Photography by Robin Stubbert
Blogger Holly Baker of In the Fun Lane combined thrift store finds and creative DIY projects with some pricier finishes to create a family home that is all their own.
Bright and light with touches of fun." That's how marketing executive–turned-blogger Holly Baker describes her style-driven website, In the Fun Lane. Fittingly, the feel-good ethos that characterizes Holly's blog is also what gives her home its unabashedly happy and welcoming appeal.
"I wanted a space my whole family could grow into: a blank canvas of white walls and dark flooring with pops of colour and layers of coziness." The fruition of Holly's vision is evident throughout the airy 2,400-square-foot West Edmonton house she shares with her husband, Sean, a managerial executive, and their seven-year-old daughter, Wren.
"Our home is now very much a reflection of us," says Holly. But when they bought the house eight years ago, it was definitely something (or rather, someone) else. "It was a loved house, for sure, lived in only by the original owners. There was lots of carpet, ceramic flooring and wallpaper—even the light-switch covers had been papered over," says Holly.
Undaunted, five months pregnant and furniture challenged (they moved in with just a sideboard, sofa, dining table, armchair and bed), Holly tackled the space with the same gusto she applies to her blog. "Sean and I were crazy novices—right away, we started ripping things apart," says Holly. "One of the three bathrooms flooded, so we turned its water off and then proceeded to gut it. But, in the meantime, the toilet in our master bathroom cracked and flooded our kitchen." And this was just before the winter holidays, when the couple was expecting a house full of guests; on top of that, just days later, Wren was born five weeks early. With unrelenting optimism (no easy feat given the state of the house and having a newborn), Holly and Sean forged ahead. While the kitchen reno, their biggest splurge, would be done almost three years down the road, they took on more manageable tasks immediately, applying a coat of white paint to the walls and installing hardwood floors throughout. "We watched instructional videos, bought an air compressor and took on the flooring ourselves," says Holly. "It had a trickle-down effect: We thought, If we can do this, we can update the trim and moulding, too."
As the space began to take on a fresh look, one shortcoming became obvious. "We were spending all of our money on renovations and still had no furniture," says Holly. Familial serendipity intervened. "My sister needed a dresser and asked me to go to Goodwill with her. I couldn't believe the quality of the items and the bargains on offer!" For uber-creative Holly, it was a lightbulb moment. "I'm so inspired to look beyond ugly hardware and finishes and see the real potential of each piece." Thrift stores, flea markets and auctions soon became prime sources for furnishing the home affordably, quickly and stylishly.
Eight years later, with a staircase and two bathroom overhauls also crossed off the to-do list, Holly can be forgiven for reno angst, but clearly it's not her style: "We have a lot of fun renovating—we're passionate about it because of this house."
Thrift store side tables painted white and grouped together replace a traditional coffee table in the living room. Holly's clever homemade light fixtures hang in the corner.
Holly couldn't find artwork for this wall, so she hung three pieces of driftwood instead.
DIY inspiration abounds in homeowners Holly and Sean Baker's cozy family room—from the fireplace surround to the coffee table (they cut a dining table down to size). Believe it or not, Holly found the mint-coloured cabinet exactly the way it is. "I like a little oddity in design," she says.
Covered in high-gloss acrylic paint, the dining table belies its thrift store provenance and $50 price tag. It's flanked by kid-friendly slipcovered dining chairs.
Slipcovered dining chairs, console and picture frame, ikea.ca.
In a masterful mix of high and low, the kitchen's DIY tongue-and-groove panelled ceiling (which hides a popcorn finish and some repair holes) looks down upon honed Carrara marble countertops and a chef-worthy stainless-steel range.
Barley Beige 30YY-68/024 wall paint, cil.ca. Behr Mirage White 400E-1 ceiling and trim paint, homedepot.ca. Countertops, urbangranite.ca. Range, thermador.ca. Calabria range hood, elica.com/ca. Light fixture, rh.com.
To maximize the kitchen's space, the couple (shown here with their daughter, Wren) eliminated the original upper cabinets and an awkward walk-in pantry, then added floor-to-ceiling cabinetry around the refrigerator to compensate for the sacrificed storage.
Martha Stewart Living cabinetry, homedepot.ca.
Holly painted the thrift store bed frame powder blue and added Wren's name to the headboard. Dressed up with an antique-look table lamp and heart wall decals—which Wren chose and helped apply—the space is a magical retreat for a little girl.
Heart wall decals, uwdecals.com.