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Update the front door and porch for fall

Entry door via Wayfair / Atwater Outdoor Wall Sconce via Casa Di Luce / House Number via Schoolhouse / Schlage Encode Smart Wifi Deadbolt via Schlage Canada / Kantha Stitch Throw via Wills & Prior / Padma Pillow in Nutmeg via Tonic Living / Paramount Lantern via Indigo / Simple metal side table via Wills & Prior / Portico Club Chair via Hauser / Camelot Entry Door Handle and Georgian Knob via Schlage Canada / Hostkvall Door Mat via Ikea Canada / Terracotta pot via Lowes / Birch & Eucalyptus Wreath via Wills & Prior /

September is all about transitions - whether it's back to school, work or whatever your post-summer routine consists of. It's that time of year where you might need a light sweater but you're still sporting sandals. Yes, it's still officially summer for another week or so, but with September's subtle shift, autumn is in the air. 

It's a good time to freshen up your front door and porch. But can we leave the pumpkins until October? What's the rush?

A warm, earthy palette that includes natural materials like terracotta, jute, and cosy textiles and touches of black and white, brass and autumn plants has inspired this look. Once again I've partnered with Schlage Canada to share a moodboard including some some tips and ideas on how to freshen up your front door and porch for fall. 

Refresh your planters

By now, your summer planters might be a little tired after the heat of August.  This more moderate weather makes it a great time to replace summer plantings with something that will be happy in cooler temperatures.  A palette that includes rich tones such as purple, burgundy, deep pink and gold will carry you through the fall.  I love the soft purple plumes of purple fountain grass. Instead of a pot of mums, try adding Japanese Anemone, ornamental kale, yarrow, or flowering heather to the porch. Other flowering perennials that add fall colour and have an interesting structure that will add winter interest are globe thistle, sedum autumn joy, grasses, and echinacea purpurea.

...and plan for spring colour

This is the time of year to start planning and buying spring flowering bulbs so you're ready to get planting in October.  Tulips, daffodils, alliums, crocus are often planted a little later in the fall when the soil has cooled. Always check the planting directions so you know when and how to plant and try to plant them in irregular groupings rather than rows so they look more natural. If you do have a problem with squirrels eating your precious tulip bulbs, try planting daffodils near the tulips. 

Update your exterior door hardware and locks

September's mild temperatures make it a great time to take on an outdoor paint project such as painting the front door. But if you don't have time for a paint project, it's easy to give your door a refresh with new door hardware. Schlage Canada offers custom sets - you can pick the style and colour or head to your local Home Depot or Lowes to find the latest styles available. While you're at it, make everyday life easier with a keyless, smart deadbolt lock that you can control and monitor from anywhere. The Schlage Encode is easy to install and get connected - its built-in WiFi connects to your home network, and lets you lock and unlock your door from anywhere using an app on your phone - no more fumbling for the keys! It even lets you send virtual keys to trusted friends and family.

Make it cosy with soft textiles and a place to sit

A comfy chair adds a welcoming touch to your front door and can be a nice spot to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, read a book or chat with the neighbours. Keep a basket with cosy blankets nearby so you can easily grab one on your way out.  Don't forget a soft pillow for added comfort and a pop of colour and personality.  A small table provides a spot to hold your drink.

Refresh with new decorative pieces 

Updating your exterior doesn't have to be a big ticket purchase. A new exterior light fixture, house number, the glow of a lantern, a new door mat or a pretty botanical wreath hung on your door can add a little curb appeal.

Try making your own wreath using flowers and plants like grasses and eucalyptus from the garden. Gather the botanicals and let them dry out before creating a wreath. I leave some flowers such as hydrangeas to dry upright in a vase, while others such as lavender, herbs and thin stemmed flowers are hung upside down in a cool, dry, dark space.

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

The garden shelfie - Create a vertical garden to display garden plants, pots and gardenalia with a diy garden display shelf


 

DIY garden shelf painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Athenian Black and finished with a coat of Chalk Paint Lacquer in matte.

 

The garden isn't just about my love of plants, it's a creative space. 

 I can get lost in my small urban garden for hours, planting, tinkering and thinking about what colour, texture and height I want to add to the garden next. It's also a place that I love to have fun styling and as a collector obsessed with antiques, the garden is another space I can display my collections of plants and gardenalia.

This past winter I came across a Victorian Auricula Theatre I had seen somewhere online. It's a small display shelf that holds a collection of Auriculas (a type of primula) - one of the many flowers that became popular in the Victorian era when gardening became wildly popular in England. 

I decided to create a version of one to display herbs just outside the doors to our small deck. It was an opportunity to add something interesting to a rather dull looking privacy screen. It is also practical as I can step outside my door to access fresh herbs. I think it will be fun to style throughout the seasons.

I've collaborated with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint who provided the paint for this project.

 

A garden shelf painted in a dark shade is a nice contrast to the green plants and terracotta pots. Shelf painted in Athenian Black, table in Olive using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. I like the contrast of the dark paint and the green plants and terracotta pots. I've also been wanting to give this table a fresh coat of paint for awhile (I'm obsessed with the Olive green!) and I really do love how easy it is to paint furniture with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. But I had never thought of painting outdoor furniture, and a fence! Chalk Paint Lacquer is a finishing product that protects painted surfaces from the elements. It's a water-based polyacrylic varnish with built in UV protection. 

