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Welcome Autumn - Freshen up your front door & porch for Fall

Work worn wood by Magnolia Paint on door / Hinkley Outdoor Porter Fixture via Living Lighting / Schlage Encode Smart Deadbolt Lock with Camelot Trim in Aged Bronze via Schlage Canada / Billy Knit Throw via Tonic Living / Toulousse Chair via Article / Reclaimed Teak Occiasional Stool via Hauser / Mums via Rona / Terracotta outdoor lantern via Homesense Canada / Schlage Custom Century front door handle and Eller Lever with Kinsler Trim via Schlage Canada / Black Crescendo Planter via Home Depot Canada / Purple Fountain Grass via Lowes / Ciao Door Mat via Wills & Prior / Pumpkins via Loblaws / Copper Mailbox via Copper Design on Etsy  / Black and White Number Sign via Schoolhouse / Eucalyptus Wreath via Wills and Prior /


A new school year has always been the time for fresh starts in my books, and this year with all the time we've spent at home, I've found that making small changes, little refreshes, makes a difference - not just for the curb appeal but to my state of mind. All this time spent at home has meant that many of us are looking for ways to add a little oomph to our homes and giving the front porch a little refresh can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to do that. 

I'm drawn to a warm, earthy palette that includes natural materials with hits of black and white. I love terracotta, copper, brass, wood and plants. Which is what has inspired this mood board that I've partnered partnered with Schlage Canada to create, and share some tips and ideas on how to freshen up your front porch for Fall.

Gather ideas and start planning

A walk through your neighbourhood might be a good place to start for a little inspiration - especially when it comes to garden design. I love to use Pinterest to gather ideas. It's a great virtual pin-board of ideas and inspiration. You can take a look at my board for Entryways and Porches here.


You can make a big impact with a fresh coat of paint on the front door and these cooler temperatures make it a perfect time to take on an exterior painting project. I love Magnolia Paint's Work Worn Wood - a warm terracotta colour with a touch of pink. A good match to this might be Audubon Russet or Georgian Brick from Benjamin Moore although I'm viewing the colours online so always check in store paint swatches and samples.

Update your exterior door hardware and locks

Consider switching out dated hardware for something new like a keyless smart deadbolt lock like the Schlage Encode with built-in WiFi. New hardware can instantly update a door and the new smart lock systems on the market can make getting in and out of your house easy and keyless! The Encode lets you unlock your door using an app on your phone. I love that it's one less thing to juggle as you're walking in the front door. The Encode also allows you to create different access codes for trusted friends and family and lets you lock or unlock your door from anywhere, using the app. No additional hub or accessory is required and it's easy to install.

Lay out a welcome mat

Greet visitors with a new welcome mat just outside your front door. It's a great inexpensive pick-me-up for your entry that you can have a little fun with all the great designs available and if you can't find what you want, make your own. Pick up a plain coir mat, a stencil and a can of spray paint and customize your own welcome mat.

Refresh your planters

Now's a great time to replace summer plantings in urns with something that can handle cooler temperatures.  Purple fountain grass is one of my favourites. I love the soft purple plumes. They look great with some under-planting, perhaps flowering cabbage, mums. Of course, you can always pick up a pre-made planter at a local garden centre or even the grocery store. I love the look of  pots of mums and when you feel ready, add a few pumpkins in to the mix.

and plant for spring colour

This is the time of year to plant spring flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, alliums, crocus are planted in the fall when the soil has cooled. Check the product packaging to see when it blooms and make sure the bulbs are firm, not soft. Most bulbs will need sun, so be sure to plant in the right spot. 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.

A place to sit

If space allows, include a chair or bench. It adds a welcoming touch to your front door and can be a nice spot to sit and chat with neighbbours. Keep a basket with cosy blankets nearby so you can easily grab one on your way out.  Don't forget a small table - you need something to hold your coffee or wine.

Refresh with new decorative pieces

A new exterior light fixture, mailbox, house number, lantern or pretty wreath can also freshen up your entry. If you have room for a bench or porch swing (swoon!) add in some accessories such as outdoor throw pillows and blankets to make it cosy.

