Houses

Posts about sustainable design, architecture, interior design and home decor.


Outdoor Home Staging Tips

Home Staging Tips by Of Houses and Trees | When it comes to selling, your outdoor spaces need to be just as beautiful as your indoor spaces. Here are a few home staging tips focusing on the yard.Whoa guys. The possibility of us building our Real Life Home next year is actually pretty high. Like already picked out our appliances high. Not that there isn't a chance it won't work out because, hello, construction be crazy. But I am allowing myself to feel slightly excited. Not that I'll end up brokenhearted if it doesn't happen. I love our current house and staying here another year or two certainly wouldn't be the end of the world. But we have been planning to build and move to the land for six years now. We've kind of reached the "if we're going to do this, then let's do it already" point.

Which is why Devin and I are preparing our current home for sale even though we likely won't list for another six months or so. Because we're the kind of people that like to be ready. Although I'm thinking selling the home you've lived in for ten years and building a new house is somewhat akin to having a new baby. You're never quite ready and when it happens you are both filled with extreme joy and deep, deep terror. But maybe that's just me being melodramatic.

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Eco-Friendly Lighting and Accessories

Eco-Friendly Lighting by Of Houses and Trees | Nowadays, you can find eco-friendly lighting fixtures that are made of recycled materials, as well cool accessories like LED Edison bulbs.Lighting is one of my favourite aspects of home design and decor. Even before I had a home to decorate, I would always end up in the lighting aisle every time I went to a big box store. Like a bug to a flame - or to a wrought-iron chandelier, the lights just called to me.

I've also always been really sensitive to lighting levels and associate certain lights with certain tasks only. I'm constantly going around the house at night turning specific lights on and off depending on what I'm doing and how I'm feeling and have even found myself adjusting lights while in the homes of others because it's too bright/not bright enough/a certain light is really getting under my skin. (As an aside, I recently found out that being ultra sensitive to light is a characteristic of a highly sensitive person - which is actually a thing and I very much am one.)

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Eco-Friendly Building Material Magnesium Oxide Board

August 20, 2017

Eco Friendly Drywall Alternative by Of Houses and Trees | Magnesium oxide board is an eco-friendly drywall alternative made with naturally-occurring materials using an environmentally friendly process.
(Image Credit: Thalas Industry)

Aside from Of Houses and Trees, I also write content for a few other architecturally-minded blogs. One subject I've written quite a bit about lately is the building material magnesium oxide board (MgO board). If you've never heard of it, it's essentially an eco-friendly drywall alternative. And, of course, as soon as I see the phrase "eco-friendly alternative" I get all giddy and start geeking out. It looks like we're going to build our Real Life Home next spring. (Fingers crossed!) And I absolutely want to use as many green materials as possible. Not only are environmentally friendly materials good for the planet, but they're also good for you and your family as they tend to release little to no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into your home nor other narsty chemicals. (Did you know synthetic drywall contains formaldehyde? Yuck.)

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How to Keep Your House (Mostly) Clean with Kids

August 9, 2017

Cleaning Tips by Of Houses and Trees | Have children? Find it impossible to keep your house clean? Me too! But I have figured out how to keep my home "mostly clean." Here are my cleaning tips!One of my personal mottos is "a clean home equals a clean mind." I probably ripped that off from some cult leader or something, but if I did - man that's one persuasive cult leader. Because I cannot function properly when my house is a mess.

Before I had my daughters, I prided myself on a spick and span home. A place where you could confidently eat off the floors. Now that I have children, I pride myself on a clean home even more. Because, dudes, it can be really hard to keep your home clean with kids.

Not that I'm remotely saying individuals without children don't have busy lives that leave little room for cleaning. But the difference is when you don't have kids and you clean your home - it tends to stay clean. Sometimes for an ENTIRE DAY.

