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Quebec Retreat part 1: The Bedrooms

Today I woke up to find the summer edition of Ottawa at Home magazine tucked in my newspaper and inside was a spread on my clients cottage in Quebec. It was exciting for two reason A: because it is featured in the magazine and B: because I can now share my own portfolio pics of this beautiful cottage on Lac Desormeaux in Quebec Canada.
There are a lot of great shots of this cottage taken by Charlene Burnside Photography so I thought I would spread it into 3 blog posts and kicking it off is the bedrooms.

Editor Mary Taggart asked me a few questions regarding cottage Decor…..

 I have always loved the idea of cottages where the bedrooms are described by colour, each one has its own personality.



The Grey Guest Bedroom

This bedroom started out with one key piece, the grey dresser I found while on my summer holidays at the cottage shopping in Renfrew Canada. Like any good design, it is usually one piece that kicks start a project and each step from there on an extension of that piece. I almost always like to throw a vintage piece of furniture in my designs, it gives the rooms more character and depth. In cottages, you can go crazy with antiques but I prefer to mix it up with vintage, modern, new and refurbished pieces.

The Green Guest Bedroom


For the green guest bedroom, I again bought the dresser first. The dresser came from the clearance section at HomeSense. I already had the colour scheme planned and had decided to make the POP colour in the room a vibrant pencil green what better way to make a statement than to use that key colour in one large piece of furniture! I then bought the two small beds on Kijiji; they were the old brass style bed, but I then painted them a flat black.


The Blue Master bedroom


The main floor of this cottage was designed with different hues of blue, and because the master bedroom was the only bedroom on the main floor, I decided early that it would be blue to keep the flow throughout the main areas. I had a white dresser chosen at Pottery barn but then went with another HomeSense dresser and had it painted white; it helped with keeping the cost down yet still looked fabulous.


All photography by the lovely Charlene Burnside of Charlene Burnside Photography.


Join me next week when we take a look at the Kitchen & Living room area.

Congrats on having your design featured in Ottawa at Home Magazine! What a gorgeous space you created! Truly stunning. I’m going to pin a bunch of the pictures for inspiration.

Betty Tobin

Beautiful…can’t wait to see the kitchen and living room! Congrats to Charlene Burnside for the great pics!


Beautifully done,as always.

[...] I mentioned in my previous posts Part 1 and Part 2, The main area is open concept and somewhat small. When you are dealing with three main [...]


Walk down memory lane…

With the excitement of my clients Quebec cottage featured in Ottawa at Home Magazine hitting the newsstands June 28th, I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane to the photo shoot of my home (Designer at Home) and my clients cottage on the Big Rideau in the fall of 2010 issue!


My Home in Ottawa at Home Magazine featured as Designer at Home 2010.


Ottawa at Home: Photo credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron


Ottawa at Home: Photo credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Marl Holleron



My Clients cottage as featured in 2010 of Ottawa at Home magazine. I was thrilled to have this cottage make the cover.

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron


Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit mark Holleron

Ottawa at Home: Photo Credit Mark Holleron




I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me; it is such an honour being recognized for the work that you do and to see it come alive in print.

Keep your eye out for me on the pages of Ottawa at Home summer issue coming out June 28th!









Congratulations on being published! The photos look great, you’ve done a wonderful job!


The Chateau de Versailles

While on a recent vacation in France, my husband and I enjoyed a day trip to The Chateau de Versailles. With both us being in the trade (Designer and Contractor) we were in awe of the architecture and design of this incredible space. From the palace to the French gardens and onward to The Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s estate, her English Gardens and the Queens Hamlet it was truly and incredible experience.

A little history on the Chateau de Versailles

The site began as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded. Each of the 3 kings who lived in Versailles before the French Revolution contributed to the beauty of what stands there today. Luis XIV built the King & Queens Grand Apartments in 1670 along with the most beautiful site you will ever see called The Hall of Mirror. Louis XV built the beautiful Chapel and Opera house in the next century.

I am going to start this series of posts about my visit to Versailles with the grandeur of the Palace itself. This palace is as pompous as yet get with its incredible detailing in its architecture, the flamboyance of gold and the hand painted art on the ceiling…truly an amazing site.


Take a little trip to 16th Century France with me….


The Chapel in the palace viewed from the upper level where the King and Queen would watch the service from above. The Chapel was built between 1698 and 1710.



The Mercury Salon: parade chamber of the Grand Apartment





The Hercules Salon: The first salon of the King’s Grand Apartment



























The Abundance Salon: Notice the heavy green fabric dressing the walls

The Mars Salon


The Queen’s chamber : This chamber is the main room of the apartment, the one where the Queen spent most of her time. She slept here, often joined by the King.

Hall of Mirrors: The Grand Gallery  as it was called in the 17th century, was used daily by courtiers and visitors for passing through, waiting and for meeting people. It was only used for ceremonies on exceptional occasions. This was truly breathtaking……


The French Gardens: Created in 1749 Louix XV extended his estate by creating a French Garden. Notice all the symmetrical and Geometrical characteristics, key in the french gardens of that time.