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


The Armchair Traveller: Add a little French market style to the kitchen

Williams Ceramic Pendant via Wills & Prior / Printable vintage seascape painting via Heirloom Print Shop / Woven blue stripe tea towel and brass towel bar via June Home Supply / Porcelain absinthe dish via Home Smith / Duralex Provence tumbler via Cookery / Savon de Marseille soap via Pretty Clean Shop / Le Parfair Canning Jar via The Gourmet Warehouse / Pot brush via Cookery / French Butter Croissants via Nadege Patisserie / Acacia Cutting board via Rug & Weave / The Cook's Atelier via Indigo / French Market Bag via Wills & Prior / No. 14 Chair via Ton Canada / French kitchen Marble mortar and pestle via Crate & Barrel Canada / Dried Lavender Bouquet via Lemon and Lavender

Do you miss travelling?  I do. Although we didn't have any big trips planned this summer, we were hoping to head east to Prince Edward Island. That will have to wait for next summer. But that doesn't mean I'm not dreaming of our next trip.

Sometimes adding a few special touches to our homes can help transport us somewhere we've been daydreaming about visiting. So, I thought it would be fun to start a new series on the blog that I'm calling The Armchair Traveller - featuring ideas for imbuing a little style from the places we'd like to visit.

I'm starting in the kitchen - a French kitchen to be precise.

The style is a mix of French cafe + a wander through a French market. Maybe the only market you'll be visiting this summer is a local antique market - but you can stash your face mask and hand sanitizer in a pretty market bag so you're ready to scout the stalls for fabulous French inspired finds. Keep an eye out for marble pastry boards, vintage Duralex tumblers, baskets, cafe au lait bowls, as well as old paintings or prints you can frame.

If you prefer to shop online, you can take a virtual shopping trip to France by way of Etsy, which features lots of French-based shops that ship to Canada.  There are lots of great local Instagram shops that sell vintage finds too. Lately, I've spotted lots of great finds including marble, stoneware crocks and bottles, linens, and art. I recently bought some vintage Le Parfait canning jars from Instagram seller @jolie.tte . Another favourite to browse is ( @Shop.Beazley ) or real brick and mortar shops that also sell online like Wills & Prior, Home Smith, Cookery (which is opening another location in my neighbourhood, Bloor West Village), to name a few.

Adding a little French style doesn't have to cost a lot. Duralex Provence Tumblers and Picardie glasses start at around $4 at Cookery and can sometimes be found at antique markets or thrift shops, a block of Savon de Marseille soap set in a vintage dish on your counter looks great and is a French kitchen staple for about $15 at Pretty Clean Shop. Spruce up a room with a bouquet of dried lavender or download some printable landscape art from Etsy shop Heirloom Print Shop for about $8.

Eat and drink French. Pick up some fresh croissants from a local bakery, make yourself a latte and sit back and dream of your next French getaway. Treat yourself to a new cookbook and travel to France  - bake some Madeleines, mix yourself a cocktail - David Lebovitz's Drinking French should inspire, or transport yourself to the village of Beaune, France via mother-daughter duo Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini's beautiful book The Cook's Atelier.

There are lots of great apps and websites that let you explore a place virtually and even visit museums. The Google Arts and Culture Project lets you explore collections at Museums and other cultural spots around the world including the Musee d'Orsay and The Eiffel Tower. Now, if only someone would develop a virtual tour of some of the well-known Marché aux Puces (French antique markets).

An urban backyard getaway + smart security for the Garage with Schlage Encode

Jim and Tonya added vibrant art and colour to the garage. Door painted Electron Blue AE-44 Semi-gloss enamel by Behr. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

After Jim and Tonya Norton (my brother and sister-in-law) finished renovating their Toronto home they embarked on a large scale backyard transformation that also included tearing down an old garage to build something that would fit with the modern aesthetic of their home.

"Our backyard is our escape from the city," says Jim and Tonya who live in Toronto's leafy Christie Pits neighbourhood. "It’s quiet, comfy and secluded, in an area where space can be a real premium. The garage is an extension of our backyard. It’s functional for vehicle storage, but also for winter storage of outdoor furniture etc."