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5 of Canada's Most Sustainable Buildings

July 1, 2017

Sustainable Building by Of Houses and Trees | To mark Canada's 150th birthday, here's a list of five green buildings - because our growing sustainable building industry is worth celebrating too.Happy 150th birthday Canada! To celebrate our country's milestone, I've put together a list of a few of its most eco-friendly buildings. As far as green countries go, Canada certainly isn't at the top of the list. But with our government's shifting priorities and increased public awareness about the impact of unsustainable choices, architects are now designing buildings with the environment in mind.

Interestingly, the current trend in sustainable building isn't designing structures filled with fancy green technology. Instead it's about creating smart buildings that don't need all the bells and whistles. Orientation, amount and quality of windows, square footage and types of materials are all current focuses in sustainable building. So here is a sampling of some of the greenest buildings in Canada. May they be an inspiration to us all!

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3 Small Home Library Ideas

May 22, 2017

Small Home Library by Of Houses and Trees | Do you dream of a massive, multi-storied library? Me too! Do you have nowhere near the space? Me too. So try one of these small home library ideas instead.Do you dream of a massive, multi-storied, spectacular Beauty and the Beast style library? Me too! Do you have nowhere near the space nor the books (not to mention the funds) to create one? Me too.

No surprise being a writer and a bibliophile that I think about books a lot. I especially like to dream of the library I've included in my design for our Real Life Home. It will be a teeny bit more modest than the one pictured below, but definitely better organized.

Mine will also have one wall of floor to ceiling built-ins with a sliding ladder. Because every house with two small children needs a climbable moving object, am I right?

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Eco-Friendly Outdoor Decor

May 3, 2017

Eco-Friendly Outdoor Decor by Of Houses and Trees | The most important place in your home to be eco-friendly isn't even in your home. It's outside! Here are nine green outdoor decor items to make earth smile.Ah... spring. Time to throw open the doors, get out the patio furniture and bask in the loveliness of blooming flowers and happily chirping birds. Or, if you live where I do, continue to hide indoors as it snows day after day after day. Which pretty accurately describes the month of April here. Now it's May and the snow might be gone again - you'd think we'd be safe. But, in Alberta, we're never really safe. From tsunamis? Yes. Spring snow storms? Hell no.

C'est la vie. Let's get outside when we can and stare at our beautiful backyards covered in snow through the windows the rest of the time. If your backyard isn't quite beautiful yet, I've unearthed a few green outdoor decor items to get it there. All of these items were created with the environment in mind, meaning they are made out of recycled, reclaimed, energy-efficient or natural materials.

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Your Top 5 Favourite Posts

March 31, 2017

Favourite Blog Posts by Of Houses and Trees | Happy anniversary to me and Of Houses and Trees! Here are the top five favourite blog posts that received the most visits since March 31, 2016.Happy anniversary to me! Well, to me and Of Houses and Trees that is. It's been one year today since I redesigned and relaunched my little blog at ofhousesandtrees.com and boy have I learned a lot in those 365 days. (I also had a second child within that timeframe, which is sort of a big deal.) Technically Of Houses and Trees (nickname - OHaT) will be five years old on October 19 of this year because that's when I officially started posting on my Blogger site.

Back then, I secretly hoped people would stumble upon it, read it, love it, yet I really didn't do anything to draw them in and for the most part just blogged for myself. I still do that, but now I also blog for you!

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What's Your Home Decor Style

March 12, 2017

What's Your Home Decor Style by Of Houses and Trees | Is your home decor style Coastal or Contemporary? Scandinavian or Shabby Chic? Art Deco, Industrial, Mid-Century Modern, Traditional?Are you Coastal or Contemporary? Scandinavian or Shabby Chic? Art Deco, Industrial, Mid-Century Modern, Traditional? Or, maybe, you have no clue. Don't feel bad, neither did I... until recently.

Here's my secret. Two years studying interior design and architecture and five years working in an architect's office and yet my knowledge of design terminology was pretty limited. My school didn't offer a "Decor Style 101" class and due to the nature of most of the buildings I worked on at the architect's office, any design boards I made up were strictly Commercial Not-So-Chic. I got the jist of most of the terms, but to confidently use them in a sentence to describe either my own or someone else's home decor style? Not so much.