Hope you enjoyed the mini tour of the Palace. Join me next time for a picture tour of the Grande Trianon!


Speechless!!! Stunning and breathtaking! Can’t wait to read more Sonya :)

Your pictures are spectacular. You obviously have a super camera, as it captured the true essence of the palace. I was in Paris a few years back, but disappointingly, I did not go to Versailles – I wish I had now. Looking forward to your next segment on Trianon.


Live the Dream



I have less than a week before I board a plane and head to France, the anticipation of seeing this beautiful country is about all I can stand but not for all the reasons that one would think…



In 2002, I lost my Mother at the age of 62 to ovarian cancer. The loss of my mother has not been easy for me, she was an incredible woman who had dreams, dreams that would never come to pass. She would never see three of her grandchildren, she would never open that little store she always talked about, and she would never travel to the places that she dreamed of and always talked about so fondly.

In my Mothers 62 years she had traveled to only one location outside of Canada and that was Daytona Beach. She loved that trip, she always loved the ocean so being there and walking through it was all she could ask. My Mother left us two books after she died that we knew nothing about, one was a journal of her day to day life while battling cancer and the other was reflections of her childhood, her marriage and our journey growing up. There was one section of the book that haunted me and these are her words..

These words tore through my heart like nothing else could, coming from a woman who spent her entire life giving, never taking and to have her dreams ripped from her at such a young age.

Before three years ago, Daryl and I had only been on a trip together twice in our married life…once was our Honeymoon and the other was a trip down south with friends before our first child was born. While all our other friends were going away every year to some tropical place, we stayed at home with our babies. Daryl would always ask me if I wanted to go away, but my answer would be that I did not need to go away every year but instead let’s save so we can see the world when we get older.

On our anniversary three years ago while out to dinner Daryl asked me if I was to see the world where would I want to go first…..I quickly said Europe, not only was it a dream of mine but it was Moms dream and if she couldn’t see it through her eyes she could see it through mine. He then proceeded to tell me to write down where I wanted to go and we were going to see them one by one. I quickly said no, that we couldn’t afford it and we could not leave our kids…life was just too busy.

Daryl words were the sweetest thing I ever heard, he said to me Sonya, I know we said we would do these things later in life but what are we waiting for? Dreaming is not doing, and I do not want to dream like Your Mom and then it is too late…you never know what life has in store.

We started plans on our first trip to Italy the next day. We took that trip three years ago, it was the most amazing three weeks of our life.

By the end of this week, I will be strolling around France were my Mothers heart had always been and seeing the sights she had only dreamed of but because I know she is always with me, she will be holding my hand and we will be taking a journey together. ….


Just a quick note to thank those of you who always step up to help make our dreams happen…thank you for watching over our babies and our home…we truly have great family, friends & neighbours xoxo




























Living the dream for both you and your mom. Pack dresses, wear pearls. Enjoy every single moment.


Thanks Andrea! Pearls are packed ;)

What a beautiful post, Sonya. I will live vicariously through you until I can get there myself (it’s on my to go list) – and can’t wait to see pictures! PS…your site is gorgeous!

What a lovely story, and you are going to have just the best time!! Some of the photos in your collage look exactly like ones I took on our trip to Paris and the Dordogne region a few years ago – it was AMAZING and so beautiful. France is definitely one of my favourite places!

Have such a great time. Your Mum will be there with you in spirit!

This is a beautiful post…I’m so sorry for the loss of your Mom at such a young age…your trip will be for both of you! Enjoy your time in France…what a dream trip!

After reading your lovely tribute to your mother I sense you will be enjoying France for not only the beauty and experiences the country has to offer but also the memories it will bring of times past with your mother. Lovely photographs too!

France! So exciting. I’m sure your mom would be so proud of you for living your dreams now. Italy is totally at the top of my list… guess I should stop putting it off :)

What a beautiful post! And I love the photo of your hands. It is so great that you are honouring your mother this way, living some of her dreams. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel a lot over the years, and I’ve always encouraged other to make it a priority. Soon after your trip, the cost somehow gets sorted out and you forget about the bills. But the amazing memories last forever. Enjoy France – I’m sure it will be the trip of your (and her) dreams. And props to your hubby, he sounds like a keeper!


A Gift of Wisdom

Today I am stepping aside from my usual design related posts and instead am going to get a little personal…

Today is my oldest child’s 14th Birthday I have come to the conclusion that sweet 16 is not the Teen Birthday’ of all Birthdays….what does it mean, really, your half way to your twenties?….you are old enough to drive?…so what! If this is what society has decided is your milestone I have to disagree, You are 14, you are entering into what will be some of the best & hardest years of your life…at least between the ages of 14-18 you will think so. You are heading into High School, and everything is going to change. Your school work is no longer going to be a second thought, from here on it gets serious, Your friends may change & you may make new ones, you will fall in love for the first time, you will become more independent, and with this will need to take more responsibility for your actions. You will be introduced to peer pressure and may face truly unkind people face to face….how will you handle it?

