in Prince Edward Island. I love the idea of living near the water and having something of my own that I can decorate and enjoy.

I've noticed a bit of trend on Instagram lately where people are buying cottages and beach houses, renovating or refreshing them, and documenting the process on social media. The rentals even have their own social media accounts. So smart.

One of the people I have been following who just finished decorating her little apartment in Portugal is Janine Morrison of Tonic Living. Imagine a little casita on the coast filled with treasures from her shop, as well as, finds from antiquing at nearby markets. It's an alluring prospect, buy a house by the sea, decorate it (fun!) and then rent it out when you're not using it yourself.

I’ve partnered with Schlage Canada to create an inspiration board, and share some tips on how to create a breezy summer space and while thinking about writing this post it occurred to me that the new Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt is the perfect addition to a summer rental. It's easy when you don't have to worry about handing over keys to guests and then collecting them when they leave. Right?

The new Schlage Encode™Smart WiFi Deadbolt connects to your home from anywhere with built-in WiFi. You can pair with either the Schlage Home app or the Key by Amazon app to grant access to trusted friends, family or guests with customized access codes, and you'll know when your lock has been accessed. You won't need an additional hub or accessory.

That definitely makes the prospect of owning a summer rental or sharing your cottage with guests a little less complicated.

For now, a seaside escape/rental is only a dream but that doesn't mean you can't add the feel of summer and all the beachy vibes to your living space, indoors or out. So, here are 10 tips on how to get your home or cottage summer ready plus an inspiration board with some of the summery things on the list for the seaside beach house of my dreams. What's on yours?

Create the feel of indoor-outdoor living

Maybe you are lucky enough to have a screened in porch. That's definitely part of my beach house dreams. We do have a set of double french doors that open wide onto our backyard. I love to throw the doors open and let the fresh air in, it feels amazing and creates an indoor-outdoor vibe. We are looking at replacing our current screen door with a retractable screen that spans the entire width of our doors, so that we can let the air in and keep the bugs out.

Keep your colour scheme light and breezy. 

Swap out your pillow covers and throws for something summery. Cottons and linens feel best. Freshen up decorative accessories like stacks of books and candles with handmade baskets and pretty bowls filled with beach finds like driftwood, shells or my favourite - beach glass.

Keep cool.

Remove heavy rugs and replace with lighter throw rugs or enjoy the coolness of bare floors. I love Casa Cubista's rugs paired with pretty tiled floors.

Add a little green

Tropical plants or even pots of fresh herbs in terracotta pots brings the outside in.  In the summer we move our tropical plants outdoors clustered together on our deck so they can enjoy the sun and heat. Just make sure to move them gradually so it's not a shock to them.

Make summer entertaining easy

Have patio friendly tableware ready to use. Store melamine dishes and acrylic glasses in a covered basket or container so it's easy to grab and go outside. Invest in a spacious, easy care table that you can gather round with friends and family.

Create a cozy reading nook

A daybed seems like a worthy splurge. Imagine curling up with a good book and something to sip? I love this rattan daybed. It seems perfect for a beach house, cottage or breezy porch.

Use natural materials

Cotton, linen, natural woods, jute, clay bowls, rattan and wicker. This says summer to me. So layer in the baskets, rattan trays, terracotta pots and linen pillows.

Lighten up your walls

White or light walls paired with pretty art, photos of beach holidays or shadow boxes displaying collections of shells, beach glass and other summer ephemera is a definite nod to summer.

A keyless entry makes rentals easy.

The new Schlage Encode™Smart WiFi Deadbolt connects to your home from anywhere with built-in WiFi. You can set up to 100 permanent, recurring or temporary lock codes that you can change as you see fit or by sending virtual keys to trusted guests via text or email. It's perfect for a family cottage or a beach house rental.

Light the way.

String patio lights across the porch, stock up on candles and have lanterns ready - a smart portable lighting option.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own.

How to refresh your front porch and garden for spring

Alegheny Outdoor Sconce via Schoolhouse Electric / Verona Craftsman Door via Wayfair Canada / Schlage Sense Deadbolt with Century Trim / Schlage Century Front Door Handle / Boston Fern / Mailbox via Schoolhouse Electric / Watering Can via Homesense Canada / Earth Fired Clay Pots via Terrain / Hedgehog Shoe Cleaner via Schoolhouse Electric / Planter via Terrain / Head Planter / Ora Chair via Article / Welcome Mat via West Elm

Add a little curb appeal with a spring refresh to your front porch and garden.