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2017 Resolution: Do Less

January 19, 2017

2017 Resolution: Do Less | www.ofhousesandtrees.comHi. My name is Larissa and I am a chronic over-doer. Aren't most of us though? The thing is - doing stuff makes me happy. I like cooking and cleaning. I like taking my kids to the park. I like going to yoga and dance class. I like hanging out on the couch talking to Devin for hours because we're too tired to go to bed. I like working. I like running errands and going to appointments and grocery shopping and visiting with friends and family and gardening and organizing my basement and doing crafts and working out and - of course - blogging. But the older I get (and the more kids I have... man those little buggers are time consuming) the more I've begun to realize I can't do it all. Gulp. There's that word. Can't...

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Happy Holidays 2016

December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays 2016 | www.ofhousesandtrees.com

Instead of a Holiday Home Tour this year I present to you a photo of my family, because every once and awhile I like to break my own rule and post a picture of my kids online... which kind of creeps me out, but for you? I'll do it. (Actually, I do it because they are just so damn precious I'll explode if I don't share their beautiful faces approximately once a year.) PS - This photo was taken out on our land!

I have about five posts partially composed that I've been meaning to finish up and just haven't gotten around to, but I'm going to be frank here - 2016 has been kind of rough on me. An amazing year that brought many moments of pure joy, but also brought some really low moments that I won't get into because those of you who know me best are already aware. Besides - it's Christmas!

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Much Ado About Edison Lightbulbs

April 23, 2016

Much Ado About Edison Lightbulbs
(Image Credit: Pexels)

I recently wrote an article for the local newspaper about the various types of lightbulbs (CFL, halogen, incandescent, LED, etc.) and I think I may have stumbled upon a dark side to this light topic (see what I did just there... that's the old honours degree hard at work, friends).

You know those antique-y looking lightbulbs that are kind of a thing right now? These vintage reproductions are sometimes called Edison bulbs after electric bulb "inventor" Thomas Edison (I use the scare quotes because apparently there were 22 other inventors prior to Edison, his incandescent lamp was just the most effective).

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Holiday Home Tour 2015

December 23, 2015

Holiday Home Tour 2015

Several of the blogs I read do a "Holiday Home Tour" every year where they basically take pictures of their Christmas decorations and then talk a little about the things they do to make their house feel all cozy and shit.

This practice may sound a bit self indulgent to some, but I actually quite enjoy it. It's nice being invited into someone's home to learn a little about the things they do and traditions they have that make their little corner of the world festive – even if I was only invited in a virtual sense.

I am by no means a nosy person – except for when it comes to seeing what the inside of people's homes look like.

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The Architecture of American Houses

August 26, 2015

The Architecture of American Houses
(Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures)

And now for an Of Houses and Trees first… a short post! Think it can't be done? Well, I'll show you. I'll show you all…

I came across the below poster awhile back and knew I had to share it here in honour of my "The Houses in Which We Live" series. I'm not really a poster person (anymore, I should say, because lord knows many a 90s heartthrob once lined the walls of my forest green bedroom), but if I still were I would order this one up pronto as it combines several things that I love: architecture, history and tiny versions of things. It also reminds me of The Cat's Meow Village, which are these little handmade wooden collectibles featuring everything from period homes to monuments to signposts (I'm looking at the one of a Golden Gate Bridge sign sitting on my desk as I type this).

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The Town with the Painted Past

April 1, 2015

The Town with the Painted Past
(Image Credit: The Town of Stony Plain)

Here I go again. My second attempt at this post, which was sadly lost during a Tiny House Nation marathon. In my last entry I put up a few images of our recent family trip to Maui and, I don't know about everyone else, but nothing makes me appreciate home more than when I'm away from it. Don't get me wrong, Hawaii was beautiful. Stunning. It makes our half-melted snow and sand-covered roads look, well, like half-melted snow and sand-covered roads. But I was probably more excited to come home than I was to leave. That may have had something to do with the very squawky 18 month old we had in tow. My daughter is a lot of things – smart, fun, sweet, adorable. But adaptable? Not so much.