This is a before photo.

 

Before photo of the plain privacy screen and vintage enamel top table in need of a facelift.

Here's how we did it.

First we cleaned the privacy screen. Although you don't really need to prep too much with Chalk Paint, we gave the screen a light sanding to remove any rough edges or debris.


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Athenian Black.

The paint went on very easily. I only did one coat and a few touch ups.

 

After painting the screen, we left it to dry for a few days before applying a coat of Chalk Paint Laquer


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Lacquer in clear matte.

 

Then we painted the old table using Olive with a finishing coat of the Chalk Paint Lacquer. I've been wanting to paint something green for awhile. I love the colour. 


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Olive.


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Olive.


The garden shelf was built using what we could get our hands on at a local building supplies store. Wood has been hard to get.  My husband John used a simple knotty pine which we knew was going to be painted so it didn't really matter what kind of wood we used. It's just a simple 4 foot x 4 foot shelf with 16" between each shelf. 

Since this shelf will be outdoors, we painted and finished it with Chalk Paint Lacquer before assembling the shelf. That way it is completely sealed and better protected from the elements.

DIY garden shelf and upcycled table turned potting bench. Shelf painted Athenian Black and table in Olive with Annie Sloan Paint.

 

I'm really pleased with how this turned out. It's a great spot to display herbs and I also use it as another potting bench. 

 

A garden shelf is a great way to have fun styling your garden with your favourite pottery, plants and seasonal items. I love how it looks painted dark with Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Athenian Black.







City Walks - Where to go and what to pack on your next urban hike

Arc'teryx Codetta Cinch Coat / Tretorn Nylite Gingam Sneaker via Heelboy / Baggu Duck Bag in Adobe via Indigo / Matt & Nat Isla Sunglasses via Indigo / Herbarium Pocket Notebook & Olive Le Pen via The Paper Place / Saje Peppermint Halo / Province Apothecary Lip balm via Well.ca / Dr. Bronner Lavender Hand Sanitizer via Well.ca / Drunk Elephant Tinted Sunscreen via Sephora / RXBar via Well.ca / Swell Calacatta Gold Water bottle via Indigo / Nomad Alto Travel Mug via Nespresso.ca / Field Guide to Ontario Birds via Urban Nature Store /
 

We're lucky to live in a vibrant city with lots of green space - parks, ravines, trails, waterfront and neighbourhoods to explore. Although I sometimes envy those who have cottages and country homes to "escape", living in the city, especially now during the pandemic, has meant we've spent many weekends exploring the amazing urban nature scene in Toronto.

With the first long weekend of the spring arriving this weekend, I thought I'd share a list of places that you can explore. I've been to most of these spots but there are one or two I still plan to visit - Guild Park and Glen Stuart Ravine. 

When we hit the road, along with a few urban hiking essentials, we've also been bringing along a small snacky picnic. It's nice to rest for a while so we find a quiet spot and picnic. Now that the weather's warmed up I also bring an iced coffee (iced Arpeggio from Nespresso is my favourite) in this handy travel mug for the road. 

As I'm writing this, rain is in the forecast for Toronto this weekend so I'll definitely be packing a light rain jacket to keep me dry. I've had my eye on this Gore-tex coat from Arc'teryx - it's perfect for the city!

Here's what you'll find in my tote bag when we head out for a walk in the city. 

  • A light raincoat - love this one because it's waterproof and light!
  • Comfy walking shoes are essential. I like these gingham sneakers from my favourite shoe store, Heelboy
  • A coffee for the car ride - iced these days in a travel mug perfect for summer drinks
  • Hand sanitizer, lip balm and Peppermint halo oil and sunglasses are always in my purse or tote! 
  • A water bottle - love the Swell bottles because they keep my water icy cold.
  • Sunscreen - I have this one from Sephora in my basket.
  • A notebook and pen for ideas or inspiration that might strike. I'm old school that way.
  • A field guide is fun. Birding has become quite popular and there are some great areas to bird watch in Toronto including Tommy Thompson Park. 

There are lots of great apps that you can download for walks including history on different neighbourhoods in the city. The City of Toronto's Urban Walks page is a great resource for finding walking tours that focus on architecture, nature, history, culture and more. One app to try is GPS My City - it lets you create your own walks or explore 13 self-guided walk in Toronto. 

There are lots of great locations to explore in Toronto. One of my favourites is East Point Park. It's on the eastern edge of Scarborough and the Scarborough Bluffs. It's a bit of a drive for us in the west end, but it's worth it. There are kilometres of natural shoreline to explore, it's stunning. 

 

East Point Park & Shoreline


 At the foot of Leslie Street is Tommy Thompson Park aka The Leslie Street Spit. It's a great spot for birding and has a great view of the city skyline. 

Tommy Thompson Park - Winter 2021

Closer to home for me at least is High Park. We're so lucky to live just steps away from this large urban park!


Again, just steps away is the Humber River Trail

Humber River Trail, Autumn 2020

Here's a list of places to explore by foot in Toronto this spring.

  • Evergreen Brickworks
  • The Beach
  • Glen Stuart Ravine
  • Cedarvale Ravine
  • High Park
  • Humber River Trail
  • East Point Park
  • Tommy Thompson Park
  • Toronto Islands
  • Edward's Gardens
  • Guild Park