Front gardens and porches are the first thing that visitors see when they approach a home.

I must admit we hadn’t put too much effort into elevating that experience for passersby. It has been on our must-do list for home renovations but had put it off, planning to eventually tackle it. Our plans included big ticket renovations such as a new porch, stone walkway and a retaining wall. But when an urban critter, likely a neighbourhood skunk, turned our front lawn into a slug buffet and left the lawn looking like we had started an excavation, we knew we had to do something.

But little updates can make a difference. Refreshing the front garden or porch doesn't have to be so overwhelming.

I’ve partnered with Schlage Canada to create an inspiration board, and share some tips on how to tackle your garden and refresh your front porch in a way that that will easily transition from spring to summer.

So, here are 12 ideas on how to refresh your front porch and garden…

Gather inspiration

First, walk through your neighbourhood and snap photos of what appeals to you. Maybe it’s the colour palette, plant species, front door colour or maybe it’s just the mood. Whatever it is, gather those inspiring bits and put them together in some sort of visual format to help paint a better picture.

Choose a palette that works well with your exterior

Whether you're tackling a bigger garden refresh or just filling pots, planters and window boxes, keep in mind the palette and architecture of your home's exterior when choosing plantings and any decorative accessories like urns or pots.  Some garden experts I spoke to said to try to stick to three or four colours when choosing plants.

Start with your porch or doorway

Depending on the size of outdoor space, spring gardening may just include adding a pot of blooms near your front door but why not try to sneak in a grouping of pretty pots spilling over with flowers or greenery. It doesn't take up a lot of space and makes a bigger impact. If you live in the city you might not have much of a front yard or maybe you only have a small terrace. Create the feeling of a garden by grouping a bunch of pots of various sizes together and fill with fragrant herbs or blooms.

Make a statement

Urns or larger pots flanking a doorway or front steps are a great way to make an impact. You can do cheater urns by purchasing ready-made baskets of various sizes that you can pop right into your urn or pot. I sometimes do this with ferns! I buy baskets of hanging ferns and snip off those plastic hangers and voila! instantly pretty.

and remember this - thriller, filler, spiller! 

If you want to diy your urns, a great phrase to remember when choosing plants is thriller, filler, and spiller. First, you want to pick something that adds thrill, drama or a focal point with height in the centre of the urn or pot, that's the thriller.  Then add plants around the thriller that will fill in and add surround and enhance the thriller. Finally, the spillers which spill or trial over the sides of the container add more colour, texture and interest around the edges of the pot.

Add scent

Include fragrant flowers and herbs in your planting, especially the spots where people walk past. Is there anything better than picking up a waft of fresh lavender, mint or thyme as you walk through the front door or past someone's home?

Hanging baskets add colour and soften exteriors

Don't let a lack of floor space for things like big urns stop you, use vertical space to add hanging planters or windowboxes. They add a pop of colour against exterior brick and siding. I love the look of a green and white palette against dark siding.

Keep things simple

Some people like to switch up their urns or window boxes throughout the spring, summer and fall - and that’s fine but if you don’t want to spend the time or money choose plants that will last or continually bloom with just a little deadheading.  Ferns are a great low maintenance choice for larger urns or pots that sit on a porch and they’ll last well into autumn.

Refresh with new decorative pieces

Just like you might swap in a new throw pillow or area rug indoors with a change in seasons, a new doormat, light fixture or mailbox can also freshen up a front entry.


Update your exterior door hardware and locks.

Don't forget about your front door. New hardware can instantly update a door and the new smart lock systems on the market can make getting in and out of the house easy and keyless! With the Schlage Home app you can use Google Assistant to control Schlage smart locks – like the Schlage Sense™ Smart Deadbolt using the Schlage Sense™ Wi-Fi Adapter.

and ... when you are going in an out of the house it's so handy to not have to worry about keys, right?

This is also the time of year to give your front door a fresh coat of paint. I'm tempted to add a little colour to my door this year.

Don't forget a place to sit

If you have the space, include a chair or bench. It adds a welcoming touch to your front door area and a spot to sit and enjoy a summer drink.

Garden planning tips:

Whether you intend to plan your garden or your approach is more casual you will need to know a few things including:

sun exposure – is the space shady or is there sun all day?

soil condition – you can buy a testing kit to see how healthy your soil is.

measurements – it doesn’t have to be precise but having a general idea of the size of the garden will obviously help when you are purchasing plants.

maintenance – how much time do you want to invest in things like watering? If you don't want dedicate too much time to the garden, choose plants that don't require a lot of maintenance.