The couple hired Earth Inc. to transform their backyard which includes multiple levels and construction of a new garage.  Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Artist Monica Wickeler ( @monicaonthemoon on Instagram) was commissioned to paint the garage door and now it's the perfect backdrop for this urban space. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Although Jim and Tonya enjoy gardening, with their two dogs running around (including Falki shown here and Jiggs) grass can take a beating, so they chose to go with a synthetic lawn. Now all they have to do is hose it down and give it a rake to keep it looking sharp.

The backyard is ideal for entertaining and the garage is a great multi-purpose space. Not only a practical utility space - housing garden tools and a maintenance panel for the irrigation system, but also additional indoor/outdoor entertaining space to set up a bar or food area when having friends over.

"It ended up being a great covered indoor space for food/bar, since we have a garage door opening up into the backyard space - which really worked out when we hosted a backyard concert a few years ago."

The couple came up with the idea of installing a smart lock on the garage door so that they could have easy, key-less access to the garage.

"Obviously for security we keep the door locked, but it's nice to not always have to carry the keys around," says Jim, a Toronto based photographer and director.

So, they installed Schlage's Encode - a smart, WiFi deadbolt with Century trim and the Latitude lever in matte black finish  - and they say that the clean, minimalist style is a perfect fit and was easy to install.  "It only took about 30 minutes. It would have been even less time to install but I had to drill the existing hole which was a little bit tight, but other than that the only other tool I needed was a screwdriver."

Installing the Encode lock has made access simpler and more secure. "We don't need to carry a key for access anymore, and the beefed up deadbolt definitely makes it more secure," says Norton.  "If I've mindlessly left the garage unlocked (which I did a lot before) then the app tells me it's still unlocked. So, I can either lock it remotely or if the door has been left open, I know I should go close it  - so the raccoons don't move in. Another nice feature is that I can remotely unlock the door if required ... like if a neighbour needs to borrow something and if the door gets unlocked, I know.. it's nice to have that added level of security."

Here's how to install the Schlage Encode...

Step 1: Remove old lever and lock. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 2: Install the bolt and strike reinforcement plate. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Step 3: Install Encode deadbolt touchscreen, backplate and follow directions to connect the cable. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

That's pretty much it. Schlage Canada has easy-to-follow instructions online. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Now that the lock is installed Jim and Tonya can use an app on their phones to lock and unlock the door from anywhere and add user codes for anyone who might need access to the garage. Photo courtesy of Jim Norton Photography.

Inspired by Jim and Tonya's backyard, I've created a moodboard with ideas about how to create a backyard getaway to enjoy all summer and well into autumn - because let's face it, we'll be living and entertaining alfresco for as long as we can.

Kawartha Umbrella via Hauser / Quadra Privacy Screen via Hauser / Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt and Schlage Custom Latitude lever with Century Trim in Matte Black via Schlage Canada / Faux plant via Homesense Canada / Permasteel Patio Cooler via Home Depot Canada / Rattan lantern via Homesense Canada / Ooni Karu Pizza Oven via Spruce Toronto / Gloster Dansk End Table via Hauser / Professor's Negroni via Dillon's / Acrylic glass via West Elm / Glucksteinhome Fringed Turkish Hammam Towel via Hudson's BayTosca Chaise Lounge via InsideOut Patio Furniture / Zanzibar Outdoor Pillow via Tonic Living

  • Make eating alfresco fun and easy with a pizza oven and a cooler filled with your favourite bevvies. I can attest to the delicious pizza that comes out of this oven by Ooni. It's on my wishlist!
  • Have throw blankets at hand for when evenings get cooler. 
  • If privacy is an issue, think about adding a privacy screen. I like how these ones from Hauser can be moved around.
  • String patio lights and set out lanterns to add light and instant ambiance once the sun sets.
  • Comfy, easy care seating means you won't have to store bulky cushions - just add a few outdoor throw pillows to soften things up.
  • Smart locks aren't just for the front door - the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi deadbolt makes sense on a garage or shed door, and means no more keys!

Disclosure: I've partnered with Schlage Canada in this sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own or that of the featured homeowners.

Photos courtesy of Jim Norton Photography