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Mahalo Back Girl

March 25, 2015

Maui Family Vacation by Of Houses and Trees | Pictures of my recent Maui family vacation! These have nothing to do with houses or trees, but nobody will care because Hawaii is so effin beautiful.

An epic failure has occurred over here at Of Houses and Trees, folks, and my heart is a-broken. I probably put a good two to three hours into a post about my favourite locally-owned Stony Plain home decor stores and – right as it was ready to be posted – Safari crashed and only a fraction of the entry saved.

The ironic part (using ironic in the Alanis Morrisette way and not in the I have an English degree and thus know better way) is that Safari crashed because I was trying to watch episodes of my new obsession, Tiny House Nation, online for free. Oh, how I love that show, but the loss of my post is a heavy price to pay. And honestly, I'm too depressed about the whole thing to rewrite it at the moment. Maybe another day

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How To Incorporate Tiny House Living Into Any Home

February 12, 2015

How to Incorporate Tiny House Living Into Any Home by Of Houses and Trees | A tiny home may not be in your future, but what about a tinier, simpler life? Here are a few things we can all learn from the tiny house living movement.
(Image Credit: Flickr / Pixabay)

I've been infatuated with tiny house living since the moment I heard about it. Not surprising since I've always had a love-on for the little. There was the plastic toy toilet I used to hide from my sister as a child (I didn't want to share). And the miniature potbelly pig I desperately wanted for a pet as a teenager. I've been cultivating my weird obsession with tiny versions of full-sized things my whole life. And now, here is a movement that not only bolsters one of my many eccentricities – it also validates it. Because tiny houses aren't just adorable, they could save the planet too.

A tiny home is 500 square feet or less, although I've read about people building homes as itsy bitsy as 96 square feet (about the size of a smallish bedroom). Did I mention the average Canadian home currently sits at around 1,900? So… what are we doing with the extra 1,400 square feet? Why, filling it with stuff, of course!

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Cruelty-Free Duvet Options

January 19, 2015

Vegan Bedding by Of Houses and Trees | What goes into collecting the down or silk used for duvet fill? The story isn't pretty, but thankfully vegan bedding is a readily available option.
(Image Credit: Wikimedia)

Back when I was redesigning our master bedroom, I had a hard time answering a kind of silly question. Do I want a duvet? Now, is it important whether we fall asleep beneath a duvet, a quilt, a comforter, or a pile of dirty clothing? No. Of course not. What's important is that we fall asleep in a warm home in a safe neighbourhood where our biggest problem is what type of bedding to buy. I know this. However, there is a dark side to everything – even blankets. Impossible, you say? Read on…

My original reason for not wanting a duvet was that they're lumpy. No, that's not the dark part. I'm still getting there. Every duvet I've encountered in the past wouldn't lay flat and what's the point of making your bed if it looks like there's a bunch of turtles hiding beneath the covers? (Ummm, I love turtles so that would actually be awesome.) I also tend to like myself a heavier blanket to help calm my wiggly legs and duvets are pretty fluffy.

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Of House and Trees Blogger Archive

Of Houses and Trees Blogger Archive
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

If you're looking for my older posts (or just trying to navigate away from this site and over to Pinterest... you know, where the real magic happens) they are currently still hanging out on my old Blogger site. After much trial and error, it turns out the best way to import my previous posts to my new site is to do so manually. As in reconstructing them one at a time. Good thing I wasn't a very prolific poster in those days as it is time consuming work! So the old posts will be gradually moseying their way over to their new home on the new and improved Of Houses and Trees site, but in the meantime try and drop by to say hello – even blog posts get lonely in their old age.

And while you're there don't forget to comment as your lovely and thoughtful words will be imported with each post...

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