Besides obsessively watching Monty Don on Netflix, I found lots of great garden inspiration and planning advice online. Pinterest is always a go to for ideas. You can see my Pinterest board with inspiration about front door, porch and garden inspiration here. I also found some helpful garden plans that you can download from Better Homes and Gardens.

Have fun and experiment!

I love how Shannon over at Euclid Farms is experimenting with flower seeds. You can follow her on Instagram and see how her summer experiment scattering seeds in urban spots that need a little gardening love.

West Coast Seeds is a Canadian company that you can order seeds, bulbs etc online.

So, what did we do? 

Well it’s a work in progress. We finished the digging the skunk had started for us by marking out and removing the remaining grass to create large a garden bed. We have done some planting (it looks ten times better) but I’m still researching and shopping for plants to fill the new garden bed. Later in the summer we might get to stage one of the hard-scaping which is the retaining wall. I’m no expert when it comes to gardening, but you don’t have to be. With a little research and by taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your local garden centre you can get started. All the experts remind me that a garden isn’t created over a long weekend, it’s a process. Take the time to learn and experiment a little to find out what works for you and your garden.  I'll be sure to share some photos of our garden process on Instagram.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own.

How to dye Easter eggs naturally using fruit and vegetables

Skip the standard egg dying kit and make your own Easter egg dye using veggies and spices you have in your kitchen.  Natural egg dye is easy and more eco-friendly using vegetables, spices and berries to create just about any colour you want. 

Use these all-natural dye recipes made using ingredients from your pantry to create Easter eggs in pretty, subdued shades of blue, green, pink, yellow and orange. 

We love that it is an eco-friendly alternative that uses natural ingredients without food waste because you can eat eggs free of toxic dyes.

Keep in mind that when dying eggs using all-natural ingredients the results will vary from batch to batch. The end result of the dye will vary depending on the colour of your eggs, how concentrated the dye is, how long the eggs are immersed in the dye and the intensity of the colour of the vegetables that you use. Don't forget that you can try experimenting by double dipping your eggs in multiple dyes to see what colours you can create. We used red and yellow onions, beets, frozen blueberries and turmeric.

*Note: If you plan on eating the hard-boiled eggs please make sure you keep them refrigerated or if you want to keep them indefinitely (and you're patient!) plan on taking the time to blow the yolks out of the egg shells before dyeing.

Step 1: Gather Supplies
  • medium sized pots
  • fine mesh strainer
  • clean, empty glass jars or bowls
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • slotted spoon
  • white vinegar
  • hard boiled white eggs
  • assorted vegetables and spices (red onions, yellow onions, beets, frozen blueberries, and ground turmeric)

Step 2:

Follow each recipe using the ingredients below to create these natural dye colours. Natural dyes can have unexpected results, so don’t be surprised if the colours vary.


Combine 1 cup of frozen blueberries (wild blueberries work best) with 1-cup cold water.  Let the berries defrost and come to room temperature in the water. Mash the berries gently to release their entire colour. Add one tablespoon white vinegar. Remove berries from liquid using a fine mesh strainer.

Remove paper skins from six red onions and simmer in two cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove the skins from the water. Add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. Let cool.

Peachy Pink

Cut one large beet into chunks and add to four cups of boiling water. Stir in two tablespoons of white vinegar. Let cool to room temperature. Remove beets with slotted spoon.


Remove paper skins from six yellow onions and simmer in two cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove the skins from the water. Add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. Let cool.


Add two tablespoons of ground turmeric to two cups of boiling water. Let steep for approximately 20-30 minutes. Add vinegar to the mixture and stir.

Step 3:

Pour the strained, cooled dyes in clean glass jars or bowls. 

 Step 4:

Add cooled hard-boiled eggs to the dyes and let the eggs steep in the dye until desired colour is achieved.

Step 5:

Remove the eggs from the dyes with a slotted spoon and let dry completely. We used a cookie cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any extra drips of dye and let the eggs dry..

You'll end up with really pretty coloured eggs that you can display on your Easter table. Gather the eggs inside a vintage compote or bowl and set in the centre of your table.

... or pop them inside vintage egg cups and display them along the centre of a table or at each place setting.