I had been worried myself about all of these things, enough to keep me awake at night and wondered about how I could shield you from this, how I could prevent the wrongs….but truth is I can’t stop them from happening, nor do I want to these things will help shape the person you will become…but what I could do is leave you with the wisdom that I walked away with going through the same things as a young girl…..My Gift Of Wisdom


  1. Have Fun! but always remember who you are and what you know, if it feels like it may not be a good idea it probably isn’t. Never let anyone tell you any different, go with your gut. Staying safe doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, it just means use your head and NEVER be afraid to say no.
  2. Don’t Drink & Drive: or get in with anyone who has been drinking. There will come a time in the next few years when you may start experimenting with alcohol. As a Mom, this scares me to death, but I am smart enough to know no matter what I say you will test your limits. What I need you to know is, I do not approve, but I am always there for you if you find yourself in this situation. I am a phone call away ALWAYS and will pick you up anywhere at any time without judgment because I know you trusted me enough to call, always be safe. This is something your Nan always did for me, and I always picked up the phone no matter what.
  3. Stay in School: This is something I learned the hard way and is probably the second most important life lessons I can teach you. You do not need to be a straight A student but study hard, and you will get through it, life is always there after that….there is still time to be with your friends, boyfriends and parties the problem is those things will fade and if you haven’t gotten your education you are left with nothing…nothing you can be proud of. I left school and spent the rest of my adult life regretting it, trying to prove myself to others and feeling like I could never measure up. I went back to school for 4 years with 3 babies at the age of 38 I did it and only now at the age of 44 feel I am truly somebody I feel proud to be……don’t spend your life beating yourself up, just enjoy your friends, fun and your learning now, be proud of yourself because nothing else matches that feeling…..nothing.
  4. Get a Job: Work hard and earn your own way in life, never depend on someone else to make your way. Get a little job, you are going to hate but do it well and be proud of it. Making your own way, saving your own money and buying your own things with your own money…well there is nothing like it, don’t expect these things to be given to you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail: I spent an entire lifetime feeling insecure and not good enough to try many things in my life because I was afraid to fail…this is a hard thing to overcome that if I had just trusted in myself and not think about what I couldn’t do and just focused on what I was good at and could have conquered my fears and have been anything I wanted to be…..you have all of that in front of you…..grab it and enjoy the ride.
  6. Heartbreak: I wish I could shield you from this, but I can’t. You will fall in love deeply maybe more than once, and you will feel heartache of losing it. What you need to remember is the pain is real, your loss it real but you will heal….I promise you,  all the tears and all the pain are just creating a path to your one true love…..its worth the journey.
  7. Stay true to yourself: Do NOT let anyone change you, do not let your friends or boyfriends dictate who you are, do NOT let ANYONE walk all over you…you are Emma, there is only one like you be proud of yourself and stay true to what we have taught you and what you believe, you will be respected for that and remembered for it when all the other people who didn’t are forgotten.
  8. Be a good person: Be a true friend, never let things come between you and your true friends….nothing is worth hurting them or losing them. Treat them with kindness & respect and always open up to them if something is wrong…tell them, not others….if you do this you will remain friends the rest of your adult life and trust me, you will need them.
  9. Be a good Big Sister: I tell you this all the time Emma but it never seems to sink in. Your brother and sister are a pain I know, but they love you so much and they look up to you. They are going to need you as they grow up, someone to watch out for them, talk to them when they need a friend. Don’t turn your back on them, hold their hand and guide them and when you are older they in turn will be there for you and your bond will guide each of you. You will NEVER have another friendship like your brother and your sister…hold tight to that.
  10. I LOVE YOU: We fight…I know we fight a lot, and you always get your back up when I try to talk to you and help you. You think I don’t understand what its like….I do. You need to trust me, trust that I am only looking out for you, trust that when I tell you something I tell you from experience, and you can learn from me. This Emma is the most important thing I can tell you…respect  me, be kind to me, love me, trust me. If you learn anything from this post, I hope it’s this one thing because some day when you least expect it I may be gone and everything terrible you ever said or have done will come back to you like a title wave and drown you in regrets…..time will run out to say how much you loved me that I was right, don’t put yourself through that Emma, open your ears and your heart, listen and learn because no one will ever love you as much as I love you.


And Remember, I was 14 once too…don’t forget that


Happy 14th Birthday Emma, I love you to the Moon and back never forget that


Love Mom xoxo





What a lovely gift to your daughter. My oldest is 10 and I can see the teen years speeding at me and it terrifies me to death. Thanks for writing such a lovely post.

Such a beautiful letter. You gave me the chills! My children have already gone through this stage and even though there were some rough spots along the way, I think it is safe to say that we all enjoyed this time in their lives immensely! Best wishes to you and your gorgeous daughter!

Wonderful advice, Happy Birthday Emma!!

This is a beautiful memory for your daughter :)

Great reminder! Beautiful!

It’s a tough thing sometimes to watch them grow up. I am just sending off my oldest to university – amazing how the time flies!

I’ve brought 3 to 14 and then beyond… It’s great advice you give her. The most important is the love. All you need is love.